Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 11, 2008 to Jul 25, 2008
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: R+ - Mild NudityL represents licensing company
Score: 8.321 (scored by 9088 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
Popular Tagsromance sci-fi surreal
Aug 17, 2010
It is a story of heartache, rejection, and despair. It is a story of loss and of pain, and one that explores a world in which there is incalculable capacity for wrongdoing, cruelty, and evil. It is a story that hits its audience with difficult and complex moral problems, yet it offers very little in the way of solace or resolution for any of the questions it raises. It pulls no punches and promises no answers, and in doing so, retains a sense of honesty with its audience that few works of its nature posses.
And yet, in spite of the horrors and sadness that the world of Kaiba is embroiled in and consumed with, the core cast of characters are simply ones who—similar to each and every one of the characters they meet on their journey—are struggling with the questions of how to be, and what it is that constitutes being. In a world where memories and forms are stolen, bartered, and sacrificed as easily as clothing or food, identity becomes even more fluid and fragile than it is in real life. Kaiba takes this theme and extrapolates it into a reality so twisted and surreal that its commentary is impossible to miss.
Cinematically, Yuasa offers a unique directorial method of presentation that draws far more from Osamu Tezuka’s gekiga than from the prevailing influences of today’s directors. Yuasa’s adaption of Tezuka’s style goes beyond the obvious character model similarities (designed by Nobutaka Ito), infiltrating every nook and cranny of the narrative elements. A reverence for and homage to Tezuka’s method is present from settings and thematic scope down into the minutiae of presentation, particularly in shot compositions and depictions of action or psychoses that alternates between reserved detachment and unforgettable heart-pounding relevance. The surrealistic, futuristic depiction of the thematic emphasis on the relationship and nature of individuality, consciousness, memories, and flesh could be right at home in something like “Apollo’s Song”. The portrayals of intolerable human cruelty resultant from complex, struggling characters seem to spring right out of something like “Ode to Kirihito”. The heavy handed assault of dense symbols and exaggerated physical forms screams for a sense of old-school melodrama that much modern anime generally lacks—or often enough, when it IS present, it is rarely ever handled with the level of versatility and adroitness that Yuasa presents in Kaiba.
But this is not to say that Yuasa is somehow “ripping off” Tezuka’s legendary works in any way—in fact, one need not even be the least bit familiar with Tezuka’s body of work in order to enjoy this program. What maintains Kaiba’s uniqueness is that, both in spite of and because of its use of Tezuka-esque elements, it ultimately offers an experience that is greater than the mere sum of its parts. The skill with which Yuasa manipulates his characters and paces his episodes bridges the gap between the work and the audience in a way few anime series achieve; although the first episode resembles more a dream than a traditional narrative, it doesn’t take long for emotional attachment to form around both the primary characters of the show (as they are sparingly revealed) and the secondary characters that pop up per episode and often disappear just as suddenly. Much of the program retains a quality akin to something of a vague hallucination even after completion, however its narrative remains traditional enough that things like characters, plot, back story, and development are all recognizable.
What begins as a fever dream or a nightmare turns out to be a cerebral quest through amnesia, psychosis, revelation, doubt, and finally trust. Some of its mysteries are slowly unraveled explicitly, others are left to subtle allusions or drift wantonly in a haze of ambiguity. Development of the characters involved with the story of the protagonist alternates between exceptionally subtle and heavy-handed, though often times both ‘subtlety’ and ‘heavy-handed’ development occur simultaneously. It is most likely its themes and tone—outside of the visuals, of course—that will leave the heaviest mark upon its audience; Yuasa’s skill at sculpting atmosphere through imagery and sound is truly worthy of recognition.
In short, Kaiba is not an easy series to watch. It is one that will present to its audience powerful images with powerful connotations that are not easily shaken off by the invested viewer. Its characters are memorable and complex. Its visuals, no doubt the most obvious thing to distinguish it from its peers, may give false first impressions or lend to it unjustified labels of pretentiousness. In the end, it is a work that is extremely difficult to describe in full, and one that is likely to affect each of its viewers in radically different ways.
Recommended for fans of abstract cinema, surrealism, science fiction, Osamu Tezuka, other Yuasa works, or simply anyone looking for a short cerebral series that is nigh indescribable. read more
Sep 9, 2008
Story: 9 (Great amnesia story, love the sci-fi elements)
Art: 10 ("I DO" yelled Sam, "I do like green eggs and ham!")
Sound: 7 (overly silent at times, but dialog helps lot)
Character: 9 (So simple yet very complex, a must see)
Enjoyment: 10 (Felt like a 3-hour summer blockbuster movie)
Overall: 45/50 = 9 (Everyone must experience this)
People always try to be above others. It's because they can't be happy unless they have people below them. This show creates a whole universe around this concept and other unconventional ideals. From the anime description and genre choices for this show, and even the database picture the normal anime viewer might be a little turned off from this show. At first glance for me I quickly turned it away as I thought it was aimed toward children. Despite showing an R+ rating I also notice ratings are usually 20% correct in the MAL database.
But after pushing it aside for about two weeks, I finally decided to give it a shot and boy will you be surprised. Right off the start, you're heart will start racing as you follow the story of the main character. A after waking up from a daze, blade runner 'esque chase quickly follows. After the action, the main character appears to be very lost, which I'm sure most of you will feel the same way he does. This also starts a unique connection and experience between the viewer and the main character. This is where the show really starts.
One thing I'm sure most people will notice is the art style. You will either love it or hate it but don't let the artwork turn you away from this show. After an episode or two you will most likely appreciate the level of originality this art style brings to the plate. After i have seen over 100+ series in a three month span, this was a very welcome change to the orthodox anime styles. Dont let the simple look fool you as well, there are more than enough small details to pay attention to throughout. From the tiny memory pellets to an overcrowded storage room. Everything looks very thought out and amazing. Often you'll probably think to yourself, how the hell does Misaaki and Nobutaka make this ***t up?
Another false assumption was that the characters were mostly children since they have a simple child like look to them. But they are very much mature adults. The characters are are all so very likable and I owe a lot of that to the art style and the small details that they do or don't leave out. The even greater point is how Masaaki Yuasa goes to great depths to control the viewers emotions with the use of these characters. One minute, you'll hate a character, then the next you'll feel sorry for them, then you'll feel frustrated because this is almost an emotional roller coaster. Rest assured, this is a good kind of frustration (if there is such a thing).
Defintiely "don't judge this book by its cover." This point of view story was rather an interesting one and the science, technology, and hierarchy surrounding this universe was very captivating experience. There are quite a large number of allusions and ideals in every episode that got me reflecting on what I have just experienced (which I absolutely love). I can't really compare this to any other anime show. If i had to compare the story to something, it like a telling of a blade runner/ matrix story in the eyes of Dr. Seuss.
A great way to close this epic show would be a quote from Dr. Seuss' Yertle the Turtle:
"You hush your mouth!" Howled the Mighty King Yertle.
"You have no right to talk to the world's highest turtle.
"I rule from the clouds, over land, over sea!
There is no nothing, NOTHING, that's higher than me!" read more
May 6, 2013
This is Sci-Fi through and through, and every bit of it overflows with imagination and experimentation. The strongest aspect of this show is how comfortable the writers felt in their own world. They put passion into this, and tried to make something that would last in the audience's memories. Apart from any pacing or plot problems that may have arisen, this was written in confidence. None of the lesser points are because of weak willed writers unwilling to be adventurous. If you want to see something different and intriguing, I give a hearty recommendation on that basis alone. If you also happen to be a fan of Sci-Fi, well then, sharpen your knives and prepare for a feast. (Viewers with little patience should probably sit this one out though.)
Right off the bat, Kaiba starts with a character that has amnesia, and that sends up a bunch of warning signals. Many stories with poor writing will proudly display an amnesiac protagonist because it frees up the job of writing complex personality, pre-existing character interactions, and is just a giant gateway to spoon-feed plot and exposition to the audience. But do not fear, for Kaiba never once considers being a shoddy, overused amnesia story. In fact, the amnesia is more of just a presence that is ever-looming, not overbearing. They don't waste energy trying to cover holes with it, but instead rip apart the foundations of this trope and rebuild it anew, devoting the entire premise of this show to memories. Even if the execution wasn't masterful, they plunged head first into trying something different, and of course, that is where this show excels.
With the whole element of memory storage and body swapping, our main character Warp actually spends a great deal of time in a cheaply made, mute body, incapable of speaking. This does suppress how much of his personality can be expressed, and in the beginning, his position in the show isn't clear. The same can be said for many of his companions. But in the same manner that silent or minimalistic films make more from less, we are given brief moments to step into the mind of Warp. Each little morsel of his character development made more savory by their rarity and good delivery.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the entire cast. Kaiba is more about the story, and does sacrifice the quality of its supporting characters for the sake of plot points. Being partially episodic, Kaiba sometimes tries to cram entire character arcs into one or two sittings. Leaving the writers to fall back on melodrama to try and relay an expansive history or grand emotions in a compressed time. It can distance the viewer from the characters and belay the intentions of the production team. In other cases, certain episodes will excel within their limited time, and give us touching, memorable characters and anecdotes. This is a fluctuation in quality that wanes over time, leaving most of the second half solidly written.
Much like GitS: SAC, it's less of a classical narrative, and more of a series of experiences woven together. The precision is still there, and the plot takes you somewhere, just not in the typical manner. Power, lust, greed, lies, righteousness, pain, and bonds of friendship all weave an ever tightening noose that threatens to choke the ruling class. In the world of Kaiba, human equality isn’t even an afterthought, and our crew is ready to take back their dignity, and a little more for good measure. Caught in a power struggle with ever shifting tides, the weak are forever pushed further into the abyss as the strong climb upwards. Puppets and scapegoats, forced into destructive bodies and unable to feel or draw happiness, they are scattered about as simple war machines. Despite all of their artificial power, they remain true helpless souls. With minds used, battered and abused, they dwell in the deepest pit carved by humanity, and sit there alone, betrayed by others' ambitions and their own tainted memories. Kaiba performs a tragic duel between our own identity, and the persona that others sculpt for us.
Kaiba takes up residence in the "here's what we can do with anime as a medium" category. It's artwork contests traditional design and usually comes up on top. On the technical side of things, it goes for fluidity rather than individual details, meaning this show rarely sits still. The frames keep turning, and action, reaction, and intricacy are all captured in the animation. They can afford to do this because of the simplistic character structures and complete lack of shading. Now this is a stylistic choice, and I think it goes well with the overall atmosphere of the show. At times it's truly jaw dropping, and you get the impression that any other style of art simply wouldn't have worked for this series. On the flip side, there are a few moments where nothing is happening, the movement stops, and the magic sort of drains away for a second. However, there is something in the art department that is uncontestedly good. The CG integration is hardly noticeable at all, even when the fast, sweeping shots cover a lot of background, it looks very smooth and naturally painted.
Sticking with story over characters, the score doesn't really have any character themes that show up like in other anime. There are mostly just soundtracks to enhance the action or accompany the mood of a scene. These only show up occasionally, and for the rest of the show, and bulk of it, we're given diegetic sounds and environmental noises that usually complement the atmosphere. In this aspect, it's not the best sound editing I've heard, but most of the time there are clean transitions, good sound effects, and nothing too obtrusively out of place. The music itself is poignant. The melodies of Kiyoshi Yoshida range from whimsical to pondering melancholy, and will stay with you long after the episode has run its course. Just like with Warp's character moments, the music is withheld until it's appropriate, and when it'll be cherished most by the audience. Now, while the compositions are very good, the implementation is a bit clumsy sometimes, and it can get noticeable when songs are reused too often.
Given how Kaiba tries to avoid dry heaps of exposition, the dialogue is an ever occurring source of world-building. Just like the viewer, Warp is trying to absorb everything from other people and his surroundings. This calls for more intricate writing, and is very effective in synchronizing the audience with the emotions and experiences of Warp, when it works. Sadly, the first couple of episodes were still exploring this, trying to find a solid tempo and direction, and so some of the scenes can feel scripted and unnatural. This is particularly noticeable with some moments of oddly placed comedy. But again, this all gets ironed out as the episode count grows, and it becomes a much smoother ride.
The voice acting is above the standard fare, but won't have you clamoring to see the actors in other roles. Everyone does their job, and they do it well, particularly one actor who does deserve special mention. Hisao Egawa knocks it straight out of the park from the very moment he appears on screen. Providing the voice of Vanilla, he steps directly into the character, encapsulating the absurd, blundering, and over-the-top personality of our not so noble sheriff.
In the end we walk away with a very well controlled space oddity that radiates familiarity from the writers, as if they've spent part of their lives in this future universe. A superb drama? Not quite. But an intricate story that explores outside the realm of typical series. With that in mind, this is not a show meant to be watched casually. An attentive viewer is required to get the most out of what it has to offer. If you're looking for something to put on in the background, hold off on this show until you have time to truly watch it. Otherwise, get ready for a fantastic Sci-Fi experience.
My final verdict for this show is a respectable 8.4 read more
Apr 19, 2013
PLOT: Highly original plot and setting for this anime. It’s all about the concept of memories and what constitutes an individual. In the world of Kaiba memories can be stored on chips and an individual can implant these memory chips in any body they so wish – this leads to quite a bit of body swapping over the course of the series which was quite an interesting plot thread. Kaiba isn’t afraid to address quite adult themes and complex ethical issues – it’s a very interesting if unusual anime. Of course at its core its a mystery anime – lots of flashbacks and convoluted plotlines that don’t all get resolved at the end as we try to determine who the main character actually is. The ending is actually very chaotic and I’m not entirely sure if I know what happened! The show had quite a slow start while it was introducing the world and letting the viewer get used to the setting, these early episodes were very episodic and hit or miss for me. However once we got to the middle section and got to main meat of the plot the show became quite interesting indeed. Very good storytelling in this anime.
ANIMATION: Hmmm I still think a 6-year-old could produce better character designs. I wasn’t all that fond of the very abstract animation in this show – however the lack of structure worked well for the concept – the world is just as fluid and changeable as peoples memories and bodies. Regardless I found it difficult to reconcile the weird childish style and the quite mature, complex subject matter and this hindered my enjoyment quite a bit. Still I appreciate that the creators where attempting to present something new and original.
MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I really liked the OP & ED, both are quite melancholy ballads and fit well with the general tone of the show. The background score was also quite fitting throughout. Great voice cast as well – made it easier to sympathise with characters that sometimes looked like large multicoloured blobs
Overall an interesting show but fairly difficult to review without getting stuck into the themes the show addresses. It was hard to get into at the beginning but well worth sticking with for its originality and engaging subject matter. read more
May 20, 2010
Any ignorant-about-art viewer will easily drop the series because of the animation alone. It will feel way too poor and simple at first glance. In our time and age anime try to look more and more realistic, with as much details and colors as possible, cool visual effects, huge explosions, eye candy mecha / pantsu / big guns or whatever shallow viewers generally look for when judging a series by its animation alone.
Let me tell you this. It doesn’t matter how cool or realistic characters and objects in series like Karas or Gundam 00 or Macross Frontier look. They are cardboards, swinging magic swords, throwing missiles and blowing things up, without much regard for a good story or interesting personalities. Because, let’s be honest, the quality of the story and the characters is not measured by how super-awesome-mega-special they look. But more about this in its proper section…
In relevance with this section, the general artwork feels very familiar with Osamu Tezuka’s animation style (that would be anime, as they were made back in the 50’s). Or like the Smurfs . Or if you stretch it a lot, like The Petite Prince original picture book. There hardly is any clear distinction between close and far away (the illusion of perspective, that is). “Oh, that’s terrible!” you may say. No, not really. I said “it looks like” and not “it is like”. In fact, everything about the animation is anything BUT childish or amateurish. If you happen to know of Dali’s paintings or of a really spooky French movie, titled The Savage Planet, you will know what to expect. Reeeeally spooky stuff.
It may look like it is aimed for kids. Everything looks like amorphous blobs with placket colors most of the time. Shadowing and lightning are almost non-existing. The character figures don’t have variety. But I ensure you, it is in fact NOT for kids. Better said, kids should never watch this. It has a lot of crazy images, nude, bloodshed, eerie monsters and stuff that will probably sent the poor toddlers to the shrink.
Everything in the series is symbolic, psychological and definitely grim. You will spend most of the time thinking about what does something represent than how it looks. Which is kind of funny, since with a few strokes the animators show in this series a lot more than a thousand HD polygon objects TRY to show in other recent series. Who cares about realism anymore if a sketch that takes 20 seconds to draw has more meaning than a huge mecha that took 10 hours to draw handsomely and still is just an empty shell? Man, the animation industry should really think about this. It can really save them money and will make their works a lot more interesting.
Animation scores a 9 for me. It was unique, different, bizarre, it made me think behind the scenes and it even made me like the whole optical simplicity of it. Why not a 10? Well… In my mind lots of scenes could be done with much better fluidity in motion. I couldn’t stop thinking “that could be shown like this and the other one could be like this.” Still, this is peanuts compared to the whole supremacy of the optical delight I acquired from such a simple, yet wonderful animation style.
SOUND SECTION: 9/10 [Mickey Mouse in a middle-age crisis.]
Most anime suffer from the “one-liner syndrome” that turns every dialogue into a pointless fuss concerning “I am the biggest badass in da block” or “kyaaa, you saw them, didn’t you?”. Over here we have a more spiritual approach. The characters talk mostly about themselves, their hopes and dreams about the future. It sounds corny but it is not. They don’t talk pointlessly, don’t advertise some game as the best thing money can buy, nor do they try to win your interest by talking like amoral heavy-dudes. They talk about who they are, who they want to be and what they must never lose. You get to know them by what they say, probe into their minds and gasp at their tragedies.
The way the characters talk is a very interesting mix of light comedy and dementia. Their tone of voice sounds very cartoonish but then some really grim thing happens and it is not funny anymore. It is tragic! More tragic than it would feel if they were talking in a normal manner. It sure got me bogged down. “Oh, those poor little critters!” I caught myself thinking over and over. Same thing about the sound effects. They are very reminiscent of the old Looney Tunes cartoons but the feeling they leave behind is more ironic than funny.
The music themes were fine for such a show. In tune with the atmosphere, on par with the premise of the story and also sad / philosophical like everything else about this series. They stuck in my brain; a sign that they are indeed good. I generally don’t remember soundtracks but this one will definitely be in my mind for good. I must tell you, there are many anime that have a wonderful opening but the rest of it is nothing. I still remember the masterful intro of Elfen Lied and its dreadful end song. Yuck! But not here. I didn’t find anything out of place or order. The music is mixing with everything else like bread and butter.
Why 9? Well, in my mind again, several scenes could be shown instead of being told (an old mind-trap of storytelling). But hey, even the less interesting monologues are better than all those pathetic, repetitive Dragonball Z dialogues.
STORY SECTION: 9/10 [Quality over quantity.]
Well, what can I say, it had it all. Humor, tragedy, philosophy, psychology and a lot of other stuff you hardly find in anime. Without spoiling much, it is a combination of Neon Genesis and Ghost in the Shell. Its main theme is memories and their importance in a world where bodies can be switched, personalities can be manipulated and peoples’ lives mean squat. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
The pace of the story is non-linear, so it begins in the middle of it and in a very WTF mysterious manner. It smoothly unfolds as the initial episodes depict the situation of the world and towards the end it focuses on the main characters and their flashbacks that fill all the unanswered questions. It was an awesome way to tell the story and personally, I doubt I would like it in any other way.
In just 12 episodes, the story tells you more things than an average anime could possibly show in 100 times as much. I would easily give it a 10; but towards the end there are some parts left very vague and unexploited. I didn’t get the whole picture and, trust me; I was paying full attention to it. “What was that thing doing over there or who did that and for what reason” was constantly running around my mind and without some self-given rationalization, I didn’t find any. Thus, minus a little problem of clearing some character motives towards the end, the rest of it is a wonderful (although tragic) story of a world where people look for happiness in the form of memory manipulation and racism. I won’t say any more out of fear of spoiling this otherwise marvelous scenario. You got to watch it for yourselves. Just remember that many other anime tried to pass for serious and philosophical but failed miserably at telling the story in a proper manner. Code Geass R2 is a famous recent example. This series had no real problems in its storytelling. Just a few minor unexplained parts that don’t even matter in the longrun.
CHARACTER SECTION: 9/10 [If I am not who I am, then who am I ?]
Hoho, this is the epitome of character development. The characters change bodies and their memories get altered so many times that they literally become other people each time this happens. Thus, the blobby animation fits perfectly in this weird world where everything changes in a heartbeat, both in shape and in essence.
Although a secondary character is hardly shown in more than one episode, he clearly manages to portrait himself to us in no less than 10 minutes. Well, to tell the truth, all the characters were far too eager to describe the story of their life at every chance they got and even without an obvious reason. That kinda felt like their worries were forced upon us without being asked if we cared to know in the first place. Thus, this glitch is the reason characters got a 9, instead of a 10. Beyond this minor pesky detail, the cast is wonderful and there is a different motive for each one of them (where in other series it usually is just the motive of the protagonist and the exact opposite motive for his arch-nemesis). You will rarely see this in anime of any kind.
VALUE SECTION: 10/10 [Individuality beats happiness.]
I’d rather be shot than give this jewel less than a perfect score. It is not that famous, nor most people will appreciate it as it deserves. But it is a lot more meaningful than most anime out there, with an awesome animation style and unique story I hardly come by these days.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 9/10 [Extracting bad memories, inserting happy ones!]
As a sum of all the above, those darn minor problems in each section is the only reason I didn’t fully enjoy the series. Beyond that, this thing is a masterwork that all otaku with a basic understanding of the word “taste” should keep in their collection.
If you see the ratings in my other reviews, you will realize that I rate really strict and low. If you respect my opinion about the series and of the way I rate in general, you can imagine how REALLY GOOD a seasoned otaku like me considers this series to be.
Neon Genesis, Ghost in the Shell, Zegapain and Battle Angel Alita are masterworks that also play along a somewhat similar main idea.
Mind game, Aachi wa Sspak and Dead Leaves have a somewhat similar wacky animation. read more
Feb 16, 2009
Kaiba is visually stunning and creative. Sometimes they trade in dynamic quality of images for free animation, and it’s not a bad thing. The art design is very Seussian, especially in architecture. There is a wonderful roundness to everything, with nary a straight line in sight. Despite the character design, there is an unexpected expressiveness in the facial animation. There is a thoughtfulness in each character’s appearance that is underscored by the fact that characters don’t look anything alike unless they are twins. The direction utilizes light and shadow brilliantly to keep the eye focused on the important, active pieces. Computer animation is good, and well integrated into the show, allowing a freedom of movement in both character and cameras that many should take note.
Sound - 9
I don’t want to say perfect, but the music was so well done that I really can’t say enough about it. The ending and beginning themes really help to create this other-worldly, exploratory feeling that the viewer has while watching the show. The most amazing part of the sound track, though is “The Tree Song.” It’s a masterpiece. There are three versions of the song used throughout the show and it is always implemented beautifully. It’s varied enough that it gives meaning to many different scenes, and distinctive enough that you remember the song as a whole. Voice acting is good on the whole. I don’t think there was anytime that I question choices in the acting, but no one really left an impression besides Vanilla’s voice actor. The voice actor for Popo also does a good job, giving a certain amount of depth and quality to such a badly handled character. Some of the foley was very funny and charming. Much of the sounds of spaceships flying, guns firing, and hitting target were quirky and added character to the world
Characters - 6
The characters are just ok. Unfortunately the viewer learns so much toward the end that it becomes very overwhelming to feel like you actually know and understand each of characters and their thought processes. Popo was interesting in the beginning, but once his motives are revealed, he is abrasively two dimensional and overexaggerated. Kaiba is quite empty. Part of this is necessary because of the role he plays in the beginning of the show, but after a while, it becomes clear that there is no real depth to anything that he does. While he is in Chroniko’s body he is astonishingly unconcerned with Vanilla’s feelings, and kind of mindlessly strings him along without a second thought. Vanilla, though, is easily the best character in the show. He is clearly conceived, and believably makes all of his decisions, no matter how vile or dumb the viewer may find them. Kichi isn’t a bad character, but again becomes important so late in the series that it’s a shame a lot of time was wasted on other, less important, subjects. Neiro just flat out wasn’t competently executed, bland, and a slave to the plot 90% of the time. The only thing notable with her was an encounter she had with Chroniko-Kaiba while she was in the body of another man.
Story - 5
Had Kaiba been just a visual exploration of the world, rather than tethering itself down to an overall plot, then I think the creators would have had a better time with the story. It’s very clear that the show was bound by the main plot in the last half of the show. Kaiba is centered around the title character who has amnesia, the only notable thing is that he has is a hole in his chest and a locket of a girl. This story starts as an simple idea, then leaves that thought to explore worlds in a variety of vignettes, then coming back to the main plot cashing and burning in convolution. Characters who play an important role in the show are completely eschewed at the beginning, and are haplessly stuffed into the end leaving no room to breathe between character studies and plot twists.
Enjoyment - 6
I was absolutely engaged with every moment of Kaiba in the first half of the show. The worlds were lush, beautiful and captivating, with the focus characters of each episode enticing and conflicted. I especially loved the dark mature tone and themes present in the series. However, after that first half, as well put together as everything was, it was equally off kilter in the latter half. Connections didn’t quite read on screen when they needed to, and the ending was honestly one of the worst in my opinion.
I just finished Kaiba. I actively avoided this show last year, and after completion, I'm quite disappointed that I did. The discussion I would have had while watching it would have been fun. This is an exceptional show, yet very flawed, and I actually had to look back in the comments section after certain episodes to see if I was the only one confused with certain character/plot developments, and I wasn't. I don't think Kaiba is something you watch unless your taste level has reached a certain point, so enjoyment will definitely sway because of that. I'm torn between a 7 and an 8, but the story was just so terrible at the end that I can't give it an 8 in good conscience.
Overall - 7 read more
Aug 9, 2008
It’s set in a world where dying doesn’t matter, as long as you have your memories you can be reborn into another body. This is certainly a fascinating premise and the series does a great job in raising some serious issues that arise due to this perpetual world. The story itself focuses on some guy named Kaiba, who wakes up with no recollection of anything about himself. It seems to have a similar story telling style as the more widely known series ‘Kino’s Journey’, where our protagonist journeys to weird and wonderful places and quickly gets involved in other people’s live stories. Major difference is that Kaiba’s journey actually holds a purpose, as it’s more on a journey of self-discovery. This series has a non-linear storyline, making it is almost impossible to tell which direction the story is heading. All that’s left is to enjoy the emotional ride of this surreal sci-fi series, though things do get a bit hectic later on.
The characters of this series are genuinely hard to judge, not only because there are so many of them involved but because ones that truly count are very complex. For most of the first half, this series is purely episodic and the various non-recurring characters do bring something of their own to the story. Then there are the few main characters that are intricately woven into the story and you’ll get to learn bit by bit about them and their memories. Kaiba & Neiro are the most captivating of them all.
Then there’s the animation and most people will be wondering why I gave it such a high score. However where the animation lacks in any sense of realism or detail, it sure makes up for it with pure creativity and imaginative design. The music goes well with it, as there are a variety of entrancing tunes and melodies that will get anyone caught-up in the moment. Same goes for the sound FX, which really stands out during the amazing action sequences.
Overall Kaiba is one of the more original anime I have come across in a while, which can truly capture many viewers. On the other hand the story is rather confusing and there are numerous issues that aren’t made clear, although it certainly did a good job in the limited time it had. I can positively say that this series isn’t for everyone, nevertheless if you can look past the childish animation then you may be able to appreciate this mature show.
^_^ read more
May 1, 2010
Kaiba is not your typical anime. From the unorthodox way of animation, to the strange, confusing (but brilliant) storyline, it breaks the mold for anime you'd probably typically watch. There are virtually no characters that fall into the groups of typical anime stereotypes (yandere, tsundere) and the anime introduces interesting sci-fi concepts that we probably could never imagine ourselves, which brings out the amazing originality of this piece of art (I mean anime).
Kaiba's basic storyline starts off in a world where memories can be manipulated and swapped and bodies can be interchangeable, meaning you can freely delete bad memories and replace them with good ones, and implant them into another body. We find the main protagonist (Kaiba) inside a crumbling white room, with no memory of who he is or why he is there. Before he can ask any of these questions, he finds himself being chased by what seemed to be an over sized hairdryer. After narrowly escaping it, he embarks on the journey to regain his memories, traveling from many planets and meeting many people along the way.
The story was brilliantly laid out. From the beginning to the end, it Kaiba kept me hooked to my computer screen. The paciing was to the point of near perfection, letting us sympathize with Kaiba, while letting us view and immerse ourselves in his futuristic world. Bits of the plot are leaked out slowly, making you wonder what is happening and why, driving you to finish the series. Eventually though, all these pieces of the plot you'll find can interconnect, and the true brilliance of
the story is revealed.
It's like something out of a Salvador Dalli painting. The background environment is amazing and complex, with very interesting depictions of strange animals and fiery suns. Nearly everything is coloured for its situation, with poor places painted very dully and plain, whereas aquatic theme parks are bright with many hues of blue and yellow. The characters design, though different from what I'd regularly see out of an anime, was still pleasing to the eye, as the characters seemed to be drawn more circularly.
The OP and ED were very memorable (if not engrishy). Most of the background music enhanced the environment, and basically emulated the senses. Overall, the sound was very well done.
This is probably the best part of this anime. All the characters have diverse personalities and goals, which gives each of them a strong sense of individuality.
Sometimes, you'll have some misconceptions of some characters, take Popo. You first find him aiding Kaiba to the spaceship, giving him the sense that he is an ally. Then we find he is a member of the Issoudan, a group to kill the king of memories (really Kaiba, but Warp occupies the throne). Here we find he has traits of an arrogant and bloodthirsty antagonist, with no mercy to Kaiba/Warp or anyone who betrays the Issoudan. We only find in the latter episodes his real intention in to find a body for the memories of his mother, giving him sympathy and reasoning for his actions., putting him back in to his neutral stance, and renewing some sympathy for him.
Overall, it was an awesome ride. and I recommend you watch it. Now.
Sep 3, 2011
For the ones like me who doubt about artwork I have to say that, give it a try. After first episode you will like it. Mostly if you like works of studio 4C or cutting edge liners you wont have any troubles. Drawings never brings down this series on the contrary it supports series very good. Its not childish but new or fresher.
Plot is quiet good. A sci-fi starting with amnesia. And meanwhile we are learning the past of main character we also witness the geniusly created technological improvements. But what is more interesting is this series examine this improvements in sociological point efficiently. Not by talking but with showing. It never explains it in useless talks ; it show these with using the art value of animation.
Only flaw in this anime is its ending. I found it a little bit ınsufficient but dont take it as a bad ending; its just has only a few flaws. So give it a shot. read more
Jul 15, 2012
Straight from episode 1 it's clear that Madhouse tries to pull off a narrative in a reversed timeline as the first scene shows a strange boy waking up to discover that he has no memories. The setting is that of a future where memories can be transformed into data and transported from different bodies and as the world is explored more thoroughly, we also receive shattered pieces of information about the protagonist. These do little more than confuse you at first but prove to be vital if you want to comprehend the latter part of the show.
Pulling off a story with such an unconventional timeline takes creativity, but Madhouse is up to the challenge. Amongst the numerous clever plot twists and shocking revelations they bring up several questions of relevance; can the concept of a free will truly exist in a world where memories and one’s physical form is so easy to tamper with? And is a technological advancement that trivializes the vitality of one's memories and the body one was born into, an insult to nature and life itself? Several other issues that become relevant with body-swapping and such are the less pleasant topics of sexuality that happens to be a not precisely prominent but still featured theme. People in the Kaiba universe have been known to download false sexual memories for their own pleasures, as well as create their own collections of mindless children to abuse.
Kaiba proves to be an intellectually satisfying ride with an equal ability to confuse and enlighten. Remain concentrated though, and I promise that everything will turn clear when the show is finished!
From the more experimental depths of studio Madhouse comes a mind-numbingly amazing piece of visual eye-candy that would justify watching Kaiba even if the story was horrendous. Eccentric character designs merge with a world of strange shapes and colors that use the potential of sky-high production values to be about as memorable as the animation in Mononoke. Action scenes are usually impressive, and my only real complaint is that a few episodes (the latter ones in particular) seem to fail in bringing the same visual splendor to the screen as their predecessors.
It could be argued that Kaiba's soundtrack is way too minor to fit a story of such extravagance, but just like in Serial Experiments I saw the muted use of music to be both favorable and negative. Most of the scores are memorable and well-made, but there are many emotional key moments that are accompanied with nothing but silence. The emotional punches tend to hit you effectively regardless thanks to excellent scripting and voice acting, but obviously they would have reached even higher levels of impact if they were backed up by some music.
The opening theme, as well as the ending theme, is a calm and most fitting song that lays out expectations for the sci-fi love story you're about to see.
In the end, this section is not rated positively due to an abundance of likeable characters. In truth, the individuality in Kaiba is so muted due to the constant swapping of bodies that you might end up perceiving each character as pretty much devoid of any form of personality. What becomes important is thus the way they interact and change over time, and in the end you might discover that they were in fact better than you thought.
Without resorting to spoilers I might just add that many characters are revealed to hold extremely fundamental secrets related to their actual identities that are exposed later on, but only implied in earlier scenarios. Your personal perception is bound to change over time as you learn new, unpredictable, things about characters that seemed trivial at first. Said unpredictability is most likely one of the key factors to Kaiba’s awesomeness.
Though-provoking, extremely well structured and filled to the brim with frame after frame of artistic wonder; Kaiba is that rare anime that has shockingly few flaws that you can expose. I also reckon that it's rewatch-friendly as it might be fun to search for details in the storyline when you already know the largest aspects of the world. Warmly recommended anime from a person who rarely likes anything this much!
Nov 14, 2013
Aug 20, 2012
Kaiba is easily one of my top favorite animes.
Don't let the kiddish astroboy art style fool you like it did to me. Underneath its art work is a story that portray the depths of human emotions in a genuine way. Even with the surreal, sci-fi setting, it does a good job touching different emotions of the viewer that he/she can relate to in real life.
Now for my only complaint. I'm not a fan with this kind of art style and was a little hesitant to watch it when it first came out. But after a few episodes, the artwork seemed to work perfectly with the story and theme.
I strongly recommend this anime. Give it a chance and get through the first episode. You will not regret it! read more
Jan 1, 2010
It's quirky. When you watch the first episode of Kaiba, you won't really know what's going on. A character falls from the sky, leaving his memory (who he was and how he lived) behind. Now, we begin to follow him as he discovers new things about himself & his past, and the world around him becomes more and more interesting. Each episode of Kaiba is another move through the plot, like moving pieces to solve a sliding puzzle. While Kaiba is not a mystery, the story flows along the lines of what is not known about the main character and the curiosity of learning about the people around him. Themes of the show: memory, power, disillusionment, devotion, sacrifice..
The art in this series is what really sets it apart. Creating an innocent atmosphere, the drawing of the animation is unique to the series and quite unlike that of the typical anime styling. The art, combined with the soundtrack create a mood of wonder. The soundtrack will not jump out at you, it isn't loud, it's soothing and often nonexistent or silent. It blends with the animation, as if it is natural to the movement of the story.
Naturally, Kaiba is a character that most will sympathize with. He has amnesia, there is cause for us to care about him. And through the series you don't really know him, he doesn't know himself, until the last few episodes because he is without memory, without a past. The people around him mold him with their memories.
The series is enjoyable because it goes beyond the character and looks at what make s a person valuable. Is it personality, things they've done, things they will do, who they know, who cares for them, who they care for? Why is someone worth saving?
*positive/negative feedback via message or comment is greatly appreciated* read more
Jun 15, 2012
The basic premise of Kaiba is the story of a young boy who wakes up possessing no memories, and his only possession is a locket with a picture of a girl, and a hole in his chest. He then goes on a journey throughout the highly sensationalised and Dr Seuss style world of this anime while diving into a complex look at human nature, class warfare and the dangers of technology.
Now to start off I would like to say that one of the reasons I enjoyed Kaiba was because it was not afraid to take risks, so many anime these days are terrified to do anything different with their art or story that we end up with generic rip off's and so many anime`s set in schools and rom-coms that its gotten ridiculous . While not revolutionary this anime did take some big risks at a time when studio companies are only concerned with one word “moe” and for that I was very grateful and pleased to see that originality still exists.
The story in Kaiba while interesting, is probably its biggest flaw, not because it’s a bad story, not at all, in fact some of the ideas are very interesting to watch and think about. such as the idea of memory chips which can store people memory's and allow the switching of bodies, this has led to a way to cheat death and allow people (who can afford it) to get their dream bodies. But as with anything new and revolutionary it has its dark side, with people being forced to sell their bodies (literally) for money and even body stealing and collecting. Really at its core that’s what this anime is really about, showing us the dark side of human nature and the horrible things we’re capable of. But this is where the problems come in, while kaiba has some interesting ideas their not developed enough for us to become enthralled with them and most importantly they are not explained enough, so let me explain...
Now id like to think of myself as someone with at least average intelligence and I don't need every little thing explained to me, in fact it can be more interesting when you have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks, but for fucks sake nothing was explained or made any sense in this anime. To be truthful it felt like the makers said “okay lets create a really trippy world that will show people the evils of human nature and will make them think while tugging at their emotions” and they did this really well, but then tacked on a half backed plot with some under developed characters at the end without much thought or real effort, the truth is this story and characters felt rushed and not thought out probably because it was rushed and not thought out. Had Kaiba been just an exploration of the world, rather than focusing so much on the plot in the second half then this series could have been a real gem to watch. Its possible to create an anime that just focuses on the spectacle rather than the characters or story and when you do something like that then its okay if a lot of things are left unexplained because we are just along for the ride but when you try to tell a complicated story and give characters some real depth then you have to at least get the basics straight other wise we cant get invested or relate to the characters because nothing makes sense. This is the main reason Kaiba failed to acheive its full potential, because time has taught us again and again that no amount of visuals, special effects or cool characters can replace a good, intersting, logical story ( take the hint Micheal Bay!) and without this everything is just wasted because a story brings together all the other elements. "A special effect is just a tool, a means of telling a story, a special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing."-George Lucas. (before he became a sell out.)
Anyway enough with the story the next thing to mention is the art. To say how good the art is feels a bit like flogging a dead horse at this point but to sum up what everyone has said is that its fantastic, very sensationalised and defiantly the strongest point of this show. But to say one thing that not many people mention is how the art is very clearly influenced by other materials from western animation and older shows rather than just coping the contemporary anime art styles, this was a nice touch and help give the show a fell of originality.
The sound in Kaiba is perfect for what the show is trying to do, for the most part its subdued and kept in the background allowing us to feel what's happening without being to much in your face and manipulating. It not particlarly memorable but it certainly better than average and like the art seems to draw on a larger field of influence than most other animes. One thing that I noticed was that the music seemed to be very similar too or at least influenced by an old game called the Neverhood which I noticed a lot of this series seems to have drawn influence from.
To conclude I would say that Kaiba is a perfect example of wasted potential and another chapter in the “what could have been great” book that the anime industry is currently writing. But even so I cant stress enough that this review is not a negative one, I just wanted to point out some of the problems to allow people to understand why a good series like this fails to achieve the level of greatness that it could have. Overall this series is a very good and interesting one that sucks you in and never lets go and you certainly wont forget about it for a very long time. While it didn't reach the heights it could have, Kaiba is still a welcome relief from the usual direction anime has been heading in for the past few years and is a must see for anyone looking for something a little different. read more
Dec 7, 2008
You genuinely care about every character including all the little minor roles because they're so detailed in their own ways and you can never be sure who will do what not because they act out of character but because they're complex and their decisions, both the good and the bad, make them relatable.
The story seems confusing through most of it, and it certainly has bits that don't make any sense, but everything that needed to be tied together was and as far as is possible it all makes sense.
I came out of Kaiba feeling like shit in the best possible way. Anything that can genuinely make you feel strongly like that deserves to be recognized, but I know people are always trying to escape from those sorts of feelings so it won't happen. read more
Nov 8, 2008
The main plot kicks in during the second half, where more of this guy's past is revealed. I'm not sure why but the story suddently becomes less interesting. There are no big plot holes but it does seem inconsistent at times. I think the problem lies in the fact that Kaiba has a superb director but not-so-superb writers, and when they shifts the story from style-driven to character-driven, it just fails miserably. The writers don't know how to set up a conflict, they don't know how to advance the plot, they don't know how to use foreshadowing properly. Worst of all, they don't know how to reveal plot twists. They actually did that by letting the cyborg dude preaching to the female lead. The final relevation is also a "meh" for me.
Anyways watch Kaiba for its visual style but don't expect much from the story. read more
May 12, 2008
I'm definitely fond of the art. It's weird in a realistic way, but just let your mind getting used to it, you'll find it clearly outstanding. Don't forget the studio's not a bunch of idiots : it's Madhouse, eh.
Story's dark, definitely NOT for children, but it's such an idea...
Opening theme is definitely art, music and drafts. It made me think of Ef - a tale of memories for the artistic way of introducing the anime. But when you watch it, you clearly understand it has nothing to do with Ef-atom.
Just give the first episode a try. You'll get the reason why it's not an anime like getting superpowers, being superheroes, and so on.
And if you don't understand anything at first, you get some clues in next episodes, that relveal some dark aspects of that world...
One of the best animes I've ever watched. read more
Jan 15, 2010
Sep 12, 2008
May 4, 2008
The artwork is really not that bad in an artistic sense. Actually, one could make the argument that this show could not work without this specific cartoon feel. But one could also say that it is rather simplistic and bland. So I gave it a 6. I may revise that later. Actually sense this is an early review; I will likely revise the whole thing later. read more