Before watching Cencoroll it is important to keep in mind this 27 minute movie (based off a one short manga titled Amon Game) was written, directed, designed, and animated by one man- Atsuya Uki. Now, a 27 minutes anime leaves little room for plot and character development, but this does not take away from the overall enjoyment of the film.
When Yuki discovers one of her classmate, Tetsu, has been keeping a shape shifting monster, Cenco, as a pet she becomes instantly curious and begins to follow the two around. When another boy, Shu (who controls a monster like Cenco), shows up literally out of nowhere conflict ensues.
As mentioned above, there is not much time for the plot to properly unfold and that is one of the few drawbacks of Cencoroll. The viewer is introduced to an extraordinary world but is not given enough time to truly get a taste of it, which can leave some unsatisfied.
If surrealness is not your cup of tea then I cannot with a good conscious suggest Cencoroll to you. This anime is odd, but in the best possible way. Cencoroll is not one of those animes that tries too hard to be different, resulting in a total rejection of the show. You are always given a moment to take in what has occured and sort it out.
The film gave the impresstion you were watching a long preview for a new anime series.
One of the redeeming qualities in this short film is the art and animation. Some argue that the character design is too plain, but I completely disagree. The character style is very fluent, crisp, and refreshing. The facial expressions are outstanding.
The beautiful and detailed landscapes/cityscapes are presented brilliantly and a highlight of the film. As are the fighting scenes and the transformations done by Cenco. It is astounding that such amazing animation was done by one man.
There is very little background music in this anime. While many animes use music to intensify scenes Cencoroll does not, adding to it's overall surrealness. You can though hear the sounds of crickets, leaves rustling, and whatever else you would expect to hear in Japan. All is very realistic.
The ending theme, titled Love & Roll by Supercell, is a upbeat and fun song.
I can understand characters getting a lower rating. With no character development it leaves the viewer with a very one-dimensional feel for the cast.
I found the characters lovable despite this. Tetsu seemed indifferent to everything going on around him and was not surprised by much. His somewhat dull (but still lovable!) personality was evened out by Yuki. Kana Hanazawa, who is known for her moe roles, voiced Yuki. She does a wonderful job of showing Yuki's curiousness. Cenco, whose only motivation is to feed himself is funny, even though he says nothing. The three together make a comical team who are a pleasure to watch. Shu, our antagonist of the film, is very cocky and holds an air of mystery around him. He added a good flare to the show.
Even with the lack of character development I am giving characters a high rating because I enjoyed watching them so much.
Cencoroll is a diamond in the rough. Its biggest drawback is its length, and if given more run time could be exceptional. I suggest this anime to anyone who does not mind a bit of weirdness or has 30 minutes to spare.
Cencoroll is some simple fun that goes nowhere. That is all it is, and all it strives to be. That isn't a bad thing, but actually is rather nice. The monsters are kinda cool I suppose. The characters manage to be a mixed bag even in such short a time. Still, there is some charm to it. Is it worth twenty seven minutes of your time?
It doesn't merit any more talk that that.
How to describe Cencoroll's story? How much can really be described and reviewed from a short movie clocking in barely under thirty minutes? Luckily, I didn't have to struggle too much. Atsuya Yuki, the anime's sole writer, designer, animator and director does a very fine job of fitting a large, action packed story into a short, thirty minute segment. The story begins with protagonist Tetsu chatting to his shapeshifting creature named Cenco. Shortly into the film another important character is introduced. Her name is Yuki. The rest of the story revolves around Tetsu and Yuki and the soon to be introduced antagonist of the film, Shu. The story revolves around these three characters as they fight amongst themselves all while being threatened by the military. You won't be on the edge of your seat at any point during the movie, but it's still enjoyable none-the-less.
This is where the anime really shines. The animation is very well done. From the creatures shapeshifting, to the character design, to the setting in Japan. Everything is very well drawn and pleasent on the eyes. The colors are bright, but not too bright. The characters' facial expressions are very well done as well. Overall I was pleasantly surprised seeing as this was a one man job.
There's not much to go on in the sound department. The only music that actually plays is during the credits and it wasn't exactly to my tastes. The voice acting is nicely done although there's not much emotion to it. The sound effects are...well...there. Given the size and length of the anime it's hard to take too many points off, as the movie did well with what it was given sound-wise.
The characters were uninspiring to say the least. I wasn't expecting a grand array of character development but I found it hard to care about any of the characters. I didn't exactly understand Cenco's motives for making its decisions and Yuki made a consiberably fast character transformation that was never really accounted for. Tetsu was interesting but hard to care for. These characters just didn't it for me.
This movie wasn't bad at all. It just wasn't great. However it was certainly interesting and I would certainly recommend it to anyone with a half an hour to kill. There are a lot of creative concepts brought forward in the movie and I'm a sucker for animes with imaginations. Give it a try, you may just like it.
This short 25 minute feature feels more like an artistic summary of an average children’s adventure series than an actual full story. You get to see things a normal series would spend 12 episodes depicting. And no, that doesn’t mean it has a good pacing because it skips a lot of events and explanations to the point it feels hollow.
The funny part is how this short feature is part of a project to aid upcoming new artists and not some major funded mainstream anime aiming to sell like crazy. If that is the case, then please do not give a second chance to the guys who made this. If the project is meant to find new talents with fresh ideas and uncommon ways to tell a story, these here followed the formula as tightly as possible.
Visually, Cencoroll is very pleasing. Everything feels like it was painted with watercolors and oil paints and even the outlines of the characters are not clear outlines. This gave to the feature an artistic feeling most suited for fluid animation. The setting of the story is a generic Japanese city and a typical school yet the colors made them feel special. Plus, half of the duration is battles between transforming critters. The action is very well done with lots of vitality and attention given to physics. Also, the monsters have a plethora of attacks that are not just laser beams that blow things up (a cheap way to show big explosions without actually animating anything) but grabbing and throwing objects, jumping, transforming and running. The same thing can be said about the characters, who although don’t do anything extreme still have a very pleasing body language most titles sacrifice in order to save money by making still images.
Acoustically, Cencoroll remains at the basics. There is almost no background music heard in the entire duration with an average pop song during the ending titles reminding you what you were not listening to all this time. I feel like the producers decided to leave out the music just to make the viewers focus solely on the characters and their talking. It is a neat trick but it takes more than that. The dialogues and the story were never anything special so the absence of music does help you to sympathize with the characters more while at the same time making you feel bored in case you want atmosphere. Beyond that, the voice acting was decent although as I said, the context of the dialogues was pretty standard stuff you see in stories with teenagers pairing with monsters, so it still feels blunt.
In the same manner, the story in Cencoroll is a fast forward summary of an average children-paired-with-monsters story. If you have seen Pokemon or Narutaru you know what to expect. Two kids control monsters and decide to have a showdown. How they found them or why they fight is almost not mentioned so all you are left to see is them fighting before the feature ends in an almost tie. Yes, it is an open ending, leaving room for a sequel.
The cast in Cencoroll is pleasing to watch albeit generic. It is very interesting to see them moving and talking to each other with the lack of music or even a background story not distracting you from what they are doing. Still, their motivation is very blunt as is the reason they fight or acting so cynical all the time. This feature is so esoteric, you are supposed to do nothing other than looking at their mentality but not at their reasoning for being as such. The whole deal is basically four people, two males controlling and fighting, one female that keeps interfering for no given reason and her schoolmate female friend who is essentially not doing anything. So I say this feature wins in terms of portraying its cast in a wonderful way but does a messy job at actually explaining why they act the way they act. Maybe it is a pilot to a future series, maybe it didn’t matter for the producers. No matter the reason, the cast is nothing more than pleasing archetypes. As for all the rest, there are no other people present besides the main characters. The city feels empty even when the army stars bombarding the area. There are no bystanders running around in panic amongst all the destruction the monsters do. Well, there is one who just closes the window so big deal. Just like the music, the world in the feature seems to be given no attention so that the viewers will focus solely on the characters.
In all, Cencoroll is pleasing to watch but quite a bother to actually rewatch. It is so short and simple that you have little to gain by watching it again. Still, the first time will most likely please you to the most part with its artistic depiction and esoteric approach to its characters.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 2/2 (fluent)
Visual Effects 2/2 (lots of explosions)
SOUND SECTION: 5/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 1/4 (barely there)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 0/2 (rushed)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 1/2 (cheesy)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (overblown because of the rushed plot)
Catharsis 0/2 (overblown because of the rushed plot)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (too simple to rewatch)
Memorability 1/4 (too typical to remember)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Fun plot but ends in a rushed and typical way.
A giant walking steamed bun with the ability to transform into other things fights another giant steamed bun in an unknown Japanese city while three high school students wrest control over these creatures out of each others' hands (or, more accurately, minds).
Giant steamed bun number one, whose actual name is Cenco, is handled by a young teen named Tetsu. Cenco has a mind of its own and while he's generally content to listen to Tetsu, there are instances where their relationship takes a turn for the dark and grim. When they're discovered by a young girl named Yuki, it begins to look like Tetsu might not be as in control as was originally assumed.
This is the plot of Cencoroll, an ambitious one-man project by writer, director, animator, and mangaka Atsuya Uki. Ambitious as it may be, however, the story is riddled with plot holes and unanswered questions; it ends up feeling more like a promo or a recap episode of a longer series. All things considered, however, it's well-planned, taking on the "kids and monster pals" trope, playing some things straight and flipping others on their heads.
Cencoroll's animation is crisp, clear, and nicely detailed, especially when considering the fact that it was almost entirely animated by one person. All of Cenco's transformations are smooth and it's obvious that Uki has put a tremendous amount of work into every frame. Characters retain their proportions and there are hardly any instances where things look clunky or unwieldly.
The three human characters are designed to be easily recognizable, even considering that their color palettes are composed of no more than three colors each. In another show, their designs would relegate them to stock characters, but because of Cencoroll's small cast and its shortage of manpower behind the scenes, not much variation is needed. In fact, in Cencoroll's case, the character designs work well, allowing things to be animated well without having to expend energy on vividly colored outfits or odd hairstyles.
Backgrounds are nicely detailed and colored, but never try to function as anything besides backdrops. And there's no reason for them to, since Cencoroll's focus is on its characters and not its setting.
Comprising a nice group of professional voice actors, Cencoroll's cast never really tries to be spectacular, but instead simply serviceable. None of the VAs will win any awards for their work in Cencoroll, but character's emotions and personality are expressed well by each VA.
There's not much in the way of music in Cencoroll, but the ending theme "Love and Roll" is an energetic, sweet piece, done by Supercell, the same folks who performed the Bakemonogatari ending theme. It fits Cencoroll's character-driven sci-fi setting well, interspersing its tender, romantic verses with a higher-energy, electropop-influenced chorus and background track.
With a small cast and only two main human characters, Cencoroll still only seems to have time to develop one of them fully. Tetsu is a loner focused on keeping Cenco and other similar creatures a secret from society at large. He never really receives much development beyond that, and it could be argued that he's more of a plot device to help Yuki, the female protagonist, grow as a person.
Yuki is a girl who discovers the duo and, intrigued by Cenco, tags along with them for a day. While Tetsu initially brushes her off as an annoyance, she eventually proves herself to him with her determination and bravery.
The antagonist, Shu, has very going for him besides being an antagonist. His own steamed bun pet is apparently going to devour Cenco to gain more power and continue to survive, but neither Shu nor Tetsu seem to have a reason for keeping these creatures around or for caring about their continued survival.
Cencoroll is an entertaining, lighter take on the kinds of monster stories that Alien Nine and Shadow Star Narutaru have previously toyed with. What it lacks in substance and plot it patches over with an obvious appreciation for its forebears in the genre and its refusal to take itself too seriously.