Apr 3, 2022
“Kangetsu Ittou: Akuryou Kiri” is a spinoff of “Shinshuu Sudama-hen,” which is one of the worst OVAs I’ve ever seen. Thus, when I set out to watch this, I prepared for the worst, but was relieved to find that it wasn’t as bad as its predecessor. Being better than “Shinshuu” is not a difficult hurdle to clear, however; “Kangetsu” is only borderline watchable.
“Kangetsu” takes place in the early 1700s in Edo (Tokyo). The OVA features two side characters from “Shinshuu,” but other than that, the story is not connected to “Shinshuu” in any way, so it can be watched separately. (In fact, I’d recommend staying
far away from “Shinshuu” altogether.)
The gist of the story is that the a samurai clan called the Satake clan is having an internal power struggle, and the individual controlling Edo's economic world behind the scenes, a man named Muan, seems to be buying off/bribing one of the Satake members so he can effectively control their territory. No one has actually seen Muan in a long time, though, so his existence itself is suspect. Along with the illusionist Insai, "Muan" is also orchestrating the mass kidnapping of young women related to those who do business with the Satake clan to sell them to Westerners in exchange for gold and opium. This plan all somehow involves the use of tarot cards. Popular novelist and author self-insert Kangetsu accidentally gets involved in this conspiracy of sorts, and brings in his wide network of friends and acquaintances to help him solve the mystery of the missing women, and to stop the mastermind behind these evil plans.
The story somewhat makes sense, and has a clear beginning, middle and end, but it’s a bit convoluted and contrived. Also, I still don’t understand why they brought tarot cards into all of this. Maybe it was explained in a throwaway line at some point, but I don’t remember hearing it. Many of the plot points seem to be there just for ecchi/fanservice reasons, kind of similar to “Shinshuu” but slightly less blatant.
As for the characters, the titular character, Kangetsu, is such an author self-insert that it’s not even funny (this OVA is based on a novel). Naturally, he’s a writer, and naturally, he has an editor constantly hounding him for manuscripts and warning him about deadlines. The women (and even one guy) are smitten with him, he has a loyal ninja buddy, he’s smart, he’s cunning, he’s good at using all manner of weapons and surviving all sorts of perilous situations, and he has a full head of bushy hair. Basically, he’s perfect.
His main group of friends/acquaintances consists of a prostitute, a ninja, a woman who vowed to kill him over a misunderstanding but then decides to move in with him and do his chores, and an effeminate guy used for comic relief. There’s also the editor, a detective/policeman, and a lecherous artist. Kangetsu exploits this motley crew of people as a spy network of sorts, with a lot of them risking their lives to help him solve the case for apparently nothing in return.
The villains’ main group consists of a female illusionist, a man who may or may not exist, a woman who uses umbrellas as weapons, a giant fat genie-looking guy, an ugly guy, and some samurai.
Character development is virtually nonexistent — this is a 2-episode OVA, after all. And the characters aren’t all that likable.
Despite the violence and sexually explicit content, the overall tone of the series is lighthearted, and it ends on a comedic note.
Regarding technical aspects, the animation is poor in parts and often has people's lips not moving when they are speaking. Some of the characters looked ugly, particularly the antagonists. The voice acting is average, but some of it feels cheap and/or rushed. As an aside, Kangetsu and Asazo, the two characters who also appeared in “Shinshuu,” are voiced by different people here. The background music is okay, but it doesn't sound like something befitting 1700s Japan. Same with the instrumental opening theme, which prominently features a harmonica, and the reggae-inspired pop ending theme. At least the lyrics of the ending theme fit the setting.
The direction is iffy. There are some awkward and confusing shots, and sometimes there are unrelated scenes of nature spliced in, perhaps to show what season it is while these events are occurring. There are also a lot of scenes showing feet running, which was common in “Shinshuu” as well.
As for objectionable content, there is plenty. There is one sex scene in the first episode, and in the second episode, there's a brief flashback to that, a short scene of an opium-infused orgy, and a scene where an artist is getting a little too hands-on with the woman modeling for him. There's fighting, murder and a fair amount of blood, but the violence is relatively tame by OVA standards. Some elements of the plot itself may be considered objectionable, like the hypnotizing and kidnapping of young women to sell to Westerners for gold and opium.
Overall, I would not recommend going out of your way to view this OVA. It doesn’t have any redeeming qualities other than the moderately catchy ending theme. “Reggae de chanbara...”
Reviewer’s Rating: 4
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