Kai Doh Maru
ANN; IMDb; Wikipedia
Apparently this begins in the year 889, with a young boy named Kintoki fleeing people who want to kill him. They are led by his uncle. But Kintoki, who is also called the "Kai Doh Maru" (though I have no idea what that means, and as far as I can tell there is no explanation given)... is rescued by a man named Lord Raiko Minamoto. The story then jumps forward five years.
It's now clear that Kintoki is actually a girl. And over the years, she's been trained as a warrior. Also, at some point in the past, there was a young woman named Ohni-Hime, who wanted to marry Kintoki, not knowing she was a girl. I think she was Kintoki's cousin or something. And this was before the uncle had started killing the whole clan, because Kintoki's father was going to pass on the leadership to her instead of him. Or whatever. But anyway, now there are rumors of bandits or gangsters accosting travelers, and using magic. So the four knights of the Defense Ministry go on patrol. I'm not clear on whether Kintoki was one of the knights, or just worked with them. Of course, they eventually end up fighting the gangsters, on at least a couple of different occasions....
Sigh. Anyway. Ohni-Hime seems to have been in charge of these gangsters. She may have gone by another name, though. And there was one weird guy in particular who worked for her, but later we saw some other weird people. Honestly, I couldn't really keep track of who everyone was, among either the good guys or bad guys. There were lots of names, and lots of faces, and I couldn't always tell the faces apart. Besides that, there was lots of talk of political matters, that I couldn't follow. I suppose it would have made more sense to someone familiar with Japan's Heian period. I definitely got the impression the gangsters were against Fujiwara, while Raiko was on Fujiwara's side. But seriously, most of what was said by anyone went completely over my head.
Anyway, I don't know what else to say. The animation was fairly unique, simple, minimalist. It had a classical look to it, sort of faded, and I would say it resembled ukiyo-e. So I definitely liked that. But I should also say the style did change a bit, here and there, it was kinda weird, but cool. I'd definitely say the animation was the best thing about the anime, even if the style made it harder for me to tell some of the characters apart. But the story was interesting, in a way, even if I couldn't really follow it. I feel bad about not liking this more than I did, I definitely think it was basically well done, very artistic or whatever, with a nice mix of classical Japanese sensibilities and typical anime weirdness and incomprehensibility. *shrug*