Dennou Coil: anime review – the past, the future and deep within

Review: As a child, I often had another imaginary world inside my head and I always imagined things happening in it. Yes, I lived in my own head, in my own little world whenever I was free. I guess that’s why I didn’t have many friends back in my school days. I can’t imagine what my life would have been if the technology of Dennou Coil had existed back then.

First and foremost, the very first thing that will get the viewers hooked to this anime is the cyber technology. Once you put the glass on, cyber world is let loose into reality, overlapping with everything you see. That makes everything possible; anything could be lurking in the dark corner of the streets and there could be a whole new world behind every door. It’s as if the anime is trying to bring children’s dream into reality since in children’s perspective, the world is full of wonder and the unknown. I also love the clash between extremely advanced technology and very old fashioned setting; the old city, the shrine, Mega-bar herself, even the cyber devices are designed as ancient superstitious tags. To add more nostalgic power into the show, earth colors are used extensively, making the whole experience reminiscent of distant childhood memory. The world building alone already set Dennou Coil apart from other anime aimed for children.

Undoubtedly, Most of the main characters of Dennou Coil consist of elementary school children and a seventeen years old girl is consequently called ‘aunty’. The story revolves around the mysterious death of Ashihara Kanna, which is rumored to be related to several cyber-urban legend entities like Miss Michiko, the illegal and the obsolete space, aka ‘the other side’. Yasako, Haraken and Fumie try to investigate these urban legends and find themselves entangled in the world beyond reason and possibility.

Of all the characters, Densuke shines the brightest

Characterization is not the staple of Dennou Coil since they are all quite generic. The character to whom I had the most emotional connection to was Densuke the cyber dog. But then again, considering Densuke’s cute design and voice, who couldn’t love him? Besides world building, the storytelling is another strong point of the series. Dennou Coil can easily be categorized as mystery anime. There is a connection between all these strange events and Yasako’s past which I cannot reveal here lest I’ll spoil everything. The truth is slowly and strategically revealed throughout the course of the show. The memory loss plot-device is used for the thousandth time in anime history but luckily, the show manages to back it up well with a totally unpredictable finale.

Ultimately, I think Dennou Coil’s main theme is the limitation of human perception. There is always something beyond what human can perceive. Even in the cyber world created by human, obsolete spaces remain the mythical, mysterious place. There is always something we don’t know because even in our own minds and hearts, there are still lots of unexplored corners.

With a very high production value and generally good original score, there is hardly anything I can complain about this anime. Dennou Coil is a very fine work with incredible imagination. I felt like I was taking a trip to the past, to the future and to the depth of human soul all at the same time while watching this anime.

Rating: A

Title: Dennou Coil, A Circle of Children
Genre: Sci-fi, fantasy
Released date: May 12, 2007 – December 1, 2007
Episode: 26
Director: Mitsuo Iso
Animated by: Madhouse

13 responses to “Dennou Coil: anime review – the past, the future and deep within

  1. Sounds like one I should look into. I enjoy stories that explore what we can know and cannot know. The animation looks similar to Studio Ghibli’s style. Another plus on my book.

  2. This glass thing they put on, does that like mix a virtual world with the real simply through vision? Or does it reveal what is already a part of our reality?

    • The glasses let the viewer see what’s going on in cyberspace (programs, portal, virus or bugs). The vision overlapped with scenery of the real world but the actual real world remains intact. That means if you put up a firewall in front of your house, everyone wearing glasses won’t be able to see your house but see a wall instead. But wearing glasses does not enable you to wall through actual walls. This actually sounds confusing…just watch the show! :P

  3. I’ve been meaning to watch this for a while. I’ve seen nothing but great things in every review.

  4. Holy shit I want to see this now. Once school is over I’m going to marathon this until I DIE (except without the dying).

    • Um, this show is pretty slow. I would suggest breaking the series into a few clusters of episodes and do small marathon on each cluster. But then again, marathoning the whole thing is probably the best.

  5. This is also the latest anime series i have just finished watching. It has been on my to-watch list for quite a while now and I was glad I got to watch it finally. I love the art style, which is very easy on the eyes. I also find it reminiscent of Ghibki too. The technology aspect of this is also ultra cool. I would love to see the glasses being developed and sold in 10 years time!

    I do like the earlier standalone episodes more than the actual overarching plot. The beard episode especially comes to mind! It would be great if they actually make a slice-of-life follow up from this show:)

    • The concept and context of Dennou Coil can be used to spawn many more interesting stories, indeed. I love that ‘beard’ episode as well :)

  6. yamishikineko

    glad I’m not the only one who have watched this, I consider this bit of a rare gem among animes I have seen.

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