Little Bo Peep
Anchovy & Black Lizard
From the Abyss
As A Heartless Sword
From The Far East
Princess in the Insect Cage
Finally, For You
Cagaster Of An Insect Cage could be one of the better animes of the year. There’s a really dark, emotional story at the heart of this one, propped up by some impressive action and a story with a couple of well-placed twists along the way to keep things interesting. Unfortunately this CGI-hybrid anime slips up quite spectacularly with its art style, oftentimes looking stunningly beautiful and then jarringly amateurish in the next scene. It’s especially damning because these moments strike just as the story is starting to take off and take you completely out of the moment.
The show opens with a healthy dose of exposition explaining the world we’re diving head-first into. In the year 2125, humans have been infected with an illness known as Cagaster, which turn them into monstrous insects. With normal weapons ineffective and specialist exterminators called in to do the dirty work, humanity stands on the brink of disaster but for one man – insect-hunter Kidou.
Early on he’s tasked with bringing a young girl called Ilie back to her mother whilst navigating across the insect-infested world outside. As the episodes tick by, the truth about Ilie’s parentage comes to light and with it, something far more darker and sinister than first meets the eye. All of this builds up to the final act which sees an epic fight between our main antagonist Cagaster Acht and Kidou himself, back-dropped by a ragtag group of humans fighting for survival against enemy forces. This spills over to a suitable ending, where things are resolved in a pretty satisfying manner and keep this as a self-contained 12 episode anime.
The story itself is essentially a mish-mash of many different influences, some that work and some that don’t. There’s a little bit of Attack On Titan, a little bit of Tokyo Ghoul and a whole dollop of Netflix’s Godzilla films squeezed together to form this hybrid of ideas. The problem is Cagaster Of An Insect Cage takes these elements but fails to inject the same charisma, charm and energy the former two mentioned (Ghoul and Titan) have in abundance. Therein lies the biggest problem with this anime.
Characters move like animatronic puppets, with stiff animations for the cel-shaded character models. Colours are muted, some characters are shown with no nose, others with a large chin and even more with different shaped eyes. The result is something that feels like its been thrown together by two or three different art teams. That’s before mentioning the incredulous laziness with some scenes that fail to even render a black line around creatures. The below pictures are a great example of this and are a pretty eye-opening examination of how poor some of these scenes actually are.
No black lines around the sheep and their bells are just floating awkwardly on their necks.
Ilie’s hair (left) has definition and thin lines but Kidou’s (right) is a single shade.
The background (on the right) blends into the hair, making it difficult to tell where one ends and another begins
While the above pictures may seem like nitpicking, it’s more frustration than anything else because Cagaster has potential. The musical score is great, the action scenes are exciting and the final, climactic fight is genuinely very good indeed and has some serious emotional weight behind it. Ilie’s origin is surprising and certainly makes for some great episodes as this is unraveled and to top it off, the ending is pretty good too. Unfortunately the animation and art style constantly undermines the storytelling and it’s hard to look past it.
Cagaster Of An Insect Cage is not the worst anime of the year (despite our damning assessment of the art style) but it’s certainly far from the best. There are so many anime titles out there and the recent Winter 2020 line-up features some really gorgeous hand-drawn offerings. If you can take to the CGI animation and it doesn’t put you off the story there’s a real wild ride here but much like our antagonist Acht, the jarring styles and ideas feel strewn together to form a grotesque hybrid that’s not very easy on the eye.
|Cagaster Of An Insect Cage is available to watch on Netflix. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|