C3 Cube x Cursed x Curious Revisited
June 23, 2012 3 Comments
When the season preview of C3 came out, the series itself looked to be potentially very interesting, with a lot of elements surrounding ideas of what it means to human, and whether or not a tool can be viewed as human, or a human be viewed as a tool. The reality, however, was much different, with the series turning out to be a tangled mess without any cohesion and a convoluted plot that did not truly know, or even understand where it was going. I decided to watch the series again, however, to see if coming back to it may have improved, what was a series that I had initially dropped due to how terrible it was.
As a series, C3 had a significant amount of potential, with various interesting themes throughout that could have been called upon to add depth and development. Unfortunately, these themes seemed to be forgotten about almost as soon as they were introduced, with numerous plot elements seemingly leading nowhere. The story is, however, incredibly interesting, being partly musings on what it means to human, along with the idea of the supernatural in the ordinary and everyday world that many take for granted. The cursed tools in the series come across as physical representations of the fear, loathing, anger, and madness of humanity, they are in effect the negative emotions of humans given a physical form. To characters such as Fear, and indeed to Konoha as well, their time with Haruaki is incredibly important.
As a character, he gives these cursed tools something important to live for, showing them the meaning that has been absent from their existence until now. Rather than simply existing as tools to be used by humans in order to carry out all their nefarious deeds, Haruaki shows them that they can live for themselves. One fascinating thing about Haruaki is that he appears to be immune to the curses that are quite real in this particular universe. He is therefore ideally placed to help those who are in need, showing these people, or perhaps they could be described as creatures that they can change their fate and live life differently. We see Fear gradually open up, changing and trying to become someone who will not hurt others as the series progresses as well.
All the cursed tools in this universe have their own stories, their own pasts, some of them are clearly bloodier than others, but they essentially remain the same. Konoha, although she appears to take on the form and role of a childhood friend is as much a cursed tool as Fear, but she deeply cares for Haruaki and in many ways loves him. But her past also appears to be as bloodier as Fear’s, and there are hints that she puts a lot of effort into making sure that Haruaki is as safe as possible.
What is so striking about their relationship however is the way they both search for other cursed tools, taking on jobs from their schools headmaster. It is as if Haruaki is attempting to find others like Konoha and potentially helping them rediscover, or perhaps simply discover a new way of life. Whereas for Konoha you get the impression that she views these jobs as a way with which she can redeem herself. For both characters, they become more human as the series progresses, further suggesting that while they may have been created, or at least given form by all the negative feelings and emotions that they have been subjected to, they can become human and change their way of life.
One of the most interesting characters is however, Kirika Ueno, a human who uses cursed tools, and is actually bound for life to the cursed tool Ginstrnag’s Love. She cannot die, however, by wearing this particular item, her heart dies and she is bound to it forever, or die as soon as it is removed. Her other item has a terrible curse that makes her want to kill others, but instead kills herself and resurrects in order to satisfy this particular requirement. What we in this series is Konoha and Fear becoming more human, whereas Ueno seems to lose her humanity at times, and instead becomes a tool? Herein lies one of the central threads to the story of C3, an exploration of what it truly means to be human and a tool.
We see that humans can become tools as much as tools can become, at least in part, human, with human names and take on the persona of a conscious being, rather than a tool designed for murder and mayhem. We see this, more specifically in the marionette arc, involving Sovereignty a curse doll and Shiraho who falls in love with the doll. Sovereignty, although cursed to destroy anyone that it (the doll is androgynous, taking on both male and female forms) falls in love with, makes a conscious and determined effort not to fulfill that curse. She (the form we generally see) deeply cares for Shiraho and eventually, with the help of Haruaki and the others, helps to stop the curse. We also have the curious matter with Shiraho, who gives an excellent impression of being a cursed tool, demonstrating that cursed tools and humans can freely and easily swap places in the situation demands it.
Now, while the characters all have their interesting points, they all suffer from similar problems, namely that they aren’t actually particularly interesting. Every single character in this series had potential, however, none of them really live up to this promise. Fear for example, turns into what is effectively an annoying, spoiled child, and while there are some wonderful moments, there is very little that makes you think about her past. Similarly, not enough is really made of Konoha’s past, and while we do see her transform into a sword in several occasions, it feels oddly detached from her characterization as a whole.
Then we have characters like Haruaki and Ueno, who once again show great promise, which is never really fulfilled. Haruaki in particular has a lot of potential, particularly because he appears immune to the curses of the Cursed Tools and is therefore surrounded by them. The problem is that this is never explored; it is introduced right at the beginning of the series and then forgotten about, as if it were not important at all, despite apparently being central to the story. Ueno and Konoha are characters who are them most morally ambiguous, and while we are shown elements of this ambiguity, once again nothing ever really comes of it. The characters feel half developed, with numerous interesting, and potentially very important elements either forgotten about, or pushed to one side.
Then we come to one of the most annoying, and also wasted elements of the entire series, the antagonists. They are all very superficial and two-dimensional, lacking any real depth or complexity; furthermore, they seem to change all too frequently without any warning, and little time to truly explore their motives. The series feels as if it is trying to portray these antagonists as ambiguous, with the implication that they may not necessarily be entirely bad, but instead another element of the whole visual and philosophical aesthetic of this particular series. There is the implication that various societies, and groups are after these Cursed Tools, the story suggests that their reasons are all quite ambiguous, so it is impossible to truly tell which groups, if any, are good.
Peavy Barroy is the most obvious antagonist, largely due to her psychotic tendencies, massive smoking habit, and frequent swearing. However, there is the implication that her hate for these cursed Tools or ‘Waas’ may stem from trauma in her past, and there is a question mark, therefore, on her place as a ‘bad guy’. Furthermore, she appears to work for an organization who are apparently out to destroy all Cursed Tools, seemingly believing that they are all utterly evil and must disappear. But once again, they use such items in order to carry out their mission, further suggesting that this organization has ambiguous goals and attitudes towards the very tools that they use, but apparently despise.
Similarly, Alice Bivorio Basskreigh, the last major antagonist of the series also has a certain element of ambiguity about her. While she may also show similar psychotic tendencies to Peavy Barroy, there are times when she does not necessarily seem to be ‘bad’. Also, many of the characters, including Fear and Konoha all display certain destructive or psychotic tendencies or attitudes at times, which further underlines the idea that the line between good and bad in this series is blurred to being almost invisible. This in itself is quite interesting, and appears to be deliberately done, suggesting that the world is not black and white, but more shades of grey. However, it is done in an incredibly clunky way that does not really get the point across and instead merely portrays a few quite mad characters that lose all sense of subtly.
This then, feeds into the major problem with the series, its plot, or rather, lack of plot. C3 Cube x Cursed x Curious is adapted from a series of light novels, and there is the definite feeling that perhaps the writer, or producer, or even storyboard designer attempted to put too many separate arcs into what is a short series. There is never enough time for each individual arc to progress, and so any character or story progression is effectively lost due to what is a convoluted, and quite clunky script. The story itself is almost none-existent, with little, or no progression; we have sporadic, but also fractured story elements, all pointing to the same ideas of what it means to be human, along with notions of how stories can shape and change the people who hear them.
But again, these are fragmentary, and there is no sense of continuity within the series, it meanders, and even flounders, with no real sense of conclusion or movement. The series gives the distinct impression of lacking any story, which suggests that when adapting from the original Light Novels, significant elements were left out, either deliberately, or just by chance. We have little, or no real conclusion, and while there is the suggestion that these characters are attempting to remove the curses from themselves with the help of Haruaki, there is no indication of anything happening.
C3 Cube x Cursed x Curious suffers from similar problems to many, if not all light novel adaptations, namely being too short. However, while other series make an effort with character and plot development, there is a distinct lack of both in this particular series. It gives the impression of being a tease, a taster perhaps, with the hope that it does well so more can be added, but it lacks any sort of emotional depth needed to move forward. This is a shame because the animation style is absolutely amazing, demonstrating that the studio behind this series Silver Link (who are also behind Tasogare Otome x amnesia) know how to create a visually pleasing aesthetic. The animation itself often tells incredibly vivid and detailed stories within each episode, shifting tone on numerous occasions, and giving the series a certain life that the story does not.
While watching C3 Cube x Cursed x Curious for the second time, it was significantly more enjoyable, but that was largely because I found myself ignoring large chunks, and instead focusing on the animation style and quality. It is however, not a good series, lacking the emotional depth necessary to have me care about the characters and the story. The major problem isn’t that this series lacks the necessary tools to make it work, it is that this series had everything that it needed to produce something excellent, but instead either forgot, or ignored them. With a proper script, and an expanded story that fits with a beautiful aesthetic, and high quality animation, this series could have been something very good. There was the potential to be more of an exploration of what it means to be human, and whether or not a tool can be considered to be more human than they might think. It just didn’t, and instead ended up being an appalling, and actually quite frustrating series to watch.