The world of the humans and the world of the demons (youkai) have overlapped one another, leaving humans to walk the streets of life as they normally would, while demons walk, hidden from the naked eye, down the very same streets. A seemingly young woman named Yurine and her servant, the Karas (from the Japanese word for "Crow"), have long maintained order and balance between the overlapped worlds, ultimately keeping the demons from interrupting the lives of humans. However, humans have come to forget and jest at the existence of demons, and no longer understand the privilege it is to live without fear. Disgusted by this arrogance, an old Karas turns his back on the laws he had once upheld, and in his human form, named Eko, he creates an army of Mikura, or mechanized demons, to ready an attack on the human race.
A young man named Otoha inherits the powers of the Karas and takes his place at the side of Yurine, who claims that his soul called out for her while he lived the life of a human. They live in the world of the demons. It is now up to Otoha to prove himself as a Karas, and restore the balance that Eko threatens to upset.
Meanwhile, a superstitious police officer named Sagisaka and his rational new recruit, Kure, follow the trail of the murders dealt by Eko's Mikura, as well as the trail of a rogue Mikura named Nue. The prophecy unfolds from here into a grave revelation for all in the city.
STORY: The story or stories within Karas stem from several archetypal anime genres. We have a story of redemption, a story of discovering oneself, a story of the super-natural versus the corporeal, a story of good against evil and the blurry line between. In fact there is a ton of story in here that, with proper plot development, could easily fill an entire 25-27 episode season. And therein lies the problem of Karas's story. There are just too many many plot lines being developed in this movie. Also, the show paces itself slowly, telling the audience only the bare minimum of what needs to be
known at the time and ultimately hindering the viewer's involvement. While this amount is sufficient in understanding the full story, the story loses its intrigue that draws in the viewer. There is vast potential for plot here, but this potential is not fleshed out and used.
ART: Karas is a visual powerhouse with few peers to call its equal. All of the major battle and dramatic sequences are perfectly epic. If you enjoy watching superhuman battles with swords, explosions, lasers, robotics(both big and small), etc., then this is the best that anime has to offer. This OVA is one of the most gorgeous films for its genre, and few shows can live up to this caliber of animation quality. Although animation and art design can't carry an entire show, Karas's visual appeal carries a great deal and redeems most of the show's flaws.
SOUND: Fortunately for the visual production of Karas, the sound develops the already epic, visual appeal into unreal proportions. The voice acting is fantastic for each character. The music gives each scene the appropriate response to each emotion. This is the kind of music that inspires roaring during battle scenes, quiet trepidation during conflicts, and cries of "That was beastmode!" during victory celebrations. The audio portion of the show is no pushover in relation to the visual aspect, but there are a few scenes in the show that need audio editing. Besides these few qualms, the sound is fantastic.
CHARACTER: The character development of this show suffers like the story. There are too many characters, and they all have deep histories. However, the show doesn't have the time to delve into all but one or two of these characters, and those select few receive the slightest bit of detail. Ultimately, I just didn't care about anybody other than the protagonist, one of the fortunate characters to receive miniscule detail. It is unfortunate because, like the story, there is so much potential behind the plethora of characters presented. Yet this potential is barely tapped.
ENJOYMENT: Karas is highly enjoyable with varied rewatchability. The battles and epic drive of this series make the experience invigorating, and several post-initial viewings are required to realize the sheer force this epic extravaganza possesses. However, there is very little depth beyond the flash-bang-awesome, and this effect does wear off over time. The initial and second viewings will be the best, and they will be highly memorable. However, there is little to take away from Karas other than, "That was unbelievably cool."
OVERALL: Karas's production team sacrificed plot, depth, and series longevity for visual, audio, and sensual awe. These balances have noticeable and predictable pros and cons.
Also, Karas displays graphic violence overbearingly at times. To some, this graphic effect may not be a problem. However, the gore in Karas is extreme and may be too excessive for others.
I hope this review has proven beneficial, and I appreciate any feedback, critiques, or thoughts through messages. Happy anime watching!
Great anime!! Its got everything an anime should have. Great story that you can reflect on with "what ifs?"; delivered in a partially non-linear form, superb animation, you have to see to believe it, great sound with a fitting score, characters that grow even in just 6 eps. Its starts of with a bang and ends in a satisfying yet quiet way. The story may be confusing in the beginning but everything slowly irons out and its all completed at the end. I personally like the references to japanese folklore, it made it modern with an traditional twist.
In my opinion, I thought the story plot was the weakest part of Karas. It took me until two episodes or so to understand what even went on, although once you get the hang of the characters and such, the plot does come together. Perhaps one of the reasons why the plot is so difficult to understand is that the series has been condensed to a mere six episodes. If it were spread out like other anime (13 or 26 episodes), if anything, I think the plot would have been amazing. If you really do pull all the story lines that weaved Karas, they're
very intense, with the idea of what's good and evil, and the obvious supernatural.
For those that hate complex story plots, but still have the curiosity of watching Karas, I really do recommend that you do, because the art is beautiful. The combination of 2D and 3D animation really makes Karas more than a series, but a beautiful piece of work. The way they fused many Asian cultures together (I swear, I had moments where I thought I was looking at Korean signs instead of a Japanese city, ahaha) for the setting, and the characters are beautifully created. The details are just unbelievable. If you REALLY don't like the plot, then really... just turn the sound off, turn some intense music on, and just watch it. It's just that good.
The music for Karas was beautiful, and fit very well together. I found the ending song for the first half fitting so well, sung by RURUTIA, who puts on a very mysterious and ambient air in her song "Selenite". The background music for the series also was well produced, as it really helped add to the intensity.
The seiyuus were also very well chosen. They really helped bring out some of the personality of the characters that they voiced.
The characters suffered as well as the plot. Due to the whole six episodes only situation, it was hard to really see what they were like, especially since they all have an extremely complex personality and background. It took me forever to understand the situation of Nue and Otoha, two main characters of Karas, and it could just be me, but I found that it was really difficult to follow the characters, and at the same time, follow a very complex plot. It just added to the confusion. But the seiyuus did, like I mentioned before, help bring out some of their personality, but if anything, it was difficult to understand the characters until the very end.
I kind of see Karas as one of those anime where you either enjoy it, or you don't. Personally, I loved it. It was probably due to the fact that the art really captured my attention, as well as the sound. But if anything, it's going to be the graphics that will capture you. The fusion of 2D and 3D is something you don't see, and as someone who has a deep interest for art, it truly was a wonder to see this. The plot on the other hand, I struggled immensely with, due to the confusion, and that took away some of the enjoyment of Karas.
So, I guess you could say that I advise you to watch this, knowing that the plot IS confusing. I don't care how brilliant you are, it will throw you off a bit, because it's one of those "in media res" moments.
I advise those that really don't care much for the graphics, but really the plot and characters to NOT watch this... unless you have some odd love for abnormally complex stories, then in that case, go for it.
But if you're someone who really appreciates computer graphics and art, as well as sound, then I do recommend watching it, but caution the fact that the plot is hard to follow.
Those who don't really like blood and gore may want to be a bit cautious to starting this anime, as umm... they definitely took Karas above and beyond with the blood and gore, ahaha, and it may cause some distress for others who aren't very good at handling graphic violence.
[Just so you know: This is my first review on MAL, so any critique, feedback, suggestions, etc. are greatly appreciated and accepted. Feel free to message me, or leave a comment on my profile. I will be more than happy to hear what you have to say!]
Story: I guess it's better to say there was no real story. I was completely confused throughout the first half, we were plunged into the middle of the story with no explanation and no idea what was going on. The second half was filled with predictable cliches and I found it was more stimulating to have no idea what was going on as it drove me to continue to watch in order to figure out what was happening. Overall, the plot was boring and something we have seen a thousand times before, only a lot more vague.
Art: The series is undeniably beautiful, the animation
ranks up there with the likes of Gankutsuou. I'll even go far as to say that Karas, just like Trinity Blood, doesn't deserve such beautiful animation. If you want to watch this series then just mute the DVD, listen to your favorite CD, and enjoy the beautiful imagery. Don't worry, like I said before there's no story to pay attention to.
Sound: the music was all right, once again nothing special. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy the OST. The dub wasn't anything exceptional, Echo's voice actor in particular was very bland and unemotional.
Character: The characters are just as cliched and vague as the plot. There's little to no development and hardly any explanation as to what their motivation might be. Everyone is shallow and two-dimensional.
Overall this was a huge disappointment. It was as if Tatsunoko Productions simply wanted to show off their animation skills and threw together the story as an afterthought. With more focus on developing a plot and interesting characters this could have been an excellent series, unfortunately they forgot that good animation does not make a good series. Just like video games, it doesn't matter how amazing the visuals, it is the story that is truly engaging.
From spectacular anime fights, to anime video games, to fighting video games, to fighting video games based on anime, these concepts blend together quite well. But in what games did they come together the best?