AI no Idenshi – 07 – Random Curiosity

AI no Idenshi – 07 – Random Interest

「人間」 (Ningen)

AI no Idenshi could be the least deserving and unexpected of all the series being largely overlooked (including here) this season, and there are quite a few of them. It is excellent and stimulating. But it’s also distinctly off-center and arcane in the manner it portrays a scenario in its storytelling. It seems like you’re never viewing from the perspective you might anticipate from a typical anime. And occasionally you have to wait until the end of a chapter to determine its purpose. That’s a lot to expect from a crowd, which is another surefire way to fade into obscurity.

Gotou Kenji is well-liked in the neighborhood for working with children. He suffers a knock to the head in a fall on a trip, and it is obvious that he is not the same man he once was. He serves as both a human interest tale and a cause célèbre for what looks to be a humanoid lobbying group called “Humanoid Rights Japan.” He only responds to his granddaughter’s singing, which the local media adores, but the HRJ representative claims that by denying Michi access to the elderly man, the family is abusing his rights. As this won’t go against the man’s proclaimed objection to manipulation by “super” A.I.s, his answer is to have Sudo-sensei work on him.

There are a number of social issues at stake, and it is obvious that Humanoid Rights Japan is taking advantage of Gotou for their own ends. The twist comes when Sudo operates on him, though. To put it another way, he resumes his “normal” behavior, which in Gotou’s case is defined as a guy who physically abuses his adult son due to his violent anger. As a result, his usefulness as a prop plummets, and the cause of his family’s puzzling resistance to having him treated is made evident. But it’s not that simple to dismiss this. Is it OK for a person’s family to deny treatment that could help them get back to how they were before an accident because they are a nasty person?

The following story, AI no Idenshi, really grabs hold of the third rail as it tells the tale of a humanoid customer service manager who is experiencing stomach aches as a result of stress. Sudo-sensei draws attention to the aspects of this situation that are unique to non-biological humans: although he can switch off the stress reaction, it is present in humans for a purpose. The prejudice that the man must deal with from clients who object to speaking with someone who is “no different than a computer” is the more overt problem. The wide range of things that individuals can discriminate against includes someone’s accent or the nation they are based in, but as usual. We’re not being beaten over the head with that by AI no Idenshi.

The humanoid manager insists on going along for the initial escalation as the company’s response to issue cases is to “outsource” them. A hothead whining over the inappropriate hue of his wallpaper is a true dog and pony show. The two guys assigned to the case perform a complex act that culminates in one of them punching the other and pleading with the other for forgiveness, which research has shown is “especially effective” with this kind of client. It is made apparent to the humanoid that this is the (ironic) point when he complains that the spectacle is “inhuman”. In fact, it is “confidential” just to know whether the two performers are even human.

Once more, a shocking change occurs at the very last minute that gives the struggle a fresh and intriguing perspective. They don’t look like humanoids, therefore if these two are robots, that throws up a can of worms the size of Dinty Moore. Humanoids were in other ways believed to be too near for comfort, therefore it is clear that it was important for humans to be able to distinguish between them. Are we dealing with a gray area of the law if there are robots that are sophisticated enough to “pass”? What would people do if they knew this was happening? Things are never as straightforward as they first seem to be, as Sudo himself notes (in reference to the first case this week). And that is precisely the point of this week’s pair of stories, which is made quite well.



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