Tired of writing riddles for children, Yamaoka Momosuke plans on gathering spooky and gruesome stories and publishing them in an anthology called Hyakumonogatari ("One Hundred Tales"). While researching these old myths and legends he comes across a mysterious trio who call themselves the Ongyou. They are detectives who are investigating the legends to reveal their truths...and bring those in the wrong to justice. Each time Momosuke meets the Ongyou he must face horrible truths and battle with his morals, but he's seeing things he shouldn't be seeing...
Hundred stories, More commonly known as "Requiem From the Darkness" is a horror anime like no other. 13 episodes of the most disturbing and gory stories you'll ever witness. The basic plot of the story is about a young man who is an author journeying to lands where there are mysterious rumors in order to write a book of 100 Japanese horror stories. Every time he encounters the supernatural though he runs into a group of the "Exorcists" traveling Japan to destroy the darkness in people's hearts.
Story: Each episode is a separate story in another village, but even though its "Episodic" the relationship between main
characters is still developing. Most episodes start with a very disturbing scene, usually a brutal murder that hints at the "Darkness" behind the episode~ it really pulls you in from episode one~ The first half is setting the stage and characters for the story and how the main character the author meets them. The second half of the episode is discovering the malignant evil in the perpetrator~ catching him commit his crime, and then the exorcists killing him in some manner.
What really sets this apart from other anime is the length it went to in shock value; most episodes revolve around the murder, rape, and or plain torture of women and small children...And the story is played out in a way you never see it coming~ Be warned that this is Rated R for these reasons... if you have a weak constitution to gore or horror in general I wouldn't advise you watch this series. No matter how much you think "They're not going to show it... they're going to pane away..." they do show it... generally in the most gruesome manner and in slow motion.
Art: The art is very... "Original" I guess~ It is not Standard animation which gives it a nice flair sometimes~ But on some occasions the animation is just so overdone in its unique style that it doesn't look nice on the eyes, or you don't even know whats happening.
Sound: The opening and ending are nice, I don't know if they really match with the feeling of the anime, but they're ok; the ending is very calming... which may be something you need to hear after some of the crazy conclusions to episodes. The OST music didn't stick out very much, but it wasn't poorly done at least and it effectively portrayed the mood.
Character: The main character balance is a little off; they were original I suppose, but the story almost flows without their presence since each episode is about the episodic characters than the main characters usually (Similar to Jigoku Shoujo).
Enjoyment: 95% of the episodes were original and had me on the edge of my seat. They broke so many expectation barriers on Gore... and even more socially taboo things which I will leave as teasers for people who haven't seen the show. If you're more of a fluffy luv luv anime lover, or want some luls... this definitely is not the anime for you~ But if you're thirsting blood and hellish plot twists this anime is right up your alley.
My first experience with horror movies occurred when I was eight, when I was on a summer vacation at my Aunt Donna’s house. One night, my brother, my cousins Faith and Donavan, and I were patiently waiting while my aunt surfed through the TV guide for us to watch a movie. She found the 2009 remake of The Stepfather, assumed it was a family-friendly film, and left us by ourselves. For a little over two hours, we witnessed this deceivingly average joe stab people to death, snap an old lady’s neck, shoving a woman’s head underwater and strangling her until she drowned, and stuff a
bunch of dead bodies in a locked freezer. While watching The Stepfather, I closed my eyes, I jumped out of my chair in fear, and I wanted to change the channel, but when it ended. I admitted it was a great film, mostly because I had never seen anything like it (though I’ve yet to check out another horror movie). To this day, I’ve wondered how my Aunt Donna didn’t hear the blood-curdling screams emitting from the TV.
The Stepfather, as I later discovered, was the most basic example of the American horror genre, which thrives on the shock factor, survives on buckets and buckets of blood, and ultimately serves as a “turn your brain off” experience. However, there is a stark difference between the American horror industry and that of the Japanese. While the signature move, the definitive calling card, of the American scary movies is to have the killer pop in from out of nowhere, the Japanese horror films rely on subtly revealing the climax of the story. They rely on the traditional tales of suspense from long ago. They rely on a delicate balance between realism and the supernatural. No anime title more embodies the essence of the Japanese horror genre than Natsuhiko Kyogoku’s 13-episode 2003 classic Requiem from the Darkness, one of the greatest hidden gems of the industry.
Kuniaki Haijima, the creator of Monster’s unforgettable soundtrack, is also the composer lording over the music for Requiem. Haijima’s combination of traditional East Asian chimes, grimy hip-hop beats, and a smooth bass guitar perfectly complements the time period (Post-Edo era Japan) and mood (sometimes melodic but mostly dark) of the series. The animation in Requiem is beautifully hand-drawn, the setting appearing as a warped revision of the period it’s based on (There’s also very realistic CG in this series, especially for fire). What I find particularly clever about Requiem’s animation is how the sky changes color throughout the series, even throughout the episode, from green to purple and even red. While the animation (which drastically improves over the series’ last three episodes) and soundtrack are really, really good, they are not exceptional in the least when compared to other series at the time and even today.
Requiem from the Darkness, along with the four central characters, usually features a variety of one-shot characters and, although these characters normally receive a massive amount of depth, the characterization overall is more than a little lacking. The background characters, though they interestingly enough look like monsters, aren’t drawn or portrayed particularly well. Then, there’s the absence of depth and chemistry between exorcists Mataichi and Nagamimi (two of the four main characters in this show). Actress Karen Strassman, who did such a phenomenal job as Anna Liebert in Monster, unleashes her soft, sexy voice in her role as Ogin (pronounced “Oh-geen”), the third exorcist who receives quite a bit of depth and is by far the most dynamic character in Requiem. Her likable yet slowly blossoming relationship with Momosuke the protagonist is among the highlights of the series. At first, Momosuke is little more than a predictable, one-dimensional coward of a self-insert character (Early on, one of the characters says to Momosuke, “You’re an easy book to read,”) but as the series progresses, he becomes a morally just decision maker and a philanthropist of the highest order.
Although the theme song for Requiem (“The Flame”, performed by singer Keiko Lee and her smooth, hypnotic, slightly masculine voice) at first appears as a horrible complement to this series, the atmospheric, relaxing opening is presented to prepare you for the gruesomeness that occurs in the episode
“Evil and ambition scatter in the darkness, leaving behind dubious rumors to fly in public,” – Momosuke (Episode 13)
In spite of falling short of the areas of animation, characterization, and music, Requiem really shines when it involves the plot. From a cannibalistic warlord to a deranged child-killer, from a mass-murdering man-wolf to a delusional samurai that has sex with dead bodies, the aforementioned one-shot characters commit an array of unspeakably brutal crimes; through the help of the exorcists, they eventually find an escape from their twisted, tortured lives, thus the title is called “Requiem from the Darkness”. For the most part, the episodes in Requiem have storylines that ooze with top-tier writing, crafted with the utmost attention to detail (That’s why episode 10 sucks, just straight-up sucks. It’s uninteresting, it’s rushed, it’s full of plot holes, and it has no resolution), only subtly giving away clues throughout the episode before ultimately unleashing the devastating plot twist near the end. None of this is more apparent than in episode 4 of Requiem from the Darkness.
“Dancing Head” is an episode of humble beginnings, a story that starts off with a beautiful concubine, her sister, the man she’s sleeping with, and an outlaw samurai. I won’t spoil anything but Momosuke gets seriously involved in trying to aid the concubine, who strongly comes across as a damsel-in-distress. Momosuke, along with the three exorcists, becomes ensnared in an increasingly complex web of lies, betrayal, incest, and murder. The conflict comes to a head at a blood-stained hilltop, where the true villain of the episode is revealed, and the depths of this villain’s sinister nature is astronomically mind-blowing. The classic episode 4, an unflinching portrayal of the darkest layers inside the human heart, reaches the absolute pinnacle of storytelling. “Dancing Head” is, simply put, Requiem from the Darkness at its gory, horrific apex.
“To the next world we commit thee,” – Mataichi (Episode 1)
Very few anime titles are able to absorb you into their world quite like Requiem. This series transports you back to a time of swords, of traveling theater wagons, of chivalry, and of dangerous clans, the show giving you valuable gems of wisdom along the way (Be wary of overly friendly strangers. Don’t assume that a proven serial killer won’t shove you into a deep, flowing river. Don’t work for a talking, floating ball of fire, living in the shadows). This is why I am convinced that if Requiem was released today with improved animation and if it was produced by Madhouse, the “edgy” crowd would be worshipping it with their eyeballs. They would love this morbid study of human nature, this unforgettable homage to the Japanese folktales of long ago, this absolute masterpiece of the mindscrew genre. Unfortunately, when it comes to fanfare and critical acclaim, Requiem from the Darkness has yet to step into the light.
The main character, Momosuke, is a young writer whose ambition is to create an anthology of disturbing stories and mysterious country tales. On his trip researching the local legends he comes across the Ongyu - an odd trio of travelers in search for the wicked (each episode is about a different person in a different place) and handing out punishment for previous sins. The young author joins their travels and witnesses just how corrupt can people get. On his way he'll have to question his own morality, as the trio's ways of treating their "victims" is very cruel both mentally and physically.
Art is what
dragged me into the anime. Just as the story dives into the darkness of human souls, the art gives the atmosphere. Hundred Stories does not have your typical style. Very few characters look like normal poeple - most are deformed in one way or another, the surroundings are dark and often quite literally twisted, setting the mood for all the disturbing things the viewer is about to witness. And beleive me - many scenes here are pretty graphic, so don't even touch this anime if you can't stand the sight of blood and voilence.
To summarize, if you're looking for a happy, warm anime, stay away. On the other hand, if you enjoy taking a trip into twisted darkness, don't mind blood and gore and love sinister plot twists, this is an anime you've been looking for.
Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari is an anime based on the writing of Kyogoku Natsuhiko. It was handled by TMS Entertainment, the same studio behind Detective Conan and Monster Rancher. So, how does a studio like that manage with a horror series? Let's take a look and see.
We open with a writer named Momosuke. Turns out, he's going on a trip to gather information to write an anthology of a hundred tales. While walking on a rainy night, he nearly falls off of a cliff only to be saved by a traveling monk named Mataichi. Mataichi gives Momosuke directions for a place he can stay
and gives him an ominous warning to go straight there. In the dark, Momosuke stumbles into a derelict looking building where a second traveling monk has shown up. Inside, Momosuke sees that Mataichi is there as well. Mataichi laments Momosuke's inability to listen to people's advice and tells him he's going to see something terrifying. This begins Momosuke's association with Mataichi, Ogin and Nagamimi, three people who find people guilty of horrific crimes and conduct summary executions against them after frightening them into revealing the truth.
Let's get into the negative aspects of the series right away. The first is that it relies a lot on coincidence. Once the series gets going there's active trickery to get Momosuke involved in the plot, but early on he just manages to stumble into Mataichi and his group by sheer plot convenience. There's also the issue of him not having much to do in most of the episodes. There are a few where he plays a prominent role in the setup, but in most of them he either makes an incompetent attempt to help the criminal or he observes what's happening from the side-lines and contributes absolutely nothing of value. The reason we follow him being to give us a more outsider's perspective. Like in Yami no Matsuei, the horror elements are largely just dark and disturbing content, but nothing that's actually apt to frighten anyone. The ending is mixed. There is some good setup leading up to it, but the payoff is pretty weak.
There is also quite a bit about the series that's good. The premise is genuinely interesting and used to pretty good effect in most of the scenarios. The episodes are a bit formulaic, but there is more than enough variety in the setup and execution of them to keep it compelling. The dark content is handled decently, in spite of every scenario save one being completed in a single episode. I also like the way that the supernatural aspect is handled, but I can't go into too many details on that one without giving away spoilers.
Most of the characters in this series are a bit under-developed and I'm not just talking about the one-shot characters who appear in a single episode, which is the bulk of the characters in the series, or the supporting characters who appear in brief scenes throughout the series. No, I'm talking about the main cast. You never learn much about Mataichi's group beyond some sparse backstory details and basic character traits. Most episodes focus on their target and steadily reveal details about their crime throughout, although even these characters aren't particularly well developed or complex since most of their traits are based on their crimes with a very basic explanation for why they do it. As such, getting invested in the scenarios can be difficult. Momosuke is the most complex character in the series, having a pretty substantial character arc and undergoing changes as a result of everything he goes through.
The art has an unusual style. Everything has a textured look to it, kind of like the art of Gankutsuou, but more subdued. They also draw most of the random people in the crowd with very undetailed, blank faces which just kind of blend together. The details on the backgrounds are pretty muted and basic as well. Although I'm not sure if it's laziness or that they thought the series aesthetic would work better if people and things in the background were kept with minimal details. The series does have some obtrusive fan-service, particularly with some of Ogin's scenes, but there isn't a huge amount. I will give them credit in that the imagery that's supposed to be disturbing is very effectively done and the designs for the major characters are nicely handled.
The voice acting is really good. Seki Toshihiko, Wakamoto Norio, Nakao Ryuusei & Kobayashi Sanae voice our main cast and they all do a great job. Although it is a little strange to hear Cell and Freeza give performances together in a serious anime. The music itself is mostly really good at helping set the tone, but sometimes it's used to create a tonal clash which may or may not work depending on your perspective.
There is no ho-yay in this. There's very little romantic content at all and what there is is het.
Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari is an anime with some good, compelling ideas but with execution that isn't very good. The characters are largely under-developed and the story has some serious issues. However, it does still have a lot of interesting moments and its art and sound do largely work. If you're interested in the premise and you don't mind the anthology aesthetic then you'll probably like it okay since it is decent enough. Just be advised that some of the content is disturbing. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. Next week, horror anime month continues with a look at Corpse Party.