Cencoroll might not have much going on under the hood storywise, but regardless of that, it is an impressive visual feast for the eyes and quiet genuine to boot.
Title: Cencoroll (Pronounced “Sen-Co”)
Episodes: 1 (26 minute run-time)
Producer: Madhouse Studios (Funimation North American License)
Genre: Action, Sci-fi
Recommended/Similar Titles: Summer Wars, FLCL, Black Rock Shooter (OVA)
Synopsis (via Myanimelist)
When a gigantic, unearthly monster suddenly looms on the skyline of a Japanese city, the expected occurs—the Japan Self-Defense Forces roll out the tanks while the public panics. Nobody knows what it is or where it came from, but Yuki, a bold and inquisitive teenage girl, has a secret but might be a useful clue. Her friend Tetsu has been clandestinely caring for a bizarre creature called Cenco, which will soon prove itself to have some remarkable, even impossible characteristics. Another teenage boy, a stranger with some mysterious link to the monstrosity attacking the city, shows up, and his unwelcome interest in Tetsu’s pet snuffs out any doubt of a connection—and lights the fuse for the coming battle.
I would not call myself the biggest fan of the whole Alien or Sci-fi genre, but every so often their is a series that manages and worthy to be deemed “impressive”. This would be an all too humble title for the film Cencoroll. The main story centers around a young girl named Yuki that by chance happens to stumble upon her friend Tetsu and his oddly shapeshifiting alien companion, Cenco. However, when a unknown boy appears with the same type alien lifeform and baits Tetsu, the city becomes an all-out-battlefield. With that said, the plot is leaf thin and sounds rather listless, but the surreal quality produced within the short time is Cencoroll’s real charm. However, more on that detail later. Adapted from producer Atsuya Uki’s Amon Game, an one-shot series that is the bases for Cencroll, there is no prior tie-in since it is a stand-alone, so exactly what you see transpire is exactly what you get plot wise with a few minor exceptions. Simply put, it is best watched rather than explained.
As aforementioned, the primary cast is composed of three members which range from: The curious Yuki (Kana Hanazawa), Apathetic owner of Cenco, Tetsu (Hiro Shimono), and the boy looking to capture Cenco for himself, Shuu (Ryōhei Kimura). The only two roles: Cenco (no voice actor) and Kei, Yuki’s fellow classmate and friend (Satomi Moriya) are ones that do not have many vocal lines. That said, the entire does an excellent job voicing their respective characters. The music composition and soundtrack is also noteworthy, which boost Ryo and Supercell for most the limited background tracks and theme composition and Nagi Yanagi alongside them performing the Ending theme, Love & Roll.
Under Uki’s supervision again, Aniplex is the primary animation studio and the one of the first headed by single member of nearly all aspects of production. Mentioned earlier, Cencoroll’s charm lies in rustic yet surreal visual quality that is animated both precisely and skillfully. This can best be exemplified by the background scenes, with their cubist like nature and nearly anamorphic quality; the same that be said of Cenco and the quality of the bizarre battle scenes. In addition, the overall animation itself is quite admirable in its design, not to appear visually pleasing, but rather try something; in turn it results in an interest coupling with the world the story presents. Again, all the primary work which includes: writing, artwork, animation production, and key animation is attributed Atsuya Uki, also known for his character design hand in the anime music video, Sekiranun Graffiti.
Personally, Cencoroll was quite a surprise for myself and something I was glad to see; something I felt like I been missing from Anime library. Like expressed multiple times in the course of this review, I can not praise the animation style and quality enough for its disorienting and hallucinatory effect. Taking note of it, I can vividly compare it akin to FLCL’s artistic prowess and more over, how interesting it makes the film. Speaking of FLCL, Cenco also reminds me of Canti, albeit the slapstick humorous behavior. My off-track musings aside, Cencoroll is definitely worth watching.
For how mercifully short Cencoroll was I can not help, but hunger for more. With Cencoroll II being announced for a tentative release, it will be interesting to see how far things can progress next around and what is come for Yuki and Tetsu. Despite being paper thin of anything specific, as it is, Cencoroll surely has a lot of potential to improve and become an Anime film of merit just like its one-shot adaption. Whether you are veteran or newbie to Anime, I whole heartily recommend this series at least to be watched once.
Pros: Interesting setup, surreal art style and animation, emphasizes quality of design over quantity, very, yet limited soundtrack selections. (Recommend)
Cons: Unclear plot/storyline,