Mobile Games are small things that have taken the world by storm recently. Especially since smart phones with more ram and stronger processors has been appearing on the scene for years that can support game play. There are so many types like the classic arcade style games that appear on phones to gacha games that you role for parts or characters like a gacha machine, or you have the mobile games like Pokemon Go that give people a reason for walking more then they are used to. Hmmm, I’m sure there are others out there as well. I know that I am a sucker for a newer gacha game called Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare. Of course right? Why does all this matter? Because Ingress is an anime commercial for a mobile game.
Making an anime for the game like Ingress doesn’t sound like it would be too hard. Especially sense it has a game with multiple parties and a capability with all sorts of twists to happen to move the plot forward? What is the game? If the Ingress anime wasn’t lying to me, it’s a game for controlling beacons of XM across a general area. The Enlightened or Green XM users and the Blue XM users or the Resistance fight over control in areas all over. Each group has their own set of ideals and such for the power, but that’s an excuse just for different parties to exist and battle each other. A very classic video game thing honestly.
So how does the anime take this game and then make an anime out of it? Well the game is only a starting point and a background event while giving the protagonists some special powers using XM to fight against people trying to control it for world taking over reasons. It’s a decent way to dodge the thing I suppose. Maybe the studio and production staff weren’t as interested in the game’s story? The plot of the show is like a conspiracy or political thriller with some science fiction elements with the XM take over the world plot attached to it. A mysterious company is after Sarah who has the capability of connecting to the mysterious XM that nobody else has. With her and Makoto, who can see any objects past on the run followed closely by a mysterious assassin named Jack, who can dodge bullets alongside the mysterious organization that wants Sarah. It all connects pretty well eventually.
What astonishes me is how this anime’s plot actually works. Ingress’ plot and characters aren’t the best, but it’s all completely functional and entertaining. How? Because the whole thing is pretty logically constructed. Each plot twist and turn that happens along the road came seem to appear out of nowhere, but enough time is dedicated to each one that they are completely buyable. It hits that bare minimum that allow the viewer to go “yes, this works” then move onto something else to do the same thing. Each situation in question escalates naturally and not too far from the pervious situation either, so nothing outrageous happens without it at least being marginally believable. Like I said, it’s functional.
Character construction happens in the same way in Ingress. Before each action set piece or plot setting is traveled to, there is ample enough time to develop each member of our core cast. Sarah and Makoto’s small food moment on the train made them feel like real people. Same with Sarah understanding Makoto’s trauma and Makoto helping Sarah’s memory come back were great character moments. I can say the same for when Jack and Makoto become partners. They are unlikely partners with different abilities, but they gained an appreciation for each other because the other person has what the other lacks. Jack is the attack guy and Makoto is the thinker. It’s a classic combo that just works for stories like this.
Another aspect that shocks me is how good Ingress looks. Yes, it is a CG series but like Revisions, it’s a nice looking CG series. I dare say that Ingress looks better then Revisions by quite a bit. Being an advertisement for a game must have allowed some extra resources and money to sink it and help it’s production. There are just all sorts of classic movie action scenes that are animated exceptionally well here. There are the classic sneaking around with guns scenes, motorcycle and car chases, and even an action sequence set on an crashing airplane that the protagonist has to learn how to control using his powers. It’s all just so incredible and stuff that I never expected to see in a game advertisement. I hope this got some people to play the game.
With all that said, would I recommend this anime? I’m going to say only if you have time to watch it or need something to play in the background when you are doing something else. The dub is pretty solid and the voices match the characters, so you won’t be distracted by too much awkward line reads. It’s not a bad series, but it’s not ground breaking or original either. So yeah, Ingress is just in that boringly competent zone. There is passion behind it with some solid direction, but it’s episode length and forced subject matter of advertising a game weigh it down quite a bit. I guess that means that I am just going to mark Ingress as ok. For more thoughts on this series, please check out Jon Spencer’s review here.