Judge Mitchell Hattaway thinks this French-themed anime should surrender at once.
Who loves me so much that he would forsake his own dear life? Is it you?
Art student Eiri Kurahashi spends his nights and weekends working in his uncle's antiques store. While hunting for new acquisitions in Europe, Eiri's uncle sends a crate of antique glassware back to the store. While unpacking the crate, Eiri begins having visions of a young girl named Cossette d'Auvergne. Cossette soon begins speaking to Eiri, telling him her soul became trapped in one of the glasses following her murder 250 years earlier. Eiri, who finds himself falling in love with Cossette, says he will do whatever he can to help her. This is exactly what Cossette needs to hear in order to free herself, but Eiri gets more than he bargained for when he becomes the surrogate victim of Cossette's long-simmering thirst for revenge.
Le Portrait de Petite Cossette is quite often visually stunning, but the storytelling leaves a lot to be desired. The plotting is pretentious and confusing. The series (all three installments are included on this release) is bloated by nonsensical dream sequences and musical interludes. Too much time is also spent on extraneous characters who ultimately have no bearing on the story. There is no real resolution to the plot, and numerous questions are left unanswered. I am still wondering why Eiri simply didn't run screaming from his uncle's shop when he first saw and heard Cossette in the glass. (I won't even bother to ask how a girl who was born and raised in France in the 1700s can understand Japanese. Or is it Eiri who can understand French? Ah, forget it.) Even more puzzling is why Eiri would pledge his life and soul to something he initially believes is nothing more than a figment of his imagination. Nothing we come to know about Eiri gives any clues as to why he would forsake every other facet of his life for Cossette. On the other hand, the answers the series does provide are laughable. The fact that Cossette's soul is trapped in a drinking glass is a bit hard to swallow, but the explanation behind her imprisonment in the glass is even more laughable. The ending involves a bunch of portraits of Cossette that somehow hold the key to all of the strange goings-on, but the details get lost in a bunch of gothic mumbo jumbo. Hell, by the third episode I was so uninvolved I didn't even notice when one of the characters suddenly slipped into a coma. Then again, it's not like I missed anything.
As I mentioned earlier, there are some striking visuals in the series, but they are all for naught. It also doesn't help that many of them have been lifted from other works (then again, Cossette is French, so I guess this could be seen as homage rather than theft). I saw distinct references to the films of David Lynch, David Fincher, Clive Barker, and Terry Gilliam. There is also a visual quote from Heavy Metal, and the steals from Gerard Scarfe's work on The Wall are too numerous to count. I know it's sad, but I found identifying these swipes far more enjoyable than any other aspect of my viewing experience.
Geneon's transfer sparkles. The dream sequences sprinkled throughout the series have an intentionally grainy, gritty look, while the remainder of the footage is clear and crisp. The color palette of the series ranges from very subdued earth tones to eye-popping pastels, and both extremes come through beautifully. As for the audio, you get three surround options: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes, as well as a Japanese DTS track. All three are dynamic and atmospheric, but I have to say the Japanese Dolby track edges out the other two. (The English and Japanese Dolby tracks feature the same mix, but the voice acting in the dub is just plain awful.) Extras include trailers for this release, TV spots for the original Japanese release, and previews for other Geneon titles. You also get a music video for the series' theme song (the song's not bad, but the video is just as goofy and pretentious as the series) and a double-sided poster insert. The most notable bonus feature is a series of interviews with several members of the series' cast and crew. Clocking in at just shy of twenty minutes, these interviews detail the origins of Le Portrait de Petite Cossette from the ground up.
Le Portrait de Petite Cossette is nice to look at it, but that's about all it has going for it. I suggest you skip it.
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