a.k.a. Coil – A Circle of Children
The latest trend among the kids of Daikoku City is playing virtual reality games via network-connected cybernetic glasses. Okonogi Yuko, a girl who has recently moved to Daikoku City, quickly finds friends among other kids who have started to investigate around the unexplored parts of cyberspace – parts that apparently contain nothing but trash data but still attract the attention of fortune hunters seeking valuable “metabugs” inside. What is the mystery the behind these “metabugs”, and how does it relate to the recent errors in the cyberspace system?
summary by Taleweaver
Highs: Comedy and drama perfectly balanced; surprisingly serious undertones; state-of-the-art animation
Lows: Character designs leave a little to be desired; more technobabble than you can shake a Spock at
Wow. Just… wow. What started as this year’s “guilty pleasure” anime – a series about grade school kids investigating funny things in some sort of virtual-reality-internet – turned out to be much more. Much more mature that it seems to be at first glance, Denno Coil addresses themes such as the true meaning of friendship, growing up without parents and, primarily, coping with loss. And you wouldn’t expect any of that the way the series starts out.
In fact, Denno Coil keeps a perfect balance between comedy and drama. There is no lack of funny, even wacky, situations fooling you into believing everything will be resolved in a light-hearted, enjoyable way. And then – everything turns out to be much darker, much more serious than expected, and there is no easy solution. Sometimes, there is even no solution at all. That doesn’t mean the series is plunging into a constantly depressive mood, but by contrasting the easy-going, fun holiday lives of young teenagers against serious drama, Denno Coil effectively multiplies the impact of both.
As expected from a Madhouse production, the production quality is high. There’s a nice orchestral soundtrack accompanying everything, and the seiyuu are cast well for their roles. What’s more, the animation is outstanding, absolutely state-of-the-art, and the CGI sequences are flawlessly merged with conventionally drawn scenes. Unfortunately, the character designs aren’t quite up to the otherwise high standards; many are a tad too wacky for their own good while others are simply not unique enough for the roles they carry.
The script also revives something that I hoped would die out with Star Trek: The Next Generation: technobabble. There’s just too much blather about the technical backgrounds of the cyber-glasses the kids are wearing and the virtual-reality-network they play in, and it’s often distracting from the mood of mystery the series is trying to evoke. When I’m wondering what sort of weird blackish shadow just leapt out of nowhere, I don’t want to hear some explanation about how its program code got caught in a feedback loop and the debugging script must have malfunctioned. I’ll leave these sorts of explanations to Spock or Data, thank you.
Still, Denno Coil is one of the best surprises that 2007 had to offer. The show has a well-rounded package of comedy, drama and even enough action to make it worthwhile for a wide audience. There’s even a little shy teenage love to appeal to the romantics among us. Technically brilliant it with nothing more than very minor flaws, there’s no reason not to recommend it full-heartedly.
Denno Coil can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.