Everyone likes money, everyone wants money and anyone who says they don’t is lying. Money is everything, it’s a necessity for so many aspects of life in today’s society. So what do you do if you want more money? Well most people would have to get a job (maybe two), save, spend smart, set a budget, think about if you really need that $800 body pillow... and the list goes on. But what if, you could have as much money as you want with seemingly no repercussions, at least not for yourself? Well that’s the dream, isn’t it? Of course, C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control tackles that very concept, as well as some larger discussions beyond mere economics. Does it cash in for a pretty penny or trudge home without a dollar in its pocket? Let’s find out.
As always, the review is provided in video format above and transcribed directly below.
Yoga Kimimaro is a broke college student with dreams of being a self-sufficient civil servant, working two part-time jobs in the meantime to make ends meet. One night, he is approached by an eccentric fellow introducing himself as Masakaki, who informs Yoga that he has been randomly selected as an Entrepreneur, or “Entre”, of the Financial District. Masakaki claims that being an Entre is a path to quick riches, with the only barrier to entry being that Yoga must offer his future as collateral. After some hemming and hawing, Yoga accepts Masakaki’s offer and is transported to the Financial District, a paranormal dimension outside our own.
In the District, Entres are each given an Asset, a familiar of sorts that lives inside their member card. (Yoga’s Asset is, naturally, a scantily clad demoness named Mashu.) Every week, an Entre and their Asset must participate in a “Deal” with another Entre-Asset pair, a magical battle of money and spells lasting 666 seconds. The winner continues life as usual, while the loser’s future may be in jeopardy depending on the magnitude of their loss, and bankrupt Entres are exiled from the Financial District entirely.
Usually, newbies are slaughtered by veterans. Yoga is lucky enough to be the main character, so (with Mashu’s help) he bumbles his way through his first Deal and comes out on top. He is rewarded with heaps of the Financial District’s native currency, Midas Money (indistinguishable from normal bills to the average person), and then sent back to reality to await the next week’s Deal.
C is a 2011 anime created by Tatsunoko Production, the studio behind Psycho-Pass 2, Ping Pong, and Gatchaman Crowds (as well as quite a few others) and when it wants to look good, it does. Very bright, lots of colors (though not to the extent of, say, No Game No Life), and the fights are fluid enough, with these magical hand lightsaber thingies and a myriad of spells tossed every which way, plus the actual designs of the environments and various Assets being memorable if nothing else.
A quirk on the visual end that I quite liked was a black, blocky border that separated the Entres from their Assets when depicting them in the same shot, as if slicing the screen in half to give a simultaneous taste of the two separate worlds. It was just a cool effect, and implemented very well in certain scenes, a big example that comes to mind being the final episode.
The first character C introduces to the viewer is not the teenage lead but instead a mature, veteran Entre named Mikuni Souichirou. Unlike most other participants in the Financial District, Mikuni’s desire for money is not motivated by selfish feelings like greed and lust. Instead, he spearheads the Starling Guild, a coalition of Entres trying their damndest to control the flow of the District’s Midas Money, pumping it into real world governments and companies as a stopgap measure against impending total economic collapse. His reasons for doing so extend far beyond mere altruism, being deeply rooted in the darkness of his family’s past. Mikuni was by far the most (and in some ways, only) compelling character of the show, which is slightly ironic considering how hard they try to paint him as a villain (as can clearly be seen during the opening).
In the first episode, when Masakaki said that Entres had to invest their future as “collateral”, I was mildly worried. In my experience, a vague plot point of that magnitude has a habit of being disappointing once the exact ramifications are revealed. This was not the case in C, as the effects of that collateral are shockingly widespread and devastating. An easy assumption to make is that losing your future would be the same as losing your life, but that is much too simple of a connection. By betting their futures, the Entres are not sacrificing their lives directly, but rather their happiness and meaning. Let’s just say that the Financial District is a supernatural entity that exists outside the rules of reality, so the effects of dealing with it are similarly unbound.
Can’t Have Both
Therefore, some of the best and heaviest parts of C’s narrative were when it dealt with the risks of placing your future in peril just to enrich your present. The repeated conflict of the series was whether it is more important to preserve the present or protect the future, and what I liked was that there was never really an option to save both. By the end, every character was on one side of the line or the other, but straddling it was an impossibility. You either play the Financial District’s game, or you don’t. Unfortunately, the finale kind of stomps on that “one or the other” sentiment, but the central message was still interesting for being not nearly as optimistic as you’d usually see.
I did say that C can look good when it wants to, but apparently it didn’t always want to. If I was to sum up C’s visuals simply, I would say that the design was often better than the execution. Lots of stuff looked cool or unique on a basic level, but was dragged down by sloppy drawings and a baffling use of CGI. Usually CGI is used for stuff like cars, monsters, people in the background - y’know, things that are either too cost-prohibitive to traditionally animate or minor enough that you probably won’t notice.
Not C though! In certain shots of C, characters will be in full 3D for no apparent reason at all, not to mention the entire Financial District is as well. My guess is that C was made on a pretty tight budget, and they had to cut corners wherever possible. This hypothesis is even more likely when you consider that one episode about halfway through, while not a full recap episode, made generous use of flashbacks and repeated animation.
Despite those evident budgetary problems, you might be surprised to hear that C is only an eleven episode series… which may not have been for the best, because it has more characters than it knows what to do with. Most people beyond the main three or four can be boiled down to a name and a single trait, and not even that if they’re unlucky, including the Rei Ayanami personality clone, the shifty information broker and the government investigator.
Stale characters aren’t the end of the world, but C makes things worse by trying to give a few of these cardboard cutouts actual progression. I can’t be the only one that thought Hanabi’s arc was a little out of place, can I? (Hanabi, by the way, was another college student and friend of Yoga’s.) She went from being a typical cheery, pseudo-love interest to a depressed hikikomori in the span of like an episode, with the implied explanation for this arc being strenuous at best (and its resolution as well, in my opinion).
While mediocre background characters can be glossed over by stellar leads, C fails at this as well. The relationship between Yoga and his Asset felt cliched and unimpactful, the former because Yoga, in his naivety, ignores how you’re “supposed” to treat an Asset by being more of a friend than a master (but it’s difficult to get a feel for how noble or righteous this is supposed to make him seem because you hardly ever see Assets being treated degradingly anyways) and the latter because their partnership merely builds to a superfluous romance that adds very little to either character or the plot as a whole, and is in fact spat upon because Yoga only has eyes for Hanabi. In short, it’s easy to predict how Yoga and Mashu’s bond is going to develop after literally less than two episodes, and C follows through on that prediction with practically no surprises.
C somehow manages to simultaneously feel like it explains too much and too little. It took three to four episodes of intermittent exposition before I had a reasonable grasp on the mechanics of Financial District Deals, which isn’t what you’re looking for given such a short series. On top of that, despite the explanations, several specifics are left hazy or unclarified. Deals involve two Entres facing off against each other alongside their Assets, where every spell requires Midas Money, doubling as the life points for each Entre.
However, the idea that each Entre is spending money for every attack, and therefore limited in their arsenal, is rather poorly conveyed, because every Deal devolves into the participants using powerful magic with seemingly little regard for their wallet. There’s just no point of reference for how cheap or expensive the multitude of spells are, so you get no sense of when an Entre is about to run out of money relative to their attacks, an issue further compounded by successful attacks generating an unclear amount of money for the attacker. To take things further, several Entres are shown to have multiple Assets, but the question of where and how they acquired them is left completely untouched. Additionally, a mechanic for buying stocks in another Entre (which boosts their funds mid-Deal) was introduced in one episode and largely forgotten afterwards.
Beyond the questionable intricacies of Deals, the Financial District as a whole bears some inconsistencies too. Initially, C makes it seem that the District takes the individual’s future as collateral, only impacting the specific Entres that lose money and go bankrupt. While building to its conclusion, C decides “no, that’s not enough for the scale we need to reach. Let’s expand it so that everyone’s futures, even those not at all involved with the Financial District, are affected”. That’s… a slight contradiction, not helped by the vagueness of the District mechanics in the first place.
To wrap up, this might sound like an oddly specific complaint, but there were several times throughout C when I felt transitions and scene changes were too jarring. One minute the dramatic music would be building, crescendoing into all-out fanfare in accordance with the action and then a cut later, without any cooldown, the scene is still and silent. I can understand the effect they were going for, but the execution left a bit to be desired (which might as well be C’s slogan at this point).
Painfully Generic MC-kun
There are many good words to describe Yoga Kimimaro: boring, standard, run-of-the-mill, generic (to name a few). He’s a typical “I care about the lives of everyone” personality (with daddy issues) who wins every fight because of main character obligations rather than actual skill or intellect, coupled with a lack of real ambition or otherwise memorable traits (he in fact prides himself on trying to live a normal, inconspicuous life).
He’s also pretty malleable, often persuaded into action by others without thinking through the consequences for himself. To put things into perspective, it’s been less than a week, only days since I saw C, and I’m hard-pressed to remember anything about this guy that was halfway interesting, even his design.
In the beginning, C was fairly incoherent. It intentionally drops you into the middle of a Deal with no information except that money is involved. Of course, the “this is nonsense” feeling subsides over time, as explanations and the like are continually doled out, but it returns in force just in time for the finale.
It felt like C kind of decided to stop making complete sense in order to drum up urgency and raise the stakes, and further maintains that nonsensicality when it all wraps up. The effects of the Financial District become much more widespread than they had ever been before, Districts around the world (because, yes, there are more than one) start experiencing problems of their own because reasons, and the whole thing feels thrown together rather sloppily in the name of a high stakes finale. Part of me thinks C would’ve worked better as a two-cour production, in order to more fully explain what’s happening and why.
I’m not sure I was ever really feeling C. For everything it did well, there were another one or two things it did poorly. I liked Mikuni, I didn’t like Yoga. I liked the action on a basic level, I didn’t like how that action was explained and justified. I liked the discussion of present versus future, I didn’t like the pacing and details of the story that conveyed that message. Through and through, a mixed bag.
So, after taking everything into account (as well as my own subjective enjoyment), on a scale from F to S, C gets a C. The anime industry is swamped by adaptations every way you look, so I’ll always appreciate an attempt to be original. Unfortunately, not all anime originals are winners, and I’d say C is one of them. It’s not exactly bad, but it’s not exactly good either. Overall, a real middle-of-the-road experience.
That said, if you fell in love with what you saw here and absolutely need to see this series for yourself (which granted wouldn’t take very long since it’s only eleven episodes), C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control is currently available for legal streaming on Funimation, both subbed and dubbed.
For a second (more positive) opinion, you can always check out Ascendant’s AniTAY review.
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