Monday, July 4, 2011

Anime Review: [C] Control

Here is the other noitaminA show of the season, [C]. A nice balance to AnoHana (the spring season is actually a nice balance to the shows in the winter season, fantasy/adventure and growing up transgender slice of life vs dealing with grief & growing up slice of life and magical economic battles) C doesn’t quite feel like a show that should be in the noitaminA block but it was directed by Kenji Nakamura who seems to do a new show in the block every two years (he directed the Bake Neko arc in Ayakashi-Samurai Horror Tales, the spin-off show Mononoke and then Kuuchu Buranko(Trapeze) although this is his first work that I’ve seen (really need to see Mononoke someday). Like AnoHana it’s an anime original story with plenty of strengths and weaknesses and was an interesting watch.

[C] Control-The Money and Soul of Possibility

 Summary: Yoga Kimimaro was an ordinary college student who works two jobs and whose goal in life is to hold a stable government job and be able to raise a family with enough money to provide for them. But one day he is dragged to the Financial District and forced to accept their offer, money with his future as a collateral and engage in weekly fights (deals with an asset the Financial District provides him with, Mashu, literally a manifestation of his future) to keep from going from bankrupt and losing everything.

The Good: The show seems to be trying to say that there is no right or wrong way to save the economy, just different ways with pros and cons (much like Eden of the East) and it does succeed on this point (even if the only two options the characters seem to come up with is sacrifice the present for the future or save the present so there will be a future, literally in both cases). And towards the end of the series when it's clear that the world is in trouble and the heroes need a plan to save it they actually come up with a rather good plan to counter the current problem and that couldn't really be done any earlier because of how much damage it causes. Finally, while the show itself doesn't try to explain real world economics (Spice and Wolf does that better), if someone was to look up various phrases uttered in the show (such as the attacks the assets use in deals) they would actually learn a little about various techniques and plans used by real world companies in business deals.

The Bad: This show really needed a few more episodes (maybe just two more to make it a full 13/one cour) since it spent so much time focusing on Yoga exploring the world and what various people are trying to accomplish in the Financial District and then immediately switches to the final fight. Not only is it a jarring change of pace but it means that Yoga spends two-thirds of the series wondering just what he should be doing and then he suddenly makes up his mind without any problems. The ending was too ambiguous in places* and really, some of the events leading up to the climax needed more explanation as well. Finally, it's said several times in the show that the Financial District works by taking someone's future as collateral and then giving them money but how exactly does the FD have that kind of power? None of the characters even question this and perhaps the supplementary material explained it better but, as it stands, there is no reason given why the main mover and shaker of the series even exists which isn't a good thing.   

The Audio: Funimation translated both the opening and the ending song but neither of them sounded like they were actually talking about the show. I preferred the opening to the ending for the way the beat matched up with the visuals (and the visuals of the opening at least connected back to the show) but neither song really got stuck in my head the way a really good opening or ending will. There was a lot of Engrish in the show at times and some characters were better than others (Jennifer had the weakest performance) and all of the government officials spoke decent English, glad to see that having background characters who sounds like they know the language is becoming more common these days.

The Visuals: The show looks fine in some places and not-so-fine in others, which might be due in part to the aftereffects of the Tohoku earthquake (I’ve seen a few studios admit that hurt them) and also from saving their budget for the last big fight. That last fight is a pretty amazing one, although that still doesn’t excuse all the scenes earlier on in the series where the characters would suddenly and randomly be CGI instead of traditionally animated (especially since that fight didn’t need to go on as long, ie, didn’t need all of that budget). Other than that, both the opening and closing sequence are interesting to look at^ and the financial district has some cool designs but everything else looks fairly average, there’s nothing bad or especially good about it.  

So it seems that again the noitaminA show I enjoyed less is the one that has gotten licensed first (Funimation annouced DVD/BR rights for this this past weekend) and I honestly don't know if I'd buy this one. It wasn't a horrible show, not at all, but it really could be better and honestly I can't figure out why this series wasn't at least paced better (it's in the noitaminA timeslot, you KNOW it's only 11 episodes!). Maybe if all the CGI was cleaned up and it has some good extras I'll get it but Funimation usually doesn't get a ton of extras on their DVDs so I'll just have to play this one by ear. 

* this post has the best theory (in my opinion) on what happened in the end, spoilers for the very end of course, but even that theory contradicts some information that was on the Japanese site (it sounds like there was some side information on the site but, since it wasn't translated as far as I know, that doesn't help me here)
^check out here about some of the tarot imagery that popped up in the show, there are a few other posts on the blog about symbolism that popped up in the later episodes as well,