In a dark, dreary, smoky city called Calm where there is never any wind, Zed, a teenager, is a belligerently independent enigma. More than anything else he wants to be free to do as he likes. Unfortunately, he also has a strange obsession: Whenever he sees a door, he destroys it. All he can explain is that he feels there’s someplace else that should be there, on the other side. While he gets some leeway for his mother, a mobile vegetable in the local hospital, his constant vandalism means neither the school he is supposed to attend nor the police are willing to allow him the freedom he craves. And then one day, all hell breaks loose, and somewhere in the midst of it, Zed, running, finds his door: A glowing greens circle in the air, that opens before him and closes after, leaving his pursuit behind. Zed has entered a new realm, with different rules: gone the technology of Calm (essentially ours), this world, and the three realms adjacent, are both connected and governed by the power of Shard. Faced with a new world and a new source of strength, Zed struggles to find his place and purpose in the place he has always sought. And he needs to hurry. Because every world knows conflict, and in a realm where the greatest powers originate within people themselves, those people must inevitably stand in the eye of the storm, and it is they who determine the tides of fate and war.
Action, Fantasy, Drama
Kiba aired from April 5, 2006 till March 24, 2007.
ADV Films acquired rights in march of this year, so it’ll be a wait. It’s in the donors section here at boontan, however, in the meantime.
Kiba is a fifty one episode series, with no extras, movies, OVA’s, or sequels to date.
I have a very clear idea of what number ratings for what. Five for rare beauties, four for excellent watches, three for decent, etc. Decimals are for ones that don’t quite make the next level, but undeniably stretch beyond the first. Kiba, however, is an enigma. In concept, it’s brilliant, all the way through. Whether it’s plot, character development, or character design, everything is top notch and innovative. The problem is that, somehow, in the production all of this brilliance became somewhat inaccessible. Browsing through watcher comments on anime-eden, the most common sentiment seems to be ‘I have no idea what happened, but wow, what a great series!’ Tragically(in my opinion) this does basically sum the experience of watching Kiba. An enjoyable series as is, it should have been twice as much.
In terms of character and character development, Kiba is very satisfactory, and occasionally awe inspiring. Zed himself makes a very good heroic main character. The way he combines the prerequisite values of a heroic main character-a sense of justice, a wish to protect, you know, the really indispensable ones-with being a gruff, insular person makes for a refreshing lead role that, equally refreshingly, manages to never make you wince. He makes mistakes, of course, but you don’t wince. At least not once the ‘training stage’ is over, which doesn’t take nearly as long as some do. Heck, Naruto’s still pretty stupid. Roiya, the love interest, is an enjoyable spunky female lead, and very cute, in a way that I actually believe I have not seen before. Yes, it’s an actual original design. Endearing, cheerful, and quite a strong Shard Caster herself, she, like most of her types, insists on being with Kiba, but unlike them, is strong enough to excuse it. Not that she never gets beaten or captured, but anyone can be overpowered. It’s the difference between being outdone and just asking for it. Jiko-sama, the ‘old wise mentor’, who raised Roiya, is about four feet tall, with big round cherub eyes, a penchant for fishing, a tendency to be fishing when he should be doing something else, and a hiccoughing hohoho laugh that generally means he has just been a very naughty old man. He can also pawnz anyone who doesn’t have a Key Spirit(no, watch and find out). The villains(sounds bad, I know, but ‘bad guys’ is worse) are equally interesting. The lead antagonist’s type is pretty well known-speaks quietly, unhurriedly, is cunning and constantly planning and manipulating, utterly ruthless, not to mention skilled. But I’ve never believed there was actually anything wrong with stereotypes. They become that because they have power. If the story is its own, the character will follow. There are quite a few other supporting roles, good and bad, but at least on the antagonist’s side, the cast doesn’t show it’s complexity until too far in the series: describing it here would give away the plot. It’s enough to know they do a good job.
Plot flow is good. That antagonist fellow is everywhere, constantly stirring things up and making use of events that should have been unrelated in pursuit of whatever his goal is. He’s sly about it too. Every time one clash is over, everyone goes home, Zed grits his and vows to make the next one count, but submits to the fact that for political reasons, he can’t just head over to Jimoto and cut his head off. Then something else comes up, but where there is trouble, there is this particular arch-villain. Often things start out as helping someone else, but trouble of that scale always seems to trace itself to whatever grand plan the antagonist team have in mind. It never feels like fillers, and that’s the important part. There are two fillers, spaced out, but one at a time twice shouldn’t put anyone’s hackles up.
There’s plenty of action, and its very good. Come to think of it, if there was anyplace this series’ Achilles Heel would have the least effect, it would be there. Zed’s growth in strength is both believable and satisfying, even exhilarating. He is not constantly being rescued(one common sore point), but he isn’t all powerful. This is mostly because shard power isn’t like magic;it’s constant. Your Spirit’s power depends on your potential, but aside from that, the swords, the balls of elemental power, are the same from person to person. In other words, power is still skill, and done right, few things are more impressive than a display of true battle prowess. This series, in that area, shines multiple times. The female lead, Roiya, also strong, is successfully shown as good but not in Zed’s league. She pulls her weight, somehow managing to need occasional rescuing without you beginning to wonder if maybe she shouldn’t be waiting behind with a handkerchief? All round good stuff.
So, everything sounds perfect, doesn’t it? That’s why I say the series is tragic. With this kind of material, the series should’ve been an easy four, maybe even a rare five. But…somehow, the delivery of all this brilliance got muddied. The nuances of Roya’s relationship with Zed, and its shifts, are good; if you discount that they are often barely detectable. There are several points where the series ignores the classic solution or twist in favor of a more innovative one, but despite coming up with good-no, excellent-substitutes, the scenes still lack the power they ought, by right, to have. The part involving Noa, his friend from Calm, is, psychologically speaking, perhaps the best part of the whole thing…but first you have to understand what it is, and unfortunately, this is where inaccessibility really bites. Character motivation and general psychology are the subtlest part of any anime, and when they are as muted as they are here, you have to be really good to get it. I am that good(or so I tell myself), but it still always took about ten episodes of seeing the results and musing. Noa’s part is one of the most universally not understood in the series, despite being one of the best conceived.
In the end, Kiba is a masterpiece crippled by inadequate presentation and execution. Despite that, it definitely rates three points, and a little more, making for three and a half. If you don’t mind what I mentioned before, then it’s probably a four. Even if you do, well, I still enjoyed watching it, and I don’t regret the time I spent. So if you think it might work for you, or aren’t sure, then it’s worth your while to find out. One way or the other, it’s an enjoyable watch. Just be prepared to re-watch the final episode a couple times in order to understand what happened.
Final Rating: 3.5/5
This review is brought to you by Z.N. Singer
Info such as cast and airtime are taken from ANN’s encyclopedia listing. All else is and always will be the origination of the author.
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