Requiem from the Darkness Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Requiem from the Darkness

Requiem from the Darkness Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     December 03, 2004
Release Date: December 14, 2004


Requiem from the Darkness Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Momosuke is forced to rest at a stranger's house after suffering from exhaustion. There he is given a remedy... or is it a poison? The group then meets up with a trickster spirit disguised as a samurai. But nothing will prepare the group for what they experience at Katabira Crossroads - the corpse of Ogin!

The Review!
Proving that the first volume wasn't a fluke, the next set of episodes continue to provide some of the usual and unusual sides of Japanese horror stories up for view.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
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 dark purple sky filled with one giant eyeball partially obscured by the series English language logo. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
For the first volume there's a couple of extras included and probably what we'll see on the remaining volumes as well. The opening and ending sequences are done in a clean format which is definitely nice since there's so much interesting artwork used. 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)
The first volume of this series had just completely wowed us when we first saw it since it was so unlike most of the shows we've been watching this year but it's style was just so different from anime in general in a lot of ways that we couldn't be sure whether it was just the shock of something different reeling us in or whether the stories really were up to snuff. While we get one less episode with this volume, the three tales here are just as eerie and engaging as the first volume was and brings us deeper along the journey that Momosuke is taking.

The three stories build upon each other in small ways now since Momosuke is walking between the worlds now with the three… people I guess you could call them that he's come to spend time with. In his efforts to write his 100 Stories instead of writing the riddles, he takes the same journey's as them to see and hear what they do and to sometimes get involved in them as well. Sometimes, like the third tale, he becomes far too involved and causes problems with the setting free of the souls or becoming just a bit too close to the trio.

It's been hard to say which is the creepiest story as they all excel on some level there. The opening story is definitely in the same category as it has the spiritual trio leaving Momosuke behind to find his own way down the craggy hills and he ends up being rescued by a foreman of a large estate. Being brought inside and cared for, he finds himself caught up in a strange mystery of a house whose Master is beset with problems related to the eating of animal flesh. Momosuke finds himself being in the same boat as well as they fed him horse meat when he was barely still alive in an effort to revive him, which has now put him under the same curse. This is made all the creepier with the sound of a horse running through the household and the large painted image of the Master's favorite horse leaving its location and visibly attacking people. The setting is so richly layered and animated that it becomes just as much a character as anyone else here.

The second tale is another one that I've heard similar to over the years with the tale of a tanuki that had transformed into being a human so that he could get closer to some of the performances a human troupe was putting on nearby. As the tale goes of the tanuki being stuck in human form and then confused for a double of a young noble, it's an intriguing story that's been told in a number of shows with plenty of variation. Momosuke finds himself traveling alongside a performance troupe that has the reputation of actually having a captured tanuki in their employ and the idea of it fascinates him enough that he starts to investigate it. At the same time, the series of killings that's going on seems to be related to the same and Momosuke's grip on what's reality and what isn't really starts to slide here. This episode gets highly confusing at times as you can't tell what happened in the past or present or if it really happened at all as they unwrap the mystery of the tanuki.

The stories here are highly entertaining and well told, but the visuals for it continue to be just as striking. The way the backgrounds are done in general is just fascinating and it adds so much character. The way the rooms and houses are designed, the workings of the doors and just the dark foreboding nature of the skies is so oppressive at times that it's an element that really helps accentuate things. The less than pretty look of most of the characters as well as the ability to show whatever they seem to want to show also helps elevate it since it doesn't flinch from what it wants to do. And once you find out that they're not going to flinch, every corner becomes even more mysterious and dangerous.

In Summary:
This set of episodes proves to me that the first volume of the series most certainly wasn't a fluke. These episodes are just as engaging, creepy and simply disturbing at times with their unflinching look at some of the most interesting of Japanese horror stories. The visuals are gorgeous in that desolate way and the characters that inhabit this world are fascinating to watch as they try to deal with unworldly things happening around them. Even familiar tales are nicely twisted to serve the needs of the story here and it makes me wish that the original novel would be translated so that more of the stories can be told. This is really great stuff and is so unlike anything else coming out these days that it's high on my list of shows that must be watched quickly.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Line Art Gallery,Background Gallery

Review Equipment
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.

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