Let me veer you guys away from the Fall season for a moment, and introduce to you a show that, might be as fresh to your eyes as the rest of this season’s lineup.
Fresh, because I doubt that this title has garnered much popularity since its premier. Its short lived hype (how apparent it may be) was a sign that it would easily be forgotten. Not me though. So as to give it a fair trial, here’s a quick look at Loups=Garous.
Loups=Garous is a one-shot film by Production I.G., which premiered last August 28, 2010. It is based on a sci-fi mystery novel with the title “Loups=Garous Kihisubeki Okami” by Kyougoku Natsuhiko (creator of Mouryou no Hako and Hundred Stories). Natsuhiko is known, based on is former works, to create rather gruesome scenes, which was to be expected from Loups=Garous. Along with the nicely acquired cast, SCANDAL doing the music, and Production I.G., one would see this as a potential hit. We’ll see about that later on. To those curious about the title, Loups=Garous is derived from loups-garoux which is French for werewolf.
The story is set in a futuristic setting. ‘Monitors’ have replaced ‘real contact’ or actual face-to-face personal communication. Every person has a handheld monitor. It is their all-access pass to living. Cameras constantly watch over almost every movement by all civilians, whom accept that fact as a part of their everyday life. Food is now synthetically made, which has solved the crisis of world hunger. A super corporation called SVC oversees this all, and has more or less created a peaceful utopia. But that’s just the facade of it.
The movie starts out with a high school girl being chased down by a masked man. Not much is told about her yet, as the scene shifts to our main character, Makino Hazuki. She’s one of those people who have grown accustomed, if not dependent on the technology governing her life. She has what they call ‘communication disorder’ meaning she has trouble conversing or having physical contact with other people. Despite this, she attends school and gets assigned to a group with three other girls, like a get-to-know kind of thing. Although she received her group’s individual bio-data, her teacher, Ms. Shizue Fuwa, advises that she make ‘real contact’ with them.
Hazuki first sees Kono Ayumi, a transfer student. She catches Hazuki’s attention in an instant, taking Ayumi’s picture and such. Seeing her conspicuous deed, Hazuki is then approached by Tsuzuki Mio, another girl from Hazuki’s assigned group. She asks about what Hazuki was trying to do, to which Hazuki couldn’t answer. Mio calls out to Ayumi and the three gather for the first time. However, they were missing one more girl to complete their group; Yabe Yuko. Turns out, Yuko was missing. Her last known whereabouts was a district wherein a crime scene had taken place.
The first few minutes of Loups=Garous are extremely compelling. It would have been a nice setup, say for a thirteen episode anime. But it’s not a thirteen episode anime, and the concrete foundation that this film created, ended up being a base for a stack of poorly developed arcs. It tried to be many things within the span of an hour and a half, but in their attempt to be ‘good’, well, I’d say they’re a little below the passing grade.
I think it was quite apparent that they were not going for a more linear approach (which would’ve benefited the film in my opinion) and tried to conceal the big mystery, underneath another mystery, which is underneath another mystery, and, well, you get the point. It was like a continuous build up which really lead to nowhere. It tried to make itself complex, but in the process made itself, not so much as thought provoking, as it was just plain random. The ambiguity of it all didn’t really help as well. You’ll constantly be asking yourself “When did that happen?” or “That’s it?” to some pretty major scenes. Even the countless jargon they throw to the viewer is never completely explained (they didn’t even reveal what SVC stands for) and some points are left for the viewer to discern. Which was a big blow that this film took, I mean, even if it was supposed to be a mystery themed show, that doesn’t really mean that they should leave the viewer in the fog.
I do however, give it props for one thing (which may also be the sole reason for the hype for this movie), and that is, SCANDAL’s music. For some, music is just a bonus to a good show, an icing. But for Loups=Garous, it’s the whole cake. Even the band’s render looked more interesting for the most part. And as an added bonus to SCANDAL fans, the band members also voiced some very very minor characters. Believe me, it was the highlight for some.
So yeah, Loups=Garous, definitely not what it seems after the first few minutes. And yes, there are no wolves or werewolves in this. The term ‘werewolf’ is used in a more symbolic sense, like “wolf in sheep’s clothing” or in this case, human clothing. I believe the overall theme could have worked for a series, I really do. But there’s just so much you can do in a movie. Check it out if the theme interests you, ’cause, well, it is interesting.