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Anime Review: Denno Coil

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Remember playing make believe games as a child? Well, that’s changing. A lot of kids grow up incorporating electronics into their play, from video cameras to anime. Animation studio Madhouse portrays the revitalized concept, slowly rising from the earth like water, Augmented Reality (AR), through the eyes of several children who utilize it. It will change not only the way our children live, but the world and everyone in it. That’s what inspired the anime series titled Denno Coil: A Circle of Children. In this futuristic anime fish can float around cities and dogs can go through walls. Most of the events in the anime are part of this new plane of reality.

AR is a fairly basic concept. When a symbol or area is recognized by a computer, anything can be displayed there when seen through a screen. For instance, I could hold a dancing bunny in my hand and move it any direction I wanted and interact with it anyway I wanted; I could throw it. The problem is, it can only be seen on the screen, but Denno Coil suggests that this could simply be conveyed through screens in eyeglasses, on a server that spans citywide.

Everyday spectacles would allow humans to engage a new plane of reality that’s truly already developing today through popular media such as the iPhone. It allows us to see things that the computer generates, and perceive them as real, as if they were in front of us. This could be reviews for a restaurant that people have left floating at the front door or even a faithful pet that can help you navigate the vast network with tooltips and constantly updated abilities.

The show’s story focuses on a group of children in elementary school and their encounters with the programs and viruses that seem to float about. The AR even has an antivirus program, called Sachi, which roams free and fixes any abnormalities in the city’s server. That’s because not everything the children do is completely legal. Mysteries and promises of virtual treasures drive this particular group of children to new heights of human achievement that could easily move a soul to tears.

Originally pitched as a children’s educational anime, aimed at teaching children about this new technology as a viable resource, the series exploded into an all-out phenomenon in the anime community. Deep emotions, some generally avoided in children’s anime, are brought to the surface and seem almost tangible. The voice actors do a wonderful job of capturing each character’s persona and really make it easy on the viewer by adding in their own personal charms to realistic emotion. Houko Kuwashima, who voices main character Yuko Amasawa, does exceptionally well. She has voiced over 50 anime characters. Her voice  is very special and truly captured my ears. It really made me believe the plight of this young hacker and feel the sorrow that had been embedded in her young psyche.

Other than pulling off one of the most earth-shattering stories in all of anime, the anime’s animator cast is filled with only the best. Mitsuo Iso has been a main animator for films and series such as Evangelion and the Ghost in the Shell movie. Some would compare this anime to the likes of Serial Experiments Lain or the Dot//Hack franchise, but I feel that it is in its own right a whole new genre by itself. These two anime deal with computers, while Denno Coil focuses more on aspects of AR. It was aired on public networks in Japan, called NHK, equivalent to America’s PBS.

However, Denno Coil changed into something of complete legend due to the anticipation from its awe-inspiring cast and generally fresh concept. This concept was beautifully animated by its wonderful team of animators and truly brings an engaging feel, not only for children, but for adults as well. This is rare in today’s anime and has met with great success.

There isn’t another show where you can truly learn how to distinguish reality in such an awe inspiring way. Denno Coil has its audience on the edge of their seats the entire series looking for things like monsters that aren’t even “really” there, to things as simple as a lost dog. There is rich dialog, great animation, and top-notch voice acting. It is what I call a must-see. Go see it. Watch out for cube fish.

Watch Episode 1 online.

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