「4つのケース」 (4-Tsu no keesu)
I’ve seen enough at this point. AI no Idenshi isn’t brilliant or revolutionary in any obvious way, but it has that essential something about it that makes it worthwhile. It has a very matter of fact approach to its subject that I think is quite effective. There’s no heavy BGM or dramatic flourishes – the scenarios are allowed to play out unencumbered and make their point. It would be impossible to truly break much new ground with an exploration of artificial intelligence at this point, even just in anime. But AI no Idenshi approaches the topic with insight and admirable restraint.
The theme this time is love and lust, mostly the latter. And it’s explored through the cases of four humans and humanoids, one of them Sudo’s nurse Risa. Knowing she’s hopelessly in (presumably) unrequited love with him, her friend Reon enters the good doctor’s details into an A.I. which generates porn scenarios (let’s just cut to the chase here) involving the user and the object of their desire. Reon is one of the four too, with her own unrequited love, though we won’t find that out until the last moments of the episode.
There’s no question (at least for me) that this is a sort of exploitative behavior, even if the subject is not aware of it. The scenarios involving Sudo and Risa are relatively innocent romcom tropes (at least at the point she terminates them) – classmates, stepsiblings, even a BL entry. But this is not how Risa wants to see herself in a relationship with her beloved. The next subject is a high schooler named Daisuke, and his case dovetails closely with hers. He (and his chums) have an implant which among other things allows them to create some highly interactive porn scenarios. But the invisible line (in his own mind and out) he crosses when he inserts his crush into it changes the equation,
Horny teens indulging in porn is hardly new, and as technology gets more sophisticated so does the porn. But where should the line be? Again, turning his classmate into “Nana” is certainly a violation of her dignity at the very least, and when she finds out about it she promptly cuts him off. The irony of course is that she was interested in him all along. Would it be so terrible for a kid to satisfy their desires in a way that doesn’t (directly) injure anyone else – even to practice relationships in a way that helps them better prepare for real ones? If he hadn’t blurted out “Nana” and had wound up in a relationship with the real deal because of the confidence Nana gave him, wouldn’t that be a good thing?
As I said in the season check-in post, no one has really figured out the answers to the questions this series is asking about A.I.. But that’s why they’re still worth asking, and why it’s interesting to see them explored. Next up is a humanoid named Hide (played by Ohsaka Ryouta) who’s a serial cheater. His girlfriend Kayo is ready to dump him, but he swears they’re still in love. He comes to Sudo-sensei, who implants a chip that will curtail his libido when activated – “the switch”. And it works – except that after a few months Kayo dumps him anyway, having grown bored of this new safe relationship. It was the danger and the bad behavior she was in love with (or at least addicted to).
There are a lot of conclusions one could come to in perusing all these scenarios. Not least, I think, that human(oid) desires are so complicated and perverse (in both senses) that it’s very difficult to manipulate them with intent. Again, I don’t think AI no Idenshi is so much interested in offering answers as it is in prompting the audience to think about the questions in a different way. That’s to its credit, I think, and it’s one of the reasons why what it’s doing is working for me.