Kaiba was an anime that I had been interested in watching for a while based on its concept – it was on my list of anime from the 2000′s I wanted to see – so when I received it as an choice from my Secret Santa this year, I took advantage of the opportunity. (My other choices were Tatami Galaxy and Arakawa Under the Bridge; I kinda liked what I saw of the former and got bored of the latter after a few episodes.)
The protagonist, Kaiba, wakes up with no memories and someone’s picture in a pendant. He journeys to find his memories and that person (Neiro) while meeting different types of people along the way. He doesn’t talk much during the first half of the series so the other characters end up driving the story more.
The show’s universe is a bit distressing as memories can be stored on chips and put into a different body. The opening to episodes 2 through 6 starts with a narrator asking “What are memories? Souls? Spirits?” Memories and experiences seem to be what many people cherish as part of themselves and what they like sharing with others. The ability to transfer and, in some cases, alter memories shakes up the dynamics of many people’s interactions in this universe.
There is also some importance placed on how bodies are treated. Some rich characters desire non-artificial bodies and poorer characters sell their bodies in order to help out their families, storing their memories onto chips in the hopes that they will live again someday. Others buy manufactured copies of bodies made on the planet Abipa, where food is provided for free but with a hidden moral price (the food is made by recycling undesired bodies).
A group called Issoudan despises body changing and desires to dethrone Warp, the king in heaven who controls memories. We find out more about the group in episode 8 and the story thereafter became more interesting to me as more backstory and key plot points were introduced. The previous episodes had set up the basic ideas of the universe but were a bit boring to get through.
Overall, I liked Kaiba. The ending seemed to wrap things up and there was a bit of romance between Kaiba and Neiro. I also liked the humor in the earlier episodes as well as how the show looks.
It’s not an easy series to recommend and I don’t like it when people tell others to stick with a show, saying that it gets better after a particular episode – so I won’t do that… I’d say give a try if you are interested in watching something that has a deeper meaning behind it.
Some side notes:
- Masaaki Yuasa directed the series and wrote the script – you might recognize the name from the “Kick-Heart” Kickstarter project that raised funds this past October. Here is part of a 2011 film talk conducted in Dortmund, Germany, where he talks about the production of the series.