Monday, July 3, 2017

Computers Trascend Humanity in "Garakowa -Restore the World-"


What's Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog?


There are so many different anime to experience, and the works have so many different styles and permutations that it helps to have some additional information and cultural context in order to determine whether or not you want to spend your precious time with a unknown title. “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog” is here to help you make informed decisions. Life is brief. Art is long.



What's Garakowa -Restore the World-?


Garakowa -Restore the World- is a 2016 theatrical anime science fiction film with direction by Masashi Ishihama and animation by A-1 Pictures. The film is known in Japan as Glass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai, which is also translated as Vitreous Flower & Destroy the World. Crunchyroll describes the film as follows:



A space inhabited by multiple worlds, countless timelines and a diversity of people, where Dual and Dorothy battle the enemy – viruses encroaching on the world. A world infected by a virus must be deleted. This is Dual and Dorothy’s responsibility and job. One day, Dual and Dorothy discover a new virus attacking a girl. They save the girl and quietly wait for her to awaken. Who is she? Where did she come from? Where will she go? The girl finally awakens. She calls herself “Remo” and has only one thing to say: “I have to return to the flower garden…”



One detail that this description doesn't entirely convey is that all of the main characters in Garakowa aren't human beings, but rather they are sapient computer programs. Dual and Dorothy are anti-virus software installed in a massive database known as the “Box of Wisdom”, while Remo's function and purpose are unknown.



Beautiful Backgrounds.


Garakowa is a visually beautiful film with high production values, and much effort is poured into creating the film's environments. The entirety of Garakowa -Restore the World- takes place in virtual spaces, such as in the various layers of the Box of Wisdom or in the programs stored within the database that reproduce different periods in human history.



The film has spectacular background artwork, and it also uses multi-planar camerawork (where the backgrounds move independent of the foreground objects) to convey the impression of an artificial, otherworldly digital space. Director of photography Kenji Takahashi also deploys unconventional camera angles to reinforce a sense of unreality.  



Transhumanist Themes.


Garakowa is essentially a transhumanist film. It deals with the idea of a digital Singularity, a computer program in which the entirety of human experience can be reproduced so faithfully that the people inside it are unaware that they are merely lines of code. As part of their core programming, Dual and Dorothy purge virus-infected programs, effectively deleting entire realities and obliterating the inhabitants within.



Hard Solipsism, Soft Hearts.


As the story develops, Dual, Dorothy, and Remo journey through programs recreating various places, cultures, and time periods in search of Remo's ultimate purpose. Along the way Garakowa tackles some heavy philosophical concepts, such as the problem of hard solipsism (“How can I know that anything I experience is real?”), which is aggravated by the in-universe idea that entire realities can be created ex nihilo in a matter of processor cycles.



In the process, the three programs begin to demonstrate human emotions, to question their core programming, and to wonder about the world outside of the Box of Wisdom. Garakowa's ultimate message is both humanistic and life-affirming, but the film's dramatic sensibilities make the journey toward those goals an emotional one.



Multiple Realities, Multiple Worlds.


Crunchyroll currently streams Garakowa -Restore the World- in 207 territories worldwide. The film is available in the original Japanese with subtitles in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic, and Italian. There is also a Japanese Bluray with English subtitles released by Pony Canyon, which is available as an import through RightStuf.



A visually rich and intellectually challenging film, Garakowa -Restore the World- should appeal to science fiction fans that enjoy stories where the philosophical underpinnings are just as important as the action sequences. The film clocks in at a brisk 67 minutes, but if you want more Garakowa, Crunchyroll also streams the director's introduction and the Q & A session that accompanied the film's original theatrical release.



Is there a series in Crunchyroll's catalog that you think needs some more love and attention? Please send in your suggestions via e-mail to or post a Tweet to @gooberzilla. Your pick could inspire the next installment of “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”!

Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.

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