Episode 9

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 9 of

I've often thought that one of the cruelest phrases in the English language is “if only.” There's a wealth of regret and sadness packed into those two words, a yearning for what might have been but now can never be. This week finds Narihisago trapped in a world of “if only” when he dives into the mysterious Kiki Asukai's ID Well while already inside Momoki's own ID Well and finds himself back in the days before his entire life went sideways. Here, his wife and daughter are alive and he hasn't made any horrible mistakes. And more importantly, here he remembers who he is and what's about to happen. He's not Sakaido the Brilliant Detective, he's Akihito Narihisago, and within the confines of Kiki Asukai's ID Well, he has the chance to make things right.

If only it were the real world.

Of course, that's not to say that he's not still getting to the bottom of what's really going on. By taking out The Challenger before he can kill Muku, and because he tells Momoki what he's doing (more or less), he's able to get off with a self-defense plea and come face-to-face with the young woman The Challenger went after before Muku, Kiki Asukai herself. The truth this reveals is the first true key we've been given to what's going on with the whole ID Well thing, because Kiki is in fact Kaeru, the young woman whose death Sakaido (and all the other brilliant detectives) is trying to solve each time he dives. Because he has all of his memories intact, Narihisago is able to start putting the pieces together, although he's still struggling. The major takeaway appears to be that Kiki has the ability (or disability, as the case may be) to project and share her dreams. Because of that she's the ultimate lucid dreamer, and because she's only dreaming, anything can happen to her while she's asleep and she'll have no physical ill effects upon waking. The catch? She can only wake up when she dies in the dream.

This almost certainly connects to the brilliant detective mechanism. Since Kaeru is always dead when the detectives arrive on the scene, that means they're essentially in the aftermath of her dreams, after she's already woken up. That makes it impossible to save her, but also that all the clues are in place and that Kiki (Kaeru) is alive outside of the Well. If you ignore the fact that Kiki feels everything that happens to her in her dreams of doom, that means that the technology basically enables the detectives to solve a crime that hasn't actually happened – the victim is in fact a survivor and they could, ostensibly, stop killers before they strike in real life if they solve the mystery.

That opens the door to a very troubling possibility. Could the original function of the ID Well and Kiki's lucid dreams have been to prevent serial killers? A so-called “safe space” for them to act out their murderous fantasies without actually killing anyone? It ties into the theory of playing violent video games as a form of catharsis (which still is the subject of some debate), and given the series' love of pop psychology and gritty crime shows, it seems fairly plausible. That means that someone, presumably the creator of the ID Wells and someone high enough up in the government to allow it to happen, decided to sacrifice Kiki Asukai for their perception of the “greater good,” choosing to torture one girl in order to potentially save others from violent death. They've even apparently set up a system where potential serial killers can take turns murdering her in her dreams.

The problem is, if that was the goal, then it doesn't seem to have worked. That would explain what appears to be a desperate bid to cover things up, with the “trap” Momoki talked about embedded in his ID Well, the mysterious John Walker (who I'm now thinking might not actually exist but is instead a construct of the system, if not the anthropomorphic personification of the Wells), and the way that in reality, Narihisago was jailed rather than allowed to plead self-defense, even though it appears to have been the exact same scenario. (The fact that this is a Well-within-a-Well belonging to Momoki might mean that his subconscious is helping things along to turn out how they should have.) Because if this ploy didn't work, that means that the technology is essentially creating serial killers instead of preventing them, giving them a taste and then letting them loose on the real world. There's even an argument to me made that that's what happened to Narihisago to a degree.

He's well on his way to figuring things out, and the fact that Hondomachi is presumably somewhere in the Well with him may help things when and if he finds her. But nice as that may be, there's still the horrible fact that in his dive, he's getting to live in a world where things worked out for him and his family, where they never died. That's going to make waking up unappealing, to say the least.

If only somehow the dream could be made real.


ID: INVADED is currently streaming on FUNimation.

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