The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, No. 135 – Kai Doh Maru

Kai Doh Maru 1

Continuing once again to look at some more obscure titles which I purchased locally, we look at a single, 45-minute anime, noted for its art.

Kai Doh Maru was released as a single Original Video Anime (OVA) in 2001 by Production IG, and directed by Kanji Wakabayashi. It is a historical drama partly based on fact which may be brief, but it is noted for one aspect in particular, which is the art.

The story begins in 995 AD and follows a girl named Kintoki. Her parents were killed by her uncle, and following this her new guardians raised Kintoki as a boy.  Kintoki falls in love with her guardian, a city guard named Raiko. As the years roll along Kintoki joins Raiko as a guard, but the city in question is ravaged by illness and attacked by bandits. What Kintoki does not know is that the leader of the bandits is her cousin, who in turn does not realise that Kintoki is female.

As stated, the main appeal of this anime is the artwork. It uses this watercolour-like style of art, which bring out the depth of the characters and also heighten the tension in moments of crisis. There are various fight sequences in the story and some a pretty gory. For example at one point a horse’s head is cut off, and the artwork shows death in a manner that is both shocking and yet also aesthetically pleasing.

The artwork makes up for the plot in general because there is not much to it. While there are plenty of fight sequences that story itself is of little importance. It is also not that accurate. According to The Anime Encyclopedia: “The Japanese titles clearly state that the year is a.d. 995, although some of the characters and events seem to originate from a century earlier (i.e., 889), causing some confusion for the translators.” However, the encyclopedia also points out that this is deliberate move made by Wakabayashi.

The one inaccuracy that is not made by Wakabayashi however is on the DVD cover. The cover combines the running time of the anime and the running time of the extras, so it says that the running time of the anime is 80 minutes long, rather than 45.

Kai Doh Maru is a quick burst of colourful anime, which is worth dipping into if you don’t want to commit to a larger series.

Kai Doh Maru is released on DVD by Manga Entertainment.