What They Say:
The legendary golden armor fights once more against the horrors of the world. In the capital city of an elegant feudal society, a powerful spiritual barrier protects the highborn from the demonic monsters that roam the night. But for the commoners, from the moment the sun sets, their world turns into a living nightmare. It’s up to Raiko and Seimei to protect the citizens and face their own demons.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets the 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that works a decent balance of action and dialogue pieces so they both work out well. It’s not the most dynamic show out there in either regard but the encoding brings the mix to life well enough for them. The action sequences have a decent bit of impact here they should, notably with some extra bass in the English adaptation, but both of them work well with the forward soundstage placement and depth. Dialogue is straightforward with nothing much to really deal with out of the ordinary as it all comes through clean and clear without distortions or dropouts during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second, which is also where the extras are. Animated by MAPPA, the encoding here captures the low-rent and unappealing look of the show well as it has the right kind of flat and lifeless feeling about it. Color design is fairly basic so there’s not a lot to work with here and really fluidly animated sequences are few and far between, making it even easier. It’s not the greatest looking show in the world but the encoding captures the look of the source material without any problems such as noise or macroblocking.
The packaging for this release brings us a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case to hold the four discs from both formats on hinges. The o-card replicates the case artwork as it uses a really cheap looking illustration piece of the main cast of characters with a lot of detail but nowhere near enough the polish it needs to look good, similar to the first. What saves this one just a bit is that the colors are appealing, particularly the crimson, and it has a certain something that keeps me from just really hating it. The rough background works in its favor, though, as it gives it a more mature look. The back cover works with just a bland background piece overall with no additional artwork here, letting the few small shots from the show along the bottom bring the color and life to it. The summary of the premise is pretty extensive and we get a good breakdown of the extras included in the release. The technical grid captures all the right details about how the series was put together for both formats in a clean and easy to read way. And, in a really rare move, there isn’t anything on the reverse side of the cover.
The menus for this release keep to the simple approach that we’ve seen so far as we get the cover artwork repurposed here with the same background. This spreads a lot of blank space overall but it works in giving the character artwork more chances to pop and look good as it’s placed along the right. The left keeps to just the series name and logo in simple font without taking up a lot of space. The navigation along the bottom is spaced out a lot for how little there is but it’s all functional and clean, making it a solid released overall in this regard for both the main menu and pop-up menu.
The extras for this installment are the basics that you hope for in that we get the various clean opening and closing sequences to enjoy without all that text getting in the way..
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of the Garo: Crimson Moon series was one that even with all the word of mouth I’d heard about it still surprised me by what a turn in production quality from top to bottom that it was compared to the first series. That doesn’t really change with the back half of it here but what we mostly get is inertia moving us along toward the fairly predictable end that wraps things up while offering meager possibilities for moving forward. A property like this is one that I definitely like that it reinvents itself from incarnation to incarnation, such as we see with the live-action side, but Crimson Moon is just such a huge misstep that you wonder if they really realized that within the production and how they handled the largely critical drubbing it got upon broadcast.
With all the setup done in the first half, this one starts off with the ramifications of events and focuses on how Raikou is dealing with all that has been done to keep him moving and alive. The dynamic between him and Seimei has some interesting moments in general but it does fall into familiar traps too often, though it does mostly avoid going down a stupid relationship hole. Seimei is the one that provides for some smarts and wisdom here in dealing with what’s going on with the larger fight and it just makes Raikou look all the worse. While he’s not comically impulsive, he has that immaturity and lack of solid footing to know what to do and how to go after it. So when we do get growth with him, even if it is mostly just involving his connection to his armor, you have to root for him because it’s at least some growth and progress for the character that’s otherwise bland and uninteresting.
And filled with stupid pointy hair.
I hate his hair.
A lot of what this season does is get things moving in a better place to deal with the big threat while working through some smaller threats along the way. And that naturally includes some lecherous material as we get an episode with Masamune toward Seimi – a far too easy target for a character that is otherwise pretty likable – and a range of different Horrors for the group to work again. We had all the characters introduced early and easily enough in the first half of the series and with some breaking points here where they go off in their own directions they all invariably come back together to work toward the common goal in dealing with Doumas and the revival/unsealing of Rudra that will destroy the world, because bad guys gotta hate everything and want it all destroyed. There are times when this kind of concept can work well but it requires some real effort in character writing and situational setup and that’s not something that happens here.
Garo: Crimson Moon was a series that was exhausting and in some ways I’m not sure I can pinpoint why. A lot of what it does is (sadly) standard fare. But it’s also a series that is twice as long as it should be as a single season of tighter material and better animation would have worked better. But it has some pretty uninteresting characters that make me doubt that a single season would have fared better in that area, but it would have eased the pain. A lot of what’s working against the show are the expectations based on the first series, fair or not, and that made this a real chore to get through when combined with a story that just does not excite in any way or characters that you want to really engage with and get to know. For fans of the series, Funimation put together a solid release that will make you very happy overall and that, in the end, is what counts.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening and Closing Songs, Trailers.
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.