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[R1 DVD art]
AKA: 忘却の旋律, Boukyaku no Senritsu
Genre: Horror / mecha / sci-fi / supernatural / drama
Length: Television series, 24 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Geneon out of print.
Content Rating: 16+ (fan service, violence)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: RahXephon
Notes: Based on the manga by Shinji Katakura
Rating: Two StarsTwo Stars
 

The Melody of Oblivion

Synopsis

Not too far in the past, humankind fought a great war against the monsters of lore.

We lost.

Since then, these monsters rule over Earth, but they stay away from public view. But the memory of the Melos Warriors who fought to protect mankind has not faded.

A 17-year-old high school student named Bocca finds this out firsthand; this is the story of his decision to become a Melos Warrior himself, in order to free humanity from its yoke and bring back a long lost melody of freedom.


Review

This all sounds way better than it really is.

A while back, I had heard about the planning of this show at a Gainax panel at one of the conventions I attended. I wasn't quite sure how they'd tie the seemingly disparate threads of music and mecha fights, and, well, unlike RahXephon, the folks behind Melody of Oblivion don't seem to have really tried all that hard to make it relevant.

One of the biggest, enduring problems with this show is that it doesn't have an apparent audience. Normally, you can pretty much tell who the intended audience is by looking at the protagonist. And, well, there's no getting around this: Bocca is an idiot. Honestly. Of course he's going to have mysterious superpowers. Of course he's going to find this out just in time to save his own hide. Because in the real world, this guy wouldn't have enough sense to walk in out of acid rain, so the creators need to have him survive somehow, right?

So Buca di Beppo (sorry, kid, that's your name now) picks up a traveling partner, a pickpocket fortune teller named Sayoko, who is instantly guaranteed to be his permanent traveling companion. You know this instinctively, because they get along just like a Mr. Satan cosplayer trapped in an elevator with Catholic nuns.

Needless to say, Buca di Beppo gets entangled with the Melos Warriors, and they proceed to take down a monster every few episodes, leaving you to wonder how exactly they lost this war in the first place. (Maybe it's just because our kid wasn't born yet. Maybe it's apathy. Maybe it's Maybelline.)

In the meantime, there's lots of angsting over the plight of humankind, despite the insistence that very little has changed. It all comes off like the most boring military occupation in history, and really, it takes a whole lot of effort to sympathize remotely with these folks. Okay, okay, the monsters are essentially treating the majority of humankind like cattle or sheep, and this is different from the current state of events how? It's obvious that there simply wasn't much thought placed on the world-building -- it all boils down to a simplistic good-vs-evil scenario, with humans on the good side of the equation by default, with little to no ambiguity involved.

While this is fine for a kid's show (and Melody of Oblivion sometimes shows numerous indications it was intended as such), there's simply too much violence and fan service for this to work as a kid's show at all. Knowing that Gainax were the primary planners for this makes this even harder to swallow.

Frustratingly, the whole "occupation Earth scenario" could actually be used to great effect when competent scenarists are involved. Arcadia of My Youth comes immediately to mind, as does the Tokyo Jupiter of RahXephon. But Melody of Oblivion doesn't come remotely close. The enemies eat children for crying out loud, but I can't even be brought to care about it. That's just sad.

Even more frustrating is that there is some talent here. Some of the visuals are atmospherically dense and the character designs are nothing really to complain about. But the lackluster script simply wastes the voice actors' talents -- this is hardly a high point in the careers of folks like Kuwashima Houko or Asano Masumi, and Noto Mamiko is relentlessly monotonous as "The Melody of Oblivion" (whatever the hell that's supposed to be).

When all is said and done, it's hard for me to even bring up the energy to give this thing a slapping. It's mediocre, it's listless, and I almost wish someone like Ohbari Masami or Go Nagai could have been brought in, because while it wouldn't improve the quality any, at least they would've made this at least remotely interesting. As it is, Melody of Oblivion does not have the nuance needed to succeed at even half the things it attempts, and along with Gunbuster 2, completes Gainax's descent into being "just another in-between animation studio."

*sigh*

Like band practice on the second day of junior high school., this sophomoric melody isn't laughably bad, but unpleasantly unskilled and in sore need of fine tuning. Gainax completists should ... just quit being Gainax completists. Horror fans might bump this up a star, at most.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: Some fan service and a fair amount of violence here. For older teens and above.



Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub; R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (11/24)
The Melody of Oblivion © 2004 GJK / The Melody of Oblivion Project
 
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