published in Empire No.74, Sydney
Requiem From The Darkness is an anime TV series based on stories by fantasy/horror novelist Natsuhiko Kyogoku. In the Japanese tradition of ‘erotic grotesque’ fiction, the series is set in the Edo period and focusses on the experiences of young writer Momosuke as he collects gruesome folkloric tales. His ultimate plan is to publish a horror compendium titled “One Hundred Tales”. A thorough researcher into regional ghost stories, he travels Japan in search of the origins to various mystical tales.
By accident – or fate – he crosses paths with a trio of mystic governors called the Ongyou. Hailing from the underworld, they are led by the master exorcist Mataichi, in consort with the feline puppeteer Ogin and the hulking shape-shifter Nagamimi. Their mission is to track down malevolent spirits, commit them to the next life and release mortals from their tyranny. Yet the Ongyou themselves are scarred by haunted pasts, and their status as interzonal travellers is a hard lot to bear.
Momosuke gradually befriends them, and they each realise that their paths are complexly entwined by their joint pursuit of those inhabiting the borderline between the living and the dead. The series is brimful of exciting stories and characterization, though the artwork sometimes veers into remarkably uninspired realms.