If you had one chance, one shot at making it big, through virtual battles, but you had to put your future at stake, would you do it?
C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, is a very smart anime that tries to understand this.
What you need to know (no spoilers)
Set in modern Japan, which is stuck in an economic slump, this Sci-Fi, Psychological romp through the world of money will possibly make you view the money you hold so dearly very differently.
The anime mostly takes place in the Financial District of Japan, one of many Financial Districts in the world, each closely interlinked with the country's economy. Entrepreneurs are the only people allowed in the districts, and they engage in weekly Deals, which are battles between Entrepreneurs their Assets, to earn money.
Assets are a virtual manifestation of the Entrepreneur's economic power, their futures, and are summoned by using Midas Cards. Assets have stocks/shares, which can be bought by other Entrepreneurs. This of course means a boost to the owner in terms of money, and in turn, power.
This anime has large focus on economic terms, and things like investment and shares are often mentioned. A background in economics would help alot, though it's unnecessary.
Yoga Kimimaro, our protagonist, is a student of Economics at his University. He never goes out with his friends, saving every single penny he manages to get, all for his future. It's completely refreshing to see a main character driven by the want for a future, but who is completely willing to forgo any current pleasure to attain that dream. He works hard at school, and even takes two part time jobs at different employers, all in order to make more money.
But one fateful day, while he was trying hard to study, he got a knock on the door.
The ever present and ever persistent servitor of the Midas Bank.
Masakaki, a character seen earlier on, introduces himself as a representative of the Midas Bank, which he soon explains to be a bank that lends people money, in exchange for their lives as collateral.
He's nearly deliciously creepy.
Masakaki brings Kimimaro to a space suspended in limbo, unaffected by the passage of time. Here, Masakaki offers him a chance to become an Entrepreneur, a challenger in the Financial District, as a replacement to an Entrepreneur who had recently been terminated.
He leaves Kimimaro with seductive fantasies of a rich life, as Kimimaro falls asleep
Of course, anybody would be tempted by the thought of an easy chance at making it big, and so does Kimimaro. He's no shounen character who dismisses easy money because "It's not right" and/or "It would be against my principles". I find this sort of personality really intriguing.
There are of course, consequences to participating in the Financial District's Deals. The anime very clearly shows how high the stakes are, when you have put your Future on the line.
Early in the anime, we meet Kimimaro's Economics professor, Ebara Daisuke and his family. But then, we also find out he's an Entrepreneur in the Financial District, and willingly challenged Kimimaro to a Deal.
In between the fighting, we see scenes of Professor Ebara and his family, and he's about to have his third child. He's been taking part in Deals to support his family, which draws empathy from the viewers, some who can relate to having money troubles. But he ultimately loses to Kimimaro, when a powerful Entrepreneur named Mikuni Souichirou purchases shares of Kimimaro's Asset, Masyu, for a large sum of money.
Later, we see how this has affected him. His wife lost her pregnancy, his two children have vanished, he's lost his job, and his house is barren. But nobody remembers the way it was before, except for Professor Ebara and Kimimaro. His future has been stripped away from him.
The sheer burden of his losses is heavy. It is very clearly shown, but he acknowledges his own faults. He even encourages Kimimaro to try to win, as they're the only ones who remember his lost children. This story of Ebara, now a hollow shell of the man he was before, a man plagued by loss, is a highly meaningful way to show that actions always have consequences, and once the die is cast, there's no turning back. These scenes are still some of the most powerful scenes, wrought of human suffering and loss, that I have seen in anime. It truly drives this thought home:
Either I make others suffer, or I suffer myself.
*SPOILERS END HERE*
We get to see Kimimaro realize that his actions, however innocuous it may seem to him, will cause change in others. This anime offers one of the best character developments I've seen.
It's a Wonderful World....
The Financial District of Japan.
If only that were true. The financial district is pretty for sure, but as seen above, it brings dire consequences to those who fail to make others suffer. Kimimaro is greeted by a GIGANTIC coin floating above the Midas Plaza, which shows the economic power of Japan. The entire district is totally opulent in presentation, and it really works to bring to light the sheer contrast the plain buildings below. Most of it is rendered in CGI, which does work, but I would've preferred traditional art.
Effects used are AWESOME. The amount of detail put into battle scenes is high, resulting in beautiful, radical fight scenes, explosive FX and just plain, cool, pew-pew action. All Assets can access three different skills, in ranks, from Micro-Flation, to Mezzo-Flation, to Macro-Flation, which cost increasingly high amounts of investment to activate.
Bombastic. Eheh. Masyu's Mezzo-Flation.
Who needs lightsabers anyway.
One of the coolest things are the direct attacks used by Entrepreneurs. These are just blades that sprout from their hands, and deal damage proportionate to the amount of money they currently hold. Maths was never this exciting.
Again, I show my vicious fangs towards usage of CGI. Some scenes like the above didn't need to be computer generated, traditional art would have worked fine. I do recognize CGI as an important asset to anime creation, but I don't really appreciate it being used so much.
Length and Pacing
This anime is way too short. As an original series however, that could be excused. Pacing was also sort of forced at times, especially towards the end, where EVERYTHING was happening at the same time. And although they do seem to try to set Mikuni up as a bedeviled yet not evil villain, he doesn't get nearly enough screen time, another issue.
Ultimately, I still find C: to be an awesome anime, and I definitely encourage people to go watch it!
This is a review by Ascendant - Izanagi, newb to Ani-TAY, and one out of many backlog reviews. Thanks for reading!