Requiem from the Darkness Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 14, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, February 15, 2005
What They Say
Momosuke visits his brother, only to find a murder mystery underway . . . a man has been killed in a rare manner. Ogin then faces her mother’s killer, who has been dying and coming back to life, over and over again, terrorizing the local townspeople. After they are confronted by a formidable spectre, the group is charged with finding a lost bride. But the situation is more complex than they first thought – and people are not who they seem!
The horror continues in a way that the Japanese only seemingly can do as three more episodes of the Hundred Tales are told.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for this series is just completely creepy at times with a great use of sound to help convey the mood of the show, to help build up the suspense and in general to really accentuate the atmosphere. Dialogue is well placed here also with some good depth during a few key scenes. During regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either language track.
Originally airing in late 2003, this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This show really shined in our setup and in the 1080i upconverted setting at that. The visuals in this series are crucial to the mood and the varying styles used are represented beautifully here. The backgrounds and dark colors are completely solid all the way through, cross coloration was a complete non issue and I'm hard pressed to really even consider what minimal aliasing I saw as any sort of problem. The colors are really mixed here with some very earthy tones and the heavy dark colors but there are some extremely vibrant parts, such as the blatant (on purpose) green color of the Willow Woman tree. Visually, the transfer here really brings it all home.
As the Japanese release was just one big box set, I don't know if the artwork here was used inside that box. The front cover to the release here has a decent illustration shot of the four lead characters set against a darkened murky background that doesn't seem to be of anything in particular. It's basically the same idea as the first volume with the same characters but just slightly different in small ways but it still looks good and creepy. The back cover is heavy on the blacks and mixes in a couple of shots from the show as well as one large illustration that's very creepy looking. The episode numbers and titles are clearly listed as are the discs features and basic technical information. The summary for the show sort of gives away too much of the plot for my tastes but there's no other way to really explain things without giving things away. The insert is done with a 50/50 split with one half doing a close-up of one of the lead characters while the other half lists the chapter stops for each episode. The reverse side just shows the boxart for upcoming volumes in the series with month of release dates.
After a brief load, the menu settles down into a nice in-theme bit of animation where it focuses on an eye that then changes to rotating various clips from the show on it. The surrounding area is given to a indistinct background while selections are lined along the bottom. A brief bit of eerie instrumental music plays along to it. Access times are nice and fast here and the sub menus load quickly. The disc correctly read our players language presets which was a really nice plus since Geneon discs are a mixed bag.
The extras thin out a bit for this volume as we lose the clean opening and closing material. The line art gallery is the usual array of production pieces and we also get a brief "art setting" gallery that has various locations done in full color.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I've never been a big fan of the horror genre but there have always been things that have appealed to me, from Hellblazer to Imajica to a couple of the more recent Japanese horror films (and not so much their US adaptations). Mood and atmosphere combined with compelling characters have always been more interesting than the splatterfests and the highly predictable spook fests, which has led me to not seeing all that much in recent years really since things have been so boring. Even in the world of anime, there's precious little real horror in this style.
With this installment of Requiem from the Darkness, things continue a bit from the previous volume with Momosuke returning to his brother's house based on the letter he received. To his surprise, his brother now has something of a servant living with him that's helping him keep the place properly as well as ensuring that he eats well enough and just gets everything done that needs to be done. Even more surprising, Momosuke learns that the letter wasn't written by him and now he can't even find it. But as his brother tells him, it's a good thing that he's come when he has as they could use someone with his knowledge of the strange. A member of the group he's with was killed in the past couple of days by a stone being lodged in his head.
This brings to light the tale of a beast who can do such things and the mysteries surrounding it, which leads the commander of the group to decide that they must go into the mountains and kill the thing before it can cause more trouble. But all of this has made one of the men nervous and he reveals to Momosuke and his brother what it really was that killed the man, a specially made gun that can shoot non-round stones from it that was made by a master pirate who was killed along with others close to him some years ago. Being involved in the entire event, he relates it quickly and with a panicked tone all while feeling the eyes of revenge on his from outside the house, which causes him to flee into the dark night rain. The two kinds of stories slowly collide as more pieces of the puzzle start to get revealed as the journey into the mountains begins and Mataichi and his group enter the picture.
There are some really great visuals in this episode, though overly violent, but the way that they deal with the conflict of a soul seeking peace and others wanting revenge is very well done. It's almost second nature to say it, but this show is just gorgeous in its disturbing imagery and style. For example, the crooked and twisted nature of places like Momosuke's house where the doors are all angled and unnatural is just creepy but given a very matter of fact feel by its residents. The use of colors, such as the flashback being in yellow which helps highlight the red blood, is quirky by highly effective. And in the second example, the motion of the twisted looking "normal" characters is eerie with its CG nature.
The second episode's visuals are just creepy in general but the use of the really odd looking character designs for the general citizens wandering around continues to be a treat, which as mentioned above, the way they move just adds to it all as they go down these neatly designed streets and locations. This episode focuses on a neat little concept, that of a man that's been killed twice before and has now been beheaded for a third time but he still keeps coming back and causing trouble. It's become something of a tourist attraction of sorts for the town but it's also got its own dark side to it since the person was responsible for killing others and is caught each time and suffers the consequences. This one goes back into providing something of a background for Ogin's time as a normal human child and it's interesting to see her from back then and with some frightened emotions. This is a particularly creepy story with the floating head and the way it interacts with everyone.
Essentially three more stand alone tales, each of them is definitely creepy and filled with the same kinds of twists and visuals as what's come before. While nothing stands out highly against the other tales, they're all very well told and have their own unique nature about them that make them all very compelling to watch. Though it's generally weak on characterization other than what we get with Momosuke, that isn't the point of the series, which is just to tell the tales. This is such a great change of pace from what we're normally watching and it's done with such great style and daring at times that it's highly enjoyable. Definitely recommended for those continuing to look for something off the mainstream path as these are some of the best anime horror stories I've seen.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Line Art Gallery,Background Gallery
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Requiem from the Darkness