Pikaia! is an Edutainment anime series from 2015, co-produced by Production I.G and OLM Incorporated. It got a second season in 2017, the title only changing by adding a second exclamation point. Both seasons consist of 15 minute episodes, which are split into about 11 minutes of plot and 4 minutes of lecture.
The story is set in the future, when the earth has become uninhabitable, forcing humans to live in space colonies.Two 14-year-olds, Vince and Hanna, become investigators for the Cambria Project, led by Professor Parker (based off a real-life scientist.) Their mission is to travel back to the Cambrian Period and investigate the creatures of that time, in order to find those who possess the Lost Codes. This DNA information may be the key to making the earth fit to sustain human life again.
Tropes used in this series:
- Ace Custom: Evol's BMS, which is different from the normal models especially in its super-powered final form.
- Adults Are Useless: Subverted. Although Parker chooses to let Vince and Hanna go on the time investigations rather than sending adults, it's because of their traits rather than their age. The adult characters play important support roles, and also handle political business. And when Vince and Hanna try to run a time-dive by themselves, the results are disastrous.
- After the End: Pikaia is set when the earth has become completely uninhabitable, forcing humans to live out in space. Specifically why this happened is unknown, although abuse of environmental resources is hinted to be the cause. Note that the show isn't set immediately after the end. Humans have adjusted to their new life for quite some time. But many still would prefer to get back to earth.
- Animals Not to Scale: The abnormally-large size of the animals is explained in universe. The time-divers actually shrink.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Though they were crazy enough to begin with the Anomalocarises that Wendy and Evol control.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The "Teach us, Morris" segments often contain commentary on the show, and can reach outright meta.
- Bridge Bunnies: Frazer has several unnamed ones on his ship, and Will and Harry are male versions under Morris.
- Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Hanna sings to the tune of the first OP theme to calm herself when she's stranded alone in the Cambrian sea.
- Edutainment Show: The point is to educate viewers about Cambrian-era creatures (and some more modern ones too). It's got a well-thought-out story to boot.
- Gratuitous English: A lot of it comes from the names of the creatures that don't have a Japanese equivalent. But they also yell things like "entry start!" and "install!"
- Limited Wardrobe: Played straight, but most of the characters get a new outfit for the second season (which they also never change out of.)
- Mission Control: Basically all the adult characters serve this role, being that they're all professional scientists (or former ones, in Irma and Frazer's case.)
- Parental Abandonment: No mention is ever made of Vince, Hanna or Wendy's parents.
- Science Marches On: Even at the time of airing, some of the prehistoric animals' depictions on the show did not match up with accepted scientific reconstructions anymore, such as Hallucigenia having a tail.
- Shown Their Work: At least the majority of the scientific facts given in this series are correct. Though there are some simplifications and artistic license here and there. A big case being when the artificially created tester Pikaia is actually able to reproduce with a real Pikaia.
- Signing Off Catchphrase: "Good luck, Morris!" at the end of each "Teach us, Morris" segment.
- Spoiler Opening: The opening animations of both seasons roughly summarize the entire season's plot. But the second season's OP in particular shows that Pikaia and Black Pikaia will unite, which doesn't happen until the final episode, and Black Pikaia was a villain until then.
- Super-Persistent Predator: The Anomalocaris will chase the time-divers endlessly. Of course, this is subverted when Wendy starts remote-controlling them to attack.
- Viewers Are Goldfish: One unfortunate side-effect of the show's edutainment nature. Facts one should know already are repeated very frequently, and each episode ends with a lecture segment which essentially reinforces what was told in the proper episode. The final episode's lecture in both seasons is basically a recap of everything the season taught previously.