Random Curiosity

Snapshots: Golgo 13 »« Toshokan Sensou – 01

Snapshots: Kaiba

kaiba 1a thumb kaiba 1b thumb kaiba 1c thumb

Challenging the concept of anime and replacing the need for weekend drug indulgence, Kaiba (カイバ) will grace your screens Thursdays at 24:00 JST on WOWOW with its 12 episodes.

An entirely original production by Yuasa Masaaki and Madhouse, this will be the third project to be directed by the longtime animator on Crayon Shin-chan, following his debut movie Mind Game in 2004 and the strange series Kemonozume in 2006. Yuasa’s mark on the show is made even heavier through writing the script and handling the storyboard as well.

A boy wakes up in a room of rubble. His name is Kaiba, but he doesn’t know it yet, having lost his memories. Around is neck is a locket containing a hazy photo of a girl. He studies the picture for a moment, but remembers nothing. He moves on to look at his chest, and finds a hole straight through his body. Peculiar. Outside the room, people are getting their brains sucked out by floating creatures. A second boy appears, carrying a massive weapon attached to his groin, and he tries to protect Kaiba from an attacker, but Kaiba ends up in the line of fire as the newcomer shoots. In the last moment, a cyclopean space ostrich rushes in to rescue Kaiba and it flees with him clasping to its back. This is the beginning of an unusual adventure through a universe where society has advanced technologically to computerize memories, and the mind is stored in tiny cones. Since people can switch bodies at will, death itself has lost meaning, but now the lack of usable bodies to reside in has produced an illegal trade in kidnapped bodies, resold to the rich. Similarly, extraordinary memories fetch a high price, and Kaiba must travel the stars to reclaim his own past and find the mysterious girl in his locket.

Kaiba is not so much an anime as it is an animated picture book for adults. Its character design is simple and symbolic, more art than entertainment. The limited colour palette helps to create an abstract alien environment that’s hard to describe. This is farther enhanced by the odd music by Yoshida Kiyoshi, which seems to simmer at the back of the mind for much of the episode. A lot of the dialogue is haphazard, so it’s hard to judge the voice work in any normal fashion, but they’ve hired solid actors for this title. Kuwashima Houko (Tomoyo in Clannad) plays Kaiba, Paku Romi (Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist) plays the helpful Popo, and Noto Mamiko (Ai in Jigoku Shoujo) will appear as Neiro later on.

Only one word can properly describe Kaiba: trippy. It’s as strange as it gets, and I must ask myself if this is art for art’s sake, or if it’s really supposed to be considered entertainment. This seems to be push the boundaries for what should be contained within the “anime” category, because it differs so much from the stereotype. It’s animated and it’s Japanese, and perhaps it’s best to leave it at that. Is it good? I don’t know. The first episode manages to both bore and captivate at the same time, which is no small feat. Most of all, it’s confusing. There is a clear narrative running throughout the episode, but it’s surrounded by so much weird that it’s hard to grasp. It seems so experimental, with prolonged scenes that don’t appear to serve any particular purpose. The opening and ending songs by Kagami Seira are among the most appealing this season, but at the end of it all, I’m left wondering if anyone will watch more than two episodes.

April 11, 2008 at 12:01 pm
24 comments »
  • April 11, 2008 at 12:05 pmOmni

    This show is worth watching at least once just for the OP – I love the song and its ethereal quality. See the link at the end of Patrik’s entry for a download.

  • April 11, 2008 at 12:13 pmgame8910

    american animation much?
    http://randomc.net/image/Snapshots/kaiba-1c.jpg

  • April 11, 2008 at 12:17 pmMonochrome Factor Fan

    It’s alright. ^_^

  • April 11, 2008 at 12:24 pmLithium17

    Is anyone subbing this. If yes, then I’ll definitely be following this…. I don’t smoke dope anymore, but Kaiba is suitable for my weekend drinking session.

  • April 11, 2008 at 1:02 pmMike

    I too hope someone will sub this, from the opening and closing, and your description, it looks fascinating, and I don’t guess I get to call something that very much.

  • April 11, 2008 at 1:47 pmDmonHiro

    I bearly watched ONE episode. Will not be comming back. …..in other news…I need my second episode of Kurenai

  • April 11, 2008 at 1:49 pmehh

    oh my god, this is cartoon not anime :|

  • April 11, 2008 at 1:50 pmklinc

    doesnt look very good but kinda strange…

  • April 11, 2008 at 1:57 pmLeviathan

    Does the fact this show is original and “artistic”, necessity means it’s better than every other show this season?
    I wouldn’t like to believe that the “original and deep” shows that wish to avoid been identified with popular themes such as moe are better than these themes as most critics think, as I often find moe alot more emotionally appealing.
    However I’m not sure what is right to think anymore..

  • April 11, 2008 at 2:10 pmKovski

    since i havn’t seen it i can’t comment how good or bad it is anything about it really, but judging from what i read about it i thought this anime would give off same kind of feeling as Now and then, here and there. At first you dunno to make out of it but in the end one just loved the small details in the story and atomsphere.

  • April 11, 2008 at 2:18 pmBluWacky

    Being original and artistic doesn’t mean a show is automatically great. But being being unoriginal and conventional doesn’t mean a show is automatically bad either.

    Personally, Kaiba is one of my favourite new shows this season – but then so is Macross Frontier, which revels in its influences and homages and is essentially a modern update of a classic, but is no less gloriously entertaining for it.

  • April 11, 2008 at 2:35 pmMonochrome Factor Fan

    I like this anime show. ^_^

  • April 11, 2008 at 2:39 pmUnknownVoice

    good one. I like the hidden meanings put there, as well as the whole 70′s psychodelic art style. deffinite keeper.

  • April 11, 2008 at 3:00 pmEdZ

    Haven’t watched the show yet, but the previews looked something like Clangers: the anime.

  • April 11, 2008 at 3:25 pmWatch Anime

    Wow sound funny show

  • April 11, 2008 at 4:20 pmphatmlrd

    reminds me of the 80′s movie Heavy Metal

  • April 11, 2008 at 4:58 pmexcal

    2nd screen reminds me of Tales of Symphonia.

  • April 11, 2008 at 5:00 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    i’m gonna do what the dude in the third pic is doing befo i watch

    BLAZE IT UP!!!!!!!

  • April 11, 2008 at 5:41 pmv1cious

    so are guys gonna blog anything original season? cause so far you’ve passed on almost everything new this season, and went with the hivemind.

  • April 11, 2008 at 5:56 pmOmni

    v1cious: Your comment makes no sense. Do you mean original in terms of story? As in, not based on a manga or novel or game?

    Keep in mind that Patrik is NOT a regular blogger. He only blogs during the first two weeks of a season to help me cover the stuff that I can’t get to. I am the only regular blogger right now, and I can only handle eight or so shows a season (less if you include the fact that I am committed to Bleach). That’s out of 30+ new shows, so of course some things aren’t going to be blogged regularly here.

    As for your “hivemind” comment, you are implying that I should be following a show that no one else is. That’s not how I choose shows. I follow what I think has potential story-wise and production quality-wise, and many times, those end up being popular (for good reason).

  • April 11, 2008 at 8:44 pmRairyu

    …you lost me after you said “A second boy appears, carrying a massive weapon attached to his groin,”.

  • April 12, 2008 at 2:25 amShippoyasha

    MIND GAME. KEMONOZUME. HELL YES

  • April 14, 2008 at 4:36 pmChicle

    That’s a pipe for the nostrils, isn’t it?

  • May 4, 2008 at 4:46 amKasongi

    This has by far the most unique concept I have ever watched! This anime has simple animation yet deep issues. This is what makes it so great! And not to mention the Opening! Bravo. Even though you may think that the storyline is cluttered and uneasy to understand, I find that a redeeming feature towards this show. I can’t wait for more Kaiba, its too bad that the show is only 12 episodes.