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Kai Doh Maru (2001)

 Unrated |  DVD
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Format: Animated, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Manga Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 24, 2003
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009MEJX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,928 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • Character Design Boards
  • Character Biographies
  • Photo Gallery
  • Director & Crew Interviews
  • Original Japanese Trailor
  • Free Poster
  • Manga Previews, Fan Club & DVD Catalog

Editorial Reviews

Product Description


A brief (43 minute) drama set in 894 A.D., Kai Doh Maru is an eerie mixture of history and supernatural fantasy. After her uncle usurped the family domain, Princess Kintoki was raised as a boy-warrior under the tutelage of the elegant Lord Raiko and the other stalwart Knights of Kyo. Pitted against the Knights is the Oheyama gang, led by the icy Princess Ohni and her crazed assassin Ibaragi. Ohni retains her childhood love for Kintoki, apparently unaware of her gender. American audiences unfamiliar with the intrigues of the Heian Court and the rise of the Fujiwara clan will find the story puzzling, just as many Japanese viewers would be lost at a stylized production of The Crucible. Kai Doh Maru is a strikingly handsome film that uses computer graphics to suggest the look of antique Japanese art filmed through gauze. (Unrated: suitable for ages 15 and older: considerable violence) --Charles Solomon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not fully realized June 28, 2003
By S. Tran
I was quite excited at the perspective of watching another production from IG, especially since they featured such an interesting mix of visual and editing approaches in Blood: last vampire. On top of that, some of the earlier screenshots I saw looked very promising in terms of reproducing the aesthetic/cultural qualities of medieval Japanese illustrations. Unfortunately, my feelings end up being mixed regarding the entire narrative. While I'm familiar and enjoy the implicit meanings or broken-up narrative structure of animes, this one is a little obscure at times and requires you to review some of the background information to begin understanding characters and plot. Innovative in its aesthetic approach (pastel colours in a very limited hue range associated with thin outlines), this choice becomes too much at times, as most colours end up being washed out on your regular TV. Whereas the historical sources for this visual approach are relevant, this inspiration is being interpreted too literally, and ends up getting in the way of the dramatic tension of the story itself. The anime is inspired, but never quite beautiful nor emotionally moving...The theater version probably turned out quite different, but I never saw it. In terms of the production value of the DVD, the interviews are pretty worthless, since the production team seems either too tired and/or not really inspired to talk about anything substantial regarding the movie. Some 3D reproductions of scenes/objects are placed on the DVD with no particular comments either. They'll give you an insight on techniques pioneered to a great effect in Blood, but won't give you a good idea on the approach regarding their integration into the narrative itself.
So, somewhat disapointed by a studio that was aiming at a great initial start with Blood, but failed to carry on their innovative edge.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief Magic October 23, 2004
This is a difficult anime to assess. It comes from Production IG, the studio responsible for 'Blood - the Last Vampire' and 'Ghost in the Shell.' But unlike those anime and others intended for large public exposure, 'Kai Doh Maru' is a far more intimate creation, curiously low key for a tale with this much violence. Intended more as artistic expression than high profile.

The story is set in the late 9th Century in the Heian capital of Kyoto. Action revolves around Kintoki Sakata, the Kai Doh Maru. When an envious uncle wiped out her branch of the Sakata clan, Kintoki escaped and was finally rescued by Lord Raiko Minamoto who is the captain of the Four Knights of the defense ministry. Kintoki has always been a tomboy, and now she sets out to be a warrior, one of Raiko's right hand 'men.'

The overt theme is the political conflict already brewing between the Minamoto and the Taira. Doji Ibaragi is a mad swordsman who serves Kintoki's cousin, Hime Ohni. He uses Hime's own compulsive desire for Kintoki to manipulate events into a crisis. The true theme, amidst the whirl of fighting and betrayal, is Kintoki's fatal effects on the lives of those that love her.

This is all told with the terse minimalism that the Japanese often seem to relish. The ending is sudden, and difficult to grasp. I found it jarring in its sudden tragedy, and I expect that many watchers will feel that 'Kai Doh Maru' is much too short. The film cries out for more detail and character development.

Yet, as an art piece, this film is outstanding. Colors and graphic style have been chosen to recall Heian artistic forms. The images of the capital and characters will stay with you for some time. And the fight chorography is nothing short of remarkable.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 45 Minutes of Artful Confusion October 27, 2005
The animation group Production IG needs to understand that style is not substance. They are slick and innovative in their animation, but lack basic storytelling skills necessary to make great animators. Their first release, "Blood: The Last Vampire," could be forgiven as a rookie attempt, but their sophomore film "Kai Doh Maru" unfortunately replicates the same errors. At a little over 40 minutes, this isn't a feature or even an intro to a continuing series.

"Kai Doh Maru" is beautiful. That much is certain. Production IG is not afraid to take risks and push the boundaries of raw animation, playing with muting filters, color pallets, pencil techniques and various other technologies that create a unique look for their films. With "Kai Doh Maru," they have sought to capture the look of antique Japanese art, with an emphasis on browns and other neutral tones. The CG blending with Cel animation is somewhat less artfully done, and stands out in each scene. Still, it is nice to see Heian era Japan so fully dimensional.

The story, such as it is, is just a skeleton of plot to stitch together the visuals. As with "Blood: The Last Vampire," one has the distinct sense that the character designs came first, and then a plot was constructed to bring them together. A female warrior, Kintoki, is on the run from a power-mad Uncle. Rescued by Raiko of "The Four Knights," she begins to question her masculine nature. From there, incomprehensible villains appear and are defeated, and a strange semi-supernatural woman seeks Kintoki to be her lover. It is a confusing mess, and hardly able to be realized in the 45 minutes allotted to the film.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars She liked it.
Got this for a girlfriend a few years back. She liked it.
Published 1 month ago by R. Moreno Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh Yeah!
Definetely a movie I enjoyed. very well done. Very underrated. Beautiful art, animation, story, voice acting, etc. what else could you want?
Published 6 months ago by K.A.
5.0 out of 5 stars this is art, and art takes time.
This film is fantastic. The first time I watched it, at the end I said to myself, "that was stupid". Read more
Published 22 months ago by bloodiaper
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a movie, but an incredible simulation of one!
Kai Doh Maru / B00009MEJX

"Kai Doh Maru" is probably unique in that not only do you need to review the back of the box before the movie in order to understand what's... Read more
Published on September 14, 2009 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars The Most Beautiful Mess I've Ever Seen
Whenever I come away from animé or any foreign film scratching my head, I am always suspicious if my perplexity is due to cultural barriers. Read more
Published on May 6, 2009 by Sniff Code
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, not bad... (English dub)
Forget K. Jones A.V.O. that person is a sissy punk! The animation is very good, though a bit pale in places. Read more
Published on March 19, 2006 by Ronnie Clay
1.0 out of 5 stars Who gave the OK to make this
Basically whoever watches this movie most likely won't be able to take the first 10 minutes. The movie is boring and it takes forever to find out what's going on. Read more
Published on December 31, 2005 by Keith A. Jones
1.0 out of 5 stars Kai Doh Maru
Do me a favor. Visualize those two spoon-fulls of baked beans sitting next to the porkchops and mashed potatos on your dinner plate. Read more
Published on October 10, 2005 by Antonio D. Paolucci
1.0 out of 5 stars Cheated!
I'm a big anime fan and bought this with high hopes... they were shattered! This movie is made by the same people who made "Blood: The Last Vampire" and they make the same terrible... Read more
Published on July 4, 2005 by David Carden
1.0 out of 5 stars WORST ANIME I HAVE EVER SEEN
This anime was awful. The back of the dvd case actually give you more informative information on the backstory than the feature itself. Read more
Published on July 5, 2004 by Sesho
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