Jun 24, 2011
8thSin (All reviews)
'C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control' is an apparent response to the current state of business, and the recent global financial crisis.

The main theme of this series is "present vs future", with the main antagonist on the "present" side of the argument vying for the control of the financial district against the protagonist's "future" argument. This could be a direct criticism to the banking industry for their irresponsible lending for short-term profits (the present), which ultimately led to the subprime mortgage breakdown and Lehman Brothers declaring bankruptcy, subsequently causing economic disaster in Japan as well (loss of future). Using a person's future as collateral for cash today is also an extreme representation of excessive lending.

The story begins in the generic shounen fashion, with the "ordinary but chosen" student suddenly getting an invitation to participate in something greater, and given "powers" in the form of money and Digimon "assets". The underlying concept of this series is extremely weak, since it's based on an overly complicated battle system akin to 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' or 'Duel Masters', which relies on new rules and abilities introduced out of nowhere in the most deus ex machina manner imaginable to advance battles. We are literally being told that the protagonist is "blessed with a strong asset" because that's the only way to explain how he won the first battle, and one minute we're being told the amount of money in possession or strategy decides the outcome, the next minute they somehow manage to defeat the richer Sennoza without strategy (pure guts?).

This series is also plagued from the presence of too many characters. There is simply not enough time in an 11-episode series to develop 20+ characters, and many of their actions did not make sense. It was especially hard to identify the protagonist's motivation for rejecting the "present" view point, and his relationship with Hanabi, if she can even be called a heroine, since she is a non-presence in terms of screen time, and appears to be nothing more than a simple friend the protagonist has a little crush on. Every single opponent the protagonist faced are presented as good-but-misguided people fighting for an honorable purpose, and extremely forgiving towards the protagonist for destroying their lives. This is lazy scriptwriting, there's no excuse for it.

The art and animation in this series is wonderful. The surreal alternative world, the dynamic presentation, the "wall" between the real life and virtual (Msyu sitting beside protagonist, the obtrusive word bubble etc), the action sequence... all makes this series very fun to watch. Character designs are pretty attractive, and other than slightly sloppy CGI in the second half of the show, it was perfect.

Sound was almost equally wonderful, with excellent voice acting that fits well for every main character, especially that of Msyu by Tomatsu Haruka.
Exciting battle BGM, and even more impressive was the music in slow scenes with the nostalgic and poignant feeling that they invoke.
The OP was a good yet ordinary rock song, but the ED 'RPG' by School Food Punishment was an overwhelmingly fitting song for this series, accompanied by arguably the most visually pleasing ED animation since 'Tatami Galaxy'.

I loved the atmosphere in this series. The narration and back-story for characters were also very enjoyable. However, they are too fragmented to make a huge impact to the main story. The single biggest flaw of this series is that the battles are far too superficial. Other money or life-game series such as 'Death Note' and 'Liar Game' had clear introduction of rules, which are enforced throughout the "game", using strategy or suspense for entertainment. On the other hand, 'C' used action, which simply does not make sense for a series of this kind. Strategies were superficial, and the consequences of loss (bankruptcy) were extremely vague. It feels like we're being shown a game's replay, rather than playing along with the protagonist. The premise of this series was amazing, with the existence of an alternative market, the Midas money, and the virtual world affecting the real. Unfortunately, the battle system was unable to fully capitalize on the concept. Perhaps the protagonist should've just turned into a stock trader or swindler... anyone using wits to earn money instead of a virtual pet who had nothing to do with money.

It also wasn't clear how the virtual world functioned, and what purposes they served. SEA financial district bankruptcy that destroyed Singapore sending "shock waves" approaching other markets? It was literally depicted like tsunami approaching on screen with a countdown rather actually showing how global businesses are connected and affected by international markets. It got so bad that there was a big stylized letter "C" moving across the ocean on a screen to represent the economic effect moving. In the end, nothing was explained, and the protagonist's efforts were in vain. The world turns as usual, and the corrupt financial districts will continue to exist.

The message of the series was also very conflicted. It started out as blatant criticism of the banking industry and questioning the importance of money, then it was the trust in the currency, and finally the big bad America? I did like how they attempted to show the futility of printing money to fix economic disaster (representing the futile Quantitative Easing), but it makes no sense to use losing face value of a currency as a crisis when Japan's recession today is mostly attributed to the strong yen. It also didn't really make sense to blame the U.S. for the financial crisis, because well, if it wasn't trade relationship with America, they would not have had the money to lose in financial crisis in the first place. Not to mention it was the U.S. that suffered the most in this recession. Like it's mentioned in one episode, you prosper together in a network, fall together too.

Random business jargons were being thrown out throughout the series, with terms like "entrepreneur" (they would usually just say "Kigyouka" in Japanese for that), "collateral" ("future" as "collateral" should not be affected until failure of repayment, so why does printing more money using future as collateral instantly destroyed people's future?), and nonsense battle moves like "Macro/Mezzo/Micro-flation", "M&A", "Overheated Economy", and "Cannibalization" (this term in business means launching a new product that eats away the sales of existing product of your own company, not eating others) etc. just makes it obvious those terms were being used simply to sound cool and an attempt to appear different from every other shounen battle anime.

'C' is a total failure in addressing real world issues. The setting, story, and character development are disastrous, but visual and audio presentation are very pleasing with good pacing. It's an enjoyable series as long as you don't think too much or take it too seriously.

It is, after all, a show that has chosen style over substance.