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I wanted to like Garakowa: Restore the World[1] if only to support the future streaming of anime movies[2]. Alas, my reaction is best summed up by “Meh”, and I’m sitting here trying to work out why that is.

It is at least a pretty film, and very short at 66 minutes.

The basic premise is two at-least-partially aware antivirus programs Dual and Dorothy reviewing backup data within the “Box of Wisdom”, and deleting data where appropriate. Naturally this looks like magical girls fighting monsters, with more than a little inspiration from Puella Magi Madoka Magi or Yuki Yuuna is a Hero for the look and feel of these encounters.

The backup data looks like the Matrix for want of a better word, with Dual and Dorothy interacting with the backups of human personalities.

Then they find another aware program, Remo, whose only memory is a need to return to a flower garden.

After confirming that Remo isn’t a virus[3], Dual and Dorothy help Remo search for the flower garden within the backup data. Friendship and a musical interlude ensue as Dual and Dorothy learn that there’s more to life than work, duty, and their vitriolic best buds relationship as rival antivirus programs.

Inevitably it all comes crashing down as the [SPOILER DELETED] of the Box of Wisdom is revealed, and secrets about Remo also come out in the wash.

The problem is that, pretty as it all is, Garakowa utterly failed to establish an emotional connection to these characters for me. I think the problem lies in the overall length of the film and the method used to establish that connection.

First the length: Garakowa is a short film at 66 minutes and I don’t think that gave enough time for the characters to go much beyond their basic roles of Beauty, Brains, and Brawn, with Remo as Beauty, Dual as Brains, and Dorothy as Brawn.

This lack of time is exacerbated by using a musical interlude of the trio touring various worlds to establish their relationships. I think that this didn’t give enough time for interactions between the characters, and at the same time ate up a large chunk of the already short film to little value.

The resolution when it comes is, well, predictable and left me feeling empty.

This is a pity as, even with the limitations of #bufferingroulette, Garakowa is a really pretty film to look at, and is also well acted by the three leads. I think that there’s a lot of potential in the worldbuilding that is wasted in this iteration. The teaser trailer really does show how pretty this show is to look at:

I really wanted to like Garakowa, but unfortunately this is another Pilot’s Love Song for me: a pretty show that wasted its potential. A longer treatment, possibly a series, might work better.

[1] AKA Glass to Hana to Kowasu to Sekai aka Vitreous Flower & Destroy the World.

[2] As things currently stand the supply chain to the English language market for movies and OAVs is dodgy at best.

[3] Which I’ll give the scriptwriters credit for writing in the obvious check.