control – review

Took 4 episodes, but C – Control finally broke through and made itself worth watching to me. So, here’s the synopsis. First off, I don’t remember anyone’s names because almost none of the characters are at all interesting except the Mad Hatter ripoff and the main mystery man/possible villain, Mikuni Soichirou. Anywho, the setting of this anime is that there is a secret mystical/virtual world called the Financial District. People who are invited there are able to “cash in” on their futures, or, in other words, they gain money up front by investing their futures. In really simple terms, it’s similar to “in exchange for my firstborn child”… quite literally. Details to follow!

The main character is some college kid. He happens to be romantically interested in some girl in his class, but she is apparently going out with his friend. One night, he’s visited by the Mad Hatter and offered to join the Financial District. In a fit of temporary insanity, sort of, he joins. Once there, he makes a contract with a demon-like entity known as an “Asset” and he himself becomes an “Entrepreneur/Entre.” Funny how they basically change all the typical fantasy terms into money-related ones. It’d be more intuitive to new views if they were called Summoners and Demons or Magical Beasts or something, but they need to be unique here. Moving on…

In order to maintain membership in the Financial District, Entres must make “Deals” (read: fight Duels), where your monetary worth directly affects your own and your Asset’s attack strength. Interestingly enough, the attacks are all classified as “Microflation,” “Mezzoflation,” and “Macroflation,” in other words “light attack,” “medium attack,” and “heavy attack,” just like a fighting game! Protag is all of a sudden thrust into his first Deal shortly after meeting his Asset, a fire-demon chick, and makes a name for himself by being the first newcomer in a while to win his first Deal. He also learns that his father was also an Entre, but went bankrupt and presumably committed suicide because of it.

The first 3 episodes kind of set the stage and background for the protag and Mikuni, as well as introducing some other characters, but the first episode that really drew me in was episode 4. The story is split into a “recent past” and “current Deal” view, where protag is fighting against his college professor. In the flashback, his crush is talking to the professor’s wife, who is pregnant and is visiting her husband’s lecture. Apparently it will be her third child. Flash to the Deal, protag does some stuff and Mikuni does some stuff and he ends up winning… except he won by such a large margin that the professor goes bankrupt. Back in the real world, protag gets nervous when he attends lecture, but, Lo! and behold!, the professor shows up all honky-dorey and does that stuff that teachers do. After class, he approaches the professor, who invites him back to his home.

Once there, he explains that his wife always wanted children, but she was never aware of their economic well-being. The professor, knowing that he couldn’t support a family on his teacher’s wage, jumped at the opportunity to earn more money for his family via the Financial District. However, losing to protag, he has now become bankrupt and began to wonder exactly what it meant losing his “future.” Protag chimes in with “my dad also went bankrupt and committed suicide!,” as though egging the prof on. However, prof just smiles sadly and says “I understand the situation your father was in myself, now.”

They go back down and meet prof’s wife for tea. Protag notices she’s not pregnant and asks “Did you give birth to your child already?” She’s all like “What you smoking, foo? Sure you ain’t confusing me with someone else?” Protag is shocked to learn that they no longer have any kids, and the wife doesn’t even remember having kids in the first place. Prof explains that it’s like reality was overwritten, to where his kids never existed.

Second half of the episode is about one of Mikuni’s deals, where he fights some old geezer with a teleporting trick and some walls and stuff. He suffers for the first few minutes, taking numerous hits. However, at the last 10 seconds, he summons “Sleeping Beauty” and attacks the old guy’s core… winning by 1%. After the duel, he explains to protag that he wins all his duels this way. He doesn’t want his actions to have drastic outcomes in the real world, so he tries his best to never greatly alter his opponents’ financial worth.

I find this a very interesting concept. It’s a pretty tried-and-true setting, something similar to Pokémon or Shaman King or something, where you fight with flashy attacks and avatars. However, the show itself puts the fights into “another world” that is different from the real world. However, the undeniable truth is that your actions in the “virtual” world still have outcomes in the real world. And it’s all the more frightening because you don’t know exactly what will happen in the real world. I’m looking forward to finding out what protag decides to do, how he hones his skills and develops his own way of either surviving in or destroying the Financial District, as well as the reverberations that occur from his actions.

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