C: Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility: The Complete Series (Blu-ray Review)

Kimimaro works two jobs to put himself through college. He’s handed an end to his check-to-check lifestyle when he’s offered a large sum of money to compete in a dangerous game. Kimimaro needs the extra cash, but he’ll invest his future as collateral in the Financial District. In this alternate dimension, people wage battles using Assets, warriors that protect their masters at all costs. You get wealthier every time you win, but if you lose, it could rob you of your family, your home, or your life. The destructive forces at play between the Financial District and the physical world compel Kimimaro to confront the most powerful man in the game. In this groundbreaking series, find out if the world will survive or disappear from existence.


C: Control isn’t the first anime to merge fantasy-action-adventure with high-finance and currency-exchange macro-economics. One that was entitled Spice & Wolf has respect among the otaku. And there was the global-warming-themed Shangri-La, with its subplot of amoral kiddie tycoons of the future furiously day-trading climate-change allowances. But C: Control bids to be the one most amusing to an MBA-types, as Pokemon-style battles surround characters yelling out business-school jargon like spells: “Micro-flation! Macro-flation! Poison pill! Hostile takeover!”

The recession-era setting does indeed, as the pseudointellectuals like to say, capture the zeitgeist in the headlines (assuming your local newspaper didn’t go out of business long ago) with a heavy sense of overhanging debt and malaise plaguing the common citizen. Take that a few lengths into somewhat puzzling paranormal allegory and you’ve got the premise: fatherless student Kimimaro Yoga is approached by the grotesque Masaki, a Mad Hatter-type character, and tempted from his dead-end job subsistence to visit the secret “Financial District” of Tokyo.

Only an elite can enter this phantom dimension, a gilt-edged wonderland where a godlike (perhaps Godlike, if that isn’t a spoiler) entity called the Bank of Midas issues its own money. In the Financial District, “Entrepreneurs,” humans crossing over from the regular world, fight duels (AKA “deals”) using magical creatures/monsters/robos called “Assets” to increase their largesse when they win. Entrepreneurs can also get into scrapes with each other, and it is a nice touch here that monetary violence leaves the fighters bleeding black dollar-, pound- or yen- bills rather than red blood and guts.

But the system is exerting a toll on reality, as more and more Midas money seeps into circulation with Earthly commerce. It’s not a minor thing, since the Financial District equivalent of bankruptcy in the real world means sheer nonexistence – buildings, employees and whole cities downsizing rapidly into oblivion (think Detroit, in time-lapse), and desperate Entrepreneurs literally gamble the future of this world as collateral for their deals. Things in the narrative do get very Dow Jones-torturous, as a secret cartel of Entrepreneurs try some risky deals to literally beat the Bank, and a woman government agent who knows what the Financial District is all about gets involved (and provides gratuitous shower nudity). It’s from her that Kimimaro finds out that his father was an Entrepreneur who got in so deep with the Bank of Midas he committed suicide.

The youth doesn’t go along with the cartel conspiracy and fights back in his own Asset. Trouble is, she’s a cute, pixielike female creature, and despite her entreaties that she’s only an Asset, Kimimaro truly cares for her well-being as a living, sentient being. Gee, you don’t think the Japanese animators are making a sneaky plea here for granting their cherished corporations the same status and rights as people? Maybe the Koch brothers financed this pic.

The 2008 world-finance crisis is nicely integrated into plot, culminating in some kind of financial tsunami-disaster with (Japan, Thailand, South Korea, even juggernaut China (having some crises courtesy its vassal Hong Kong) in danger. Even if the fiscal fights and monetary Armageddons get so complex it’s like trying to figure out derivatives, the offbeat basic concept and vision of C: Control make it a better investment of time than a lot of anime out there.


All that glitters in the Financial District is indeed gold, or whatever other vibrant color, in a 1.78:1 aspect-ration picture. DVD and Blu-ray versions are sold separately, with the Blu-ray in 1080p HD native.


Audio is sterling. English is Dolby 5.1 Surround, while the Japanese is in stereo. The Blu-ray version has Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for English, Dolby TrueHD 2.0 for the Japanese.


Extras pay dividends, including episodes with commentary tracks, and a (text-only) lexicon on economics – especially the Far East idiosyncracies as it applies to the show, styled as footnotes for each individual episode. There are also the expected opening and closing sequences and trailers of other FUNimation anime releases.


Confusion aside, it’s a pretty cool and eye-dazzling fantasy, and you can put money on that.


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