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Saturday, August 6, 2011

C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control - Review

First off, let me say "Yes, that is the title of the show." I'm sure you're aware of the tentative grasp of the English language Japanese have, and evidence of such is littered throughout the internet and the country of Japan. So, do I have any idea how to translate that title into something that's understandable? Absolutely not. Nor will I even try. That is simply too much effort and considering I don't have any connections with the industry, I can't even begin to guess at what they were attempting. Funimation's official title is [C] Control - The Money and Soul of Possibility, but even that falls shy of making "perfect" sense. It's just a re-arrangement of where "control" goes and I can see why the title is named as such, but something about it still irks me.

[C] (which is how i'm going to refer to this show assuming wordpress doesn't freak out and assume it's HTML code) is about a college attending economics major named Kimimaro Yoga, who's having financial troubles as he works at a convenience store in attempt to pay the tuition. With a father who disappeared from his life at an early age and a family who can't support his studies, Kimimaro curses the circumstance he's in. It is during one of these days of self-reflection that he meets a man who brings him into the "Financial District," a place where "Entrepreneurs" invest their future (not the financial term, the ambiguous time frame term) and battle with others in an attempt to gain money. However, like in life, even gaining money in the Financial District isn't as easy as it sounds.

If there's anything that should tell you to watch this anime, it's probably that it's one of the few anime in the last couple of years or so that have involved the main character(s) being older than the overused high schoolers. We're finally getting characters that are dealing with their own lives, and trying to find out who they are and what they want in life (high school can get too superficial sometimes).

[C] is an original short 11 episoder meant to be a season filler as well as a testing ground for Tatsunoko Production (I'll explain later on). The budget is fairly solid, story works pretty well and and a as a show overall, it's a good time sink. Nothing award winning but it has a fairly good script, character designs and doesn't get too heavy.

While supposed to look like an average background character, Kimimaro does a pretty good job at looking ordinary yet unique at the same time. The color scheme is probably the saving grace and helps him from blending in too much with the background. His bright sky blue hoodie contrasts pretty well with the lonely, grayed urban backdrop of the normal world and the ultra high-tech appearing, neon flooding Financial District. His primary companion in the Financial District named Mashu is also very distinct, and problematically one of the few humanoid companions of the Entrepreneurs of the Financial District.

I dunno, but for some odd reason, every time I saw Mashu, I was reminded of Nekomusume from Gegege no Kitarou

I say problematically because this creates the "unique identity isolation effect" if that were to ever be an actual term. Because most of the companions are beast-like beings and the limited cast of main characters seem to have humanoid beings (who also have comparable traits) the art itself unintentionally (or purposefully) isolates these characters into being unique and emphasizing the main reason why they're the main characters. It's irritating to watch sometimes I 'm not one for figurative giant scrolling marquees indicating that because this trait is unique, the character is special.

We also need Johnny Depp to reprise his role as Willy Wonka...

The world where this show takes place is developed but not quite complex. There are a lot of aerial shots as well as long pans which seem to indicate that they were trying to show off the "large world" that exists within the show, and there are discussions regarding what's happening in other countries with actual English voice actors speaking proper English in an attempt to emulate foreign companies but it's simply not good enough. Development of characters are still far too shallow with the exception of the leads and a select few secondary/tertiary characters but too many of them are far too easily forgettable, which indicates a large problem especially for a show this short. There's also the discussions of morality, the value of future and ethics which seems to bolster the world a bit, but in actuality, it just creates a small "sphere of influence," if you will, around said section that's drifting along somewhere in the world with no concrete connection, especially since most of the show is spent on Kimimaro being wishy-washy. Hell, even the entity that is Kimimaro's father, who is supposed to have some sort of major influence to how Kimimaro became the way he is along with their connection to the Financial District is blurry. If anything, I'd say that's a big problem.

The production values regarding the animation are pretty well distributed.... I think.... Maybe? As I mentioned earlier, this show seems to have been a testing ground for Tatsunoko Production. What I mean by that is the show elements that take place in the Financial District (Mashu, Masakaki) switch between from being rendered in 3D or 2D. Not only that, it seems that quality assurance is inconsistent. One thing is for certain though, the battles and the rendering of the Financial District is very well done and does show off a high budget, which leads me to believe that the inconsistency with characters moving between 2D and 3D is a result of the production team testing something with the models. What's even more unusual though, is that sometimes it's hard to tell that the character is in 3D because of how well they're rendered along with high quality compositing but other times it's very noticiable as the cel-shaded model sticks out in a 2D environment. Tatsunoko isn't an unknown company (to Japanese at least). They may not be as strong as Kyoto but they have some money making cows that can help them fund production for newer shows. Seeing this kind of work from them only leads me to believe they were rushed and were trying different methods during production. I'm expecting this to be fixed into a more consistent style during DVD/Blu-Ray release, SHAFT style.

For the spring season, [C] wasn't too bad. There were a couple others that I was following simultaneously and despite all its issues [C] held up fairly well. I ended up dropping, or not even watching, a handful of shows during the spring season for different reasons but I decided to stick with this one. The development and relations between the main characters of the show were fairly well developed but there was always a feeling that something was missing, and it's a lack of depth with many other characters that have had repeat appearances. Granted it's 12 episodes and thus it's a given that it's going to be missing some content, and depth but this is too much. It's a matter where they're supposed to "show not tell" but they're keeping it too straightforward and simple at times which is keeping this show from being better. The music is too forgettable, while the OP and ED themes fit and showed off the high quality that Tatsunoko is capable of, the actual soundtrack was lackluster. The pacing I would say was pretty good overall, so if this show had gone to 15 episodes or so, it may have helped fix all the problems I mentioned (excluding the animation issues)

I watched this show through Funimation's simulcast stream. If I recall correctly, Anime News Network seems to be in some sort of partnership with Hulu. You should be able to watch the episodes there until DVD/Blu-ray media is released.

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