Seems like this is the year of Garo all over again. We had the Garo movie, Garo: Red Requiem, earlier in the year. We have a new Garo TV series starting rather soon. And now, a V-Cinema release, Kiba: Dark Knight Apocrypha. You know how they say there can never be too much of a good thing?
To set things up, this hour long movie is basically a side-tale depicting the history of an antagonist of the Garo TV series, Barago. He has captured Kaoru and intends to use her as the vessel for the Messiah, the Ultimate Horror. He proceeds to tell Kaoru about how he became Kiba the Dark Knight (not that one. The other one.). Barago was the son of a Makai Knight and a Makai Priestess. His mother fell ill and suddenly became possessed by a Horror. Barago’s father had no choice but to kill her in order to free her from the Horror. That is when Barago swore to become stronger from that moment on and left home to achieve this. After training to become a Makai Knight, he was told of a Book that could give a Knight unbelievable power. In search of this, he found the Black Spell Book and from it Messiah emerged before Barago and formed a contract with him. To become the ultimate being, he needed to find a vessel for her to travel to this world, which would allow her to merge with Barago and gain ultimate power. In search of a vessel for her arrival, he found a young Kaoru and decided to use her as the gateway.
Barago proceeds to tell Kaoru that he didn’t just consume Horrors, but he also consumed Makai Knights. He fought and defeated Bado, the Wind Knight in the past and in doing so, began to hate the Makai Knight and what they stood for. But, Bado was clever and left a glimmer of hope inside of Barago. He did not notice this until later on, while in disguise as Kaoru’s counsellor, Kaoru became possessed by Messiah and told him that he still had some good in him. She transported him to his own mind and ordered him to destroy it. He fought and destroyed this light, in the form of a Golden Knight. This should have done the trick. But, cut back to present day, and Kaoru is once again possessed by Messiah and is told that there is a glimmer still remaining inside of him. He is then transported once again and ordered to kill his mother, the last link to his humanity. He does what he is told and is granted access to the full depths of the Kiba power. Now, from doing a bit of research since it’s been years since I have seen the TV show, it seems that this takes place within the TV storyline. Barago realizes too late that he was just being used by Messiah and is devoured by her at the end.
So, what did I think of this? Well, if you are a fan of Garo and are really into the mythos of the series, this will be a bit of a treat for you. It goes in depth into the history of Barago and shows his path to the darkness. This is a very expository movie with not a lot of action. But, it does help to fill in a bit of the gaps in regards to the other side of the tale of Garo. So, in that respects, I found it enjoyable.
But, if there is one thing that people love about Garo, its the action. The series was very well-known for its intricate fight scenes at the time. Even Garo: Red Requiem failed to disappoint, bringing a sense of familiarity with the style set by the series. Dark Knight Apocrypha, on the other hand, is very light on the action. Well, in terms of live-action choreography.
As mentioned before, this movie is more about exposition. It was made to tell the story behind Kiba, the Dark Knight. A majority of the movie’s plot is told through storyboard-like art, much in the brush stroke style fans of the series are familiar with. Outside of a few scenes between Barago, Kaoru, and Elda, there are only a few in-suit, live action fights between Kiba, Bado, the Golden Knight, and a Horror or two. Those fights are decent, but not at the level we have seen in the past from the series.
But, even with those fights, I would have enjoyed them far more if they weren’t all within green-screened backgrounds and surroundings. I’m guessing it had mostly to do with the budget and it being a direct-to-DVD movie. Maybe some of it had to do with the style they wanted to go with. Either way, the CG backdrops were very distracting for me and pulled me right out the action most of the time. I mean, V-cinema’s have used location shots before. Check out the Kamen Rider Accel and Eternal movies for good examples of that. Granted, those probably had a bigger budget than this. But, with the little amount of fights in this already, they could have sprung a little cash to film in a warehouse or something. Even the scene between Kaoru and her “counsellor” was done in a green-screened office. CG backgrounds can be done right, such as in the Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends movie, so I’m not totally against them. They just were not done convincingly enough in this movie, which effected how I viewed it a bit.
So, if you’re a fan of Garo and are willing to watch just about anything that has to do with it, definitely check this out. It’s not a boring piece by any means, since it does divulge quite a bit of information about Barago and the Horrors. The actor’s for Barago (Masaki Kyomoto) and Kaoru (Mika Hijii) were decent enough. And Leah Dizon shows up in this movie as Elda, and does her own voice-over in her bio portion of the movie in English, which was an interesting change. On the other hand, if you’re expecting great action and choreography that has since become the trademark of the franchise, you may be a bit disappointed. So, proceed at your own risk. I’m not saying its a bad movie, its just probably not what everyone would expect it to be.