Eiri, a young man who works in an antique shop is handsome with many admirers, but much to their dismay, it is the glassware in the store that wins his affections. One evening, he acquires a new item for sale – a beautiful Venetian glass. When he looks through the glass in the light he sees a reflection of a young French girl from a past era. Thinking he is seeing a hallucination he goes to see a doctor but nothing is wrong with him. However, Eiri keeps seeing this strange girl who he believes is trapped within the glass.
Drawn into this girl’s world, he learns that the girl named Cossette lived a privileged and innocent life which was tragically cut short. She was murdered by her fiancé, a painter, Marcelo Orlando, who wanted to preserve her beauty eternally the way he saw her in his paintings. Trapped for 250 years Cossette has been waiting for someone who can help break her curse. Eiri learns that he is the re-incarnation of Marcelo and that he inherited his soul and destiny of the man who killed her the moment he fell in love with her. Eiri wants to help Cossette and the way to do this is to gather the lost objects that once belonged to her. It is here that Eiri makes the promise, a pact of blood, which sees him transform into a monster, as according to Cossette, he must suffer for Marcelo’s sins.
Forced to endure pain by Cossette in her surrealist wasteland, Eiri pleads that he doesn’t want to die, but at the same time he is willing to withstand any pain if it’s for the sake of Cossette. By the final episode, Cossette confesses she doesn’t want Eiri to die and leaves asking him to forget about her. Just as Marcelo’s obsession with Cossette consumed him, Eiri is already infatuated with her, wanting to save her from her loneliness in the bleak world she lives in. Eiri’s descent into despair is seen by his friends, but there is little they can do to help him. Whilst there are some minor characters in this show, the driving force is clearly the baffling relationship between the two pivotal characters, but Eiri’s battle is a private war, one that he must fight alone.
Eiri cannot believe that Cossette would create such a barren world to live in and it’s here that the story reveals it’s most amazing twist. Portrait de Petite Cossette is a major feat with a complex story spread over three episodes, switching between modern Tokyo to the dark wasteland Cossette inhabits. Yuki Kajiura’s soundtrack matches the mood beautifully adding hope to what is essentially a dark story. This anime is less about beauty than it is about infatuation, less about love than about sacrifice. But none the less, it’s still gripping viewing.
Portrait de Petite Cossette is a visual delight for the eyes; gorgeous and stunning, it is easy to get swept away by this gothic story. And swept away you will. Vivid, alluring and deeply mesmerising.