My original hype I had for this anime got an almighty blow when some of the later trailers were released. What sort of derpy character designs were they? Well, the character designs were still kinda cool looking, but what on earth had happened to the quality control? And in a trailer as well, where they’re meant to show off their animation budget? Panic started to set in. Noitamina is going downhill and this might be the last we ever see of this timeslot. The anime industry is doomed, we are all going to perish in a wave of melodramatic moeblobs.
And then the first episode aired. And my fears were put to bed. This is not perfect, but oh yes is it ever awesome.
Somewhere in amongst all the pre-hype, I’d forgotten who Kenji Nakamura is and what weird tastes in animation he has. This fella clearly stepped right out of the Trapeze character design mold. For the uninitiated, Kenji Nakamura is a nutcase director, usually associated with Toei animation, who has produced anime for the Noitamina timeslot before. These two anime are Mononoke and Trapeze. Now I know I will instantly lose my self-important elitist license by saying this, but Mononoke really didn’t click with me and I dropped it after two episodes. However I did really enjoy Trapeze in all it’s feel good value, even if it was rather imbalanced and varied widely in quality. That said, I like what he tries to do. I like any director who actively tries to move away from the standard boring talking heads version of animation, like Yuasa (Tatami Galaxy, Kaiba) or Shinbo (every single Shaft anime). [C] isn’t quite the same sort of unusual presentation, but it’s different and unusual in what the actual story it’s presenting is. This is a Metaphor.
The world that is the financial district is one not governed by the laws of reality, nor the laws of common sense. A world in which the rules of economics and finance are explained via the medium of card games, demon girls and Pokemon battles. It’s a bizarre, visually imaginative world that I really haven’t had a chance as of yet to make heads nor tails of yet. But I partly knew what to expect after having read this interview with the cast. This is all one big fancy Metaphor for economics and finance and whatever. I don’t know where this is going but I love this sort of stuff generally. I love the way it tackles stories like Legend of Black Heaven or Revolutionary Girl Utena. Using the bizarreness that animation can bring to the table to construct complex ways of telling stories. I’ve seen some people complain of the apparent Yu-Gi-Oh approach, which rather baffles me. So what, you want the boring old economics lectures like in Spice and Wolf, where you sat through the economics because you were a good viewer who realised you had to pay attention to this stuff to get through to the Horo X Lawrence scenes later on? Or do you want economics explained via the medium of demon girls summoning monsters with your bank balance used as life points? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
The animation is still derpy though. The point that sticks out is the character designs. Whenver they’re shown in anything other than a close up, it turns all jarring and derpy. Their heads are too small! OK, not quite XXXHolic levels of small, but that’s practically impossible to achieve and I hope we never see those freaky levels of shrunken heads in anime again. But [C] got it just the wrong level of small head syndrome that it becomes noticeable and annoying. The series shines again when we run into the Willy Wonka character and we leap into the Financial District via Taxi 9 and three quarters, but for Nakamura the animation in the more ordinary life scenes can be rather mundane. Or perhaps that’s the point? I dunno, but it doesn’t blend well and looks awkward at times. The CGI is far less obtrusive than I thought it would be though. If anything, I like CGI Willy Wonka. He’s such a bizarre creature anyway that his free-flowing CGI form is still pretty cool to watch. Or maybe I’ve just been won over by CGI characters ever since the Suite Precure ending song dance routine (which I would link but boy do Toei love taking down any Youtube upload of that dance).
Don’t you want to become a magical girl? Wait no sorry, I mean, do you have your Golden Ticket? Wait no, not that either. If you were given 10 billion yen, how would you save Ja…wait damnit, not that either!
In short, I really enjoyed the first episode of [C]. It’s bizarre and imaginative, with intelligent dialogue and quick wit with some incredibly interesting ideas that I really want to see it explore further. What are they going to do with all of this though? It could still all collapse horribly, but I’m here for the ride anyway.