Le Portrait de Petite Cossette (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 05, 2007
Release Date: Monday, February 05, 2007
What They Say
"Who loves me so much that he would forsake his own dear life... Is it you?"
Eiri, a talented art student, works part-time in an antique shop in a quiet part of town. One afternoon, he uncovers a delicate Venetian glass holding a startling secret within. When Eiri peers into the glass, he can see a young blond girl, her life playing out like a movie solely for him to see. Curious, he stares into the glass, hoping to learn more about the enchanting girl inside.
This is Cossette, a mysterious beauty haunting the glass, waiting 250 years for someone to finally see her, and set her free. Eiri is soon obsessed with Cossette, determined to do anything he can to help her. Will Eiri see past all the illusions and discover the tragic truth about Cossette, or will he be consumed by anguish and obsession?
Stylish animation, a Yuki Kajiura soundtrack, and a story of love and vengeance " what's not to like about Petite Cossette?
Audio is presented in English and Japanese 5.1, along with a Japanese 5.1 DTS track " I went with the DTS track for this review. It's very clear and atmospheric, with good use made of the available channels to place effects and dialog to best effect. Music also makes use of the full soundstage, which really helps add to the atmosphere. Dialogue was clear and easy to make out, and there were no obvious problems. Spot-checking the other tracks at various stages indicated they were equally problem-free.
Petite Cossette was originally released in 2004 as an OVA series. It's presented here in its original 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format, and really looks the part " both in terms of the animation style and in how well it's been transferred to DVD for this release. A lot of use is made of background detail throughout the show to help add to the atmosphere and draw you into the show. Some scenes have a decidedly surreal feel to them in the way they're presented, but again that only adds to the feel of the show. There are one or two instances of banding on colour gradients, but nothing that's hugely noticeable or distracting.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
As the menu appears, we see blood-red wine being poured into Eiri's crystal glass, leading to an essentially static main screen with options to select each episode and for Play All, Setup and Extras. A piece of background music from the show provides the menu audio. The Setup and Extras menus both provide static images of Cossette. The options for each episode kick the show off directly - there are no submenus for scene select. While the menus are simple, they're very eye-catching and easy to use.
There's a good selection of extras with this release, starting with a 20-minute "Behind the Scenes" featurette looking at the show from the point of view of the Japanese production staff and VAs, and soundtrack composer Yuki Kajiura. There are also Japanese trailers and TV spots, the US trailer and a 5-minute music video (complete with subtitles) of one of the songs from the series (GEM by Marina Inoue). Not a bad selection at all.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Art student Eiri Kurahashi's been working part-time in an antique store. In amongst all the other antiques, he's come across an old Venetian glass - and in the glass, he and he alone can see the life of young girl Cossette, and talk to her about her experiences. Since first "meeting" Cossette - 7 days ago, now - Eiri's become obsessed with her, to the point where he's aware that his behaviour is beginning to change. For all that Cossette appears to be an apparition in a glass, she's very real - the victim of a brutal murder 250 years ago, her spirit has been waiting for someone who can see her. Eiri's the first, and now Cossette wants to use him to set her spirit free. As Eiri's obsession with Cossette continues to grow, he begins to doubt his own sanity. He tries to put Cossette out of his mind, but when a painting of her is found stored away in the shop, he finds his curiosity only growing stronger.
After Eiri agrees to help Cossette, their "relationship" seems to become more normal - she spends her time telling Eiri of her home, her family, and how she spent her days before she was killed, while he spends his time drawing the scenes she describes and hoping to learn as much about her as possible. Eiri's friend Mataki notices the change in his behaviour and in his drawing styles - he's begun to take on the style of Cossette's killer - but she's not sure at first if that's something she needs to be worried about. Other people are convinced there is reason to worry - including the local fortune teller, who can see only death in Eiri's future...
My first thought about Petite Cossette: damn strange, in a thoroughly appealing way. This series relies heavily on its imagery for a lot of its impact, and it gets decidedly surreal in places " you really do need to pay attention to what's going on on-screen if you're to have any hope of following the story, and it's very easy to become distracted by some little detail or another and lose track of the bigger picture, so do yourself a favour and don't watch this when you're not in the mood to work on it.
Put the effort in, though, and you'll be rewarded. Cossette's story is one of betrayed love, heartbreak, and vengeance " she was brutally killed by her fiancé, Marcelo, and as time passes Eiri takes on more and more aspects of Marcelo's personality. As he interacts with Cossette, there's initially the question hanging over what her intentions for Eiri really are: yes, he agrees to go through a series of trials with the aim of freeing Cossette's soul, but is her aim to forgive her killer and have the life they should have had together, or to wreak her vengeance for her death and the deaths of her family? Both aspects get dealt with, sometimes quite graphically, as the story unfolds, and it makes for engrossing viewing throughout as Eiri becomes the route through which Cossette purges the unhappy memories of her past and becomes something new.
I don't normally go in for stories like Petite Cossette " I freely admit that in general, I prefer my entertainment to be on a shinier, happier and fluffier level. Petite Cossette is none of those things, but it really does grab the attention and draws you in so well that, almost before you know it, the three episodes are past and the story is told. Even in its ending, the series avoids inflicting too much happiness on anyone and goes for the darker possibilities
Petite Cossette is unusual in many ways " a love story that's almost devoid of happiness, with a style and presentation that makes it engrossing, and yet not exactly easy to watch. Dark, stylish and graphic, it does a very good job of conveying Cossette's tragic past and what Eiri's prepared to go through for her " add in the atmosphere that just drips from the show and you have a package that's well worth watching. Easily recommended.
Japanese Language 5.1 (DD & DTS),English Language 5.1 (DD),English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes,Japanese & US Trailers,Music Video
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 110
Aspect Ratio: 1.78
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Petite Cossette