Do you know what C means? It means C production; far lower than B movies. It is THAT poorly directed. At first I thought NoitaminA had a bad day when it made that crap that was Fractale but turns out they are simply incapable of making a proper science fiction show. All their later attempts were equally lame and they fail to understand that they are doing great only with the slice of life genre. So here comes yet another series with a good premise and completely ridiculous directing. Despite the early hype around this show for being OMG IT IS SO ORIGINAL AND SMART AND HAS TO DO WITH THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CRISIS it is nothing but lazily made light sci-fi with some badly done proxy battle elements.
C appeals mostly to our emotions around the economic crisis and does much less on telling a good story. People who liked it are those who were attracted by its initial hook (casual viewers who have money problems or study economics) and not of its internal logic (or lack of it). It starts with a world were making money is very hard and yet there is an indirect way to make lots of cash by taking part in fights in some pocket dimension created by a demonic bank. If you win, you get a shitload of money you can use in your life. If you lose… well, aside from being broke reality itself changes to your disfavor and you end up losing your own life, loving relatives, or your company gets bankrupt and the whole world becomes a harsher place for all those you affect.
The concept of the story is very interesting as it originally appears to be about how money affects the world and how the haves are forming it any way they like while the not-haves are thrown to the side and take down with them all their supporters, friends and relatives. Its center theme is a bright future, formed through wealth, and shown through how every monster in the series is a depiction of the favored future of its master. Yet the presentation of all that lacks severally, with pacing being a pain in the ass. It is very erratic as unimportant parts (like the lead boy goofing around), seem to last a lot while important ones (like resolves to problems and showdowns with important opponents), are skipped or are done with quickly.
This seems to follow perfectly the style of the director of this anime, Nakamura Kenji. This guy is very talented in making series made up of short stand alone arc. His previous works were all fabled amongst the fandom (Ayakashi - Samurai Horror Tales, Mononoke (the series, not the Ghibli movie), and Kuuchu Buranko). I am not crazy about any of them but I highly respected their artistic overall which doesn’t follow the stereotypes. So this show pretty much ruined his image because he was given to direct a title which was NOT supposed to be stand alone mini arcs but an ongoing singular story. The director was clearly not cut out for this sort of thing.
It still manages to show you how people are in need of money and how desperate they can become in order to get them; in theory the show manages to get its message across. In practice though the way the premise of the show is handled is quite problematic. The battles for example have a complicated terminology based on stock market terms yet the way they are performed is simplistic like in Digimon. I mean just check out the rules over here:
Looks complicating, doesn’t it? Well in practice it isn’t at all; the monster with the bigger energy beam wins; that is all. Also there is not balance of power amongst the monsters since some are clearly far more powerful than others. Oh and what a coincidence, the strongest ones are in the hands of the main characters and they win this way no matter how many times they are damaged. The action in this show is closer to a silly videogame than hand-to-hand brawling or stock market mind games, and the result is more comical and childish, rather than interesting and exciting. Add to that the way the cards speak out their special attacks and you think you are watching a bad Kamen Rider season.
The production values are messy since the pocket dimension has a very interesting artwork but the animation is usually bad, especially when it comes to 3D models. Music themes and voice acting are ok but they are nothing memorable in the long run. The thing that ruins it a lot is the really bad Engrish heard numerous times throughout the show. When will they find proper English-speaking people to do that stuff? Well, one can’t expect too much out of an animation studio such as Tatsunoko Productions. They never had a great overall in any of their works. In fact, out of the numerous titles they have produced, I only half-liked Irresponsible Captain Tylor and Soul Taker.
The characters are another issue. Although they appear interesting at first, they end up being distant and you are given very little reasoning to care about them. Their human drama feels completely hollow and rushed.
The main lead Kimimaro for example is the typical teenager, who is overlooked by everybody, works hard and is given the choice to get easy money by fighting in this weird game. I have a hard time seeing how worried he is about the situation he is in when most of the time is spent on him having romcom moments with girls or discussing the economy rather than planning to do something. He is completely stereotypical, passive, spineless, and thus boring and forgettable. He looks like a girl too. Yet just because the scriptwriter feels like it, he is given the most powerful loli fighter and a super credit card that makes him the savior. And despite all these assets, the best thing he has done in the whole show is refusing to take part in more battles and making more money, a thing which had approximately ZERO effect on the story. He is supposed to be the protagonists for Pete’s sake! Where is his resolve to get money and improve his life, win the affection of his girl, help his society, join the dark side before finally realizing his mistake and performing a U turn? He has done absolutely NOTHING! Where is his role in the series if he isn’t going through really important challenges? He is just passively taking part in battles and then passively looking at the other players talking about their life issues before he goes to have silly romcom moments with his loli monster and a random chick agent. As for that girl in his class he is so in love with? Beats me what he has done to win her affection for the whole show. And sure, he grows balls in the end just so we can have a finale but who can tell why this wimp was the only one who cared, out of the several thousands of brute cocky players who are in this mess as well. I mean why is he the only one to try to make a stand? What is everybody else doing all this time? Oh, that’s right; they also passively stare idle at the events taking place like they don’t give a damn. Just like the audience of this show.
His monster companion Msyu is nothing more than the archetypical tsundere loli that is there purely as otaku bait. Her personality starts with her edgy temper and ends with her has-the-hots-for-the-main-lead-at-first-sight. She lacks characterization completely and the only thing that defines her is the constant depictions of her looking all cute, perky and naive, a thing commonplace in all anime girls that share her archetype and again the reason you will forget her fast.
The third character that is given focus is Mikuni, a man who tries to use money as power and as means to control the district all the battles take place in. He is not power hungry as he really wants to negate the negative effects of the losers on reality, a thing he accomplishes by winning with minimum difference and gaining the support of other players. His monster is also the depiction of his sick sister, a result of not having enough money to send abroad for treatment. He is the most interesting character, as it is shown how his actions are eventually turning him into what he hated the most. He could easily make an ideal protagonist yet the plot centers on those other two boring ones. Even as such, Mikuni’s backdrop wasn’t known up until a flashback came out of nowhere late in the show depicting all the above; it felt out of place and as a poor attempt to flesh him out because the episodes are running out. And surely, having a loli monster that likes to sniff and eat stuff is nothing but more otaku-bait.
All the rest are other players who seem to try to use these games as means to affect the world or to spy on the real motives of the bank. As interesting as they felt at first, they have no importance in the plot and are not developed or given enough immersion to matter. Heck, they are all just defined by minor character quirks, like having golden teeth or eating hamburgers, and they lack actual personality and purpose in the story. And what exactly is the girl Kimimaro loves doing in this show other than doing NOTHING?! And why is everybody accepting their defeat so easily if they never had a chance to win with their obviously inferior monsters? Why are they even so friendly with Kimimaro for cheating and ruining their future? They should be furious, filled with murderous intent! Yet all they do is stare like dumb sheep?
The most major problem though is still there to ruin everything. WHY ARE THERE THOUSANDS OF PLAYERS AND ONLY THEE PEOPLE SEEM TO CARE ABOUT THE WHOLE SITUATION WITH THE WORLD DISAPPEARING BECAUSE OF MONEY? They are in effect stunts without personality or free will that just stare at their world falling apart and just gasp idly even when they have billions of cash and monsters that level buildings. Talk about being useless.
The major villain is in effect the bank which plans to make the entire world disappear through bankruptcy. Although that makes things more serious than just minor personal dramas, at the same time it creates a very typical “good vs evil” of the situation in the story. There is no actual balance of power since the more you play, the more you lose and the big problem ends up being money itself. I really don’t understand how so many thousands of people worldwide remained uncaring with how their games were only hurting their world even when they win. How stupid do you have to be in order to remain uncaring to all that? Or how stupid do you have to be in order to play a game with a million rules and completely unfair play? It sounds catchy but done very childish and thus the show has nothing to do with actual economy. Heck, the bank’s motives don’t make any sense.
I am disappointed with C as it is just a Digimon wannabe with badly done action and a pseudo-serious background around the economic crisis. It hardly feels serious and the focus is given to a stereotypical romcom teenage duo instead of the adult anti-hero who actually has a master plan and actively affects the story and the cast. It would be far more interesting if it was focused more on showing how money is practically printed paper and not actual wealth and how capitalism is now based on something that has no actual value, since the banks can make money out of plain paper and demand more than they offer, thus in the longrun leading to bankruptcy. Yet all we see is the Midas Bank using them as hit points in some videogame that magically affects the lives of those making transactions with them (mostly making them disappear). And how major was this crisis if the lead automatically wins all the time for having broken powers?
It is all too shallow to matter and by the end of the day, this is not a good proxy battle series (since the battles suck), not a good social commentary (since the drama is underplayed), not a good ecchi show (since the main duo is completely boring), and not even a thought provoking series that aims to make you think about the economic crisis (unless you are a brainless watcher who can’t see past the obvious, like those retarded players). It is all plain nonsense, an insult to good storytelling and the economy in general. Woe to the money that were wasted on making this crap and boo to NoitaminA for losing all what it used to be once.
If the whole series was half as interesting as this Disturbed song, I could have given it some credit.
GAR hero, action, shameful politics, a shadow leadership, mass rebellion, havoc, death, destruction and rebirth! Why doesn’t C have any of that and it’s just retarded otaku-bait for brainless watchers? Plain horrible and for that mater NOT RECOMMENDED.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (interesting artwork in the financial district)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (lots of lights but horrible CGI)
SOUND SECTION: 5/10
Voice Acting 1/3 (corny and stupid)
Music Themes 2/4 (typical)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (horribly aimless or rushed)
Complexity 1/2 (seems complicating at first but turns out to be quite simple)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (messy and rushed)
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (messy)
Catharsis 0/2 (messy)
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (too stupid to bother rewatching it)
Memorability 2/4 (it had very good ideas but did nothing with them)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Total fail show.