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[Klaatu barata ... wrong movie.]
AKA: Kuro no Danshou, Dark Chapters of Oblivion, Literary Fragment
Genre: Horror with hentai elements
Length: OAV series, 4 episodes, 30 minutes each
Distributor: VHS and R1 DVD from Anime 18 out of print.
Content Rating: NC-17 (explicit sex, gruesome murder scenes, heavy occultism)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Can't say I know about any good alternatives. I haven't seen any quite like this one, at least.
Notes: Based on the adults-only Saturn and PC game "Kuro no Danshou".

(For those of you who read my original review; this is a slight rewrite of the original review, where I unconsciously managed to mix the theories of fantasy "dark arts bible", the Necronomicon, with the spiritual beliefs and traditions of Wicca. That was not my intent, and I apologize to the parties involved. -- Stig)
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

Mystery of the Necronomicon

Synopsis

Private detective Satoshi and his adoptive daughter, Asuka, are spending time at an isolated resort. But when a snowstorm cuts off all links to the outside, Satoshi becomes the main suspect as a string of gruesome murders are being done on the guests at the now cut off resort.

It becomes a race against time as Satoshi must find out who's doing the murdering, since it seems to link to his past, a past he doesn't remember due to a memory loss. And the plot deepens as the old book of the dead, the Necronomicon, is involved in the whole deal.


Review

I really didn't expect this one to be very good. Mixing occult and hentai rarely leaves one with any hope of seeing anything that will do less than turn you off watching it altogether. So I was very much surprised when this one turned out to be not only good, but even great.

It should come as no surprise that the art is rather dark and moody. Along with the animation, though, it was doing a very good job of giving this horror-thriller the atmosphere it really needed. The character design is very straightforward and realistic, which serves it rather well.

The dub, being the only version I've seen, started off a bit awkward. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the VA's for the english version were all, or at least most, new at the business. A little overacting at the beginning, perhaps, but it does get better as the show progresses. As for the music, it served the series well enough, being mainly ominous and somewhat silent, meshing with the settings. No outstanding musical excellense, but adequate for the show.

For those of you who've seen murder mysteries a la Agatha Christie before, this one will seem fairly familiar. But while most movies or series tends to stick to the real world, so to speak, the at-first silent thread of occultism will slowly make itself known as more and more people die, often gruesomely so. And it IS a rather creepy series. Not because it has much onscreen violence, but because the aftermath of the horrible murders are often laid out in full view. Most notably would probably the bondage sisters, whose murder left me feeling queasy.

So, it should come as no surprise that this series is strictly for adults ONLY. Mostly because of the rather excessive imagery of murdered people, but one should also note the sex. The EXPLICIT sex, often depicting certain fetishes as well, like said bondage sisters.

The involvement of occultism should also probably be mentioned. While rather nonexistent at first, it slowly builds as the series progresses and shifts to high gear at the middle, where the story suddenly shifts from the oppressive, almost claustrophobic atmosphere of the resort to a mad manhunt after the real murderer, done through a rather interesting mix of religious and spiritual references (not to mention contrasts.) On one hand, we have the Necronomicon, which becomes the focal point of the story in the latter half. When this is mixed with the celebration of Beltane (a Gaelic holiday also celebrated by most Wiccans), we get the prerequisite evil influences from the sacrifice, as pertained by the Necronomicon, mixed with the benign Gaelic/Wiccan celebration of "the fire of life". For something so normally unrelated to each other, Mystery of the Necronomicon seems to have put quite some thought into this.

Through this anime's entire run, I was practically sitting at the edge of my seat. Horror thrillers rarely come with the kind of suspense you get on this one, even with the sudden change of focus smack dab in the middle. And while I'm far from being able to tell how accurate this title is regarding either the references from the Necronomicon OR towards Wiccan traditions and beliefs, it seemed well enough thought out. As a thriller it certainly pleases; as horror even more so. If you can stomach the rather grotesque scenes in it, by all means, go for it.

I certainly did.

A great series indeed.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: Strictly for adults only. The issue of explicit sex, fetish and all, aside; this movie does contain enough gruesome ritualistic murder aftermaths to turn the stomach of most people upside down. And those for who it isn't ... well, those are the people I wouldn't like to meet in a dark alley late at night.

And, of course, there are people who just won't appreciate the presence of occultism.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (4/4)
Mystery of the Necronomicon © 1999 Discovery / Abogado Powers / Scare Crow
 
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