Posted by psgels on 16 August 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


Kai Doh Maru is making me rather angry while writing this review. Not because it’s incredibly bad, but because it could have been incredibly good. It’s Production IG’s attempt at making a movie, and they went with another setting of Japan’s history. The interesting thing is that while most anime pick a period around the year 1800, with the samurai and shinsengumi and all, Kai Doh Maru goes further back: to the ninth century.

Those who appreciated Sisters of Wellber know what to expect: really stylized art that fits perfectly, an excellent soundtrack (this one has been composed by Yoshihiro Ike, the same guy who did Ergo Proxy), and a nice amount of the screen-time is spent on fleshing out the characters, creating a great mood for this movie to work with. Only the humour is missing in this one. So why did it disappoint?

Simply enough: it’s too short. If only it had gotten twenty, maybe ten more minutes, it could have been so much better, and it could have made a chance to be memorable. Unfortunately, Kai Doh Maru only has a length of 40 minutes, which may be enough to flesh out its characters, but not to flesh out their backgrounds. Right now, the movie was just way too confusing and failed to answer too many questions. What happened in Kai Doh Maru’s past? Why was he or she hunted, and why does she or he keep changing genders? These questions could have been perfectly answered if more time was given.

Then there’s the issue of the ending: there is none. It just ends, and the bad guys still live. What happens next? We’ll never know. One thing I do know is that I really like Production IG’s style of storytelling; it’s just too bad that this movie screwed up. Nevertheless, despite my ranting, it’s quite an enjoyable movie though; you can give it a try if you’re a fan of their style like me. Just be sure for the rather large plotholes it leaves.

4 Responses

  1. Mali says:

    I agree with you. It could have been amazing but they really did an awful job. It had a really good plot and stuff but they made it just not make very much sense and I wasted a rental.

  2. G8crasha says:

    I’ve just finished watching it now and I really hate the ending – let me correct that, I hate that there is no ending. The OAV goes half-circle and then ends there!

  3. ashimbabbar says:

    I should think the ending is obvious – Onihime totally flipped out upon discovering intoki was actually a girl, there was a fight in which she was killed and Kitoki fatally wounded – so Kintoki stumbles to die besides Raiko’s corpse.

  4. cromagnon says:

    The strength of feeling on some of the reviews of this film is quite interesting. I have just seen it for the first time. I think it is a film that needs to be watched a few times to fully appreciate it. I did find it confusing, and the final scene seemed to violate my expectations of a satisfying ending. The ‘bad guys’ did not appear to get their comeuppance. This is a problem with my expectations though, not the film it’s self. I had a feeling it was going to end badly for the good guys when one of the heroes had his arm lopped off. Not since ‘man bites dog’ have I seen so many of the main characters in the story killed off. At least in MBD, all the characters were thoroughly unlikeable. In Kai Doh Maru, the characters are likeable, even if briefly sketched. Although very short there is a lot of subtleties that belie the film’s simplicity. The end sequence had me re-watching it a few times to try to see exactlywho stabbed who. This was diliberately obscured, but a slight buckling of the knees gives it away. The film begins and ends with events alluded to that are outside of the story. I thought perhaps it was an episode in a series. This, again, is my expectation, not a fault of the story. Once I accept it as a stand alone story, I like how it’s a fragment of a larger tapestry.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 01:34 PM)
    @bam, Muv Luv has the problem that most of its brillence lies in the third title. But in order for the third title to have the same effect you need to read the first two. Successful or not, I doubt theres animation studio willing to go all in and adapt the full trilogy. There’s also the issue of the first title being a really mediocre harem.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 12:48 PM)
    just a glimpse at the tip of the iceberg of reasons why y’all need a PS4 for the upcoming year:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3Hz8eXWHNY
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 08:09 AM)
    Why they didn’t adapt the original Muv Luv novel or Alternative is a mystery to me. Wasn’t the VN really successful? Whats with these offshoot shows instead of doing the real deal? They are avoiding it for some reason.

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