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Kai Doh Maru

2.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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(Jun 24, 2003)
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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

Special Features

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

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:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Manga Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 24, 2003
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009MEJX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,482 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Tran on June 28, 2003
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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