Piano Music & Cel Shading!?

Based off the popular rhythm game from Taiwanese developer Rayark, DEEMO: Memorial Keys is an enchanting film adaptation done in beautiful CG made with serious anime talent. Ambitious storytelling for a movie based on a video game, DEEMO: Memorial Keys exudes veteran craftsmanship and musical creativity in a movie boasting fantastic visuals.

Having never played the game or heard of DEEMO before, the film is a charming children’s fantasy journey which borrows from several classic Disney films. A tasteful pastiche of Alice In Wonderland and other stories like the Nutcracker, stunning CG animation and wonderfully stimulating piano music combine for an engaging, if haunting, anime suitable for all ages.

DEEMO: Memorial Keys exudes veteran craftsmanship and musical creativity in a movie boasting fantastic visuals

Deemo is an individual who lives in solitude, playing the piano in a lonely castle. The young Alice falls from the sky, finding herself in a castle with the mysteriously quiet Deemo and helpful talking creatures like the cat Mirai.

Alice and Deemo discover their piano playing together grows a tree which may return Alice to her world. They are making progress when a masked girl, the other resident of the castle, throws a wrench into the plans. Can Deemo’s piano help Alice recover her lost memories and safely get her home?

DEEMO: Memorial Keys wouldn’t work without its combination of elaborate visuals and lively music merged together. Alice’s exploration of the lost sheet music with Deemo is neatly tied into a fairy tale narrative. The mystery of Alice’s lost memories and her conflict with the masked girl works surprisingly well on an emotional level, culminating in a heartfelt climax that soars.

This is a pleasant fantasy experience largely made for younger audiences, though it’s stimulating enough for all ages to sit back and enjoy the extravagant animation. Enjoyable without being overbearing, Western influences are all over the place.


DEEMO: Memorial Keys boasts often mesmerizing CG animation by Production I.G. (Psycho-Pass, Attack on Titan) and Signal.MD (Birthday Wonderland). The 3D-like CG animation closely resembles cel-shading techniques made famous by such games as Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, giving it a far different vibe than most anime.

Eleven Arts provides a sparkling 1.78:1 presentation of mostly pristine digital animation with perfect black levels. There’s something undeniably appealing about the video and its imagery, even if the CG animation isn’t every anime fan’s cup of tea.

The main feature runs 88 minutes on a BD-50, encoded in AVC. Minor banding and a little compression errata are relatively harmless distractions. This is crisply animated video melding CG and faux hand-drawn animation. A few seams are visible however; this is not the most polished animated feature in terms of detail and fluid motion.

Cel shading definitely provides a different feel than regular hand-drawn animation. One could characterize the movement as stiffer than normal. General motion isn’t as fluid but there’s something appealing about the character designs by Mebachi. They take on a mixture of influences, everything from Toy Story to A Nightmare Before Christmas. Deemo is an obvious homage to Jack Skellington.

The rich palette often reflects Alice’s mood, moving from pastels to more vibrantly glowing tones. An early scene captures cherry blossoms in brilliant clarity, highlighting their pink shade. The dreamlike fantasy’s striking visuals fit right at home in 1080p, producing real eye candy.


Original Japanese audio and a new English dub are heard in cleanly powerful 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Both are nicely immersive affairs backed with welcome low end and expansive soundstages. Hear the quiet of rain gently falling and the wild swirling of a tree in bloom. Lush piano music dominates in select scenes as Alice and Deemo help their tree grow. Dialogue is impeccable, finely balanced with the deeper dynamics of the music and action. There’s enough movement around the soundstage and discrete rear cues to keep things interesting.

Prominent anime composer Yuki Kajiura (Fate/Zero) handles the lovely theme song “nocturne” by singer Hinano Takashima. The film’s narrative is driven by haunting piano-based music. DEEMO: Memorial Keys has an inviting score of rich, melodic symphonic tunes which often drive the animation.

The English voice cast includes Michelle Marie (Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis), Anairis Quinones (My Hero Academia), Bryce Papenbrook (Attack on Titan), Mike Pollock (A Night Before Christmas, A Cat in Paris), Luci Christian (My Hero Academia) and Stephanie Sheh (Your Name). Some relatively big names in the anime dub world, though this time I felt the English dub was merely satisfactory but less rewarding than the Japanese cast. Go with the Japanese audio unless you loathe subtitles.

Both optional English subtitles and English SDH subtitles are provided, appearing in a white font. The English subtitles properly translate the Japanese audio’s dialogue. Both languages have secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA tracks in stereo included.


DEEMO: Memorial Keys arrives in a Blu-ray and DVD combo package courtesy of Eleven Arts and distributor Shout Factory. A cardboard slipcover is available. The Blu-ray is locked to region A.

No special features are provided beyond a smattering of trailers.

DEEMO: Memorial Keys Trailer (01:04 in HD)

DEEMO: Memorial Keys Trailer (01:31 in HD)

English Dub Promo (02:41 in HD)

Japanese Promo (02:41 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review which has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For more information on how we approach all review material, please visit our about us page.

DEEMO: Memorial Keys
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


The popular rhythm game is turned into a charming children’s fantasy tale driven by anime composer Yuki Kajiura’s lush piano tunes and stunning visuals by Production I.G

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 42 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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