Dennou Coil continues its spectacular storytelling as Isako ventures into dangerous territory and in turn, reveals a rather unfortunate past for Haraken.
As I said before, one of Dennou Coil‘s strongest points is how it manages to pack composition and exposition together so smoothly to the point where every aspect of it becomes enjoyable, instead of certain parts dragging on more than others. That’s still the case with Episodes 9 and 10, when our gang is invited to the school for a last sleepover, which is really just a coverup for yet another hacking duel, which is also yet another coverup for Isako to investigate an Illegal. There are a couple of things that happen in this episode which is why I’ll be resorting to bullet point format, rather than a general thesis.
- We could begin with how Dennou Coil makes sure that none of our characters are stereotypical in nature. This is obviously seen when Denpa is willing to cooperate with Haraken and also when Isako turns out to be absorbing these Illegals/Kirabugs into her own digital body. It’s not like these kids are separated into a whole West Side Story gang club, but are indeed, close friends who enjoy playing with one another. The Festival obviously showed us this, but it’s really through the sleepover that we see these characters enjoy themselves and have a life outside of the plot. Daichi and his gang aren’t just people who hack! He has a very dominative father, he enjoys being with Denpa, he has a secret crush on Fumie, and he’s also very concerned about his image when it comes to other people. Most interesting is Haraken, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
- It could also be said at this point that the show’s focus is on Isako’s arc. While cruel, unsympathetic and immoral in nature, the actual narrative of Isako contradicts these exact hints. She casually casts away Daichi as the leader of the group, but she impulsively absorbs the Illegal into her own body. I may not know everything about Illegals or Kirabugs as of yet, but I can say that downloading a cursed bug or virus into your system isn’t the smartest idea. I’m sure she has her own personal reasons – reasons that we’re slowly starting to find out about, as we see her meet her grandfather and uncle to talk about how she’ll eventually “get back her brother,” but there’s a limit, and I feel like Dennou Coil is about to approach the consequences of those limits very soon.
- I think one of my main issues so far with Dennou is how mature and calm the main protagonist is. It’s not that I’m not a fan of Yasako – she’s a sweet kid who, like us, is only just starting to understand the digital world around her, and I do like that she’s not some kind of hacking expert. But I do wish she would act a little more like her age, and that she would play a major role in the events? I know that she will, judging by how her past relationship with (potentially) Isako’s brother will come to light soon, but at the same time, I want something more from her. She’s extremely passive in these episodes and I hope that eventually she’ll become something bigger and more important later on.
- What’s incredibly frightening is the way Isako takes down the Satchi. Does this mean that she has no boundaries to her game at all? Is Isako so bound by her own guilt that she refuses to share her burden with anyone else? If so, then perhaps Yasako is that key. I’m really interested in how their relationship will develop that way.
- Speaking of relationships: the love “triangle” – or rather, the exploration of love interests in Dennou is rather admirable, considering that these are children who spend their time interacting with one another and playing games. Haraken’s deep-seated love for Kana is tragic, as we finally see in Episode 10 as she loved him back. Yasako is aware of her own feelings for Haraken, but understands that there’s a place she just can’t reach. Daichi loves Fumie, but is immature to the point where he wants to win for himself first before admitting that he loves her. In these ways, these children act very much like adults, but unpretentiously so, and that’s what makes it endearing and visceral rather than stale and boring.
- Haraken’s feelings for Kanna and vice versa – it’s a tragic love story we’ve seen before, but some of the most powerful moments in Coil so far are the silent ones where Haraken just quietly thinks back to Kanna and his reason for avenging, if not realizing her death. I’ve said before that Coil does a great job of exposition, and this is clearly shown through the flashback and diary scenes, when the audience just understands how much she meant to him, and why he’s so bent on finding the truth. Whereas many of the characters so far pursue hacking and uncovering secrets just for fun, both Isako and Haraken have legitimate and personal reasons, which makes their arcs much more serious and interesting. I’m hoping that we’ll see some more development from these two – the one aspect the show seems to be dragging behind a little, but will soon catch up on, by the looks of it.
- Those Boku Satchis are still horrifying. I’m not sure what inspired their design (they look very odd, whereas many of the character designs in Coil are very Ghibli-like, which is understandable as the director worked on some Ghibli films himself) but boy, I don’t want to be caught near one of those.
- I’m not sure what Kanna’s diary has led us to, but it’s obviously something big if it includes a SECRET PAPARAZZI PHOTOGRAPHER!!!! But I guess we’ll have to wait till next time to see what larger conspiracies are at work, huh?See you next time. :)