Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review: [C] The Money of Soul 1&2

I would, if you ever started explaining yourself!

As much as I’d like to get to watching the other anime this season about massive gambles and the eeevil of money, I did promise I’d watch NOTAMINA’s latest anime, known as “C” for short. . . and I did. Now I’m not sure what to think about anything anymore. I was expecting something akin to Death Note meets ECON 101. What I got was that, The Wealth of Nations, PersonaPersonaPersona, and something I don’t even know what it was. 

Anyways, more unwitting protagonists getting suckered into deals with the devil, after the jump!  

The series premier got off to a bad start, with a lengthy cold opent, with absolutely no context provided for anything seen or heard. Granted, this is more or less the same way Durarara and Baccano started, and since the same script writer is working on C, I’ve little doubt the jigsaw puzzle plot will resolve itself by the series’ end. The crucial difference however, is that both of those shows established a framing device to give the viewer context. C takes no such steps, and instead presents us with an opening monologue full of mixed metaphors and lame CGI, that eventually culminates in a Yu-Gi-Oh/Persona/Jo-Jo’s Bizarre adventure style battle that may or may not represent a corporate buyout. Stien’s;Gate was less confusing, and that’s saying a lot.
That said, the character work was impressive, when it happened: Kimimaro, a freshman economics student, and the show’s protaganist, is very sympathetic, and his almost nostalgic goal of “a quiet life with the wife and kids,” strikes an all too reminiscent chord. He gets to show his resolve right out of the gate: when Masasaki, the love child of Willy Wonka and Ryuk comes to offer him a chance at fabulous riches, Kimimaro slams the door on him without a second thought. Unfortunately, the money proves too tempting, and by episode’s end, Kimimaro has been escorted to the mysterious “Financial District,” where he is to find out more about the goshdarn plot already, I mean, god, it’s about time..
A Boy and The Personification of His Wealth.
To be frank, I’m really tired of what Aquagaze terms “Second Episode Syndrome,” where the first episode is the setup, and the second has the “duty of explaining every single plot point, and introducing characters that didn’t make it into the first one, because characterization and plot progression is strictly-off limits in most first episodes.) Tired or not, the second episode of C ‘succumbs’ to the syndrome, and provides context that should have been at least hinted at in the first.
Kidding aside, the second episode is much stronger than the first, introducing and (finally) explaining some of the show’s key tenets and mechanics. The duels are (mostly) explained, as are the are the familiars/personas/stands. Kimimaro even gets one of his own who is, unexpectedly, far more competent then he is, berating him for not knowing what the hell he’s doing. (Which is perfectly understandable, given that all of this has been explained to him a total of never.)
The animation raises a few red flags, with off model characters, other characters who mysteriously become CGI for a few scenes and the like. The characters haven’t quite come into their own yet, but I’m willing to give C the benefit of the doubt with regards to those aspects. Some of the show’s other failings can be downright irritatating: it’s far too early to draw Fractale comparisons, but one of the first things that show did wrong was eliminate any ambiguity about the antagonists, and C follows suit in irritating fashion. Not two seconds after the seemingly shady “Midas Bank,” is introduced, we see one of their customers use an ATM, using the ever so subtle digits six, six, and six as his pin code. Hooray for subtlety.
To be blunt, I can already see this as a trainwreck and it’s far too easy for this show to go the wrong way. If the animation blunders keep up, or get worse, if the character work doesn’t pan out, if the battles never evolve beyond what they are, if the metaphors wind up being pointlessly implemented and shallow. Hints of all of these issues show up in the first two episodes, but for the moment, the strength of the concept and the caliber of the production and writing staff are enough to keep me interested. The show is, to borrow the phrase “On Notice.”
Suuure I will.

C Episodes 1 & 2

Animation Quality: 3/5
Plot Advancement: 3/5
Economics: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Episode Plot: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree with you on these first two episodes. None of this feels particularly well done, and I felt by the end of my double episode watch that I was latching onto this to see how well the show's concept would hold up at viewing a few more episodes.

    And that aside, I still have to deal with the CGI. I don't mind bad CGI being used for inanimate objects or monsters. It's easy for me to ignore, excuse or gloss over. But when you start using CGI to animate main characters for no reason except to do it, then I get irritated. I doesn't look good, and I wonder if anyone animating this notices?