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IN BRIEF: In the near future, the next technological step from cellphones is a cyber overlay on the world that can be seen through cyber glasses; realistically, the tech is embraced by the youth and older iconoclasts, while the average adult is content with a regular smartphone. The glasses allow the wearer to see cyber-only constructs, from the mundane (wall posters) to the fun (cyber Pets that act like real animals); they also provide modern smartphone functions, as well as some surprising new features. The town Daikoku is generally where new technologies get rolled out. Two girls with the same first name (but using different characters, so they can be described as the smart/brave one) are new in Daikoku, but they have a weird connection that just might be related to the disappearances of Cyber Pets, the proliferation of the cyber security guards called Searchy, the decrease in old metaspaces, the popularity of a cyber ghost story, and the odd cyber doorways that appear to lead to another world...
Dennoh Coil (or Cyber Coil - honestly, that would have been a better English title) is a complicated mess of genres coming together. The story is quite interesting as it builds up, certainly... but there are problems with finding the correct audience. Is it for middle schoolers? After all, that's the age group of most of the characters, and for most of the story the plot is relentlessly geared to what middle schoolers would do/enjoy (ex. pranking each other, running around town looking for cyber metabugs like a Forever War of Pokemon Go, and so on). On the other hand, the meat of the plot is really serious, and might be a turn-off for kids who don't understand the finer details (this is one show where I actually welcomed the recap episode, because *I* was having trouble following along!). Plus, as time goes on, the world of Dennoh Coil becomes less fun and more frightening: people have died when their cyber glasses led them astray (for example, a visual cyber patch on the sidewalk could be covering a deep hole in reality), and there are government cover-ups everywhere. On top of that, the animation has a gray/beige undertone that washes out any bright colors - over time, I got used to it, but it had the effect of making the city look depressing, and maybe it was an intentional metaphor for the effects of modern technology on the vibrancy of life.
All in all, I did enjoy it, and by the end I had really gotten caught up in the story. Also, the dog was one of the best Anime Dogs, and made me tear up a little - and I'm not a dog person. Anyway, if you like cyberpunk or sci-fi, and you think you can spare the time for this show, give it a try! Just bear in mind the above, and that the plot swings wildly from the early goofiness to the late drama.
My reviewing system for films and shows that are NOT anime: 1-5: I hated it. I also don't think it has redeeming qualities, so you shouldn't watch it either. 6: I didn't like it. It's not my thing, I didn't like the execution, I don't want to see it again. However, I don't think it is a BAD film or show - it has qualities that will recommend it to those who like that kind of thing. 7: It was fine. I didn't love it, and I don't need to see it again. I won't be sad if I never see it again. 8: I liked it. I didn't love it, and while I'd like to see it again, I wouldn't want to see it often. 9: I loved it. I would be sad if I never saw it again. I might want to see it every few years. 10: I loved it beyond description. I wouldn't mind re-watching it every year.
Clarifying my Anime rating system: My number key below is an attempt to parse the small differences between 5 and 6, 7 and 8, & 9 and 10. When I rate, I consider my own enjoyment, the characterization and the plot, the appearance of the animation, and occasionally the soundtrack - in roughly that order. An anime will lose at least 1 point for presence of deal-breaker tropes (for example, comedic pedophilia), and more if the trope(s) ruined my enjoyment. On the other hand, it will gain at least 1 point for artistry in animation or sound.
Never Recommend: 1-4, inclusive. Further clarification: I don't expect to rate anything 1-4, as I would probably never finish watching something in this range of rating. It's likely to have bad plotting, subpar animation, bland characterizations, silly and/or irritating tropes, etc.; I would consider it to be pure excrement.
Cautious Recommending: 5: In this case, it started out with a higher score and slipped over time... because I normally don't watch anything that I would score below 6, except for movies (small time commitment). 6: I may or may not have watched the whole show, but I recognize deal-breaker issues in it, and I'm unlikely to rewatch. It just wasn't enjoyable enough for me to forgive its flaws. There would be huge caveats to any recommendation.
Likely to Recommend: 7: Not my thing, but usually I at least respect it. Generally, I didn't like it enough to think I would rewatch it, but also didn't see huge problems in the plot, characterizations, etc. and thought it was worth finishing. I might suggest it to someone if I know they like the specific sub-genre or other work by the studio. 8: I had a good time watching it, but it didn't move me the way a 9 or a 10 does; it's possible that over time I would upgrade it if I liked it more on reflection. I would be willing to rewatch it. I'd recommend it with the occasional caveat.
Highly Recommend: 9: I enjoyed it very much. It may have had one or two issues, but not enough to diminish enjoyment. It's possible that over time I would downgrade it to an 8 (changing tastes) or upgrade to a 10 (realize it's never left my mind). I'm likely to rewatch, and likely to buy the DVDs. I'd recommend it to most audiences. 10: Virtually flawless. I'd definitely rewatch, and definitely want to buy DVDs. I would shill this to anyone.
EDIT: for 2021, I'm participating in the MAL Anime Challenge. Any anime in the Completed section with a * in the note was watched for the challenge.
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