I always lie awake at night and think strange things: If I could go back in time and boink my great-great-great grandmother, would I? (She was a handsome woman.) Why don't woodchucks chuck wood? And what would it be like if humans — and not robots holding humanity together in a giant global battery — had made the Matrix? Well, that last one can sort of be answered in the anime series known as Dennou Coil.
Dennou Coil is a strange one. It's a first-rate show, but it's very complex and, well, strange. It's a fantastic experiment in quirkiness and understanding human nature, and it doesn't talk down to its viewers. But despite all the good it has inside it, it might make some unlucky fucks have flashbacks of Lain — a series so shitty that it almost made me give up anime when it first came out ten years ago. Rest assured, Dennou Coil is NOT Lain; it is what Lain TRIED to be only to fail miserably at it. Well, I guess you could say that it is Lain but with MAJOR personality and an actual plot. And a main character you don't want to strangle. And with a rewarding story line that doesn't crap out on you and make you wish you sunburned your genitals for 13 hours instead of watching it.
What IS Dennou Coil about you ask? This may take some explaining of the future world's history in order to fully understand things... Well, in order to understand things a little better I mean. It's about kids in the future (2026 to be exact... a year after the Tragedy of Bashtarle if I remember correctly) exploiting the weaknesses and hidden benefits of a major new technology that's sweeping the nation of technophiles: The half-virtual world of augmented reality. This new cyber realm is basically a high resolution copy of the world at large, simply laid on top of everything that's really there. In order to see this projected perception one must wear a pair of special glasses that are linked into "the net" (for lack of a better term). The benefit of this new tech is that one can now call forth a hovering monitor and keyboard whenever and wherever one needs it, virtual pets that can run around and play with people are more common than flesh and blood animals, one's own pinky and thumb become a cell phone (the glasses have mini speakers on the ear temples to allow people to "hear" objects in the virtual environment as well as see them), and the small bendings of reality are just pretty fucking cool to see firsthand. Imagine having total access to a mega-super computer wherever you are, and having access to not only every bit of information available online, but being able to interact with the people sharing said information and talking to their virtual body face to digital face — as if they were actually in the room with you. You can type up virtual letters and virtual-physically hand them to people, and you could probably order up a holographic ho anywhere, anytime! Fuck! I want my glasses NOW!
Not that the kids at the center of this tale are into the kinky parts of this new tech (nor are the writers unfortunately), but the possibilities are there. And if they aren't they sure as hell would be in the real world.
Anyway, so a bunch of kids in this one city in Japan (the fictional township of Daikoku, the birthplace of the city-wide virtual landscape program) start to go a little crazy in the hacking of the digital town and do their best to exploit the bugs that exist in the coded infrastructure. And by "bugs" I mean real bugs. Well, some of them are actual creatures that run around (aka "illegals") and try to infect the virtual pets in order to survive outside of their obsolete abandoned spaces, but other bugs in the system are just colored cyber stones, that when manipulated by a master programmer can become reality-bending programs and virtual toys or weapons. These cyber stones are known as metabugs, though there are rumored kirabugs that are supposed to be unstoppable if unearthed.
Finding these hiccups in the matrix is becoming much more difficult for the kids of Daikoku as of late thanks in no small part to the giant, hovering, pink programs (with a smiley face painted on their, well, I suppose head) called "Satchii" that fly around zapping the shit out of anything that doesn't seem to fit in the digital environment (namely obsolete spaces, illegals, metabugs and the virtual bodies of any hacker who gets in their way). The Satchii work for the Cyberspace Administration, which itself is good bedbuddies with the company that makes the glasses. And without making this even more complicated than it already seems I think I'll leave the background of the series at that and jump into the actual plot now.
The plot of Dennou Coil revolves around the two Yukos. Yuko Okonogi (known to all as Yasako) just moved to Daikoku with her family and falls face first into conspiracy and intrigue caused mostly by Yuko number 2: Yuko Amasawa (known to most as Isako... which she fucking hates). It seems that Isako is tearing up the virtual town looking for metabugs, kirabugs and illegals in order to do... something. She won't tell anybody (even her whipped subordinates) her plans or purpose, but her tactics and results are pissing off everybody from the Cyberspace Administration down to Yasako's new friends in Megabaa's Coil Cyber Detective Agency... I won't go any further into that though seeing as explaining it all would waste another 8 paragraphs. I will say that this Detective Agency isn't anything as lame as the gay, kiddy detective group in Detective Conan. No need to be afraid.
So, Isako is being all mysterious and cyber destructive, there's a mysterious hospital room somehow involved, Yasako keeps having flashbacks to a strange time in her life 4 years ago when she met an older boy who left a huge impression on her and her digi-pooch, illegals start getting freaky and virtually violent with realies, Yasako's kid sister won't stop saying "poop!," and we learn all about the development of the glasses, augmented space, and even coil space before the time the final credits roll. I will be real honest with you: I spent a good portion of this show thinking like Towlie; I would find myself shaking my head while repeating "I have no idea what's going on here..." But rest assured everything is perfectly and clearly explained by the end, and it turned out that this show really wasn't about technology anyway: It was about life and death, and letting go of the past — deep shit like that. They don't spell everything out for you in this show, which of course I like, but unfortunately it will make this harder for the vast majority of anime fans out there to accept it. This is a thinking man's anime to rival the two Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex series. Yes, even though it stars sixth graders (who by the way are the smartest and quickest thinking tykes on the planet) it is that multifarious. Don't watch this show when you're tired though and you'll be fine. Unless your IQ is lower than room temperature in an igloo.
Not that this series is totally serious; a good portion of the goings on are actually quite lighthearted and fucking hilarious. Okay, that sounds gay, but episode 12, with the "living beard" illegals, was the funniest goddamn thing I've seen in ages. I'll just leave it at that.
Anyway, the idea behind the design of the digital copy of the town, the Satchii, and some of the hacks and cracks that are exploited in this new vision of the world are honestly quite fantastic. And I love how the people in this reality are already so engrossed by it all that they rarely even think to simply remove their glasses (thusly turning off the digital reality around them) whenever they encounter a virtual danger or phenomenon. They've already been absorbed almost completely by their own manmade matrix. And then the machines rose up and conquered us all. The end.
I cyber-dove into the Matrix once. It was quite the experience. Granted our Matrix in your future isn't machine made or even a human construct, but it is a net virus that became self-aware and completely gobbled up all that there was to virtually devour on the colony world of SZ-TF-GIJ 6 before the Outer Colony Marine Haxors (Delta Unit) could get in to remedy the situation (or, as occurred, simply stop it from spreading to New Zordok Krevlar. Now it's a tourist attraction to anybody with cyber-implants in their brain stem.
The net virus caught on quite quickly that the only way to survive was to allow visitors to enter its domain and let them see the virtual sites and let the electronic bug suck a few terabytes of information from their brains while they all gawked at the impossibly high digi-spacescrapers and herds of wild Stegasauri. There's even a giant museum featuring dead celebrities of the past, such as Mermin Reszxylchek, George Bush IV, and Socrates doing stand up. My favorite part of the Virus World (as it is to be known) is the Look At Yourself room. The virus scans your subconscious mind and gives you a digital body that reflects who you really are. I always knew that I was a 7 foot-tall black man with a 16 inch penis and a full-grown woman for each hand.
There were nothing but snot-nosed kids in this mothafuckin' show, right?
Didn't watch it.