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.