Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Our sometimes intrepid author Momosuke continues his explorations into the darkness, now less a horrified observer and increasingly an active participant in activities of Mataichi & co. Initially he is unwittingly used in discerning the truth behind 'Salty Choji' but in the next two episodes he steps up and begins deciding for himself how to resolve matters. Naturally he protests otherwise but it is clear that he is begining to think that the work Mataichi, Ogin and Nagamimi are doing may well be entirely just.
'Salty Choji' examines the will to survive as Momosuke becomes ill and requires an especially nutricious meal to help him recover. The question of the price of that meal is especially relevant when we finally find out what the master of the house Momsuke is recovering at craves. Next Momosuke meets a caged man who claims to be a Tanuki (racoon) who has changed shape into a human for so long that he has forgotten how to change back. While he may not be able to return to his native form the wild beast within remains and he stands accused of a variety of murders. But is he really a Tanuki and if he isn't what could compell someone into such an elaborate charade for so long? Finally Momosuke is disturbed to find Ogin's dead body at a crossroads where womens bodies have been turning up. Somehow this relates to a nine part scroll depicting the decomposition process as each of the bodies has been returned at a stage of decomposition matching the order of scroll. Solving this is tricky as Momosuke is increasingly distressed over the death of Ogin and he begins to become obsessed.
What impressed me the most is that the screws haven't let up at all and the level of depravity and moral corruption is quietly getting worse. Touching on cannibalism, an almost oedipal guilt complex and necrophilia the series isn't pulling any punches. Yet for all the depravity it doesn't descend into gratuity, instead showing us just enough to see why the Ongoyu (aka Mataichi and friends) need to intervene. What holds the series back from being a classic is the still very episodic nature of the stories. It fits nicely with the structure of the story, namely that of Momosuke gathering the 100 stories for his book, but it also means that once you spot the pattern that the stories follow then generally the conclusion is predictable. There are hints at a larger story on-going but as yet nothing really has developed on that front. Hopefully the next volumes will expand out a bit on that to mix the formula up rather than just getting more depraved.
Even with that quibble this does remain compelling viewing, best watched late at night and in the dark to get maximum effect from the series...
As you can see from the listing above we continue with the 4:3 transfer and a 2.0 soundtracks. They are aggresively mixed so do use the stereo soundfield to good effect but I still cannot but lament at what could have been done had the series been mixed into 5.1. We also still have very limited extras which is a trend I expect the rest of the series to continue. This is very obviously a niche release that in many ways we are lucky to get at all.