Garasu no Hana to Kowasu Sekai (Vitreous Flower Destroy The World) or simply, Garakowa – Restore the World – whispers the possibility of what the physical world would look like in an apocalyptic future, but never fully explores it, leaving the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps. Digital programs were created to help society’s development, however, spoiler alert: one program in particular called Mother.exe led humanity to its destruction and to that effect, the end of the world.
I feel the story’s message was muddled with the complex technological aspect of the story and is one of the film’s weaknesses. The concept and premise of the film is interesting and watching the director (Masashi Ishihama )’s preface and interview featured on Crunchyroll, after viewing the film for the first time, gave a little insight to its overall message. As a story about non-human entities experiencing what truly makes human relationships and emotions, Ishihama stated in his interview that the idea behind the movie was how individuals are tasked with duties and act accordingly due to protocol but are still able to develop strong feelings about their responsibilities, i.e. protecting someone or something, over time.
The film’s story arc and pacing was done well. Teasing the audience with brief snippets about the story’s external world, introducing the key characters, their roles and the world of “Box of Wisdom” or the virtual world, building upon the relationships of its key characters which led to the movie’s conclusion.
Speaking of developing relationships in this movie, the exposition showcasing and developing the three main characters was largely focused on and it turned out beautifully. The exposition uses bright colours, gorgeously drawn and textured backgrounds and nice OSTs featuring the singing voices of the characters to bring in a lighter, slice-of-life anime mood. With the characters travelling to different places and eras within the confines of “Box of Wisdom” and doing activities together, the montage lasted about five minutes. By consequence, it did seem like the montage ate up a significant portion of the movie.
I know I’ve said in the past that I like watching cute girls doing cute things when I’m bored, but for an anime movie with a time limit, I feel like it could have been shortened. However, I do have to say that the impact of the ending’s emotionally charged moment was made harder to not tear up a little because of this montage and the voice acting.
In animating the different sections of the story, the transitions were mainly black fade-outs. One portion of the montage was executed well because it played around with the speed of the frames focusing on the characters’ backs and extreme close-ups of their facial expressions with the fade-outs. Paired with the fluid action scenes, pretty backgrounds and the leading ladies’ character designs, the movie felt like a spread of cinematic scenes from a video game.
There were three fighting scenes in the film featuring fluid movement, 3D animation in the form of special effects and background elements to bring the digital world to life and changing camera angles and panning to make the scene dynamic. As pictured above, the bright colours of the 3D element blends nicely with the background sharing the same colour palette so that the 3D doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb and look awkward on screen.
Garakowa‘s characters have interesting character designs. Dorothy and Dual who are the anti-virus programs defending the digital world have futuristic body suits and weaponry that make them appear as sci-fi mahou shoujos. Remo, the amnesiac who they encounter possesses a sweet innocence which is translated through her long light coloured hairstyle and simplistic white dress.
Dorothy’s character seems to be the character who gains the most change in her personality. She starts off as a by-the-book competitive tsundere who later develops into a warmer version of herself after spending time with Remo. However, I don’t feel like she got much out of the storyline as much as Dual and Remo did since the latter, particularly Dual, had a special connection to Remo.
Dual is introduced as a robotic program and as the movie progresses, it shows us how she is more human compared to her partner, Dorothy, than she let on since the beginning of the film. Unlike Dorothy, she doesn’t fully unleash her frustrations or sadness but she is still vulnerable to expressing emotions in a more subtle manner than bursting into tears or tugging someone into a tight embrace.
Remo has two personalities in the film as an amnesiac and as a cold logical machine. With her changing personas, the colour of her eyes changes to fit them. Pictured above is her standard amnesiac persona who is bubbly, cheerful and innocent. I did feel that despite Remo’s role in the film as the plot, (namely, the reason why things are the way they are in the film) she matured once she regained her memories of her lost identity.
Minor characters in the film served two purposes: they explained the film’s plot and “Box of Wisdom” or acted as foil for the three characters. For instance, Sumire served both purposes. She was used in the first virtual memory of the world and was used to explain Dual’s responsibility of destroying viruses in the system. In addition, Dorothy’s “family” was used to showcase how she is more emotionally vulnerable to the loss of digital memories who have become corrupted data.
The characters weren’t entirely unique because you could easily find the same tropes in other anime involving an all-female cast. I didn’t have a favourite or least favourite character in the film because they didn’t leave a strong impression. But the most interesting character definitely has to be Remo’s mother. She didn’t appear in many scenes, except for the large reveal at the end and quick snippets scattered around in the film, but her intentions and feelings definitely left an impact with its deeper repercussions.
In his interview with Crunchyroll, Ishihama said that that the elements that made this film unique as compared to other anime feature films are its backgrounds and use of 3D animation bringing the world of “Box of Wisdom” to life with its musical score.
The piano is an integral element in Garakowa. It is the connection between Dual, Remo and Sumire. The melody that Sumire composed herself is nice. I found that most, if not all, of the emotional scenes were accompanied by a faint lullaby piano piece or emotional piano piece supporting and enhancing the drama.
I would say that Garakowa is a beautiful film to look at with an interesting concept. The characters weren’t too unique, but they were cute. Although the two protagonists, Dorothy and Dual, evolved as programs and seem to have a happy ending, the reality of the end of the world looms overhead like an open book. The ending of the film is pretty dark considering that the rest of the film was a bit more lighthearted. Therefore, I think it’s best to just watch the film once.
Garasu no Hana to Kowasu Sekai or Garakowa – Restore The World – is an original science-fiction anime film released in January 9, 2016. It was animated by A-1 Pictures.
Have you seen Garakowa – Restore The World-? What did you think of the film? Let me know down below!