Reviewby Luke Carroll, Apr 29th 2013
C for Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility (Complete Series)
The Japanese government was rescued from the brink of financial collapse by the Sovereign Wealth Fund. However for its citizens life has not improved, and unemployment, crime, suicide, and despair are rampant. Kimimaro, raised by his maternal grandmother after the disappearance of his father and the death of his mother, is a scholarship student whose only dream is to avoid all this and live a stable life. One day he meets a man who offers him a large sum of money if he'll agree to pay it back. From then on his fate is radically altered as he's drawn into a mysterious realm known as "The Financial District."
There is no doubt that money plays a very important part in our lives. It is the driving force behind almost everything we do each day. We use it to survive, grow and hopefully build a family. But we all eventually discover that we can only accumulate enough money to live comfortably on, no more than that. We always have an urge and a need for more money. So what if someone offered you the ability to earn as much of it as you would like with seemingly little time required to make it. The catch? A wager of what is essentially your life to the bank, the requirement to fight someone each week and the prospect of losing yourself in reality if things do not go your way. Doesn't sound so tempting now does it?
Whilst you have to give credit for trying something practically unseen in an anime, C for Control just never manages to satisfactorily nail the delivery. Not that it helps when it is being delivered by a rather unassuming 19 year old male whose only goal in life is become a public servant so he can earn enough money to provide for a family. It certainly represents a goal in life many of us want, but many of us don't come with the extra baggage Kimimaro does. He lives on his own after his father ran out on him when he was a child and his mother died shortly later. He spends most of his free time working two convenient store jobs and has an interest in a girl who certainly doesn't seem to share the same thoughts as him.
Things however begin to change for Kimimaro one night when he is greeted by a rather quirky jester-like man going by the name of Masakaki. Despite initially refusing his advances and promises of a chance to becoming wealthy, Kimimaro is soon too curious for his own good, and quickly winds up in the mysterious Financial District, a sort of inter-dimensional Wall Street that is controlled by the even more mysterious Midas Bank. To make money in this world, Entres (district members) battle each other with the help of a personification of their future (called an Asset) in a sort of super powered Pokémon battle. With the combatants wealth acting somewhat as a life bar, the goal of each 'deal' is to finish out on top, whether by controlling over 50 percent of the total money or by completely bankrupting your opponent, banishing them from the Financial District forever and having the bank claim their future.
Of course as these stories go, Kimimaro has no idea what he's doing and yet thanks to his seemingly more powerful Asset, is able to fluke his way out of most situations. It isn't long however before he begins to see the harsh reality and life changing alterations these battles are having on the real world. Wanting to stop this happening to anyone else Kimimaro joins a guild headed by a powerful financier by the name of Mikuni, a man fixated on his ideals in using the Midas money he has made to purchase Japanese businesses in a bid to stop the economy failing. Kimimaro however begins to see that Mikuni's tactics are doing more damage than good to the economy, and as you do in any anime when you disagree, you fight it out for the future of Japan.
It's not the most thrilling of stories that could have been picked, but nonetheless the series does still pull out some decent moments over the course of its maddeningly short 11 episodes. The battles for instance are surprisingly intense. Kimimaro's asset Mashu regularly takes a beating during the fights, occasionally even losing a limb that the show makes sure to put in your face at some point. Each personification also appears to have their own unique abilities and attacks, making battles more about strategy than outright strength. Unfortunately the series does cut a few of the other interesting developments short. The use of shares, Kimimaro's father and his diary and how things tie to Mashu are all topics that either get left by the wayside or are abridged into an unsatisfying conclusion throughout the series.
Visually, the series is a hit and miss sort of affair. The Financial District for instance is portrayed as being a polar opposite to the real world (which its white colour palette achieves quite well), however it lacks any structural details whatsoever on the buildings, opting to cover them in random rectangles rather than detailing a window or door anywhere. The character art is also rather average for most of the cast, the notable exceptions being the Assets which take advantage of their unknown origins to portray themselves as widely different beasts that can also become objects during battle. Probably the biggest gripe is the occasional use of CGI to draw characters. It doesn't happen often thankfully, but when it does, it just looks silly. Considering most of the time it is with scenes where characters (mainly Masakaki) are at a distance, one would have to assume it was a cost cutting procedure of sorts.
On the audio side of things, C for Control is an average but solid affair. The opening and closing themes are catchy and quite enjoyable and the moody background music suits the tone of the series well. The English dubbing is exactly what you would expect from a group of industry veterans, enjoyable but not outstanding. The same can also be said for the Japanese track which does have the added benefit of some rather humorous attempts of the English language courtesy of the staff of the International Monetary Fund that features in the series.
Extras wise, Siren has provided this release with the standard clean opening and closing titles, the US trailer as well as English commentary for episodes 5 and 11 on their respective discs. It's a few pieces shy of what the US release received (the C-conomics 101 notes is the biggest omission), but it certainly isn't a deal-breaker by any stretch.
Despite its massive potential on paper, C for Control ultimately finds itself a few peas short of a pod. Don't get me wrong though, there is certainly a lot of enjoyment to get out of this series; however the missed potential is obvious, and something I'm sure the short 11 episode count has plenty to do with. Nevertheless, there is a lot of good to take out of C for Control. It tackles a common anime theme in a way not seen before, and regardless on how much you enjoy the series, you can always discuss the economic philosophies instead.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : B-
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : B
+ Interesting concept, good looking action, builds to quite an elaborate ending that you don't feel completely lost in understanding.
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