Quick Review: Cencoroll

Short because…well, I don’t really have much to say on it.

Cencoroll is a short, 27-minute film brought to us almost single-handedly by Uki Atsuya (宇木 敦哉), based on a one-shot manga he wrote. I came across it only because the person responsible for my favourite anime theme this year wrote the theme song to this as well – in fact, it’s on the same single, so ads for it were run during the ad breaks for Bakemonogatari episodes too.

To be honest, Cencoroll had me a bit perplexed. The world – like ours, except that it also has huge, blob-like monsters that teenagers can capture and use to battle each other – was interesting and offers a fair bit to be explored…except that 27 minutes doesn’t leave time for anything but an introduction. In effect, Cencoroll amounts to a short story. Hence, like most short stories, the setting is somewhat incidental. The point wasn’t really to reveal and establish this unusual setting, but something else that completely went over my head the first time I watched it.

One such interpretation is suggested by an interesting blog post on ANN, which gave a perspective I’d never have considered myself.

What makes Cencoroll so inventive isn’t its subject matter but the starkness itself. There’s no hint of heroicism, not a shred of honor or charged emotion. After all, teen years are more about bland boredom and apathy, are they not?

Not only does Shimono Hiro’s bored Amamiya reflect this view, but even Cenco himself, as shown by the lethargic and apathetic looks he often gave his master. What's with that look? It’s a perspective that makes sense to me, but not one that will have me watching it for a third time.

One of the reasons is that, aesthetically, like the other famous short-film that was produced just about single-handedly, the animation is simple even for cinematic/DVD release. In one sense, this simplicity gives Cencoroll a very down-to-earth feeling that goes hand-in-hand with teenage apathy and all that jazz. However, it’s a bit like watching an animated manga rather than a piece of animation in its own right. The one part that benefited from the medium was when Cenco changed into a plane in order to reach the heights of the skyscrapers.

Cencoroll was ultimately quite an entertaining half hour, and I’d certainly be interested if there is more to the story. On its own, however, it’s not something I want to spend too much time analysing. 7/10

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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