The world of Shiki is expanded as a young woman who cannot feel pain but causes it is brought in as an opposite of her to be dealt with.
the Garden of sinners is a stereo-only production and the Blu-ray release for is presented using the uncompressed PCM format. I've long been a fan of PCM stereo presentations and this one, encoded with a bitrate of 2.3mbps, comes across very strongly with its layout and design. The simple things such as the footfalls on the floor or the larger sweeping music moments really shine here and show just how easily immersed into a show you can get with just a stereo design. The opening music piece alone really shines beautifully as it has such a haunting sound to it and there's just an incredible warmth and depth to it that it's almost surprising since few anime shows really seem to get this when they create this kind of production.
Note: Due to operator error, the PCM 5.1 track, encoded at 6.9mbps, was not used when listening to this release. The disc defaults to 2.0 and you have to select the 5.1 for it to play, something we did not check to do since it's not a bilingual release.
Originally released in 2008, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is encoded with AVC in 1080p. The feature uses a really good looking real world palette to it with some very strong moments of vibrancy that it can be very striking when you come across them. The bit rate counter seems to spend most of its time in the upper thirties, even when there's almost no motion on the screen, and that gives it a very beautiful look. There's a certain softness to some of it in its design, to add to the atmosphere of certain moments, but it avoids looking fuzzy or introducing any unwanted artifacts into it. The design of the feature is wonderfully captured by the encoding here with a rich sense of colors, depth and warmth with a whole lot of beautiful detail.
The main menu here is pretty nicely done with a style to it that's certainly striking. The bulk of the screen has clips playing throughout it, but it's in phases and of different sizes as it cuts across from all directions at different times. It's done in black and white as well, with only some color entering into it further in which makes it all the more eye-catching. The left side has the menu navigation which is also done in simple black and white along with the logo that includes the chapter name. Subtitle selection is quick and easy though the disc does not read player presets and defaults, naturally, to no subtitles at all.
The only extra included here is an absolutely adorable pre-show reminder done in stop animation about how you shouldn't shouldn't smoke in the theater, even if you see it happen on screen. Suffice to say it turns violent, but I was amused by the Fate/Stay Night goodness with the on-screen film in the bit.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The third chapter of the Garden of sinners unfolds a few years after the flashback episode we had with the second chapter as Mikiya is fully engaged in his work for Touko. Or as engaged as can be as she just blew all the money she's made recently on a vintage Victorian Ouija board and can't pay him or herself at this point. So he's off to find himself a little money to be made to tide him over for the duration while Touko ends up accepting a job she'd rather not. A grisly series of murders occurred the night before in an abandoned bar which lead to numerous men being killed. Shiki's pretty much eager to take this on, as eager as she can be, as she feels that the person she'll have to confront is just like her in the end.
Crossed paths is the initial theme of the feature at this point as Mikiya had come across a young woman named Fujino on his way home the night before. She wasn't feeling right and in a type of pain, so he helped her out and even took her back to his place so she could collect herself. What he didn't know is that the woman was being taken advantage of in that bar just before then and was the root cause for the murders that Shiki would be investigating the next day. Fujino, who is also a friend of Mikiya's sister, is in a strange place where she can't seem to feel pain and isn't able to connect well to the world. The only time she can feel like others is when she's brutally killing them through a form of telekinesis, turning their bodies all which way. Her lack of feeling pain goes back to her childhood in a truly disturbing scene for any parent to see, but it highlights her issue plainly in a simple way.
Where Mikiya comes back into play with it as Shiki goes about her hunt is that the friend he goes to get some money from is looking for a friend of his named Keita who went missing that they knew back in school. Mikiya's life since college is touched on a bit here, giving us a clue as to the relationship with his parents and the fact that he dropped out of college after the car accident, and it helps to more clearly define the place he's in with his life. His helping his friend fits in with his personality, but it puts him on the path of finding one of the men involved in the raping of Fujino, though he ended up escaping the brutal violence that occurs when she cuts loose upon feeling pain. Keita's telling of what happened is chilling as we see filtered events from it playing out with the bodies coming apart, the amount of blood as well as the raping of Fujino herself.
As the story progresses forward, the investigation into what Fujino is all about is explored, at first with Shiki going after her and then with a look at Fujino's past itself and what it all means. There's an interesting exploration of what pain is and the way her life has been while living like this. I really liked that Touko took a more central role in this story as she eventually works closely with Mikiya to try and find both Shiki and Fujino before things end up going towards a really bad conclusion. There's an interesting relationship that's slowly revealed between the two young women as the blood flows freely while they go through the hunt.
While the first two chapters were fairly mellow and atmospheric in its storytelling, with really only one action sequence in each of them, a good amount of this feature is given over to the action itself. Shiki hunts Fujino at first but finds that she's not worth the time. When things change and she goes after her again, it becomes more bloody on both their parts and Shiki really gets into it. Because of the nature of their abilities, it isn't a hugely choreographed fight scene like we've seen before, but it's a piece that really puts things out there with the destruction that's caused all while making sure that the atmosphere of it all, the backgrounds, music and intensity of emotions that need to be felt, is fully there. It's very different from previous instances but at the same time it shares so many similarities that it's very easy to be drawn to it and be on the edge of your seat wondering how it will turn and twist next.
With this self contained story that explores the way the three lead characters work together, we see a lot of nuance to how they operate and interact with themselves and each other. There's a lot of brutality to be had here, a different kind than before because of the sexual element, but it's no less chilling than what has come in the first two chapters. The work that's created here is truly beautiful in that disturbing way that you can't help but to look at it, to want to see it through. There's a power to the visuals that's really captivating but what takes it to the next level is the positively wonderful voice acting going on here that's so well emoted at times and so tightly controlled at others that it draws you in all the more. The further into this series I get, the more engaged with it I become and the more layers of itself it reveals. This is a hauntingly beautiful work.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, Japanese 5.1 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Subtitles, Pre-Show Message
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.