I mean, it's not a bad movie. If this were just some random one off, I'd have thought it was pretty good. It's atmospheric, there's an interesting premise and setup, the music is good, etc. It would be unfair to compare it to Beast of a White Knight, which is like a perfect movie. This was a technically well put together movie. But something about it just makes it not as fun as the previous Garo stuff.
Short rant: My main gripe is that it's superficially a Garo movie (action, naked women, Gouten, etc.) but the heart of it that made it great is painfully missing. It just comes off as a shallow action film for the lowest common denominator.
So let's talk about who is in this movie. We have Rekka (烈花 blazing flower, normally this word would mean "raging fire"). I like Rekka. She's attractive, skillful, intense, and the heroine opposite Kouga. I dislike Rekka, her acting is wooden, she's standoffish at first, and they never bother to make her a likeable character until like the very end of her character arc, and even then she's still kind of annoying. Tsubasa started as an obnoxious stilted guy, but at least he kind of warms up before the end and you end up rooting for him. They have Rekka fail from her hubris and then she kind of learns her lesson and then the director just expects you to like her, is how it comes off.
Maybe the problem is the characterization. Let's look at Jabi as an example. She's a super interesting character. Strong-willed and sexy in her own way, Jabi is fun because she's not always angry about something the way Rekka appears to be. How about Priest Amon versus Priest Akaza. Amon is solemn, foreboding, but also has his mischievous side. I'm sure we all can picture him sipping his red sake and laughing dryly. Then let's look at Akaza, he's an old man that can't speak properly and he's always kind of tortured, or something?
I guess what I'm saying is, there isn't enough fucking smiling in the movie. Like I said in my Precure DX 3 post, a movie that's all action and no characterization is boring. And I guess that's how Red Requiem came off to me. No one smiles. There's no interesting interplay between these new characters. They don't bring back the old characters who would have had an instant rapport with Kouga. Again, I'm baffled by how this movie was written, because they don't do a good job at giving the audience a good reason to have an emotional investment in any of the characters.
My last complaint is that the action seems kind of slow? Rekka's gymnastic action was definitely the highlight of the movie. But what happened to the other stuff that made Garo seem so awesome before? Did they have to reduce what they could do because it was in 3D? (That's my theory at least. I watched the movie in 2D)
It kind of seems like the music wasn't as good or as appropriate as before either. I remember there was this emotional scene, and they started playing the music from Beast of the White Night. It's like, what? You're using this music? That's kind of cheap, isn't it? It just felt like the battles went on and on longer than they should have been. And the music didn't do a good job at keeping the energy high to keep the battle interesting.
It's like Garo were a jigsaw puzzle. They found the pieces for Gouten appearing and falling while stopping the fall with a sword and people entering nether realms. But it's like they lost some pieces and they put the pieces that they could find together in the wrong way. So it's still Garo, but stuff is missing and mismatched.
The puzzle analogy is stupid.
Edit edit: I mean, the writing makes me really angry. It's really fucking bad, and a lot of it is related to Rekka's dialogue. I'll be trying to enjoy a moment, but then they'll say something that'll make me want to punch her in the vagina. Like on their way to the last battle, she tells Shiguto to not be reckless. She hasn't earned the right to say that! She's just copying Kouga from earlier and it should be Shiguto who says that to her. And when she's obnoxiously shaking Akaza's corpse, she comes off as a spoiled brat. After Shiguto tells her that Akaza's dead, she mimics what Kouga said, like this is some retarded kid's show. What is this bullshit fifth grade writing?
Imagine how much better this movie would have been if Rekka didn't say anything at all. I mean, some of it is the delivery, but most of it is just a very bad script.
And it's jarring for Zaruba to tell you the movie is over. Why would you do that? Was it because there was so little story between the existing characters that it wasn't good enough to just have them part ways or talk about what's happened to them?
Alright, enough bitching. On to the stuff I liked. I still like Kouga. I still like Zaruba (who had way too few lines in this movie). I still like the world of Garo. I still like Gouten even though his appearance was kind of forgettable.
I actually liked Akaza and I didn't mean to make fun of his speech impediment earlier. I think his character arc was more interesting than Rekka's. We see him make a failure as a human and then we see him make the ultimate sacrifice to help save Garo and Rekka. But his death is really ruined by Rekka being surprised by it and acting in that childish way. I also don't think we needed an Akaza surprise cam for when something shocking happened in the mirror. Akaza is played by Saitou Yousuke who was in some Jdoramas back when I was watching them in 1999, as well as Kamen Rider The Next and Ultraman Mebius.
Despite my complaining about Rekka, I did think the scene with her father was touching. It would have been more touching if we saw some scenes with her thinking fondly of her father beforehand, but I guess we can't have everything when making a plot device. Anyway, I didn't notice this till I was translating it, but Rekka uses "ore" to refer to herself. Pretty nice.
Speaking of which, I guess we have Makai Knight Kengi, Rekka's dad, as the father figure in this movie. Again, I liked this guy because he wasn't dark and brooding like everyone else. Do you want to know why else I like him? He's played by Tsuda Kanji who is fucking Takimoto from Keitai Sousakan 7 (as well as Takeru's dad in Shinkenger and Editor in Chief from Ryuki).
It's also good to see Eguchi Hiromi (Shion) still working. She was the priestess in JustiRiser and had a guest episode in Cutie Honey The Live.
Kurusu (Kasahara Shinji) should look familiar too. He was TimeFire, and was in episode 17 of Garo.
And Karma's voice is provided by... <drum roll> Hijii Mika who plays Kaoru. Wait what? Why the hell wasn't she in the movie? At least they sort of mention her character after the credits.
So yeah, sorry about the mostly negative review. I'm sure high expectations was a big factor into this. I really wanted to like this movie, but overall it was just disappointing as a Garo fan. I know they can do much better.
I am kind of looking forward to the Kiba movie. But again, is this a movie that needs to be made? (A question that works with the Eternal movie as well) Will it have relatable characters and ones we've grown to love from the Garo series? It could very well be very good or very bad, which has me feeling uneasy about the whole matter.
I kind of hope they do a sequel to Red Requiem or that we get to see Rekka again in some form. I like her character, I just don't think this movie was written very well.