Garakowa -Restore the World- – Review
Garakowa -Restore the World-:
Original Release Date: January 16th, 2016
Synopsis: Dual and Dorothy exist in a virtual world where back ups of humanity exist, fleeting moments of times long forgotten stay stored forever, running and rerunning and existing all on their own. Dual and Dorothy’s responsibility is to deal with the viruses that crop up, that tear away at these stored existences and ravage them. During one such battle with a virus, they meet a girl who doesn’t remember who she is, besides her name, Remo, and that she needs to return to a flower garden hidden somewhere within this virtual realm.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Garakowa has smooth animation, mixed with CGI that helps to depict some of more fantastical attacks both Dual and Dorothy throw around against their virus opponents. It melds seamlessly together that most won’t notice it. The viruses, which appear during the major set pieces of the film, are less praise worthy, especially the larger ones. They feel lazy in design, suffering from poorly defined lines, a style that doesn’t match the rest of the animation, and an odd faded look compared to the rest of the films colors. As for Dual and Dorthy themselves, both have been designed uniquely to express their different personalities. Dorothy is more assertive and commanding, dressing in a more provocative manner to help promote her confidence. where as Dual is dressed more conservative, helping to express the doubts she holds within herself.
Linny: Even though Dual is the understated character between the two, she is an amazing change in the portrayal of an unfeeling character in anime. Most similar characters are often played as speaking in a monotone voice, sounding more depressed or bored rather than detached. But not Dual. She shows restrained reactions to events and is even moody. Some viewers may complain that she shows too much emotion for a supposedly emotionally blank computer program, but it should please others who tire of watching and listening to zombie like characters.
Tom: Dual is easily the best written of the three characters predominately featured in Garakowa. Not only is she as Linny said; a much better version of the “lacking emotions” heroine, but she goes through enough development to feel like she’s really experienced a character’s journey. She begins similar to Dorothy, but has doubts about deleting viruses and entire programs out right in order to cleanse this virtual existence. As the film progresses we see those doubts continually revisited until Dual finally confronts them in the film’s climax. As a character she really evolves, though it’s a shame the film’s ending is muddied in its depiction of that evolution.
Linny: Dorothy on the other hand is given the short end of the deal sadly, relegated to being the ‘bad cop’ character who is more heartless and gruff towards Dual and her hesitance to delete any outlier component outright. She’s not only portrayed as callous and vain, she is even drawn dressed more provocatively than Dual.
Tom: I like to compare Dorothy to McAfee, seeing as they’re both Anti-Virus programs that are brazen, focused, and single-minded. I don’t know how many times my computer has crashed because McAfee wanted to utilize everything it had for a virus scan and I see Dorothy as much the same. She’s an interesting character mixed with her dedication to the job and her denial of her inner feelings. She develops the most of anyone in the film, but at an unbelievable rate, doing a complete 180 within the 67 minute run time, something I struggle to suspend my disbelief for. We don’t spend enough time with Dorothy to really feel like that reversal has been earned, not for someone so locked into their own set of beliefs, but it’s a touching idea in and of itself.
Linny: Now let’s focus on our third main cast member, Remo. The second I saw her, my brain screamed MENMA (from Anohana, for those unaware). The resemblance only grew stronger and stronger as she displayed Menma’s gung ho, and chirpy can-do attitude as she taught these girls to enjoy and explore life. I’m curious as to if that was just a me thing or if other Anohana fans too might struggle to shake off the feeling of doom and death now attached to her from the start for resembling such a tragic character.
Tom: I found Remo very confusing as the film went on. She’s initially no more than a catalyst type character, used to force Dorothy and Dual to confront themselves and their beliefs about their roles in this world. But later, as we reach the climax of the film, she changes entirely, moving away from this role, before changing again into the deus ex machina that allows for the film to end on a somber yet hopeful/happy note. Remo herself doesn’t evolve naturally, even though the film tries to fool us into believing she’s experienced some kind of giant character growth, but in actuality she’s moved very little from when we first met her. Of the three I found her to be the most disappointing.
Linny: My disappointment mainly focused on how badly the movie explains the world it’s set in. It kept giving out half-assed, vague reveals and information that doesn’t really work or lacks conviction. It kept fluctuating between making sense, and then introducing a new concept or angle that began creating more questions than answers.
Tom: The film starts in a confusing manner, dripping bits of information through dialogue or informative logos on screen while jumping between several different time periods. As the film moves forward, it manages to convey its simple premise eventually, before things become too confusing and frustrating. The second act of the film is then also largely understandable and engaging, but its the film’s third act that falls apart. New elements are introduced or confirmed, but details are kept vague, giving the sense that even the film’s writer and director were both unsure of how or why this virtual world that backs up human existence was created or needed. There’s explanations but they lack details that make the revelations feel hollow, and only makes it harder to suspend disbelief as the film expects us to take these ideas at face value without any additional world building to back them up.
Linny: Now, for cold-hearted b****** like me, you might start to feel like you’re getting distracted or irked when the characters, all who are supposedly computer programs, start getting all sobby and weepy. There might be a voice that whines that it all feels too hammed up for programs who up until recently didn’t ever cry. And even who cares, they’re all just lines of coding and algorithms in the end. That may be because your heart is cold and dead like mine, but it may also be a sign that the movie has a little bit of an issue ensuring its characters have all grown on you.
Tom: As we approach the emotional revelations that cause both Dual and Dorothy to confront their budding emotions, and learn the true origins for Remo, the film becomes highly confusing as to why Remo is there, what the ViOS system is, who made it, why they made it and why Dual and Dorothy even exist in the first place. In fact, the chronological order of events is so jumbled that I’m not sure I can definitively state with confidence as to exactly what leads to events of Garakowa. Anything beyond a surface level understanding of the film’s history leads to a lot of under answered or confusing questions. This is a film you shouldn’t think too hard about unless you’re up for mental gymnastics in order to fully ascertain what happened preceding Garakowa.
Linny: With that said, the three girls still manage to make for an enjoyable watch as they bond and goof around as anime girls tend to do. Thanks to them being computer programs, they are able to access and simulate all sorts of locations, time periods and items that would have been otherwise impossible to work into their story. So, sit back and prep yourself for a barrage of montages in the middle, with the girls being cute and padding out the film’s already short run time.
Tom: The character development and interaction between Dorothy, Dual, and Remo is Garakowa’s biggest strength and where the film really excels. It’s enjoyable watching the three of them spend time together, even during the montages that run back to back and eat up a considerable chunk of the film’s time. Watching them bond is a lot of fun. But that bonus is lost in the film’s final moments when Garakowa decides to refocus entirely on the grander story that’s lacking enough information and time to feel powerful and earned. As much as I enjoy the two montages, I can’t help but feel that maybe they ate into valuable time needed to more easily convey the complex ideas and concepts surrounding the film’s climax.
Linny: Garakowa seems aimed at those who want an emotional core over a more logical approach. There’s an attempt to touch upon environmental preservation and humanity in the last thirds of the movie, which all come off as rushed and weak due to lack of exposition. However, it should still entertain most viewers who go into this wanting to watch three girls bond and grow, rather than a well planned out mystery.
Tom: Garakowa is an original film by A-1 Pictures Directed by Masashi Ishihama (Who worked on such series as Erased, Psycho-pass and Jin-Roh) and written by Fumihiko Shimo (known for assisting with such adaptations as Fairy tail, Full Metal Panic!, Non Non Biyori, and Myriad Colors Phantom World). It’s a wonderful, emotional effort, that suffers from poor world building and a failure to properly define its grander concepts. That said, Garakowa was a fun watch, presenting characters I enjoyed getting to know and watch evolve. Garakowa clocks in at sixty-seven minutes and I have to say it didn’t once feel like a waste of my time.
Garakowa -Restore the World- is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.