I’ve finally had time to catch up with Denno Coil. As of this evening, I’ve watched through episode 22. Episode 23 is a recap, so this is a good moment to catch my breath and maunder a bit.
The question is not whether Denno Coil is the best show of the year — I haven’t seen a better series in long time — but whether it will rank among the classics of the form. I hesitate to label anything a “classic” until it has aged at least ten years, so check back in 2017 for my verdict. Unless Mitsuo Iso completely blows the ending, though, I expect my judgement will be positive.
It’s not perfect. Denno Coil shifts gears at the midpoint and becomes a darker story. My initial impression of the series was Serial Experiments Lain as retold by Hayao Miyazaki. The first half evokes Miyazaki, with bright, lively girls and myriad little imaginative touches. The second half tends more toward Lain. There’s menace in the virtual worlds, and the stakes are high. It’s as if Iso decided to stop playing with his imaginary worlds and focus on the plot. It’s a good story — a very good story; I’m impatient for Ureshii to finish the last two episodes — but I miss the fun of the early episodes. AniPages Daily notes that Iso wrote the scripts for the first fourteen episodes by himself but shared the writing credits on the later ones, and that probably has a lot to do with the shift in tone.
Still, it’s as good as anything I’ve seen since Haibane Renmei. I particularly like the soundtrack by Tsuneyoshi Saito. A friend commented that she could easily imagine it adapted for use as a ballet score, and I recommend it to any chamber music ensemble or small orchestra looking for new repertoire.
Update: I’ve watched Denno Coil through episode 24 now. The build-up to the climax reminds me strongly of the last episode of Haibane Renmei. I’ll find out soon enough how far the parallels go between the two Yukos and Rakka and Reki, so no spoilers in the comments, please.