Le Portrait de Petit Cossette [Anime]: A unique Gothic experimental anime

Despite it’s name, this 2004 anime actually has nothing to do with Les Misérables (although I do admit it was one of the reasons I originally decided to check it out). This romance/horror/drama is made up of 3 OVAs. 

Le Portrait de Petit Cossette

What’s it about?

Eiri Kurahashi is a young artist managing his uncle’s antique shop when he sees a girl in a drinking glass and is instantly infatuated with her. The girl reveals herself to be Cossette, a spirit whose soul is trapped because she was murdered. To be freed, someone must take on the sins of her murderer. Eiri is eager to help her, but his friends, acquaintances and colleagues having growing concerns for Eiri’s safety as he is drawn deeper into Cossette’s cursed world.

The Positives

The first thing that really stands out in this anime is the artwork. Whilst the animation itself isn’t that good (watch the movement), save for the attention to details in faces, you are bombarded by different art styles throughout the series. The art styles are all put together very well and I found myself trying to watch everything on screen at once. Throughout the anime, there is also the use of unusual angles and screen shots, giving a different take on the scenes and adding to the surreal feeling on the anime.

Seeing Cossette

Such a pretty glass!

Another thing I really loved about this anime was the music. It’s eerie, beautiful, and haunting, all at the same time. Combined with the art, it really helps create the atmosphere of the anime, and also is used well to build suspense.

Finally, the story-line is actually quite clever and complete. The fact that it’s such a short anime probably feeds into this. The use of quick cut-aways in-between scenes keeps you hooked and always just that little bit bewildered about what’s going on, much like the main character is bewildered throughout the anime. I really loved the idea of how Cossette was forced to remain in the world, and the notion that objects have souls residing in them. The concepts of the plot, excellent soundtrack and unusual art pulls together to create an overall surreal, Gothic atmosphere that makes for one hell of an experience.

The Negatives

There are a couple of things that I felt let down this anime a little bit, mainly to do with pacing and plot decisions. Firstly, the pacing drags very obviously in the middle of each episode. Secondly, it does take a while to warm up to the characters as the anime launches into the story straight away. In fact, I felt like the characters didn’t really matter that much as you don’t learn too much about them. You can understand why this happens, though, given that there are only 3 OVA episodes. Finally, the last episode gets a little bit confusing as it has an unusual twist in it involving the portrait of Cossette and Cossette herself. This twist isn’t elaborated on and feels a like it was randomly thrown in at the end.

I started to get confused in the last episode when there was this unusual twist...

A little confusing in this last episode…

Anything else I should consider?

To get the full effect of this anime, it’s better to treat it like a movie and watch it one sitting, or, at the very least, watch the episodes in close succession. Otherwise you may find it hard to keep the story line clear.

Conclusion

Art:  8/10: The use of different angles and an unusual mixture of different art styles really makes this anime a visually intensive and unique experience.

Story: 7/10: The story has some cool ideas in it and is quite clever in its execution of the plot, but does drag occasionally.

Characters: 6/10: Although the characters are well-rounded enough, you take a while to warm-up to them and not much is explained about them.

This is a pretty interesting little anime. It’s definitely an audio and visual feast, with a pretty awesome plot to match. Whilst the characters aren’t completely amazing, they’re definitely well-rounded enough to carry the plot. The surreal/Gothic feeling of the anime is pretty great, and if you’re a fan of either of these genres I recommend you watch this anime. As I mentioned though, it works better if you treat it like a movie. Overall, I give it a solid 7.5/10.

-S

....

“Who loves me so much that he would forsake his own dear life?”

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