Kaiba is an unusual show amongst unusual shows. Its visual style is not like any anime airing on tv, it visuals existing somewhere between Tezuka and 60s manga, and the high art of Japanese artists such as Aoshima Chiho. Kaiba is different, and people will inform you of this fact.

I’ve heard numerous polarizing comments in regards to Kaiba, among them being that it’s (one of) the best of the season, that it’s so much better than all that crap out there, that it looks terrible, and that it’s nothing special and catering only to those who want high art in their anime. Either Kaiba is the savior of anime as an artform, or it is damning evidence of an incestuous circlejerk for highfalutin posers.

Kaiba animates well, but anime has never been known for spending elaborate time and money on movement, especially not for a tv series. Its characters are cute, but in a very illustrative, non-tactile manner. Characters have sex but are not sexualized. It uses characters as icons, but then subverts this by having the physical look of characters be interchangeable.

I think the divided opinion on Kaiba comes from the varying and often times contradictory roles that anime plays or is supposed to play. It is both an elevation of animation as something to be taken seriously as well as entertainment that anyone can enjoy. It is so much more realistic than other cartoons, but look at how weird and stylized these characters are!

There’s nothing wrong with seeing or wanting to see physical, human-like beauty in anime characters (see name of blog), even if it’s on a purely visual level. At the same time, this idolization of characters may be the root cause of the divisive opinions in regards to Kaiba. In fact, in the eyes of some, anime is currently the incestuous circlejerk and to others those same wide-appeal shows are what make anime great.

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