Kagewani is a monster thriller short anime series with a rather unique art style. So unique that, it’s the art style that caught my eye as I looked through the 2016 Spring Seasons list of shows, in case I missed anything that would interest me. If I were to go into it I’d say that the characters look like real people (I’m almost sure they are at some parts) that are painted over with watercolors, which is then pasted on top of a watercolor painting of the environment. While the art style drew me in, the first episode of the current (2nd) season is what did me in. I simply had to watch all of it from the start.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little hesitant to watch Kagewani, as I’m not the biggest fan of horror, but then I realized the episodes were only 8 minutes long and jumped right in. I have absolutely no regrets for doing so. While it does have it’s horror elements, it’s definitely more of a thriller than anything. Kagewani isn’t afraid to show it’s monsters from the start, as sometimes the monster isn’t always the thrilling reveal although they are often part of it. Quite often though the monsters are shown in a obscured fashion, which allows the show to build up on the mystery before finally showing us their disgusting and horrifying appearances. To add to it they are wildly detailed and because of it, for better or for worse, you’ll remember their appearances vividly. With that said Kagewani, isn’t anything that will keep you up all night with it’s horrors.
While the art and animation may not be for everyone, it only adds to the general unsettling nature of the show, and compliments the stories and themes fantastically. I don’t believe a traditional style of animation would have done Kagenawi any justice. The music is or lack there of, for the most part is spot on, although there are times when it feels off, and takes you out of the experience a bit. The atmosphere which surround the show is something akin to Mushishi, although quite a bit darker, and it is fantastic.
At first Kagewani seemed as if it were going to take an episodic approach, highlighting some new beast each episode, with the researcher Banba Souskei, the protagonist, making an appearance on the occasion. With that there is a plot that does begin to form near the end of the first season, and then goes full blast on the second. So in a sense we get both an episodic, and plot driven experience. With the episodes being what they are, there aren’t many reoccurring characters, but the ones we get, I would definitely say we get plenty of. Despite how short this anime is the characters come off strong and leave a lasting impression upon you, I found myself liking each of them, even if one in particular is… well you’ll see.
With only 8 minutes per episode, Kagenawi does not waste it’s time with any form of OP or ED and get’s straight to business. Be it a more or less self contained story, or the furthering of it’s plot, it does each episode in spectacular fashion. Although I have to mention some episodes can be rather predictable, but that’s fine when the delivery of it’s content is pretty strong. Other episodes on the other hand will surprise you, and you might find yourself questioning if the monster, was really the terror of the episode or not. But as I said each episode is spectacular, but as a whole it falters a bit, and raises quite a few questions, not to mention the change of tone near the end of the second season.
I can’t be to harsh on Kagenawi though, because what it accomplishes in its 26 episodes with 8 minutes a pop is simply fantastic. Once I strapped in for this ride, I simply couldn’t get off til I finished it. It was entirely enjoyable, from start to finish, if you have the chance I definitely recommend giving Kagewani a try, even if you’re not specially fond of thrillers.