Koisento

Title: Koisento
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 1 OVA
Date: 27 Nov 2010

Synopsis: The year is 2710, and Shin’ichi and his classmates are on a school excursion to the city of Nara. As he and his friend goes sightseeing in the historic capital city, a white deer steals his bag and runs away. He goes after the deer and coincidentally bumps into a mysterious girl whose name is Yamato Totohimomosohime, or Toto in short. She turns out to be a runaway from an experimental laboratory, where her captors are hot on her trail.

The Highlights
Setting: Vibrant twist to an ancient city; a fusion of historical features and futuristic elements.
Story: Barely any; no effort put in for proper plot development.
Characterization: Zero; characters are just there without any motivation.
In summary: Too fast, too short and too little.

Koisento is like a crystal vase: it’s sparkling and beautiful on the outside but hollow on the inside. The anime doesn’t hide its intention to wow the viewers with its CGI-laden approach to animation. Virtually everything on screen is digitally animated, from the magnificent Buddha statues and the autumn-themed historic Japanese backdrops to the character movements. Although the character motion can seem a little awkward and unnatural at times because of the unfluid CGI, which can make one wonder why not employ conventional 2D animation instead, it blends wth the overall setting fairly well and holistically it works well for most parts of the show. What the CGI does wonderfully though, is viewing the capital city of Nara through a sci-fi lens by combining real-life historic elements with futuristic aspects. It is a breath of fresh air to see a real-life city with a new twist, indeed.

But this show fails in something more fundamental than aesthetics: the use of characters to tell a story. The cast doesn’t serve any substantial purpose other than to be actors with shallow motivations, and by the end of the show, gaping plot holes crop up because many questions are left unexplained. I don’t know what female lead Toto ultimately is – except that she’s some experimental subject – and what kind of history she has with her captors, aside from the single conjecture that they do not have a pleasant one. Consequently, because I don’t understand Toto’s identity, I don’t understand Koisento‘s ending which involves a sad climax followed by a positive conclusion for reasons left unexplained.

Accompanying the show’s failure to develop its characters is the absence of a coherent story. The tale of young love involving an adolescent boy and a runaway girl is forgettable and run-of-the-mill, looking as if it’s been effortlessly copy-pasted from a children’s storybook. The show still could have been decent enough by putting in more effort in the writing but unfortunately, it looks like it is vainly attempting to hide its flaws with visual effects. It’s too bad that aesthetics can only do so much, when the story and character departments are apparently lacking.

Perhaps the best way to describe the shortcomings of Koisento is, it’s too fast, too short and too little. The overall pacing is hasty, the half-hour duration is apparently too short – it would have been better with a one-hour duration instead – and the anime has just too little to show, be it characterization or storytelling. In the end, I can’t really tell what the purpose of the OVA is apart from being a mere eyecandy, but this may serve as a prime example of why being visually fantastic is only secondary to having relatable characters and a decent story.

The Rating: 4
4/10

Reviewed by: AC

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