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Karas (鴉 / The Raven) / Japanese Anime

Karas (鴉, Karasu, lit. The Raven) is a six-part original video animation. Tatsunoko Production produced it to commemorate its 40th anniversary of anime production.
Each Karas episode was first televised in Japan as a pay-per-view program from March 25, 2005, to August 3, 2007, before being released onto DVDs. Manga Entertainment compiled and released these episodes as two feature length, direct-to-DVD films for the English market.
Karas tells the story of Otoha, a former yakuza, living in a fictional version of Shinjuku, Tokyo populated by humans and yōkai (Japanese spirits). He is one of the titular karas, humans appointed as superpowered agents of the land. Able to transform into a car, an aircraft, and an armored crusader; the skilled swordsman is to stop his corrupt predecessor, Eko, from taking over Tokyo. Supporting characters such as Eko's former henchman, Nue; the yōkai; and Homura, the karas of another city, help Otoha in his quest. A concurrent side story focuses on humans affected by Eko's scheme.

Karas : The Prophecy trailer

Karas won the Best Original Video at the 2006 Tokyo Anime Award competition, and most reviewers were impressed with the images produced by fusing 2D and 3D art techniques. The story presents themes on the conflicts between cultural traditions and modern society, and the relationship between people. Reviewers, however, found its presentation was too confusing to follow; several of them felt it worsened the show by detracting from the strength of its art.

karas the prophecy pt 1

Karas is set in a fictional version of Shinjuku, Tokyo. The show initially showcased larger areas of Tokyo, but the production team felt other animations have featured these areas too many times. Art designer, Hajime Satō (佐藤 肇, Satō Hajime) created a modern version of the ward infused with a mixture of East Asian cultures. Chinese characters bearing the curves and stylings of the Korean language fill the billboards and signs. Western gargoyles and Singapore's Merlion statues decorate the streets, and the buildings are modeled on Shinjuku structures of 2003 while blending influences from the Shōwa period. This Shinjuku is populated by humans and Japanese folklore spirits, yōkai. The humans have become indifferent to the yōkai's presence, and fail to see them as they go about their lives.
File:Karas Shinjuku Night.jpg
(Art designer, Satō's rendition of Shinjuku in Karas)

The production team envisioned Japanese cities as entities, who require physical agents to execute their will and regulate the activities within them. The concept behind the health of a city is based on traditional Chinese medicine in which the smooth flow of a body's fluids nourishes its internal organs. The team equates yōkai with qi, humans with water, and agents of the city (karas) with blood. They integrated Celtic mythology into their concept for further symbolisms, treating the city as the male (yang); and Yurine (ゆりね?), the manifestation of its will as female (yin). In contrast, their theory treats the humans and agents as the children of the city and its will, and classifies them as the reproduction system's five major organs. Following the team's vision, the mikuras (evil yōkai) represent the five elements in this system. This idea forms the basis of the relationship between cities and their inhabitants in the show.

By A.S. on June 13, 2010
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