Coicent – Anime Review
Synopsis: It’s a mad dash through a city of the past as two young people discover a chance at a new future! When Shinichi meets a strange girl who is eluding even stranger pursuers, things get really wild! (Official HIDIVE Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Coicent opens with Shinichi, our young male protagonist, on a school trip headed to the 1300th anniversary celebration of Heijo Capital City. He’s awkward and eager for romance and fawns over the pretty AI guide, Himiko. Also, the anniversary year seems to be a quick nod to this story being set in the far future. We then cut to our heroine, who is a mysterious android like being and looks a lot like the AI guide Himiko. She’s all hooked up to machinery with several cables in her sides. We watch as the big bad, referred to only as Madame President, berates the scientist giving a report on the condition of the android. This is where things get a little confusing. Madame President talks about how fickle working with 2500 year old DNA is but doesn’t really explain whose DNA and why it has to be said DNA. It’s an early sign of how Coicent is cramped and may have pushed in too much content or references without the required follow through or set up, especially for a novice western viewer.
For the uninitiated (like me), I did some digging and Himiko seems to be based on a historical figure, just like the story is set in an actual place in Japan. This would explain the throwaway line about the 2500 year old DNA but considering how hotly debated the actual Himiko is in Japanese history, it doesn’t really explain why her DNA is being used here. More references to actual real life elements appear in the form of deer being a big part of the story. Coicent takes place in Nara, a Japanese city which is famous for its deer park and once considered deer to be sacred beings. Not only do deer come to play the rescuers in pivotal plot moments but the story really kicks off when a white deer kidnaps Shinichi and runs off with him to go rescue Himiko.
Post rescue, we jump cut to Himiko standing on her own in a crowd, admiring the high school students, even subconsciously transforming from her ancient clothes into a modern school uniform. One quick conversation and introduction later and our two leads are scampering around town as Himiko, now renamed Toto, wishes to experience the local sights and sounds. I will say that the visuals during the sightseeing montage were interesting to look at as they employed a mix of CGI and more classic Japanese art aesthetics. It might not be for everyone but it definitely stands out. Boosting the cinematography is a pretty solid soundtrack with songs that really sell the dreamy and romantic vibe of the story.
Going back to our leads themselves, Toto reminds me of the classic ‘born sexy yesterday’ sci-fi trope, a heroine, who for some reason or the other, is completely unfamiliar with the simplest aspects of everyday life, unaware of her attractiveness, yet highly skilled at something that commands men’s respect (usually combat). She checks off pretty much all of these qualifiers through the story and adds to the cliche and generic feel of Coicent. Shinichi fares no better, coming off as nothing more than a generic kind hearted and awkward teenager all the way to the end, probably acting as a stand in for the predominantly male youth audience. Of course, it would be too much to ask for deep leads in a less than 30 minute OVA, but it does the film no favours in the eyes of a more critical audience.
For the most part, the short run time means everything is fast paced. Time is rarely wasted, for better or worse, and the story never really gets the chance to go beyond a basic, predictable pattern. If one were to recommend Coicent on any grounds to anyone, it would be as something to have onscreen while wanting to kill a short amount of time without having to pay full attention. Yes, things happen fast but the basic story is so by the numbers that you aren’t going to miss out on anything amazing if say, you’re also scrolling on your phone waiting for a friend to text you back. Boy meets girl, flirting and comedic interactions ensue, villains chase, hijinx ensue and it wraps up with a happy ending. You’ve probably seen something like this before and if not exactly like this, you still probably won’t be shocked by anything that happens.
For a movie tagged as sci-fi, there’s also some mysticism thrown in. For example, Toto/Himiko just instantaneously disappears at one point in the movie in a mystical like manner. It’s never explained exactly how this happens and it’s probably best one doesn’t think too hard about it other than to preliminarily brace yourself for the level of ‘things happen with no logical explanation’ that occur in the story.
Those more familiar with Japanese culture and geography might be able to derive more appreciation and understanding for the movie but I hope what I explained in this review helps the less knowledgeable grasps some level of it as well. It’s by no means a hidden gem with its predictable plot but at the same time, thanks to some of its visual segments and its soundtrack, Coicent isn’t a hard pass either. Coicent is dubbed, which makes it all that more perfect for watching while multitasking. Sure, you could give it your undivided attention but I would recommend that only for the rom-com devotees.
Coicent is available for streaming on HIDIVE.com.