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Pale Cocoon

2 Ratings: 4.5
An anime OVA

It has been many years since a group of humans retreated to an artificial colony above the planet surface. The colorful world that used to exist was ruined by human foolishness, making it uninhabitable. Much of recorded history before the move has been … see full wiki

Genre: Postapocalyptic, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: 18 January, 2006
1 review about Pale Cocoon

A visual feast with a message.

  • Mar 1, 2010
  • by

(This OVA's plot is summarized in the Wiki to the right.)

     Yasuihiro Yoshiura's Pale Cocoon has often been compared to Makoto Shinkai's Voices Of A Distant Star, though I find this comparison to be rather unfair. While they are similar in length (PC is twenty-three minutes, while VOADS is twenty-five), both titles set out to accomplish something completely different. 

     As is clear from the Wiki, Pale Cocoon is yet another title dealing with the aftermath of environmental destruction. However, this one comes with a twist, in that the humans living in the artificial colony know next to nothing about how planet Earth was destroyed, or what life in our present time was like, because most of the records were either lost, destroyed, or are currupted. Also, in this OVA, it seems as though the more advanced technology becomes, the further back people are driven in their humanity, in that they no longer have the will to move forward. Pale Cocoon also uses the concept "ignorance is bliss" to flesh out the OVA's central conflict; while the main character, Ura, wants to delve continually deeper into the history of the past, his friend Riko goes against his motives, arguing that the less they know of human stupidity, the better. She doesn't see the point in learning of all the ways in which humans subjected them to the life they are now forced to live, a life that is cold and impersonal.

     The first thing that I noticed about Pale Cocoon was its amazing animation. While Pale Cocoon doesn't have many shots of nature, its characters and the colony in which they reside are impressive to behold. The character designs aren't exactly unique, and this type of setting isn't exactly new, but Pale Cocoon's creators made use of lighting techniques to give Pale Cocoon an interesting look all its own. It reminded me of the Romdo Dome in Ergo Proxy. There are times when the characters' noses seem to disappear, and they walk rather stiffly, but when one of the characters is talking (only two are actually seen talking face-to-face), the other still blinks and responds to what the speaking character is saying, which is something that I love.

     Several people have complained on other websites about Pale Cocoon's lack of character development, to which I must respectfully disagree. Indeed, the characters in Pale Cocoon seem to have little emotion as they go through their day, aside from when Ura makes an interesting discovery at work, but given the circumstances, I find the attitudes of these characters to be completely acceptable, and in fact, I wouldn't expect anything else. Without any knowledge of their history, of their ancestors and the lives they lead, the characters in Pale Cocoon seem lost, and wander aimlessly through their colony without any sense of real purpose. In fact, Ura himself makes learning about the past his only purpose in an effort to escape the cruel reality he is living. Because they don't know where they have been, they don't know where they want to go. I believe that this lack of emotionality was intentional on the part of writer and director Yasuhiro Yoshiura, and that he may have wanted to outline one of the possible outcomes of the environmental degradation that haunts us today. Not to worry; Pale Cocoon doesn't preach about recycling so much as it explores human nature in a time where the future is bleak and uncertain. Besides, a bubbly and optimistic character would just feel out of place here.

     Pale Cocoon has a unique soundtrack that features a few haunting intrumental pieces and one surprisingly fitting J-Pop song contained in one of the records that Ura recovers. The soundtrack does well in setting the tone, but there are times when it seems like the soundtrack is trying a little too hard to be haunting and atmospheric. Also, I can't help but believe that Pale Cocoon might have worked just as well without a soundtrack. It isn't a terribly noisy OVA, in that there are very few people or conversations and everything, overall, is just very quiet, so I think it might have been just as effective to subject the viewer to the artificial colony's eerie silences. 

     Overall, if you don't mind a lack of humor and less-than-engaging characters, Pale Cocoon may be something that you could enjoy. It is an eye-opening and refreshing anime title with an unexpected conclusion that has been overshadowed by other titles, and while it may sound preachy or overly-depressing in the hopelessness of its characters, its short length keeps anything from being overdone, and in fact, the OVA ends on a rather positive, hopeful note. If this is what Yasuhiro Yoshiura is capable of, then he is certainly off to a great start. I look forward to what he has in store for the future.

(As a side note, Pale Cocoon isn't readily available on DVD in the U.S. unless you want either a bootleg or an expensive Japanese import, so I would recommend a website like Youtube. I wouldn't normally advocate watching anime for free online, but in this case, there isn't really any other option.)
A visual feast with a message. A visual feast with a message.

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March 08, 2010
Great Review. I don't know much about anime but I'm learning!
March 08, 2010
Thanks! There is a lot of great anime out there. I myself am only getting started.
March 01, 2010
wow! Those pictures looked enthrlling and I know that this is for me (your comparison to ERGO PROXY sold me). Seems like this anime is another prime example of asking its viewers the motivations for the characters rather than giving the info away. I'll be on the hunt for this one for sure.
March 01, 2010
It definitely doesn't spell everything out for you. I highly recommend it. Good luck finding it!
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