What They Say
Momosuke, separated from the group, searches for the others when he is suddenly attacked by rebels. Ogin finds him and advises he return to Edo. When she heads in another direction, Momosuke follows her instead. Along the journey, Momosuke comes across a clan that has been cursed by spirits, causing horrible deaths. Mataichi just may have a trick up his sleeve to deal with the atrocities at the castle.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. The stereo mix for this series is just completely creepy at times with great use of sound to help convey the mood of the show, – especially if you use headphones – 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.
Originally airing in late 2003, this series is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio. Animated by TMS Entertainment, it has plenty of familiar elements to it but manages to up the style just right so that it feels distinctive enough. 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 nonissue 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.
The show worked some good singles in its North American release as the Japanese release was just a box set so they were able to expand on things nicely. With the first volume, 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 disc’s 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 the then-upcoming volumes in the series with the month of release dates.
The extras are a bit lighter for this volume as we lose the clean opening and closing material. 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.
Over the course of this series, there have been small hints of something larger that’s taking place but it’s been kept very much at the fringes of the stories so as to allow the actual events we’re seeing take the center stage. The main focus of the series does continue to be Momosuke as he interacts with the trio and their dealings though and with him now being kept out of things the show takes on a different feel.
Without the trio in his life, Momosuke is definitely feeling both left out of things and less connected to the kinds of stories he’s compiling together. So it takes little incentive for him to actually start actively seeking them out but to his surprise, it leads him to a secret tea shop wherein lies the energy/spiritual form that gave the trio their missions in the past. Along with the pair of tiny old hags keeping things civil, Momosuke learns that the trio has gone missing during their latest mission and it’s concerned about their well-being. To his surprise, Momosuke learns that his being involved with the trio hasn’t upset this thing but rather it feels that his presence with the trio has only added a certain “elegance” to the closure of their missions. It’s also why it’s now seeking Momosuke’s help in finding them and bringing them back.
Momosuke’s now set on their trail, which leads to the first episode that’s mostly a standalone one that deals with him arriving in a port village that’s no longer heading out into the sea due to far too many incidents with the ghosts out there. There’ve been far too many accidents lately that have resulted in deaths and the seas are angry over it. Momosuke’s investigations lead him deep into the incidents but it really serves as something of a catalyst episode that brings him to the Twin Island, where only one of the twins remains and the people on it haven’t left there since they were exiled there ages ago. The people there guard a strange secret that’s actually an amazingly powerful weapon that people are seeking to acquire for their own agendas. What’s even more curious is that the trio is there guarding it and making sure that their boss, now former boss, doesn’t acquire it either as they’ve gone rogue having found that the missions they were taking on weren’t accomplishing the goals they used to.
This series has just been fascinating right from the start for so many reasons. The standalone nature of the tales themselves allowed for just the right amount of storytelling to take place that would provide a creepy enough factor and incorporate plenty of traditional Japanese horror elements and entertain a lot. The visuals of the show were the real treat though in that they took stories that may not have had the same punch if done in the traditional anime style and really punched it up a lot. The nature of the characters being so disfigured looking, in that you often couldn’t tell if a villager was something strange or just normal for there, mixed in some great atmosphere to it. The simplicity of the designs really made them all stand out. The backgrounds themselves took on a life of their own and made me very glad for the art setting extras since it let them really shine on their own with the detail and style applied to them.
With just the right length to it before the stories could start seeming familiar or the novelty wearing off, Requiem from the Darkness is a great little series of horror stories that don’t fit into how most anime series look or feel. It’s simply so imbued with style and substance that sets it apart from the norm that it’s engaging right from the start and it was one of the more anticipated titles when it originally came out. This finale brings it all to a satisfying close and ends with the viewer feeling good about what they’ve seen. Very much recommended, especially to those who want something that doesn’t feel like it came off the assembly line of a committee.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Line Art Gallery, Background Gallery
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Geneon Entertainment
Release Date: April 12th, 2005
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
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.