I’ve never really been one to get excited for noitaminA titles like others do. I’ve yet to see most of the titles from that block and the only one that comes anywhere near to being a favorite of mine as of now is Usagi Drop (failed to get into The Tatami Galaxy, will try again eventually). So somehow I had a strong feeling beforehand that [C] wouldn’t live up to the promise of it’s intriguing backdrop.
[C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control has a pretty original hook: It’s a story starring economics college-student Yoga Kimimaro who only wants to acquire a job with income stable enough to support a family. One day he meets some eccentric dude named Masakaki (who looks a fusion between Willy Wonka and the Cheshire Cat) who offers him a large sum of money, asking in return that he put up his future for “collateral”. From that day forward, Yoga is transported to a realm known as the Financial District where he must engage in battles known as “deals” in which he must offer not only his money, but his future as well. It doesn’t just stop there since the money printed in the Financial District is different then your average bills. “Midas money” as it’s called not only has adverse side-effects on the economy, but on the fabrics of reality as well
If there’s anything [C] does that’s remarkable, it’s that the series tackles issues you never see tackled and gets off to fairly strong start because of it. The idea of a financial crisis being the core conflict in a series sounds pretty cool. The main character is pretty easy to relate to (college student with money issues), the Financial District looks pretty neat, and Masakaki is awesome. Why did it all have to go so wrong?
Let’s start with the battles. To expand further on the above synopsis, people who engage in deals within the financial district are known as entres (short for entrepreneurs), and they are given ass kicking super-powered sidekicks called assets to most of the fighting for them. The creators try their best to make these showdowns seem complicated by giving them a ton of rules and financial terminology that imply depth, but the way the battles are actually executed resembles pretty much every proxy battle series out there. They are often rather short and resort to dull beam-spam where characters yell out the name of their attacks before firing in true Digimon fashion. Strategies are limited to mostly deus-ex machina and straight-up luck, so don’t come in to expecting any sort of complex mind-games. They look pretty, but the deals are mostly brain-dead affairs. You don’t really need to understand the terminology or rules really, whoever has the biggest blast wins. Strangely enough one of the most hyped battles of the entire series is also skipped over right in the middle of the action to have the characters simply spend time explaining the results, just thought that was worth tossing out there.
When they’re off the battle field our central duo isn’t particularly interesting either. Yoga is a pretty dull and passive lead character. His involvement in the story is really little more then an excuse to introduce the viewers to the premise since we learn about the Financial District at the same time he does, he has little involvement with the main plot going on under his nose until the final episodes. He’s not a completely terrible lead though since his ideologies make for a decent foil for the ideologies of the people he meets and battles within the Financial District, especially the last boss. The real problem here is his asset Msyu (pronounced, and even spelt sometimes as Mashu). She’s basically a loli-tsundere who develops into a loli-tsundere waifu. Her interactions with the Yoga as she slowly falls in love with him are cringe-inducing, and eat up far too much time. I figured a show with such a deep setting that only has eleven episodes to work with would know not to spend time on teaching your pet waifu how to eat, or what a kiss is, but there’s always enough time for otaku-bait I suppose.The nature of the relationship between entres and assets is something I won’t go into much for the sake of avoiding spoilers, but it’s where I was hoping this show would differentiate Yoga and Msyu from all the other dull male/female leads out there, but it’s a sub-plot that pretty much gets dropped right before giving us any kind of meaningful answer. Thus leaving us with yet another lead couple who won’t do much for anyone not wanting another cliched central couple. Meh.
I feel no need to mention most of the other entres for the reason that they are mostly one-note entities who fail to amount to something memorable due to short screen-time. I will give props to show for the antagonist (though you could also call him an anti-hero) Mikuni, who is far more interesting to follow then our boring lead and his digital waifu. He understands the effects that losing deals has on other entres (not only do they lose money, but a part of their lives will suddenly vanish). His motives were rather interesting and understandable. I applaud the show for not giving us a main antagonist solely driven by greed which is something that I was expecting from a series where money is behind everything. His plot to is analogous to the idea of quantitative easing, wherein he tries to inject Midas Money into the Japanese economy. His role in the story was a pretty interesting one that provided some interesting criticisms to the practice.
The visuals in this show are probably as unique as the show’s premise, but are about as mixed overall as the show’s execution. The Financial District is pretty cool to look at with it’s distinctive red/white color pallet and the battles that take place are often well animated. The character art however does this bizarre thing often switches between 2D designs and 3D models. These switches are completely random and goofy. It was sort of cool at first since Masakaki was the only one doing it in episode 1 and it sort of fit in with the rest of his bizarre characteristics. However, eventually you get shots of characters walking down the streets in 3D sometimes and the ocassional scene where both 2D and 3D characters are interacting on screen at the same time. The actual character designs themselves are also kinda weird in a sometimes derpish way sometimes but is otherwise average. The actual acting is alright on both sides. Funimation’s dub doesn’t really have much young blood so if you’re well acquainted with their previous works, the English version will end up being a rather simple game of “spot the voice actor”. Scott Freeman as Masakaki was excellent though. I’d still recommend the Japanese version since it has the highest ratio of Engrish to Japanese speaking (a result of having the International Monetary Fund pop up from time-to-time and the attacks and terminology used during deals) since the likes of Black Lagoon and Beck. It’s weird in this since some of the Engrish sounds almost convincing too.
The main plot would’ve benefited greatly benefited from another cour, but as is the show bites far more then it can chew. I’m not sure if the series had it’s episode count slashed or not, but it certainly feels that way (just as much as it did with Angel Beats! too). Much of the series focus on Yoga/Msyu adventures in the Financial District, yet all of a sudden in the final episodes the show forces a doomsday climax with no build up. It would’ve been great to get a better understanding of how the show got there and how Mikuni figured into it all. Instead it feels as if people woke up one day only to find out that they suddenly have an enormous financial crisis that threatens to plunge the world into “Great Depression ” tier misery. These episodes feel to quickly paced and even though the final deal itself is pretty awesome, the show resorts to what I can only call a ridiculously ass-pully resolution that felt much too cheap.
[C] is most definitely a textbook example of neat premise being ruined beyond all recognition. The unnecessary focus on boring leads you’ve seen before combined with a plot that didn’t get the time it needed to develop alongside the weak character development hamstring the show’s potential badly. It’s an interesting affair still simply because of the bizarre premise and visuals and won’t take up too much time.That’s not enough to prevent [C] from being a failure of forgettable proportions. Come for the cute assets and explosions, it won’t disappoint too much if that’s the fix your looking for.