The Dagger of Kamui
A Parent's Guide to Anime
Parental Guidance Advised
Reviewed by Christopher Cleveland:
The animation quality is truly beautiful in "The Dagger of Kamui". Made in 1985, it still manages to hold its own even by today's standards.
Still, that is not enough to redeem the plot, which relies heavily on unbelievable coincidences and extreme historical (and geographical) inaccuracies. One does not need to know anything about the Meiji Restoration to notice that either. For starters, what was Captain Kidd's treasure doing on the west coast of the US? How did our hero Jiro suddenly make it to Nevada without going through California first? And was that cameo by Mark Twain REALLY necessary?
I did think that the first hour was great, if quite far from intelligent. The inaccuracies I listed above killed whatever chance I had of enjoying the rest of it, though. When Jiro made it to the US, it was all over for me.
In any case, it really is difficult to take anything seriously in this anime, which is perhaps one of the most staged and overbearingly melodramatic pieces of filmmaking that has ever passed before my eyes. Nobody dies until it is convenient for them to do so in the plot. Coincidence after coincidence keeps coming along at a ridiculous pace. The 132 minutes that make up its running time end up feeling like twice that, although having a few sarcastic friends around could easily make this trip through purgatory much more bearable.
I will say again that the animation quality still is VERY nice. However, after the promises of a great piece of anime cinema that the first hour throws at the viewer, it goes downhill fast, and never recovers. This is really not worth watching.
Parent's Guide Rating:
yellow (parental guidance advised)
There is some violent content, including some fairly nasty stabs, slices and a decapitation. The context of the violence might be very disturbing to younger viewers, particuarily in the first twenty minutes (when Jiro is tricked into killing his own father by the evil monk who later becomes his nemesis).
There is one brief nude scene, where a bathing woman is quickly rescued by two men with *ahem* impure intentions. It goes by very quickly, but does absolutely nothing for the plot.
In the end, this fits in the "PG" category, but this is essentially the cinematic equivalent of a meal at McDonalds - The product does not live up to the pictures, it is full of empty calories, and it is served to you systematically (not to mention leaving a disgusting aftertaste of styrofoam). Wouldn't a real burger be so much better anyway?