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GARO The Movie Divine Flame Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read

A brief return to the Garo that worked for me.

What They Say:
Four years after the events of Garo: The Animation, León and Alfonso are called away to a neighboring country to defeat the most beautiful Horror in the world. But trouble brews on the home front when mysterious creatures with unknown intentions abduct León’s little brother, Roberto. To track down the kidnappers, the Makai Knight duo must accept help from allies both old and new while investigating strange happenings in a foreign land.

However, as shrouded, sinister affairs unfold, a greater threat emerges that only Garo, the Golden Knight, can hope to overcome.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series is pretty good as we get the original Japanese language track in 5.1 as well as the new English mix done in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The film works a good blend of action and dialogue to it where the action is a good mix of swords and sorcery that spreads well across the forward soundstage. There’s some good directionality at times and the layout for it definitely draws you in pretty well all things told. There are some appropriately big moments along the way that work very well throughout. The dialogue side of it is a bit more straightforward overall as it doesn’t have quite the same opportunities but it conveys the various styles of speech well and there are some good moments of placement and depth to drive it in a good way. Both language tracks come through clean and clear throughout without any problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this feature film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p with the AVC codec. Animated by MAPPA, the show has a great look to it with a lot of detail to the backgrounds and character designs and some well-designed CG pieces with the armor and more that really gives it a rich feeling. The transfer brings this across in a really good way with clean colors that handle the bright and vibrant areas as well as the darker and murkier pieces. There is a lot of beautifully animated action sequences here with some great fluidity to them that come alive and the transfer gets it done right where there are no motion artifacts or breakup during it. The end result is a very appealing looking show that’s elevated in high definition as I can’t imagine it looking anywhere nears as good through streaming or standard definition.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with an o-card that replicates the case artwork itself. The front cover works with the familiar key visual for the film that lines up the main cast across it with mostly action poses. It’s dark and murky in terms of the background, which fits the film to a good degree, but the blending doesn’t work as well as it should and some things are more indistinct in its source than it should be. The logo is kept to the lower right, covered by the Digital Copy sticker on the o-card, while the back cover zooms in on part of the cover for the visual to the right, making clear just how little material is available for this project. The summary of the premise is simple and it clearly lists that extras are just trailers. A few shots from the film are fairly colorful and do a good job with the design while the remainder breaks out the standard technical grid details as it breaks down both formats clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included but the reverse side cover takes the front cover and breaks it out across two panels.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is not going to be a surprise after the packaging in that we get a still shot that moves around the character artwork once again to create a static piece that fills the screen. THe background is a lot more visible with the ruins that are there and the murky green otf the sky for it but it works pretty well overall. THe logo is kept to the upper right without taking up too much space while a stone-like navigation strip along the bottom gives us the basics to setup and access both before playing and as a pop-up menu during playback.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the success of the original TV series, the team went on to work on the Divine Flame movie while a different team was setup to run the Crimson Moon season. That season killed my interest pretty heavily but getting to go back to what I loved in the original rekindled something in me. In theaters about two years after the TV series was done, MAPPA brought out this film with Yuuichirou Hayashi directing it from a screenplay by Yasuko Kobayashi. Taking our familiar characters and moving the story ahead by four years keeps it from having hugely different chances so that we don’t feel like it’s a completely different world but it allows for some changes, much like our own world. In the end, however, what we get is pretty much a three-episode length epilogue story that gives you the hope of more of what worked so well but without the depth.

The premise for this is simple enough in that, four years on, Leon is moved fully into the title of the Golden Knight while Alfonso is handling the kingdom of Valiante well. Leon is largely devoted to training at this point when it comes to Roberto but everything changes when the request comes in to them to deal with a Horror that’s surfacing in the nearby country. We get some of that in the prologue in chilling fashion, as well as a bit of nudity to remind us that we’re not on TV anymore, and it sets the pair on an adventure to deal with it while also having the Obsidian Knight known as Dario show up to be a part of things. Leon also gets some assistance along the way as Ema returns to the area and provides that kind of smarts that the pair needs in order to succeed against this new dangerous Horror.

Because of the nature of the film I’ll admit, there’s not a lot of “here” to be had here. It’s a solid piece that clocks in at about 75 minutes sans credits and that means it moves quickly, introducing us to the characters amid their lives without recap and then moving forward to deal with what’s out there. The inclusion of the child for a decent part of it works better than one might imagine and it’s the kind of piece that Leon really needs. It’s also a critical part to having German back in the story again as well, which ties things together really well in the end and shows some very welcome growth for Leon. The fun comes just in being a part of this world again and running around with these characters because it’s so beautifully animated and it still manages to retain just enough of the sense of fun that the original had. It can’t just recapture it easily, especially in this short of a running time, but it it’s a wonderful little reconnect.

In Summary:
I’ll easily admit that even just after finishing the film that the story didn’t make much of an impact on me in terms of being memorable, which I expected with the running time and the feeling that this was just a bonus story. What drives the enjoyment here for me is getting to see these guys running around again in this world, having fun and getting into some tough situations while also showing just how well they’ve grown in the four years since the main series ended. The end result is a brisk and fun adventures that looks fantastic and takes us back to a place that I didn’t really expect to ever go again.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: July 10th, 2018
MSRP: $34.98
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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