Buried Garbage - Ki•Me•Raby Justin Sevakis, Feb 12th 2009
Girls love yaoi. Girls love vampires. Now, put them together, add some science fiction, a few fantasy tropes and some chi-throwing. And, just for good measure, try to un-gay it a little.
Now what have you got? A giant freaking mess.
The stupidity inherent in a show like Ki*Me*Ra is so pervasive that it's almost easy to miss. There's so much wrong with nearly every aspect of this OAV, so much suspension of disbelief required to even make it through the show's short 45 minute running time, that upon my initial viewing, I didn't really suspect this show was THAT terrible. Insubstantial, sure, but not all that bad. After all, the animation was pretty, ADV's box art was shiny, and even though it didn't add up to much I was able to mentally file it away as a mildly pleasant trifle.
And yet, something about it gnawed at me. Something was... wrong about it. Maybe it was the way that the cereal salesman just so happens to stumble across a secret military operation, and his partner's father happens to be the leader of the unnamed team assigned to it. Maybe it was the vampires throwing chi, or the androgynous alien the cereal salesman falls in love with for no apparent reason (despite said alien not really having a functional brain, and being the harbinger of mankind's downfall... both of which are usually turn-offs). Perhaps it was that said alien, despite the dub SWEARING it was a woman, looked an awful lot like a man.
Now, when all of these thoughts are clustered together in a single paragraph, it seems pretty silly that none of this bothered me at the time. You see, Ki*Me*Ra is so awkward in its storytelling that whatever processing power my brain had at the time was wrapped up in just figuring out what the hell was going on. You see, nothing becomes clear until about two thirds of the way through, when the main character (the cereal salesman) outright asks one of the bad guys "what is going on," and comedically, he responds breathlessly for about a minute and a half, explaining everything that the viewer should have known already if it was a good show.
Anyway, the cereal salesman's name is Osamu, and his partner is Jay. They're driving in a rainstorm when they happen upon a military operation in progress... but just as they're being shooed away by various officers, trucks start exploding. As they make a break for it, Osamu stumbled across what appears to be a cryogenic sleep capsule, and inside is a very pretty naked
man woman with green hair, pointy fingernails, and no visible genitalia. He's instantly entranced by her/him/it.
Jay's father, of course, leads the military operation, and not only manages to get the lot of them out of there, but also divulges upon them untold military secrets. Osamu wanders around the military campus (that looks so ridiculously decorated that it might have once belonged to Uday Hussein or something), he finds the creature he's so taken with. It's name is Ki*Me*Ra. He knows that because her pod is clearly labeled in English, despite her being a space alien.
Things soon get messy again as the other creatures that escaped from their pods before the military got there approach the campus. Apparently Ki*Me*Ra is part of a vampire royal family on a far off world where they can't reproduce. She was once a happy, kind princess but now she's been made into the sole vampire who can spawn demonic offspring (and, at the same time, she seems to have been lobotomized). They want her back at any cost, and explain to Osamu (who is now trying to cuddle with his androgynous hell beast at every opportunity) that she will bring about the end of the human race.
The show bears the distinctive marks of one of my favorite animators, Yasuomi Umetsu, but admittedly Ki*Me*Ra was made during that uncomfortable period in the mid 90s in which he seems to have made nothing of value whatsoever (like the new Gatchaman OAV series, for example). Because of Umetsu's influence, though, Ki*Me*Ra looks pretty darn good for an OAV of its day, including fluid animation and respectable fight sequences.
There are a few scenes that those of us that appreciate animated splatter might relate to, for example when a few street toughs (we KNOW they're toughs because they're playing arcade games!) decide to try to rape the docile and emotionless Ki*Me*Ra (in the Japanese, not particularly caring that she's a guy). This is a show about vampires, after all, and one of them turns into a tentacle monster for no reason I can figure out. The tentacles don't appear to be naughty... they just gore people to death.
But ulitmately, we all know that this show is about bizarre, kinky man-love. It's based on a manga by the creator of Kizuna, Kazuma Kodaka. However, the word "yaoi" was all but unknown in anime circles back in the lare 90s when ADV released the title, so the dubbed version simply makes Ki*Me*Ra a woman, and Osamu straight. The dub, by Matt Greenfield, is yet another amateurish romp featuring ADV regulars hamming it up. (Ki*Me*Ra is voiced by a woman, unlike the Japanese in which she's simply a very effeminate sounding man.) There's a particularly silly moment during Osamu's monologue at the end, in which he seems to recall the legend of vampires and mixes it up with the legend of Pandora's Box.
So what have I learned, coming back to Ki*Me*Ra after all these years? Well, I've learned that vampires are really aliens, lived amongst unicorns and dragons in a generic fantasy kingdom, have tentacles and reproduce like bees. I've learned that yet another anime Yasuomi Umetsu did in the mid 90s is absolute garbage. I've learned that ADV of the late 90s had amazing box covers of the quality nobody seems able to produce anymore. And I've learned that a yaoi anime (this one) can have an ending nearly identical to a crappy cyberpunk anime (Cybernetics Guardian).
But perhaps most importantly, I've learned that I used to have really, really low standards for entertainment.
|A||Abundant. Available anywhere that carries anime.|
|C||Common. In print, and always available online.|
|R1||US release out of print, still in stock most places.|
|R2||US release out of print, not easy to find.|
|R3||Import only, but it has English on it.|
|R4||Import only. Fansubs commonly available.|
|R5||Import only, and out of print. Fansubs might be out there.|
|R6||Import long out of print. No fansubs are known to exist.|
|R7||Very rare. Limited import release or aired on TV with no video release. No fansubs known to exist.|
|R8||Never been on the market. Almost impossible to obtain.|
|Adapted from Soviet-Awards.com.|
Where to get it:
ADV's DVD of Ki*Me*Ra, which looks quite decent in the video department, can be had used online for fairly cheap. It's been discontinued long ago, and nobody will ever license rescue such a terrible title. Besides, it's partially owned by the now-bankrupt Biblos, so its rights are probably in some nebulous place. No matter, some times things are better off lost to the ages.
Like alien vampires.
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