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Anime / Den-noh Coil

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"According to rumors on the net..."

Den-noh Coil (電脳コイル, Cyber Coil in English), also known as Coil — A Circle of Children, is an Anime First sci-fi series animated by Madhouse and made its original run on NHK in 2007.

Den-noh Coil is set 20 Minutes into the Future (in 2026, to be exact) in the fictional Japanese town of Daikoku, which is the testing ground for an Augmented Reality project that involves crafting a cyberspace that overlaps the entire town. By using special glasses, people are able to interact with this overlapping cyberspace, allowing them to carry on their normal lives in addition to being permanently connected to the internet through their glasses, essentially concentrating all modern portable media devices (phones, MP3 players, laptop) into one set of non-intrusive glasses. With the appearances of 'glitches' in this augmented reality, a thriving hacker culture soon emerges amongst the children of the city.


The anime tells the story of Yuko Okonogi (nicknamed "Yasako"), a girl who moves into Daikoku together with her mother, little sister Kyoko and her virtual pet Densuke (an augmented reality dog that only people with glasses can see) when her father gets a job transfer there. Upon arriving in the town, she finds herself integrated into the glasses community of the local children, and discovers that her shrewd grandmother has become a focal point for a major club of these children, called the Coil Cyber Detective Agency. This leads to later encounters with the enigmatic Yuko Amasawa (nicknamed "Isako"), a girl with abnormally powerful hacking skills who seems to be hunting for computer viruses in the system known as "illegals" for her own unknown ends, and discoveries tying the various characters' pasts with the truths behind the city's cyber-network...


Den-noh Coil could be described as "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex meets Hayao Miyazaki"; an extremely charming, high-quality story of children, for children, in a sci-fi setting designed to display the effects of this new technology that still manages to keep some 'magical' aspects. Despite winning several prizes, reaching cult hit status and being critically considered to be one of the best anime of 2007, the series was only licensed in 2011 by Tokuma Shoten for use in an iPhone app (since discontinued) and (after much negotiation) for DVD release in Australia. It finally got a North American release in 2016 by Sentai Filmworks under its Maiden Japan label.

According to rumours on the net, there is a list of trope examples:

  • Action Girl: Isako, who at one point foils a spam attack by another classmate without even lifting a finger. Yasako gets here in the last few episodes.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Justified somewhat, as the use of glasses is mostly a children's fad and most adults do not use them... Though the few that do are usually as competent as the rest of the cast.
    • Justified somewhat as far as the events of the story are concerned. Much of the plot is due to early adult experiments with cyberglasses.
    • Subverted towards the end - Mega-Baa and Yasako's dad are crucial for solving the crisis, even though Yasako still has to go to the frontline.
  • The Atoner: Haraken is this at the ripe old age of 11.
  • All Myths Are True: There are tons and tons of urban legends and myths kids make up about cyberspace. Many of the ones mentioned throughout the series are proven to be true to some degree.
  • Alternate Character Reading: The basis of the Yukos' nicknames.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Kyoko, to the Nth degree. She has an obsession with yelling the word "poop!" and always runs into trouble.
  • Arc Number: 4423
  • Artificial Stupidity: In-universe, the Searchies reason for trying to wipe out any data in the old E-spaces, regardless if it's actually outdated or not. Even the less experienced children note how dumb they are. They're still a massive pain to deal with, and potentially very dangerous if they're in groups.
  • As You Know: Takeru gets one from his brother, Sousuke Nekome, and we get some late exposition Nekome's motives in bringing down the company.
  • Augmented Reality: The entire series is centered around a town set up for an augmented reality system which children have access to.
  • Bag of Holding: Fumie has one; justified since the programs she carries in it have no actual physical space requirements.
  • Belated Backstory: Sousuke and Takeru's quest for revenge for their parents comes in the form of As You Know exposition rather late in the series.
  • Beam Spam: The Searchies' ultimate attack mode. That it's virtual doesn't make it any less frightening, considering the setting.
  • Beard of Evil: Illegal beards show up halfway through the show. It's infectious. And sentient. Then the kids find them building their own civilizations. The different characters' beards eventually start digi-nuclear warfare with each other using Inter-Facial Ballistic Missiles. We couldn't make this up if we tried. They eventually perform a collective Heel–Face Turn after the ensuing holocaust.
  • Biker Babe: Tamako is frequently shown driving around on a black sports bike.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Daichi's father seems to be this.
  • Blob Monster: The first illegals to show up are mostly indistinct 'blobs' of black.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Daichi.
  • Breather Episode: The episodes involving Fumie's back-and-forth spats with Daichi are very lighthearted and reduce Isako to minimal appearances.
  • Broken Record: "HI! I'm Searchie! Nice to meet ya!"
  • Butt-Monkey: Daichi goes through more suffering than anyone else.
  • But Now I Must Go: Isako, in the end
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: The teacher. She gets drunk off whiskey bonbons.
  • Catchphrase: Yasako's "According to rumours on the net...", and the Searchies' Broken Record of a greeting.
  • Central Theme:
    • The biggest one is the emotional distance between people. Be it lying, masking your feelings, lack of communication, or overuse of the glasses dulling your sense of reality, these paths between us shape how we interact with others, but there's a chance to cross that gap and reestablish emotional bonds if we're willing to try.
    • The dead still influence the living, even if they're gone. Remembering them gives us a connection with the departed, but it must not be your only connection, and if it grows too strong or is twisted, it will cause nothing but suffering until they learn to move on.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: The general effect of the glasses. Need a phone? Extend your pinky and stick your thumb in your ear. Need a keyboard? Stick out your hands and start Rapid-Fire Typing.
  • Cool Car: Nekome is almost exclusively seen in and around a (left-hand-drive, for some reason) red sports car that looks very similar to the Acura/Honda NSX. He is rarely shown actually driving it, though.
  • Corporal Punishment: Fumie occasionally subjects Akira to spankings when he angers her.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Coil Detective Agency badges. Specifically members one, two, and three.
    • The keyhole in Densuke's collar is visible from the earliest episodes.
    • The very first few seconds of the opening theme.
    • Kanna's glasses.
  • Chew Toy: Daichi.
  • Combining Mecha: and the "Kyuu-chan" drones
  • Cool Big Sis: Technically a 'Cool Aunt'; but Tamako otherwise fits this Trope to a T (no pun intended).
  • Cool Old Lady: Megabaa.
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": Mega-Baa, of course.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Imago, which enhances the already-awesome capabilities of the glasses with a Technopathic Unusual User Interface - you can manipulate Space with exponentially greater effect and without performing any outward physical actions. Price tag: getting hit with metatags or a Searchie formatting beam normally just wrecks your personal data. Imago users suffer brain damage and heart disease. The developers actually sealed Imago like an unwanted application for this very reason, and even Isako explicitly warns Yasako not to overuse it, or else risk death.
  • Dark Magical Girl: Isako, only with hacker skills instead of magic.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Oh, Densuke.
  • Determinator: Yasako in the last couple episodes, namely in the lengths she went to to pull Isako back to reality.
  • Dueling Hackers: Happens often enough, since realspace and cyberspace are linked. A particularly heated one happens between Isako and Fumie early on.
  • Dummied Out: In-Universe, this is what happens to any plot of Cyberspace deemed "obsolete". They're deleted periodically, but if you get to them before that happens, you might find Metabugs—items no longer considered valid, which by some accident are very useful in Item Crafting.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Yasako to Haraken in episode 20
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In the first episode, Nekome and Tamako (who are introduced in later episodes) are seen in the Harburger restaurant where Yasako, Kyoko, and Densuke eat. In the flashback scene of the same episode, the Arc Number 4423 is seen at the background. The number is introduced in the second episode.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And HOW!
  • Empathic Environment: In the sleepover episode, during the scary story telling scene, Daichi's ominous words are followed by thunder and lightning, though this was revealed to be his friend's doing. However, when Haraken tells his story, the lightning appears to be real.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Isako, if you consider her to be Nekome's minion.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Digital plesiosaurs, for the win.
  • Everything Is Online: Everything down to the lift controls and traffic lights are shown as connected, which is unsurprising in a series set 20 Minutes into the Future.
  • Festival Episode: Episode 8.
  • Filler: Pretty much any episode without Isako in it can be considered to be either filler or to be giving background flavor.
  • The Flatwoods Monster: In Episode 9, Flatwoods Monsters, greys, chupacabras, Martians, and miniature UFOs are all featured in the spooky cyber games the kids play while alone at school at night.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Tamako, who controls the Searchies and Kyuu-chans, gives them affectionate pet names, and even treats them as pets as much as servants.
  • Funbag Airbag: Rushing due to being Late for School, Daichi runs right into Tamako's boobs in episode 21.
  • Genki Girl: Fumie, to an extent.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Several characters, including girls, sprout sentient virtual facial hair for an episode.
  • Glitch Entity: "Illegals" are sentient viruses that subsist on metabugs. Some might have been regular cyberpets once, but the material they were made from is no longer valid.
  • God Guise: ...Did we mention that the above-mentioned beards start worshiping the people they're on as gods?
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The entire premise revolves around glasses/goggles that reveal and interact with a computerized space that co-exists with real space. Goggles!
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Isako's insecurity over her brother leaving her ultimately manifests itself into the form of Miss Michiko
  • Headbutt of Love: Between Yasako and Isako, of all people, in the last episode.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Takeru
  • Heroic BSoD: Yasako after Densuke died. Isako gets close after finding out the truth about her brother.
  • Heroic RRoD:
    • How Yasako's grandfather died.
    • Also self-induced by Isako to make her encode reactor unstable and interfere with Nekome's passage.
  • Heroic Dog: Densuke. Just Densuke. Considering he fights off a group of Nulls while being badly injured himself to protect Yasako, he's a pretty heroic dog.
  • Hold the Line: Tamako's task in episode 20, where she has to hold off the scheduled area formatting long enough for Yasako to return from the obsolete space with Haraken.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Even the least eye-catching examples of hacking look suspiciously like Hermetic Magic and Instant Runes (the more visual ones? They involved rockets). In this case, though, it's because a) they're not using the internet at all, but rather Augmented Reality technology and b) the Augmented Reality subculture in the series is dominated mostly by preteen children, the exact sort of people who would try to make hacking as flashy as possible.
  • Holographic Terminal: A variation. Here, the main characters almost constantly wear advanced Augmented Reality goggles that superimpose computer-generated imagery over the real world. Such glasses are also able to sense the user's movements, so free-floating virtual terminals are one of the most common ways to interact with the simulation system. Such displays, like everything else in the "den-noh-world", are invisible and intangible to anyone that doesn't wear den-noh-glasses. They should logically be intangible to the wearer too, since glasses don't cover your hands, yet everyone is perfectly comfortable typing on a Hard Light keyboard suspended in midair.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Denpa... Sort of.
  • Hyperlink Story: Oh, yes. With Yasako wandering into Coil Space kicking things off, we have Isako's search for her brother's cure, Tamako and "the incident four years ago", Nekome's aims, and Haraken and his investigation on Kanna's death. This links to Megabaa and Grandpa Okonogi's backstory and the founding of Coil Space, which loops back to Yasako wandering into Coil Space.
  • Implacable Man: Searchies, at least from the protagonists' point of view.
  • Important Haircut: Variant: While Isako's hair isn't cut, her hairstyle gets changed at the end of the series to symbolize a break from her dependence on her brother.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The Satchi are in the employ of the Ministry of Post. Since shrines, parks, schools and hospitals are under other ministries, it can't enter there. It also can't enter private homes and is basically only free to roam the street for "Space" problems.
  • Instant Runes: The metatags seem to function a lot like this, even though the setting is non-magical. Subverted with Isako who actually draws patterns that perform all kinds of functions, like dealing with Searchies. Manifested later on with Imago.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Daichi in the end, especially after taking training from his dad, letting him deal with the bullies that had made the kids' lives hell for some time.
  • Jerkass: Daichi in the beginning.
  • Killer Rabbit: "HI! I'm Searchie! Nice to meet ya!"
  • Kimodameshi: With computer-generated scares, no less.
  • The Load: Kyoko, most of the time. Picture Mei-chan with poop jokes. And lasers.
  • Locked in a Room: Yasako and Isako are locked inside a storage locker in one episode. Nothing notable happens apart from showing that Isako isn't particularly villainous.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Isako in the final two episodes
  • Magic Skirt: except for Kyoko
  • Magitek: Inverted. The glasses and e-space are purely technological, but a lot of the interfaces and rules they run by seem pulled straight from a fantasy novel, from familiar-like servants to paper talisman charms to instant (and not-so-instant) runes. Even the Interservice Rivalry serves to make the setting seem more mystical, as due to bureaucratic jingoism, Searchies cannot enter shrines, houses, schools or other traditional "safe places", at least not without an invitation. Later un-inverted and played straight as it becomes increasingly clear that the substrate of the entire system is basically the land of the dead.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Nekome, in spades.
  • Maybe Ever After: Yasako and Haraken - they're only 11, of course, but in the last episode they are seen to acknowledge feelings for each other
  • Meaningful Name: Both Yukos, 優子, "kind girl" for Okonogi, and 勇子, "brave girl" for Amasawa. Slightly lampshaded when the first one, "Yasako", explains her nickname and gives the other one hers.
  • Meganekko: Most of the female cast, for obvious reasons, although Yasako is the best example of the trope since her glasses have an ordinary shape and her personality is gentle.
  • Minus World: Obsolete Space.
  • Mood Whiplash: Episode 12 is a positive, while the next is less so.
  • Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness:
    • While the theory behind the glasses themselves is very plausible (an accidental engineering discovery led to more efficient electrical and data transmission, allowing for the creation of a widespread augmented virtual reality), the fantasy elements present in the net are certainly not.
    • The manga version however is a lot softer in this regard.
  • Ms. Exposition: Tamako plays this role a lot.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Also Tamako... Not that she has a lot of competition here.
  • New Transfer Student: Yasako and Isako.
  • Never Mess With Mega-baa
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Averted, as it's at least part of the reason Yasako and Isako don't completely remember past events from when they were around seven until the end.
  • Not So Stoic: Isako. Oh, Isako.
  • Old Master: Megabaa again.
  • Ominous Fog: Of the virtual kind and usually an indication that something doesn't compute.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: Naturally, as the city is beta-testing Augmented Reality, the children find the edge cases, represented as strange environment and distorted holes in reality. It's eventually revealed that the alpha test put a participant into a coma, and the beta test is layered over top to hide the original system.
  • Once per Episode: Every episode will start with Yasako delivering an update on the latest rumors on the net, which are almost always relevant for the ensuing episode.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted by the two Yukos, but since most people use their nicknames it doesn't matter anyway.
  • Opt Out: Fumie, after an encounter with Illegals that almost costs them Kyoko, tells Yasako she doesn't want anything more to do with researching them.
  • Orphean Rescue: Getting trapped in Coil Space means long-time, if not permanent, coma. When Haraken and Isako find themselves trapped there, Yasako helps bring them back.
  • Pet the Dog: Almost all of the more morally ambiguous characters have one, to show they're not really bad people. It is a kid's show, after all.
  • Plucky Girl: Most of the female cast.
  • Post Cyber Punk: To the degree that there's not much punk left. The series is best described as "Ghost in the Shell as done by Hayao Miyazaki."
  • Posthumous Character: Kana, Yasako's grandfather and Isako's brother
  • Power Degeneration: Isako using/controlling the Imago along with a encoder is one helluva powerful thing and very few people can manage it, but it does severe damage to your nerves and body.
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: Pretty much everyone who types, though Isako has a powerful variant: Rapid Eye Clicking
  • Recap Episode: Episode 14 is mainly this, with some plot in the last minutes.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Nekome, in his growing desperation to destroy MegaMass
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: Parodied in Mega-baa's store. 10 seconds of Megane-beam supposedly costs three million yen (roughly 30,000 US dollars.) Fumie pays with pocket change.It turns out Mega-baa is just being weird by multiplying all the numbers she says by ten thousand. She asks for a total of 6.2 million yen, but the register actually says the total is 620 yen (about five dollars), and Fumie pays with recognizable Japanese coins that add up to that amount.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Isako's henchmen, the Mojo, are a sort of terribly adorable virtual fluff balls. The Midgets are unspeakably cute as well.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Unusually for a Shoujo action girl show, Isako and Yasako never quite get there, although they come awfully close at times
  • Sacred First Kiss: Daichi makes a huge fuss over the fact that his First Kiss is stolen without his consent... by Yasako's little sister.
  • Scenery Porn: Sort of to be expected when the director was an animator.
  • Sensei-chan: The teacher. Not as extreme as some examples, but she's clearly regarded as The Baby of the Bunch by the rest of the faculty, was the one to organize a sleepover at the school for the kids, and after she gets drunk (on whiskey bonbons!) she insists on joining in on the kids' games.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Most everyone (even Searchieat the end!) uses Mikuru beams, even if they call them megane-beams.
    • Obsolete Space seems to resemble the strange, otherworldly dimension in the episode "Little Girl Lost" from The Twilight Zone (1959) (or the Other Side in the movie Poltergeist.) It's even said that the souls of the dead wind up in Obsolete Space, making it seem a lot like a realm between death and life). Kyoko's kidnapping and Yasako's having to rescue her with the help of the family dog even resembles the rescue scene from "Little Girl Lost."
  • Shrines and Temples: Daikoku city has quite a lot of these — handy, since Searchie is forbidden from entering them.
  • Shrinking Violet: Haraken and Denpa are male examples.
  • Spam Attack: Daichi tries to attack Isako by spamming her with email. Isako not only deletes the mail faster than Daichi can send it, but she also spams Daichi back, ultimately crashing his glasses and forcing an expensive restore.
  • Spanner in the Works: Yasako, her encounter with 4423 inadvertently messed up the therapeutic intent of the Coil Domain and created Miss Michiko
  • Spirit Advisor: Densuke — being a virtual pet, only people with glasses can see him.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: One explanation of what "Miss Michiko" is entails an onryo-ish death and onryo-ish behavior, but as the story is told, a pure black figure is used to represent her ghost instead of typical onryo garb and appearance, probably to liken her to an Illegal.
  • Taking You with Me: In the last episode, Tama Kamikaze-dives with a Nekome-controlled Searchie 2.0 in negative space.
  • Team Pet: Densuke.
  • Techno Babble
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The other urban legend explaining exactly what the mysterious "Miss Michiko" is ends with this.
  • Title Drop: The phenomenon known as "Den-noh Coil" isn't referred to by name until episode 14.
  • True Companions: At the end of the series, Isako tells Yasako what basically amounts to "We may have had too many differences to be 'friends,' but we'll always be Nakama."
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Happens quite a few times in the later episodes, often involving Tamako.
  • Undisclosed Funds: Virtually every major expense by the children is simply referred to as "x years' worth of otoshidama". Even a single year of otoshidama is a significant amount of money for children!
  • The Un-Reveal: Most of the series' mysteries are wrapped up satisfactorily, but a few things are left vague.
    • The biggest one is the nature of Yuco Yasako and Yuco Amasawa's relationship. The series ends with Amasawa admitting with the complicated history they have, she can't say if she thinks of her as a friend, a partner, a sister, or something else. Given the lengths Yasako went to get her digital body back, it's possible it might even be romantic in nature, as her friend Ken has definite subtext and shares a similarly aloof personality hiding emotional vulnerability after losing a loved one in an accident.
    • The nature of the Illegals ultimately goes unanswered as well. Ken theorizes they're strong emotions left by the collective unconscious, a few seem to be digital pets that have been left behind, or possibly the minds of users that have drifted too far with Imago, or a combination of all of these.
    • For that matter, what is Densuke? He's not a normal digital pet, he's survived data wipes, Cryptography attacks, and guided both Amasawa and Kyoko back from the Other Side when this should have been impossible. And each time it looks like he's gone for good, he keeps coming back okay.
  • Villain Decay: The Searchies start out as the most terrifying thing the children face, being disastrously dumb and constantly out to get them because the kids carry modified or otherwise unauthorized items. But upon the reveal that Haraken's aunt Tamako is authorized to control 3 searchies and even Haraken himself is able to having limited command over them, they become slightly less of a nuisance. And then by the time the Searchies 2.0 get released, which have even more capabilities than the first iteration, all we see of the original searchies anymore are the ones Tamako controls that help the main heroes.
  • Virtual Ghost: Deconstructed with The Nulls, which are fleeting remnants of consciousnesses of eyeglass-users who got too integrated into the network and died. They're barely sentient and appear as tormented, shadowy beings.
  • Wham Line: The reveal that 4423 didn't refer to Isako's brother... it referred to Isako herself.
  • When It All Began: Kanna's accident one year ago, and Isako's accident 5 years ago.
  • Win to Exit: If you go deep enough into Obsolete Space to notice A Glitch in the Matrix, you really shouldn't take your glasses off before you walk out, or your mind will end up trapped there. And the authorities will not only do everything they can to keep anyone from even attempting to rescue you, but are engaged in an ongoing effort to destroy those spaces knowing that will kill everyone trapped inside, deeming them acceptable losses.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Isako. While it appears to be played straight through out most of the series, the more you learn about Isako, Yasako, and "4423", and how they all relate to one another the more it becomes clear that Isako is really just a very lonely and angry girl. By the end of the series though, each of the three main protagonists (including Haraken) could be said to qualify, especially Yasako.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Normally averted - the primary users of glasses are kids for god's sake. However, there are things in cyberspace that can inflict severe damage. All spoilers, though.
    • Kirabugs
    • Imago
    • Cybercures
    • Miss Michiko

Next time on TV Tropes, the index! Look forward to it.

Alternative Title(s): Dennou Coil


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