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