ID-0 is an interesting little series I stumbled across on Netflix. Like a lot of sci-fi anime, it’s in the mecha genre (involving giant robots), but with a twist. The premise is that humans can copy their mind into a robot called an “I-machine” and essentially become the robot.
A backup copy of the human’s mind is made at the same time. Under normal circumstances, their mind is copied from the I-machine back into their body when they’re done using the machine. But if anything goes wrong, such as the I-machine getting destroyed, their mind can be restored from the backup, only losing memories from their time as the machine. This makes I-machines ideal for dangerous work, like mining in outer space asteroids.
This turns out to be useful, because there is an extremely valuable mineral, orichault, which appears to exist in asteroids and small planetary bodies. Orichault is actually needed for the mind transfer technology. It’s also used for interstellar travel, enabling something called a “Miguel Jump”, which appears to be an instant teleport across interstellar distances.
Maya Mikuri is a “cosmogeology” student participating in a university project to survey orichault. But after an accident and having been framed for illegally selling information on the location of orichault reserves, she finds herself fallen in with a crew of mining pirates. The crew ends up being fairly friendly (for pirates) and essentially give her a job and home on their ship, the Stulti.
As it turns out, most of the crew are “Evertrancers”, people who have copied their minds into an I-machine permanently without ever returning to their body, either voluntarily or due to their body being lost or unavailable. It’s stated by a disapproving military officer that this is illegal and unethical. (Although it’s never explained why.)
One of the crew is an extremely talented mining excavator named Ido. Ido is not only an Evertrancer, he also has no memory of his previous human life. His earliest memory is waking up in a robot body on a prison ship. He’s unaware of how he got there or what crime he might have committed. His I-machine includes no identity information, hence his name. (“ID-0”, “Ido”. Get it? Yeah, I know.)
On a particularly lucrative excavation, the team discovers a large concentration of orichault, but with a little girl at the center, who appears to be around four years old. (And she has a tail, because anime.) While apparently healthy, she doesn’t appear able to speak.
While pondering this, the ship is apprehended by a military vessel that accuses them of illegally mining orichault, even though this time the crew thought they had a valid contract. While this is being disputed, both parties are suddenly attacked, by meteors, and apparently the planetoid where the large chunk of orichault was mined from. It seems able to move under its own power.
The crew manages to escape, but find themselves being pursued by the planet, which mainly attacks by flinging rocks at them. It appears to be after the girl.
The story expands from there. The pursuing planet turns out to be a major threat to humanity. And Ido’s backstory is eventually shown to be part of the reason.
This turned out to be an enjoyable series, albeit one where the story events aren’t always clear.
It also has a few scientific issues. The major one is the idea that a modified mind can be copied back into an organic brain. The show also eventually posits that different minds can be loaded into brains on demand. Even accepting computationalism (which the series doesn’t necessarily endorse), you can’t simply load data into an organic brain. The biology doesn’t work that way. (I can think of possible workarounds, such as the humans having cyberbrains (as in Ghost in the Shell), but there’s no implication of it.)
Still, that aside, the series manages to explore some existential territory without getting particularly dark or edgy. If cyberpunk in space (that doesn’t lean too much into the “punk” part) sounds interesting, I recommend checking it out.