I can't believe such a hyped anime doesn't have a review. Well on with the show:
I absolutely loved this anime storywise. It begins with a young boy named Zed, who lives in a strange, polluted town known as Calm. One day, a spirit, Amil Gaoul, appears to him, and he is dragged into another world. This of course, might seem cliche within the genre of time/world-traveling hereos, but where Kiba sets itself apart is in the concept of shard casting, the main magical ability of the people of the alternate world. Shard-casters can produce from their body small shards which unleash an elemental attack. Other anime have similar concepts, but to use items like this is something that to me is rather new, and I liked it. Also, shardcasters may summon spirits using special shards, and there are six Key Spirits, which are far more powerful than other spirits. Without going into too many spoilers, once the six Key Spirits are brought together, a great power is unleashed, and much of the anime is spent in this quest by multiple factions to obtain the power of the Key Spirits. This makes for a truly epic anime, with a rather interesting ending.
During the first episode, you get the feeling that the art is dark, due to the nature of Calm, but once Amil Gaoul appears, you see the real art style of this anime. Most of the characters are drawn in rather conventional anime form, but the real artistic value of this anime can be seen in the ethereal forms of the various spirits. Amil Gaoul resembles an angel, but there are also spirits which resemble devils, warriors, mythical creatures such as phoenixes and centaurs. Most of the spirits are bipeds, which really adds to their appeal, in seeing ghostly, two-legged forms of many different beings. The places where the shard casters draw their shards from, can resemble anything from an intricate tattoo to jewelry, to some sort of disease-ridden boil, depending where it is, or the very character of the person.
The voice actors are great, although personally I found Roia's voice grating on the nerves sometimes. The battle sequences with Amil Gaoul all have a beautiful chorus to them, so you know when the tide of the battle is going to turn. This is really the only highlight in terms of sound in this anime, the rest could easily be attributed to background sounds.
I didn't like some of the characters, mostly because they often contradicted their own actions in extreme ways. Zed remains for the better part of the anime, a hero, he takes to his role readily, then experiences doubts about himself, and his mentor, who although appears to have a grandfatherly aspect about him, has a dark past that doesn't come out until the last 5 or so episodes. Zed's best friend is another source of frustration, in that he so easily and completely changes himself into the opposite of Zed.
As you are watching the anime, you are completely absorbed in it, and maybe once it ends is when you really start questioning things such as characterization and such, but meanwhile, this is one wild ride. The rather novel concept of shard casting sets this anime apart, and I highly recommend it to everyone