Dusk Maiden of Amnesia
Teichi Niiya heads the Paranormal Investigation Club at Seikyou Academy, which only has three members-or four, if you happen to count the club's president, who is a ghost. Teichi wants to help the ghost, named Yuko, by investigating her past, which she's somehow forgotten, but Yuko herself seems much more interested in a here-and-now relationship with Teichi. But is that the whole story?
I was pretty put off by the unfortunate title of this series, and even more by the title of the opening song- what the HELL is a "Choir Jail"? (Perhaps it is where you are sent when you miss practice.) And there's a bit of gratuitous fanservice here and there, including a "little sister" cafe (with nekomimi, naturally.) And just a touch of harem- three girls, two living and one dead, want Teichi, though the dead one definitely has the edge here.
On the other hand...
Yuko, our dead girl, is actually a rather interesting character. She's cheerful and apparently a bit of a sensualist, though that's probably understandable in a character who died young and therefore never had much of an opportunity to experience that side of life. Despite what that awful Bo Derek movie says, Yuko apparently thinks that ghosts CAN do it, or at least that they can explore the preliminaries. She wants to experience all the aspects of the life that she had prematurely taken away from her. Teichi, on the other hand, is a rather serious fellow who becomes interested in the mystery of Yuko's death, which she herself seems curiously disinterested in. She just doesn't want to deal with anything unpleasant. In fact, the series is mainly ABOUT how far she will go to avoid unpleasant things-pretty amazing lengths, it turns out.
There are two other members of the Paranormal Investigation Club. Momoe is our ditzy comic relief, a short, blonde girl with a passion for the supernatural (and for Teichi) but a complete inability to see, or even sense, ghosts. A funny recurring bit is when Teichi wants to have a conversation with Yuko while Momoe is there- since Momoe can neither see nor hear Yuko, Teichi will simply pretend to be talking to club "president" Yuko on his cell phone.
Our other member is Kirie, who happens to share the same last name as Yuko. Hmm. Kirie is perhaps even more serious than Teichi; like Teichi, she CAN see Yuko, but she's maybe more capable of a clearheaded analysis of the situation than Teichi is, because Yuko is constantly distracting Teichi. About midway through the series the storyline takes a major shift in tone, and I was afraid that Kirie would fall prey to a familiar story cliche of this genre, but that didn't happen. The story occasionally did surprise me, and readers of my other reviews know how much I appreciate a series that's willing to be surprising. Kirie, like Momoe, is interested in Teichi, but the equivalent of Kirie's character in almost any other series would be a male friend of the hero.
The series has all the trappings we've learned to expect in horror/supernatural anime: low sun angles ("dusk maiden", indeed!), dimly and/or oddly lit rooms, lots of reds and oranges. The episode closer, in which Yuko sings a sad ballad to the moon, I found kind of lovely. All three of the female characters are well and interestingly drawn. I do wish that the same could be said for Teichi- he's a nice guy, sure, but his looks and personality are rather dull. This is another show with a very small principal cast, and I've always felt that makes for better drama.
The other thing that struck me about this series, and I'm not sure if this is good or bad, or for that matter how to even explain this any better, is that I've seldom run into a series that FELT so much like a manga. Yes, of course most anime series have their origins in manga, but most of them don't seem as much like what's on a printed page as this one does. Maybe this is just in my own head, but if anyone else who reads this review sees this series, I'd like to know your own impression.
Overall, this is not a great series, but it is often an interesting one, and the ladies are only occasionally required to surrender their dignity, for which I am very grateful. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: There's some nudity (mostly from Yuko), and some violence toward the end. It takes a certain amount of patience to follow the plot as well, so not recommended for children.
Version(s) Viewed: Stream courtesy of The Anime Network (Subbed)
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia © 2012 MAYBE/Square Enix/Dusk Maiden of Amnesia Project
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