Eleven years after the introduction of internet-connected, augmented reality eyeglasses and visors, Yuuko Okonogi moves with her family to Daikoku City, the technological center of the emerging half-virtual world. Yuuko joins her grandmother's "investigation agency" comprised of children equipped with virtual tools and powerful metatags. She quickly crosses paths with Yuuko Amasawa, an expert hacker of the virtual environment, as Amasawa relentlessly seeks to "unlock" the mystery of a computer virus that emerges from an inaccessible corrupted space.
ANIME: Dennou Coil was directed by Mitsuo Iso (well known for his key animation work on early Ghibli movies and Neon Genesis Evangelion) and was produced by Madhouse (well-known for their work on Death Note and Paranoia Agent). It ran on Japanese TV from May 12th, 2007 till December 1st, 2007 and, as of the time of this writing, has not been licensed Stateside.
STORY: The year is 2026, eleven years after the technology to turn the internet into augmented reality by the use of immersive "cyberglasses" was developed. Yuko "Yasako" Okonogi, a young girl in sixth grade, moves to Daikoku City,
the center of the technology behind the glasses, and is strongarmed by her grandmother into joining her "investigation agency", composed of children with powerful illegal software codes and tools. On her first day in town, she runs into Yuko "Isako" Amasawa, a cold, aloof master hacker chasing a mystery in Daikoku City, that will soon involve both Yukos and their friends...
Dennou Coil is probably one of the best shows I've watched in a good long time. This show has been in development for about ten years, and with the incredible subtlety of this entire show, I can believe it. Every aspect of the technology, how the world works, and every tiny detail that one can think of for this blends together to make the world seem incredibly believable, if not possible in just a few years' time. It's just futuristic enough to seem amazing, yet grounded enough in reality to seem incredibly possible.
The plot and characters in this are incredibly well-constructed as well. Characters are slowly developed through various interactions and their relationships to others in episodes, and even though characters may not take a prominent role for a few episodes, they're always there in the background. And the plot itself is intricately woven; the smallest details from the earliest episodes, which seem like throwaways, come back to play in full force in the last half of the show. The first third of the show establishes the basics of the world and characters, then comes a brief filler arc that slowly brings things to the fore, and then the last third of the show takes everything that's come before and takes it into far darker places than everything up until this point would have you believe was possible. The final episodes of the show are probably some of the darkest I've seen in a show aimed towards a younger audience to date, but, regardless, resolve amazingly well.
ART: Dennou Coil has a bit simpler character design than other shows that Madhouse has done; the kids and adults are a bit more angular, and are a bit less intricately designed than, say, characters from Death Note. However, their traditional realism shows through in the interaction of the virtual environment and the real environment; incredible amounts of detail are put into the various software codes and tools that the children use, along with how they manifest (and yes, some will call similarities on some of the patterns that show in the hackers' codings and the arrays in Fullmetal Alchemist, but really, let's not be nitpicky here).
MUSIC: The background music for this series doesn't particularly stand out, but, regardless, is a well-done score, and worth a listen to. The OP and ED are done by the same singer, Ayako Ikeda, and are some of the best opening and ending songs I've heard in a long while, the OP and its eerieness in general especially.
SEIYUU: Fumiko Orikasa (well-known for her roles in Hellsing as Seras and in Saikano as Chise) takes a starring role in this as Yasako and does an incredible job in the role. Otherwise, all the other seiyuu in this production do a solid job.
LENGTH: Dennou Coil was meticulously planned, I think, to be just the right length; not too long, so that it wouldn't drag, but not too short, so that there wouldn't be information overload. No complaints here, in general, a wonderful job in planning - then again, ten years in development does that to a show.
OVERALL: One of the best shows that I've seen in a good long time, with incredible amounts of detail, and well-constructed plots and characters, and solid background music, art, and seiyuu.
An underappreciated gem of the 2007 season; watch it.
I almost dropped this series halfway through, but I'm so very glad that I didn't.
STORY - Dennou Coil's story is a very unique and interesting take on a popular old subject: digital technologies and the human consciousness are both subjects that have been explored for years. Usually though, a series' protagonists are similar in age to its primary target audience, but that doesn't seem to be the case here as Dennou Coil's themes are actually rather sophisticated and suggest a complexity beyond what may be expected when the characters are in the 10-11 year old range. The connection between the consciousness and a digital projection
of oneself has been examined in series such as Ghost in the Shell, but it's definitely interesting to see this sort of stuff with Digimon-aged characters. The story is good and solid, but what can be a point of frustration is the leisurely pace the plot seems to progress at for the first half of the series. Though it's a mystery at its core, the series often lapses into almost slice-of-life or simple adventure-type episodes that seem to contribute very little to the overall story.
This was indeed frustrating to me, and I was close to dropping the series as a result. But I stuck it through on my brother's recommendation, and I was definitely rewarded. Almost all the "useless"-seeming episodes contain nuggets of important information, and even the recap-like episode has bits of new, and very relevant, material slipped in between the recycled animation. In retrospect, this was actually incredibly clever as it mimics the mystery of the series and forces you to recall things later as you suddenly realize their importance. Keep your eyes pried.
Once you hit the second half of the series, everything starts progressing very quickly. The tension rises, the suspense more than doubles, and the mystery deepens as the characters explore avenues and possibilities they hadn't considered before. The story becomes even more engaging and intriguing as you delve into the pasts of various characters, intertwined in ways they don't realize. It gets scary too, in that wonderful creepy way that most horror movies aren't able to accomplish. Watch the second half of this series by yourself with the lights out in the middle of the night. It's fun. 8D
CHARACTER - The two main characters in Dennou Coil are both wonderfully in-depth characters. Yasako and Isako appear to be polar opposites, and it's really great watching their relationship change and grow throughout the course of the series as they are forced against each other and along side one another by circumstances. As they're both new the area at the start of the series, it's also interesting to follow their interactions with the other children as they carve out their places among them. They're great foil characters, and though this comparative nature is made obvious by their similarly pronounced given names (they're both named Yuko, though the kanji is different, allowing them to have different nicknames), I don't really feel as if that cheapens it. Additionally, though I usually tend to dislike wholly "good" characters, the fact that we're dealing with children makes their personalities and motives easier to sympathize with, regardless of "goodness." Besides, it's not that hard to believe that children just aren't that jaded, even if sometimes they pretend to be.
The rest of the children vary in complexity of character, but none of them seem completely flat or boring. Daichi and his gang may seem pretty stereotypical at first glance, but all of them are explored further (sure, Daichi and Denpa more than the rest, but even the lackeys have some ulterior motives). Fumie, Akira, and Kyoko interested me the least (Kyoko annoyed the hell out of me, really), but they facilitated plot points well enough, and the latter two are minor enough (and young enough) to not really matter much beyond that. Haraken I kind of have mixed feelings about because his character never seemed to change much, even when it seemed like he should have. It was an understandable staticness, to some extent, but it still bugs me somewhat. Still, his relationship with his aunt was fun to follow, and I think it's kind of hilarious that the aunt is only seventeen, but considering the ages of most of the other characters, that's pretty damn old! Then again, there's also Mega-baa... who's ancient, but possibly more childlike and energetic than anyone else in the series!
All in all, I was very happy with the characters in Dennou Coil, even the ones that appeared kind of generic found ways to make themselves entertaining for the most part.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION - I don't think there was anything especially notable about the art or animation in this series, but both were definitely fitting. The characters looked appropriate for their given ages, and there was a softness about the general style that seemed to suggest the same. The animation I would consider to be on the high end of average; the explosions, the shininess of metatags and metabugs, as well as the Illegals were all very well done.
MUSIC - I'm very fond of both the opening and end themes in Dennou Coil; both have this sort of mysteriousness and anticipation to them that go very well with the story and general mood of the series. The music present in the series itself must not have been anything too memorable since I can't seem to recall anything right now, but nothing stands out as bad either so. There may actually be some good tracks I can't think of right now though; there were some pretty nice action and suspense scenes, and I'm sure the music was appropriate for them. I just can't recall anything right now.
VOICE ACTING - This series hasn't even been licensed yet, I don't think, so subbed is your only choice for now. Average? Yeah, I'd say about average, average-good? Most of the voices were pretty nice, especially for more eccentric characters like Mega-baa and Haraken's aunt, but otherwise nothing particularly notable.
OVERALL - I think Dennou Coil is a great series, despite its slow pacing at times. You can consider it reflective of reality -- mysteries aren't always solved immediately, and children tend to have short attention spans, so they may wander off and do something else for a little while before being reminded of the task at hand. Mystery is a pretty neglected genre in anime in my opinion, but Dennou Coil handles it very well while matching familiar digital/reality themes with characters that aren't traditional to them. Everything wraps up neatly in the end (yes, that does mean it's a mystery that has a good ending!), and I was left feeling very satisfied.
Dennou Coil is a very intriguing Sci-fi anime showing the fun possibilities of mixing reality with virtual reality, whilst including supernatural elements that adds a lot of suspense and mystery to the story. ^_^
The story basically follows the adventures of different elementary kids who are trying to uncover the secrets of this augmented reality. As the series begins it doesn’t give the viewer much to go on, except a few things you’ll notice and able to pick up on straight away. Once having a basic understanding about what this whole plot and story is about, it becomes very interesting to watch, as these little kids
end up discovering different mysteries. The characters themselves are pretty ordinary and don’t really do much for the story, accept later on once the story begins to find its place. However viewers may find themselves getting annoyed by some of the characters, but the intriguing and dramatic story will help you forgot about these little annoyances.
The animation has a certain uniqueness to it, as it seamlessly blends in drawn animation with 3D CG. It is not all the time when you find an anime which works so well with CG but it actually helps portray the half-virtual world in this one. The music is pretty good as well, with fun melodies while normal things are happening, dreary tunes for the mysterious moments and exciting tunes for the pockets of action throughout.
Overall Dennou Coil is an intriguing sci-fi anime that is similar to “Ghost in the Shell”, in the way that it shows another possibility of future’s technology. The story itself is very interesting, as it somehow portrays a realistic possibility of developed city, whilst also managing to incorporate many mysterious supernatural elements as well. This helped to add some incredibly intense drama in the highly eventful 2nd half of the series. Yet amongst all the fun, interesting and exciting episodes are a few incredibly dull and boring ones, in the 1st half, which let the series down.
Other than this, Dennou Coil is definitely an anime worth watching and I would have given it a higher overall rating but the uneventful 1st half of the series prevented me from doing that.
Dennou Coil is an anime series about a circle of children who are growing up in a city that is becoming increasingly virtualized. The female lead, Yasako, owns a cyber pet. Giant robots named Satchii wander the city applying software patches (even the city buildings are part virtual) and eliminating viruses and other illegal or malicious software-- using lasers, apparently. The characters wear special cyberglasses that have all the features of modern computers and much more. It's all pretty cool if a tad unrealistic and I was hooked after the first episode, although it took me pretty long to finish the
To start off, the story is pretty good. The anime slowly draws you deeper and deeper into the central mysteries of the series, always letting you know enough to keep you satisfied but not to the point where you can tie all the loose ends yourself. You always get the feeling that there is something deeper in the background, pulling the strings, manipulating the protagonists like a bunch of puppets.
The main storyline has several branches: a search for what killed Kenichi's childhood friend, and the resolution of Isako's brother's fate. This puts the anime on a rather tragic path, but surprisingly the writers manage to keep the emotional appeal stable, never letting the anime descend for too long into excessive melodrama at the expense of the sense of fun and adventure of childhood that the series is fundamentally about.
There are many side stories interspersed throughout the series. Most of them are interesting and woven quite well into the overall framework (eg The Last Pleiosaur being one of my favorites), but a few of them are kind of sleep-inducing (mostly due to poor pacing), to be honest. This is especially the case towards the early middle of the series, which was when I stopped watching for a couple months, only coming back later to finish. Some of the stories have a "slice of life" kind of feel, and I'm not a particular fan of that genre, so maybe that explains it.
The art is fantastic. It is very reminiscent of Miyazaki's style for some reason, and in fact the storytelling itself feels very much the same. Dennou Coil is like My Neighbor Totoro meets Mushishi, with a strange cyber twist. Don't get the wrong idea though. The series is not cyberpunk. The anime is not gritty, though it can be dramatic. There is no attempt to really explore the implications of AI or emergent behavior. The nature of objective reality, and its relationship to virtual reality, is examined, but the themes and the conclusions drawn are more akin to classical Japanese fantasy than cyberpunk.
For instance, one unique part of Dennou Coil's fictive universe is the meta-tags, which are apparently snippets of code on ofuda scrolls or something similar (ofuda scrolls are those things that Rei from Sailor Moon uses, in case it isn't clear). Another example would be the spirit-like "null illegals" that wander the obsolete cyberspace. These are clearly inspiration from Shintoism and, while they are interesting, they are part of a large reservoir of reasons why the universe feels like a wannabe fantasy world rather than a real cyber world. All the tech is just magic with a modern twist. Don't expect anything to make real scientific sense. Instead, see Dennou Coil for what it really is: a beautiful supernatural story recasted in modern terms. It succeeds wonderfully in this regard.
Some who have seen the anime will notice that some interesting parallels can be drawn to Fullmetal Alchemist. The "encode" system utilized by some of the hackers in Dennou Coil is very similar to the alchemy system in FMA. Interestingly, the symbols and patterns, despite being apparently pretty much just magic, are justified as "science" and technology in both series. Like Fullmetal Alchemist, Dennou Coil is also very much a "coming of age" story that has somewhat dark tones occasionally, especially towards the end. So I would suggest that fans of FMA take a look at Dennou Coil, though it's definitely not going to be the cup of tea of every FMA fan.
The music and the sound effects are generally good but not outstanding. The opening and ending, however, are absolutely wonderful. They project an aura of mystery and hopeful melancholy that captures the spirit of the series very well.
The characters in Dennou Coil are quite good. Sometimes during the series I felt like, somewhere, sometime, somehow, these people could actually really exist. The circle of children is composed mainly of girls and they all act realistically for the most part. Don't expect the stereotypical bubbly lolis you see in a lot of modern anime. The characters are charmingly human in their range of emotions and will feel quite familiar.
My only complaint with regards to characterization is Isako. She was a much more interesting, respectable character before the series made her out to be a tsundere. Personally, I felt this transition deviated too much from her original presentation, and rather than adding depth to her personality, turned her into a stock character. But aside from this, I would say that the characterization in the series is very strong.
Overall, this is one of my favorite anime series so far, but I don't think it's for everyone. If you are a fan of "coming of age" stories and/or enjoy Miyazaki movies (in particular the aforementioned My Neighbor Totoro), this is a must watch. If you like FMA, you might like this. If you enjoy science fiction, you might like it, as long as you don't place too high a premium on plausibility. Last but not least, if you found the strange universe of Mushishi fascinating, you might also like the universe in Dennou Coil. As for myself, I fit in all those categories.