Every 333 years the ultimate universal devil known as "Kuiba" is reborn. With each rebirth, Kuiba brings absolute destruction. In order to battle Kuiba, Deities and people team up and assassinate him just before his revival. In 1664, the year of Kuiba's rebirth, the assassination attempt failed. Kuiba managed to slip into the young body of Manji. As the child grew older, Manji grew a strong desire to become the greatest warrior. When Manji hears the armies of Earth are recruiting to battle Kuiba, Manji and his master enlists to find and fight Kuiba. What he doesn't know is the one he is aiming to destroy is himself. How will he face his fate and accept his destiny?
"Kuiba" is the first of a *five-part* feature length film series that is about a powerful creature, Kuiba, who is reborn every set number of years to bring about destruction. On one side, we have people and their deities that try to kill him over and over again throughout the years before his incumbent revival, while on Kuiba's side, we have another group of people who worship him like a god, and because Kuiba once saved them, as you will see in the intro of the film. You could almost say, people who are outcasts from normal society are now part of the Kuiba-following clan.
In one particular rebirth year, Kuiba narrowly escapes his assassination. As he has not grown to his true self, he appears as a baby boy, who we learn is named Manji. Although it is not mentioned, it appears Manji is raised by a couple that found him. Sadly, due to reasons we don't know, that couple have separated and Manji is primarily raised (now a young child) by his adoptive 'father'. His father's desire is to be a great warrior and passing everything he learns to his son in due time. When news breaks that 'Kuiba' is alive, Manji (not knowing he is Kuiba) and his father try to recruit into the army in order to battle Kuiba. Hereafter, we learn a number of things about Kuiba's past, his power, and the people around him. Although there are Sci-Fi elements, this is a Fantasy anime.
The story is actually very much an original and plays to the strength of Chinese history/mythology (Journey to the West). And yes, as you may have guessed it, Kuiba is a Chinese animation. Not Korean as another reviewer pointed out. *Keep note of this piece of information before proceeding to watching the film, especially the ending. The ending sadly is not satisfying because of the heavy build-up in the middle. But considering the fact that the director has purposely chosen to break the film into five-parts, it had to work one way or another and using a cliffhanger would have been displeasing. I actually appreciate what they have done. I would have wanted a bit more, but since I saw the second film days after the first, I am not depreciating the value (rating) of the film due to the ending.
The art is heavily inspired from Japanese animation. In an interview, the producers have mentioned that they, Vasoon Animation, are trying to bring quality animations with inspiration from Japanese (particular for Kuiba) and American artistic styles. That said, however, there are inconsistencies in the animation and art throughout this film. Furthermore, the art has a distinctive Chinese feel, which is a good thing. For example, the main character, Manji, is clearly based on the monkey god and heavily inspired by the Journey to the West stories. You could make the argument that Manji looks very similar to Naruto from the Naruto anime, especially because both have whiskers, but considering how much of the story is based on the Journey to the West and/or other Chinese stories, I believe that debate falls short. Other characters also have distinctive feature that differs it from the typical Japanese animated art style. Once again, contrary to the other reviewer, I did not see any similarities between this and Dragonball. The art is very much similar to mainstream (21st century) Japanese anime. Nothing close to the 80s or Tezuka Osamu drawings.
There is nothing spectacular about the sound or music, but as this is only the first of five films, we have yet to hear the more emotion-evoking themes. The current music and sound works very well. The voice cast does too. I did not find any particular Chinese voice memorable, but overall the voices of the characters were chosen intelligently. Furthermore, I decided to watch the first film with the Japanese dubs as well. Here, we come to hear a lot of familiar voices. I believe, Manji, is voiced by Takeuchi Junko, known for her role as Naruto from the Naruto anime. However, I could be wrong with this assumption. I wouldn't be surprised if this was true because of how similar Manji and Naruto (original, young lad, pre-Shippuden series) are. The Japanese Manji is quite memorable. Once again, I did not find anything wrong with the choice of the Japanese voice casts either. There was no particular character who had an annoying voice which seems to be apparent in Japanese anime in recent years. The producers opted for a more serious anime with some comedic moments (usually portrayed in the art of the face and mouth).
The characters and character developments are fair; nothing unique, exciting or spectacular yet. Manji has not realise what he is. He does not even question why he goes into an uncontrollable, unconscious state. His father doesn't know about this (in the first film) either. I personally believe, Manji will not know until the fourth or fifth film where he has to make a choice that will question his own life and the people around him. I am not sure if it was the translations fault or if it was the directors decision, but we don't know the background of many characters we meet and become acquainted to. Characters that appear many times as flashbacks. Specifically, Manji's adoptive mother and the relationship between her and Manji's adoptive father. Manji's father calls her princess for some reason and that is not explained. This could be the fault of a poor translation, but we later see that she is a very important character in the film. Most likely coming from a noble and wealthy family. The character development of Manji's adoptive father is weak too. There is no clear reason how he came to be what he is and the life he is living nor why he left Manji's adoptive mother. It's almost a cliché story here where the father, perhaps from a poor family, had a relationship with a woman from a noble family, but due to family issues decided to separate while Manji went along with him. This relationship is so weakly executed that during a particular scene when Manji openly calls her 'mother', the surrounding people who know her as a noble doesn't question why he called her mother nor their relationship.
Nevertheless, overall, I enjoyed this anime very much. Due to loopholes in the story and some of the character developments, I gave it a par rating of 7 out of 10 (see my profile to understand the rubric of my ratings). If this had been a singular film of 2-hours with a justified ending, I would have easily given it an 8 or 9 out of 10. If you are not used to Chinese voice acting, I would highly suggest the Japanese. It is well worth it. I will not be reviewing the later films, but can tell you that the second film starts straight from the first. More characters are introduced and we get to know people from Kuiba's side of the spectrum (the Kuiba-following clan). If you want to find out what I gave the second film, check out my completed list. I tend to give very fair ratings to anime. I base my ratings predominantly on art style and animation (quality), emotion-evoking music, and enjoyment. Not so much character development or voice casts. However, if there is an annoying voice actor, I tend to avoid the anime altogether. If I review the anime, then I look at character development since most people find that important. Hence, why I did so here.
As a recommendation, I would suggest to wait for the English translation to the second film, fan-subs or official Blu-ray (comes with English subs and Japanese dubs), and then watch the first and second together. Watching the first without the second will quench your thirst for more.
The story of Kuiba is about the devil (Kuiba) who is reborn every 333 years. This movie is about the early life Kuiba who is been reborn and slips into the body of Manji. Now, Manji and every single man in the plannet is ready to begin a journey in order to assasinate Kuiba without knowing that Kuiba is Manji. Manji (Kuiba) is now trying to learn how to duel against other spirit warriors with the help of his father and teacher Master Man. The whole concept is a reminiscence of Dragonball. Kuiba is a South Korean Movie.
Art = 9
of this movie resembles with Dragoball's artwork. To me its quite decent but not unique.
Sound = 6
Nothing really exciting. The soundtracks are not something thatcan make someone excited for.
Character = 4
The character is a bit problematic, at least on the first Movie since i havent seen yet the second one.
- He doesen;t know he is powerfull or that he possesses enormous power even if he use it in the last scene of the movie.
- He got guts, but in whole movie exept the last scene he is a weak child trying to concetrate in order to duel his enemies but he doesent really accomlishing anything.
Enjoyment = 4
The story is quite good in general but its annoying when you have the feeling that something really good is comming in the next scene (in terms of action) but in the end you dont get anything.