Once again, I entered the strange and surreal world of director Akiyuki Shinbo and I continue to find the answer to this obvious question. Did he smoke too much weed when he’s directing anime? Because some of the anime I watched or previewed where he’s the director, I’m either lost, confused, or I didn’t pay much attention and need to rewatch to make sure I understand the appeal of the show. I have tried to watch COSSETTE in the past but either lost track of time or I simply didn’t get it the first attempt at that.
PLOT: The series focuses on Eiri Kurahashi, a college art student who works in an antique shop. One day, he sees the image of a girl in an antique glass. To his shock, she appears to be moving and living out her life before his eyes. He becomes infatuated with the girl, and one night at midnight, he somehow makes contact with her. He learns that her name is Cossette, and that she was an aristocrat’s daughter during the 18th century. She reveals to him that her spirit has been entrapped within the glass because the artist Marcello Orlando murdered her. She tells Eiri that, in order to set her free, a man must be willing to take upon himself punishment for the sins Marcello committed.
I got to hand it to Shinbo and the writer Mayori Sekijima as the plot of this is straight forward enough to follow 70% of the plot of the story and somehow still get lost within the remaining 30% of it, then again that writer was responsible for the series composition of SoulTaker. One minute you wondered what happened to this girl Cossette and why is the main guy Eiri is getting punishment and then the next, a collage of crazy visuals (i.e., showing off their animation budget) appears in the midway. We all know an anime like this is going for the artistic value but we’ll get to that section in a few. If they were going for it to be creepy, unsettling, and haunting, then they have achieved that goal as the 3-episode OVA easily provided what it meant to be.
Cossette and Eiri are actually not that interesting as characters, mostly the latter in the beginning of the story as we really don’t know much of Eiri aside from him being an art student (and of course, him being the reincarnation of a murderer) and he has some friends and this girl Shoko who might be his friend or relative or love interest. Who knows? They really don’t explore much of the secondary characters in here as most of the time you forget that they were even there. Cossette may appear to be this innocent girl who’s been wronged and unjustly murdered but she’s just as manipulative and crazy when she’s with Eiri as well. The two of them basically share a parasitic relationship together although there isn’t really much of a connection aside from “my past reincarnation tortured you and killed you so I want you to do that to me”.
There’s no doubt about it but the animation and artwork are amazingly done, especially capturing this Gothic Lolita/18th century Victorian style of art. I give kudos to Studio DAUME for their work as the visuals are crazy beyond belief and surreal, I actually thought SHAFT was responsible for this although considering they have been associated with Shinbo recently, it seemed to be the right guess. Anyway, you can honestly tell that they went to show off their animation budget for a 3-episode OVA from the get-go with some minor techniques used in there such as one scene going into static as I actually thought my TV was going on the fritz. I will add this, I heard there was some fan service in here and I really didn’t notice much of it.
Do I need to tell you again how much I’m a fan of Yuki Kaijura and how much her music definitely matches the tone throughout the OVA? Because it does. The music adds a visual aesthetic and a tense flow within the atmosphere of the show. Plus, the ending theme song “Houseki” by Marina Inoue is one of the more powerful and haunting theme songs in most recent anime.
The Geneon/Bang Zoom dub is fairly competent in its direction and acting but there isn’t really much to say anything standout-ish about it. Michelle Ruff as Cossette does a fantastic job playing her role and easily the best performance of the show but I’m not really feeling much of Kevin Hatcher’s performance as Eiri as the constant screaming of his can get mildly grating when hearing it over and over again.
FINAL VERDICT: The OVA does have an interesting story that isn’t (always) confusing as it plays on and it is a definite visual feat for the eyes and the ears as well but if you want to feel invested in the characters, you’ll have no luck with this story here. This might be one of the few Shinbo-directed anime that I can watch throughout without feeling lost or confused….I’ll still feel creeped out in some areas but that’s kind of a trope for him now. I would say this is something more to stream before you buy (that is, if you want to buy it).
So, do I give this a fine rating or should I kill its chance like they did with the girl?
PT Rating: OKAY
LE PORTRAIT DE PETIT COSSETTE was licensed by Geneon but has since gotten rescued by Sentai FIlmworks. Streaming options are limited to The Anime Network and Hulu only in the U.S.
And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.
LE PORTRAIT DE PETIT COSSETTE – animated by DAUME / distributed by SENTAI FILMWORKS