Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dennō Coil

I've just finished watching a 2007 anime series called Dennō Coil and it was fantastic. The series revolves around a group of kids living in a city that is the center of a groundbreaking new technology that lets the wearer of a special kind of glasses see the reality around them but with a digital layer on top. It's like The Matrix, but in our reality. The kids form their own kind of hacking subculture around these glasses and the digital reality that is created by them. 

Is this not appealing?!
I'd first heard about it when it came out years ago but hadn't gotten around to seeing it until now. 
Unlike Death Note (which came out around the same time) which had a really ugly, unappealing style where the men look too effeminate and clothes are too baggy, Dennō Coil's style is very appealing; the character designs are cute and pleasing to look at. And since the designs are simpler, the animation is more fluid, cartoony, and better acted, whereas Death Note's animation was positively sclerotic (although both suffered from a bit of the 'radio drama with still pictures' budgetary issue, but Death Note took it to an extreme).

A very well animated shot.
One thing that anyone who's starting to get into anime TV series will quickly note is how many of them present a depth of character and the serious thoughts and situations characters get into and think about. True friendship, loss, betrayal, maturity, reputation, success, failure, and of course other mature events like murder, swearing, and bad-assery. 

The integration of CG with traditional animation was very well executed.
You almost never see dynamic shots like this in US animated series.
There are plenty of well-animated little snippets like this sprinkled throughout the show.
Dennō Coil  is more Miyazaki than Death Note though, and as a result has more of a heart. Things got a little dusty in the last episode.

So again, I keep thinking, "Why doesn't America get an animated series like this?" A show with a complex yet satisfying high concept, well developed characters one cares about, beautiful artwork, effective animation, and mature themes and events.

That's not the sun.

Avatar: The Last Airbender was close, and Hey Arnold came very close, although it wasn't a single continuous story. Something with the heart and adventure of Miyazaki, the coolness of Dennō Coil, and the maturity of most of these anime series that told a single story well would be successful, both ratings-wise and critically. 

An illegal, a virus from "obsolete space".
I love comedy shows like Adventure Time, Regular Show, Superjail!, Flapjack, and The Amazing World of Gumball, but having a meal made up exclusively of these shows is all milkshake and no hamburger. The success of The Last Airbender reveals the huge market for a more mature, long-form animated series. The question is: who is going to make the next one and, more importantly, who's going to approve its creation?

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