Requiem From the Darkness
Volume 2 - Human Atrocity

Starring (voice- English): Grant George, Kirsty Pape, Michael McConnahie and Steve Kramer
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 06 November 2006

In Japan, at the end of the nineteenth century, an aspiring author Momosuke leaves the city in search of a hundred ghost stories to form his book. On the road he meets up with Nagamimi, Mataichi and Ogin, a group whose purpose it is to travel the land punishing wrong doers in a manner which fits their crime...

Based on the novel by Natsuhiko Kyogoku, volume two of Requiem from the Darkness covers episodes five to seven of this very dark and slightly disturbing series. The first thing that you notice is that the show is a real mishmash of styles. The whole show seems determined to keep the audience out of any comfort zone and to this end it works very well.

Episode five, Salty Choji (I kid you not. Not sure I want to know what Choji is either) and Momosuke takes refuge in the castle of a local Samurai. Of course, the show being what it is, the lord of the manor is hiding a dark secret which will require a spanking from the group.

Shibaemon the Racoon Dog, and a spate of murders have happened in the countryside. When Momsuki investigates he discovers a young man, chained up, who refers to himself as a tanuki, the racoon dog of the title. Although Momsuki thinks that this is a cruel fate, the group feel that this is the way to treat a mad dog.

Katabira Crossroads is not a place to find yourself, as a spate of rotting female corpses have been turning up there. Momosuke tries to find out what is happening only to discover a horrible fact about one of his friends.

Audio is restricted to English or Japanese Stereo, with English subtitles; extras are likewise limited to two art galleries and some trailers for other shows.

I didn't get to review the first disc, so jumping straight into this series was somewhat unnerving. Although there appears to be some form of story arc each story is pretty much self contained. If I were making a comparison, I'd say the show was more akin to an animated Tales of the Unexpected - quick set-up, a lot of horror and gore and the timely punishment of the wrong doer. It also has a lot in common with some of the best Asian horror films; I'm pretty surprised that, given its graphic depiction of horror and violence, this was passed for television.

Having said that, this means that this show is likely to be one of the most original animes currently available, so it's well worth a look if you're either into anime or horror, though, it would have been nicer if the distributor could have stretched to four episodes per disc.

Charles Packer

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