Monday, April 10, 2006

I WATCH ANIME: Karas - advance review

Karas: The Prophecy
Released by: Manga Video
Available: 4/25/06
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: Unrated

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a review copy for the new anime series that’s set for an April 25th release. I must admit, once I got a look at the advertising and website for the anime, and the fact that it was being released by Manga Video, I was pretty excited to get a closer look.
Karas holds true to the quality of another of my favorite animes, also from Manga Video, Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, in that it’s an incredibly strong production, with mature, dense, and challenging themes. Whereas GITS is episodic, and suffers a bit from the prolonged production in terms of overall animation, Karas is an amazing blend of visuals throughout. Karas: The Prophecy is the first disc in a two disc series, but this disc is 80 minutes and billed as a feature. It does stand on it’s own as a complete story of sorts, but it is reliant on the next chapter. The key here is that even though there may be more to the story, the animation is of feature quality, and combines detailed and fabulous character designs, with lush backgrounds and effects, while also incorporating some gripping 3D visuals, and action sequences. It’s a mind-blowing feast for the eyes, from the first frame to the last!
The story pits a fallen defender and guardians of a city against the former defender who’s now out to take control of the city, crossing over from the spirit world to reality. Two warring factions, playing out their battles across dimensions, impacting every day people who are increasingly besieged by these demons and spirits. If all of that sounds a bit complex, it is. Everything plays out slowly, and one must try to piece things together as they happen, learning the large cast’s different roles, sides, and motives. Karas requires your full attention at all times, so it is fitting that the visuals are so mesmerizing.
The shortfall of the movie is that the characters come accross a bit light, since we never get to focus on any one in particular long enough to really get to know them, or care too much about them, and the size of the cast does make things extra challenging to keep track of. Also, while the visuals are stunning, they can be a bit hard to follow at times, especially in the 3D scenes, where the opposing Karas designs are very similar.

Overall, I was very impressed with Karas though, and I'm not only anxious to see the next chapter, but to also watch the first disc again! I’d recommend Karas to anyone with a taste for mature, engaging entertainment, cutting edge animation, creative character design, or action with flair and substance. It could easily appeal to fans of The Matrix (or AniMatrix) or Ghost in the Shell, or perhaps fans of Batman or Aeon Flux.

Also of note, the DVD does come with a Dark Horse Karas mini-comic as well. The comic is small, but it’s a full length 22 page story within. I haven’t read that yet, but it’s great to see a comic book tie-in, built right into the the product itself. There’s also a nice Dark Horse advert, featuring many of the publisher's manga offerings. Great move on their part, and something we could stand to see much more of!

Be sure and check out Karas when it arrives later this month!

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