[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 11 (Fin)

What’s worth saving, today or tomorrow? I think I’d have to go with Yoga and say tomorrow. The case for Mikuni’s way got weaker and weaker, as his numerous uses of Midas’ rotary press essentially bankrupted Japan. It was finally Yoga’s turn to stand up to him and fight to get Japan’s future back. The first half is almost non-stop action, as their duel reaches fever pitch. The combat system of [C] was always a bit dorky, but never boring, and this week was no exception. More than anything, it was basically what the whole series has been: ambitious, creative,  intriguing, and weird.

That said, there was a breakthrough, as Yoga saw Mikuni’s most powerful asset, Q, for who she was; Mikuni’s sister Takako. Q is a crazed demon-like fighter, but while fighting Mashyu, who all but became human thanks to Yoga, snapped her out of it. Yoga defeats Mikuni, and the latter ends up in a 2001-style time warping sequence in Takako’s hospital room. Basically, she wants him to stop fighting. She wants the future to unfold as it should, not be stuck in the present.

If all this sounds abstract, it is, but it was still cool. And the animation, while a bit choppy and far from perfect, was at least really bright and vivid. When Yoga reverses the rotary press, the financial district becomes all sparkly and pretty, like there are christmas lights everywhere. It is here where Mikuni says goodbye to Takako, and Yoga bids farewell to Mashyu, who now well and truly loves him. Their passionate kiss seems a bit strange after Yoga earlier saw her as a daughter-like figure, but whatevs.

When he returns to the real world, things look pretty good – the Sky Tree is back, and the city is clean and cared-for, people are prosperous. The teacher’s family appears to be back. Hanabi also seems back to normal, but doesn’t seem to know him anymore. In an interesting twist, Japan is now using dollars, the yen having literally vanished into nothingness (a nice tie-in with the opening sequence). But the financial district isn’t gone, and neither is Mazakaki, or his godlike boss, who makes a cryptic appearence here. Still, I don’t see Yoga going back to Midas anytime soon. He could never get back everything he lost. He’s learned the cost of playing around with the future. Rating: 4

P.S.: About a year ago this month, I snapped a picture of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Nihombashi. Coincidence? Well, yes, actually.

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[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 8

The shit really starts to hit the fan this week, as the real world is beset by a pandemic of apathy and melancholy as Tokyo empties and decays at an alarming rate; far faster than I expected. After narrowly saving him from suicide, Yoga is distressed to hear that Ebara’s future has run out. The present is dying too. The guild’s previous measures proved ineffective. It’s a very unnerving course of events.

Yoga wants to pay to have Ebara’s future restored. He pleads with Masakaki to no avail; the bank just doesn’t work that way, and it’s above his pay grade. If the district runs out of money, it means all possibility in the future has been consumed, hence making the present or now not only irrelevant, but impossible. Mikuni and the guild attempt desperate measures, and a mention is repeatedly made to [C], whatever it is.

While in a Midas taxi, Yoga has a most unusual (and distinctively animated) dream about the birth of Mashyu, which could mean any number of things. Are assets like Mashyu and Q remnants of a Entre’s future that never was? The episode ends on a cliffhanger, as the counter runs down to zero and creepy, awful things start happening. Yoga seems powerless at this point, and all he can do is wait and see if the guild can salvage things. Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 2

This week Yoga is acquainted with his “asset” (Mashu, a cybernymph, of sorts) and has to fight in his first “deal” (duel) with another fellow player of the game. Losing means going bankrupt, which isn’t pleasant, either in the financial or real world. Fortunately, Mashu is an extraordinarily strong asset, and with her guidance he’s able to win. Also fortunately, while she’s scantily clad, she’s not a squeaky-voiced goofball, but actually quite surly, and fanservice is kept to a minimum.

Winning means a payoff. A considerable one, as when he returns to the real world (the whole ordeal was like a dream), he finds more than 33 million yen in his bank account and starts spending a little freer. His friend Hanabi notices his unfrugal-for-him behavior. He’s also able to talk with Mashu just by talking to the funky card he’s been given. He also suddenly sees banknotes that look normal to everyone else as strange, sinister, black notes from the Midas Bank.

One of his potential rivals, Mikuni, is the only other person his asset Q can recall winning his first deal. She also points out that it was while he was trying to save her, just as Yoga was treating Mashu like a human. But while Mikuni’s gained ambition and rises to challenges, Yoga still wants a normal life with normal pay, and no more. It’s pretty clear that aiming that low could get him hurt in the financial world. While not nearly in as dire a situation as Deadman Wonderland’s Ganta, Yoga nevertheless has stepped into something much bigger than himself, and must adjust to survive. Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility – First Impressions

Okay, it’s official: this season rules. At least as far as first episodes go. Control: The Money of Soul and Possibility is definitely the weirdest series, but that’s why I likes it. It starts a little cryptically; laying everything out without too much explanation, but that’s okay. Sometimes the best way to get things started is to just jump in.

As for our protagonist, Yoga, he is trying to make his own way in cold, unyielding capitalist Tokyo. He dreams of a fixed income with a fixed lifestyle; nothing too fancy, just a modest life with a wife and kids. What we all want, right? But he works numerous jobs while taking university classes, and only has $80 in the bank. Not enough to even go out for drinks. And certainly not enough for a girlfriend.

So up pops a surreal clown-like banker-dude who offers membership into a surreal bank. Yoga initially refuses, but when he suddenly finds 500,000 yen ($6,000) in his account and withdraws some of it, the bait is basically taken. Yoga is a scrupulous fellow who slipped up due to simple human greed, and now he’s by default a member of Midas Bank, which takes one’s “future” (read: life) as collateral in exchange for cash.

It also involves fighting other bank members with elaborate weapons and summoned entities in a crazed-out cyber-dimension, as well as pretty elf-like sidekicks. We don’t know much more about all that, but I’m sure we’ll learn soon. There’s a lot to like about Control: it’s got big, interesting ideas and a big budget to express them. The opening and ending (school food punishment) are the best this season. Looking forward to how strange Yoga’s life is going to get. Rating: 3.5