After a season stuffed with timely thought experiments provoked by a wide swathe of artificial intelligence, Gene of AI concludes on an awkward and transitional note. It’s not a bad note, and the writing does a decent job exploring Sudo’s internal conflict, but it’s like a lid that doesn’t quite fit its container. In a Perfect World, there wouldn’t be a lid here at all because Gene has plenty more ground to cover. However, as we all know, the anime industry is far from perfect, so this episode is the last we’ll see of this series in animated form for the foreseeable future.
I don’t get a lot of predictions right (just look at my Undead Murder Farce reviews), so I reserve the right to be a little smug at my review last week explaining Sudo’s entire arc in this episode. His quest to find the other copy of his mom is completely at odds with the life he’s led as a doctor, and that turns him into even more of an asshole than usual. It’s especially apparent in how he initially treats Risa. Calling her an “outsider” was self-evidently uncalled for. The specific word he uses in Japanese, “tanin” (他人 for those of you learning kanji), can also mean “stranger” in certain contexts. It’s a distancing word, and it’s an incredibly rude thing to call Risa considering their entire history together. I never felt strongly about her romantic advances on Sudo—they mostly made for lame comedic moments—but I do feel invested in that pseudo-familial bond they share.
I’ll go a step further; Sudo’s a pretty flat character, and I only care about him in terms of his bonds with the other people on the show. And this episode agrees with me! The big thematic lynchpin can be found in his conversation with the daughter from the premiere, who has since adjusted to her life with the system restoration he did on her mom. After he reiterates the fascination and futility inherent in the question of “what makes a person?”, she responds that in the end, her mom is still her mom. A “mom,” rhetorically speaking, can’t exist in a vacuum. A mom has to be (or have been) a mom to someone else. It’s that connection that makes a mom a mom. Every one of us forges, breaks, and mends a web of connections that is complex, unique, and integral to our own identities. It’s as important a signifier as any mind or soul we house internally.
In Sudo’s case, those connections are his salvation. Risa, his original mom, Seto, and even Jay chime in to tell him how hard-headed he’s being. But I think it’s telling that a former acquaintance from a former case is who finally pushes him to think twice about his actions. He helps people as a doctor, and he likes doing it. That’s another integral part of who he is. Therefore, as predictable as it was, I was glad to see him admit as much and confirm he can’t just walk away from his current life. I’m glad he apologized to Risa too. Otherwise, I would’ve given him a good what for.
Ultimately, however, Sudo’s arc feels underwhelming when he still flies off in search of his mom’s copy. You can’t have your cake and eat it too in this situation. Still, I can understand the author’s position. While I’m sure there’s plenty of philosophical material left to mine in a big city with all of the AI-infused amenities, technology’s darker and military-focused side is also rife with important moral questions and investigations. Admittedly, I’m assuming that the story won’t suddenly switch up its genre and turn Sudo into a gun-toting action hero. It makes more sense to me that the narrative would contort itself around this transition to explore how technological advances impact poor and war-torn countries. That would be more in line with Gene‘s forte too, so I hope that’s where it’s going next.
While I wouldn’t mind another season—especially if it’s heading in the direction I just speculated—as of writing this review, there’s no indication we’re going to get one. Maybe this cliffhanger is the adaptation’s version of a Hail Mary pass, and maybe it will create enough demand for Sudo’s anime adventures to continue. However, I’m not optimistic, and I would have rather spent this time with a few more thought-provoking vignettes about robots and humanity. That’s where The Gene of AI was at its strongest. Its characters were unremarkable, and its production was modest, but its unassuming and open-ended takes on classical thought experiments and modern controversies made it a consistently engaging watch in a slow anime season. It’s no diamond in the rough, but it’s a hidden gem of appreciable value.
Gene of AI is currently streaming on
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