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Notes of Coppelion Episode 1

Posted on the 09 October 2013 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG
Coppelion Episode 1

I’ll just give you a little shot… sorry, the other kind of shot, you know, the vaccine kind.

  • Summary of Episode One: Three high school girls are walking to an abandoned city in ruins. Ibara, the leader of the gang, gets a phone call from some fishy-sounding man advising them to move towards the city center. It seems they are looking for people living (or rather, surviving) among the ruins. They receive an emergency signal and hurry to the source of the signal, which turns out to be a guy in a hazmat suit near a bridge. Ibara, ignoring the direct orders given to them, rescues the guy, and soon a military chopper lands to take him away. While riding in the chopper, the old man gives us some background information about the girls. The next day, having taken shelter in an abandoned house, they continue their mission of locating survivors, when they unexpectedly encounter a dog, which apparently follows them wherever they go. Meanwhile the chopper transmits some kind of live footage from ground zero of some kind of catastrophe. Taeko goes on to meet the dog, while the others continue looking for the source of the signal. A wolf attacks them, however, and ony having barely escaped do they notice that Taeko left without anything to defend herself. The episode closes with showing us the blood-stained walkie-talkie of the girl.
  • My impressions: This episode blew my mind away with the visual quality. I seriously hope GoHands (the production studio behind the series) didn’t spend all their money on just one episode. Everything was animated and they really paid attention to details. It’s rare to see the flowers swaying in the wind, I’ve not really seen such detailed motion outside of feature films. I purposely looked for flaws in the animation and my only gripe was with how odd the chopper was flying between the devastated skyscrapers. They even animated how the girls’ shadows fall on the camera in the scene where they start walking towards the center having received their orders. The backgrounds were the next thing to capture my attention; they were simply stunning. I’m a big fan of landscapes showing uninhabited, destroyed buildings where nature slowly reclaims the land that civilization has taken away, and boy did this show deliver. Coppelion Episode 1

    Amazing visual quality.

    Coppelion Episode 1

    Simply astounding

    The art style used to draw the characters was a bit surprising with the thick contour lines, but I got used to it after a few minutes.

  • Being a first episode, it is necessary to give the viewer some background on the world the events are happening in and also on the characters themselves. Some introductory episodes feature a narrator who tells us about the setting, some episodes leave it to the viewer to figure it out, and others let the characters to talk about themselves and their world. Coppelion chose the latter, and I think it fit perfectly. The girls – Ibara, their apparent leader, the always-energetic Aoi and the compassionate Taeko – slowly reveal what they are looking for in that ghost town. The military commander guy tells us that some kind of catastrophe has occurred before, and genetically engineered children are sent instead of robots to look for survivors. What kind of disaster has happened is left unclear, as the episode (not too surprisingly) ends with a cliffhanger.
    Coppelion Episode 1

    Your guess is as good as mine as what this just might be.

  • I really liked the personalities of the characters. Ibara – being the upperclassman – is their leader. She has the guts to point a weapon at their commanding officer when she doesn’t like the order being given. She appears to have unswaying moral conviction, as she doesn’t hesitate to apply that instant cure to every survivor they find. She doesn’t come off as too bossy though; when the others are troubled by the thought that they may be literally nothing more than puppets, she cheers them up. In other words, a strong but gentle lady. Aoi seems a little bit too energetic and down-to-earth girl, as her mind is mostly preoccupied with what to eat. Taeko’s character was not really fleshed out, and considering what happens to her at the end of the episode, I’m not that surprised. – It’s rare to see a show kill off one of the main cast right at the start, but I’m sure it has happened before. Or maybe we are misled and she is still alive.
  • Ibara speaking in a dialect (I think it’s Kansai, but I’m not sure) was really cute.
  • The title of the episode is given in kanji as ‘puppet’, but it should be read as ‘Coppelion’, the small furigana say. When they arrive in the centre, Aoi tells Ibara that they “shouldn’t wonder around this neighbourhood. We are not puppets after all”. Concidence? I think not. Later on, the military guy explicitly tells us they are genetically engineered children; and simultaneously, Aoi and Taeko seems to reach the same conclusion. Not to mention the ending theme song… I hope this apparent theme of ‘puppets vs humans’ will be expanded upon in the coming episodes.
    Coppelion Episode 1

    Puppets don’t usually shed tears…

  • On to the questions, or maybe I should say inconsistencies or other points of interest I noticed.
  1. First off, this series felt very realistic to me – no magic, no superpowers, no aliens, no parallel worlds, et cetera. Genetic engineering is okay, the technology is already present today, it’s just not mature enough to be performed on humans…I hope. Then having Ibara jump off what seems like a twenty meters tall bridge and walk off without a single scratch was breaking the bounds of realism. On the other hand maybe she is capable of superhuman feats – they are genetically engineered after all.
  2. The second was having a ‘cure-all’ (named Aether)…I’m very suspicious when it comes to things like medicine without side-effects and so on. No medicine is without side-effects in reality; it just seems that the writers took the easy way out. The name reminded me of the anaesthetic compound ether, and I wonder if this ‘cure-all’ may actually be a deadly sedative.
  3. The third thing was that shooting a wolf leaping at you with a tranquilizer will – in reality – not blow it five meters back. In fact you’ll probably end up under a still-not-unconscious feral wolf. I blame western action movies for this kind of cliché, and it seemed again that the writers took the easy way out. They could’ve animated the end of this scene with Ibara side-stepping out of the way of the leaping wolf while shooting it with the dart gun.
Coppelion Episode 1

That is one hell of an impact from such a small gun…

  • The fourth thing I noted was that if they are high school girls, do they come from a regular high school – where regular, unengineered children go – or do they come from some kind of special high school only for genetically engineered children? If Ibara is one year above the others, does this mean that there are more girls like them, and we only met these particular three? This is partially answered by the military dude introducing himself as the vice principal of one of the JSDF’s schools, but I’m not satisfied.
  • The fifth and by all means my largest problem with this episode was the time scale. Everywhere they went, it seemed that vegetation has overtaken the structures, buildings having started to crumble. This doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years, maybe tens of years to get to this state. But it seems this cataclysm that wiped out the ninety percent of the capital has happened only recently. The first thing that supports this is the fact that they are sending in this rescue team for the first time (Ibara mentions that their job is to find out whether anyone lives here); and I think any human would starve to death after a week in that hostile environment. One of the first things a government should do after a disaster is to look for survivors, right? The second thing supporting this idea is that the military dude acts like he’s showing the epicenter to the world for the first time. I mean if it’s dangerous and it has been shown before, there would be no need to fly over there again, now would it?
Coppelion Episode 1

Just look at that guy in the red shirt photobombing his way into the broadcast.

  • There was very little music in this episode save for the fight scene at the end, in fact, I only noticed the absence of BGM. The ending theme (Tooku made by Angela) fits perfectly with the show, in fact I didn’t skip the ED as usual, but sat back and enjoyed the music accompanying the animation.
  • All in all, a very nice first episode, breath-taking visual quality and adept writing but not without some minor flaws. I’m eager to see how the story continues.

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