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Denno Coil, First Impressions: The Matrix Has You

Look at the character design–vaguely Ghibliesque, in a way…

It looks like Denno Coil is one of the more obscure shows of the season–it’s only gotten two fansubbed episodes so far, and I only heard about it in passing from one of my other anime watching friends (hi Fred!). When he described it as Lain-like and about kids, I was intrigued. I’m a fan of quiet, reflective types of shows that talk about important things, like Lain, and when I saw the promo video for the series on Youtube, the vibe I immediately got was a Bokurano one: serious, tasteful, possibly dramatic. It followed that I downloaded it that night and gave it a spin. What was it like?

It’s definitely original, for one, in its approach to an otherwise well-traveled topic. The first two episodes do a very good job explaining the “rules” of this cyberworld without getting too bogged down in exposition (with some exceptions), and by throwing us in the middle of the action we got a good sense of who the antagonists, the obstacles, and the special features of this world are. And those special features are cute for ex-sysadmin-admin me: huge network admins named Saatchis who are cute and deadly, reformatting as a destructive moving wall, and cyberdogs who chase around “illegal functions” and viruses. Sure, this is a bit unrealistic, and this cyberworld is much more like a video game than a real network, and I think the idea of having a grandma be an uberhacker is also somewhat expected for this kind of story–but, dang it, it was funny to watch. I didn’t expect to be laughing quite so much in this show when I first saw it, given its rather serious and tasteful OP and ED songs (which, again, reminded me of Bokurano’s–heck, Bokurano’s “Uninstall” is even more computer-related than the ones in this show).

Which leads me to another point: is this a kid’s show? I notice that the protagonists are not only quite young, and primarily concerned about the fate of a pet, but that the station sponsoring this is none other than public TV station NHK. NHK, if I recall correctly, primarily shows anime aimed at younger viewers. (Classic example: Gainax/Anno’s first TV series, Nadia. Despite the fact that it had a very Anno ending.) The tone of the show is whimsical and playful, though there are already hints of something darker along the horizon. Has anyone read the manga and gotten a glimpse of what’s coming? I notice too that this whole show is directed, written, and conceived by one Mitsuo Iso, which is often a good sign that there will be relatively little creative compromise and more originality. There are certainly a lot of inventive uses of the whole “Matrix”/”Wired” concept, though at this point they seem more cute than threatening.

Anyways, this quiet little show looks interesting just to see how they handle the various computer concepts. I’m always pleasantly surprised when the creators of anime get computer details right (like they often did in a good bit of Chobits) and have always liked the whole cyberpunk genre, like the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series and Lain. Let’s hope this will be yet another worthy entry in the genre.

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