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.
There is no method to the madness. Within Natsuhiko Kyogoku’s Requiem from the Darkness, there are exceptions to be sure but, generally speaking, this is a show where atrocities are committed by people with zero regard for or reasoning behind their actions. Lacking even a passing resemblance of foresight, they’re easily swayed by their self-serving impulses - a bruised ego here, a childish grievance there - into venturing as far as to kill one another.
“Kill”, of course, is a massive understatement. The humans depicted here don’t simply murder each other; they do so in a variety of grotesque ways. Victims’ faces are contorted with agony
and heartrending screams are emitted as their eyes are punctured, their limbs severed, their bodies impaled, their flesh scorched, their skulls shattered, and their bones devoured.
There are countless shows with content that’s similar to Requiem but they deviate from the latter in terms of intent. With other shows, the carnage not only comes across as excessive but also wholly unnecessary; it’s violence for the sake of violence. With Requiem, however, a difference is established. The focus isn’t directed towards mindless bloodshed. Rather, the killings that occur here serve as testimonies to the cruelty within human nature; they depict the extents to just how abominable we act towards one another.
To the Ongyou, exorcists of extraterrestrial origin, these displays of depravity have become depressingly repetitive. Viewing the murders from afar, the Ongyou can’t resist sympathizing with a species that stray from their better judgment time after time. Seeking to steer humanity in a more positive direction (and, at the very least, minimize the amount of destruction we cause), the Ongyou wander throughout the natural world, utilizing their abilities where they see fit.
Based on an award-winning collection of short stories, situated within Japan’s Edo period, Requiem from the Darkness is a show that expresses its brutally frank social commentary via various interactions the Ongyou have with other people throughout their journey. At the series’ start, though, they’re more or less on their own. Directed by Mataichi (an undersized spiritualist defined by his threadbare cloak and cynical musings), the Ongyou have maintained success in their exploits but circumstances change when they encounter Momosuke.
He is Requiem’s primary narrator. He is also a hopeless idealist whose naivety, clumsiness and cowardice have endangered the Ongyou’s objective on numerous occasions. However, Momosuke compensates for this through an unmatched expertise in folklore and superstitions. His knowledge is put to good use through the myriad of cases the Ongyou tackle; it’s fascinating to see just how crucial a role Japanese mythology plays in situations involving cannibalism, incestuous rape, matricide, and other grisly crimes.
This intersection between the human world and the supernatural is an area Requiem pays close attention to. In particular, it’s concerned with how denizens of the latter perceive the former.
When it comes to presenting our surroundings from the Ongyou’s viewpoint, this show spares no expense. The koto and kotsuzumi provide an era-appropriate musical identity to the proceedings (alongside an amalgamation of xylophones, bagpipes, orchestral strings, and chantings) as Requiem showcases its visual mastery. Shadows impose on everything in their sight, often enveloping the characters within its foggy folds, perfectly complementing this show’s dour tone. Buildings insult conventions, twisting and turning, unlike ordinary architecture which mostly stands in place.
These and more contribute to an aesthetic that celebrates creativity more than anything else. Whatever shortcomings appear along the way (from poorly integrated CGI to inconsistent character design) are almost entirely negated by a show that overwhelms with its endless forays into the visually experimental. Naturally, this artistic pursuit culminates with what’s easily the most haunting sequence in the entire series.
A little girl, known as “Tai”, calmly approaches an elderly man undergoing a mental breakdown. Clutching a ragdoll in her arms, Tai converses with this man, her voice cheerful, her eyes radiant with mischief. The exchange then screeches to a halt. Tai exhibits a toothy grin and releases a mocking snicker before she mutates.
Luminous purple shadows glimmer on Tai’s countenance and in the pitch-black background behind her as her facial features dissolve into nothingness. What once appeared to be a little girl is now reduced to a corpse, a display of broken bones and frayed hair. Tai, however, is unfazed. Ignoring the rivulets of blood that flow from her right eye socket and the corners of her mouth (alongside the other changes), she leans closer to the elderly man and continues the conversation, maintaining her cheerful tone.
Tai is not real. She’s a replica of an innocent soul. She’s an illusion, conjured by the Ongyou to assist in completing one of their cases. She’s a walking reminder for the elderly man of the life he robbed. On a surface level, Tai’s metamorphosis, observed from the man’s point-of-view, is both aesthetically pleasing and weirdly mesmerizing. On further examination, the sequence is an intimidation tactic the Ongyou employed to persuade the man into acknowledging his mistakes. Watching Tai transform and listening to her explain what the man did (“You cut me in half”) is enough to trigger his repressed memories and bring him a step closer to redemption.
The experience also forces him to consider why he killed Tai (and his other victims) in the first place. Were his upbringing and social influences responsible for turning him into a murderer or was his behavior ingrained in him from the start?
Nature vs nurture. This debate serves as Requiem’s overarching theme. The killings, the Ongyou’s mission, the social commentary, and the aesthetic flourishes all ultimately relate to the topic at hand. Yes, this series is mainly an uncompromising examination of humanity at its worst but it’s also interested in determining the impetus for our actions. Although Requiem eventually aligns itself with “nature”, the argument it establishes is one that even the opposition might consider.
This show maintains that our natural traits are the biggest inspiration behind our behavior but it doesn’t believe that we are to be forever defined by them. The capacity for evil, to present a specific example, is something Requiem deems an inherent characteristic but this show claims that it’s hardly permanent. Again and again, the people that recognize their inherent evil and consciously seek to improve themselves are the ones who overcome their natural traits. Granted, there are plenty who don’t but that doesn’t prevent Requiem from believing even the worst of us are capable of change.
Of course, the road to redemption isn’t easy, not when there are supernatural creatures hindering your progress.
Natsuhiko Kyogoku is an award-winning novelist and an admirer of the late mangaka Shigeru Mizuki but he’s also a self-proclaimed “yokai researcher” that’s convinced yokai folklore is a form of sublimation. This idea of his is apparent in almost all of Kyogoku’s works, except for Requiem from the Darkness.
With his other projects, he always ensured that the yokai were to never appear. The focus was to remain on the human characters. Yokai and the supernatural myths involving them were only permitted to exist as fables, paralleling a criminal’s motives and behavior. Requiem, on the other hand, is far more liberal in handling yokai. Although this wasn’t much of an issue at the series’ start, the situation becomes more and more difficult to ignore later on.
When the Ongyou decided to embark on their string of investigations and exorcisms throughout our world, they quickly discovered other supernatural entities that arrived long before them. These are what’s referred to as “yokai”. At first, the ones that the Ongyou encountered were of a simple variety, weird but ultimately harmless creatures with amusing voices and mannerisms. These yokai were loosely involved in Requiem, appearing on a semi-frequent basis, never detracting from the show’s purpose and direction.
This wouldn't always be the case. As Requiem’s story develops, the yokai not only become a consistent presence within the show but they also start actively interfering with major events. No longer are they charming oddities. The yokai are now vicious and deadly terrors of the night, legitimate threats that the Ongyou have to contend with in order to complete their mission. This creative decision is flawed on two fronts. First, having this show revolve around the Ongyou’s various showdowns with the yokai completely derails from the themes it’s been building upon since the beginning. Second, leading these various showdowns towards a final battle is the polar opposite of what makes Requiem special.
This show thrives in tight spaces. Requiem’s strength lies within the relatability of its individual dramas, within the isolated yet intimate cases the Ongyou tackle, within the nuanced perspective it lends towards its small-scale events. It is the king of standalone stories.
A shame, then, that Requiem’s last four episodes fail to understand this. I’ll admit, though, that the intention behind them (grappling with the demons of your past) was pretty solid (even if it has zero relation to the show’s overall theme) but whatever direction these episodes were driven towards is overshadowed by its halfhearted forays into religious commentary, by its lackluster subplot involving water zombies (what were they thinking with that one?) and by its excessively theatrical main antagonist (“The world as it is now is an illusion!” he bellows as a stampede of fleeing villagers trample a woman’s bloodied body, “Within the darkness, there is truth!”).
While I will always struggle to comprehend the reasoning behind those last four episodes, there’s no point in holding that against a series that has earned my respect, admiration and undying loyalty multiple times over. In a genre mainly known for cheap jump scares and abysmal acting, Requiem from the Darkness distinguishes itself through its thoroughly researched insight into human nature. For me, watching this show analyze the way we think is both a privilege and an honor.
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.