Secret Santa 2010: Welcome to Daikoku City

I fondly recall Dennou Coil as one of those anime I never watched while it was airing, yet took a genuine interest in it. I had a friend who was watching the show, and I relied on him for info. I had been in the midst of my /m/echa education back then, and had little time for anime that didn’t involve robots.

Maybe that was a good thing. I hadn’t gotten into literary science fiction until just last year, and in retrospect, watching Dennou Coil back then might not be the best idea. I wasn’t really ready for it.

But now, I was. And for modern anime standards, Dennou Coil is different.

It is a science fiction tale set in the near future, centered around a fictional city that doubles as a virtual playground accessible via Augmented Reality glasses. The character designs are plain and quite unattractive (there is even a Fat Guy, wildly believed to be extinct nowadays). The protagonists are all children, still in elementary school, despite strictly not a kids’ show.

I like it–a cast of kids is a double-edged sword, and most anime kids are flat caricatures. But the children of Dennou Coil are smart, resourceful, and pure in their purpose. Some of them are even more mature than the average anime teenager!

The first half of Dennou Coil mostly deals with rich world-building, bringing bits and pieces of a mystery plot together before setting it into motion during the second half. My favorite episodes would be 12, where corrupted data organisms (“Illegals”) form a microcosmic civilization on kids’ faces, masquerading as facial hair. Another episode (13) is about a boy’s quest to help a harmless Illegal migrate from its habitat, which is about to be destroyed.

The mystery is something I prefer less to Daikoku City Adventures, though that doesn’t mean it’s bad. The show shifts the focus on the two main protagonists, Yasako and Isako, who share the same given name, Yuuko, that which is written in different kanji. These girls, poles apart in their character and upbringing, are inexplicably drawn towards a large conspiracy involving a boy from their past. I talked to people in Twitter about it, and they had seemed to be invested in a yuri angle between the two. Since I don’t have yuri goggles, it just went over my head. Sorry, folks!

Characters aside, I found Daikoku City itself to be the most engrossing element in the show. The Coil Investigation Agency’s activities make it a target for Searchmaton bots, which seek to delete illegal objects and repair corrupted space in the city. Because of this, our intrepid young investigators are armed to the teeth with plenty of AR tools, like portable brick walls, flying turrets, and the Mega-Beam, shot from one’s eyeglasses. These tools are also used in personal combat, which lends a great deal of excitement (and neat animation techniques from Madhouse) to the show.

So there you have it, my Secret Santa anime. The other two shows that were recommended to me are Paranoia Agent and Lovely Complex, which I’ll attack at a later date. Thanks for bringing this show to my attention!

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13 Responses to Secret Santa 2010: Welcome to Daikoku City

  1. You are the third person I know of who watched this for secret santa, what the hell.

  2. Will just copy my reply to otou-san:

    God, that beard episode is a classic among classics. Dennou Coil is definitely a technical masterpiece. It’s a show that I have to say everyone ought to watch once. It left me and a lot of other people feeling a tad empty afterwards (including the other guy who had this as his secret santa show) because in spite of being so amazing, it doesn’t really cling to my heart. I don’t feel like I want to rewatch it or call it a favorite. This is why a lot of the people who did watch it don’t really talk about it, even though all of them would most certainly recommend it.

    • schneider says:

      My Secret Santa post was supposed to focus on that episode alone, but everything I could say about it could be summed up in one single sentence:

      This episode does the whole “WAR IS HORRIBLE” shtick better than 95% of Gundam.

      By using the beard people instead of, you know, flesh and blood humans, the episode makes nuclear war look funny, while still being a horrifying spectacle (I imagined craters on my face every time a nuke exploded on someone’s “beard”). The resolution the beard people attempted was very charming, and I genuinely wanted them to find their own Promised Land, lol. Most of all, it got me thinking quite seriously about war and humanity–I hope we don’t commit the same mistakes!

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  4. ToastCrust says:

    Dennou Coil is definitely very much my sort of thing, lol. I like it when younger casts are used to engage more serious themes, rather than the endless line up of late teens and adults. But more importantly, this sort of interactive world building is my favourite.

  5. Kiri says:

    Hahahaha. I actually found myself rather impatient with some episodes in the first half — to the point of almost dropping the series for being so slow. It was only in retrospect that I fully appreciated them for building as rich and full a world as it did, and understood that it threw in a lot of clues for the impending mystery in the second half. I’m grateful I also did not watch this series as it aired, because waiting week-by-week for the second half would have probably killed me. I didn’t mean to marathon it, but I couldn’t leave my seat, and those goddamn Illegals freaked me out way more than I would ever expect. But yes, Daikoku City was a fascinating depiction of what AR technology could become.

    Glad you enjoyed it! I was sure you’d tackle Paranoia Agent first. 😛 I’ll look forward to your thoughts on it and Lovely Complex if/when you get around to them.

  6. Taka says:

    This is the show I have always heard split opinions about. However it’s never about whether they liked it or not, it’s always about which part they liked. Some people love the first part but find the second part uninteresting. Some people thought the first part was too slow but became engrossed in the mystery. I myself am part of the former group: so much so that I haven’t…actually…finished the show. 19/26 I love the 1st half to death. I would still call the anime one of my favorites even w/o seeing the end. I love the world, the concept, the illegals, the technology, it’s rich and engaging. Someday I’ll rewatch the first part and finish the anime…someday.

    • schneider says:

      To be quite honest, I wasn’t as pleased as I was with the second part, which was mostly plot, because the first part was all masterful world-building. Not that the plot was bad, but I’d probably be more content if the show just explored the world up to the end.

  7. dm00 says:

    Perhaps it gets overshadowed by what follows, but I’ve always thought that Isako’s initial battle with the boys’ hackers’ club was one of the best magical fights of anime — maybe even on a par with some of the Nanoha A’s battles.

    • schneider says:

      It’s very good, and leverages the strengths of the medium. Some day, I’ll show it to people who are not that into anime as I am, and make their eyes pop out in wonder (as I did).

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