Posted 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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  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:23 PM)
    The only time they ever get along seems to be during non-canon alternate universes made for fanservice, official or not.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:21 PM)
    Erm, no. They didn’t “get along” so much as Sayaka at least sympathized nicely with her. At least, until the end, when she basically swore never to sympathize with her again. XDDD
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:20 PM)
    Another interesting point is that the character relations are pretty fluid, too. Characters can act differently toward each other in different timelines/potential futures. Rebellion actually solidifies Homura’s consistent feelings toward Mami and also that Sayaka just cannot seem to be on good terms with Homura… but even then, for a while, they got along pretty well until the end. XD
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:17 PM)
    Madoka’s characterization seems pretty non-linear and only show up when necessary, so it’s definitely easy to see that they’re “dependent on the plot,” but there’s a ton of stuff there to piece the characters together into something coherent and solid.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:55 AM)
    Madoka’s characters act pretty confusingly? I never got that. I always felt there actions were pretty logical in the first viewing.
    Though a second viewing of anything can help. Mostly because you know the main story so you can focus on the little details.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:27 AM)
    If anyone wants me to ask any specific questions, let me know. Funny enough, people are saying the same thing I’ve been saying for a long time–that multiple viewings help us understand the characters better. Because a lot of characters DO act pretty confusing at first, but upon a second viewing, after we know more about them, those actions make complete sense. Meaning that Madoka’s characterization is not linear.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:20 AM)
    Thankfully, derailment usually doesn’t happen with serious topics like this, so it’ll probably just die down over time when there are plenty of great answers and not a lot more to say, or go on for a very long time if there are a disparity in perspectives from different people.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:17 AM)
    On a very, very interesting note, I just asked one of the small communities of respectable Madoka fans to sit down and think with me about the potential flaws of characterization and development in Madoka, or why they may be perceived as flaws. I’m getting a lot of well-thought-out answers, so when the thread starts to die down (or derail, which hasn’t happened yet), maybe I’ll share the link here.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:15 AM)
    @Kenjeran: I keep hearing that Up has a really emotionally engaging short intro or insert or something. I STILL haven’t seen it yet, but that might be a potential example.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 08:36 AM)
    I must say Daimidalar, the breast grabbing/groping really bothered me actually in that one that I wouldn’t watch it.

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