Keita Amemiya is the creator of the Garo IP, so it's no surprise he also directed many of the live-action films and spin-offs. He doesn't really have the budget to do justice to his grotesque fantasy creations, but that has never stopped him to go as big and far as his imagination would take him.
When the Makai Knights armors are stolen, Ryuga Dogai returns to help solve the mystery. Together with some old friends he begins his investigation, which leads him to an enemy who was though to be defeated before. Dogai and his team will have to give it their 100% to retrieve the armors.
The demons, creatures and characters are brazen anime-like creations, the plot is pretty out there and the action is nothing less than stellar. The CG just isn't there though, giving the film is a fake and glossy look. Either you forgive Amemiya this poor presentation, and you enjoy the film for its wild fantasy elements, or you'll hate this one with a vengeance. I quite liked it.
Yamaguchi's latest film is probably a good indication of the position Japanese underground horror finds itself in these days. Underfunded, without a dedicated international audience and straining to survive. With the proper talent and budgets backing this film this could've been a lot of fun, now it's mostly just unrealized potential.
Though they haven't seen each other in 10 years, Izumi and Mika decide to meet up again and catch up for old time's sake. Meanwhile, a string of seemingly unrelated hauntings is taking place. When Mika reveals a lingering trauma from their childhood days, everything appears to be coming together.
The film plays a little like a horror anthology, with one main thread bringing all the shorts together in the end. There are some fine ideas here, and it's not hard to see how this could've been a great Japanese horror film, but cheap production values, poor performances and icky CG don't really help Yamaguchi. It's a shame, because underneath that cheapness this was good fun.
One of the many entries in the Garo universe, a tokusatsu franchise that has been going strong for the past 15 years. I'm not too familiar with the particulars, I never watched the original series, even so these stories tend to be so generic that it's easy enough to cherry-pick some spin-offs without missing anything essential.
This spin-off deals with the backstory of Barago and Kiba, an old spirit who inhibits a Makai Armor. It ties in with the plot of the original series and it features some of its cast, but ultimately it's a pretty simple story of good vs evil, featuring a more than adequate amount of demonic battles. If you get lost, you simply need to watch more fantasy anime.
What stands out the most is the art style here. I'll readily admit that not everything works and some parts look really cheap, even so the mix of different animation styles and live action is intriguing and gives this film a unique vibe. There's quite a lot happening in the short runtime and if you're looking for a fun but cheesy diversion, this short spin-off has you covered. Just don't expect anything grand.
Pretty decent sci-fi entertainment. I didn't expect too much when I started this film and sure enough, it gets pretty damn cheesy. At the same time Hakaider has a surprising cyberpunk vibe that puts it well apart from the tokusatsu superhero nonsense (you know, Ultraman and the likes) I had in mind.
Hakaider is a spin-off from the Kikaider franchise. Hakaider is in fact a villain in the original series, but when he is unleashed in an post-apocalyptic future he becomes a veritable antihero. And since villains are usually way cooler than your average hero, there's a lot more to enjoy here.
The effects are really cheap and the cast is clearly C-grade, but the designs are pretty cool and Amemiya does his best to put his limited budget to good use. It's no blockbuster material, nor is it a stylish, accomplished auteur film, but if you're in the mood for some badass genre cheese, this is one of the better films I've seen.
Worthy but flawed
A disappointing Amemiya film. He's a director known for handling silly kitsch rather well, but this feature-length TV special is really too cheap to do the material any justice. Unless you're really invested in the Garo franchise, I can't see any reason why anyone would want to see this film.
Kouga teams up with Rin, a young priestess, to save Jabi. Meanwhile, Legules (a dark lord) is resurrected and is planning to destroy the world. I'm sure I missed quite a few intricacies in the plot, but all things said and done, it's a pretty basic "good guys vs bad guys" affair that shouldn't be too hard to follow, even if you've never seen the series.
Performances are weak, the effect are dirt cheap and the look of the film comes off quite lazy. 105 minutes is also way too long for this type of cheese. Amemiya shows a lot of ambition making this film, but when means are limited it's often better to tone things down a bit. It's an interesting train wreck, but a train wreck nonetheless.