Welcome, My Friends, to horror anime month. For the next five weeks we’ll be looking at things that go bump in the night. Experience suggests that most of them will not actually be scary in the slightest in spite of the genre label. In fact, I think the only truly frightening anime I’ve ever reviewed in October was Perfect Blue and everything else just used horror to mean “there are monsters.” In any case, let’s start the month off with Le Portrait de Petit Cosette which is a bit unique for an anime in that it’s not based on anything. The three episode OVA was produced by Daume, the studio responsible for Onegai Teacher and Shiki. There is a manga, but it’s based on the OVA instead of the other way around. Let’s turn out all the lights and take a look.
Our story begins with our protagonist, Eiri, hanging out with some friends. But don’t get attached to them because they’ll only appear in one other, brief scene. They talk briefly about love and Eiri runs off for his part time job at his uncle’s antique shop. He spends some time just holding and looking at a glass. A glass that seems to contain a girl that only he can see. The biggest problem with this OVA is that it meanders. What I mean by that is that there are a lot of scenes that go nowhere and don’t tie into the main plot. Not only that, but the animation will frequently shift to random things (a street, a mailbox, tableware, bamboo, butterflies, etc…) during conversations. I still can’t figure out whether this is supposed to be disconcerting or it’s just a way to pad the OVA. If it’s the former it doesn’t work. The latter would seem more probable since this OVA drags. You wouldn’t think I’d be able to say that about something that lasts all of three episodes, but it does. There are long stretches of scenes that just show random objects or filled with scene after scene where nothing of value happens. You could probably cut this down to a single episode if you only kept the relevant parts. Don’t expect actual horror from this either. A lot of what happens is strange and/or kind of nonsensical but not frightening. There are some scenes that have promise, but the effect they could have had ends up getting spoiled by random object cuts and pointless scenes.
The characters are pretty dull. Eiri and Cosette are really the only ones who matter, possibly Mataki if you stretch the meaning of “matter.” They could have developed the characters if they had spent less time on pointless moments, but they don’t. They start out as stock characters and experience very little growth as things progress.
The art is pretty good. The random shifts and transitions may not do anything from a story perspective, but the things they cut to are drawn well. There are a lot of really good details in the backgrounds as well. Which I paid close attention to as nothing of merit was happening in the foreground most of the time. The character art looks pretty good as well. The biggest issue with the art comes when they try to do a “scary” scene and random objects of wildly shifting art styles start coming at you. Which just looks odd. Their attempt at drawing a monster, which oddly enough has a negligible effect on the plot, just looks silly. I honestly laughed out loud when I first saw it. They also like to do randomly tilted shots throughout the series. Which just look stupid and out of place.
The voice acting ranges quite a bit in quality. Inoue Marina gives an excellent performance, and it’s the only aspect of the OVA that actually comes across as creepy. But then you have Saiga Mitsuki and Toyoguchi Megumi who are just okay. You also have Ebara Masashi who, thankfully, only appears in one scene in which he over-acts like hell. I know he can act, I’ve heard him do it in Xenosaga and Fullmetal Alchemist, to name a couple examples. The effects, are not at the level of the acting. They try to create this disconcerting cacophony, but it just ends up spoiling the effect in a lot of cases. Inoue Marina will be delivering her lines in a genuinely creepy way, but then the effects will make her voice sound tinny, for lack of a better term, and the creepiness will be gone or the effects will be louder than the character voices and it’ll be hard to hear what they’re doing. The music is just pretty typical of “horror” fare.
The ho-yay factor is a 1/10. This has no ho-yay. The cast is overwhelmingly female, but they can’t be bothered to develop their relationships in any way, romantic or otherwise. Most of the male characters only appear in a scene or two.
This is the best anime I’ve seen in the past four weeks. Which admittedly isn’t saying much since the other anime were the two first series of Sekirei and Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari. The bottom line is that there are some moments that could have been effective but they’re diluted by a whole lot of pointless scenes and random transitions. Still, I do recommend watching it, with two or three friends. Why? Because Le Portrait de Petit Cosette lies in that realm of dullness and semi-stupidity that makes for excellent snark material. Watch it to poke fun at it and it will lead to entertaining moments for you and friends. But as a serious horror piece I have to give it a 4/10. It’s mostly just pretty dull but inoffensive. Horror anime month will continue next week with a look at the only horror anime on my request queue, Blue Gender.