Garo: The Movie - Red Requiem (Japan 2010)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 11/4/13
Written And Directed By: Keita Amemiya

A delightful sci-fi fantasy romp featuring all of the trappings and flourishes that you expect from genre master Keita Amemiya. In our world, there are supernatural beings known as "horrors" that feed on human flesh and souls. The Makai knights are responsible for keeping the unsuspecting human race safe from these demons, and one of the greatest knights is a young man named Kouga. When he summons his magical golden armor, he becomes the nigh invincible Garo. Naturally, he's a handsome loner who broods a lot and wears a constant scowl. There's also a feisty and super cute Makai priestess named Reika who will stop at nothing to destroy the horror known as Karma. Her temper and thirst for revenge get her into trouble, and Kouga has to repeatedly save her from certain doom. Together, Kouga and Reika enter Karma's domain and battle her in an outrageous computer animated slug-fest.

Stylistically, the film reminds me most of Amemiya's "Mechanical Violator Hakaider" (1995), with touches of "Tao No Tsuki" (1997), "Zeiram" (1991), and even a hint of "Bayonetta" (2009) thrown in. The tone and execution reflect Amemiya's adolescent sensibilities, and the whole thing plays out like a light-hearted fantasy film. The film is loaded with visual effects, and nearly all of them are computer generated. Amemiya's previous attempts at CGI were embarrassing at best, but "Red Requiem" looks fantastic. Technological advances have brought us to the point where even low and mid budget digital effects are starting to look halfway decent. The fight scenes are entertaining and full of intense anime styled posing, but the execution is slow and soft. This is especially true of the female players, whose moves are complex, but their hits are exceedingly soft and delicate. This is more of an observation than a criticism, since the women are very graceful and their action scenes are delightful to watch. Even though it's an extension of a TV series with the same name, "Red Requiem" is fully self-contained and requires no background history to enjoy. While Kouga/Garo isn't particularly interesting or engaging, the fierce Reika is lovely throughout. It's a really fun time if you can put yourself into an innocent adolescent mindset, and I look forward to seeing what Keita Amemiya does next. One can only hope for a "Zeiram 3" some day...