Well, I haven’t posted in a couple days, for various reasons. One, I couldn’t think of anything interesting to post on. Two, I was ruining my eyes by finishing out this excellent series.
Dennou Coil is a smart and imaginative story fleshed out over 26 episodes. The setting of the story is in Japan of the near future. Everything has a digital representation overlaid over the real world, and most people have “glasses” that allow them to interact with this digital world. You have your Minority Report-style human interface with pop-up virtual screens and keyboards, and the ability to throw digital objects that interact with the digital world. Even phone calls are made by making a phone with your hand and pressing on a digital interface (even though you never actually see this interface, I assume they aren’t just pressing the air).
Edit: I just realized that in this awesome future reality, they don’t even have caller ID for their virtual phones. Slackers.
Even though I do really enjoy most of the anime I watch, it’s also refreshing for this series to be mostly free of fanservice, “adult themes,” and obligatory love-relationship issues. The main characters are all elementary school students, and their recreation mostly involves virtually fighting other kids or finding virtual treasures.
The story in Dennou Coil is quite complex and has multiple layers, which are tangled up pretty nicely all the way until the very last couple episodes. The world the kids live in is mostly taken for granted until the series gets into the final 5 episodes, where you learn more about how the world came to be that way. Thus, for the majority of the series, they deal more with the anomalies of their current lives: viruses that manifest as black monsters; security software that takes the form of robots and fires reformatting lasers; and the various myths and legends surrounding “obsolete space,” or areas of the digital overlay that have old versions of the software.
Below, Fumie is sending her cyberhelper into a hole in obsolete space to find Yasako’s cyberpet dog. These are the kinds of commonplace situations found in the show.
This series is very smart in the questions it asks and doesn’t really try to force ideals onto the viewers. It’s hard to really pinpoint a real villain throughout the story, with the perspectives changing to show or hint at the motivations each character has for their actions. Alliances and allegiances switch frequently enough that you’re more drawn into the world and its mysteries as the characters experience them more so than the characters themselves.
I watched the Ureshii subs, which were mostly done well, no glaring spelling or grammar errors. There were some weird timing issues, where a statement would be split up into 3 separate lines rather than shown as a large piece of text; I think most of those could have been either cut better or just displayed all at once rather than showing 7 words then 7 more words. The font chosen seemed kind of lame at first (it was a rounded sans serif similar to Comic Sans), but it grew on me as I got through more episodes. All in all a good effort and a work I would recommend out.
My only gripe with Dennou Coil is its frequent inability to cut scenes smoothly. I was mentally screaming “read the atmosphere!” so many times as the eyecatch into commercial break showed, or as the end credits rolled. I also stayed up a little too late a few nights of the last week because the episode ended IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CLIMAX. Reminds me of the ending to Superior Saturday, or like the big action scene in a movie where they slow down time to show “Holy crap, this is really close!” and then, right when you’re like “Wow, is he gonna make it?!” they fade to black and tell you to stay tuned for the next movie in 3 years (I’m looking at you, Pirates of the Caribbean).
Dennou Coil isn’t as bad as anything I said above, since at worst you’d have to wait 1-2 weeks for the next episode, but still. Anyway, this is a great series with creative ideas and wonderful presentation, and I think it’s really representative of what anime should be. Summer Wars also gives me that feeling, and it’s surprising how similar the two pieces are, if you think about it. If you get the chance, you should check it out.