Karas: The Prophecy

This short review will go up on Got Next later once I watch and write about the CG monster mash NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS:Welcome to Tokyo; a city with two populations, one human and the other demon. Dimensional separation keeps our worlds apart thanks to the guardian Karas and his masters. However, once a former Karas named Eko comes and rumbles the sacred balance while trying to take the streets, a newly risen Karas must fight for the sake of both dimensions.

Karas: The Prophecy has been speeding towards its final destination with a fair amount of promise and hard-to-crack hype attached for a variety of reasons, one of which is wholely studio-related. The 80 minute pseudo-feature is the first in a short series of OAVs by Tatsunoko Productions, solidified with legendary status for classic hits like Speed Racer and Gatchaman. As the primary part of their 40th anniversary project and helmed by Keiichi Sato (Animation Director for Wolf’s Rain and Mobile Suit Victory Gundam among others), theoretically Karas has all the right moves to make the next big splash in the medium.

But somewhere along the way it breaks out of its perfect ten dive and becomes content with landing in the water feet first with little hurrah. Karas is a mish-mash of slick visuals and hit-or-miss character design. The feature opens with a bang, though, and when it sticks to blazingly smooth action it makes you want to grab a controller and wait for Capcom or Sega to release a badass franchise actioner based on the metal-suited hero (whose design is somewhat reminiscent of Keita Amemiya’s gold-clad tokusatsu fighter Garo: the Fanged Wolf).

The score might be the crown jewel of Karas, thanks to Yoshihiro Ike’s composition and a performance by the Prague Symphony Orchestra. The swelling music is effective in making the great moments of the feature seem larger than they are, while at least creating a tolerable atmosphere around the less enthusing elements.

Still, this mix of traditional-style animation and CG only meshes well on occasion. There’s high contrast between the beautifully-animated characters and the hard knuckle metal beast fighting that plays out like an action game cutscene. Make no mistake, though, in nine scenes out of ten Karas is looking sexy. For all of the snoozer cliché segments, there are still moments worth recalling, making it a stunningly average cake with a grand coat of decorative icing. It should be interesting to see how the subsequent chapters hold up, but the swami says this prophecy is best told during a weekend rental.

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