Posted by psgels on 26 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


Next up in the category of “very obscure OVAs from the 80s and 90s” is Karura Mau (or as its full title reads: “Hengeitaimayakou Karuramau! Sendaikokeshienka”, which I’d rather keep abbreviated for rather obvious reasons). It aired back in 1990 as a six-part OVA (there was a movie too, I believe), but my guess is that it never really caught on. Which is a shame, because it’s really good. If you’re looking for horror and know a bit of Japanese (yes, I watched this in raw, so don’t bother asking me where to find subs) then you should check this out.

Before I start this review, I’d like to note one thing about the OVA’s rather questionable promo-art that you can find on sites as AniDB and MyAnimelist, because for the love of god… it’s got absolutely nothing to do with what actually happens here. Where the heck did that overly BL-picture come from anyway, because this is a story about two sisters who work for a shrine. These two guys who appear in the promo-art never appear in this story at all.

Anyway, Karura Mau is a pure, unadulterated horror thriller. At first sight, it may seem that it’ll be a collection of 6 random horror stories, in which our lovely leads exorcise one ghost every episode, but instead this turns out to be a continuous storyline. It’s easy to just stab someone in the hand, or draw some random corpse or goon, but horror really tries to make these scenes have impact, and Karura Mau succeeds really well in this department. It knows exactly that good horrors comes with good characters, and so it makes sure that throughout only 6 episodes, the antagonists are fleshed out and developed really well into sympathetic characters. The result is that this anime gets better and better with every single episode.

Another major plus for Karura Mau is its terrific soundtrack, full of influences from the eighties that manages to create a perfect scary mood. The graphics also look really good for something that’s nearly twenty years old, but I want to give especially credit to the gory scenes and blood. Because this OVA comes from the time of hand-painted cells, the bloody limbs and corpses are drawn in such a way that can’t possibly be mimicked by today’s computerized animation techniques. The budget for this series isn’t stellar, but nevertheless it shows the beauty of hand-painted cells.

Unfortunately, this is yet another one of these anime with the “the manga is so much larger”-syndrome. In Karura Mau, this doesn’t show through the story (it’s pretty standalone and wraps itself up nicely), but through the main characters. It’s obvious that they were developed in another arc than the one of the OVA, and so they pale in comparison to the well-fleshed out antagonists. Especially the two main characters are guilty of this, and the OVA partly assumes the viewer to be familiar with the manga (which, considering the popularity of this OVA, must be even more obscure)

It’s really a pure coincidence that I managed to discover Karura Mau, but as a fan of horror, I’m really glad that I did. It’s another one of those ancient gems that nobody knows about, and it deserves to be subbed or licensed. Its protagonists may feel a bit weird at times, but the antagonists really make up for it.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

5 Responses

  1. Petrouchka says:

    I’m guessing you got this on Share? I’ve no idea how to use that thing so I’ll try to look in some other places, but I have the feeling this is gonna be a hard one to find. Which is a shame, it sounded interesting.
    Also, if you’re a fan of horror, can I suggest you to give Kikoushi Enma a shot? It’s worth watching for the last two OVAs alone, as they give the humans more time in the spotlight than the main character. Not exactly original, but quite well-done.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Petrouchka: actually, I got my version from the site below. You can just use bittorrent to download it, if you’re able to understand a bit of Japanese:

    http://saiei.edwardk.info/

  3. Petrouchka says:

    Awesome ! Thanks for the link, there’s a load of interesting stuff in there.

  4. jan_l says:

    where exactly did you download yours? i’ve been searching for it like mad and yet seems like not alot of people knows about this anime.

  5. Al says:

    There is indeed a Karura Mau movie and it is excellent. It takes place before the OVAs and gives much of the back story for the main characters. If you can, you should absolutely watch the movie first.

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  • SuperMario
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 04:09 PM)
    @Bam: just watched it and yes, I dig it. Quite a lot. Can’t wait to see his new film “Aquarius” (which from what I heard was cutting back from 6 hours raw material)
  • SuperMario
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:46 PM)
    @Bam: yeah, that sounds good. I will watch it and tell you how I think (hope my taste is not that weird ^^)
  • SuperMario
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:45 PM)
    @Bam: for some weird reasons I prefer Inherent Vice as it as, if the film was better or the plot was tigher I would think Anderson as a more calculated director. This version of Injerent Vice is wild and more crazy that actually make me think more fondly of him.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:27 PM)
    @SuperMario: Neighbouring Sounds was great. Judging from what I gathered of your taste, my money’s on you digging it as well.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:23 PM)
    @SuperMario: as I said I really liked the tone and the atmosphere and the atmosphere in Inherent Vice, but the overarcing plot is thin and True Dtectige season 2’s level of self-importance. A lot of scenes serve as mere venues for the great actors just cheering the secondary. A.tighter script and a little less directorial indulgence would’ve made it a lot better. Punch-Drunk Love is one such great example.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:16 PM)
    @Kaiser: the Master is brilliant, and I liked Boogie Nights, but others have much more love for it than me.
  • SuperMario
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 11:59 AM)
    Btw, in preparation for Cannes, I plan to watch Kleber Mendonça Filho’s previous work Neighbouring Sound. Have any of you watched the movie yet?
  • SuperMario
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 11:31 AM)
    I think P.T Anderson is one of the rare director who doesn’t go wrong with his works. There will be blood and the master as his masterpiece but I do really enjoy the tone of Inherent Vice and Punch drunk love actually keepps getting better for me
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 11:19 AM)
    There was a found footage horror film with a hunter s Thompson inspired character, had a lovecraftian element to, Banshee chapter, utter hokum/nonsense but in an interesting vein.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 11:14 AM)
    Paul Thomas Anderson must be one heck of an director of actors though, given he actually managed to make good use of Adam Sandler…

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