The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Le Portrait de Petit Cossette

Title: Le Portrait de Petit Cossette aka Cossette no Shouzou
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: Aniplex/Studio Hybari
Format: 3 OVA
Dates: 11 Apr 2004 – 22 Dec 2004

Synopsis: Love tends to change people in noticeable ways. Kurahashi Eiri, a young aspiring artist who works in his relative’s antique store, is no exception. After recently falling in love with Cossette d’Auvergne, a girl whose flawless beauty is such that any artist like Eiri would long for the opportunity to capture it in a portrait, his changing demeanor is easily spotted by those around him. Unfortunately for Eiri, Cossette has been dead for 250 years.

The Highlights
Cinematography: Bombards the audience with a barrage of unconventional effects and techniques
Music: Kajiura Yuki at her unrestrained best; much like Cossette herself: haunting and beautiful
Story: Excellent romance filled with twists; always the first priority
Sound: Used effectively to enhance the atmosphere
Characters: Side characters and third wheel are virtually non-existant

As a medium, anime’s freedom and ability to truly explore the boundaries of its creators’ imagination is one that has been, on many occasions in the past, both a blessing and a bane. On one hand, the unrestrained attempt to take an audience for a wild trip through darkest and deepest reaches of the universe contained within the mind can leave its viewers astounded in the short term and gasping for more. However, these same anime tend to neglect the more important components, such as their story and characters – the things that, when given proper attention, mark a truly memorable anime. Enter Le Portrait de Petit Cossette, an anime that completely breaks this mold and, instead, uses its surreal and haunting atmosphere to turn a great story into an extraordinary experience.

Petit Cossette is a visual experience that one cannot properly appreciate by having it merely described to them – one must see it for one’s self. The animation is superb and the marriage of CGI and traditional 2-D art style is seamless in all but a few scenes. But the visual highlight is in the cinematography: harldy a single scene is shot using a simple, straight camera angle. Perspective is often angled, shots are skewed, focuses are dynamic and various degrees of fish-eyed lenses are used. Even the pacing between shot transitions and the movement of viewpoints is arrhythmic. The almost avant-garde cinematography works to draw its viewer into Petit Cossette’s surreal world and create a haunting atmosphere. Speaking of ‘haunting’, it’s a word relevant to a description of the ever excellent and instantly recognizable Kajuira Yuki’s beautiful soundtrack. Accolades must also be given to the often amplified sound effects, which worked favourably to enhance the already well established atmosphere.

Unlike many other anime that focus on establishing similarly surreal atmospheres, Petit Cossette does not try to utilize it to distract its audience from deficiencies in the plot. Instead, Petit Cossette tells an engrossing love story, focusing on the irony of a girl coming to grips with the fact that she was murdered by the man she loved. As dazzling as the aesthetics are, the story never plays second fiddle. The amazing visual effects and top notch audio know their place and exist only to enhance the story, never to divert attention from it. The resulting experience is a delight for both the mind and the senses – one that I won’t forget any time soon.

One should watch Petit Cossette for the fact that its unique and contemporary cinematography is a key to an extraordinary journey through a fantastic universe. However, I submit that its story is a fascinating yarn that ranks among the best romance that anime has seen and that, even without the pulsating atmosphere it created, Petit Cossette still would have been an interesting tale. Much like Millennium Actress, Petit Cossette shows that challenging the boundaries of what anime can offer shouldn’t require any sacrifice in storytelling.

Rating: 9
9/10

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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