Digital Culture –| 2008

electronic art, technology and culture

The Otaku Way – Cyber Coil, Circle of Children

with 3 comments

Dennou Coil



Ladies and Gentlemen! Today, I will be very very pushy about this anime series! Last week was Ghost in The Shell – Com’on, EVERYBODY saw that. This time, I’ll introduce you to an important anime series that came out last year with high anticipation in Japan and should be a cult hit when the English-Dubbed DVD are actually on sale.


And no- unlike Ghost in The Shell or Evangelion, you don’t need a PhD to understand it.


The anime is called Dennou Coil, and the theme are about augment reality (AR), the interaction of people through technology, and refreshing high school girls.


Want more reason?


  • The Mainichi Shimbun suggested the technology shown in the series would have a great influence on the future, comparing it to the way Snow Crash influenced the development of Second Life.
  • Share character design with Animatrix’s episode “Beyond”
  • The director, Mitsuo Iso, came from Episode Director in Rahxaphon (a superior version of Evangelion IMHO) and Evangelion itself.
  • Spirit successor to Serial Experiment Lain
  • Dennō Coil wins lots of awards
  • Cyberpunk without the bleakness



From Wikipedia:

Dennō Coil (電脳コイル, Dennō Koiru?, lit. Computer Coil, Cyberbrain Coil or Electric Brain Coil), Coil — A Circle of Children, is a Japanese animation science fiction series depicting a near future where augmented reality (AR) technology has just begun to enter the mainstream. The series takes place in the fictional city of Daikoku, a hotbed of AR development with an emerging city-wide virtual infrastructure. It follows a group of children as they use AR glasses to unravel the mysteries of the half real, half Internet city, using a variety of illegal software tools, techniques, and virtual pets to manipulate the digital landscape.

See? Nothing’s more cyberpunk than rural Japanese town…

Dennō Coil, in development for over a decade, is the series director debut of Japanese animator Mitsuo Iso. It premiered on NHK Educational on May 12, 2007. Due to the animators involved in its production and its unusually high-profile television broadcast time slot, Dennō Coil was highly anticipated by fans of animation production quality.





I would describe this series as Ghost in The Shell meet Hayao Miyazaki – a cosy warm, mother-nature setting with interesting, uplift and lovable characters in the world where technological advancement is worthy of a dystopia cyberpunk world. A world where the concept of corruption and crimes doesn’t seem to exist and the cyber law-enforcement consist of a squad of giant cute teddy bears. This is a world where the NUMBER ONE ULTIMATE HACKER is a 90 years old grandmother and cyber-hacking battle consist of acting embarrassing poses to shoot executable programs from your eyes. The interaction between the kids and their daily experience will warm your heart. Dennō Coil is a series for all age and if you love Hayao Miyazaki’s film, you’ll definitely love this.


 Cyber Law Enforcement


Cyber-hacking battle consist of embarrassing pose




The face of the ULTIMATE HACKER – Infinitely more 1337 than Hiro Protagonist


Augment Reality



Not to downplay the significant of the technology, Dennou Coiled offer many interesting application in Augment Reality development.


Calling home with Dennou Glasses



Dennō is the word used in the series to differentiate between virtual and real, e.g. “dennō cat”. Literally translating to “electric brain”, dennō is a Chinese phrase (“dian nao”) for computer and is usually translated as “cyber”. The title of the show itself, Dennō Coil, refers to the dangerous phenomenon of the separation of one’s digital self from the physical body.


From Cyber-pet to education purposes, from navigation to enhance man-machine interface, children as little as three started to wear AR glasses in day-to-day life. Everyone relied on the system and became gargoyle – to use Snow Crash’s term in referring to a group of people who stay online all the time, even when they are on the street. As an electronic system, it is subjected to many bane of technology today – computer viruses, obsolete versions, formatting, and glitching are common, especially in this fictional city of Daikoku for some unknown reason…




Future of SPAM mails…



Go phishing! 


“Dennou Coil” effect – Similar to “Stand Alone Complex” Effect


Towards the end of the series, the technology has gone horribly wrong. (Of course, it’s going to go wrong – this is science fiction!) The AR system is capable of producing the Dennō Coil phenomenon. Similar to Ghost in The Shell’s cyber-disease “Stand Alone Complex”, Dennō Coil effect ripped the digital body from the flesh body, resulting in a comatose brain-dead state. It is an urban legend widely known among the kids as “being whist away to the other side”.


The writing said “NO DATA”


Of course, this dangerous possibility in AR interface was covered up very heavily by the government. Who would’ve guess!?




Cyberpet and Afterlife



Another interesting relationship was between the kids and their cyber-pet. Regardless whether the cyber-pet is real or not, the kids love their cyber-pet, and the cyber-pet AI “loved” them back. The series depicted these relationships as pure and true – strong bond between human and AI, enough that it makes the AI come alive. Even as an AI on an AR system, the cyber-pet is surprisingly convincing as a pet. BE WARN: Tears (manly tears – mine) have been shred over “Data-Corrupted” or “Reformatted” cyber-pet scene. And, yes, I WOULD CRY MANLY TEARS EVEN MORE if we happened to develop a cyber-pet as good as in Dennō Coil and I happen to own one.


F&%$ Tamagotchi and Robo-Dog, get my cyber-dog as good as this, Bandai/Sony!!





Dennō Coil sported excellent animation from Madhouse studio which brings you fine anime such as Vampire Hunter D and Ninja Scroll as well as beautiful soundtrack with obvious influence from Studio Ghibi. But the most charming point about it is the adventure! It reminisced my own childhood as well as making a scary speculation into the future of how my children’s generation will grow up in.


Unfortunately, the English DVD hasn’t been release yet so I’m going to provide you with a stream site:


Try this anime stream site:


If you like what you see, I can burn a high quality copy for you.


See this, people! Give the first episode a go!


Till next time!


3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I just watched the first story of Dennō Coil. I like the idea of virtual glasses. My artwork relates to this kind of technology.


    October 3, 2008 at 1:14 pm

  2. I’ve seen about half of this, and I still really don’t think that cyberpunk fits it at all, as a description.
    There’s none of the… well, basically, it’s not dirty enough, it’s not post-apocalyptic at all, the characters aren’t struggling to survive in the face of an overweening power system or to overthrow a government (I understand that they’re schoolkids and they’re trying to avoid some school systems)…

    Anyway! it is an interesting series, though it’s a bit slow moving, I feel.

    I think one of the most interesting parts of the series is the division of ‘space’, where satchii can’t see/go through torii, because that’s another government department’s concern! It’s an interesting idea and it plays on some of the things which will need to be addressed if/when there’s a pervasive augmented reality system in place.


    October 6, 2008 at 11:22 am

  3. Man, I have to give you this one. Dennou Coil – Cyberpunk it ain’t!

    The interesting point for me is seeing the generation gap between old people who know nothing about technology and these kid who wrote their own OS but still in grade-school!


    October 7, 2008 at 1:50 am

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: