The 2nd Dimension

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Viewing Journal: Karas (complete)

OAV Overview
DVD Info

Overall= C+
Story = C
Video = A-
Audio = B


The old Karas is dead, killed by an evil ex-Karas who now named himself Ekou. He started a series of murders against humanity by making his loyal youkai drain the body fluids from humans. Otoha ,a young man who just woke from a coma, is chosen to be the new Karas. Him and his trainer, Yurine, start the fight against the evil forces of darkness that are triyng to conquer the city of Shijuku. (Source: ANN)

The first part of this two-part OAV baffled me. Sure, the animation is incredible, and the fast action battles look spectacular. But the problem is that I had no idea WHY any of that spectacular stuff was happening because there was no context explaining why the battles were taking place. Cool visuals may add to the "ooo, aahh" factor, but action can never be really intense unless the audience cares about the battle's outcome. And they are not going to care about the outcome unless they know what is on the line and what the characters' motivations are.

And it's not just the battles that are confusing. All kinds of stuff happens in the first volume without giving any explanation as to why. Like why are demon-robots attacking people in the city? What's the connection between Karas, the doctor in the other demon world (although at that point you don't even know it's a demon world) and the guy in a coma? What's the deal with the girl with the weird goggles and is always hanging around Karas? And basically what is anyone doing and why are they doing it and what is everyone talking about?

And the music only serves to compound the confusion because it tries to dictate the tone instead of enhancing it. For example, at the beginning of the show you see this demon-robot thing rampaging around the city. Then this armored guy (who ends up being Karas) appears and there is all this dramatic music implying that the audience is supposed to be overjoyed that this guy has appeared. But at this point you don't know who that armored guy is or where he came from so why should I be overjoyed? He could be another bad guy for all I know. As a result, I was constantly thinking that I'd missed some key piece of dialogue or other plot explanation. As it turns out, the second volume explains a lot (although, if you read the back of the first volume's DVD case, it will also provide some insight). But by that point, the story has lost its opportunity to build any tension and/or sympathy for the characters. So even though it is nice to finally understand what is going on, the ending is not as climactic or satisfying as it should have been.

As I mentioned before, the animation itself is awesome. It is a seamless mix of 3-d and 2-d animation with fast and smooth action and detailed designs.

So in the end, what could have been a spectacular piece of animation, turned out to be only an okay anime though with very VERY impressive visuals. I might even go so far as to say the animation itself makes the OAV worth watching just because that level of quality is so rare in anime. If you do watch it, just make sure to have some patience with the first volume and faith that explanations will eventually come in the second.

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