Another period anime. Now, I have nothing against the genre, but somehow it always finds its way to me, and it does start to get a little depressing at times.
Thank God Requiem is one of the better releases of late.
Set in Edo period Japan, the series follows a young writer named Momosuke Yamaoka as he travels the land looking to write his book, The 100 Stories. On his travels he meets 3 strange characters, collectively known as the Mataichi Gang, whose job it is to enforce karmic law in cases beyond human control.
Mataichi himself is a short and dresses as a priest, despite believing in no higher powers. He is joined by Nagamimi, a shape shifter whose true form remains a mystery, and Ogin, a beautiful and seemingly virtuous woman who has a body for sin, and seems to run rings around Momosuke.
The series is penned by Natsuhiko Kyougoku, a renowned occult enthusiast and winner of the 16th Shugorou Yamamato award for literature. He has quite a following in Japan, and the quality of his writing is what saves Requiem from obscurity.
You see, Requiem isn’t the most attractive anime on the planet – it’s very dark, using lots of thick black shadows, almost like a print, and muted colours that are a little muddy at times. The 4 volume series is animated to an acceptable TV quality, but were it not for Ogin’s feminine charms, there would be little to attract a novice to the series. That said, it does have its own Tim Burton-esque charm in the construction of the scenery, with oddly shaped buildings towering this way and that. Sadly the CGI is abysmal, and some scenes are slightly laughable for it.
But, looks aside, it’s a solidly paced series of ghost stories, with supernatural wrong-doers punished by this odd-looking team of paranormal investigators. Momosuke’s humanity grounds the ethereal goings on, and the Mataichi Gang provide the mystery. It’s a well honed balancing act, and it kept my interest throughout the four volumes here.
If the series is guilty of anything, it’s that it doesn’t really stand out on the shelves. It’s certainly a nice departure from giant mechs piloted by schoolkids, or the wealth of tournament titles out there, but the aesthetic is unlikely to find it thrown into a shopping bag, and that’s a bit of a shame.
Dark, well paced and entertaining goth-horror, it’s unlikely to set the world alight, but is worth a watch if you fancy something different.