Requiem from the Darkness Vol. #4 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2005
What They Say
"Momosuke, separated from the group, searches for the others when he is suddenly attacked by rebels. Ogin finds him and advises he return to Edo. When she heads in another direction, Momosuke follows her instead. Along the journey, Momosuke comes across a clan that has been cursed by spirits, causing horrible deaths. Mataichi just may have a trick up his sleeve to deal with the atrocities at the castle."
With the last three episodes bringing the story to a close, the series goes for a climactic ending and highlights exactly what made this series so much fun.
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.
The front cover to the release here has a decent illustration shot of the four lead characters set against a darkened murky background of a building which is fairly similar to past covers. It's basically the same idea as the earlier volumes 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.
Essentially the same as the third volume, what we get here is the line art gallery with 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)
Over the course of this series, there's been small hints of something larger that's taking place but it's been kept very much at the fringes of the stories so as to allow the actual events we're seeing take the center stage. The main focus of the series does continue to be Momosuke as he interacts with the trio and their dealings though and with him now being kept out of things the show takes on a different feel.
Without the trio in his life, Momosuke is definitely feeling both left out of things and less connected to the kinds of stories he's compiling together. So it takes little incentive for him to actually start actively seeking them out but to his surprise it leads him to a secret tea shop wherein lies the energy/spiritual form that gave the trio their missions in the past. Along with the pair of tiny old hags keeping things civil, Momosuke learns that the trio have gone missing during their latest mission and it's concerned about their well being. To his surprise, Momosuke learns that his being involved with the trio hasn't upset this thing but rather it feels that his presence with the trio has only added a certain "elegance" to the closure of their missions. It's also why it's now seeking Momosuke's help in finding them and bringing them back.
Momosuke's now set on their trail, which leads to the first episode that's mostly a standalone one that deals with him arriving in a port village that's no longer heading out into the sea due to far too many incidents with the ghosts out there. There've been far too many accidents lately that have resulted in deaths and the seas are angry over it. Momosuke's investigations leads him deep into the incidents but it really serves as something of a catalyst episode that brings him to the Twin Island, where only one of the twins remains and the people on it haven't left there since they were exiled there ages ago. The people there guard a strange secret that's actually an amazingly powerful weapon that people are seeking to acquire for their own agendas. What's even more curious is that the trio is there guarding it and making sure that their boss, now former boss, doesn't acquire it either as they've gone rogue having found that the missions they were taking on weren't accomplishing the goals they used to.
This series has just been fascinating right from the start for so many reasons. The standalone nature of the tales themselves allowed for just the right amount of storytelling to take place that would provide a creepy enough factor and incorporate plenty of traditional Japanese horror elements and entertain a lot. The visuals of the show was the real treat though in that they took stories which may not have had the same punch of done in the traditional anime style and really punched it up a lot. The nature of the characters being so disfigured looking, in that you often couldn't tell if a villager was something strange or just normal for there, mixed in some great atmosphere to it. The simplicity of the designs really made them all stand out. The backgrounds themselves took on a life of their own and made me very glad for the art setting extras since it let them really shine on their own with the detail and style applied to it.
With just the right length to it before the stories could start seeming familiar or the novelty wearing off, Requiem from the Darkness is a great little series of horror stories that doesn't fit into how most anime series look or feel. It's simply so imbued with style and substance that sets it apart from the norm that it's engaging right from the start and it has become one of the more anticipated titles every couple of months that it came out. This finale brings it all to a satisfying close and ends with the viewer feeling good about what they've seen. Very much recommended, especially to those who want something that doesn't feel like it came off the assembly line of a committee.
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