Thursday, December 24, 2009

Secret Santa Review: Dennōu Coil



As a part of ReverseThieves' Secret Santa review project, a number of anime bloggers such as myself got together and swapped suggestions. We each were given an anime blogger and had to examine their MyAnimeList to choose 3 shows that the blogger had not seen. These shows could be no longer than 26 episodes long. Lastly, we could not know who was giving us these recommendations, and thus ReverseThieves' delivered the suggestions to each blogger. After receiving the 3 recommendations we were tasked with choosing 1 to review.

The shows recommended to me were Kanon (2006), Sola, and Dennōu Coil. Out of these choices Kanon is the only one I was at all familiar with. I had a general idea of the story and knew that eventually I would watch this show; therefore, I wanted to defer this choice and choose one I was much less familiar with. That led me to Sola and Dennōu Coil. Again I knew very little about either, but just from the first few minutes of Dennōu Coil I saw the use of cyber-technology and I knew, being an IT person, that this might be of interest to me. Indeed it was, and I must truly thank my Secret Santa for recommending this, and and the other two anime to me. While I might still wait to get to the other shows, I've watched Dennōu Coil and truly enjoyed the experience I might not otherwise have had.

Dennōu Coil: Review

Like so many anime about Japan, the story takes place in an alternate reality, where nearly everything is be digitized. Pets, limbs, traffic, and so much more is all connected. Simply put on a pair of cyber glasses and anyone can enter into this elaborate world that the naked eye cannot see. On a day to day basis, the adults seem to take use of the digitization merely for convenience, if at all, but for the kids this these glasses let them enter into the most elaborate playground of all. For the 6th grader Yuko, the female lead of the anime, the city of Daikoku where she has moved to is the most fascinating of all the cities, due to the heightened connections and fluxes between the city and the cyber world.

The story initially highlights Yuko's transition into this city, and the friendships she makes with kids at her school who have become fairly skilled at hacking for their amusement. However with the introduction of a new student, and expert 'hacker', known as Isako, strange occurrences begin to increase. Likewise Haraken, a fellow student, is searching to find out more about the death of a classmate potentially due to what's presumed to be a virus, aka an Illegal, and in doing so leads the kid's into territory that is potentially quite dangerous. As the show progresses, and the kids immerse themselves more and more into the digital world, we're left wondering what awaits them - exciting new discoveries or dark pasts and even darker futures?

This balance between adolescence, mystery, and mass-digitization is what grabbed me from the start, and continued throughout to be a powerful draw to keep watching. In fact, I'd say the story itself is really the primary draw. The show has bare-bone animation styling, purposeful I'm sure, and is no way meant to be watched on beauty alone. Additionally, one might assume that since the story is all about kids that there can be little depth; however, that is far from the truth. Instead, much like with Evangelion and 20th Century Boys, the acts of children can have great consequences. With 20th Century Boys especially I see a parrallel with Dennōu Coil, particularly when Yuko's past as an even younger child seems to contain information she's not even aware of that's connected to mysteries in the present. This dichotomy
of time adds to the allure, and is just yet another reason why Dennōu Coil kept me wanting more.

In summary, I sensed a pattern in the shows suggested to me, being that of kids. In anime, unlike cartoons, these kids experience many of the difficulties that ordinary kids do, and at times even more so. That said Dennōu Coil did a fantastic job portraying coming-of-age emotions in an alternate reality, an in doing so reminded me what anime is and what it should be. Dennōu Coil is what anime should be, and I'm thankful it was recommended to me, and I'd like to recommend it to anyone wanting to explore the at times wacky, but always wondrous, world of Dennōu Coil.

48 comments:

Reverse Thieves said...

I really loved Denno Coil so I am glad you enjoyed it as well. It's non-gibsonian cyberpunk world was a delightful place to play in. It has a great cast and a good mystery. Just a great deal to sink you teeth into.

I am always surprised that Narutaki has not watched the series yet. Maybe after your review he will sit down and give it a chance. (Then again Narutaki is a busy fellow with a lot in his queue.)It seems on of those shows that people in the blogging community get behind but you never hear anyone else talk about. Truly a shame.

Overall a great review. I am glad you enjoyed what you watched and hope you participate in such a project again.

- Hisui

Zippy said...

Thanks Hisui for checking out my review! To be honest, I don't write reviews as regularly as my fellow bloggers, so I may have been a bit rusty. I'm loving your succinct description of Dennou Coil as a "non-gibsonian cyberpunk world" and wish I'd thought of that sort of phrase myself.

I'm definitely going to be pushing this series to my non-blogger anime friends. Hopefully, if you bring the Secret Santa review project back I can try to talk more bloggers into participating. ^_^

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