Each one of us has that one film or series that just makes us want to spit on the floor with unbridled disgust. This one is mine. Kai Doh Maru's plot is not only so thin that it might as well not have one, it actually lies about how much plot it has. The box says eighty minutes but the reality is closer to forty. No joke.
It starts off decent enough, depicting the traumatic beginnings of Kintoki's life, giving us a sense of belief in this capable young woman who will somehow embark upon a life-changing political journey and emerge victorious over all the men as well as any internal weaknesses she may have. It's easy to care in that ordinary way you do when starting a new film, even when after twenty minutes you're furrowing your brow and wondering what exactly this oversized cast are fighting for, and even after thirty minutes you're thinking that maybe this could have done with some better direction. But you can imagine my disbelief when it randomly stops, without an ending, without any warning of an ending, without having explained the point of what I've just witnessed.
To describe the movie as disappointing is to grossly underestimate how dire it is; it is in fact a forty-minute cock-up that somehow didn't get vetted. There is really nothing to say except don't watch it unless you care for shows where too much happens and nobody bothers to tell you why it is important or how the events relate to each other in any meaningful way.
This section deserves a high rating, and that's probably the biggest tragedy of the movie. Kai Doh Maru has the kind of production value that attached to a decent plot, would have been a human miracle. I adored the style of animation, the way its grey-pink palette and sketchy style created a very haunting feel. It reminded me of ghosts, as if I was watching a spiritual projection of a historical event. Some of the combat scenes were engaging from an artistic point of view. I hate it when good animation goes to waste.
The soundtrack, especially the eerie opening theme, is good; it's solid, it's complementary, it's the typical feel-the-authenticity-of-our-Japanese-feudal-era stuff you'd expect. Voice acting is suitable and competent at all times. However, in light of the shoddiness of the plot and characterisation, who gives a damn?
Lord Raiko is interestingly kind. Everyone else is plastic.
It's worthless - totally worthless. Unless a deranged fan ties you up in front of the TV and threatens to kill your family or beloved pet if you don't watch Kai Doh Maru, I just wouldn't bother. In fact, don't even think about considering to watch it because that would also be a massive waste of your time. It hurts to know that this abortion slithered out of the same belly that bore Blood: The Last Vampire.