A Feast For Anime Lovers…And Everyone Else: KARAS

As you might’ve seen in our last post detailing the Toby Daye giveaway, we’re already collecting ideas for Fae Awareness Month, 2012. Today, Alexandra Seidel gives us a little taste of what we can look forward to. She’s got her new ideas in already — what are yours? (Did we mention you can win free books? Awesome books? It’s true!)

A Feast For Anime Lovers…And Everyone Else: KARAS

by Alexandra Seidel

Allow me, Dear Reader, to prepare your eyes for a feast in six courses: I want to tell you about Karas (“karasu”, which is Japanese for raven; the “u” is silent), a six part anime produced by Tatsunoko Production in 2005 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the company.

Karas Boxed Set Cover

Karas starts off with one of the most impressive fight scenes I have ever seen in an anime. But the show’s visual brilliance does not end there. Traditional 2D and new 3D techniques have been fused to create an exciting symbiosis and watching this is pure joy, a constant tightrope walk between fathoming richly detailed dark frames and blindingly bright ones. Obvious at first glance is the effort and love the production team put into this.

Fight Scene from KarasThe story it serves up is unusual, at least as far as traditional anime storylines go. Karas is about heroes but it is not just another ‘good vs. evil’ story. The hero, while he is not precisely an anti-hero is at least a darker version of hero. Lives are sacrificed without much gained, the damage and destruction seen here rivals the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Two side characters remind us of Agents Mulder and Scully from The X-Files and everywhere, there are youkai.

While I enjoyed the storyline a lot, I will admit that when I saw Karas for the first time, I had trouble following and seeing all the details, so be advised, this is something better watched twice. The reference to Japanese folklore might also pose problems for Westerners, but the well paced action should make up for that, and we all know what people say about broadening one’s horizon.

Shinjuku Night from KarasIn Karas, love for detail can also be heard. The music was composed specifically for the show and works like a charm to build atmosphere, to contrast the traditional Japanese with modern influences. This dichotomy of old–new is perhaps the most important theme in Karas, and I was delighted to find that mirrored so perfectly in the soundtrack.

For all those who find their interest piqued, one last suggestion: watch Karas in its original Japanese version and turn the subtitles on. Even better, find a version that adds explanatory subtitles that give some insight in the folklore used throughout the plot–or check out my article here; if nothing else, Karas will illustrate the need for cucumbers.


Alexandra Seidel likes anime and reads manga, both preferably with a dark twist. She owns more manga than comics, but taken together, those dead trees marked with speech bubbles and fine ink fill shelves and shelves.

Alexandra is a writer and a poet, a poetry editor and a reviewer. Her work can be found at The Red Penny Papers, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium and others. Her blog has claws and stripes and writerly thoughts: http://tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com

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  1. Trackback: Fae Awareness: The End and Index « Fae Awareness Month

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