Saturday, October 20, 2012

Anna-san no Omame


Breathing life into what could probably be the most annoying and dense character ever to be landed by a hafu celebrity, variety show-favorite Becky plays a rich, spoiled, delusional girl who wreaks havoc on the lives of men to head-splitting-throw-a-brick-at-your-television-screen-wanna-grab-her-by-the-neck perfection in a drama that can only be described as bonkers. Absolutely bonkers.

Mentally taxing for being ridiculously shallow, not to mention utterly pointless to the very end, Anna-san no Omame has a premise that would no doubt be funny or acceptable had it been a 20-minute anime feature but seeing it unfold onscreen with real live people is a whole different matter... Mitai na~

If there's any doubt that this series has the ability to firmly divide viewers on opposite ends of the love it or hate it spectrum, the fact that this came highly recommended by a trading buddy of mine (who also happened to tune me into Kekkon Dekinai Otoko) should be sufficient proof of its polarizing power. It's taken me four years to resume watching it after the shocking onslaught of silly that was episode one, and another year or so to decide to blog about it. And now in an effort to get it off my draft list, I present you with an antedated post that took another year to complete.
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When a regular, nondescript man named Kyoutaro (Kashiwabara Shuji) gets to exclusively date the epitome of Japanese beauty in Anna (Anzu Sayuri), he's beside himself with joy. But dating the most-sought-after woman in town includes establishing ties and getting along with the person whom she considers to be an invaluable person---her friend and roommate, Lily (Becky). Under normal circumstances acceding to this request would not be such an imposition but as it turn's out Anna's friend has it in her head that she's irresistible to all men, including  Kyoutaro, when nothing could be further from the truth.

This misunderstanding of sorts would lead to countless awkward, and at times dangerous situations, which merely serve to cement Lily's belief that her exceptional charm and beauty is to blame for all the trouble that people close to her encounter. Of course, Kyoutaro would want nothing more than to distance himself from this loud, crazy-eyed girl who can't seem to utter a sentence without puffed cheeks and a twitchy gesture, but Anna is adamant to have him shadow her best friend in order to protect her from a host of unsavory characters. Forced to do her girlfriend's bidding, Kyoutaro manages to save Lily from sexual predators, ruthless hostesses and even gangsters; the unintended result, however, is that Lily is now convinced that he harbors deep feelings for her.

Over the top and repetitive with a humor that can be a tad offensive, Anna-san Omame offers a brand of comedy that is highly dependent on one shtick; it draws all its laughs on the supposition that a character as exasperating and naive as Lily exists, and that a person such as Kyoutaro would endure all sorts of mayhem just to be with a dream girl who's best friends with a lunatic.


This plot device is actually made more outrageous once the viewer gets to meet Lily's affluent family which apparently had a hand in perpetuating Lily's delusions. There's the overprotective brother (Ikeda Tsutomu) whose concern for Lily can be quite touching if one were not inclined to wonder where he gets the free time to stalk watch over his sister and the parents (Kusakari Masao and Takahashi Hitomi) who consistently lavish their child with praise, raising her to believe that the world is her oyster. 

Utilizing whacky visual effects that can be surmised to have been inspired by the thought of what it might have been had the Care Bears and My Little Pony & Friends embarked on an acid trip, Anna-san Omame saturates the show with bright colors, fantasy sequences, and dizzying camera shots that spin and zoom in more than necessary. This is one of those series that is zippy and zany, making use of in-your-face physical comedy that might not sit well with viewers in search of intellectual stimulation. 

Subtlety is not its strongest point, in fact, everything about the production matches the potent energy of its protagonist. Lily's outfits are a cosplayer's dream and the set pieces that represent each of the three main characters reflect their different personalities, following a specific color scheme. Scenes are shot at unexpected angles, some as a testament to the giddy and unsteady tone of the series and even some turning out to be surprisingly creative and beautiful in their own right.


The series hits its stride when it decides to parody drama tropes and iconic movies. There's really not much to say about character development but some unexplained personality quirks and the occasional plot point tend to fool the viewer into thinking that there's more to it than previously expected. It's just unfortunate that the opportunity for exposition all turn out to be a joke and whatever glimmer of hope for an actual story is nothing but a hoax. For example, the reason for Anna's unwavering loyalty and penchant to brush off Lily's crazy antics is given a flimsy back story, while the opportunity to give Lily some depth and a possible happy ending is squashed when the series arbitrarily reverts back to its merry, non-committal tone. Whether or not one chooses to go for the ride is a matter of preference, but to its credit Anna-san no Omame does not aspire to be something that it's not, nor does it give the impression that it has a solution to this unusual love triangle.

Fledgling celebrity Rebecca Eri Ray Vaughan, popularly known as Becky, bulldozes her way through the series, showing unwavering commitment in playing Lily and all her insufferable inanities. This break out role seems to be the first of a series of obnoxious, grating characters given to Becky as a hafu artist, followed by her role as Tanya in the Nodame Cantabile series and her stint as the tempestuous Kaiko in the Kaibutsu-kun SP. Not counting her sweet and dainty singing career as Becky♪♯, this girl has unluckily been pigeonholed to flutter those lashes and use those green eyes to the annoyance of many, when she's obviously capable of so much more. She actually excels when allowed to do something else---of note is how she single-handedly carried the body-switch scenario in episode 6 and how she demonstrated her untapped potential as a romantic interest in the penultimate episode of this series. Her appearance as the outgoing Saki to Ito Atsushi's stiff and button-downed Kazuo in the fourth segment of Propose Kyoudai was a step in the right direction, however the noxious imprint left by this series will most likely linger on.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

James Morrison : The Awakening Tour in Manila


Took some time off to catch the James Morrison concert last night.

Although admittedly not as familiar with his discography as my concert buddies, I did manage to listen to his latest album long enough to get the impression that it was a form of affirmation, if not a total celebration of sorts. Certain tracks sounded like a tribute, a veritable list of people and things that made this particular artist who he is today. The Awakening is arguably more upbeat than Morrison's previous offerings---I, for one, am amazed by the uncanny marriage of this singer's signature rasp and the Motown influence in his third album.  

With a setlist of funky tunes intermingled with soulful ballads, this British singer-songwriter performed with a whole lot of swag, jumping and strutting on stage, infecting the crowd with his euphoric energy. The whole concert experience felt like a laid-back party with a take em' to church vibe and Morrison, the anointed preacher. With a unique gravelly voice (which I can only describe as one in dire need of a lozenge, but in a good way), this guy was a sight to behold as he unleashed his inner dance monkey before a crowd of onlookers who had no choice but to reciprocate his verve.

People probably came in droves wanting to hear sentimental hits like You Give Me Something and Broken Strings and let me just say that he didn't disappoint. He likewise sold his new material, singing up tempo songs like Beautiful Life and Slave to the Music whilst dialing things down a notch with heartfelt compositions like In My Dreams, I Won't Let You Go and  Say Something Now, all done with apparent ease and pride. 

There are performers who would often draw energy from the crowd but this one generated his own; he channeled it to everyone inside the Big Dome. This one had a light in him that made you stop wondering whether or not he took more than a swig of spiked Kool-aid, he had an energy and a force that can make you throw your hands in the air and say, "I'll have whatever he's having."

He was obviously having a good time that night and so were we. 

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Concert picture courtesy of Inquirer Entertainment
I initially planned to use a different picture for this blog post, but the picture that came with the Inquirer article pretty much captured the feeling of seeing Morrison work his groove.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

San Lazaro

 

Odd and yet surprisingly insightful, with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek commentary about life, love and Youtube as a learning tool, Wincy Aquino Ong's San Lazaro peddles itself as another Asian horror movie that makes you assume that its focal point is a supernatural entity when in fact, it's all about inner demons---the kind that reside within, the kind that's powerful enough to disregard one's conscience, the type that can gnaw at one's being.

Going by the trailer, it's quite easy to tell that San Lazaro is not the type of  film that is capable of generating the same buzz as Cinemalaya entries like Ang Babae sa Septic Tank or Rakenrol. Neither does it have the mainstream draw of the adaptation of the Eros Attalia novel, Ligo na U, Lapit na Me. And while the premise of having two old schoolmates embark on a road trip to a far flung provincial town with the primary objective of taking a demonically possessed sibling to be treated by an exorcist may trudge on B-movie territory, the film manages to achieve a well-orchestrated dissonance, one that defies genres and intentionally throws off viewers but not without some satisfying revelations.

It can be likened to your uncle's trusty Volkswagen Beetle that's old, personally put together and full of character. Old, not because there's anything unoriginal about the script or the story, but rather old in the sense that it's the best vehicle available given budgetary constraints and its novelty. It's a bumpy and unpredictable ride but what's important is that it gets you to your destination.        


Aptly described as a horror flick, a road movie and a buddy comedy, San Lazaro gives its viewers a weird, disjointed journey into the lives of three individuals haunted by personal ghosts. There's awkward Sigfried (Wincy Aquino Ong) who's never had a girlfriend since birth, brassy Limuel (Ramon Bautista) whose bravado comes with a cache of tranquilizers [strong enough to put down an elephant] and troubled Biboy (Nicco Manalo) who may or may not be under the control of a malevolent spirit. 

Armed with a quirky selection of storylines which include a white collar crime and a woebegone search for Captain Barbell, told alongside the ill-advised transport of an unstable passenger who's spent too much time talking to an antique garden ornament, this is one film that revels in its geekiness and yet manages to tap into certain uncomfortable truths that are funny but not entirely laughable. The horror aspect of it has a distinct Filipino flavor; the random topics that make up the conversations between the characters can come across as either glib or smart but not to the extent of grating, verbal diarrhea, as can be seen in other productions. There's also a general sense of unease that accompanies the staggered flashbacks given the characters' seemingly close-eyed determination to suppress unwanted memories. The deadpan delivery of both Ong and Bautista effectively blurs the comedic and dramatic, while Manalo's commitment to the role serves as a reminder that there are greater forces at play that should not be ignored. 

All said, San Lazaro is not your typical horror flick; it's predominantly a dark comedy with some jarring and amusing turn of events. With special appearances by Bianca King, Julia Clarete, Ely Buendia and Kean Cipriano, and spot on performances from the likes of Allan Forte, Tony Gallano and Earl Ignacio, it's a film with a number of interesting sequences, some even shot with an obvious nudge and wink to make you in on the joke. Hammy, creepy and sobering at one go, from the minute the award-winning opening sequence by Burnwater Design Studios rolls alongside original music by Mikey Amistoso and Jazz Nicolas, you know that you're in for an adventure.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Snow Patrol: Fallen Empires Tour in Manila


Light up, light up.... I'll be right beside you dear.

After having half the city submerged in flood water barely two days ago and experiencing torrential rains for almost a week, the sun finally came out today like a beacon calling to all Snow Patrol fans to come out and rejoice, for the concert would push through as scheduled.

Rain or shine, I already made up my mind to go. I initially planned to attend the block screening of The Bourne Legacy at the Mall of Asia but ended up missing it because of the bad weather so the only highlight of the week was this concert, which---in all honesty was something that I've been looking forward to for two...three months now. Luckily, the rain let up long enough to make the roads passable to light vehicles, so off I went to the concert venue to witness an awesome show and more importantly, listen to some good music.

Okay, so maybe some people consider Snow Patrol quite mawkish and maybe not everyone has heard of the band and their music (even though they've had at least one or two songs featured in Grey's Anatomy and just about any CW series), but at least, in my mind, they're not as big and cloying as Coldplay, nor as heavily criticized or ridiculed. Underrated and inconspicuous, that's what they are, but you would not have thought of that seeing the number of people who turned out at their concert earlier tonight.

There was a shared feeling of excitement as the crowd listened to the remix of Berlin and watched seven LCD panels deliver colorful visuals timed to the music. By the time the band hit the stage with tracks like Hands Open, Take Back the City and Crack the Shutters, the crowd was on its feet. People were cheering, clapping, singing in unison and the sheer energy brought by the audience was equally matched by frontman Gary Lightbody, who conducted the event like a seasoned performer. He kept the people engaged, made small talk and even introduced songs between sets as expected of a singer/songwriter in an old school band.


The band sounded great, the lighting design was top notch and the images projected onscreen complemented the music. I had no doubt that people went home happy to hear a great selection of songs from the band's discography.

Crowd favorites such as Chasing Cars, Run, Chocolate and You're All I Have were performed with just about the same reverence and fondness as recent material from their latest album. I had a kick listening to the melancholy vibe of New York and Make This Go on Forever, the irreverent beat of Fallen Empires, and the fading grandiosity of This isn't Everything You Are. There's something to be said about the simplicity that one can find in Snow Patrol's music---the steady repetition of words and phrases in their lyrics, and the almost timeless appeal of hooks and bridges in every song melody that triggers an emotion or memory, that makes a person sing one's heart out. Lightbody's voice has a raw yet sincere quality to it; there's a quiet desperation in it that people can easily relate to without necessarily being burdened or oppressed by its weight because the songs that he sings are never without hope. Sentimental, yes, even to a fault. But there's hope and promise behind every tune and there's hardly any bitterness no matter how sad its origin. Of course, it also helps to mix things up a little by experimenting with different beats and dabbling into techno/electronica music.

As an encore, the band played Lifening which was a wistful, sentimental song that speaks of happiness that can be found in the simplest of things. To cap off the night, Just Say Yes was performed amidst blue-white flashing lights and the distinct, Irish way in which Lightbody sang the line, "Please take my heart..." to an already smitten crowd. It was a superb concert, the best one I've seen so far this year.         

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 As usual, I can't be expected to take any pictures.
 Concert photo by Imaginary Ordinary 

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Surely Someday


It is often said that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." If that be true, then Guy Ritchie should be floored by the level of appreciation that Shun Oguri has shown for his use of slow motion effects and time lapse photography. Yes, the actor best known for playing Hanazawa Rui (Hana Yori Dango) and Suzuran faction leader, Takaya Genji (Crows Zero) has gone to the extent of crafting an outrageous, coming-of-age film that pays homage to [if not totally replicating] the cinematic style of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, minus the narrative punch provided by a clever screenplay and the kickass factor contributed by Vinnie Jones or Jason Stratham. 

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I remember my sister telling me about this movie project in the same breath as sharing the latest rumors about Oguri being a horny dog, but I never really placed much thought into it since: (a) she couldn't tell me the title of the movie at that time; (b) Shun Oguri always struck me as the kind of actor who worked best in an ensemble, which, to me, meant that if he didn't have the draw or star power to carry the lead role, then chances are, he wouldn't have the ability to helm a full-length movie feature; and (c) I couldn't care less about which girl/jpop group member he banged at allegedly took to a motel.

About this time last year, I was doing some prep work for that Arashi post that I've always been meaning to do but never got around to doing, and even though the said post never materialized, I ended up watching a number of Japanese variety shows hosted by Japan's "national idols". One of the shows I managed to catch (thanks to fans who shared the said episode on a streaming site without the permission of the subber) happened to be Oguri's promotional guest stint at Arashi ni Shiyagare where I finally learned the movie title which was シュアリー・サムデイ or going by the boys' phonological speech, "Shuari Samudei".


In this dramedy of errors, penned by writer Shogo Muto, five high school friends barricade themselves in a classroom with a home-made bomb in protest of the cancellation of their school festival and the corresponding "annihilation" of their dream to perform as a band. Brimming with hope and the promise of being surrounded by adoring fans through their music, Takumi (Koide Keisuke), Kyohei (Katsuji Ryo), Hideto (Ayano Gou), Kazuo (Suzuki Ryohei) and Yuki (Muro Tsuyoshi) mount a successful campaign for the reinstatement of the festival but when they fail to defuse the prop time-bomb  they had set up to facilitate negotiations with the school administrators, the damage caused by the explosion would later prove to be monumental not only to the lives of these boys.

Surely Someday provides a spry yet unbalanced story about how chance encounters and circumstances can produce a ripple effect that would link two seemingly unrelated events that in the long run would produce irreversible consequences. There's a network of people involved in this slapdash tale, such that the connection drawn between these wayward teens and a former prostitute (Konishi Manami) would span a number of years, beginning with a summer childhood adventure to Kabukicho and a botched up sting operation. The film hurtles back and forth between the past and the present as all five find themselves tainted, unable to move on from the incident.

Now a feckless bartender, a third-rate college virgin, a fledgling yakuza, a street busker and a hikikimori find themselves in trouble once again as their past catches up with them. They have no choice but to make amends, find each other and reunite long enough to take care of unfinished business; what's more, they need to retrieve 300 million Yen before yakuza boss Kito (Yoshida Kotaro) sends his men to ice them.


Fun and upbeat, Surely Someday is a film that can not be taken seriously no matter how hard it tries to infuse its storyline with some edgy scenes and grim but oft times, shallow existentialist musings about lost youth and opportunities. It's full of high school hijinks and flailing commentary about people who put their life on hold, set to punk-rock music, peppered with drugs, money laundering, even some violence and undignified [non-metaphorical] boot licking. Decidedly the result of a well-meaning and excitable collaboration, the movie tends to be overbearingly gratuitous in its execution and unbelievably self-conscious in acquiring a modicum of street credibility amidst the fanfare. This is no Go or American Graffiti but a rollicking, hyper-comedic Japanese production containing familiar elements of what made a movie "cool" in the late 90s.

For a directorial debut, Surely Someday is quite a mediocre offering---it comes chock-full of novice mistakes, betraying the lack of vision or originality on the part of Oguri to work behind the camera and instruct his fellow actors towards achieving a good take. He seems to have approached the film as he would a goukon by calling in favors from friends and co-workers (judging by the number of cameos), giving them free rein to act and [over]react as they see fit without any instruction. There are indeed times when the scenes felt like an impromptu comedy sketch, given the hammy delivery of lines and the cast's acting choices.

There's also the sudden shift in tone with very little lead in, thus catching the viewer by surprise as the droll buffoonery of its first act gives way to an adorable yet short-lived segment featuring the characters' childhood, interrupted yet once again by some clumsy action, more melodrama and a failed Sugar & Spice routine set in the present. Oguri's artistic choices do not often work; the overdone 10-second recapitulation of each character's three-year activities, the white footprint suit donned by the yakuza boss,  or even  the slow motion off-target gangster shoot out set to the tune of Schubert's Ave Maria (which brings to mind the game Hitman), tend to be whimsical additions rather than valuable set pieces.

Despite its flaws, Surely Someday is, by all accounts, not a bad movie. There's enough story in it to keep a viewer entertained provided one can overlook the uneven acting. It would have been much better had there been competent and assured direction from Shun Oguri, however as it stands today, it's quite clear that his ambition appears to have exceeded his ability.
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 Photo credits/Movie Stills by Asiabeam and Ramen

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blogging: Year Two


Was checking on long forgotten draft posts that lie buried under a list of published material on my dashboard and realized that this blog has unbelievably managed to hobble to its second year in the blogosphere. So hurrah, rundown-zoo just turned 2!?!

Curiously enough, that's about the same amount of time it took me to finish watching the k-movie Psychic Haunters which---let me tell you right now---if you don't like seeing a scraggly-haired, bug-eyed Kang Dong-Won dueling with an unbreakable dunderhead played by Go Soo, then you can skip this movie altogether.

Forget about camera phones being used as protective visors and the image of people plunging to their deaths under a hypnotic trance, I'd like nothing more than to say bring on year 2 but I know that there's no way that this blog will ever produce up-to-date posts in the near future. And no, I don't feel like reviewing the aforementioned movie EVER. All I got from that is the accompanying image for this post with a school of fish swimming to and fro. Swim little fishies, go!

A quick view of my posts summary will tell you that I'm a pretty inconsistent blogger with only 56 published posts to date and about 32 draft posts still waiting in the wings. Yes, I know how ridiculous that all sounds but I have this rather nasty habit of taking screencaps, writing down notes (with all the intention of creating a new post) and getting hopelessly bogged down by real life concerns, if not distracted by 101 more irrelevant diversions. I loathe the idea of abandoning this blog completely but life has been rather hectic lately, so blog posts will be as infrequent as rain in the Sahara desert.          

Saturday, April 21, 2012

GARO: Red Requiem


Heralding the return of Keita Amemiya's popular and beloved golden knight to television is another Garo film---this time in 3D, where fans of the series can find our brooding hero roaming the city streets in search of a horror who evades capture by slinking into mirrors and preying on patrons of a techno club, made up mostly of cosplayers and goth chicks. Garo: Red Requiem has a protagonist who looks like he just stepped out of an anime feature fighting alongside a priestess with legs for days, in what can only be described as a Xena outfit. It also has a demon goddess with nothing on but pasties and a tulle skirt, a mystical blade, and a passing mention of a patriarchal system under question---in short, it has all the material that one needs (to borrow Chris Hardwick's words) to induce a nerd erection.

Strictly made for fans of the 2006 series, this film offering cuts to the chase with the introduction of disciples Kurusu (Shinji Kasahara) and Shion (Hiromi Eguchi) setting up shop at a club where their master, Karma (AV-idol Saori Hara), can entice and devour as many souls as possible. On the other side of town, Makai knight Saejima Kouga (Hiroki Konishi) is put to action by lending assistance to Makai Priests Akaza (Masahiro Kuranuki) and Shiguto (Yousuke Saito), albeit with some interference from headstrong priestess Rekka (Mary Matsuyama), in slaying an Apostle Horror whose true essence looks like a cross between a prehistoric dinosaur and a raging bull with a snout made of a rotating flat blade.
    
 

Disturbingly dark and at times laugh-out-loud funny though it may be, there's something about the Garo series that is uniquely Japanese yet universally appealing. It's as close as one gets to having a supernatural/horror-fantasy manga or anime series come to life without the blockbuster treatment.

With the exception of flashbacks, some "expository" discussion on the existing order of Makai knights and the role of its priests/priestesses, the film can boast of back-to-back action at par with the ones that can be seen in the television series. It's crammed with extended fight sequences where you see our heroes battle it out with the villains under strobe lights and a leering crowd, and for once, audiences get an extra treat seeing more of Hiroki Konishi  (yes, I'm not that big of a fan of the armor) in his long coat that flaps in the breeze when his clunky golden armor gets magically nabbed into another dimension.

The special effects used are a combination of CG monstrosities [care of Omnibus Japan], rubber suits, and costume marvels with the better images seamlessly blending in, deriving inspiration from visuals of the same genre; while the more conspicuous flaws---like the use of scale models and  visible matte lines---showcase the limitations of its budget. For fans of the series and any tokusatsu in general, this aspect is a non-issue, but for those expecting the type of special effects usually produced in Hollywood, expect this film to be more of the kitschy-supernatural/fantasy sort. That being said, Garo: Red Requiem still has oodles of what makes it irresistible to people who enjoy stories that center on good versus evil and the darkness that exists within the human soul. 
 

Another thing that has remained consistent throughout the years is the show creator's knack for creature design and character visuals; the styling detail and imagination used in conceptualizing these supernatural horrors and their humanoid counterparts is impressive and truly out of this world. Add to that dark-cloaked phantoms, demonic winged creatures and a powder-white little person scurrying in the dark, and you have for yourself an eerie, other-worldly prelude to the last quarter section of the film.

Saejima Kouga stands as an archetypal romantic hero who's quiet and inexpressive, and has recently learned the importance of asking others for support. It's nice to know that he gets to pass on this wisdom to Rekka, along with some drivel about it being a Makai knight's duty to seal horrors and how saving one person's life is the same as protecting the lives of countless others. Ah, the great fabric of life... Heroic platitudes aside, the Kouga of late retains his cool demeanor, however, no longer bellicose or as disagreeable as the one introduced six years ago. Whether or not you buy this new and improved version of the golden knight, take heed that despite this newly-acquired gravitas, the writers of the film are not above having him defend scantily clad women strewn across a dirty club floor (now that's something you don't see in your typical Sunday sentai or toku).

 

As mentioned earlier, the film introduces two new allies for Kouga who will eventually make an appearance in the Garo: Makai Senki series. Though slightly hardheaded and recklessly bold, Rekka is a welcome addition to the list of strong and capable high-flying female protagonists that one sees in the Garo universe, whereas before, one can only think of Jabi in contrast to Kaoru, who's more of a damsel in distress. The priest Shiguto doesn't really get much to do except be a lackey but he does get to handle a prototype of the gouryu which is the equivalent of a supernatural proton pack and ghost trap combo used by the priesthood.

And since the show is also about human frailty and redemption, the film attempts to capture the precise moment when humans give in to evil as depicted by Kurusu's transformation from a middle-aged artist (as played by Akira Naoko) to Lady Karma's stout devotee and on the flip side, elder Akuza's fall from grace and path to salvation. The Makai Priest's sacrifice is apt yet predictable, however Kurusu's love and obsession with Shion lacked the kind of tragedy that screamed heaven-be-damned to match the beauty of its snow white feathery conclusion.

As a precursor to the show's second coming, Garo: Red Requiem fits in nicely with its previous offerings; personally, it's far more watchable than the Garo Special: Byakuya no Maju  and probably more  of a mainstream project than the spin-off Kiba: The Dark Knight Gaiden. In terms of storytelling, tone and visual effects, it has elements to it that fans of the series are familiar with, but essentially it's designed to be a standalone film---so as not to alienate people who have yet to discover how awesome the series is.