A video blogger attempts to fake cryptid sightings to boost his views, but gets more than he bargained for when his crew is slaughtered by a real monster. Elsewhere, students find themselves preyed upon by a sandworm-like beast, initiating a desperate struggle for survival on their own school grounds.
With more of these attacks from mysterious creatures occurring, researcher Sousuke Banba tasks himself with delving into the mystery. With nothing but the keyword "Kagewani" to lead him, he scours the sites of recent attacks in hopes of finding a lead to eradicating the creatures for good. However, Sousuke finds that these threats to humanity are even closer to home when the pharmaceutical company, Sarugaku, starts to encroach on his investigation.
Occult mystery stories have always been a staple for campfire gatherings and time slot entries for the SyFy channel. It's not the most "enthralling" thing out there, but for the sake of offering cheap thrills, some goosebump moments, and something to whet the appetite, I think it serves a purpose in pop culture. Kagewani is a title that pretty much follows this rubric down to the letter. It isn't going to waw you with any pioneering ideas, nor will it find itself in your coveted "top 10 favorites" spot. Rather, what this "animated" short offered was a fairly decent time-passer as an intermission break before
you take on your next show.
Told in a quasi-memoir like structure, the story is a series of anthology-like tales, where we find ourselves following Sousuke Banba; a scientist (or better yet a supernatural detective), as he investigates the trail of carnage left behind by mysterious monsters that populate the country. Sharing a personal life-altering encounter with these monsters, a majority of the story is dedicated to not only putting an end to the monsters' destruction but to also unravel Banba's past as well.
One thing that will immediately grab your attention is the uncommon art-style that Kagewani incorporates. Similar to another occult mystery anime Yami Shibai, the art-style is akin to that of cardboard cutouts, which are masqueraded onscreen like a puppeteer collage. For most series, this type of art-style might be seen as a detriment to the show, but for a short that tackles horror mystery stories, it's a very appropriate choice. It gives everything an ominous vibe with its decrepit look, which helps to build a new layer of suspense and dread to its atmosphere and setting. Of course, you'll have those individuals that immediately say "it's shit" for not following convention, but for those who like anime that diversify its style and art direction, it can serve as a breath of fresh air. It isn't bad, just different.
Another noteworthy thing is the monster design themselves; borrowing elements from traditional Japanese folklore, as well as aspects of European fairy tales. It helps give each monster a distinct look that's uniquely its own, as well as keeping the design lineup fresh for the viewers.
What was a bit underwhelming, however, was the music selection, which was virtually nonexistent. Outside of sound effects and the ending theme song, there was nothing there to pull from. It's a missed opportunity to really heighten the material, given that well-timed music is often instrumental in crafting a far more compelling atmosphere. While the art held up on its own, the music could have helped elevate it further, but that sadly wasn't the case.
Kagewani wasn't a series that I was rushing out to see every week, but at the same time, it wasn't one that ever bothered me either. It was short enough to keep me entertained without becoming tedious. The interesting art choice and visual aesthetic helped to keep me engaged and it served well as a break between watching other shows.
While it had its issues and doesn't go beyond being a novelty act, It did well enough given the time restraint and limited material it had to work with. It's not a title that you will probably remember in the long run, but I say it's still worth a try, given the quick run-time. It's short, to the point, and gets the job done, and at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.
I always had bad experiences so far with 7 minutes long Animes. Those encountered were always rushed, senseless or ridiculous and build around fanservice, so I had the tendency to avoid them. When I came across Kagewani, I wanted to test it out not only for its unique art style, but because it was tagged as horror.
What struck me with the very first episode is the mastering of the pacing. Writing a scheme properly within mere 7 minutes isn't as simple as it may sound. On the contrary, to settle down
every key points properly, without rushing it, to have a slow build up that brings you to the tension point, isn't at all something I would have ever thought doable in so little time. And yet they succeed at 13 times in a row. Just for that I give them a giant cookie.
But then, I can understand why this type of pacing would be frustrating for others. Slow pacing and 7 minutes might appear contradictory.
The stories, separately aren't exceptional, but they use the ancient codes and tropes of horror properly. (I say "ancient", because, no, modern horror doesn't work the same way and modern vs ancient expectations are easy to tend to clash together) Together, however, yes, they do bear a sort of "brilliance" by reusing and reactualizing various types of fears (among one single spectrum : monsters/creatures of legends/folklore), each episode focusing on one specifically.
Another thing worthy to note is the execution of the iconisation and gigantism of the various monsters. In a time where proper iconisation seems to be rare, Kagewani, is once again, able to do it 13 times.
My only real regrets with this show is how, with the last episode, it shifts from horror to supernatural, but I remain curious to see the rest.
Do you know the word "grotesque" ? No, not in the "ridiculous" meaning - though the art plays against the show in the first episodes with ridiculous animations which discredit the tension of the show ; thankfully, it improves through the episodes - the style, more specifically when coming to monsters. I won't give you a definition, looking at the show is the quickest way for you to know.
Combined with this style you can find two other styles : drawn-over photographies and more classical drawings.
The animation is an in-between anime and manga (there isn't any illusion of movements like you would usually find in an anime, but it isn't static as in a manga). Be it the presence of three distinctive styles or the animation, it can be rather repelling or create a certain dissonance. Ironically enough, it only participates as a reinforcement of horror. Well, ancient horror.
In that aspect....having a 7 minutes long show is rather smart. It doesn't try developing its characters, and it isn't the slightest necessary for what it is attempting to be nor should it as it would be an incredible loss of time for something so short.
A single chara is attempted to be more fleshed out, the recurrent Banba Sousuke (that name is ridiculous XD). There's nothing much to say about it. It occurs later in the show and there's very little offered in the end. Only the next season, if it comes out, can give a more valid view but even then, too much shouldn't be expected, not in a negative way, but by simply remembering in front of what you are.
The people who did this had guts. Daring producing an old-fashioned horror fiction with such a different art style is a bet in itself, reuniting with "horror" and "grotesque" in their primal forms. Sadly, if we consider its rather low reception, they partly lost it. Which, in my opinion is a shame, but at the same time, not surprising. I can only wish for them to have just enough success to make a sequel or to be more precise, that the sequel won't be cancelled.
I am aware this review has a rather formal approach of the show, but I felt it was necessary to bring it some justice ; and it was the form that entertained me the most.
Kagewani is one of those anime that has very little reason to impress as it is one of the shorts of the year. You’ll probably watch Kagewani while eating something or doing something else. However as a mystery Kagewani isn’t really that mysterious, and as a horror it’s not quite scary either. However it manages to be a decent way of spending your time if you have nothing else to do.
Kagewani is pretty much a monster-of-the-week type anime series. Each episode focuses on some humans, they get attacked by monsters or cryptids, and they either survive the attack or not. The series is episodic,
however the overall story is about Banba, a professor, who comes at the end of every problem for the first half of the series to do, well, nothing! But by the second half, the story starts connecting the cases together to find the overall truth of these monsters… well sort of. Most of the stories presented in this anime end up to be decent. It does use some horror clichés, however it does work well in this anime. The final arc by far is the one that intrigues the most, as it focuses on Banba. However, this anime felt very incomplete as it manages to leave more questions unanswered than answered. The ending makes you want more, not because you enjoyed it, but because you’re about to enjoy it. When it gets interesting, the anime ends, which is a shame.
Kagewani is a short anime series, as each episode is only 7:50 mins, so it never feels like you are wasting your time. Also, monster-of-the-week format does have you wondering what they’ll present next. The production values in the anime aren’t much at all. As a horror, it’s not really scary, but it does have some creepy moments. The anime does a good job in making a proper atmosphere for its stories. As a mystery, it’s not really mysterious. The “secret” of the monsters aren’t really that special, nor intriguing. However, as a short series, it does its job as a tea break.
As an episodic series, ever episode focuses on different characters, so no proper character development can actually take place. However, the characters that are present end up being doing the job well as they aren’t as generic as they may seem. In some stories, it might be the typical, helpless victim, but in other stories, characters are shown to be strong-minded. There is technically one protagonist in the series, Banba Sousuke, a professor who studies these monsters and pops up at the end of some stories to either help victims, or to investigate cases. His backstory ends up being somewhat well done for a short series.
The art style is quite unique, as it has this cardboard-cutout look to it. If I would compare the art to anything it would probably be Inferno Cop, however, Kagewani’s art actually looks like as if some effort was actually put into it. The art style is pretty detailed, and the cardboard look does look nice. One thing that is worth mentioning is that the art design for the monsters are great. Some of them end up looking very creepy and very well detailed. Character designs in this anime are decent.
There isn’t really much to say about the animation in Kagewani as its cardboard style animation prevents it from it looking smooth or neat. Characters move weirdly, use of depth isn’t proper, characters limbs feel weird. At times, it just feels plain distracting. It could have had better animations, even with that art style.
Kagewani has a lot of characters, though most of their seiyuu cast information is pretty hard to find. Most of the characters voice acted pretty well, as they manage to use good enough emotions for their part. Sugita Tomokazu, is a well acclaimed seiyuu, does Banba pretty well. Though he has the most demanding script in the series, it still isn’t much. Okiayu Ryotaro does Kimura pretty well too. Overall the voice acting in the anime ends up decent.
Voice Acting: 7/10
The anime doesn’t have any OP, however it has an ED, which is used for the last five seconds of each episode. The ED, “Arrival of Fear” is pretty decent as it has some catchiness to it. The sound effects for the monsters are okay. However the background music, which should play a fundamental part to a horror series, ends up feeling lacking. It doesn’t build up suspense whatsoever.
Watching this anime didn’t feel like it was hurting me as it was 8 mins per week. It was a good enough anime to watch while I was eating a snack or two. The anime lacks suspense and it isn’t really scary at all. However, its unique art style and monster designs and Sugita Tomokazu’s voice made things more enjoyable than it should be.
Kagewani should really be watched if you have nothing good to do or you want to watch something short. However with its art and monster designs and its length, it manages to become bearable. If you’re here for scares and thrills, don’t expect too much as the poor animations and lack of proper background music can halt your experience. Overall, Kagewani isn’t an anime that would be remembered at all as it is strictly average.
+ Unique cardboard-cutout art style and well designed monsters
+ Surprisingly nice backstory for Banba, and Banba as a character is interesting.
+ Voice acting was pretty good with Sugita Tomokazu doing justice to his part.
- Not really scary, nor really thrilling
- Some story cases were misses, and the “ending” is unsatisfying.
- Awkward animations, especially character movements.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Anime.
Kagewani probably wouldn't leave much of an impression with its first episode.The animation is very janky with everyone and everything moving awkwardly, and there's nothing in its narrative set-up that suggests it would be something more than overly repetitive vignette of 'random silly people getting offed by monster of the week'. However, it does feel like it ups its execution for every episode afterward, ultimately becoming a net positive experience for fans of this particular sub-genre.
The animation (which could be aptly described as something like motion comic) eventually gets easier on the eyes, along with
the choreography. There's enough variety of setting, beasts, and the way the characters react and try to outsmart them in each vignette to maintain my interest and keep me on the edge of my seat. I'm also satisfied by the level of storyboarding overall, with most episodes making effective use of its 7-minute runtime. The atmosphere is spot on, the many voice actors sound appropriately tense/frightened/determined, and suspense tends to be nicely built up leading to the climactic money shots—the definitive moments of the series where the camera reveals the featured beast in its full glory and monstrosity.
I may have fallen from my seat a few times while watching. Maybe it’s just the creaky chair, though.
The show's format does make the attempt at overarching plot suffer a bit. Main character Sousuke Banba and his mysterious vibrating scar don't really have anything interesting to do until around the last three episodes or so, and there are times when the end of an episode doesn't transition well to the next one plot-wise. The ending itself is pretty nice, although it also left a few questions hanging in the air and tantalizing tease for a second season (which I'm not sure is coming, but I'm hopeful).
Kagewani's a definite recommendation for anyone with slightest interest in kaijuu/cryptids/mythical monsters, and it's also worth a few episodes' try for others who wouldn't be scared away by its general format and animation style.
The spring season is coming and you don't want to be left behind before it's even become. Now is the best time to get all caught up on the anime that have sequels airing next season so you can join in on the hype.