Reviewby Luke Carroll,
Dennou Coil - Part 2
Imagine if the internet was 'projected' over the living world and you interacted with it using a portable device - glasses and visors which connect you to an augmented reality. In 2026, this technology becomes reality...
Yuko Okonogi moves with her family to Daikoku, home of an ever expanding tech network which makes up the interactive virtual world. Her grandmother runs an agency to investigate missing children who appear to have vanished from the 'real' world and entered the city's Dennou - literally meaning "electric brain" - a term used to differentiate between the virtual and 'real'.
A hacker culture is emerging amongst the children of the city. Yasako is soon introduced to Isako, whose powers for hunting computer viruses known as 'illegals' belie an agenda that might have sinister motives.
Written and directed by Mitsuo Iso - key animator on some of the most highly regarded anime of the last 20 years; including Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL, Perfect Blue, Ghost in the Shell and Porco Rosso. Dennou Coil is a critically acclaimed sci-fi action-drama which deals with the distance between people and technology.
With the ground work somewhat being set during the first 13 episodes, Dennou Coil's second and final release is given plenty of time to explain the many questions it began to ask. However it's not interested in taking a leisurely pace as the second half is perfectly content with throwing in a few more twists, sticking the bombshell notch to eleven and then calmly trying to bring all of its added mess to a simple and yet understandable answer. Your mind may struggle at times, your emotions may get the best of you, but by the end of this second instalment, you will be left with all but a simple message and the rare feeling of being completely satisfied with how things worked out.
Episode 14 kicks things off with a sorely needed recap for those wanting a reminder of where things were last left at. As with much of the series though, even this seemingly innocent opening episode finishes with a minor cliff-hanger that urges your every bone to continue through to the next episode. It's hard to deny that Dennou Coil can become quite an addictive series and it's a credit to the director and writers that structured each episode in such a way that you just can't sleep once the next cliff-hanger or bombshell appears.
For the next half a dozen episodes, things continue at very much the same pace as before. The new cast members that feature towards the end of part 1 start becoming fleshed out and the ties between our main characters begin to tighten as more and more strange events begin to happen in the town. It's not until episode 21 though (and co-coincidently disc 2) that the series starts ramping things up rather quickly for its dramatic finish. Bombshells hit hard and fast, and although things are explained in rather good detail, it's hard not to miss a piece here and there in all the action and suspense.
Those wishing this series doesn't suffer the fate of a rushed ending and numerous unanswered questions will be happy to find out that it handles itself rather well. Although the pace does pick up in the final episodes, it never feels forcibly rushed. While the series doesn't leave anything major unanswered, a few aspects of the world are certainly open to debate amongst fans. If I had any problem with how the series wrapped up though, it would have to do with the Kenichi sub plot that built up at the end of part 1. For something that the series took some time to focus and build on, the long awaited conclusion given to it comes in the form of a quick one liner buried mid conversation. As such, it really took the wind out of something I eagerly was wanted to find out.
Visually, the series hasn't had any noticeable changes from the first half. There is certainly a better look towards the final few episodes as the conclusion draws near, however nothing really stands out to specifically mention. The same also goes for the audio. The opening and ending themes haven't changed, and neither has any of the cast. If you were under the belief that the series was quite solid in the first half, then you wont be disappointed at all with this release.
In an effort that will no doubt appease fans of the first release, Siren has given us a small goldmine of extras to enjoy with on this release- so much so it needed its own disc. First up is two full length bonus episodes, which unfortunately amount to nothing more than recaps of the series at different points, however the first may certainly come in handy for those needing a refresher before starting this release. Coming second is a whopping nine different interviews as well as two Q&A sessions. These interviews are done in pairs with the cast, and at a modest 15 to 25 minutes each, will certainly give the more interested fans something to sink their time into. Thirdly is a few TV spots, followed by a couple of production shorts that cover a small part in making each episode, and the clean opening and ending themes to round out the package.
Overall, I must admit Dennou Coil certainly surprised me. Nowhere during the first few episodes was I expecting the sort of depth, compassion, and sheer complexity that followed. The main storyline of the series creeps up on you in such a way that you fail to even register it when things begin to happen. Such is the brilliance in its writing, and such is the addictiveness that follows when each episode leaves you on a cliff-hanger, teasing you to keep going. I know I consciously ate into my sleep time more than once watching this series. Whilst it's a little too much to call Dennou Coil a masterpiece, it certainly is deserving of all the praise it gets. Siren Visual have done anime fans a great service in bringing this constantly overlooked sci-fi series to our shelves, and one can only hope this sort of initiative will pay big dividends for them.
Overall (sub) : B
Story : A
Animation : A
Art : A-
Music : B
+ The second half is just as solid, if not better than the first. Wonderful writing and structure.
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