Posted by psgels on 27 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kaiba


Welcome and say hello to one of the best anime of 2008, and along with Haibane Renmei and Hi no Tori, my favourite anime of only 12 or 13 episodes long. Kaiba is the product of director Masaaki Yuasa, who was the one behind Kemonozume, Cat Soup and Mind Game and it shows the result of when an already excellent director learns from his mistakes.

Kaiba is very much an experimental anime, which tries to be different from the stuff you usually see. The character-designs may look childish and simple, but make no mistake: this storyline isn’t afraid to show adult themes at all, and the perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s about a futuristic world with the fascinating concept in which people’s memories can be stored in chips and placed from one body to the other. The series smartly spends its first half fleshing out and playing with this concept, so that the viewer feels at home inside the setting, only for the second half to kick in with the real meat of the series, where the storyline keeps spiralling to the point of going out of control. The final episode is indeed one of chaos.

The setting may be already an incredibly imaginative one, what really won me over for this series is its sense of storytelling. It’s hard to explain, but if there ever was some kind of x-factor for anime, then Kaiba would have it. This is one series that knows exactly how to progress a mystery-storyline: lots of random flashbacks, in order to flesh out both the storyline and characters, a back-story that goes way beyond the “person x killed person y in the past” and lots of different hints to keep you guessing.

This also really helps fleshing out the characters, and the interesting twist that they keep changing bodies (made possible because of the setting) puts them in interesting different spotlights. The romance can be incredibly sweet when it’s in its element and even the villains get their own piece of development.

Overall, Kaiba is definitely recommended if you’re into experimental, mystery or science fiction anime. The only bad thing about it is that the plot isn’t the most solid one, so don’t expect everything about the setting to be fully explained by the end. Nevertheless, Kaiba is an masterpiece that makes excellent use of its limited time of only twelve episodes, and it has been my top pick of the past spring season ever since it started.

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

20 Responses

  1. John says:

    I kind of liked the drawing style a bit. Maybe its because it has that old lets get it done as fast and cheap as we can so we can work on other things feel.

  2. Denizen says:

    I can’t wait to finish this series, it truly has been good.

  3. midenz says:

    turtly cannot wait to finish this series, its really good and wow like u said, one of the best animes this year of 2008.

  4. BlueYoshi says:

    I’ve been checking AnimeSuki non-stop in the last 10 days or so, and I’m still itching for Episode 10 and onwards. The waiting is killing me.

    95? That would be up there in your top ten I think?

  5. Denizen says:

    @ BlueYoshi – TokyoToshokan is worth checking more than Animesuki

  6. Omisyth says:

    Thank god for fansubs, just got finished watching the series, and I can honsetly say that its one of the best I’ve seen.

  7. Gabe says:

    Hey, thought i’d drop you a line to say I am completely agree with your review… I managed to finish watching it today, and I made sure I watched the last 4 episodes one after the other to understand what was going on! but excellent overall! Oh and thanks on putting me onto that other excellent under-rated series Baccano! :)

  8. Z.A. says:

    well i agree with some of the comments above. i liked everything about this series, BUT for the animation style. i couldnt stop thinking about how terrible the animation was the entire time. i think this ‘experimental’ animation style and the character arts were a disaster. i aint obsessed with hardcore Hokuto no Ken, or slick Seirei no Moribito, but cmon kaiba’s character designs absolutely suck! good story though…kept me entertained…

  9. Perrin says:

    Didn’t everyone find it weird that Popo helped Kaiba escape into the ship back in episode 1?

  10. AlexS says:

    Perrin: He just wanted to get rid of him (by sending him to another planet), since he realized he could not physically destroy him.

  11. David says:

    If you watch the whole series, you wouldn’t be suprised why Pop wanted Kaiba to leave the planet.

  12. Ehtesham says:

    Wouldnt it have been easier for Popo to just take Kaibas memory chip and destroy it?? I mean all the trouble he went to send him away.
    Kaiba should have a remake with better animation style.

  13. fernanda says:

    I began watching Kaiba because of the posts you wrote. I though that it had to be somewhat good. I wasn´t prepared, though, for it to be amazing! I loved it, absolutely! It is very rare (and I can´t remember any) for an anime to tell a love story right from the start (instead of the confession being left for the ending). I entered your top ten today, as I was hoping it would be there… Well, in mine it certainly is!

  14. totoum says:

    Just finished this today.

    Even if you don’t like the style (thought that’s not my case,i really like it) you’ve got to admit that the animation is topnosh.
    Definatly a very creative series,loved the universe (Hippo body is one of the coolest things ever!).But my rating would more like 85 than 95.

    Maybe it’s because i’m not that into mystery series but i would have definatly prefered it if the content of episode 10 was at the start of the show,definatly there’d be less mystery but i would find it intersting that the audience would know stuff the character didn’t and watch him try to get his memory back (but i guess that’s just me)

    I’m just getting tired of the “main character has lost his memory so the audience can’t know everything” routine , off the top of my head i can think of ergo proxy,noir,el cazador de la bruja,denno coil and .hack sign that use this.

    As was said in the review,the plot isn’t the most solid one,i can let it pass if i get really attached to the characters but i just didn’t,especially vanilla,his death was pretty meaningless to me.

    Wow,these last few lines make it sound as if i don’t like this show…but i liked it,i’m not crazy about it.

  15. Dariel says:

    Guys, the animation was simple so that you could focus better on the deep meaning of the story.
    It’s full of metaphors, just like an Osamu Tezuka work.
    I loved it. One of the best animations I have ever seen.

  16. Marktheknife says:

    Okay, just finished this show (pretty incredible, though I’m dying for just one more episode. Or an OVA?!? One can dream), but uh, yeah. Does anyone know what Masaaki Yuasa’s working on now? I honestly can’t get enough of his work all of a sudden.

    Also, I’ve been really impressed that no one has mentioned many of the visual similarities/scenes taken right out of Cat Soup. Not that there’s anything wrong with that as it is another Yuasa work, but man, it’s almost the exact same! For instance, the guillotines going off and the people being hung are almost unchanged, and Patch and quilt are definitely nods to the cat sewing lady of Cat Soup.

  17. tealovertoma says:

    I still need to see Cat Soup. I tried to see it back when I was 15-16, but I was still too much into longwinding boring shounen back then :P

    *Love* his other work. Bought Mind Game on DVD (plan on doing the same with Kaiba… if we ever get it) and Happy Machine is just terrific. Still need to see Kemonozume as well.

  18. Kara says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I read your review of this the other day and marathoned straight through this series. I loved it. The animation style took a bit to grow on me, but I really began to enjoy it awhile; it’s a nice contrast to the typical art featured in anime.
    Thanks for blogging this, otherwise I may have never heard of Kaiba. :)

  19. Johnson says:

    The drawing style is totally how they got away with the woman who literally exploded from too intense a fuck in episode 2.

    Or so I thought until I saw Kemonozume.

    Anyway, great series.

  20. Solaris says:

    What a review (lol)!! The only thing you take out from that is you liked it very much. I’m really glad for you.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 05:37 AM)
    True, assuming of course that the latter installment is indeed better. Resident evil 5 was no 4. That’s for sure.
    I liked that you could time R1 to give you more damage for attacking with Quall. And it was nice that summons leveled up. So that your earlier summons don’t become completely useless in the endgame.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 03:46 AM)
    I also enjoyed FF8 quite a lot. I appreciate cinematic presentations and 8 delivered that with a lot of style. The visuals were amazing and the the music was great, and if you learned the GF BOOST ability you used the much-maligned long summon animations to stack up on some damage.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 03:42 AM)
    @Aidan: I used a common example, but of course everyone had a different experience with the FF series, but the point being that it’s often hard to go back to earlier titles after playing the better later installments; especially for DS which is just a modified and improved DeS.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 01:28 AM)
    Anyway the main reason I amnot wanting to linger on Demon souls is just that I have far more games to play and don’t really want to spend my entire vacation on it. I got the uncharted’s to get though after all.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 01:26 AM)
    Kafka was a good villain but everyone really has over-hyped him. FF7 is overrated but FF6 is put on too high a pedestal. Like FF9.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 01:26 AM)
    @Bam, bad comparison for me. FF7 may be overrated as all hell but it still is to me the best Final fantasy. I played ff6 and found it downright tedious. I had more fun playing FF8 and everyone seems to think that’s the worst one…though I don’t. I barely remember any of the story of FF6 and I just found it a slog to get though. Mostly finished it out of obligation.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 3. 2015 10:57 PM)
    It’s always a little bit underwhelming when you play an earlier game of an improving series before the later ones. It’s like playing FF6 as kid as your first FF game and then going and finding FFV and playing that while hoping it’s as good as 6.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 3. 2015 10:52 PM)
    The levels are simple and rather small and linear, but each world has a great and unique atmosphere and variety. The Tower of Latria is specially atmospheric and the game suddenly takes on a much darker and almost horror game feel to it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 3. 2015 10:48 PM)
    @Aidan: yeah I could see how somebody would just want to run thru the game once, but there are a lot of cool weapons, armor and story quests that you can do with tendencies. The PVP is fun and simple as well, and weirdly has much better collision detection than DSI&II.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, May 3. 2015 02:49 PM)
    I wasn’t keen on the levels though. There were not quite as visually interesting as dark souls environments.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 1-2

Even after a long break its nice to see that Sidonia hasn’t lost its edge. The story is still engaging and CG robot battles dynamic. However…was the CG this bad before? I remember it took some time to get used to the CG animation of the last season but this seems especially stiff. The easy […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 16

So at the start of this episode featured the big moment of Gilgamesh ripping out Illya’s heart and it was surprisingly underwhelming. It is true that in context this makes more sense and fits his character better. But it is a little disappointing. Strangely this wasn’t how it was in the visual novel and this […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 15

The word that encompasses this episode in a nutshell would be brutal. Whether you love her or hate her, I say few would believe that Illya deserved this fate. The tragedy is ever more pungent if you know the full details of her past. Anime only viewers may not get the most out of this […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 14

As a reader of the Fate/stay night visual novel I can confirm that the majority of this episode was anime original content. However instead of being about castors history like I thought, it’s of his backstory with her first master. In all honestly making the episode be about her history with Jason would have been […]

Some Quick First Impressions: DanMachi, Denpa Kyoushi and Arslan Senki

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Short Synopsis: Our protagonist wants to be an RPG pimp I am getting SAO reminders already. Let me talk about something for a moment. You see when I first played the game dark souls I was frustrated and angry at myself because of my own […]

Some Quick First Impressions: Gunslinger Stratos, Seraph of the end and Yahari season 2

Gunslinger Stratos Short Synopsis: Our protagonist falls into an alternate world full of trigger happy people. I am fairly certain that Gen is not writing this. You can see part of him in the concept but not anywhere else. The episode gave me a mixed impression. I hate the characters and find the main to […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 13

It’s back and still as beautiful as ever. Sadly not a fourty minutes long and still leaves me hungry by episodes end. It does seem to cut off suddenly rather than end. So after telling Shirou to stay away and stating how only masters should stay in the war, Rin is thrust into the exact […]

Death Parade Review – 65/100

  When I heard that Death Billards would be getting a full 12 episode series called Death Parade I was quite excited. The one episode short looked to be an excellent concept for a episodic series. A bar which people are sent to when they die which decides whether they go to heaven or hell […]

Death Parade – 12

So this is the end of Death Parade. Or at least this is the end of what may be it’s first and last season. The ongoing plot didn’t so much as tie itself up but rather fizzle out. Leaving a second season to tie up loose ends. A second season that may never come. I […]

Latest Reviews

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]