Kaiba Full Analysis & Review

“Kaiba” is a little known high-concept, sci-fi anime where memories are souls and can be transfered from one body to another. It is very reminiscent of classic anime and clearly draws upon Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy), reminding me very much so of the modern adaptation of Metropolis which was based on his original story. Like Metropolis, Kaiba calls back to the vintage look of “Astro Boy” in terms of character designs but rather than the hi-res, high production, yet stiff and blaringly detailed, 3D environments of Metropolis, Kaiba is a beautifully simple world. The best way I can describe the ascethetics, textures, and physics of the Kaiba universe is a world of water balloons. These floaty, lofty-type environments fit absolutely perfectly with the character designs and is one of the most imaginative universes I have ever seen in an anime.

Kaiba also features gorgeous choices in color palette I must say, filled with snuggly fitting muted overtones that lend to the world’s fairly dark, cyberpunk setting that is infused into the stories. Interestingly, Kaiba can feel oppressive without being overbearing, it can be sad without being depressing. While the characters, mostly poor and living in ghettos, are forced to handle rough, “that’s life” type of situations, they don’t beat you over the head with it or beg for your sympathy. There are many adult themes in Kaiba and they delve into some dark, seedy corners of humanity, but they don’t overwhelm you. Despite everything, the characters are refreshingly optimistic at the end of the day. Kaiba is serious without being melodramatic, dark without being hard to watch, silly without being stupid.

Kaiba’s characters must deal with the cards that life deals them and live through it to the best of their abilities. There’s a gritty realism of Kaiba, a strange thing to say when the feel and look of the world is about as fantastical as you can get. The creators of Kaiba are absolute masters of teetering on edges of fantasy and gritty, making them blend together in seamless motion. I can’t but find it strange that I’m using such analogies considering these types of descriptions would completely off the mark from first impressions of Kaiba visually, but it’s to the series credit. I can’t but find it strange that I’m using all these analogies considering these types of descriptions would completely off the mark from your first impressions of Kaiba visually, but this is to the credit of the series.

There are two types of adventure anime: epic adventures where each episode is a piece of the grand scheme slowly building towards big climaxes. These are series such as Naruto or Bleach who, for the most part, are linear arcs completely focused on single goals. You wouldn’t be able to watch an episode out of context and understand what is going on because they’re only one piece of the puzzle.

Then there are procedural adventures, where each episode is a self-contained short story but have a grand scheme story arc beneath its surface. These are anime such as Wolf’s Rain or Monster, although the format of the show will remind you more of a straight-forward, non-adventure procedural anime like Mushishi or Kino’s Journey. I sometimes have my reservation about procedurals because they can fail at being able to tell a compelling story in only twenty minutes and it’s hard for me to empathize with new characters in the time frame, especially knowing I won’t likely see them in the following episode. Procedural anime live and die by the hit or miss one-shots. It’s with great pleasure that I can tell you that, so far, Kaiba is filled with excellent, top-notch engaging short stories that has greatly exceeded my expectations.

Completing the package is a befitting array of elegant, soft, sexy, relaxing, grandoise, epic, heart-warming, heart-pounding, heart-wrenching music… one of the best anime soundtracks I have ever heard, especially in terms of the musics ability to lend an emotional grab to each scene. Overall, the production values of Kaiba are very high with excellent animation and some truly mind-bending backdrops. Perhaps this is because of the humble art style but they certainly use it to their every advantage.

Considering how high my expectations of Kaiba rose with each episode, I was amazed to find the amount of satisfaction I felt from its climax, ending, and epilogue. Very rarely does that ever happen to me. Without mentioning any spoilers, a part in the climax of Kaiba blew my mind. I won’t say what blew my mind, but when you watch that scene and go “holy shit”, that’s what I was talking about (clue: near the end of episode 11) . In addition, some of the imagery in Kaiba, the final episodes especially, are just jaw-droppingly awesome that make me go, “Damn that is good”. I’m an illustrator, I get off on that kind of stuff.

Kaiba feels like a true successor to Metropolis, pulling off when its predecessor failed to do. To me, Kaiba is a long form version of a Hayao Miyazaki film (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Within). That’s how high in regard I hold this series. I hold no shame is saying this series is now one of my favorite anime of all time.

Rating: A+

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One Response to “Kaiba Full Analysis & Review”

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