In the suffocating city of Calm, 15-year-old Zed dreams of freedom and breaks down doors in his spare time. Wishing to escape from his harsh surroundings, he follows a mysterious gust of wind through a portal to a different world, a world of magic being torn apart by war. Arriving in the peaceful land of Templar, he meets a girl named Roya who is a Shard Caster; a warrior who uses the power of Shards to cast spells and summon Spirits. Zed learns that he too has become a Caster, and decides to fight in order to get stronger and find some meaning in his life. Little does he know that his sickly friend Noah has also been transported and developed powers of his own. They quickly become embroiled in events far beyond their control, with the fate of their new world at stake.
A 2006 anime by Madhouse, Kiba is a dark and often bleak show that concentrates on the characters' growth and survival in times of hardship and injustice, and the search for what it means to be truly free (though still with a healthy dose of action). Despite the fantasy elements, it's definitely not to be taken lightly.
The show provides examples of:
- Animal Motifs: Birds for Zed. He always wears an accessory with two feathers on it, his key spirit Amir Gaul has feathered wings and turns into a phoenix at one point, there's a motif in the story involving wind and freedom, his second spirit Rambos is a bird, and in the last scene, Zed is shown having Amir Gaul's wings.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: When Helic releases Ex-Machina in Neotopia.
- Bishounen Line: In a manner of speaking, as the more powerful Spirits look more human-like than the less-powerful Spirits; this culminates in Amir Gaul, the most powerful Spirit, being a glowing angelic figure.
- Break the Cutie: Rebecca's physically manipulated into stabbing her father by her teacher and forced into marriage with Dumas, only to be given to Hugh instead in a plot to get one of the key spirits. Then her father is killed.
- Then there's Noah, who landed in Neotopia. Despite being rescued by a kindly couple and temporarily regaining his strength, he results in Gale, the couple's son, killing his father due to the country's laws. Then Gale fights Keith and dies along with Aisha, both of whom Noah had befriended, after Noah unintentionally sets everything on fire. Then Noah ends up with some Seekers and finds the key spirit Sachira, causing everyone but Sagiri and himself to die. After he becomes Neotopia's top shardcaster, Hugh attacks the capital and Zed drags Hyrum to him in exchange for the many civilians that are about to be eaten by Spirits. Hyrum kills himself, and Diana and Sagiri appear to die when the building collapses. Let us not forget about the debilitating illness that has plagued him since childhood, which will eventually kill him and renders him practically catatonic by show's end, nor the fact that the thing that started this series of events was his desire to help Zed... who's joined up with the opposition, becomes Noah's enemy, and ultimately takes him down. That kind of sucks. Is he a Woobie yet?
- Can't Catch Up: Despite Roya being a pretty awesome fighter, she gets frustrated when she has to fight Zed in a joust.
- Chick Magnet: Noah has at least four women fall in love with him during the course of the story.
- Combat Pragmatist: Noah does it in his last fight against Zed. He uses five key spirits to fight a Curb-Stomp Battle against Zed.
- Cute and Psycho: Rebecca ends up as one after Hugh marries her to take the key spirit Pronimo and kills her father. Mikki also becomes one after Dumas dies.
- Deus ex Machina: After Zed is possessed by Tusker, Ginga turns up alive and attacks him with a newly completed Ex Machina, stalling Tusker until Zed and Amir Gaul can break away from him.
- Heroic Bastard: Zed, since it's made clear that his mother became pregnant not long after meeting his father.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Noah's love for Zed at times seems more than just friendly, especially the lengths the two will go to meet each other.
- Jekylland Hyde: Inverted with Despara. Roya's mother Jesara used a shard to send her soul inside Despara's body, causing Despara to freak out whenever she's near Roya.
- Karma Houdini: In the end, Elmeida, of all people, is one of the only two to live who can actually be called villains.
- Parental Abandonment: For Zed's entire life until near the end of the first episode, his mother lives in a mental institution.
- Phantom Thief: Robes, who becomes the thief "No Face" because he's bored and wishes for a challenge. It's also hinted he may be trying to help out his family financially, since their fortune is somewhat on the rocks.
- Redemption Equals Death: Rebecca becomes sane again just in time to be stabbed by Elmeida. Near the end, Sara realizes how important Zed was to her as she's dying.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Zed and Noah, though Noah stops acting that way later on. And sometimes Zed seems to be blue while Roya is red.
- Sanity Slippage: A very large portion of the cast goes insane at some point: Dumas, Mikki, Rebecca, Sara (who goes insane before the first episode and goes even more insane later), Hugh, Noah, Roya's father, Despara, Dukeham, Helic, probably more.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The assassin that showed up to prevent Zed from becoming a Caster. Never heard from again, and never a word of who sent him.