Welcome, to the start of horror anime month. Where most of the series I review will undoubtedly have the horror tag, not because they’re scary in any way, but because they have monsters. Kagewani is a thirteen episode series that was written by Kumamoto Hiromu and brought to us by Tomovies. You may not recognise the studio name and wonder what else they’ve done. Well, there’s this and its currently airing sequel. That’s it. The studio is really new. How does their initial venture into anime production hold up? Let’s take a look.
Kagewani follows Professor Judas Traveller*, a crypto-zoologist. You probably think of cryptozoology as that field where a bunch of people with no credibility waste time trying to find fictional creatures which it is, in reality. But this is a work of fiction and, in the world of Kagewani, those fictional creatures actually exist. Virtually every episode covers a different encounter someone has with a cryptid while Judas observes or listens to the story without actually contributing anything, except for a few isolated cases where he actually does something.
The biggest issue with Kagewani is that it attempts to be suspenseful horror but it fails miserably on both accounts. Each episode is under eight minutes long and they cover different cases, which doesn’t allow for any suspense to be built up. We also see the monsters right away in most episodes, which is also detrimental to the suspense. The horror aspects also fail. Most of it is just based around goofy looking monsters chasing people we know nothing about and don’t have any investment in seeing come out okay. We also have an underlying story about the titular kagewani and it fails about as badly as the one-shot stories. The series also suffers from characters gaining knowledge they shouldn’t have. The big example being the wampa*1 episode and the person its chasing escaping because she somehow knows how its vision works. I guess she looked at the script.
About the best thing I can say about the series is that it’s actually kind of funny. It’s like Corpse Party or Galerians in that it’s so egregiously incompetent that a lot of the “horror” moments just come across as laughable. If the series was a deliberate parody of B horror films, it would actually be pretty decent.
*Yes, I know that isn’t his actual name but it amuses me to call him that.
*1 I know it’s really supposed to be a yeti, but either one is fictional so it doesn’t really matter.
The characters are a big part of why the series fails. In order for suspense horror to work, we as the audience need to have some level of investment in the characters and their well being. In this series we get thirty seconds with a character, if that long, before they’re being chased by some monster or other. None of them come across as complex, interesting or fleshed out. We don’t care what happens to them because they’re like the generic background characters with no real personality that show up once from an action-oriented shounen series that runs for hundreds of episodes. Judas Traveller isn’t any better. He’s just a generic obsessed dude who’s mostly relegated to the background where he can watch events unfold without actually contributing to them. The Precure they added in Max Heart was more developed as a character and she was the very model of a modern mundane magical girl.
The art is a big reason for the series’ unintentional comedy. It’s at Spider-man and his Amazing Friends levels of the studio just not caring. The animation is janky. The characters look like badly made paper dolls. The posing is frequently really unnatural. Did the studio literally give every episode the animation budget of a convenience store boxed lunch?
The performances in this are quite flat. I can’t really blame the actors. They cast some good ones. I think the problem really does stem from the characters being duller than the original characters in a bad fanfic. The music isn’t very good. It’s not badly done, but it’s just kind of weak.
There isn’t any. Having ho-yay would necessitate that the characters have strong enough interactions and personalities for chemistry. Which they don’t.
Kagewani is an incompetent series. Like Galerians and Corpse Party, it fails miserably at what it’s actually trying to do. But, like those series, I kind of recommend it for the unintentional humour. Still, I have to give it a 2/10. Next week we’ll continue this year’s horror anime month with Danganronpa 3: The End of Kibougamine Gakuen Mirai-hen & the sequel special Kibou-hen. Look forward to that and maintain your fabulousity.