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!