The Gene of AI (Ai no Idenshi) episode 1 aired on Saturday giving us one of the more interesting series premiere of the summer. While the episode didn’t have the impact Zom 100 or Jujutsu Kaisen did, the episode still presented its own quality traits along with its fair share of sci-fi cliches. My only hope is that The Gene of AI doesn’t become this season’s My Home Hero. But there’s reason to hold on to some bit of hope that it won’t be.
The Gene of AI caught my eye before the series premiered. Combining anime’s greatest genre with one of the industry’s most renowned studios in MADHOUSE had me excited. Luckily, the series premiere had its good traits that made me ready for the next episode. One of those is the main character himself — Dr. Hikaru Sudou.
The backstory surrounding Hikaru was definitely the biggest draw of the episode. A doctor who also dabbles in the black market and has a distaste for humanoids yet works with one in a professional setting already presents a complex main character. The 25-year time skip after the experiment his mom went through for his sake also brought forth an interesting plotline. Plus, the entire ethics dilemma surrounding memory wipes and backups, while a sci-fi cliche, seems to be done in its own way with this series.
So even though these few things may seem lackluster in terms of convincing, it’s good enough to see where the series goes. There’s potential here for a lot of plot twists and shock value that draws me in. However, there are a lot more “weird” and “bad” aspects to this episode than good.
The weirdest part of episode 1 of The Gene of AI was undoubtedly the random family situation. Not that it was necessarily bad, because even I got emotional at one point, but it wasn’t good either. The moment with the family felt like a situation we would come across a few episodes in. It was just an overall odd way to really explain the memory wipes, laws, and backup data situation.
This young kid just got in a random stranger’s car and went with the Hikaru to a supermarket and trusted him to drive her back. The parents didn’t even question it at all either. She comes back home and says she went to the supermarket yet neither of them asked how she even got there in the first place or asked where she went. If that’s the story’s way of showing humanoids still have their flaws that don’t make them 100% then that’s an odd way of showing it.
Another weird part that caught me off guard, despite being of less importance, was how this entire world is set in a futuristic setting yet Hikaru is driving an Autobianchi A112 from the 1970s. He did show his disinterest in what society has become at this point. So it could be his way of holding onto what once way in an era he would prefer. But again, if this is the way the series goes about showing that, it’s a very odd angle to take.
The artwork and entire setting around the first episode of The Gene of AI was bland. At no point during the episode did I once think anything look even remotely eye-popping. None of the characters caught my eye, even Hikaru, and nor did they give me any reason to keep my attention focused on them. It’s a shame because if you create a sci-fi story, one aspect you have to really nail is the, at the very least, environmental setting. Hikaru’s workplace was bland and I felt like it lacked a little creative direction.
The episode did way too much focusing on the difference in eye shape between humans and humanoids. It gave us way too many frames focusing on this with every character introduced and it became repetitive. I think if you’re going take this angle to really remind us who to keep an eye on (pun intended), then at least make the eye artwork compelling. It just didn’t do anything special for me,
But what I think the worst part of episode 1 was that it failed in giving more exposition to Hikaru, who he is, how he got to where he’s at, and what he truly believes. And the main reason we didn’t see much of that was because a huge chunk of the episode was focused on the family. Again, this felt like an episode that could’ve happened down the line or a little while after the premiere. It made it feel like we skipped some episodes.
The Gene of AI Episode 1 Wrap-Up
The Gene of AI episode 1 was just okay. The only reason to revisit this episode is as a reference for how the laws work regarding backup data and why it’s illegal for humanoids. The episode didn’t present us any reason as to how or why humanoids became 1% of the population either and it just left a lot of questions annoyingly unanswered.
The story’s entertainment value will benefit greatly if the series goes down the route of Hikaru and why he’s called “The Ruthless Human” and explores the black market of the world they’re in. AI and humans are always touched upon subject in the history of sci-fi as a genre. So out of respect for the genre, I want to see The Gene of AI present us with something unique. But for now, that isn’t anywhere to be found within this first episode.
Episode 1 rating: 5/10
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
©Kyuri Yamada (Akita Shoten)/”Ai no Idenshi” Production Committee 2023