ANIME & MANGA - Article
15:39 - 19th September 2013, by NEO Staff

C: Control

It's said money is at the heart of the world's problems - something the international financial turmoil of recent years has proven to be true. Everything is more expensive, businesses are closing, and people are losing their homes because of monetary issues so complex that they border on the arcane. Even the usually stable entertainment industries have been affected. As art so often imitates life, the power and mystery of money is the chief inspiration of C: Control, the latest offering from Fuji TV's much-lauded Noitamina programming block to be launched in the UK by MVM Entertainment on 7 October.

Workin' Hard for the Money
From the start, C: Control is a very misleading show. Almost the first half of episode one focuses on a clearly desperate man struggling for money. A mysterious card and a disembodied voice allows him to make a 'deal', transporting him to the Financial District, a strange other-space where combatants called Entrepreneurs - Entrés for short - fight for their investments. Unlike the frenzied hustle of London Stock Exchange, this is a literal battle, where personified Assets fight on behalf of their owners, with successful blows gaining capital and the power of each attack determined by the fiscal investment in it. Mr Desperation's gambit fails, his deal is lost, and C: Control cuts back to the real world, introducing its actual protagonist, 19 year-old economics student Yoga Kimimaro.

Yoga is a bright kid with humble dreams of a stable job and a normal existence, but with his father inexplicably missing, he's attending university on a scholarship and working two jobs to get by. Despite his friends losing interest in him (he's so broke, he's boring) Yoga's not terribly bothered by the accumulation of wealth. That all changes when he's (apparently) randomly selected as the newest inhabitant of the Financial District by Masakaki, a bizarre Willy Wonka figure who leads Yoga through the money-obsessed wonderland. Much like the Wonderland that Alice fell into, everything is a metaphor at best, and dangerously insane at worst.

Given his own card - the same kind that lead the Desperate Man to his end - and partnered with a flame-wielding, fiery-tempered Asset that he names Msyu, Yoga is forced into his first battle, only just surviving. His success, concern for Mysu's wellbeing and general disinterest in money attracts the attention of Souchirou Mikuni - the debonair owner of the Financial District, who seems to know a few things about Yoga, and his errant father.

A Wise Investment
Series director Kenji Nakamura cut his teeth as assistant on the second Digimon movie, and C: Control benefits from the same bold, colourful animation in its fights, with the Assets 'summoned' out of a kind of digital storage on the cards. The design of the Financial District is abstract too, a world where nothing quite seems real or serious. As such, C: Control might seem like Noitamina's attempt at a tournament type show, but you'll soon notice that the series adds a clever and much deeper twist to the genre.

It posits business and banking as the ultimate form of gambling, one with painful real world consequences, yet presents it in the childish manner of a kid's toy-driven show - which is much the way it could be argued that the world's bankers treated the global financial systems over the last several years. It's frequently commented upon that Yoga's success is a rarity for a newcomer to the Financial District, likely a metaphor for the difficulty regular people have in finding a secure economic foothold nowadays, when nepotism is rife amongst big money institutes. There's a recurrence of the number 666 too - money is the root of all evil, after all.

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