Archive for the 'dennou coil' Category

Dennou Coil: Just How “Real” Is Virtual Reality?

The title of the post is, of course, the major theme of the last eight or so episodes of Dennou Coil, which I have just blasted through at mach speed (homework be damned). These episodes featured the death of Densuke, the finest pet who never lived, and Yasako’s torn feelings over losing what is essentially a series of 1s and 0s. And we can’t, of course, forget Isako, who created an entire cyberworld where she could be with her brother for eternity. The lesson to be learned, then (or at least the one I found most prominent) is that virtual reality and true reality are not entirely separate, or at least not as much as we think.

Consider Yasako: when Densuke dies protecting her from the Null, she is conflicted about what she should feel. Her mother, of course, has old-generation values and sensibilities: “It’s just glasses, honey. The real world is what really matters.” Yet even still, Yasako wonders, why does she feel grief over a collection of data on a computer network? She never held Densuke the way you would a real dog, yet her grief over his death is genuine and, although she tries to suppress it, she can’t get rid of it. The clincher to this mini-arc, then, would be Yasako finally, for the first time, holding and petting Densuke in the Loophole Nexus. It almost seems to say, through the magic power of symbolism (or possibly metaphor), that Densuke may be virtual existence, yet, to the perceiver, he is an existence. Computer programs haven’t gotten to the point where one can develop human-like affection for them, but I firmly believe that here, Dennou Coil is right: they may be cyber-existences, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real.

As for Isako, she learns the negative side of virtual reality: using it as an escape from the real world. The virtual world can be considered real, as we have just demonstrated, but perhaps it is not fully real. Isako, in creating a false Space to hold her grief over the loss of her brother, seeks escape from the reality of pain. Whereas Yasako recognizes her grief as being real, even if the object of her grief isn’t, Isako instead forces herself to reject the feeling of grief, seeking solace in a virtual construct, even though the object of her grief was real. Whether or not Isako’s brother was himself in her created Space (he certainly seemed to be, when he held back Michiko-san to allow Isako time to escape) or a computer program merely emulating human conciousness (which raises further questions, the most obvious being: can a computer actually emulate human conciousness?) isn’t the problem here; instead, she sought solace in the virtual rather than facing reality. The fact that she was manipulated by a vengeful Coil employee only furthers her resolve to escape, requiring friendship from Yasako, who can withstand the torment of grief, to escape…escaping.

For a series that started out fairly silly and episodic, Dennou Coul turned out to have some real depth. I figured it would, though, since it aired on NHK Educational, but the actual depth of the depth surprised me. Japanese kids get Dennou Coil to watch, which only makes me jealous of them, as there’s nothing on American TV that seems to respect that children just might possibly have an intellect in them. The Dennou Coil children themselves are fairly smart and adept, despite being in elementary school, so at least someone recognizes the surprising intelligence of children. But that’s a tangential rant.

I’m kind of sad that I put Dennou Coil off this long to finish it off, but I put everything off as long as I can once I fall behind, because I get caught up in the new and develop massive backlog. Such is life.

Quick, Numerologists! Look up 4423!

Way, way, way, way, way, way, way behind on Dennou Coil, I know, but I’m trying to see if I can’t finally find the time to finish this series this week. It’s looking good so far!

I’ve just seen episode 16, the last of four episodes I’ve seen today, and I’m reminded once again why I like it, especially now that the plot seems to have kicked into full gear. Not that the series was bad before now, of course–there’s a lot of filler in the first half, but it’s highly enjoyable filler, and it serves the important function of introducing the characters and developing their personalities. In that way, it’s similar to the early episode of Eureka Seven, which were also mostly filler, but always threw the viewers a characterization bone or two every episode. This, of course, leads to “this show consists entirely of filler, it sucks” syndrome, although, I think this problem is abated by the cleverness of the series’s setting.

What I really like about the setting is the blurred line between reality and cyberspace. It extends much, much further beyond the simple fact that Dennosuke ceases to exist if Yuko lifts her glasses. There’s this general sense that, somehow, through some arcane technology, the real and the virtual have become interconnected. Now, this is a common theme in cyberpunk stories, I think; however, Dennou Coil appeals to me whereas the hard-boiled, gritty worlds of Snow Crash and Neuromancer do not. I chalk this up to the fact that it’s a much kinder, gentler kind of cyberpunk–cybersoftrock, if you will. It’s just nifty to see people clip through what I presume is an actual, physical wall to escape pursuers, in a show that isn’t set in an online setting. It’s just…cool.

The actual, central mystery, revolving around the mysterious entity only known as 4423, is quite good. I love good mysteries, when the mystery is actually a mystery and not an extended excuse for bad puns relating to food, cats, or quilts, so Dennou Coil appeals to two of my genre interests. The actual story has been paced slowly up until now, but it looks like they’re going to focus more on the plot, which can only improve the series from good to great.

I think I’ll post my thoughts on the whole series when I’m done with it, which will probably be this weekend. Now that I’ve said that, of course, all three of you will be waiting with bated breath for the Alpha and Omega* of blog posts, and it will not be forthcoming, and there will be Roaring and Gnashing of Teeth. Too bad, Grendel.

*this is possibly an exaggeration, but I am unsure

Brave Story novel wins little-known ALA children’s book award; also Tokyo Media Arts Festival awards

I have no idea when the award was given out, but the 2008 Mildred L. Batchelder Award winner is none other than Miyki Miyabe’s own epic fantasy novel masterpiece Brave Story.

You’re probably looking at me like I’m crazy and saying “What on Earth is the Mildred L. Batchelder Award and why do I care?” I hadn’t heard of it hitherto this point either, but (according to the ALA award information page I linked above) it’s an award given to a foreign-language book of exceptional merit that has been translated into English. A list of past winners is available, in case you were curious (the only book I recognize off that list is Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord,and I work in a library, so you’re not alone in going “Say what now?”) but, of course, the important thing is that it won an award, which means that at least someone out there is paying attention. Japanese books have won the award before, of course, as that list I linked proves; the difference here is, of course, that the publisher for Brave Story is VIZ Media. Which means that a manga company has won an ALA award. I’m probably the only one impressed by this, of course, due to my librarian nature.

In other award new, spurred by the Brave Story award discovery, I checked Wikipedia for the winners of the Tokyo Media Arts Festival prizes and, lo and behold, two of the four winners of the Excellence Prize are none other than Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann and Dennou Coil. It’s not as awesome as taking home the Grand Prize, like Toki o Kakeru Shoujo deservedly did for 2006, but now people can mention Gurren-Lagann and Kamichu! in the same sentence and not raise eyebrows quite so much. Past Excellence awards winners include Neon Genesis Evangelion, Serial Experiments: Lain, Tokyo Godfathers and Mahou Shoutengai Abenobashi. By contrast, past Grand Prize winners include Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Millenium Actress, Blood: The Last Vampire, the aforementioned Tokikake, and Mind Game (Kemonozume fans are probably rejoicing at this news, all three of them).

I still, however, don’t know if Youhou won a prize in the Entertainment/Interactive Art category. If anyone knows what happened with that, please let me know. It could probably win just on how interactive the fanbase is with the actual source material, in terms of generating content, but we don’t know.

Year-End Anime Awards for 2007

It’s that time of year again.

The air is cold, the night is swift, and Dick Clark is still alive and no one knows why.

Yes, it is the end of 2007, and that means we get the end of the year “best of” awards ceremony. Criteria: the show must have started its broadcast in 2007. So, everything from winter season to fall season is fair game. So here we go!

Best Drama About Drama: Hitohira

Refreshingly original characters, a slight hint of yuri, and some real emotional power drives this series. I kind of glossed over it, and then heard about it from a friend of mine, and then watched it, expecting it to be some kind of mild schoolhouse comedy. Instead I got an incredible and moving drama. It came from nowhere and socked me with both cute and poignancy. How many of your average moe shows get that done, tell me?

Best Space Opera That Was Based on Seventies Manga: Terra e…

A rather inauspicious start led into a flurry of emotions and an actually epic plot, something its contemporary Heroic Age could have only wished it was. Not only that, the anime actually improves on the original manga, making it much more affecting.

Best Show With Immortal Gangsters: Baccano!

I’ve already said my piece about this show, of course, but to review: incredible characterization and a very tightly scripted plot turned this show into one of the real winners of 2007. The whole series would have flopped, in my opinion, had it been 26 episodes, due to the slow pacing that would have been brought on it.

Best Comedy About Little…Things That No One Knows What They Are: Potemayo

The 4koma nature of the manga this was adapted from led to a totally nonsensical anime. And it was good that way. It’s been a while since an anime comedy made me laugh as consistently as Potemayo did, and doing it all without making references is a plus.

Best Show About Drills: Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann

I don’t think I actually have to talk about this one much. I was relatively unimpressed by the first episode for some reason (hype got to me, I think–I kind of expected it to be a hilarious episode, and not an episode of burning passion for some reason) but I quickly warmed up to the series and ended up loving it all the way through. It was, indeed, manly as all get out. And well-paced past a certain point, too.

Best Romantic Drama Wherein There are Numerous Visual Tricks Because Shinbo is Crazy: ef – a tale of memories

I just wrote a post on this since it just ended, so it’s still fresh in my mind, but it’s definitely one of the top-tier series this year. See previous posts on the topic for reminders on why it’s listed here.

Honorable Mentions

“Honorable Mentions”, in this case, usually means “this show is really good but I haven’t actually finished it yet”.

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Minami-ke

We got not one, not two, but three rather clever comedies this year, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei being the funniest Shinbo Akiyuki show to date, and Minami-ke being….Minami-ke. All three of them are worthy of note, but I just haven’t finished these two. For shame.

Hidamari Sketch

Notable simply because it marked a point where Shinbo stopped being Pani Poni Dash Shinbo and became the Shinbo I can actually find amusing and interesting to watch. I was apathetic before this show; now I’m as much of a Shinbo whore as the next person. So, uh, yeah.

Lucky Star

I actually did finish this, and it was really fun to watch, and I will be buying the upcoming DVDs, so I can’t really explain why it’s down here. Notable, however, for turning a relatively mediocre manga into a huge otaku phenonmenon. Amazing what Kyoto Animation can do, isn’t it?

CLANNAD

Again, you probably know my stance on this show. The relationship dynamics between Tomoya and Nagisa are great, and the one arc I’ve seen so far has been pretty good. And I hear the Kotomi arc is great.

Moyashimon

Yes, let’s make a show about bacteria! And it will be the greatest thing ever!

Mobile Suit Gundam 00

Nothing’s changed since I last watched an episode. It’s still going strong. 30th anniversaries are wonderful things.

Sketchbook ~full color’s~

The other slice of life show about artists. It’s not as viusally clever as Hidamari Sketch is, but it’s a lot more relaxing and funny, thanks to Team Aria.

Dennou Coil

I still can’t figure out why I’m watching this so slowly. I think I’m trying to preserve the awesome as long as possible. Yeah, that’s it.

Darker than BLACK

I’m still only partway through this, but it’s been fairly good thus far. I don’t think it’ll make it into the top-tier up there, but I like the way every arc is focused around character development over action. It could just as easily have been an straightforward action show, but, instead, it’s a pretty nifty study in character.

Ghost Hound

It’s finally shaped itself up to be a good, creepy show. Even if it’s not allegedly as bizarre as Serial Experiments: Lain, I still like it.

I think that’s everything. As you can see, this year has been quite bountiful with the goods.

Watashi no Kawaisou Hige-tachi

HAIR NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST ON YASAKO’S FACE.

Dennou Coil is so awesome. Most of the episodes have been pretty standalone and episodic, but that doesn’t matter because as far as I’ve watched, they’ve all been pretty hilarious. Whether it’s floating blocks of cyberwater appearing in midair or communicating with the cyberhair on someone’s face, it’s always visually innovative.

And that visual innovation is why I love the show. A few people I know have said that the series is starting to go downhill (people who are less behind than I am), but I fail to see how a show about kids shooting lasers out their foreheads can GO downhill.Dennou Coil isn’t afraid to do something totally wacky, and then sit there and point out how absolutely wacky it is. I was having trouble trying to pick a screencap from this episode, there were about 50 scenes that would have sufficed (Spaghetti Western cyberhair town? Kyoko looking demonic with her beard? I can’t choose!).

And what’s the greatest thing about Dennou Coil? It’s a KIDS’ SHOW. Why can’t America get cool shows like this? I don’t know. But I know one thing: I should probably watch Dennou Coil faster than I am watching it. Backlog ;_;.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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