What's STILL bothering me about Dennou Coil
Man, this show started out so interesting and I'm glad it didn't disappoint! In fact, I think it got significantly better in the latter half of the show (and that's saying something, since I did very much enjoy the 1st half!), since I think a few of the characters were developed much better in the latter half. I started genuinely liking a few of the characters in the 2nd half, whereas in the 1st half I didn't dislike anyone, but the only one I somewhat liked was Haraken. But although the ending was incredible and did wrap things up very nicely, I feel that there are still so many things left to explore and answer!
Last spoiler warning, if you haven't seen the end and don't want to be spoiled, read no more!
Some things about this show are still haunting me, and in a way in that I want to know what other people have gathered watching to be sure I haven't missed something.
We meet three 'dead' people on the Other Side: Kanna, Nobuhiko, and Dr. Okonogi. All three of their cases have to do with what's still bothering me about the show's events.
According to the blog entry here (thanks for putting that up by the way, that really helped to put some things together in my mind), Kanna's consciousness remained after the car killed her physical body, having tried to avoid her digital one. But that means that Kanna WAS still alive on the Other Side, and that the one Haraken spoke to was by all means likely actually her. Perhaps it's impossible for someone to survive inside the system without their body, but I point to Dr. Okonogi's case.
Yasako's grandpa recognized Yasako and Densuke, and Yasako recognized him as her grandpa before he materialized his appearance. (Interestingly, after she recognized him) We hear from other people in the show specifically that Dr. Okonogi went to the Other Side while alive to try to access 4423, the experimental Space he created for Isako, and that his physical body died while he was still inside. The grandpa Yasako meets is decidedly from after his death, as he explictly mentions having died. Plus, he also mentions that he still needs to go help Amasawa Yuuko. This is just after 4423 was engulfed by the darkness that was or became Michiko. He could possibly have disappeared from the Other Side after that, but then again there was the wrist bell he wore that appears on Densuke in the last part of the show after he dies. Interestingly, you hear it all throughout Yasako's first attempt to save Isako. Was this given to Densuke by Dr. Okonogi? Or was it Dr. Okonogi acting through Densuke and the bell a symbolic indication of that? Either way, it seems like Dr. Okonogi remains an unspoken force to the end of the show, at least.
If I'm right in understanding the past of these two, then in fact these people ARE still living in the Other Side, and thus, are not truly dead. Yet, they are treated as such in the real world and even Haraken, after meeting her once and she tells him that he should go on in the real world without her, leaves her be. She seems to disappear after giving Haraken her message, but it's possible she still exists afterward. Is this, instead of perhaps a comforting illusion programmed by Dr. Okonogi or a projected likeness from Haraken's own memories, a disembodied person showing altrustic self-sacrifice, trying to keep those in the physical world from suffering their same fate? And if the Coil Domain was destroyed (as in the blog rendition of the show states), does this mean that she, Dr. Okonogi, and anyone else taken in were truly killed off completely? It's a disturbing question that is part of what still haunts me about the show.
Last but not least, Nobuhiko -- or rather, the Nobuhiko in 4423, who is centered around another aspect that still bothers me about Dennou Coil. Is he himself actually called "4423"? Let's call him "Yonyon-niisan" to eliminate confusion. Yonyon-niisan is stated to have been created as "a virtual brother" by Dr. Okonogi as a part of the 4423 Space. Thus, unlike Dr. Okonogi or Kanna, he is definitely not the original Nobuhiko. This matches up with the revelation that Nobuhiko died in the car accident, and didn't have his consciousness separated from his body. But if Yonyon-niisan isn't a disembodied 'real' person, he seems like some kind of person, despite having been programmed by Dr. Okonogi. He gives Yasako and Isako their names before they are ever given them by people they know later in Daikoku, and this seems pretty complex for 'just' a program. When he talks to Yasako, he is pretty honest about his origins if a little vague. He says that the place was for a certain child so she could heal. Yasako interprets this like a doctor's role, and he assents to this characterization. Dr. Okonogi is also a doctor, and creates this place for the purpose of doing that job. He says that eventually the place will fade and he won't see Isako anymore; "that's the rule". He says this to Isako also, in the way that "soon, I can't be your brother anymore". From this interaction, we can tell that Yonyon-niisan is aware of his purpose, and that he must leave her eventually if she is to recover fully. Also, it's pretty clear that these thoughts don't sound like something Nobuhiko would have said; he died in a car accident, right? Plus, Yonyon-niisan's purpose seems to revolve around Isako, while Nobuhiko I'm sure had a life outside and other people to think about.
I hypothesize that at his core, Yonyon-niisan is like Densuke. They were both created by Dr. Okonogi, and both originally for the purpose of bring Isako back to this world mentally whole. Densuke eventually was given to Yasako instead to guard her, and after meeting Dr. Okonogi again, also to block the path to 4423 that Densuke had inadvertently lead her on. While both are purely digital entities, they seem to possess a will of their own and are sentient. They both have ingrained sense of duties that were given by Dr. Okonogi, but it seems really a sense of duty rather than just executing a program.
In this way, is Yonyon-niisan's final farewell also a self-sacrifical gesture, if the disintegration of 4423 means his total annihilation? He knew it all along and accepted this 'rule' as he called it, but if he is a sentient being as well, one would have to really appreciate the sacrifice he willingly makes for Isako's future.
But then all of this would be even more in the air if in fact Coil Domain was not completely destroyed. Plus, the ending, where Densuke is seen by Yasako and Kyoko, without glasses. Since we know that Densuke seems to exist somewhere in the Other Side even after his death in new Space, and in the last episode the quote was "According to urban legend, there is a place cyberpets go to after they die", does this mean that they really did see Densuke, in the place that they go to after they die? Is this the Coil Domain? If they can see it without glasses, is this linked even more tightly with the 'real' world, or does it have anything to do with both Yasako and Kyoko having Imago?
Ultimately, I think that the show leaves enough unsaid and enough set up that things aren't fully concluded, there is more to the story of the glasses. Isako goes/returns (did she live there?) to Kanazawa at the end, where the Loophole Nexus was and where Yasako's dad was doing work towards the end of the show, interestingly enough. What's she doing there? Just going back home and being a good girl, or is she still investigating? We know that Megamass still is covering up a lot of things, and it seems really unlikely they released her entire story. They did a whole lot of horrible things to her, and other people, that are unaccounted for, even though Yasako's dad was involved in the internal audit that uncovered the truth of Kanna's accident. We still have the Coil employees and especially Sousuke (albeit with a broken pair of glasses) still on the loose. They probably have the most knowledge of the Coil Domain that rivals that of Megamass, and perhaps more. What will they do from here? Plus, if the Coil Domain still exists, what of the people, real origin and digital origin, that still exist there as well? Is there any way for them to get out here...like Densuke seemed to for a moment at the end...?
WOW, that was long. But I think I got out a lot of thoughts that were crowding my head about the show that were pestering me. I'd love if I could get some other thoughts about this from people, see if I can piece more things together. ...I'm seriously considering putting together a sequel fic for this if I can understand more of what happened in the show, and consequently, what gaps and questions remain. Sorry if I'm unclear on something, ask me for clarification if needed, and thanks so much everyone for being fellow fans that could make any sense of this drabble!