It doesn't happen often but when does, God does it happen - a
new release from Manga Entertainment. It looked like they
were nearly standing alone with just Ghost In The Shell in their
recent catalogue but Karas is soon to hit the shelves and, oh boy, is
this going to HIT the shelves.
Karas opens with a fight over a city between two cyber guys with an excellent orchestral score and mix of 2D & CGI animation with typical fast-moving camera angles. The direction of this opening is jaw-dropping to say the least and is a scene that many would save until the finale but not Karas. Karas grabs your eyes and makes you take notice that Karas is ahead of anything before it and the opening ensures that the standard is set. The relentless action also screams that Karas is not just going to purely show off some fancy animation, it's going to entertain too.
Described by it's creators as 'Batman with a samurai sword', they were thankfully inspired by Tim Burton's masterful 1988 vision (not the camp '60's series) and this is clear from the industrial gothic design of the city as well as the complex characterisation. This influence of dark American comics is welcome in my opinion, as it means Karas is more likely to introduce more people to anime then Ghost In The Shell ever will. Other notable influences include The Crow and even X-Men and it is these references that stick out even more then possible anime comparisons such as The
Guyver. Karas instead takes American inspiration and gives it an anime sheen that gleams throughout - the animation is more stunning then recent Hollywood effects and certainly more thrilling.
The only downside with Karas is that, in a
few years time, it will become just another sci-fi action anime.
Once the effects are inevitably past by future anime features it may
even drift into obscurity without the aid of any sequels or
spin-offs. This would be a great shame as Karas is the
most thrilling anime I have seen for years that concentrates more on
entertaining then philosophising like most other sci-fi anime.