A Three-Episode Impression
- Genre: Action, Game, Sci-Fi, Mystery
- Airing Date: October 2018
- Episodes: 11
- Studio: Craftar Studios
Ingress the Animation is an adaptation of Niantic’s augmented reality game bearing the same name. It follows the story of three individuals sensitive to “Exotic Matter” or XM, a substance that influences the consciousness of humanity and empowers the supernatural abilities of those with a strong affinity for it. Makoto Midorikawa is one such individual, capable of peering into the memories of objects that he makes physical contact with. He regularly assists with police work as a contractor, unaware of the true nature of his power or its connection with XM. At least, that’s the way it goes until a typical job investigating a freak lab explosion gets him caught up with Sarah Coppola, an XM researcher and sole survivor of the accident as well as Jack Norman, a veteran agent whose last objective was to ensure the woman’s safety.
It Starts with a Bang (Spoilers Ahead!)
With Ingress’ main pull as a game focusing more on subterfuge, conspiracy theories, and intrigue, it’s interesting to see how Craftar Studios introduces the world to an audience that lies outside of the pre-established fanbase. To drive interest, they give a minimal but succinct outline of the two factions, The Enlightened and The Resistance, who represent conflicting opinions on the use and safety of XM, then we’re thrown directly into the action. Jack Norman and his close associate Christopher Brandt are on their way to recover Sarah Coppola, a possible human asset, when they’re bull rushed by an organization known as Hulong.
In a desperate attempt to cover his ally, Jack reveals that he’s far more capable than a baseline human. Through the manipulation of XM and some damn good cardio, he holds his own against a squad of Hulong grunts and a helicopter despite losing Christopher to Hulong’s clutches. Their paramilitary operatives bring Sarah into custody shortly after. Cornered, Christopher detonates his own body, taking his captors with him, but leaving Sarah unharmed.
Makoto is quickly introduced and spurred into rescuing Sarah by a mysterious benefactor who warns him that the future of humanity hinges on his actions, he unwittingly runs afoul of Jack when a lack of communication and the agent’s more “hands-on” approach to getting answers puts them at odds.
Signs of Promise
The initial action sequence sets the pace for the rest of the first three episodes, Ingress the Animation balances its originator’s premise of mysteries wrought by a veiled world that lies just under the nose of common folks with combat that’s loosely reminiscent of titles like Wanted and Push taking the place of the cast’s primary means of conflict resolution. The early plot quickly evolves into a particularly deadly race against nefarious elements; Makoto seeks to help Sarah recover the memories she lost in the explosion and keep her former employers from abusing XM while Jack and Hulong’s breath remain hot on their necks.
By the time Jack catches up to Makoto and his charge, it looks like the two parties are on the brink of an understanding, only for more Hulong operatives to bust their way in and injure them both, leaving episode three on a cliffhanger.
Not much time is spent on answering questions, but the details regarding Dark XM, a more potent but dangerous variant of the substance, and Hulong’s plans to utilize it for mental domination are drip fed between gunfights and the momentary place of rest. The opening strokes of Ingress the Animation paint a story in constant motion.
The same action-packed opening episodes that can get someone glued to Ingress the Animation don’t help with characterization. Three episodes make for a little over one-quarter of the show’s runtime, yet we don’t get a fully fleshed-out idea of the three leads’ motives and backgrounds. As far as worldbuilding goes, audience members interested by the existence and applications of XM or the major powers at play will go hungry if the story remains conservative with its explanations.
Additionally, the character designs for Makoto, Jack, and Sarah are passable, but not exactly unique, couple this with the fact that CGI animation doesn’t perform as well when special effects, action, or beauty shots aren’t in focus, and one can see a recipe for the slower bits being a turnoff for viewers.
From the first three episodes alone, Ingress the Animation appears to be a hit or miss sort of deal. Viewers drawn to the modern supernatural genre and those already familiar with Ingress will have an easier time than others enjoying this adaptation, but there’s only one surefire way to determine if the delivery holds up to your standards.
What do you think? Does it get the green (or blue, we won’t judge you based on your faction affiliation) light? Or was Niantic and Craftar Studios perhaps a bit too bold in pursuing an animated title for a phone game?