July 8, 2008
I almost dropped this series halfway through, but I’m so very glad that I didn’t.
STORY – Dennou Coil’s story is a very unique and interesting take on a popular old subject: digital technologies and the human consciousness are both subjects that have been explored for years. Usually though, a series’ protagonists are similar in age to its primary target audience, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here as Dennou Coil’s themes are actually rather sophisticated and suggest a complexity beyond what may be expected when the characters are in the 10-11 year old range. The connection between the consciousness and a digital projection of oneself has been examined in series such as Ghost in the Shell, but it’s definitely interesting to see this sort of stuff with Digimon-aged characters. The story is good and solid, but what can be a point of frustration is the leisurely pace the plot seems to progress at for the first half of the series. Though it’s a mystery at its core, the series often lapses into almost slice-of-life or simple adventure-type episodes that seem to contribute very little to the overall story.
This was definitely frustrating for me, and I was close to dropping the series as a result. But I stuck it through on my brother’s recommendation, and I was definitely rewarded. Almost all the “useless”-seeming episodes contain nuggets of important information, and even the recap-like episode has bits of new, and very relevant, material slipped in between the recycled animation. In retrospect, this was actually incredibly clever as it mimics the mystery of the series and forces you to recall things later as you suddenly realize their importance. Keep your eyes pried.
Once you hit the second half of the series, everything starts progressing very quickly. The tension rises, the suspense more than doubles, and the mystery deepens as the characters explore avenues and possibilities they hadn’t considered before. The story becomes even more engaging and intriguing as you delve into the pasts of various characters, intertwined in ways they don’t realize. It gets scary too, in that wonderful creepy way that most horror movies aren’t able to accomplish. Watch the second half of this series by yourself with the lights out in the middle of the night. It’s fun. 8D
CHARACTER – The two main characters in Dennou Coil are both wonderfully in-depth characters. Yasako and Isako appear to be polar opposites, and it’s really great watching their relationship change and grow throughout the course of the series as they are forced against each other and along side one another by circumstances. As they’re both new the area at the start of the series, it’s also interesting to follow their interactions with the other children as they carve out their places among them. They’re great foil characters, and though this comparative nature is made obvious by their similarly pronounced given names (they’re both named Yuko, though the kanji is different, allowing them to have different nicknames), I don’t really feel as if that cheapens it. Additionally, though I usually tend to dislike wholly “good” characters, the fact that we’re dealing with children makes their personalities and motives easier to sympathize with, regardless of “goodness.” Besides, it’s not that hard to believe that children just aren’t that jaded, even if sometimes they pretend to be.
The rest of the children vary in complexity of character, but none of them seem completely flat or boring. Daichi and his gang may seem pretty stereotypical at first glance, but all of them are explored further (sure, Daichi and Denpa more than the rest, but even the lackeys have some ulterior motives). Fumie, Akira, and Kyoko interested me the least (Kyoko annoyed the hell out of me, really), but they facilitated plot points well enough, and the latter two are minor enough (and young enough) to not really matter much beyond that. Haraken I kind of have mixed feelings about because his character never seemed to change much, even when it seemed like he should have. It was an understandable staticness, to some extent, but it still bugs me somewhat. Still, his relationship with his aunt was fun to follow, and I think it’s kind of hilarious that the aunt is only seventeen, but considering the ages of most of the other characters, that’s pretty damn old! Then again, there’s also Mega-baa… who’s ancient, but possibly more childlike and energetic than anyone else in the series!
All in all, I was very happy with the characters in Dennou Coil, even the ones that appeared kind of generic found ways to make themselves entertaining for the most part.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – I don’t think there was anything especially notable about the art or animation in this series, but both were definitely fitting. The characters looked appropriate for their given ages, and there was a softness about the general style that seemed to suggest the same. The animation I would consider to be on the high end of average; the explosions, the shininess of metatags and metabugs, as well as the Illegals were all very well done.
MUSIC – I’m very fond of both the opening and end themes in Dennou Coil; both have this sort of mysteriousness and anticipation to them that go very well with the story and general mood of the series. The music present in the series itself must not have been anything too memorable since I can’t seem to recall anything right now, but nothing stands out as bad either so. There may actually be some good tracks I can’t think of right now though; there were some pretty nice action and suspense scenes, and I’m sure the music was appropriate for them. I just can’t recall anything right now.
VOICE ACTING – This series hasn’t even been licensed yet, I don’t think, so subbed is your only choice for now. Average? Yeah, I’d say about average, average-good? Most of the voices were pretty nice, especially for more eccentric characters like Mega-baa and Haraken’s aunt, but otherwise nothing particularly notable.
OVERALL – I think Dennou Coil is a great series, despite its slow pacing at times. You can consider it reflective of reality — mysteries aren’t always solved immediately, and children tend to have short attention spans, so they may wander off and do something else for a little while before being reminded of the task at hand. Mystery is a pretty neglected genre in anime in my opinion, but Dennou Coil handles it very well while matching familiar digital/reality themes with characters that aren’t traditional to them. Everything wraps up neatly in the end (yes, that does mean it’s a mystery that has a good ending!), and I was left feeling very satisfied.