by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
ID: INVADED ?
ID: INVADED may be overly ambitious, but when it uses its powers for storytelling and not for excessively oblique symbolism, it really is something else. This week marks the more-or-less halfway point of the project thirteen episodes, and it celebrates this by giving us what we've been suspecting for a while now: that Hondomachi is going to become a Brilliant Detective. She's by far the most interesting character in the series while also being one of the least sympathetic, and that makes her worth paying attention to even without this last-minute revelation. Unlike Narihisago, who is able to dive into ID Wells because of murders motivated by his grief over the loss of his wife and child, Hondomachi simply seems to be unbalanced somehow.
It would be easy to blame this on the hole in her head, but as her partner points out this week, the fact that she has the hole in the first place should make us question her fitness and sanity. When she challenged The Perforator by leaning into the drill back in the series premier, it seemed like a gutsy move made by an ambitious cop, but as we've watched her pursue cases since then, it's beginning to feel less like a one-off move and more like her basic way of operating: Hondomachi simply doesn't care what she has to do in order to get the job done. If that means endangering others or herself, oh well – she's just going to do it anyway because it's the shortest route to the goal. There's a very real ruthlessness there that Narihisago doesn't have, especially when he's in his Sakaido persona. Had The Challenger never slaughtered Narihisago's wife and daughter, there's a high likelihood that he never would have killed anyone. But even without the hole in her head, there's a decent chance that Hondomachi would have.
All of this may be leading up to what it means to execute “justice,” because that's very much what Hondomachi thinks she's doing. Her victims have all been murderers, meaning that she could see her crimes as victimless and the unadulterated right thing to do. That's thin ice to be skating on, but Hondomachi doesn't appear to see it – when she opens fire this week in The Gravedigger's house to lure out the second killer, she doesn't care about whether or not her partner gets (more) hurt. She doesn't care if she accidentally kills the other woman. That's what really seems to scare Matsuoka and motivates him to suggest Hondomachi as a Brilliant Detective candidate; she's behaving recklessly, and he doesn't want her around other police officers, posing as much of a risk to them as to the criminals they're pursuing. That he makes this call around the time of the funeral for Momoki and the other officers killed in the soy sauce factory explosion doesn't seem like a coincidence. The job is dangerous enough without rogue cops.
Of course, the idea that John may be one himself adds to that. It's not a bad theory – to be inside people's minds, warping them into serial killers would require access to the police department's proprietary tech, and since the whole mess started when it was still in the development stages, that means that either the inventor was playing two sides or someone intimately involved with the process used the prototype for evil. It's an idea worth keeping in your mind, at any rate.
That John is creating killers by twisting people's experiences and fears is very well shown this week with the endlessly circling train Sakaido finds himself on. It's not just a metaphor for the killers being trapped in the one moment that changed their lives, but also for the potential futility of Sakaido's quest, and maybe the entire department's. His cases always start with Kaeru's death, with the need to solve it, but the next time he enters an ID Well, she's always dead again. He can never save Kaeru, never return (the meaning of her name) to the time before he was a Brilliant Detective. Kaeru's death is always a foregone conclusion, an endless loop that Sakaido has to relive every single time. The scene of him crying as he holds her dead hands this week feels very personal to him and what he goes through whenever he dives into the Well.
Can all of this erase some of the more ludicrous (the bullet going through the hole in a guy's head) or dull (the funeral work talk) elements of this show? No. But this is the best effort I've seen at trying, and watching Hondomachi's descent should be interesting as this pastiche of genres goes forward.
ID: INVADED is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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