Reviews: Dennou Coil
It\'s Alright and That\'s Fine
Dennou Coil presents some interesting concepts, using its child characters to present them in a more innocent light. It speaks to those who wandered their neighborhoods with a group of friends, playing out fantastical battles and stories in our minds. It's a world that none of the adults can see, so none of them could possibly understand how serious such games could be. Unfortunately its ambitious ideas (and ambitious animation quality) leave it lacking near the end. While I can only conjecture, it certainly feels like Dennou Coil had problems managing its budget, to the point of restricting the plot to three character models in a large part of a later episode. It never tips the scales into being bad, but it is noticeable. Things had to be rewritten to fit scenes mostly filled with characters monologueing or conversing, so it gets a little "show, don't tell" and some explanations for things get thrown out without much to do. Still, it's worth for that bitter taste of nostalgia it can induce. However, if you're anything like myself, you may find you've gotten everything you actually need from the series by the third act.
A Hidden Gem
If Serial Experiments Lain and Ghost In The Shell had a younger kid sibling, its name would be Dennou Coil. However, it completely is able to stand on its own. Yes it's a kid's show. Kids are the stars. But even then, it's hard to believe it's a kid's show. The two main characters are Yuko "Yasako" Okonogi and Yuko "Isako" Amasawa. The series has three distinct arcs in my opinion: two running simultaneously at first, then merging to make the third. The first one is Yasako trying to understand the world around her. She's been exposed to the augmented reality for some time now, but not in the testbed city for it. The second arc involves the actions of Isako and her hunt for kirabugs. Isako clearly has been exposed to a lot more of the augmented reality than Yasako and is much more competent than her (and everyone else really). Eventually the arcs merge roughly halfway through the series once Yasako (and the audience) have enough basic info to comprehend the surrounding world pretty well. Given that it is a kid's show, I can understand the reasoning for this, but I didn't see it as such until this review. Which brings us back to: "it's hard to believe that it's a kid's show". The third arc is definitely the most gripping part of the show, and once it started I could not stop watching. Overall, the plot is interesting enough that even through the slowest episodes it's enough to keep you watching. The more one gets in, the more they want the next as twists and turns keep coming out. The amount of plot holes is very low, and even one I thought was one ended up being a moment of fridge brilliance for me. It does suffer through "Cerebus Syndrome" if you want to call it such once the two arcs merge, but it was hinted at from the start that something wasn't quite right. If anything the earlier silly tone comes off as "ignorance is bliss" once the reality behind the augmented reality starts to get exposed (pun intended). I don't particularly agree with the canon pairing but eh, it's a non issue in the whole scheme of things (it's rarely brought up). All in all, watch it if you can. It's a great series. Sadly it hasn't been licensed in the US, but hopefully it will be soon! Oh, and regarding the manga version? Expect a lot of changes. You have been warned.
Needs More Love
Move over Lain, there are new kids on the block. Both Serial Experiments Lain and Dennou Coil feature young girls growing up in a world where the boundary between real and digital is wearing thin. However, there the similarities end. While Lain is a Creepy Child and loner, Yasako is a normal child who embarks on adventures with her friends (and Isako at least has minions). While Lain is a Mind Screw with numerous Genius Bonuses, Dennou Coil is a comparatively more comprehensible mystery sometimes sidetracked by childish antics. Twenty Minutes Into The Future, the newest accessory in Daikoku has become glasses that allows one to see and interact with the cyberspace covering the city. However, mysterious entities called "illegals" have appeared in cyberspace and begun causing trouble. When Yasako moves to the city and is inducted into her eccentric grandmother's Coil Detective Agency, she slowly begins to learn about the darker secrets of the technology from her new friends. From there she becomes aquainted with Haraken, who is investigating his friend's death, and the enigmatic "encoder" Isako, who is chasing the "illegals" for mysterious reasons. The first half of the series slowly introduces the workings of the 'verse in the midst of the hilarious antics of the characters who actually act like the children they are, such as resident Butt Monkey Daichi, and the highlight of which is the war between the kids' sentient facial hairs using interfacial ballistic missiles (It Makes Sense In Context, I promise). In the second half Cerebus Syndrome sets in as the pieces of the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot are slowly pieced together. Both halves are interesting and enjoyable.