Monday, December 20, 2010


Karas is sort of a weird case, released as six episodes on DVD in Japan, but sold as a pair of movies in the US. Either way, it's about three hours of content, a bit light on meaningful story and character development but full of crazy visuals and reasonably entertaining action scenes. It's not easy to summarize, because what story is there is fairly obtuse. In fact, I'm having some trouble remembering what it was really about, and I saw it only a week or two ago. Basically, Yokai are spirits that most people don't believe in, and even fewer can see. A Karas is someone who protects humanity with the use of a special kind of armor that can also transform into things like a jet. Yeah, it's weird. Try to keep up. The bad guy is a former Karas who turned rogue, and he has several especially dangerous Yokai on his side. The protagonist is a newer Karas, a former Yakuza hitman with a lot of skill, and there are a couple sympathetic Yokai on his side, and also another Karas I guess but she doesn't do much.

But all of that doesn't really amount to much, because it's mostly a series about crazy looking things fighting each other. There are a number of supporting characters and subplots that seem like a concession to the episodic format more than anything else, because they are mostly relegated to watching from the sidelines when things really start happening. It's all an excuse for some pretty nice computer generated and traditional animation to happen, and from that end, it works quite well. It's interesting, even though the plot is fairly unimportant and generally tough to truly understand, I still found myself enjoying watching it play out, even if I was at most vaguely sure of why things were happening at any moment. Anime gets away with that more than other entertainment with me for some reason. And yeah, those action scenes are pretty entertaining, although I found myself enjoying them more when they relied less of computers. It's watchable, but probably tough to get into unless you're really used to what anime is like, and director Keiichi Sato's The Big O is a much better bet, with the second season also explaining Karas' predilection for being totally strange.

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