Occult mystery stories have always been a staple for campfire gatherings and time-slotted 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 its purpose well 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" list. Instead, what this "animated" short offer is a fairly decent time-passer, serving as an intermission break before you take on the next show that you truly want to watch.
Told in a quasi-memoir like structure, the story of Kagewani was comprised of a series of anthology-like fables, 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 Japan. Sharing a personal life-altering encounter with these monsters, a majority of the story was dedicated to not only putting an end to the monsters' destruction but also exploring the backstory of Banba as well.
The first thing that would 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 cutout paper-mache collages. Images that move across the screen like a puppeteer pulling strings. In most cases, this type of art-style may feel out of place, but for an anthology series that basically uses folklore to tell tales of strange happenings across Japan, the choice is perfectly at home. It gives everything an ominous vibe, a type of uncanny valley effect to the way everything moves and looks, which helps compensate for the lack of atmosphere not allotted to it otherwise. Of course, you'll have those individuals that immediately say that the show "is shit" for not following convention, but for those who like anime that diversify its style and art direction, it can serve as a unique entry. It isn't bad, just different.
Another noteworthy thing is the monster design themselves; borrowing elements European fairy tales and merging it with Japanese kaiju designs to create interesting hybrids. As in the case of the art-style, these ugly monstrosities help out where the audiovisual output was lacking.
Surprisingly enough, the music selection was virtually nonexistent. Outside of a few sparse sound effects here and there, and the ending theme song itself, there was very little here of note. Usually, shorts like these utilize music to help build its atmosphere, so seeing how little Kagewani took advantage of this chance to really up the creep factor was a bit disappointing.
But this wasn't a series I really had much investment in, to begin with, so not like it mattered all that much.
While it had its issues and doesn't go beyond being a novelty act, Kagewani did well enough under 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. It's short, to the point, and gets the job done, and at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.