I imagine the executive meeting that inspired this dull, jabbering insult to my intelligence went a bit like this.
Director: I’ve been thinking lately we should do something deep and relevant about today’s global financial situation. It’s been all over the news and I think the kids would appreciate someone really bringing it down to their level.
Exec: Uhh, really? But finance is like so BOOOOOORING.
Director: Well, of course we could spice it up a little, you know, give it a representational hook or gimmick. I have one or two ideas that I think would really -
Exec: Oh oh oh! I’ve got it, I’ve got it! MASCOT BATTLES!
Exec: Write this down! It’s not often I get such inspirational flashes. I can see it now - economic conflicts figuratively enacted through pet monsters! ‘Cause everyone likes Pokemon, right??
The result, ladies and gentlemen, is this show, the worst possible marriage of everything that shouldn’t exist in anime. Dry, abstract exposition about money combined with utterly mindless battles between metaphorical creatures that have no real-life relevance. Burrow deep enough and C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control appears to contain a human tale about taking huge financial risks for the sake of loved ones. That this is mere veneer becomes clear the moment we ask why the characters don’t just work overtime, get a second job, or aim for promotion, considering any of these require less effort for more guarantee. The financial battles are vehicles for an impending apocalypse caused by some… thing that gets no explanation. All we know is, at some point, a digitised whatsit begins to sweep through Japan and the hero has to do stuff in the ether to make it go away.
Not that the fights are any good either. Occurring without reason or logic, they generate about as much friction as a limp dick. Just as one combatant summons giant balls of fire, the opponent blocks with an inexplicable beam of sparkling blackness, all the while an electronic voice yells nonsensical financial jargon not even the Wall Street folk would enjoy piecing together (how to counter sensibly when your enemy has just thrown a hail of MACROFLATION!!?). There are no recognisable dimensions to the battles, no identifiable limitations that tell me ‘this person is highly skilled compared to that person’. Thus we must take for granted that Souichiro Mikuni, the cool, mysterious rich guy, is unbeatable because everyone says so; when he fights, I can’t actually tell.
I’d like to put a message out there for the kids growing up on a diet of C-like atrocities: animated backgrounds full of feeling, atmosphere, and texture do exist. For evidence, look to Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica or Eden of the East. The polygonal edifices we get in C bring to mind the artistic sensibilities of a McDonalds restaurant - cold, garish, and above all cheap. Effects happen, shapes and colours and patterns zoom past but none of it serves any discernible purpose except to distract us for another five seconds.
In moments when the plot wholly eluded me, the score managed to restore some of the potency of the situation. Unfortunately, sandwiched between unmemorable opening and closing themes, and voiced over by a crap script, the courageous cinematic soundtrack gets entirely lost.
If there’s anything anime needs more of, it’s teenage boys trying to get stronger. I’m being sarcastic, of course. What anime needs more of are characters I can tell apart from all the others. C’s cast melts into a giant pot of tokenism and archetype that effectively abandons the audience to apathy. I’m surprised, for instance, that the bland, pineapple-haired protagonist (had to look up his name, Kimimaro Yoga) was thought qualified to be one when his only notable features are being nice and harbouring angst about his long-lost father. The only vivid performance belongs to Masakaki, the guide of the alternate dimension in which the battles take place; he is a nod to Willy Wonka that strips away all the child-friendly veneer and replaces it with a chilling pitilessness.
Colour me spoiled if you will, but I like to spend my time watching things that I understand. I like characters for which I feel empathy doing things I could imagine myself doing if I were in their situation. Most of the financial jargon the target audience will struggle to relate to and anyone who does will snooze simply at the banal abstractedness of it. Instead of a poignant metaphor on the dangers of economic risk-taking, we get a discombobulated mess that farts a host of vague concepts. The only emotion this show inspires in the process is boredom.
WARNING: This review is going to be really boring. "Why?," you ask. Because [C] is really boring, and it's boring to talk about. I can get excited over a good thing because I can find creative ways to express my like for it. I can get excited over a bad thing because I can think of different ways to tell it to eat the ass-end of a north-bound cow. However I can't get excited over [C] because of how fucking boring it is. You have been warned, so don't complain about that if you're going to.
[C] is about a kid named Yoga, who gets transported to an alternate dimension after accepting a mysterious cash fund in his bank account. In this alternate dimension, he has to fight different people in order to secure his future, which the dimension has as collateral. Every other fighter there does so as well, making this a fight to secure Japan's future as a whole. Each victory or loss has an adverse effect in the real world. As he battles, it becomes apparent that all is not what it seems to Yoga, and different people have different ideas about how to manipulate this dimension to affect theirs.
My main problem with this story is that it's not original at all. What it is is a Frankenstiened mess of other anime; most notably Death Note, Serial Experiments Lain, and Soul Eater. From Death Note, we a get a moral dilemma tailored in a similar fashion, only handled so poorly that we don't know entirely what it's asking until the very end of the series. From Lain, we get an alternate dimension that controls the real world, only less awesome because the impact left on the real world is known from the start and the way they raise the stakes at the end is laughable at best. From Soul Eater, we get a fighting system with someone at your side that's humanoid but not actually human that acts as your weapon, but less cool each battle is boring and predictable. The staff even know that because one of the battles cuts off in the middle of it and they declared Yoga the winner because they couldn't think of a way for Yoga to predictably win it. Aside from making the aspect that they stole from each anime pathetic, the idea that these three anime can mix together is not a solid one. I can see someone connecting Death Note and Lain, but adding Soul Eater into the mix is just ludicrous. These three anime are so different from each other it doesn't make sense to mix them all up; But, if you're determined to do so, don't string them onto a boring plot that thinks it's better than it actually is.
The main story is one that's been done before and better. An under dog-type character finds himself in an odd situation and begins to rise through the ranks, which is seen by the characters in it as shocking and which isn't seen by me, because I dosed off five minutes in. That is the entire extent of the plot, except when it tries to be deep. I say "tries" because each "deep situation" is bland as hell and something people could see coming from miles away. Most of it talks about about how this dimension is affecting the real world, and when I say "talks" I mean "drones on pointlessly, while alienating the audience." I know Darker than Black did something similar, but the universe in that set up in is in some way interesting and has a colorful cast of characters, which links me neatly to my next point.
The characters are somewhat of a paradox. They're incredibly bland and uninteresting, but to the degree where they're so bland they're unforgettable. Yoga is the under dog hero of the anime, who stumbles around the series, trying to decide which moral side to take. His fighting partner is Mysu. Her role consists of bitching to Yoga and harboring a secret crush on him. The main villain is Mikuni, not that they want you to know that. The series tries to hide that fact very clumsily. His fighting partner is Q, a stoic character that hardly talks, probably in fear that whatever she says has to come from the same snooze-worthy script that everyone else's dialogue comes from. Other characters include a pessimistic teacher, a secret agent girl, an information broker with gold teeth, and a few others I can describe in whole using simple terminology. The only two interesting characters are Masakaki, who works for the alternate dimension, looks like the nephew of The Count from Gankutsuou, and consistently has fun in his own little way, and Sennoza, a rich charity worker, who's incredibly strong and tries to make the script more interesting. Seriously, the rest of the characters sound like their actors knew this was going to be boring going in and didn't even bother (I watched it subbed, by the way). These characters as a whole though are just as bland as the plot, except Mysu who is annoying as hell, and I would sooner leap from The Eiffel Tower than consider her likeable in any way shape or form.
As for the art, it's bland as well. For the alternate dimension, it looks like they tried to fix the artwork of Gankutsuou and fucked it up. At least Gankutsuou's art look interesting in some way and had some feeling behind it. The art here looks like it was made by a robot programed to make something interesting without any reference material at all. The real world artwork also looks boring, but without any specific thing to rip off of, so it looks like that robot's programing was set to "generic." Still, the artwork here is just boring and not smug, like the story, or annoying, like the characters.
The music is also generic as hell. Uninteresting in every way. Even the opening theme, which is by Nico Touches the Walls, the group that did the second opening for FMA: Brotherhood, which was an awesome song. What happened here? Did you guys agree to make a generic song for the anime, or did you look at the anime and make a song to match? My money's on the latter. Still, there is one saving grace for the music, the end theme. It's bye the same people that did the end theme for Eden of the East, another great theme, and this group decided to take the Sennoza route and tried to make the series interesting. As it stand though, the music is the least bland part of the series only because of that.
I'm sorry that I've been repeating myself, calling [C] boring, bland, generic, uninteresting and such. It's just that there's no other way to describe the series. However, if I talk about the end, that might give me some wiggle room in my vocabulary. So, Spoiler Alert here. If you don't wish to be spoiled, just skip to the end.
The Death Note styled moral dilemma centers around the choice of living for today or living to live again tomorrow. This is an interesting concept, but it doesn't come up until very late in the series, as I've mentioned before. It doesn't get addressed until the fate of Japan is at stake, which is a sloppy way to raise the stakes, which I've also mentioned before. The last few episodes of [C] have plot points that fly past faster than a caffeine addict in a race car and are never explained, and things begin to happen for no reason. Or maybe there is a reason, I just didn't pay attention to the boring dialogue long enough to make it coherent. This is all in effort to make [C] look tough and edgy enough to play with the big boys in the anime crowd. A hopeless effort I might add, because it makes it look incredibly silly and not serious at all. The ending of [C] is rather bullshit. It resets itself so that it leaves off where it began, and no effort has been made to offer some form of closure. I guess that was a little more interesting, but not by much. It was worth trying anyway.
Overall: [C] is just an extremely boring anime with less substance than an empty jar. It thinks too highly of itself and is unoriginal in almost every way. It's not a bad anime though, just very inorganic. Something that you could make by putting a bunch of better anime into a blender and mix in some sludge. Don't watch it, unless you are suffering from insomnia is basically what I'm saying. 4.4/10
Before I start my usual rant that tends to pop up in my reviews of short animes, let me just say I enjoyed this anime.
Now on to everything else. This anime isn't even 12 or 13 episodes...it's 11. I don't think I have ever seen an eleven episode anime that wasn't rushed or left without an ending and this is no exception. Hec, it's rare for 12 or 13 episode animes to not have those problems. This anime has a lot of explanations, most of which deal with economics and this "other world" called the Financial District. A lot tends to be explained at a time and quickly too. It's probably best to take this anime at face value and not think too deeply about what's happening and what is explained, otherwise it might be slightly overwhelming. Well, I've never been good with economics beyond the basics and I'm terrible when it comes to numbers and I overanalyze EVERYTHING, so there is my problem already, however, if the series had been longer and the explanations broken up and given over a longer period of time, it wouldn't be so difficult. And now I wonder if anyone else feels the same or everyone who reads this thinks I'm a blabbering idiotic moron. ANYWAY, that aside, the pace is rushed too. I don't think it had the time to build the characters and relationships as well as explain what was going on properly. Short animes are like short stories. A good one is simple, makes use of stereotypes, uses common well known settings and concepts that don't need a lot of explanation, and limits the number of characters. Although it doesn't necessarily have to use all those things, it shouldn't be to complex. That's how a lot of short animes fall short of greatness and this anime is no exception.
Characters- The characters were diverse enough and decently interesting, but I wasn't really sure who to be rooting for. At times it felt like some characters were just being idiotic, but maybe I didn't have enough of a firm grasp on the situation and therefor misunderstood. I would have liked to know more about the main character. It almost felt like I knew more about Mikuni's past than Yoga's. As for Satou, sometimes she seemed to be completely ridiculous with her ideas, but like I already said, maybe I understood less than she did about the situation.
Story- I feel the story was somehwat unique, which was part of it's downfall as a short anime, but also kept things interesting. It could have benefitted from more time to develop though and the ending didn't feel like it wrapped much up. There was also the problem of random details that never got a clear explanation. Some could be assumed by clues given throughout, but not all. What was with the book of numbers? What kept injuries in battle from existing after the battle and did it only apply to injuries from the assetts and those blades things or if someone punched you in the financial district, would those injuries vanish too? What happened at the end and where is Masu? What about the similarity between Yoga's assett and his fathers? What was C really trying to do (technically it was mentioned, but it didn't make a lot of sense)?
The story includes a lot of elements too. I think that was another issue this anime had. It didn't seem to really fit nicely into a genre to me which isn't bad, but it felt like too much crammed into a tiny anime at times. I enjoyed watching it and I think it's worth it, but enjoyable or not, I give the story a seven, mostly because of pacing.
Animation- This was a bit curious to me. It was mostly average normal animation for these days but it had some oddities. The most noticable (because it's in every episode) is at the end of the opening song where it sudenly stops and it sort of seems like the viedo is lagging but it's not. It happens in other places too but it's not a bad thing. I just wanted to mention it because it was unique.
Sound- I still don't know what on earth I'm supposed to say about sound, unless one of the voices totally doesn't fit the character or there is some annoying sound beeping through out. Normally I judge it by whether or not I could stand listening to the opening and the ending too if I listened to it. This one is nothing special but I wasn't dying to fast forward to make it stop so I guess it's average.
Overall- I know I said there were a lot of flaws in this anime, but if I were to rate it based entirely on my own opinion/experience and how much I enjoyed it or how well it kept my interest, I would give it an 8. However, I'm not basing my overall score on my opinion, enjoyment, and interest alone. I am taking into account the parts of a story, character and story development, pacing, animation quality and aesthetic, it's uniqueness, and the satisfaction of the ending or whether the ending gave closure. Based on all that including my personal enjoyment, I give it a 7 overall.
[C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control has a pretty original hook: It's a story starring economics college-student Yoga Kimimaro who only wants to acquire a job with income stable enough to support a family. One day he meets some eccentric dude named Masakaki (who looks a fusion between Willy Wonka and the Cheshire Cat) who offers him a large sum of money, asking in return that he put up his future for "collateral". From that day forward, Yoga is transported to a realm known as the Financial District where he must engage in battles known as "deals" in which he must offer not only his money, but his future as well. It doesn't just stop there since the money printed in the Financial District is different then your average bills. "Midas money" as it's called not only has adverse side-effects on the economy, but on the fabrics of reality as well
If there's anything [C] does that's remarkable, it's that the series tackles issues you never see tackled and gets off to fairly strong start because of it. The idea of a financial crisis being the core conflict in a series sounds pretty cool. The main character is pretty easy to relate to (college student with money issues), the Financial District looks pretty neat, and Masakaki is awesome. Why did it all have to go so wrong?
Let's start with the battles. To expand further on the above synopsis, people who engage in deals within the financial district are known as entres (short for entrepreneurs), and they are given ass kicking super-powered sidekicks called assets to do most of the fighting for them. The creators try to make these showdowns seem complicated by giving them a ton of rules and financial terminology that imply depth, but the way the battles are actually executed resembles pretty much every proxy battle series out there. They are often rather short and resort to run-of-the-mill beam-spam where characters yell out the name of their attacks before firing in true Digimon fashion. Strategies are limited to mostly deus-ex machina and straight-up luck, so don't come in to expecting any sort of complex mind-games. They look pretty, but the deals are mostly brain-dead affairs. You don't really need to understand the terminology or rules really, whoever has the biggest blast wins. Strangely enough one of the most hyped battles of the entire series is also skipped over right in the middle of the action to have the characters simply spend time explaining the results, just thought that was worth tossing out there.
When they're off the battle field our central duo isn't particularly interesting either. Yoga is a pretty dull and passive lead character. His involvement in the story is really little more then an excuse to introduce the viewers to the premise since we learn about the Financial District at the same time he does. He has no real involvement with the main plot going on under his nose until the final episodes. He's not a completely terrible lead though since his ideologies make for a decent foil for the ideologies of the people he meets and battles within the Financial District, especially the last boss. The real problem here is his asset Msyu. She's basically a loli-tsundere who develops into a loli-tsundere waifu. Her interactions with the Yoga as she slowly falls in love with him are cringe-inducing, and eat up far too much time. I figured a show with such a deep setting that only has eleven episodes to work with would know not to spend time on teaching your pet waifu how to eat or what a kiss is, but there's always enough time for otaku-bait I suppose.The nature of the relationship between entres and assets is something I won't go into much for the sake of avoiding spoilers, but it's where I was hoping this show would differentiate Yoga and Msyu from all the other dull male/female leads out there, but it's a sub-plot that pretty much gets dropped right before giving us any kind of meaningful answer. Thus leaving us with yet another lead couple who won't do much for anyone not wanting another cliched central couple. Meh.
I feel no need to mention most of the other entres for the reason that they are mostly one-note entities who fail to amount to something memorable due to short screen-time. I will give props to show for the antagonist (though you could also call him an anti-hero) Mikuni, who is far more interesting to follow then our boring lead and his digital waifu. He understands the effects that losing deals has on other entres (not only do they lose money, but a part of their lives will suddenly vanish). His motives were rather interesting and understandable. I applaud the show for not giving us a main antagonist solely driven by greed which is something that I was expecting from a series where money is behind everything. His plot to is analogous to the idea of quantitative easing, wherein he tries to inject Midas Money into the Japanese economy. His role in the story was a pretty interesting one that provided some interesting criticisms to the practice.
The visuals in this show are probably as unique as the show's premise, but are about as mixed overall as the show's execution. The Financial District is pretty cool to look at with it's distinctive red/white color pallet and the battles that take place are often well animated. The character art however does this bizarre thing often goofily switches between 2D designs and 3D models. It was sort of cool at first since Masakaki was the only one doing it in episode 1 and it sort of fit in with the rest of his bizarre characteristics. However, eventually you get shots of characters walking down the streets in 3D sometimes and the occasional scene where both 2D and 3D characters are interacting on screen at the same time. The actual character designs themselves are also kinda weird in a sometimes derpish way sometimes but is otherwise average. The actual acting is alright on both sides. Funimation's dub doesn't really have much young blood so if you're well acquainted with their previous works, the English version will end up being a rather simple game of "spot the voice actor". Scott Freeman as Masakaki was excellent though. I'd still recommend the Japanese version since it has the highest ratio of Engrish to Japanese speaking (a result of having the International Monetary Fund pop up from time-to-time and the attacks and terminology used during deals) since the likes of Black Lagoon and Beck. It's weird in this since some of the Engrish sounds almost convincing too.
The main plot would've benefited greatly benefited from another cour, but as is the show bites far more then it can chew. I'm not sure if the series had it's episode count slashed or not, but it certainly feels that way (just as much as it did with Angel Beats! too). Much of the series focus on Yoga/Msyu adventures in the Financial District, yet all of a sudden in the final episodes the show forces a doomsday climax with no build up. It would've been great to get a better understanding of how the show got there and how Mikuni figured into it all. Instead it feels as if people woke up one day only to find out that they suddenly have an enormous financial crisis that threatens to plunge the world into "Great Depression " tier misery. These episodes feel to quickly paced and even though the final deal itself is pretty awesome, the show resorts to what I can only call a ridiculously ass-pully resolution that felt much too cheap.
[C] is most definitely a textbook example of neat premise being ruined beyond all recognition. The unnecessary focus on boring leads you've seen before combined with a plot that didn't get the time it needed to develop alongside the weak character development hamstring the show's potential badly. It's an interesting affair still simply because of the bizarre premise and visuals and won't take up too much time.That's not enough to prevent [C] from being a failure of forgettable proportions. Come for the cute assets and explosions, it won't disappoint too much if that's the fix your looking for.
Should you watch this show? Eh, it's not the best and there are better shows out there
I'm still trying to figure out if the show was about how money is evil, banks are evil, governments that print money are evil, or the free market economy is evil. With all of these possibilities it's clear that this show left me a little confused.
We start off with a main character who is flat broke and we see him go to this parrallel world that essentially controls the economy and as a result, the world. In this alternate world people can win big money by fighting it out with their partners, called "Assets" (this entire show pulls all of its material from economic systems) who are the embodiment of the future of the "Entrepeneur", or "Entre." Every week these people must duke it out, and if they lose all of their money, they are essentially removed from the world and left out to dry. It's a high-stakes game, ladies and gentlemen, and don't forget that money is power.
As an action show, it's a little underwhelming, they skipped what was probably the coolest part of the show and decided that it would be better just to talk about how he won instead of just showing it. There is nothing more lazy and unforgivable than that in an action-based show. The scenes are rather cool, when they decide to show off the Assets.... assets (in a non-ecchi way) The powers are impressive and a little over-the-top when they use their ultimate powers, which gives for a good show some of the time.
The animation was less than stellar. It was a CGI show, which normally doesn't mess with me too much, but this show somehow made everything look odd. In the show there is the mysterious crazy man who looks very, very strange when he moves. I'm not sure if it's because his animations were smoother than the rest of the cast's, but it just looked so out of place with everything else. Maybe it was intentional, maybe it wasn't. Either way, I didn't much care for it.
The characters are actually rather good, for the most part. The main character is likable enough, along with his Asset. They have an interesting relationship that develops throughout the show, which is always a good thing. The pseudo-mentor for the main character, the enigmatic Souichirou Mikuni, is a very respectable character. He is the character who you learn the most about, honestly, and you learn about his reasons and why he does things the way he does. There are some other colorful characters that make this actually a rather rich (haha, see what I did there?) lineup.
Anyway, this show is one that left no impression on me whatsoever, though that doesn't mean that it won't be to your liking. If you can look past the odd animation and really pay attention to the story, then you'll see that there is a lot to learn about how economies work and why you shouldn't gamble away your future for a chance at a slightly better present. This show had lofty goals, but for me, it just fell short.