Japanese Title: KARAS
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 6 episodes
- Dazzling visuals full of energy.
- Intense action with great cinematography.
- Too many plot lines that keep shoving each other out of the way.
- Very little character development across the board.
- Obvious CG on occasion.
- Core of the narrative doesn’t become clear until the fourth episode.
- BLOOM! Ah, my eyes!
Every once in a while, I come across an anime that on the surface looks fantastic, has an interesting premise, and oozes style, but is kicked in the crotch by the most baffling and obvious errors. Karas is one such anime.
Immediately, Karas (Japanese for ‘crow’) dazzles with its intense action as two power-armoured samurai duel among the clouds, gunfire flashing out once they transform into fighter jets before they crash into the city below. The visuals are brilliant and intense, sometimes too intense with excessive use of bloom. It burns the eyes. Karas boasts actual cinematography, often lacking in television anime. Scenes are shot from creative angles, well composited to draw you into the action. The camera shudders against shockwaves, increasing immersion. This anime is beautiful to behold.
However, once the opening action subsides, Karas loses the audience. The premise revolves around a world of demons existing out of sight in a human city. The humans were once aware of the demons’ existence, but have since forgotten and relegated the use of demons to myths and ridicule. (How did they forget?) The Karas tech-fighters exist to keep the balance between the two worlds. Eko, a former Karas, grows tired of human ignorance and raises an army of demons enhanced by his tech-magic to destroy the humans. In response, Yurine uses her own tech-magic to give Otoha the power of the Karas to fight against Eko.
None of this is clear until the halfway mark. The first three episodes largely follow Nue – a rogue demon on humanity’s side – and not the supposed protagonist Otoha. Then episode four hits, and at last, we see the narrative’s core. Nue is all but dropped for Otoha to take his place. This is the obvious problem. Karas has too many plot threads that it can’t manage. I got the impression that the story compositor thought he was plucking a guitar with how fast the scenes jump between threads. Just as a scene is about to reveal its purpose, it cuts away to anoth- no, back again- wait, a third challenger approaches! It’s irritating, particularly in the first two episodes. Two police officers investigating the murders caused by kappa (water demons) also have a meaningless plot thread. Only in the final two episodes, once several plot threads get the Falcon Punch they deserve, can we enjoy the narrative.
None of this is to say that Karas is bad. Rather, it is crippled by baffling choices. It feels as though the first half of the series was in the draft stage, structure wise. Still, Karas is a gorgeous spectacle of action.
Art – High
Karas is a dazzling display of action that blends CG with anime. The CG is noticeable (though not bad) in a few scenes without environmental filters. Wear sunglasses against the bloom.
Sound – Medium
Decent English and Japanese voice tracks with good sound effects.
Story – Medium
Karas has a good narrative to tell between demons and humans, but is unfortunately elbowed across the face by unnecessary side plots.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: Watch Karas if you want spectacular sights and action. Make sure to read the full review or a synopsis beforehand so you aren’t lost in the early narrative.
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)