Posted by psgels on 1 December 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews, Dennou Coil


Fans of the fifteenth episode of Rahxephon can rejoice: its director, Mitsuo Iso has embarked on a new project called Dennou Coil. Having done the animation for major Ghibli-movies such as Porco Rosso, Ocean Waves and Only Yesterday as well, this guy had the potential to create a masterpiece. Thankfully, he actually pulled it off, and many consider this series as one of the best of the entire year.

The thing that’ll probably immediately catch your attention when you start to watch this series is the immense amount of creativity that’s put into the series. It takes place in about twenty years, where a cyber-world exists that people can only see if they’re wearing special glasses already is something you don’t think of quite easily, but Mitsuo Iso created a world that consists out of much, much more than just that. The first half of the series carefully builds this up, and makes sure that the viewer has been accustomed to the many sides of the setting, only for this series to really get fired off with the second half, and the final quarter of the series has some incredibly emotionally charged climaxes.

To make this even better, Dennou Coil has amazing production-values, second to only Seirei no Moribito. What you usually see with series is how their first few episodes have amazing animation, only to switch to a lazier animation-style after a few episodes, but Dennou Coil is different. The animation is of a consistent high quality, and there are no signs of outsourcing at all. The character-designs may look simple, but the animation and integration with CG make them look beautiful.

The characters may not be among the best points of this series, but they do work effectively when they have to, due to the careful building-up of the storyline. One point of critique would be that most of the side-characters could have gotten more development. Daiichi, Denpa, Fumie and Kyoko are wonderful characters, but if feels like they weren’t used to their full potential, and their roles became smaller and smaller as the series went on.

One thing that irked me, but will probably have little effect to those who plan to marathon the series is the overabundance of recap-episodes. In total, there’ve been three of them for a 28-episode series. The final episode could also have been a bit less rushed. Finally, there are three episodes in the middle of the series (11, 12 and 13), which I guess were meant to flesh out the world of Dennou Coil a bit, and they’re excellent standalone episodes, but they really feel out of place with the rest of the series, and only throw in more potential that unfortunately had to be ignored in the end.

Apart from this, though, we’ve got ourselves a masterpiece here. It’s one of the highlights of the year, and apart from Kaze no Shoujo Emily, it’s the most consistently good series of 2007 for me. It’s anime like these that show that even stories focused at children can be awesome nonetheless.

28 Responses

  1. Avatar hssc says:

    someone should start a live version of this in IMAX production values – imagine what the codes will look like under WETA workshop!

  2. Avatar w says:

    Actually the recap episodes have absolutely no bearing if you’re just watching it as a series, only if you were watching it as it aired the first time. (They’re re-airing it on NHK like next week or the week after IIRC)

    I doubt they’d even appear on the DVDs, apart from episode 14… That would really make it one half-recap out of the entire series. I don’t see what’s so wrong with that especially since it’s, um, supposed to be a children’s anime so sometimes they could do with a summing up of what has happened…

  3. Avatar totoum says:

    yeah psgels,the 2 recaps apart from 14 weren’t even made by the anime creators,so it wasn’t their decision,it is a 26 episode series not 28,so i don’t think it’d be fair to take those into consideration when rating the series (if you did).
    I’ll give you 12 and 13 but there were some revelations in episode 11 concerning megabaa and tamako,it sets up bigger revelations that come in episode 20.
    Thanks a lot for blogging this anime,first thing i do after watching an episode is come here to read your thoughts.
    What are the odds of it getting licenced so I can get it on DVD?Maybe the fact it’s getting a rerun is a good sign?

  4. psgels psgels says:

    True, the recap-episodes will not matter for those who plan to marathon this series. My mistake.

    Oh, and don’t worry. With a series that’s so well received as this one, it’s nearly impossible for it not to get lisenced.

  5. Avatar w says:

    Well apparently most kids’ shows on NHK get reruns so it’s not really a huge deal that Dennou Coil is getting one, but whether it follows the next pattern of getting a sequel of some sorts remains to be seen. I don’t know that much about NHK’s programming but it seems like most kid’s anime on NHK-E gets a second season after a rerun. (Major, airing just before Dennou Coil, is having a 4th season produced; Coil’s predecessor Tsubasa Chronicles got 2 seasons. Older stuff like Corrector Yui and YAT Anshin! Uchuu Ryokou got 2 seasons, CCS got 3. Although UPS had no sequels it was 52 eps long… though Kaze no Shoujo Emily was 26)

    I somehow doubt Coil will get a sequel and if they’d make anything I’d rather it be a one-off OVA or a short movie than a series. With Haraken in his uniform, please.

    It’d be a crying shame if this doesn’t get licensed though – I would in fact really wish it got shown on TV outside Japan as well…

  6. Avatar totoum says:

    ok,thanks for the info w
    licencing in france seems to take a bit longer than in the US,i don’t know how it works in the netherlands but ounce it’s licensed,anime becomes easely accessible,lots of TV stations show anime and there’s a few anime DVD shops in paris.

  7. psgels psgels says:

    Oh, I wish we could be so lucky in the Netherlands. Basically, the only stuff that really makes it on TV consists of the garbage-series aimed at really young ages. Think Bedaman.

  8. Avatar Kim says:

    Oh, and don’t worry. With a series that’s so well received as this one, it’s nearly impossible for it not to get lisenced.

    I wish you were right but I can think of well received series that did not get licensed. What about Monster? Not only was that well received it was extremely popular.

    In today’s anime market I would say Dennou Coil’s chances of getting licensed are not the best. It’s an amazing series but it is not the type of series that will sell well. Of course I’d buy it for sure but will your average anime fans buy the series? I think it is doubtful. Although in this case I would be really happy to be wrong.

  9. Avatar totoum says:

    uh,wait,you’re telling me monster never got licenced in the US?wow,not only has it been licenced in france,it’s been aired on TV.
    I didn’t realise how lucky I am lol.
    I think dennou coil has a little something for everyone ,comedy ,drama, action,mystery,i guess the “kiddyish” athmosphere can be a drawback to some.
    The only people I know who wouldn’t watch dennou coil would be people who need fanservice in an anime to watch it,sadly,that’s quite a few people.

  10. Avatar omo says:

    Monster TV did not get licensed, but odds are that’s because of financial reasons, and it may reflect how well the manga has been doing in the US. Either way people can just buy the Odex release for an English version of the thing.

    Personally I think Denno Coil isn’t really great primarily because, well, there just wasn’t really that much drama. Also, unlike more popular franchises the characters for kids, Denno Coil’s main characters never really interests me or even made me want to care about them. With exception to Densuke, maybe.

    But it is definitely very creative and well-produced piece of work. I think it is an easy anime to recommend to people who aren’t watching anime because they want to see something different than the mainstream stuff.

  11. Avatar omo says:

    “Also, unlike more popular franchises for kids, Denno Coil’s main characters never really interests me or even made me want to care about them.”

  12. Avatar totoum says:

    “there just wasn’t really that much drama. Also, unlike more popular franchises the characters for kids, Denno Coil’s main characters never really interests me or even made me want to care about them. ”

    i guess to each his own,i’m at episode 22,not only do i think i’m in the middle of a bunch of drama,i even shed a tear in episode 20.Isako is a great character for me,i’ve gone from hating her guts to wanting to give her a hug.
    Dennou coil has also great rewatch value to me,because lots of little clues are droped in the first fiew episodes,it’s fun to hunt those clues down.
    And i think that not only is dennou coil different from a lot of mainstream stuff,it’s different from a lot of anime too,so i don’t see why it’d be only something good for people who aren’t into anime.
    Oh well,i’ll have to get used to the fact no everyone has to like a show as much as i do.

  13. Avatar Dk86 says:

    Nice Review.
    Still, I don’t like this anime at all.^^

  14. Avatar KaminaLives says:

    A really great series, all in all, with just the right mix of humor, slice-of-life, emotion, and bad-assery (Isako, well, before she got all emo on us, heh).

    I also think a major theme of Dennou Coil was that of friendship and loyalty. Where Yasako failed to stick up for her former friend Mayumi in the face of being bullied with Michiko rumors, she more than makes up for it and redeems herself by going all out and even risking her own life to save Isako.

    So there is some bit of redemption for Yasako there, and Isako finally learns to open up and accept kindness and, daresay, friendship, instead of shutting herself off from people.

    And I wholeheartedly believe that saying good-bye to lost loved ones is a powerful theme too. So Michiko was born out of Isako’s grief over the loss of her brother and jealousy over what she perceived to be Yasako “stealing” her brother from her, and partly out of Yasako’s “first love” (she does steal her first kiss off of “Imago” Nobuhiko, though I’m not totally convinced of the importance of this personally but the Japanese tend to make a big deal over one’s first kiss, at least in anime), and shows the self-destruction of obsessing over what you’ve lost. Learning to let go of your grief and living your life is the lesson, to be sure.

    Anyhoo, some really deep themes (handled much better than some other series of similar themes, such as Noein, though still a good one I liked) and an excellent end to what most would consider a kid’s show, heh.

  15. Avatar Kasumi says:

    The series is great, excellent even, but I thought the last few episodes were honestly pretty weak. Most of the characters were totally out of the picture, and it spent too much time on last minute exposition. Plus, the emotional scenes just seemed a bit contrived. I think that the world and overall “feel” of the show were what really shone for me, rather than the characters as individuals. Still, I would give it a 9/10.

  16. Avatar Sorudam says:

    I make a comment here for the first time, but enjoyed reading this blog every week.
    Thank you for psgals.

    I too think that the major themes of this series is “saying goodbye to the deceased”, and think there is another theme “the pain of life and growing up”.
    In Epi.26,Yasako and Isako said “The direction which I feel the pain shows me the exit”.
    Nobody seems to yet say about but I make much of. How about an opinion of you guys?

  17. Avatar tg says:

    Thank you for blogging this great show! ^_^ I lost tracked and need to catch up with all the episodes during winter break. I’m glad to hear that it is getting a rerun!!

  18. Avatar totoum says:

    “The direction which I feel the pain shows me the exit”

    i interpret that with something someone told me when i was trying to get over the death of my mom.
    Trying to hide from the pain and forget about it won’t get you anywhere,you need to accept it and confront it,it’s hard but you will never get over the pain if you try to run away from it.

  19. Avatar Sorudam says:

    Thank you for your opinion totoum.
    I guess it expresses one of the themes of this story well.

  20. Avatar nahrub says:

    nothing much to say. great show, great show. ignore the comments that said otherwise.

  21. Avatar Solaris says:

    Great show indeed, but i don’t agree it’s a kid show. It seems to be a show about kids. Apart from the difficult concepts featured in the anime, that are all computer-based, there are some deep themes in here. Say the friendship or loyalty ie. These are the most recognizable, but there iss much more. There’s the theme of the death, the reality vs irreality or virtual. Nobody seemed to point out this:
    What is real in a world where real and virtual are joined? Densuke is dead, but this dog was ever alive? It was a computer game, but Yasako and Kyoko felt real attachment to it. So it was definitevley something real, thus not having a body.
    And what about those who died or shifted to the other side?
    Say the dead were imprisoned in the Coil Space lik Kanna was. So living thing coming out from a virtual space in the form of Illegals and dead people ending there. Again the virtual reality and the reality are being mixed!
    Now tell me this is something a kid can understand!

  22. psgels psgels says:

    Solaris: the interesting thing is that Dennou Coil was aired at the NHK-channel, at the time-block that’s actually aimed at children. This was also noticable during the recaps. Everything was carefully explained so that the children would remain to follow the story a bit. The deeper parts of this series will indeed be lost on them, but I think that they too will get plenty of enjoyment out of this series.

  23. Avatar gekophetweb says:

    It’s not that dead people ended in the coil domain, but rather the feelings of people created the image of them in the coil domain(the illigals/nulls). Just like michiko was created by Yasako and Isako. Or at least that was said at the end by Yasako and Haraken.

    about “the direction of the pain will show me the exit”, I think it is not like “the pain of life and growing up” it is more like life comes with pain, but because we caan feel pain we can also feel happiness and sadness, we just have to endure it. We can’t hang on to the deceased because it will be to painfull and the pain will eventually become excrutiating(or however you may spell it) just like Isako and the loss of her brother consumed her (at least that is what i think).

  24. Avatar marktheknife says:

    I just finished this series. It was an amazing ride. Even if it was a kid’s show, it rarely pandered to kids (like a good Pixar flick).

    Even more interestingly, the overall theme was really dark. It makes me think of a mildly toned-down version of the Buddhist maxim “Life is suffering.” Pain is a central element of this anime – to live correctly is to confront pain and move towards more of it. That is where the “answers” are said to lie. Dying young seems to be the result of young characters trying to avoid the pain necessary to “grow up”/move forward in life. This is most notably represented in characters failing to “let go” with regards to dead family/friends – I’d say the anime’s language is intended to be taken more broadly, though.

    The anime explores this from other angles too – the entire point of the virtual reality aspect of the anime (besides awesome entertainment) seems to be to pose the question “What is real?” And the anime rejects the easy answer – what you can sense in every way, including touch – to instead say that only PAIN is real. It is the basis of comparison for knowing everything else in life. It’s the idea you can only know what is good by knowing what is bad, but with an attempt to combine it with the idea of sensory inputs.

    The series also confronts how to correctly deal with pain – sharing it with others is repeatedly shown to be the way to go. In fact, it’s the only basis for friendship the show seems to definitively support besides romantic love and familial love – the other relationships break way too easily. As Isako says, the connections between people are narrow and distant – sharing pain is often the reinforcement to these connections. And her dialog with Yasako that closes out the series is to say: We’re only together as long as we’re suffering together – we’re not suffering together now, so we’re separated. I hope we get to do so again though!
    ————–
    It’s an interesting notion – I remember a rabbi coming to my (Catholic) school and talking to us about the term “passion.” It was part of our sex ed classes (oddly enough). He noted “passion” came from a Latin/Greek term for pain, and noted that, in his experience, it was the couples that shared their suffering that had a true, unbreakable bond. Relationships based on good times, sex, etc., broke easily.

    To me, it’s a particularly good example of how pain defines everything that is good and “real”/important in our lives. To avoid pain is to similarly avoid engaging yourself in really living.
    ———–
    The show presents some reasons one might wrongly choose to flee from pain. The losing-someone-you-love-to-someone-else idea is central to the anime, and is unfortunately not explored in great depth.

    At any rate, I love this anime, and my only complaints are: that there wasn’t another episode to smooth out the ending, and that there weren’t enough musical tracks/good musical tracks.

    • Avatar vostok says:

      Really enjoyed this comment… somehow Dennoucoil encourages this level of reflection, right? It’s one of my absolute favorite TV anime. But one can easily miss the best stuff about it when watching passively; this show becomes increasingly rewarding on rewatches and closer inspection. Pixar was a good analogy; you can watch Dennoucoil at “kid level” as a weird and fun adventure story, but you can also watch it at “adult level” and appreciate the ways in which it’s Iso Mitsuo’s labor of love.

  25. Avatar marktheknife says:

    I should also reinforce that this series had killer art direction and some awesome animation.

  26. When I attempted to watch this series many years ago now I stopped after somewhere near the second half and it was the same when I’d try a second go round.

    Third go at it and here I am wondering just as to why I was so dismissive of Dennou Coil initially.
    This is the definition of a special, if flawed gem.

    The organization, spread and pace of the plot is not particularly successful, but the content and core of the plot itself is actually rewarding and I think, especially with Amasawa (who I ended up feeling for the most) it stood out with its characterizations.

    I found while there were alot of hijinxs and some of those parts could be dull, some were often a fair bit of fun, such as the beard and giant fish episodes and while the pace never fully succeeds, the second half does find a greater sense of focus and development, which I welcomed.

    Also thought this show stood out well in its creation of its world/tech/world building.

    I think I expected something a bit less lighthearted (not that I disliked those moments) but ultimately while not perfect, this was worth making the effort with.

    Additionally, I didn’t really pay attention to the cgi, which probably shows how well integrated it was.

    I will be saying Bokusatchi for a while now I believe.
    Finally, that cyberpet dog thing was a thing of adorableness.

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