Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $39.98 US
Running Time: 98 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
Sorry but there are no steak dinners in this future.
When it comes to anime, I’m a real sucker for sci-fi and mystery and even more so if both are combined to make an intriguing yarn set in a bleak future. So you can imagine how excited I was when Sentai Filmworks announced that they would be bringing Loups=Garous: The Motion Picture to North America and in Blu-ray no less. As it turned out, this anime feature film that is dark, entertaining and utterly fascinating.
Based on the original Japanese novel by author Natsuhiko Kyogoku, Loups=Garous is set in a distant future that is still reeling from a deadly virus that claimed the lives of millions. As a result, people live in in closed-off sectors and rely on monitors that track everyone’s movements as well as spy cameras that offer no privacy. On top of that, all food is synthetic (nobody has tasted meat in years) and children go to school only once a week.
In the opening scene of the movie, a pink-haired girl runs for her life as a young psycho in a mask is prepared to bash her skull in with a long metal pipe. What happens to the girl we don’t get to see but it is clear from a meeting between school counselors that there have been a sting of murders involving young school kids whose bodies have been discovered minus a few internal organs. These murders have school counselors on edge especially a counselor named Shizue Fuwa who is worried about her group of students.
Among these students is the introverted yet kind-hearted Makino Haduki who has just been put into a group with three other girls. Makino meets the tech savvy Tsuduki Mio and the distant and soft-spoken Kono Ayumi who Makino takes an immediate liking to as she gets to know them better. The fourth member named Yabe Yuko, however, has gone missing. In fact, she was the pink-haired girl who was being chased by the psycho wearing a mask in the opening scene.
Makino helps her new friends find out what happened to Yabe only to discover that the girl is still alive since a girl named Rei Myao saved her and her attacker ended up being killed by an unknown assailant. Keeping her in a safe place in hopes that the killer might want to silence her, the others keep her hidden while they bond and talk about their school project that involves the music of real life all-girl band SCANDAL. When Yabe decides she wants to go home, the others help her but this is where things go sour.
As fate would have it, however, things don’t end well for Yabe and the other girls begin to piece together the clues they gathered from Yabe and Rei who might have been the victims a human trafficking crime ring or is there another sinister threat involved? When somebody attempts to capture Makino, she is saved by Rei and the pair manage to find Kono while Tsuduki finds herself in grave danger.
Across town, Counselor Shizue finds herself looking further into the manner and with a cop named Kunugi; she comes to a most shocking conclusion that might involve Riichiro Ishida of the Metropolitan Police Detective Bureau. Meanwhile, Kono takes Makino across the bridge to a new sector only to find themselves facing Kunugi and Ishida’s patrol bots and the truth.
There’s a surprising twist near the finale that you really do not see coming and another twist that reveals the identity of the person who is directly involved with the string of murders. Loups=Garous’ story is handled superbly by director Junichi Fujisaku but I do have a few gripes mainly the fact that the pacing is a tad on the slow side and the lovely animation is spoiled by some so-so CG such as the scene where Makino and Kono are surrounded by patrol bots.
The characters are also likeable, enough so that the Pilot Movie that is included in the disc is a delight to watch seeing as it shows a lighter side that made the interaction between each girl a pleasant one.
Loups=Garous is a haunting, intriguing and somewhat gruesome tale you will not forget anytime soon and believe me when I say that it will not fail to surprise you from start to finish. Some might have a problem with the film’s slow pace but when it builds up the suspense it does it with a modern Hitchcockian flavor that is distinct enough to make this sci-fi animated film one I can’t recommend enough especially to those who appreciate a dark and gripping tale.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In a future where food is synthetic and people are being monitored, young students are being murdered in the most gruesome manner. A young schoolgirl finds herself helping out the member of her group when one of them goes missing. Meanwhile, the school’s counselor tries to uncover the truth behind the killings and the person who might be responsible.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
This feature film was certainly made with HD in mind and you’ll see what I mean when you pop the disc into your Blu-ray player. There are some gorgeous animation mixed in with so-so CG but other than that you will definitely want to see this movie on Blu-ray.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original score is handled beautifully and – if you’re a fan of the all-girl J-rock band SCANDAL – you will be in for a real treat since their songs are featured throughout including the awesome closing track. The Japanese voice cast is perfect as is the English dub cast that includes Hilary Haag, Luci Christian and Melissa Davis among others.
There are plenty of juicy extras in Special Features section that includes the original trailer as well as Japanese promotional videos and even some Sentai Filmworks Blu-ray trailers. Then there’s a music video-like promo of SCANDAL’s song “KOSHI-TANTAN” with animation straight from the film. There’s even a fun interview with the cute girls that make up SCANDAL that touches on what they did for the film including motion capture and dub work.
Also included are two separate interviews with Director Junichi Fujisaku as well as Loups=Garous original author, Natsuhiko Kyogoku. On top of that, they also include interviews with four of the Japanese voice cast members. The best extras, however, come in the form of the Pilot Movie (that’s actually more lighthearted than the feature film version), Picture Drama (an alternate and funny take on one scene from the movie) and Movie Digest (a brief explanation of the futuristic setting).
A dark, intelligent and engrossing story that paints a bleak and fascinating future, Loups=Garous is a wonderfully executed anime feature film that does justice to the science fiction and mystery genre. Pacing issues and awkward CG moments aside, this is still a movie you will not want to miss and more so if you’re a fan of the genre.
Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks