... aka: Dream Hunter Rem III
... aka: Dream Hunter Rem III: Hidden Dream - Legend of the Headless Warrior
... aka: Dream Hunter Rem III: Yumegakushi, Kubinashi Musha Densetsu
... aka: Dream Hunter Rem III: Yumekaku, Headless Warrior Legend
The third installment in the OVA franchise, this follows up on DREAM HUNTER REM (1985) and DREAM HUNTER REM II: DREAM DEMON AT SEIBISHINJO HIGH SCHOOL (1986). Our green-haired heroine, Reimu (which means "beautiful dream") Ayanokōji, is a plucky teenage private detective whose calling in life is stamping out evil in whatever form it takes. Her ability to enter dreams to fight various monsters and demons is what separates her from the pack, as do her two special sidekicks: her orange tabby Alpha (who is able to transform into a large wild cat) and her dog Beta (who is able to turn into a wolf). She also can transform herself into a bikini-clad fighter with a special sword and has a little blue convertible with a hidden missile launcher (!) in the trunk. At the request of an old woman named Ouka Bishu, Reimu travels to the tiny, isolated village of Yumegakushi ("Hidden Dream"), where villagers are being regularly slaughtered by a phantom figure on horseback. Thanks to the thievery of a "dreaming doll" from a local shrine, the resurrected ghost of 12th Century feudal warrior Tomomiko has been unleashed and now he's a killer headless horseman.
Reimu learns the history of the village, about the war between the Minamoto and Taira clans and of Tomomiko, who, as part of the desecrated Taira clan, ended up in the village along with some of his subordinates. There, Tomomiko fell in love with a brave village girl named Yumegozen, who was a dead ringer for Reimu aside from the hair color and may even be Reimu in her previous life. However, the love affair was short-lived as Yumegozen was killed during battle when she took an arrow for her lover and Tomomiko's attempt to avenge her death led to him being decapitated by his own men. Soon after his death, Tomomiko's ghost haunted the village until he and his sword (called "Kusangi") were sealed inside a cave and a doll in the image of his beloved was placed at the entrance. Now that the doll has been stolen, Tomomiko rides again.
Mrs. Bishu has very personal reasons for bringing Reimu in to help: She suspects her own son, Tatsuhiko, is the thief. He's been studying parapsychology at a university in Tokyo and had previously talked about his desire to experiment on the doll. She believes he snatched it and then took it back to the city with him. Reimu heads off to Tokyo, leaving her bald monk friend and protector Enko behind so he can investigate the shrine. Mrs. Bishu's weird long-haired grandson, Onii, jumps at the chance to take him. Onii, who was previously shown attempting to slash Alpha and Beta with a razor just cuz and is deemed a "pervert" by his kid sister, gets struck by lightning before they arrive. Enkou takes him inside the shrine and strips off his own clothes to "warm him up." Onii starts licking Enkou's neck and shoulder, the two caress each other and then move in for a kiss before the camera cuts away (!!) So I was really not expecting to see an adult male monk and teen boy getting it on in this one, yet here we are...
In Tokyo, Tatsuhiko and a colleague, Kido Umimaru, have the doll hooked up to some machine that gives computer readouts telling of the doll's great energy. Tatsuhiko turns out more interested in finding out where a rumored Taira treasure is located, while Kido is strictly interested in observing its possible supernatural powers. Reimu and her buddy, Investigator Sakaki (from previous Rem adventures), show up just in time to witness the ghostly horseman demolish the entire lab. A magical flute that was given to Reimu for protection and that once belonged to Yumegozen, saves her life. Tatsuhiko and his colleague aren't so lucky and are trapped in the lab as it burns down.
Back in the village, Mrs. Bishu gets slashed to death with a sword while deep in prayer, but that killing may not be linked to the horseman at all as it doesn't fit his usual pattern. A man completely bandaged up like the Invisible Man and claiming to be Tatsuhiko shows up to return the dreaming doll, but that little bastard Onii destroys it for no real reason. Just how will they stop the menace now that the only thing that was able to keep the spirit at rest is now gone?
This starts out a little confusing (you may want to read up a little bit about the Genpei War for a little context) before it finds its footing. There are predictable reveals about Mrs. Bishu's killer and the man who's impersonating her son (Reimu's only response to the latter is a voice over proclaiming "Wow! He's so handsome!"), but this also gives us a car chase inside a cave, lots of swordfights and lots of animated gore, including stabbings, slashings, decapitations, the top of a head lopped off and someone bisected and their guts spilling out. Better yet, once the horseman's body is reconnected to the head, he grows to gigantic form (and obviously copies the look of Majin), busts through the top of a cave, goes back in time and ends up on a battlefield with fighter jets and tanks all unsuccessfully attempting to take him down!
About 25 minutes in, there's an intermission entitled "Rem's Classroom" where she discusses the structures of computers and dreams and how they relate and then encourages all viewers to do well in school! It open with a quote from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and closes with a quote from the 13th Century work Heike Monogatari ("Tale of the Heike"), whose author(s) is / are unknown.
This was given its initial Japanese VHS release through King Video and later turned up as part of the 2006 set "Dream Hunter Rem DVD-Box 1" distributed by Only Hearts. The running time is 55 minutes. The series sat dormant for about three and a half years but was revived in 1990 with NEW DREAM HUNTER REM: THE DREAM KNIGHTS, which itself was followed by New Dream Hunter Rem: The Phantasmic Labyrinth (1991). There was also a load of tie-in merchandise released like comics, albums, etc.