Last Level Press

Anime Review: Requiem From the Darkness

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

“Evil and ambition scatter in the darkness, and all that remains is a sad rumor among the townsfolk. To the next world we commit thee!”

In the waning years of the Tokugawa period, a young aspiring author from Edo named Momosuke decides, instead of writing a riddle book for children, he wants to collect and publish one hundred ghost stories, so he travels across Japan gathering stories. Things are fine until one stormy night he runs into a trio of strange travelers and, through their retributive methods of justice, Momosuke discovers the darkness of humanity and of our world.

Alternate Title: Fear and Loathing in Feudal Japan.

(Citation needed)

Requiem from the Darkness, based on a series of novels by mystery writer Natsuhiko Kyogoku, is a mix between visually stunning and predictably cheap. Much of the imagery when the supernatural is involved becomes this blend of surreal and bizarre while normalcy is reserved mostly for our protagonist Momosuke. Characters that are important to the story being presented are given more detail, while secondary characters are less flashy, and background characters literally have no faces or have wooden heads, which saves time and money on animation but also serves a sort of thematic aesthetic since these are characters in a story with bare bone details. The most impressive sequences of animation are the intro and ending themes, although the CGI used in the intro and sparingly through the series as a whole look outdated and rough, not to mention jarring compared to the traditional animation.

There isn’t an awful lot of music worth noting, save the intro and ending for obvious reasons, but that’s honestly not a bad thing. While there are moments where music is used to convey or present emotion or action, the moments where there is no music or sound being heard creates the greater impact. Everything has its place and nothing sounds out of the norm. Given that this is a mystery and horror show, misplaced music can ruin the mood or impact of a scene, and, from what I gathered, there were no such ruined moments that stood out.

The story feels very much like a novel adaptation in the sense that each episode is a chapter or two carrying on a specific theme and ends, each small story beginning and ending with all points presented explained while those of the trio that Momosuke encounters left open until they too must be addressed. However, it’s not an episodic series in the sense that you can pick it up at any point and go along without issue. Its narrative is like a season of Avatar: The Last Airbender or other similar shows, or even like that of a novel, in that you get a better understanding of events by starting from the beginning rather than opening it up and starting at someplace in the middle.

Like so.

The voice acting is decent enough. Grant George (Bleach, Fate/zero, Monster) brings a good portrayal to young Momosuke, a man who has a journey into darkness and even dances with it as he travels with the trio whom he always runs into and always find that there is always more to the story. The trio I keep referring to are, in the words of TV Tropes, a “darker and edgier Scooby-Doo” comprised of a trickster charm maker and monk named Mataichi, a hulking man who is a shape shifter and master of animals named Nagamimi, and a rather curvy puppeteer named Ogin. Mataichi, voiced by Steve Kramer (Cyborg 009, Bleach, Radiata Stories), does a gruffer voice than I would imagine for someone who is called a trickster but given how he is possibly the oldest of the trio, certainly the leader, and is often seen smoking a pipe it’s not too hard to discount it. Michael McConnohie (Big O, Rurouni Kenshin) voices Nagamimi does a superb job since his signature booming voice is a great match for the member who is the muscle and, as a man who can control animals, commands respect. Ogin, the lady of the trio and the youngest of the group, is voiced by Karen Strassman (Code Geass, Ergo Proxy, Great Teacher Onizuka) and certainly does an adequate job of being both seductive and insulting to Momosuke, but she never really has many moments beyond this.

Editor: Oh, I don’t know about that.

At a brief thirteen episodes, Requiem from the Darkness is one to definitely consider watching this month just to get in the mood for Halloween. As mentioned previously, this show is, at its simplest, a darker version of Scooby-Doo, where instead of random people scaring folks away to get money or something it’s mostly darker themes of murder, delusional tendencies, and bitter jealousy. If you’re pretty clever or not easily scared, this won’t make your skin crawl or shock you in any way. However, if you want something different from the typical gore the season is known for, then I would recommend this. But until then, to the next we commit thee.

Rating: 7.0

Visuals: 7
Audio: 6
Narrative: 7
Acting: 7
Atmosphere & Experience: 8

  Director: Hideki Tonokatsu

  Producer: Yudo Ohishi

  Studio: Tokyo Movie Shinsha

  Release Date (U.S.): Dec 16, 2008

  Release Date (U.K.):  N/A

  Release Date (JP):  Jul 9, 2006

Final Verdict:


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