I think Nick says it best:
Sometimes, I wonder how the Japanese are able to show what are considered “children’s anime” which can deal with very serious topics. How do they allow shows that put their viewers through such an emotional roller coaster that are said to be aimed at elementary school students? And why don’t I see or hear about this in many modern American animations, unlike the American classics (recall something like Bambi, for example)? I don’t hear of anything that runs like Full Moon wo Sagashite in America today, but I have found another example of an emotionally tiring series in Denno Coil.
Emotionally tiring, precisely because it’s a serious children’s anime. There is a lack of pretense and a willingness to treat children seriously that is the hallmark of the kind of anime I am drawn to. There are few to none of examples of this in American animation, though I think Pixar makes an effort. However, the closest analouge in our media would be children’s books, like Bridge to Terabithia or Holes (both of which have since made the transition to movie form; I’ve read both but only seen the former).
Dennou Coil is definitely targeted at children, but it seemed a blend of a lot of more adult-level anime. The Haibane Renmei parallel is obvious, with a Reki-Rakka empath/loner pair joined by an emotional bond. There’s also the Serial Experiments Lain parallel, toying with the nature of reality and the implications of granting too much “reality” to cyberspace (I would argue in fact that Dennou Coil did a superior job of this than Lain). The magical girl concept is neatly transposed to the technological here, you could even argue for a hint of Someday’s Dreamers in there. But the point about Dennou Coil is that it manages to straddle all these genres of anime and yet establish it’s own unique identity on its own terms.
I have to agree, this is one of the best anime I have ever seen. I have to rank it slightly more highly than Shingu, since it was equally enjoyable to watch but simply had greater heft, its backstory formly grounded in the rich human experience instead of needing to import aliens wholesale.
I don’t have much to say about the ending, spoilerwise or otherwise. Some random screen shots below the fold…