Post Reply Review: Kagewani
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F / San Francisco
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Posted 12/10/15 , edited 12/11/15
Written by: Zerogouki

I can honestly say that KAGEWANI is unlike any other anime I've ever seen, and almost any TV series, for that matter. A short kaiju horror series with gorgeous, painted storybook visuals from some of the team behind Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories, it's unlikely that most anime fans are going to be able to dismiss this one too easily.



Our main character is Dr. Banba, a researcher and kaiju fanatic who is investigating a strange phenomenon plaguing the planet: The appearance of monsters called "UMA", or "Unknown Mysterious Animals." Episodes mostly take the form of a stand-alone story, with Banba only entering the scene at the last minute. There are hints of a broader plot forming and a story chugging along, although it is somewhat limited by the short runtime of the episodes.



That's hardly a major limitation, though. Each individual story packs in more story than some entire anime series, and packs it in smartly. Some of them, like episode three, imply character backstories and relationships through spare glances and bits of dialogue. Others zero in on a specific character, like episode two. The through line of Dr. Banba and some of his rivals in UMA research is interesting, but it does't have enough momentum to really sustain on it's own. It's the individual stories that are most compelling, even though it's nice to get a sense that there's some order to this world. It's not quite a mismatch, but it does try to apply a science fiction overlay to what is essentially a horror series -- the science fiction part makes us question how it all fits together, wanting to see an answer, while the horror elements cry out of ambiguity and mystery to keep them scary. I don't think that's a flaw, so much as the series attempting something new by dancing in between those two spheres. It's easy to miss under the novelty of the series' concept as a whole.



Not unlike the storyline, the visuals are deceptively simple. Although it carries on the same painted aesthetic and cut-out limited animation that Yamishibai had, it has a profoundly different effect when executed in this context. In the older series, the fact that it appeared to be a storybook come to life made perfect sense. It was a natural outgrowth of the content and called to mind finding a creepy old book in your grandparents' attic. Here, the same technique is applied to stories that are more like The X-Files or Ultra Q and creates a whole new atmosphere that I, personally, find even more unsettling. The series is all blues, grays, greens and purples, bathed in a light that looks like it lives on a perpetually dusty TV playing in an attic somewhere. It's engaging enough that you can't look away, but disturbing enough that you can't shake the feeling you're not really supposed to be watching it. It's perfect for streaming late at night, with the lights off and the sound of rain tapping against the window.
maurdl 
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M / Salt Lake City
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Posted 12/11/15
Still need to get around to watching this one... I liked (most of) Yamishibai season 1.
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Posted 12/20/15 , edited 12/20/15
Seems good. I'll probably watch it along with Ajin.
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