Cencoroll is one of those rare anime projects that stands out before you even know anything much about it, on account of the fact that it's been written, designed animated and directed almost single-handedly - An impressive feat in its own right. Add to that some decidedly intriguing trailers, complete with a kick-ass theme tune (and excellent ending credits song, incidentally) from ryo, and I've found myself impatiently waiting to see this twenty-five minute animated feature for myself.
Right from the off, Cencoroll is one of those anime offerings that asks you to suspect your disbelieve and just accept what you're seeing from the off - No long, protracted explanations or hand-holding, you're just expected to "get it", understandably so give its short running time. So, from the very start we're introduced to a slightly odd guy named Testu Amamiya, and his even odder friend - A blob monster (for want of a better description) with the ability to change shape into anything it pleases. Of course, blob monster things need feeding, and as well as snacking on various odds and ends Tetsu and Cenco (for that is the monster's name) look to defeat and swallow up other similar monsters for sustenance, which all seems well and good until a huge creature appears from out of nowhere, raising the interest of the authorities for obvious reasons in a world where it seems as those these beasts are somewhat commonplace.
On the other side of the story we have Yuki, a girl who seems fascinated by the mere thought of these creatures where everyone else tries to avoid them, and to cut a long story short this natural curiosity ends up with Yuki meeting both Tetsu and Cenco in what proves to be a rather awkward relationship between the two. This isn't helped by the owner of the aforementioned huge monster turning up, and before Yuki knows it she's slap-bang in the middle in some kind of boy and monster turf war.
It's difficult to really get a feel for Cencoroll and everything it stands for in such a short space of time, and to be honest that's a shame - There's a great, fun concept on show here and a single twenty-five episode isn't enough to make the most of it, leaving this feeling more like a pilot episode than a stand-alone body of work. The dialogue is at times a little stilted and simple, but in a way I suppose that suits an anime that isn't really trying to teach you anything or let you in on its secrets so much as just aiming to keep your eyes glued to the screen. This is actually does reasonably well - The pacing its fast but not too fast, the film's facial expressions make up for some of that shortfall in dialogue (although I'm not too keen on the heavily posterised photographic backdrops), the action is functional and the comedy is suitably random (please tell me I wasn't the only one to laugh at Cenco turning into a giant pudding).
All of this makes for an entertaining twenty-five minutes, but the trouble is just like that giant pudding it leaves you hungry for more once it's finished - What are these monsters, who is the bad guy of the boys, how did they end up with these monsters, what happens after this film ends? So many questions that are probably well worthy of an anime outing in their own right, but will we ever get one? I suppose it depends on the DVD sales for this movie in Japan, but by all accounts its cinematic release was a bit of a flop, so this might well be all we get to see of Cencoroll's world, which is a real shame in my book as it has potential by the barrow load.