Dual and Dorothy are two programs who reside within the Box of Wisdom. Their job is to enter the various worlds containing the memories of people across many timelines, deleting worlds that become infected with viruses. One day, they come across Remo, a girl who has lost memory of who she is, who is searching for something known as the flower. While trying to figure out who she is, Dual and Dorothy spend time with Remo, learning to find joy in various things that they’d normally deem pointless. However, they soon begin to not only learn about what Remo’s true purpose is, but also the state of the world outside of their box.
Garakowa -Restore the World- is an anime film created by A-1 Pictures, directed by Masashi Ishihama and written by Fumihiko Shimo of Air, Kanon, Clannad and Amagi Brilliant Park fame. You can see some of the similarities between these and Garokawa – the main characters have a bit of a moe vibe to attract as many conventional otaku as possible.
Dual and Dorothy are anthropomorphised anti-virus programs that are stationed within the Box of Wisdom: a supercomputer which holds the whole of human history and those that lived within it as backed-up data. Dual and Dorothy’s job is to visit/scan backups of time periods that have been infected by viruses and delete them. The film begins as Dual is forced to wipe a corrupted backup of 2015 Japan, complete with all its inhabitants, which, despite being computer data, appear to have real lives and emotions.
Dual and Dorothy, whose polar opposite personalities put them in constant conflict, are confronted with a strange situation with the sudden arrival of a girl named Remo. They can’t decide what she is or where she has come from since she appears to be neither or a virus nor an anti-virus program. To boot, she can’t remember a single thing about where she’s been, what she’s meant to be doing or what, in actual fact, she is. Against Dorothy’s judgement, Dual decides to take Remo in to their house (why anti-virus software needs to live in a country house is never made clear) and try to help her recover her memory.
What starts off as a potentially interesting sci-fi premise, though, quickly sidesteps into cutesy territory. Remo’s first action in Dorothy and Dual’s house is to start cooking, playing the piano and urging the anti-virus software to do some sightseeing through human history. In the middle of this film, things often descent into domestic montages (think the complete opposite of a Rocky montage) of the three characters eating and sightseeing through a computers backed-up time periods of humanity. Okay, so I understand that Remo is consciously or unconsciously getting Dual and Dorothy to actually experience and enjoy things that virus software has no need for, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of justification for these actions. It’s cute as hell and the varying backgrounds of famous world landmarks are quite beautiful, but is this really all there is to this part?
After this spate of domestic bliss, the sci-fi element returns. A new and powerful virus attack serves as the impetus for discovering the real truth behind Remo’s existence and how she is linked to the Box of Wisdom in an exposition-heavy third act that was action-packed, beautiful and confusing. This is one of those extended scenes that would probably merit more than one watch (and perhaps a decent knowledge of information technology terms). However, it’s not mandatory to enjoy the whole film, thankfully.
The animation and character design is decent, with everything about the main trio screaming moe, from their general expressions to their cute transformations when they fight against computer viruses. There are some interesting portrayals of computer viruses, programs and data which allows the CGI graphics and colour to be utilised to its full potential. When the time for actions scenes come, you can’t help but feel immersed in the feast of light, colour and sound as you are taken on a sensory roller coaster that was slightly reminiscent of Black Rock Shooter. Here is when you see Garakowa at its best.
Garakowa presents to us an interesting concept. However, it could have used more of its 67-minute runtime going into more depth on what happened to humanity and how the backup data is stored and formulated within the Box of Wisdom rather than spending a great deal of time watching its heroines do moe things like leaping into snow, visiting the Eiffel Tower and enjoying copious amounts of delicious-looking anime food. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy watching it – overall I did – but the ending did leave me feeling a bit unfulfilled. A nice film, if not a little unbalanced.