The OVA: Confusing Yet Compelling
When a Venetian glass arrives at the antiques shop where he works, art student Eiri Kurahashi begins taking an almost abnormal interest in it- for when he stares inside, he can see the spirit of Cossette, a girl who was murdered over 250 years ago. By telling the tale of her life and death through a series of compelling visions, Cossette draws Eiri further into her world- but will he be able to make the ultimate sacrifice if it leads to her salvation?
Thus begins Petite Cossette, an atmospheric tale that mixes both past and present and reality and fantasy in the manner of a whimsical dream. Just as Eiri is drawn into the world he glimpses within the Venetian glass, so too are viewers caught up in the world this OVA presents, one of vivid imagery that ranges from the beautiful to the disturbing. Whilst it isn’t entirely clear what is going on first time around, this barely seems to matter, for instead of merely being style without substance, this is a series that promises great riches if only you rewatch it a few times and slowly pick away at the layers of meaning. There is certainly much to think about here, leading up to the ultimate question as to which is superior- a reality that will inevitably wither and die, or a piece of artwork that can retain its beauty forever?
Much of Petite Cossette’s appeal lies with its artwork, which is as impressive as it is beautiful. Settings and backdrops are richly coloured and exquisitely detailed, and whilst character designs can look a little flat and simplistic in screenshot, once you actually see them “in the flesh”, there is little to complain about. Music is handled by Yuki Kajiura, and whilst her distinctive style is instantly recognisable, she brings an air of bittersweet melancholy to the soundtrack not seen in her other works.
The Manga: An Alternate Take on the Tale
The manga, however, has a slightly different take on the tale. In this version, Eiri ‘meets’ Cossette after her portrait shows up at the antique shop, and when he learns about the manner of her murder, he teams up with her in order to locate her possessions and cleanse them of the hatred that has accumulated since witnessing her murder. With this basic framework in place, the manga is more structured than the OVA, but not necessarily better- for whilst it is still a strangely compulsive read, it is also essentially flawed.
There is no doubt that an episodic setup of finding cursed objects and gradually linking them to an overall storyline is one that can work well, but as with so many shorter manga series, Petite Cossette’s length works against it. Bereft of time to take a more satisfying pace, the manga often sacrifices quality for speed, resulting in incomprehensible moments where characters randomly show up in a particular place, or are somehow able to gain entry to private homes just for the sake of furthering the storyline. Sadly, whilst this does not detract from the story enough to make it not worth reading, it does turn what could have been an excellent story into one that is merely good.
The black-and-white page was never going to have the same impact as the beautiful visuals of the OVA, and like the story itself, the manga artwork turns out to be “good yet flawed”. Clearly a lot of work has gone into realising complex settings and solid characters, but even so, the mangaka’s work seems a little rough around the edges, lacking the finishing touches of precision and accuracy that would make the artwork truly stand out.
In both anime and manga form, Petite Cossette is both beautiful and brief, a compelling tale that may not be perfect, but still warrants attention. Even so, where the anime perfectly weaves its spell, the manga comes off as sadly flawed and in need of just a little more polish.