Friday, November 27, 2009

In Review: Cencoroll

I've been meaning to review this anime but haven't found the time. Well, now, since the fansubbers of Aoi Bungaku are kind of late in releasing the new episodes, I guess I have no choice in the matter. You're gonna have to make do with this humble review of a refreshingly new anime from manga artist Uki Atsuya while I wait for Episodes 07-08 (subbed by A.Niger) of Aoi Bungaku to finish.

TITLE: Cencoroll
DIRECTOR: Uki Atsuya
STUDIO: Anime Innovation Tokyo, Aniplex
VOICE CAST: Shimono Hiro, Hanazawa Kana, Kimura Ryohei
SUMMARY: A huge monster shows up on the top of a building of an ordinary city, prompting the Defense Forces to go into action and causing the citizens of the city to start an uproar. Yuki, a brave-hearted and naturally inquisitive girl, happens to know a secret. Her friend Tetsu has been keeping and raising a strange creature called Cenco. Instantly becoming fascinated by Tetsu and his pet, a mysterious boy appears with control over the huge monster threatening the town. With that, an unexpected battle begins. (from ANN)

Based on the premise alone, one must wonder what's all this stuff flying around about Cencoroll. After all, animes with big blobs of monsters controlled by teen-aged boys and the girl who gets mixed up in them are a dime-a-dozen. Even the battle between the boys and their (humongous) pets has a bit of "pokemon nostalgia" in it. So what is the big deal?

It's hard to pin-point exactly what makes Cencoroll an excellent and different anime movie. Maybe it's the fact that it is different that makes all the difference, but then to explain that would mean we're right back where we started.

Cencoroll (Limited Edition) (R2) @ Play-Asia
Cencoroll (R2) @ Play-Asia
Cencoroll (DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) @ Yes Asia
Cencoroll (DVD) (Normal Edition) @ Yes Asia
Cencoroll is an adaptation of an award-winning one-shot manga, called Amon Game. I've never read it so I can't make a comparison. The film itself is a short, clocking in at a measley thirty minutes so there is little time for world-building or character development. What you see is what you get. Literally. And yet, amazingly enough, time is not really a handicap.

Think of Cencoroll as a snapshot of that time in your life when you recently got a new pet and you're quickly getting tired of it. That about sums up Tetsu's attitude to Cenco, the titular monster whose bulbous, off-white body is really quite something weird. What Yuki, the main girl character, finds curious and out of the ordinary, Tetsu views as mundane and boring. This, despite the fact that Cenco can shapeshift into anything, including an amusing toy panda, a bicycle and even a car. In that regard, Cencoroll is honest: People can get used to anything, even to the violent and the fantastic.
Visually, Cencoroll is spectacular. Not in the "oh-my-CGI fireworks, explode my eyes" kind of way but something quirky. The hilarious giant pudding scene comes to mind. Of course, I'm quite aware that this is an essentially indie film, almost wholly created by one person, but it's visual potential can stand up to par with all the lot out there. The design is pleasant and something about it reminds me of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I think maybe it's the abundance of gray in the film's color palette.

The music is pretty good. I'm not into electronic, artificial voice stuff but supercell/ryo does a pretty good job with the theme for Cencoroll. Interestingly, the film does not have a BGM. This serves only to highlight its "raw" quality and allows viewers to judge the film for itself without the emotional prompt and treatment that music often provides.

Cencoroll is a quirky little anime that gives you a snapshot of what the genre is still capable of, given the appropriate resources and a little imagination.

OFFICIAL (Anime Innovation Tokyo) (JPN)
Cencoroll @ Wikipedia
Cencoroll @ ANN
More Screencaps from Cencoroll