"The Raven Spirit - Kabuto, is a martial artist whose skills are legendary. He wanders the land, fighting and defeating evil wherever he finds it. He has honed his skills since childhood, forsaking friends and family in his quest to become the most powerful fighter known to man."
"When Kabuto returns to a once-prosperous village from his childhood only to find its rightful ruler dead, and its citizens reduced to terror by the usurper, he has no choice but to fight for their freedom. An evil queen, whose dark powers enslave all those around her now rules the kingdom with black magic and vile sorcery. Creatures of darkness obey her, and her followers create bizarre mechanical beasts that exist only to serve her."
"A terrifying journey into illusion and despair awaits Kabuto if he cannot defeat this mighty power and restore peace and hope to the land - but even his powerful martial arts skills may not be enough to destroy the forces that stand against him. Kabuto races at breakneck speed to its explosive conclusion."
Director: Yoshitaka Fujimoto Screenplay: Buichi Terasawa Copyright: Buichi Terasawa/NEP/KSS Language Format: English Language Running time: 45 mins Certificate: 15 Label: Manga Video Catalogue no: MANV 1108 Price: £9.99 Release Date: 15th January 1995
A sort of historical-but-not drama, the plot of Kabuto is relatively straightforward. The good king is dead, and the evil witch-queen Tanamushi now rules in his stead, using fear and 'robot' legions to enforce her will. Enter Kabuto, a mysterious warrior-mage, returning to the town he knew as a youth. He aids the escape of the princess captured by Tanamushi's hordes, and becomes drawn into the conflict.
Animation & design
The animation and designs are generally well done, and are distinctively Teresawa's work. The differences from his earlier MEL released work, Cobra, are apparent in the quality and style of the piece, but enough remains for then to be unmistakably Teresawa. The mixture of historical, supernatural and science-fiction genres makes for some strange looking characters, most noticeable Tanamushi's henchman, Rasetsubo, who resembles nothing more than a half-man, half-elephant robot, complete with built in weaponry.
Voice Acting & Dialogue
Once again, I have to say the quality of MEL dubs has improved over the last year or so. Whilst this isn't the best they've done, it certainly doesn't grate as much as their early work. The voices generally (but not always) suit the characters, and the acting acceptable (but not inspired).
As mentioned, Kabuto is of a much more modern vintage than Cobra, and this certainly shows in the animation. If you can get your head around the strange mix of historical, fantasy and sci-fi that makes up the story, you'll probably like it. There are a couple of neat (but not unexpected) twists to the story, which keep you watching. It's a prime MEL release, with plenty of action. I have to admit to not particularly liking Teresawa's work, which probably accounts for the low score, but whilst it's no classic, there's a lot worse in the marketplace. 6/10 Chris Hartford
In this video, Kabuto, a samurai warrior, returns to a region which he has previously visited, only to find it ruled by an evil queen, Tomamushi, who has the use of some rather advanced technology developed by an inventor of robots and other mechanical devices. Soon after arriving on the scene, Kabuto is confronted by a carriage drawn by a steam-powered horse!
His former girlfriend Himai has been kidnapped by the queen and her cohorts, and Kabuto, conjuring up a flight of ravens, causes all the captives to be set free during the confusion. Himai is rescued by another warrior from Kabuto's past, Kasumo, but they are soon attacked by a steam-powered robot and then cornered by some hag-like female warriors. Kabuto arrives and aids their escape by river. While Kasumo and Himai flee downriver, Kabuto uses his powers to engage the Queen's minions. He engages the robot in single combat and defeats it; it self destructs. Meanwhile Himai and Kasumo are captured again...
The realistic opening scenes evoke the atmosphere of medieval Japan quite well. The chase sequences are quite exciting, and are intercut with scenes from Kabuto's past. The artwork is good, with realistic character and striking mecha designs; the character faces in particular being pleasingly drawn. Kabuto, with his swordfighting skills and magical powers, soon proves to be such a super superhero that one doesn't worry about his safety or ultimate success for a moment. Rather, enjoyment lies in watching Kabuto do his stuff. The robots and other inventions - there is even a helicopter - are styled to fit in with the medieval setting, and the technology is effectively used in the final twist of the story. An unusually inventive piece of anime, entertaining but rather lacking in character interest. [Geoff Cowie]