Information on The Dark Myth, also known Ankoku Shinwa, wasn’t exactly forthcoming. It’s a little-known OVA produced by Ajia-Do that was based on a manga by horror author Daijiro Moroboshi. Funnily enough, it was directed by Takashi Anno; the man whose career is forever stained by his directorial work on Kamichama Karin.
Then again, The Dark Myth isn’t exactly a hallmark of anime greatness either.
Its story is honestly quite simple, but deliberately explained in the most infuriatingly-confusing way possible. Takeshi Yamato is an unremarkable teenager, still haunted by the mysterious death of his father. One day he is approached by a strange old man, who speaks to him of strange legends. When Takeshi is then approached by a detective who wants to look into his father’s case again, he soon finds himself dragged into an ancient conflict.
Takeshi is destined to become the avatar for a powerful God, so long as he completes a journey to prove his worthiness. However, many people are keen on involving themselves in this quest. Most notable of these being the powerful Kikuchi Clan. They claim to be there to help Takeshi, but also have their own agenda for which they need his help in return. Yet, as Takeshi grows ever more powerful, even the most influential meddlers struggle to keep him in check.
The problem with this plot is that all of its is conveyed in massive info dumps. In fact, I commend anyone who makes it through the opening narration and subsequent two minutes of crying children without dropping the anime immediately.
Buddhist lore gets mixed together with folklore and Japanese mythology, resulting in a grey sludge that The Dark Myth just slaps unto your plate. Everything the anime wants you to know is conveyed through overlong speeches. You can sometimes even hear the voice actors struggle to fit all their dialogue into their given time. And that’s not just a rough opening segment, mind you. Anytime a new development must be introduced, you get the infodump treatment. The anime’s climactic finale is an infodump.
“Show, Don’t Tell” is a concept utterly foreign to The Dark Myth. A shame, because its animation is quite alright. The environments are detailed and atmospheric, characters have nice designs, and the sudden bursts of gore are intense. I was also fond of the monster designs; they look so cool and are animated particularly well.
As a horror story, though, The Dark Myth lacks suspense. It has the cool monsters, it has the gore, but it never feels like horror. Half the time you arrive to the aftermath of the horror. When monsters have already gored their victims and skedaddled off. The few times where you do get to see the scary moment, it ends up looking cool instead of frightening.
While such moments are nice, they’re not worth the slog you need to get through to get there. Even if you can bear the awful storytelling, the plot is nothing special. The characters aren’t particularly engaging and it’s hard to feel invested in what’s actually happening. Unless you’re absolutely addicted to Japanese folklore and mysticism, it’s better to sit this one out.