She runs through the flaming building seeking escape. She struggles in the water, desperate to keep afloat. She wakes in the hospital, with no knowledge of how she got there or memory of who she was. People she doesn’t know come to visit her, but only the one whom no one else can see, the spirit boy who calls himself Olion, seems to understand what has happened to her, and he tells her not to let anyone know of her amnesia. As the Heroine struggles to recall her past and connect the random recollections in her mind to form memories, one thing seems sure: Time is no longer a constant, and the date of August 1st…the day she keeps waking up in the hospital…is somehow significant. So are each of the people she meets, though the stories that link her to them seem to shift like sands in an emptying hourglass. Will she be able put [sic] the pieces of the puzzle together, and what will she see if it becomes complete?
Here’s a change in my regular anime diet: An anime based on a visual novel…marketed to girls. This genre is known as “otome game” in Japan, and since I don’t play games and visual novels and am not even in the target audience, I can’t draw on other titles to compare this to, but if Amnesia is indicative of what they’re like, all I can say is…damn, man, and some people think I’m messed up because some of my favourite viewing is gratuitous bishoujo fan service trash? Admittedly, School Days is scarcely better in the WTF? department for similar games/anime for guys, but that’s not what I’m reviewing here, so…
The anime plays out like the game presumably does, with an unnamed decent-looking female lead going through the different routes in which she has to try to function in her regular life after waking up with no memories with the help of one of four young men, all of whom she is apparently (individually) going out with. The guys are all handsome but dress in a bizarre blend of university preppie and visual kei rock band member, including a long black coat festooned with over a dozen belts and buckles and a shredded sweatshirt worn tied around the waist, and they’re each represented by a playing card suit, either subtly (a clothing detail) or blatantly (a spade-shaped barrette and matching beauty mark—yes, on a guy). Orion (proper spelling) is an elven spirit who looks like a cute, eccentric 10-year-old boy only she can see and talk with, and he informs her when he’s able to about what’s going on, but also lets her know that she can’t flat out tell anybody that she’s amnesiac and going to the hospital to get it checked out won’t do her any good. This makes things like making a popular parfait at the maid-and-butler café she works at part-time difficult, let alone knowing the names of and relationships to the people around her; some of these affiliations and her boss’s personality changing every route don’t help, nor does the fact that not all the background characters regard her well. It also seems to be having detrimental effects on her intelligence, since, the further along she gets in the relationships, the more apparent it becomes that most of the guys (especially a fifth one who turns up in all the routes, who would be a sweet person if only his other personality wasn’t viciously psychotic) turn out to be jerks/creeps/worse. This ranges from leaving her sitting there for hours while he does something else (even if it is university assignments) to drugging and literally caging her to keep her from leaving his place to genuinely trying to kill her. Uh, Heroine, these guys may be good-looking and exciting, but if that’s enough to totally squash your badly-needed self-preservation instincts and occasionally cause you to make really dumb decisions, you got a major problem here. Each time it looks like she’s about to get offed by an accident (road crossings become a dreaded sight)…bing, she wakes up again on August 1st to same crap, different boyfriend, right up to an ending that proves that near-comical melodrama followed by half an episode of expository dialogue is not a very good combination. The music? Perfectly functional, but meh.
There are lots of anime titles featuring a group of handsome guys around one girl out there. Many of them have outstanding stories and characters, and some have crossed over well to male audiences. Sometimes that has even included yours truly. However, you can forget about Amnesia ever becoming one of them.
Lost Diary Entries (the dub actors having fun bagging on the show in the form of reading out entries from Heroine’s diary) and Sentai Trailers (for The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, To LOVEru, Mardock Scramble, MM!, EBITEN and Upotte!—all of which are for the exact opposite demographic to this). Oddly enough, there are no clean credit sequences. Sentai sprang for an English dub, but not those?
If you really like how the male characters in Amnesia look, cool, more power to you, but I suggest getting an art book instead of the anime or the game. Granted, you won’t get to see them move or hear them talk, but you also won’t get angry at how stupid/mean/sick most of the main characters are or risk having the romantic-relationship part of your brain get poisoned as a result.
- Released By: Sentai Filmwokrs
- Aspect Ratio: 16.9 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Audio: English and Japanese 2.0
- Running Time: 300 minutes
- Rating: TV – 14
- Release Date: 06/03/2014
- Reviewed By: Neil Ellard