This is the final episode of Ando Lloyd (安堂ロイド〜A.I. knows LOVE?〜) and frankly, nothing that’s going to happen here is going to make up for my disappointment in the series. I’m a Kimura Takuya fan and a science fiction fan, but neither was very well represented in this drama.

But let me save all that for the end. Can this episode at least provide 46 minutes of solid entertainment?

We last left the android Lloyd (Kimura Takuya) in what will presumably be his final confrontation against his sister robot, the ARX-IX (Kiritani Mirei), after she has killed the prime minister. I expressed a lot of frustration in the episode 9 review because very little makes sense anymore. The writers are trying to get away with too much without connecting the dots for the viewers. They haven’t even tried to attribute any sort of plan to the ARX-IX, and her character lacks any sort of coherent motive. She’s just evil for the sake of being evil.

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Oh, and then even though the prime minister is already dead, Suppli is somehow able to bring him back to life. Granted, there’s advanced technology and everything, but that’s not the point. The point is that at the end of episode 9 they seemed to kill off Nanase (Oshima Yuko), Isaku (Endo Kenichi), and Shinzo (Kiritani Kenta), and that was quite a shock – but only because we hadn’t been told Suppli could bring them back to life. In the end, it amounted to the writers playing a pointless trick on the viewer, since the deaths didn’t serve any purpose, and this particular viewer is not amused.

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All right, back to the fight between the two ARXs. Now, The ARX-IX has the Asura system boost, but Lloyd doesn’t have any more of those, so he’s at a disadvantage. Good thing she wants to toy with him.

It’s an extremely well-choreographed fight compared to the others we’ve seen in this series, and it’s a lot of fun watching the schoolgirl-looking ARX-IX beat up on her older brother. Suppli and Asahi (Shibasaki Kou) watch from Suppli’s super-high-tech inter-dimensional hospital room (just guessing here because it’s not like they’ve ever bothered to say anything about it) and despair as they see the ARX-IX winning.

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Suppli zooms back to the fight just as Nanase wakes up in the hospital room. Don’t worry, nothing interesting is going to happen there because ANDO ASAHI MUST NOT DIE, much as I might wish she did at this point because she does seem to have a deathwish. She actually tried to argue with Suppli to take her to the fight, too – as if she could do anything at all except die at the hands of one of the androids, thus leading to both Lloyd’s and Reiji’s failure. Of all the people who had to be protected, why did it have to be someone so idiotically suicidal?

Somehow, in the middle of the fight the ARX-IX constructed a barrier to prevent Suppli and Lloyd from getting out. It had to be a very quick thing, because Suppli had transported out before with the Prime Minister, and then transported back in again just a few seconds ago. I’m making a list of deus ex machina that the writers use to have things go the way they want it – stuff that they’re introducing into the story or changing in the last episode so that things work out. Nobody mentioned this ability before, and it even caught the other robots by surprise, so it makes it onto the list.

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We get another deus ex machina right away – Nanase installs a program into the ARX-IX (who she calls the Queen) that gives her love and kindness. Really!? She just woke up from being dead. Don’t tell me she managed to just write what would have been the most complicated piece of artificial intelligence programming conceivable in a couple of seconds. She couldn’t have had it ready since the Queen would have surely had her delete it. This deus ex machina is basically a game-ender – the writers literally got out of having a proper fight between Lloyd and his most formidable foe by introducing this right at the end.

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Nanase explains the affect this has on the Queen, but not how she managed to create a complex emotion to install into the Asura system in the first place. And here we have the most serious of many inconsistencies. Technically, the Asura OS is only engaged for a limited period of time when the robots inject themselves, and they run under the Yukawa or Einstein system otherwise. So, both this affect on the Queen as well as Lloyd’s own emotions should only operate while they are in the Asura system, and since Lloyd doesn’t have any more injections he shouldn’t have emotions anymore. It seems to be true of the Queen, but not true of Lloyd. There might be a good explanation for this inconsistency due to the influence of Reiji, but there’s no explanation for why characters like Suppli and Asahi haven’t noticed – especially since Suppli was the one who gave him his emotional programming and should have realized that it would only work when the Asura OS was engaged. Oh, and no explanation for why Lloyd himself doesn’t notice.

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Suppli and Lloyd leave the fight when the Queen wakes up in her old, menacing OS. Apparently she can’t keep the barrier up unless she’s in the Asura system.

Nanase realizes that the Queen will be after her, and wants to leave before the evil android comes to Suppli’s hideout. As usual, Asahi does the stupid thing and suggests that she should go with Nanase, apparently still not appreciating the fact that everyone is trying to keep her safe and that there may be cataclysmic consequences if she dies. After ten episodes. And everyone telling her over and over again. And even though she really can’t do anything to help anybody.

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Away from the hideout, Nanase tries to use a poison program that would kill the Queen (not technically a deus ex machina, since that could be a comparatively simple program), but somehow there’s a network error that prevents her from delivering the poison (that is another deus ex machina).

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The Queen instigates the change in Nanase’s personality, or at least it seems so . . .

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. . . but then turns around and quickly tries to deliver the poison again, and this time it works (*sigh*). But somehow, the Queen resists. Umm . . . wait a minute . . . the poison requires her to inject herself again? Couldn’t Nanase have simply introduced some sort of infinite loop or unresolvable error into her normal OS (which, presumably, Nanase created)? Compared to giving her the emotions of love and kindness, it should have been a breeze.

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The Queen has her second internal struggle of the past five minutes, and eventually injects herself.

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You know, this is not how a program would react when given a poison pill. Windows OS rarely goes in for this kind of dramatics – it doesn’t say it can’t breathe or cry “momma” (wow, would that be annoying!) – it just gives you the blue screen of death and that’s the end of it. Nobody would bother to program an elaborate death scene for a robot OS that has a failure. It doesn’t take advanced programming knowledge to understand this.

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So the Queen dies . . . or does she? I mean, in the very next scene we get the revival of other people we thought were dead, so it doesn’t seem like the writers have the stomach for seeing developed characters stay dead for very long.

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Suppli thinks the battle is over, but Lloyd says it isn’t.

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Suddenly, everyone can find everyone else . . .

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. . . and Suppli says she disabled stealth mode because she thought the battle was over.

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Apparently, Lloyd has some kind of poison in him, but we’re unclear about why.

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Meanwhile, it didn’t take more than three minutes after the elaborate dramatic death scene for the writers to bring back the Queen. Told you so. She kills Nanase by shoving a hand through her, but don’t worry since there’s no reason why Suppli can’t save her. Right now, all death is merely there for shock value (and very little of that anymore, so they have to escalate how gruesome the death is) and has no impact on the story since all the characters can be brought back to life.

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And if you think that I’ve given away too much by way of spoilers, keep in mind that we’re only through thirteen minutes – only a little more than a quarter of the episode.

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But I’m done. Rather than continue to complain about every little detail, I’ll end the summary here and leave the rest to your dismay . . . I mean, enjoyment.

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Let me say a few words about this episode in particular before moving on to the entire series. Nobody stays dead! And scant explanation was given for many of the revivals. I mean, Suppli bringing those characters back to life was one thing, but they didn’t even bother to explain how they brought the Queen back, much less what happened with Kadoshiro.

They tried to make things overly dramatic – every death scene was really over-the-top, every speech was tedious and unrealistic. There was a lot of pontificating about how horrible and useless human beings are, and as a human being, there’s a limit to how much of that I can take. It wasn’t a well-developed motive for the Queen, anyway.

The idea that all the leaders of the world would hand over control to an android for longevity and prosperity is ludicrous – a notion that might have suited 1950s or 1960s sci-fi or the Twilight Zone, but the genre has become far more nuanced since then (keep in mind that I’m an aspiring science-fiction writer). In real life, we know that there would be some who would go along with it and others, like the prime minister of Japan, who wouldn’t. It hardly matters anyway, because power doesn’t primarily rest with those leaders – it rests with the people. If you’d like, it really rests with the hackers, programmers, and scientists who would have to create the androids in the first place, and whose demise would ensure that they never get created. Bit of a time paradox there, and once again an inconsistency that the writers don’t bother to resolve.

The world is not so corrupt as this drama pretends, nor is the premise that androids like the ARX II-13 would be used for population control credible (especially since that would be expensive and blatantly evil when the people targeted are malnourished and susceptible to disease anyway). And that’s my first and most important critique of the drama – the view of the world and the future it promulgates is not only bleak (which would be fine on its own – I like dystopias), but is flat-out unbelievable and incoherent.

Stories involving time travel are very difficult to pull off because of the paradoxes involved, and the writers just decided to ignore these entirely. Their tactic was apparently to gather together some sci-fi tropes from a generation ago – overpopulation, robots gone wild, a misunderstanding of how programming works reminiscent of Asimov (which was entirely fine when Asimov wrote in the 1950s because no one really had a good grasp of how A.I. would work, but not acceptable sixty years later), and an intense suspicion of authority that comes more from the 1960s and 70s than any other time.

Their depiction of androids, though, is the worst. There was no consistency about how they show emotion – not even the vaguest attempt. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between Lloyd having emotion and Lloyd not having emotion, and some of that has to be put down to Kimura-san’s acting. It’s hard to see what he could have done, though, given the lines he had to deliver. The director definitely didn’t tell him “say ‘Ando Asahi must not die’ like an emotionless android”. Every time he said it, there was emotion. There’s no excuse for this, since even old sci-fi had examples of androids, and we have great examples of both an action android (Terminator) and a more human-friendly one (Commander Data on Star Trek:TNG). I think that Kimura-san is a better actor than the former governor of my state, Arnold Schwarzenegger, but there’s no question that Arnold played the more compelling emotionless android.

In the end, the only actors who ended up doing a decent job were Oshima Yuko-san playing Nanase, though she only got interesting in the last few episodes, and Honda Tsubasa-san playing Suppli. Oshima-san’s character was inconsistent (there was no hint of her real situation in the earlier episodes), but that wasn’t the actor’s fault. Kimura-san was never comfortable in the role of Lloyd, and the director and writers share fault in that. Shibasaki-san’s character was entirely insufferable so there was no way to appreciate her acting. Endo-san’s Isaku started out good but lost any edge. Kiritani Kenta-san did what he could with the Shinzo character, and shined in the one episode where it really focused on his choice whether to kill Lloyd or not, but didn’t get much of a chance otherwise. Kiritani Mirei-san was interesting as the Mysterious Beauty/ARX-IX/Queen, but they destroyed her character’s poignancy in this last episode.

But what about the climax and ending? Deus ex machina. As they had set it up, there was no way Lloyd should have been able to defeat the Queen. And after that, no explanation for the wings, or anything that followed. Let me be clear – the ending of a story has to be set up by what precedes it. When writing a story with either advanced technology or magic, you have to put all the pieces on the table – what people can do and what they can’t – through the development of the story. You can’t suddenly introduce new possibilities in the climax and resolution.

The ending of this drama was the logical equivalent to finding out the main character had woken up after a bad dream – it cheapened everything that had preceded it. The writers made everything easy for themselves and thereby avoided any chance at having a compelling story with real tension. What was Matsushima Reiji’s plan? It was the simplest one – the one any viewer might have guessed from episode one.

Okay, I think I’ve made my views on this drama sufficiently clear. It wasn’t a good sci-fi story because it lacked logical consistency and just borrowed outdated ideas. It wasn’t a good melodrama because everything was forced and the dramatics were off-the-scale. It wasn’t a mystery because the solution was not clever at all, but the one we all assumed would be the case. It might have been an action drama if not for the extremely long periods were the pace crawled. It certainly wasn’t a love story, since even when Lloyd got emotions, there was no chemistry at all between him and Asahi. Lloyd’s little speech about love made me laugh – the only person he actually showed love for was Suppli!

What was it, then? A good example of why sci-fi should be left to anime. Now, I need to cleanse my consciousness of this by spending quality time with Cowboy Bebop. Or maybe since I mentioned Data I’ll go for Star Trek TNG. Best android ever.

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