Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Pastel coloured family feud.
on 20 January 2011
Kai Doh Maru is an interesting experiment in style. This animated film isn't the usual bright and bold affair you expect from anime, instead it consists of very light watercolours and the initial opening scenes are greyscale with only the yellow subtitles providing colour.
I enjoyed the use of black and white, and the watercolour look gives the film a unique place in any anime collection - but after a while the novelty wears off and you find yourself thinking that the film looks a bit overly aided by CGI and suffers from a general lack of detail. The film boasts that the seasonal colours actually change gradually throughout the film and it's a beautiful stylistic decision but is almost lost in the washed-out look of the picture. Another reviewer mentioned that they could see animator's annotations and cues, I noticed these too - only a couple of times, but after seeing them I found myself specifically looking out for them which took me out of the film and back into my living room.
The plot is gloriously eastern and not watered down in order to make it appeal more to western audiences. It's a relatively simple tale with complex Japanese history and folklore intertwining to create an involved story. Young Prince Kintoki is being hunted down by his evil uncle who has overthrown Kintoki's father in an attempt to gain power. Unbeknown by those around him, Kintoki is actually a girl disguised as a boy and her life after escaping leads to her involvement with a group of bandits and a complicated love interest.
The film suffers from short duration; although the product description has this down as an 80 minute title, that's only because they are adding on the length of the extras too, the film duration is actually just three quarters of an hour. With additional runtime or a more clever approach to depicting the characters this could have been a more heartfelt historical epic, but as it stands it feels pretty average.
In a nutshell: Kai Doh Maru shows great promise and has the potential to be a unique must-have title for the DVD shelf, but it ends up feeling like an experimental piece of cinema which initially looks good but ends up being nothing special.