Petite Cossette (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, July 14, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Spanning both time and the spiritual realm, a tragic story of love and sacrifice seeks a happier ending.
My primary viewing session consisted of the Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. While the series sets the mood mostly through visual imagery, the audio for the series also helps to immerse the viewer into the world of the series. Most of the action spans the front soundstage, but the rear soundstage receives considerable use as well.
Music and sound effects from the rear add to the eerie atmosphere of the series. Everything was balanced appropriately and did not overshadow the dialogue. There were no issues with distortions or dropouts making for an enjoyable session. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was also listened to for the first episode; it too provides the same level of quality present in the Japanese track.
Cossette received an exquisite anamorphic transfer that was free of any digital defects. The visuals of the series set the tone and atmosphere, and the video does nothing to detract from the viewing experience. From the darkened recesses of a building to the lush French countryside, the picture provides a rich set of colors and details. Adding to the visual experience was the fact that the original credits and title card were left intact and subtitled.
The only packaging present for this preview disc was the front cover art. Dressed in the "Gothic Lolita" style of the series, Cossette reclines in a chair with a dark black background behind her. The series logo is across the bottom of the cover. It is an eye-catching cover but reveals little about the actual content of the series.
The main menu is rendered as a framed picture of Cossette with snatches of video lightly playing over it. Menu items are rendered at the bottom of the screen, and a piece of the haunting music from the series plays in the background. The remainder of the menus featured some beautiful artwork from the series.
The setup menu contained an interesting wrinkle on the standard display of what audio and subtitle tracks have been selected. Normally, the text for your selection changes in some way, be it a different color or an icon next to it. However, your selection is recorded in text in the lower right corner of the setup menu.
I did not notice that the text there was changing at first and was annoyed by the lack of visual confirmation of my selection. Since this practice is not commonly seen in DVD menus, this unique take might have been better served by placing the text in a more prominent location on the screen.
Geneon has provided a great set of extras for the disc; the first extra is a twenty minute "Behind the Scenes" feature. The cast and production staff provided some good insight into how this OVA series came together. A music video for the ending theme song is also included in the extras section. The Japanese trailer for the series, the US trailer for the DVD, and a TV commercial for the Japanese release round out the extras.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One genre that is underrepresented in anime brought over to the US is pure horror. Most "horror" titles released are of the splatter-fest genre rather than relying on the plot and its elements to disturb the audience. Petite Cossette fills this void admirably with its unique visual style and tale of supernatural romance.
Kurahashi Eiri is a young art student that also runs his uncle's antique shop; one particular piece from his uncle's latest European shopping expedition has caught his eye. A beautiful cup made of Venetian glass immediately enthralls him but contains more than just a dazzling array of colors.
He soon begins to see images of a young girl dressed in an old, gothic style. As the scenes from her life play out, Eiri finds that he is falling in love with this young vision and begins to withdraw slowly from reality. Eventually, Eiri leans that the young girl is named Cossette and was murdered by her lover, the Italian painter Marcelo Orlando.
More shocking is the revelation that Marcelo's soul has been reincarnated into Eiri, and that Eiri must atone for Marcelo's past sins so that Cossette can be freed from her eternal isolation. Unfortunately, this means that Eiri must face extreme pain and the threat of death to accomplish this. What follows is a haunting tale that explores the nature of love, how it can be twisted into a perversion, and whether or not a soul can find redemption.
From start to finish, Cossette feels like an experimental film that is attempting to push the boundaries of the visual storytelling medium. The visual elements of the film are the main driving force behind the story. What starts as a normal college student in a normal antique store turns into a disturbing foray into the supernatural.
It is the beauty of Cossette that leads him to love her and eventually ends up damning him to a fate not of his choosing. The lush French countryside Cossette lived in gives way to a hellish landscape of pain and torment. The transition is slow and subtle relying on scaring the audience on a mental level rather than through a series of shocks meant to affect them on a primal level.
The dialogue of the story augments the visuals and presents ideas and concepts that will horrify the audience long after the final credits have rolled. There is something inherently unsettling about the story, something that is unsettling on many levels. As the story twists and turns to the conclusion, this feeling is solidified by an ending that raises more questions than it answers. This ambiguous ending manages to work to the series' advantage though; one wants to re-watch the series to examine the dialogue and visuals for clues to the answer. And while there not might be an answer, the series makes it entertaining to examine it from a number of facets hoping to find one.
The series does have its flaws though; the first but less important one is the use of CG in the visuals. While the CG use is brief, it is not as polished as the rest of the visuals and sticks out noticeably. However, the instances are few and can be overlooked.
What did detract from the series was the brief forays the visuals took into the splatter-fest territory. While I can understand these scenes from a thematic standpoint, it drew me out of the subtle, creepy atmosphere the rest of the series had. While I cannot suggest an alternative to how the scenes should have been rendered, they just felt out of place from the rest of the series content.
The supporting cast is also a bit weak and serves little use in the plot. The story might revolve around Cossette and Eiri, but the supporting cast adds little to the events occurring. They do come into play throughout the story, but their involvement in the plot tends to make little sense or provide much substance to the story.
While not perfect, Cossette fills the longing for a title along the vein of series like The Outer Limits, Hitchcock Presents, and The Twilight Zone. While a horde of flesh eating demons can be frightening, what lies beyond this life and what goes on in our own minds can be even more terrifying. Cossette plucks at those threads quite well through its unique visual style and unconventional story.
Petite Cossette is a unique title that deserves to find an audience but might have difficulty doing so. It pushes the boundaries of the medium and feels more like an experimental film one would watch at the local art house. It relies heavily on horror movie imagery to tell the story of reincarnation, redemption, and the varying facets, good and bad, of love. It tends to go a bit overboard on the imagery at times, but the story provides enough layers to warrant repeated viewings. Cossette fills a large hole in the pure horror genre, but its unique style and mature themes might make it a difficult sell to a wide audience.
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 110
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Petite Cossette