Karas is a six episode, original OVA written by Yoshida Shin and brought to us by Tatsunoko. That’s right, the same studio that brought us Kyattou Ninden Teyandee, SKET Dance & C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control. Karas was actually their 40th anniversary work, beginning release in 2005 and ending in ’07. So, they must have put a lot of effort into it, right? Well, let’s look and see.
There’s an unseen world alongside ours. The world of youkai. Unseen, they live alongside us in relative peace, or they did. Youkai with physical bodies combined with machines are threatening the balance and they’re out for human blood. It’s up to Yurine, the spirit of the city and her servant Karas, a being that’s neither fully human nor youkai, to bring down these youkai and their leader. The former Karas, Eko.
Let’s start with the obvious story problem. We’ve seen basically this exact story before, a lot. And Karas doesn’t really bring anything new to the table in terms of story telling or execution. Which results in a narrative that’s very trite and predictable. Every time they introduce a plot point, you know where they’re going to take it. That being said, I can give the series a little credit. They have creatures with a need to feed on blood and they actually think of using donated blood. The problem there is that it doesn’t work and there’s no reasonable explanation for why it doesn’t.
The characters in this are slightly atypical, at least, a few of them are. Otoha is not your standard hero character. The Nue we spend a good chunk of time with is not a standard character. Eko, however, is a pretty generic villain. He’s one of those “I’m going to destroy everything because the world is rotten” types of villains. His followers are pretty much the same henchmen that villain always has. The human characters are pretty boring.
This is most definitely a series that favours style over substance. With the big spectacle action sequences being the best part of the series. The artwork and animation in general are really good with some very impressive visuals and a unique aesthetic presentation. Yeah, there’s something in this series that actually stands out. However, you’d think they’d have done better with the final action sequence. The whole battle is like a formulaic JRPG boss fight where the big bad keeps revealing new forms only to have his actual final form be a bit anti-climactic and the battle from there being just over way too fast.
The voice acting is competent. Not brilliant or even particularly good, but perfectly passable. The music from Ike Yoshihiro, however, is really good. The action sequence music especially. It is intense and bad ass.
There might be a little when we find out about Otoha’s past and the young man he almost ran away with.
Karas isn’t a bad series. It has some strong art, animation and music. That being said, it’s not a good series either. The narrative itself is pretty weak, using ideas we’ve seen explored before and explored better and the characters are just average. My final rating is going to be a 5/10. It’s an average series. If you just want to see a spectacle of action and neat visuals, you’ll probably enjoy watching it but if you’re more interested in seeing strong characters and a unique story, you probably won’t be into it. Next week I’m finally reviewing Ruroni Kenshin.