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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  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 06:41 PM)
    Rurouni Kenshin trust and betrayel is a prequel so even if you can’t remember the manga it doesn’t really matter. And seriously the difference between that and the series is astronomical. It’s like the difference between Deens fate/stay night and ufotables fate/zero.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 06:31 PM)
    Well that and I haven’t read Kenshin since I was what…13?
  • Emma
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 06:30 PM)
    @Aidan: Sounds like I’m giving it a go. I had always avoided Kenshin after the bits with Shisio as I’d fallen out with reading the manga.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 06:20 PM)
    @Emma, If you have not seen that Kenshin OVA I highly recomend it. It is very serious compared it the anime series. Many regard it highly.
    Plus it’s depressing as hell so right up your alley.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 05:35 PM)
    Shisio Makoto now while I my not have been big on Kenshin I liked him a fair bit.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 05:34 PM)
    I had shion no ou spoiled for me at one point and well that was fairly frustrating =<
  • Emma
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 05:33 PM)
    @Aidan: Oh well fair enough then my mistake.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 05:33 PM)
    @Aidan: As much as I hate on ryukishi07 and higurashi I don’t consider myself a blind hater/troll when it comes to the show, I found Takano, Rika pretty compelling and I liked Satoko’s story at least and the violence of course. It did slightly visually improve in the second season.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 05:21 PM)
    @Emma, Deen didn’t do the Kenshin series. Well except for the last season which was pretty terrible.
    Deen did the OVA Rurouni Kenshin trust and betrayel and that is a very different beast from it’s shounen series counterpart.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Sep 22. 2014 05:21 PM)
    I will give you that on umineko as I have not played the game. And my initial reaction to the fate anime was “This kept me busy at least”

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