Eiri, the art student-hero of the Gothic OVA Le Portrait de Petite Cossette ("The Portrait of Little Cossette," 2004), falls in love with the mysterious image of a girl he sees within a Venetian glass goblet. As his fascination grows, he learns that Cossette was murdered 250 years ago by her artist-fiancé Marcelo. The spirits of the objects that witnessed her murder have been seeking revenge, and they torture Eiri, who may be the reincarnation of Marcelo. While this mayhem is taking place in an alternate reality, a modern girl who loves Eiri attempts to rescue him. Director Akiyuki Shinbo fills the gaps in Mayori Sekijima's muddled screenplay with collages of images that suggest bargain-basement Salvador Dali: butterflies, ruins, dolls, clocks, crescent moons, gears, and crucifixes, all awash in a sea of blood. But the pretentious visuals and artsy camera angles can't disguise the feeble storyline and underdeveloped characters. (Rated 16 and older: violence, grotesque imagery, brief nudity, tobacco use) --Charles Solomon
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Art And Soundtrack With A Difficult StorylineJan. 17 2006
Craig Alan Loewen
- Published on Amazon.com
Le Portrait de Petite Cossette (The Picture of Little Cossette) has two very positive qualities for anime. First, the animation is the most exquisite I have ever seen in anime and almost each frame is beautifully and artistically composed. Secondly, the soundtrack is sublime and fortunately available as a CD as of this writing. However, excellent animation and beautiful music does not make an anime a guaranteed best seller in the west, but first, a synopsis:
Eiri is a talented Japanese art student who works part-time in his uncle's Tokyo antique shop. Eiri finds an antique Venetian glass from 18th century France and when he looks inside it, he sees played out for him the life of a very young French girl who is ultimately murdered by her fiancee, an up-and-coming artist in Renaissance France.
The objects in the room that witness her murder determine to seek revenge on the soul of Cossette's murderer that has been reincarnated in Eiri. As Eiri falls in love with Cossette, he submits to brutal tortures brought upon him by the objects so the soul of Cossette can eventually find peace.
However, there are complications as Eiri will most likely die from his fanatic devotion to the 250-year-old ghost girl forcing his friends to intervene on his behalf.
There are several reasons westerners struggle with the story line. First, Cossette is a Japanese interpretation of 18th century France which goes against what westerners know of how people lived and behaved during that time period. There is a lot of artistic license to accept here.
Secondly, the advertising gives the impression Le Portrait de Petite Cossette is primarily a love story and it is not. It is primarily a horror story with enough gore to make most cinematic bloodbaths tame in comparison. There is a lot of blood in this picture and both Eiri and Cossette bleed fountains of it. This DVD is not necessarily meal time viewing.
Also, western sensibilities toward gothic lolicon, a Japanese cultural fad centering on the artistic glorification of young girls, would make most westerners uneasy. Eiri is a young man romantically involved with a prepubescent girl even though ghost she may be. By the bye, the nudity warning on the film is inconsequential as it is in outline and washed out.
Finally, the world view of the film is one of Shintoism, the national folk religion of Japan, so the tropes are different from the Judeo-Christian world view the west is familiar with which explains the story line's view on reincarnation and why the objects that witnessed Cossette's murder have individual spirits themselves.
If you are willing to take the story on its own terms, Le Portrait de Petite Cossette has its rewards for the anime fan in the arenas of art and music, and people interested in Japanese culture will find much to consider.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Through the Looking Glass, Gothic Anime StyleFeb. 25 2006
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My mind is still whirling from this one. La Portrait de Petite Cossette in the most general terms is a gothic ghost story with an anime twist. But that hardly describes what the viewers are getting themselves into. For anyone who thinks anime encompasses animation quality like the drek seen on TV in Pokemon, I'd love to show them something like this, where the animation is nothing less than a work of art. A bloody, twisted and sometimes dizzying work of art, but amazing nonetheless.
The story focuses on the protagonist, a young man named Eiri, who works in his uncle's antique shop. When he encounters a luminescent glass goblet, he begins to see the life of a girl from another time and place. These visions continue to haunt him, pulling him deeper and deeper into the world of Cossette, and away from the everyday world. For 250 years, Cossette has been trapped in the crystal goblet, now Eiri will do whatever it takes to help her. Over the three episodes of this storyline, the truth takes shape and the drama plays out to its powerful and bittersweet conclusion. Now, I'm a fan of the Japanese culture and the twisting, often puzzling jumps of storyline that are the subject of so many anime movies, but I have to admit this one was a little more difficult to grasp than most. Revelations and explanations come piecemeal and don't always seem obvious. The gothic themes tied in with Japanese shintoism and yet employing Christian symbols as well make the underlying messages a bit hard to determine. But I was prepared for that. What didn't work for me were the group of female characters that interact and attempt to help Eiri. There wasn't enough time spent developing them or explaining their involvement for me to identify and understand what their significance to the story was most of the time. It would have helped to have more clarification and more time spent on them within the series.
As to the animation itself, I don't think I can offer enough praise. Brilliantly and lovingly done, with amazing details and artistic care. The colors are rich, the character of Cossette is so vividly drawn and crafted by the animation that we get a real sense of Eiri's growing awareness of her. The theme of glass and glassworks dominates the settings-hinting at what will happen from the very first images. The anime is done artistically rather than comfortably-those who hate images changing quickly, or the rapid interposition of several images, may find this disorienting. As this is gothic anime, expect blood-a lot of it. This is no kind of children's anime, and may not be for those who don't like gore. Still, I didn't find the blood or gore gratuitous and the actual nudity in the anime is blurred and hazy-nothing is actually visual. The sensuality in the story really doesn't go further than kissing, which is just as well, since Eiri is clearly an adult while Cossette, ghost or not, is a child. On the strength of the animation alone, I would recommend taking a look at this if you are fan of this genre, but the music is also exceptional. I will admit to being a fan of Yuki Kajiura's music already, and I immediately recognized her style at the outset of this anime. Yuki manages to capture the ethereal and fragile nature of Cossette and the glassworks exceedingly well, and the result is a breathtaking blend of animation and music.
I will repeat, this is not an anime for children. It's not for anyone who gets nightmares easily or hates the sight of blood. Fans who enjoyed this may also like Kakurenbo, and, if you're into classic anime, Vampire Hunter D.
Happy Viewing! ^_^ Shanshad
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Dark Good, very goodOct. 4 2006
The Anime Adict
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When I first picked up Le Portrait De Petite Cossete I was a half afraid that I had picked up a French translation of the movie. Fortunately that is not the case. How to describe the OAV, well combine Samurai X, Soul Taker and Perfect Blue and I think you would get something like Le Portrait De Petite Corssete. Le Portrait De Petite Cossete is a very dark and serious series, there are no jokes, no funny business and no fan fair. In other words if you want a happy happy laugh laugh show keeping going `cause you'll hate this one. This is a deeply philosophical that explores obsession the nature of beauty, eternal love, reincarnation and each object having a spirit and soul. Very heavy stuff.
The story is about a boy named Airwe whose family runs antique shop where he stumbles upon a possessed goblet. The goblet is possessed by the spirit of a beautiful young girl how was murdered two hundred years ago. Soon he begins to have delusions or so he thinks they are of course about the young girl. At first he tries to stop himself, telling himself it's all in his head. Soon however he gives in and loses himself in the madness of the spiritual. The story goes from there as he seeks to learn more about the girl and how to free her.
This series is not for the light hearted nor for the inattentive. If you don't pay attention you'll find yourself completely lost in a few minutes. If you're the type that has to know exactly what's going on all the time, you'll be highly irritated by this one as like Soul Taker it has an abstract way of presenting scenery that doesn't always make sense, at first. More then once you'll find yourself confused but if you stay with it everything makes complete sense by the end of the series. Like Perfect Blue in the beginning you'll be asking yourself what is real and what isn't allot and I mean allot. And like Samurai X this is a bitter sweet love story between two people that just can never be fully realized.
The story is one of the best I've come across in the past few years and keeps you interested as it reveals its secrets. The ending is somewhat lacking however. The art work is what you would expect from Geneon perfect. Though by anime standards the characters are ugly. The music is enchanting though could have been improved. Unfortunately this OAV falls into the old trap of only developing the characters enough to pass. The voice acting also could have used some though with the script I'm not really sure how they could have. It's probably because I don't like the main amle voice acter. If you are interested in a dark moody story pick this one up. If you want an interesting story pick this one up. If you want a love story with teeth then buy this one. If you want lots of ditzy well endowed girls, a fluffy romance story or a lough out loud time then forget this one even exists.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Great atmosphere, great story, although confusing the first time aroundSept. 15 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
This is easily one of the more unique anime titles to come out this year. A gothic title about a young man who becomes obssessed over the spirit of a young girl that's trapped inside an antique glass after being murdered by the man she loved 250 years ago. This can definetely be a difficult story to follow the first time around and is definetely the type that doesn't really start to come together until the very end so it's likely the type you should expect to watch twice.
Visually the anime is quite stunning and the character designs are very well done, especially Cossette who's design reflects the sadness and tragedy one would expect from a trapped spirit. The anime also uses a good deal of "camera" styles and filters to add to the atmosphere of the show although at times the 3D effects look a little out of place but that's a minor issue. Some of the secondary characters are a little too secondary and a few even seem pointless altogether which only makes things seem a little more confusing the first time around than it could have been.
All the audio tracks are quite good, the english script stays pretty much true to the japanese script and the VA's all do a pretty good job. The soundtrack is quite impressive and only adds to the overall atmosphere that much more.
There isn't a whole lot of action or much of anything fast paced in this anime, it is more or less a supernatural love story of sorts, at least that's the best I can explain it. If you're an action fan or just want to see some battles then this probably isn't the best anime for you. There are also clear loli elements to the movie so that is also something the viewer should bare in mind if that is something that conerns you. Also, you have to go into it knowing that you're not really going to understand it all until the end. This is a great anime though for any that don't mind what I listed above and I certainly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Has its ups and downs...April 12 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
I watched Le Potrait De Petite Cossette while with a group of friends for a Halloween party. It's based off a manga that was slightly successful. I was almost immediately sucked in by the quality of the animation, which is top notch. The character design is meh at best, the most original/different looking person being Cossette herself. Everyone else seems to look the same. The environments and backdrops are amazing, almost making you forget about the blandness of the characters residing in them. There is one part where a woman is showering in front of a stained glass window that is rendered rather nicely. The three episode series can be a real pleasure to watch, though a little macabre for some. My main issue with the animation is that there are some hardly necessary, and in my opinion almost ugly, cgi (computer/3-d graphics aided animation) moments put in.
The main character, Eiri, is an art student at Tokyo who works in an antique shop. One day he comes across a glass (goblet) and starts seeing visions of a young girl from the past. He eventually finds out that this girl is Cossette, a girl murdered by a painter who Eiri is the reincarnation of. In order to free her they have to calm the spirits of the objects that witnessed her murder; which left her in that realm due to their rage. The build up and handling of the first object is done rather well even though you're asking yourself what is going on. The second one is also nice. A few of Eiri's friends notice something has been happening to him and "casually" (except for the girl with a crush on him, or the priest woman) try helping him out.
Eventually the objects are finally calmed and it is time for Eeri to make his final decision concerning wether or not he wants to spend eternity with Cossette. This segment takes a while to make sense. However, the anime finishes up nicely and leaves no plot holes. The actual calming of the spirits (and the events around them) are, I would say, the highlight of any episode due to their art style. They take a Dali style and give it what Poe's words would be like in vision.
The problem is that the anime doesn't reveal a whole lot and we may pay attention but get confused anyway. They don't explain a whole lot about where any of these people are coming from, and why their motives are the way they are. We have no good rationalization from Eiri about why he wants to save Cossette and be soul mates with her; except he thinks she's in need of help and beautiful. While in the meantime she's really just using him for atonement, but eventually shows affection for him. All of which is creepy since Eiri is well around his twenties, and Cossette doesn't even pass for thirteen (they never give how old she was) and she's also wearing nothing but a cloak during some scenes.
Cossette's main fashion style is the popular Gothic Lolita inspired by the Victorian Era of late 1800s Europe. A few of her outfits are pretty nice, but historically inaccurate. She says in the anime she's been waiting for about 250 years (since about the 1700s) for someone to save her; and the anime is wrong with all of Cossette's outfits. Sorry, I'm a stickler for historical accuracy.
The one other thing besides the art and animation quality that saves this from 3-stars is the music. Composed by Yuki Kajiura (.Hack and other highly regarded titles in games and anime); it is probably one of the few soundtracks I have ever considered getting immediately after hearing just the opening theme. It is fittingly dark, and sometimes has a very modern hint to it along with the use of exotic or synthetic beats and chords.
All in all, I would watch this anime for the quality, environmental beauty, and the music. The story itself suffers from having a lot of potential that just isn't used, though finishes with no need for any more episodes or sequels. The characters, needless to say, are weak, but their emotional reactions to things are realistic enough to still make them human, though a bit cliched. It can also leave some confused. If you like Nightmare Before Christmas, you may like some of the artistic aspects and the darkness of it. Otherwise it's okay if you're very, very bored, or need some eye popping.