Monday, March 23, 2015


Premiering in Spring of 2008, Madhouse's Kaiba is a 12-episode anime series that is described as "a sci-fi love story". Though it lives up to this standard, it paints a very confusing picture along the way, both visually and metaphorically. Still, it made for an engaging watch, meaning that even if i couldn't understand it, i could still enjoy it.

It at least has the romance it describes, even if it's hard to find.

In a distant future, law and order have fallen to pieces as technology has advanced to the point where memories can be stored as digital information. People buy and sell their bodies, using memory chips to ensure their consciousness will live on after they die. Electric clouds blanket the sky, destroying any memories that pass through; above is the realm of the rich and spoiled, while below is the realm of the poor and hungry. Enter Kaiba, a memoryless boy who wanders the stars searching for answers for himself, and for the woman in the locket around his neck.

A portion of the show is done in flashback, which only adds to the pile of evidence that there are no "Good" guys and "Bad" guys.

Kaiba attracted me from the start with its super-unique visual style. It's arty, it's interesting, and weirdly enough it looks a little like a western cartoon (or even French). Everything moves and flows beautifully, and it all looks like a modernistic painting. I was even contemplating showing this to the kids i mentor, and asked people about it--and i'm glad i did, as an acquaintance explained why this is CERTAINLY not for kids.

Body-swapping is extremely common in this show, but with a different angle due to the memories. Both the girl and the hippo belong to Kaiba, additionally, and neither are the original body.

Despite its style, Kaiba deals with some VERY adult subject matter. (Not to spoil too much, but someone actually gets sexed to death in episode 2. Not kidding.) Even getting past the graphic and the gorey, the plot is something that likely wouldn't be easy for kids to grasp, either, having the politics of memory-trading and corruption come into play. I'm a grown-ass woman and i had trouble understanding it at times. Mind you, that's also due to purposeful ambiguity, but that only adds to my point.

This show also plays on the "friends are foes and vice versa" idea, making it that much more difficult to wrap ones' head around.

If the visuals weren't enthralling enough, they also chose to engage us with the music. Before i even watched the series i had the opening ("Never" by Seira Kagami) on my music player, and knew all the words. It's a real feast for the eyes and ears, and if you're into conspiracy subplots and intrigue, then a feast for the mind, too.

Picking sides isn't really a thing you can do in this show, either.

Overall, despite the feeling of disorientation at the end of it all, Kaiba did not disappoint in the slightest. I DO wish they had followed it up with some more material (a manga, an OVA, a second series, whatever), but i suppose having it is enough, and maybe on the second or third watch i'll feel a little more fulfilled since i may understand the action better. As such, please, PLEASE don't show this to kids. Some adults may not even like it--that sex scene in episode 2 goes on for QUITE a while.

Seriously, it's pretty bad.


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