A solid premise, decent action and a well-spun narrative battle constantly with unpolished, inconsistent visuals in this disappointing anime.
This review of Cagaster of an Insect Cage (Netflix) is spoiler-free.
Where you stand on the interestingly-titled Cagaster of an Insect Cage (Netflix) will depend on what you look for in an anime, especially with the Big N’s recent offerings (such as the irreverent Scissor Seven) being more than capable of keeping you busy. If you’re here strictly for a story and can give the visual style a pass, there’s some weighty emotional drama to be found here; if you take great pleasure in the form’s art and animation, Cagaster of an Insect Cage will drive you absolutely bonkers.
Those who like a bit of both will have the toughest time here, with all the show’s efforts in its narrative and action sequences being frequently upstaged by inconsistencies and various eyesores. It’s difficult to become immersed in a show which lets you see its seams so regularly, despite an arresting setup and some eye-catching shenanigans which stem from it.
Anyway, it’s the future again, and a rampant illness is turning infected humans into monster insects vulnerable only to specialized exterminators such as Kidow, the nominal hero whose relationship with young girl Ilie is integral to a story which manages to find some real dramatic weight in a quintessential ragtag-uprising-in-a-ruined-world story. Its influences are plentiful and obvious, and the resultant mish-mash of ideas is a bit charmless and inelegant – exposition is a huge crutch here – though occasionally quite effective, if only by chance.
But the fact that Cagaster of an Insect Cage doesn’t beg for a sequel with a non-ending appealed to me, as does a manageable 12-episode order. Decidedly unappealing is woefully inconsistent art and animation which feels as slapdash as the narrative but to much more damning effect. A lot of the errors smack of laziness and a basic lack of polish which is always off-putting when trying to engender faith in an audience.
As stated above, sticklers for this kind of thing will have a nightmare here. But those more concerned with storytelling will, I think, find plenty to like in a narrative that holds a few surprises and interesting deviations from formula which help to set Cagaster of an Insect Cage apart. It’s a bumpy ride, no doubt about it, but it’s one that just might be worth taking if you’re so inclined. And at least it has the decency to tell you when to get off.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.