Reviewby Trace Wilson,
Requiem from the Darkness
Aspiring writer Momosuke Yamaoka wants to publish a book of 100 stories. Japanese legend says that when you have told 100 supernatural tales, you will experience the supernatural. It's a twisted fantasy of Japanese mythology with a touch of anime flair that brings Hundred Stories to vibrant, disturbing life. Heavy lines, hard contrasts. Not a straight edge in sight. A palette of nothing but faded watercolors and black to work with. Edgar Allen Poe couldn't have done any better in creating a totally warped world for Momosuke and his encounters with the group of Mataichi the charm-selling monk, Ogin the puppeteer and Nagamimi the shapeshifter.
Most of the 13 episodes that comprise Hundred Stories deal with one legend or another, while the last two inject a different storyline. Mostly it's Momosuke following Mataichi's group from place to place, observing and sometimes participating in the events that ensue. There's plenty of good action here. It's the perfect balance of actual carnage with implied gore. You might not see a skull being crushed, but you'll still get the idea. "Body fountains" and lakes of blood would only take away from the story, as it's up to the viewer to use their imagination to fill in the gaps. The "best" part about 100 Stories is that pretty much every episode has at least one moment where you physically jump in horror. It's exactly what a scary story ought to do.
The animation's an odd mix of mostly traditional drawing and token bits of CG. For instance, the swaying of the willow trees in the "Yanagi Onna" episode, done with CG, is utterly hypnotic. Traditional animation wouldn't have made it look as good. The color schemes smack of retro, with a 70s, Saturday Morning Cartoon feel. In and amongst the various "mononoke" and "youkai," you half expect to see the Bill on Capitol Hill. The big difference, however, is in how contrast is used. There's basically color and black, with very little--if any--shading. Again, it adds to the effectiveness of the storytelling and gives the show a "flashlit-face-in-the-dark" style.
The freakish extras in all the episodes are another good point. If their bodies don't look like deformed monsters, their heads probably look like chunks of firewood or pumpkins. It's usually the police/shinsengumi/authority figures who have the strange heads, though it's hard to tell if there's a hidden meaning there. Regardless, director Hideki Tonokatsu does a fascinating job in keeping the focus on the bizarre, plus doubly delineating who is a main character and who is not. Beautiful.
The smooth jazz theme songs by Keiko Lee are also a nice touch of the macabre. "Wanting You" starts the show off on a total "WTF???" note, and "The Moment of Love" finishes the episode in a completely inappropriate manner. It was said once that it is a human trait to find the absurd funny, and you really can't help but chuckle a bit while witnessing the intentional mismatch of music and visuals. Seriously, who busts out a Porn Groove Lite tune while flashing corpses and skulls on the screen?
At Sakura-Con, Geneon announced they had licensed Hundred Stories, renamed Requiem from the Darkness. For anyone who's into the horror genre of anime, or just likes a good ghost story around the campfire, you must check this out when it becomes available.
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : A
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