[C] Control – Macroeconomic Malfunction

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Let’s dive into one of the oddest metaphors for economics and financial processes that I’ve ever come across: C – Control.

The circulation of money has been a hot topic all over the globe for the past decade or so. Those who spend, invest, and control money are seen as both saviors and demons. Even the simplest of monetary actions can seem to have massive repercussions on the global scale if it’s at the right time and place.

Kimimaro is an average college student studying economics who just wants to live a normal life and earn enough money to support a family.

Unfortunately for him, he has a fateful run-in with a man known as Masakaki, who offers him a large sum of money and a spot within a secret organization in exchange for using Kimimaro’s “future” as collateral. This event catapults Kimimaro into the parallel world of the Financial District, where the fates of the world’s wealthiest people are decided with full-on battles using avatar known as Assets, with their own “futures” on the line.

Can Kimimaro handle the high stakes world that the enigmatic Kimimaro has thrown him into? Image provided by pinterest.com
Can Kimimaro handle the high stakes world that the enigmatic Kimimaro has thrown him into?
Image provided by pinterest.com

Where this anime’s strength lies is in its portrayal of the global economy at large and how compensation and reimbursement must be provided in certain areas in order to avoid an economic collapse, and it does a great job of showing just how close to a collapse we might be at any given time. It becomes this huge, overhanging shadow that consumes the lives of those who understand what goes on behind the scenes, while the rest of the population continues on in blissful ignorance.
However, this deeper, thematic understanding of macroeconomics is often buried under an extremely bizarre setup and a downpour of muddled and convoluted plot threads. The battles that take place in the Financial District are some of the most poorly explained and weakly constructed fights I’ve ever seen simply because they rarely take the time to explain what’s actually going on. I understand that the battle itself is simply there to explain the different turns the economy takes and we’re just supposed to enjoy the pretty light show, but it is still extremely convoluted nonetheless.
By the end of the series, everything is pretty much exploding all over the place and it’s really difficult to keep track of every plot line and every character. While I do think each of the threads they had going had potential, none of them could be fully realized in only 11 episodes. The ending itself seems a bit anticlimactic, despite the storyboards and directing finally catching up to the insanity of the plot, and crucial events happen because they need to happen in order for the story to finish rather than because it’s the logical place for the story to go.

As for characters, they’re pretty much all over the place. I don’t think making Kimimaro a regular college student with no outside investments was a smart decision.

When he starts losing things and part of his “future” is taken from him, it’s not portrayed in a way that make it feel like he’s lost anything that significant. If he were a young adult breaking into the business world and had a small company he was trying to get off the ground, then I could see him as a character that has something he could actually lose, rather than just the generic love interest who’s doesn’t seem attracted to him anyway.

The stakes with Kimimaro's character don't feel high enough to get me really invested in him. Image provided by pinterest.com
The stakes with Kimimaro’s character don’t feel high enough to get me really invested in him.
Image provided by pinterest.com

The rest of the cast really isn’t much better either, though there are some bright spots. The Asset construct Mashu who fights alongside Kimimaro and her slow development of what appears to be human consciousness are somewhat compelling, but get lost in the tangled mess of plot surrounding them. Mikuni, one of the major players in the Financial District, turns out to be fairly complex and extremely intelligent in terms of his understanding of economic fluctuation, and his sense of control over the whole scene makes him very intimidating. Hanabi, one of Kimimaro’s classmates, is…well, a generic love interest with no real defining characteristics, and a dozen other characters all fall somewhere on this spectrum.
Whereas I’ve been fairly give and take with the story elements of the series, I have to put my foot down with the animation because a lot of it is just straight-up garbage, which is very disappointing to see from Tatsunoko Production. Lifeless facial expressions, generic designs for the human characters, shoddy action, unnecessary jump-cut editing, and a cluttered and incohesive aesthetic really bogs down this series.
On top of all that, there is an obscene level of horrible, horrible CG blanketing this series. At first I thought that they were only going to use CG for the Financial District scenes, which would have been fine since it’s an alternate world, but there is not a single defining rule on when or where they use CG. It’s literally everywhere, most gratingly when used on human characters. There’s really no other word for it than just plain bad.
Be it character designs or background animation, this series suffers from serious animation flaws. Image provided by matthigh.wordpress.com
Be it character designs or background animation, this series suffers from serious animation flaws.
Image provided by matthigh.wordpress.com

As for the dub vs. sub debate, the dub is fairly average. J. Michael Tatum nails Mikuni almost perfectly, and Scott Freeman masters the insanity of Masakaki.

However, as I mentioned in my D.Gray-man review, having Todd Haberkorn play the main character usually doesn’t work, and while Kimimaro’s voice isn’t terrible, it’s not how I would have preferred it. The dub is still acceptable, which is nice because there is a crap-ton of “Engrish” in the subbed version that often sounds really bad.
With the soundtrack, I can finally say some mostly positive things, as my favorite soundtrack composer, Taku Iwasaki, does a fairly good job. He ends up using a lot of somewhat off-kilter and seclusionary sounds for this work, which fits the tone pretty well, and the more bombastic moments are classic Iwasaki greatness. It actually makes me a bit upset that I can’t find physical copies of the soundtrack. However, some of the tracks feel a bit less original than I had hoped, with one in particular sounding like almost an exact copy of a track from Soul Eater, another of Iwasaki’s projects.

I do think there are some points in C – Control that are worth watching.

This is especially true if you like shows centered around economics, but there’s also a huge portion of this series that really is pretty bad. I don’t regret watching it myself, so I suppose I would give it a very tentative recommendation.
C – Control is currently licensed by FUNimation and is available from them for both streaming and purchase.

Final Score: 5/10

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