Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Review: Dennou Coil

I'm watching the fansubs of an anime called Dennou Coil. It's interesting enough that I want to talk about it here.

Most of you are probably too young to be fans of the "old anime" superstars such as Captain Harlock. Hell, I'm supposed to be too young to be a fan. I know that when modern audiences try to watch those old styles, they tend to get immediately turned off: the pacing is wrong for a modern audience, the animation is jerky and sometimes hard on the eyes, and a lot of the themes are a little weird.

I really loved those old things, probably because they're proper scifi: technology always plays a major role, but the focus of the story is on the people who use the technology. That's really how scifi should be, but it's rare.

When I started to watch Dennou Coil, I didn't even have a screenshot, let alone a good description. Something about a children's detective agency. Yeah, whatever.

So I was a bit surprised to find that it's the best anime I've seen in years.

It's exactly as if the talent that made those old animes came forward thirty years and said, "hell, let's do it again, but with modern topics."

The animation is oldschool, full of squashes and low framerates, but hugely detailed and convincing even so. You can easily see the influence of that old era of anime in the character designs and in how they all move: similar to the way that Miyazaki animates children. They also interact in the old style, with the wide variation in maturity and age, always including an irritating four-year-old, a precocious old lady, and some kind of cute pet.

But this is no Miyazaki film. It's by the guy who did RahXephon and Roujin Z.

It's about a children's detective agency, yeah. It's also proper scifi. Proper scifi! Not like Lain's (or RahXephon's) irritating mysticism. Proper scifi.

Instead of space ships and giant laser cannons, this series explores augmented reality. Literally every character on the series has glasses (usually, goggles) that display augmented reality.

So far, it's fascinating!

If you liked Porco Rosso, you should probably watch at least the first few episodes of this! It's really interesting.


David said...

Cool, thanks, definitely a fan of characters over anything else in an anime. Have you seen Planet ES? It's about some people who clean junk out of low-earth orbit. Top notch.

Craig Perko said...

I own the manga, it's fantastic!

David said...

If you like Planet ES, I will definitely look into Dennou!

Craig Perko said...

Dennou Coil has a much more "old-school" feeling, so the tone may not suit you.

David said...

The tone and style are similar to a couple of the japanese produced Animatrix shorts... and the whole thing feels like a cross between GiTS, Windy Tales, and maybe a bit of Haibane. : D I love the slightly loose geometry and really flowing animation!

Craig Perko said...

That "flowing animation" is a gorgeous trick, because the animation is usually at or below 12 frames per second, half (or less) than many other well-animated series!

The guy's an expert at that kind of animation, evidently. It's his trademark: "full limited". (Limited meaning < 12 frames per second.)

David said...

Right, I used flowing instead of fluid on purpose. : ) Judicious use of in-cell motion stretch gives far more a feeling of reality than 60fps ever could.

In fact, that's my main gripe with 99% of sci-fi TV shows. They shoot the people in standard TV tape 29.97fps, but when it comes to the outside shots, everything is gliding along smoothly (and maddeningly unrealistically!) at something like a full 60Hz!!!??

Same thing with Disney animations... they're getting full 24 fps, but the lines slide and jiggle and people's eyes shift around on their heads.

I much prefer a lower framerate with subtlely.

Craig Perko said...

I think I agree, now.

ninjascience said...

i just wanted to thank you for the recommendation. I just finished the whole series and it was great. I a little bit of muddiness in the sci-fi concepts was my only complaint. As a grown up I find it harder and harder to find anime I can get into, but this one was right up my alley.

Craig Perko said...

Yeah, especially at the end, it was getting too muddy... but the series was pretty good!