Kurahashi has never been the same since the hallucinations started. His condition is not medical in nature, and only seems to be triggered by an antique glass which shows him things he never would wish to see. For Kurahashi, figuring out the mystery of the Petit Cossette that appears to him in his waking dreams is a matter of life or death... and his sanity...
StoryLe Portrait de Petit Cossette begins as a stylish and moody portrayal of distorted reality: Kurahashi’s obsession with the girl inside the glass instantly throws up questions of whether he’s going mad or being haunted. As the narrative gets into its stride, it develops an eerie, schizophrenic technique (manic smiles and claustrophobic close-ups abound), which makes the bizarre turn of events morbidly delightful. So, why the low score? The problem I have with Le Portrait de Petit Cossette is that, from the end of the first episode, it throws out wave after wave of crude symbolic imagery (seemingly in a bid to look more disturbing than it actually is). Anyone who remembers The End of Evangelion will know what I’m talking about – lengthy, disjointed sequences with the sole purpose of propping up the limp narrative. Unfortunately, watching Kurahashi get his guts torn out as he hangs haplessly from a cross just stirs up memories of even worse vulgarities such as X The Movie and Angel Sanctuary, memories I’d rather not have. Furthermore, there are only so many gloomy shots of candles, chains, and crows I can take before I start scratching at the walls myself. At the final moment, Le Portrait de Petit Cossette introduces a mildly interesting twist, but, by then, the story has already taken one episode too many to get to the point and it fails to save the show as a whole. Ultimately, the flashier Le Portrait de Petit Cossette gets and the harder it tries to shock and disturb, the less interesting it actually becomes.AnimationWhile gothic motifs are usually too trite for my tastes, I certainly can’t fault Le Portrait de Petit Cossette’s technical quality. Applying a rich colour palette, it depicts Kurahashi’s spiritual struggles in sharp up-light shots, quirky phantasmagoria, and plenty of thick, splashing blood. Furthermore, although not stylised in concept, the creative use of well-placed camera angles and cuts – combined with the aforementioned motifs – gives Le Portrait de Petit Cossette a very edgy atmosphere.SoundThe background music is rarely intrusive; rather, it builds upon the lush animation and the extensive use of natural sounds to generate a powerful atmosphere. The only notable songs are the opening and ending themes, both of which demonstrate beautiful vocal performances. The voice acting is excellent all round, if rather wasted on such a hollow script.CharactersHaving little running time in which to develop, Kurahashi is only interesting because he’s at the centre of the spooky events, whilst Cossette’s main attraction is being a lolicon ghost. Apart from that, there’s not much that makes them memorable – heck, there’s not even anything that makes them likeable. Kurahashi, for example, spends most of his time hallucinating (or does he?) and confused about what is happening to him, which are not behavioural traits to evoke adoration. As for the supporting cast, none of them make it much beyond being cardboard cut-outs.OverallPlotting is not Le Portrait de Petit Cossette’s strong point; in fact, the only advantage it has over lesser horror shows such as Jigoku Shoujo is a budget as deep and wide as the void of originality it’s trying to fill. This is a self-indulgent jaunt through the gothic horror genre, nothing more, nothing less. With that said, Le Portrait de Petit Cossette is short and thus still passable by any standard.
Animation The animation is fantastic, and would have been some of the best of 2004 but for one crucial flaw: the CGI. While the style of the anime is fantastic and easily the highlight of the show, the creator’s insistence to rely on decidedly sub-par computer graphics for a large part of the show definitely hampers it. However, the rest of the visuals are amazing. Like in Soultaker, an anime from the same director, Cossette no Shouzo is amazingly adept at using color, visual perspectives, and striking backgrounds together to meld an amazingly cohesive and impressive visual package. Like in Soultaker, the visuals are basically unique to the director, and are a strong point in the show’s favor. Sound I’m actually torn as to how much the music contributed to the show. The OST is undeniably excellent (I’m downloading it as we speak), but at the same time I understand the argument that the music doesn’t fit the show as well as it could. There is definite merit to that complaint, but in the end I think the OST is just too good to really discount. The fact that that the mood set by the rest of the show differs from the OST is still a point against it, but a fairly small one. The voice acting neither impressed nor annoyed me. Story Some will think that the story is “confusing,” but in these cases the person will be more befuddled by the style of the story than the actual complexity. The actual plot is fairly simple, but provides a decent backbone for the OVA. Additional depth would have been nice, but would most likely be impractical given the show’s length and focus. Character The characters are fairly shallow, and serve more as pawns in the overarching plot than actual human beings. Cossette, the title character, is the only one interesting enough to mention. However, even her appeal is more derived from how she is viewed by other characters than her actual development. All in all, the characters are decidedly underdeveloped, and probably could have been done better. Overall Cossette no Shouzo, above all else, is a niche title. The entire OVA is designed with a certain target audience in mind, and the work will do little for those who fall outside this group. That said, I enjoyed the show a fair bit, and would recommend it to fans of the horror genre. This is one of the most impressionist works that I’ve seen, in that its plot is so clearly secondary to its mood. Many of the more traditionally valued aspects of anime are discarded in favor of creating a decidedly gothic feel. The result is a fairly abstract and bizarre work that lacks mainstream appeal, but which will most likely please those that enjoyed similar work like Requiem from the Darkness, Hitsuji no Uta, Pet Shop of Horrors, etc.
Le Portrait de Petit Cossette seemed interesting as I browsed through the Waste Your Halloween-event page. I had admired the pretty cover of the manga, and since the OVA was on the list of allowed series in WYH-marathon, I thought I'd finally give it a try, it might be really interesting.It's said you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.STORY:It was difficult following the story for me. I did get the initial idea; a boy falls for a girl that he sees in a antique glass, and starts hallucinating, to the point where he is transported to the realm in the glass with the girl - or is he hallucinating anymore? That's what I understood from the plot. Otherwise, it was hard to know, what's real and waht's in the boys head, and the torture-scenes on the cross or whatever I just missed out completely. Maybe it's the way the creators wanted it, but no matter how patient I was waiting for an explanation, there's was no. Or then I just missed it.ANIMATION:Animation was actually pretty good as I generally like this kind of "eye-candy"-style, meaning the polished and sharp drawn-look, and the colours were vivid too. My favourite scene was most certainly the scene at the beginning of the last episode, when Cossette was falling and drowning, with the beautiful song in the background. Too bad it was only a few minute scene. If the whole OVA would've been like that, I would've just sat staring the screen in amaze, it was so mystically harmonic and beautiful.SOUND:The music was good and suitable for the French/gothic lolita/doll-theme, a lot of violin and piano. Sound effects were allright, at least they helped to develop the eerie athmosphere, and to me the heartbeats and the shackles were perhaps the most scary voices. Voice actors were good, apart from Cossette's who I thought was trying too much to sound disturbingly cute and scary, and ended up sounding plain annoying.CHARACTERS:None of the characters excluding Cossette really stood out, and sometimes it was difficult to distinguish them from each other, especially the women. Cossette on the other hand was clearly the leading lady of the OVA, and in my opinion she was irritating, resembling a spoiled, rich kid in a candystore: "Mommy, mommy, I want candy, I want that, I want I want I want!!!" Maybe it's just because I don't like kids very much.OVERALL:I'm giving 5.5/10, because after all, this was just not intriguing as a horror-series. It was perhaps a little too psychological and sophisticated for my taste. The first episode reminded me of The Ring and The Exorcist, not because of anything else but the talk about the seventh day and the flickering piano-tune. That gave me high hopes that Petit Cossette might try to reach that level of entertainment, I can't really compare this to either of them. Yeah, this was a disturbing series, but not in a good way.
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