Requiem from the Darkness Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, March 31, 2008
Release Date: Monday, March 24, 2008
What They Say
In the 1860s, Japan is in turmoil. A would-be author of this feudal period, Momosuke is tired of writing children's stories. Travelling the countryside in search of one hundred ghost stories that will comprise a book, he meets with three mysterious figures: a trickster, Mataichi; a beautiful puppeteer named Ogin; and Nagamimi, a bird caller. The trio move through the countryside dispensing karmic retribution on the truly evil. Each episode finds Momosuke and his strange friends dealing with a different horror inspired by traditional Japanese legends and folk stories. REQUIEM FROM THE DARKNESS - COMPLETE SERIES contains every episode from the series across four volumes.
Anime horror done RIGHT.
For this review, I listened to the Japanese track. The audio for the most part was fine in the standard 2.0 track, though was a bit disappointed with the lack of a 5.1 for the English when switched over. The effects however are transferred perfectly in each of the episodes making if for an excellent experience over the speakers. There was no problems regarding distortion in either English or Japanese, though one exception was briefly on the first disc/first episode during the sound of the rain coming down, there seems to be a few gaps between them and the main character speaking, otherwise fine throughout all 13 episodes.
Wow. Requiem From the Darkness' video transfers beautifully onto our screens - it's incredibly unique art style flows through the screen with no distortions whatsoever - it's truly a sight to behold at times, not just with how well the art shows through the screen, but also some of the effects used (particularly) in the later episodes which give it almost a CGI look without it looking too different. Originally made in 2003, it still looks incredibly cutting edge in today's market, making it stand out as something different from the norm, and the video transferred gives it further definition.
All 4 covers for each disc were supplied for this review - each of the packaging revolving around all 4 of the main characters in some situation. Again, the art style on the packaging showcases what type of show it's going to be - the main cover for example, you see Mataichi in full demonic robe regalia, teeth showcasing and eye glowing, Ogin giving the sex appeal with a half bare back, Nagamimi just grinning like he always done, and Momosuke playing the straight man, looking concerned. Each of the covers have a similar scenario (though Mataichi seems to turn from demonic to serious) set upon an eerie background, such as the infamous eye in the night, or the shadows of darkness descending upon them. The insides all show of other releases in MVM which was a bit disappointing considering we do have the trailers on the disc and it could have been used for more gorgeous artwork. On the back, each of the covers have screen shots of the episodes with summaries whilst a picture focus is on some aspect of one of the episodes, whether it's the Willow Tree or The Flame Lance hiding in an eerie darkness. The packaging gives it a feel of what is to come when you pick up the series and gives it more of a cutting edge. Very nice.
Each disc uses a similar menu, all of them introduced with the discs name amidst thunder and lightning, and then goes into a basic menu, but in the background effects of lighting are used as shots of the episodes showcase through the windows drawn on the menu screen. Again, it showcases what the viewer is in for, as the menus themselves are fairly basic but easy to navigate through for the extras, scene selection and languages (including whether you want subtitles for the signs only rather than the full subtitles.)
Fairly basic extras for the box set - each disc contains a line art gallery and an art setting gallery focusing on the episodes of the disc. The line art gallery usually focuses on one character and intermixes the others (both major and minor) throughout whilst the art setting gallery showcases all the background and location art used throughout the episodes. The first disc however does have the interesting openings and endings creditless, both are sung in English and rather...unique shall we say.
Horror is kind of a genre that, to be frank, I'm not exactly a fan of - anime or otherwise. And that was the little I knew about this series. So to be honest, I didn't know what to expect from this 13 episode series when I slapped in the first disc.
What I got was a world that defined unique. It is definitely something beyond the norm, from the Watchman style art, to the soul like English opening theme song with it's rather vapid imagery, to the characters - and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
We are introduced to a young man named Momosuke, an author who has set out on a journey to collect 100 horror stories to make into a book. The very atmospheric sound shows that he's not going for a normal journey, and it doesn't take long for things to change for him, as he falls off a cliff, but is saved by a small bandaged up man. The mystery of the man hits his inquisitive mind but he soon recovers and continues on his journey. He then finds a man as they are sheltering from the rain in what appears to be a shop, but the shopkeeper seemed a bit...strange. Momosuke takes the chance to look around, and whilst looking for the toilet, he finds a beautiful woman changing. Needless to say he panics, but the woman again seems to be different than usual...suddenly, he bumps into the man that saved him from the cliff. The three people in question suddenly begin to take a shape - as they are linked together someway...and the stranger that tagged along with Momosoke turns out to be someone slightly more than a stranger - and when his secret is revealed, the true horror begins.
The images in the first episode alone could easily make someone sweat a little. The image of azuki beans melting into blood along with a decapitated head is just a taste of what this box set has to offer. The three strangers are Mataichi, the Trickster who has the power to send demons and paranormal phenomenon to rest, Ogin, the beautiful puppeteer, and Nagamimi, who has the power to shapeshift as is also known as the Bird Caller. And their requiem is now intermixed with Momosoke as the aspiring author is about to be forever mixed in with their journey...
The nature of the box set basically is a mostly episodic series, dealing with a situation in each episode which has a predictable nature of Momosoke entering somewhere, he encounters something strange, his good nature makes him easily fooled, and the three outlaws have to save his butt for their own reasons. The predictability was the main reason why this series didn't get an A rating, because otherwise the show seems to draw you in with each episode, as some of the stories are fantastic, whilst almost every aspect of sin and horror you can think of is included in at least one episode.
The second episode for example tells the story of the Willow Woman and the story of the willow apparently killing any bride that comes to the inn and it's innkeeper in question, apparently in love with the man himself. This story for example also involves Ogin's sister, and it's nice to see that the outlaws are not heartless machines who just do their bidding - Ogin in particular seems to have a strong sense of human emotion as she plays mind games with the willow's spirit where the bloody finale is definitely surprising, not to mention the semi-flirtatious relationship she has with Momosuke. Momosuke keeps getting drawn into their world despite Mataichi warning him continually not to get mixed up in it, as Momosuke is a little gullible to say the least as in episode 3 he's constantly tricked of a fox spirit disguised named Yasaku, but despite everything, they still save Momosuke...and then in the following episode just ditch him. There's some nice unintentional comedy between the three with Momosuke, and being a writer myself, the little barbs between Momosuke and his dwarf-like pipe smoking editor made me smile.
As I mentioned, almost every depravity and horror hits the show somewhere. From sex including incest, cannibalism, curses, and all manners of murder (poisoning, decapitation, decay, arson, and various forms of brutality), the show is definitely not for the faint hearted. However, the three characters and the growth of Momosuke as he gets deeper involved with them makes you continue to watch. The episodic nature is both it's strength and it's weakness though...it's strength because there is a new story each episode to get into, but bad because there isn't a set plot bar Momosuke following them and trying to write his book. In Episode 10, the one time that Mataichi didn't do a sending to a girl named Tatsuta, I never thought that she's actually be a plot point in the last episode because I was used to the episodic nature by then so when the finale began and she reappeared, it surprised me. It's also a series that I wouldn't recommend marathoning - you can easily forget what happened previously and considering some images in the series, from cannibalism to melting into lava, you may (or may not) want to remember those. Otherwise, it's definitely a surprising gem and a very unique show in the UK market.
The animation is a real joy to watch - the voices are fantastic, and as long as you can stomach some of the scenes, it's a show that you can get into. Anime horror which doesn't fall into either a Perfect Blue category or a hentai category is quite rare, so despite my initial misgivings, Requiem From The Darkness was a pure treat. It's not a show for everyone, and if you're looking for a meaningful plot, then you may want to give it a miss. However, for something different from the norm, once you hear the opening song, you could easily get enthralled, whether it's for Momosuke's growth, Mataichi's latest trick or just to see if Ogin really is actually interested in Momosuke, characters can make the show as much as a plot, and Requiem certainly does that. Just be ready to close your eyes if necessary...recommended.
English Dolby Digital 2.0,Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0,Creditless Openings,Creditless Endings,Line Art Gallery,Art Setting Gallery,Trailers
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV - Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers - Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Requiem from the Darkness