ANIME & MANGA - Review
11:33 - 8th April 2013, by Tim Clare

Karas: The Prophecy

In Shinjuku walk yokai - spooky, powerful apparitions. To preserve the balance between humans and yokai, the Karas acts as a kind of inter-dimensional police officer, punishing transgressors on both sides of the divide, whilst also healing and protecting the weak. However, Ekou, a Karas since the Edo period, has turned evil. Realising that yokai grow stronger the more humans fear them, Ekou has set his sights on upsetting the balance and claiming unimaginable power for himself.

Pitched against him is Otoha, the current Karas. We ought to point out at this juncture that his Karas form is very cool - Otoha steps through a kind of glowing mandala-like portal and emerges on the other side fully 3D and CGI'd up. He looks like a cyber-samurai and fights with all the guts and flair you'd expect. In fact, Karas: The Prophecy is packed with stylus-sharp, exquisitely-choreographed action sequences that raise the bar for anime visuals significantly.

Also forming an awkward coalition on the side of good is Nue, a bespectacled snowboarder-dood who is in fact a yokai and ex-ally of Ekou, who shuns his mystical powers, and instead relies on gunplay and lightning reflexes. He is being followed by Kure Narumi, a detective assigned to investigate a series of gruesome, mysterious deaths where the victims have been drained of all body fluids. As a hardened sceptic when it comes to the existence of yokai, he has been paired with an older, more credulous colleague, to ensure that the investigation remains rigorously tied to the facts. Since Nue has attempted to prevent many of the murders, Kure mistakenly believes that he may be responsible for the deaths, and so attempts to track him. As it transpires, Nue may be avoiding unleashing his powers for a reason - it seems that, in using them, he may lose control and turn to the forces of darkness.

Karas: The Prophecy is high budget and very sexy - the marriage of 3D CGI effects with 2D animation isn't completely seamless, but it's as near as dammit. The main problem is the plot, which feels more than a little scrunched down and bamboozling - exposition tends to be cast aside in favour of lengthy action sequences, which is good up to a point, but often leaves you groping for answers. The patient among you will find your perseverance rewarded by one of slickest, most zingtastic anime releases for a while.
SCORE: 4/5
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