Anime Review: Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

 

It has been quite a while since I have written a review but I find that I can’t stay my hand from flying across the keyboard to pay respect to this show. In my humble opinion, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is one of the few recent examples of anime as an art form. While the series is inundated with what some consider common tropes of the anime industry; its execution weaves the usually meaningless amalgam of fan service high-school drama and supernatural phenomena into a storyline worthy of a top ten list. These factors combined with fact that the show explores a rather unique premise and does so in a visually stunning manner creates what could be dubbed a modern masterpiece. Unfortunately Dusk Maiden of Amnesia has one fatal flaw that keeps it from attaining true masterpiece status. Like many of the better anime out there it is cursed with a short run lasting a total of twelve aired episodes with a thirteenth being included on the final blu-ray disc.

Storyline:

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia fallows the exploits of a seemingly normal high school student named Teichi Niiya whose life is turned upside down upon a chance meeting with the legendary subject of Sanyo Academy’s ghost stories Yuko. Referred to as Yuuko-san throughout the series this mischievous, bawdy and free spirited phantom becomes both the center of conflict as well as Niya’s love interest. Oblivious to her dark and mysterious past and largely unable to interact with the living Yuko relies on Niiya and his newly formed Paranormal Investigation Club to delve into the enigma that is Yuko’s former life. Alongside the cheerful and highly excitable  Momoe Okonogi and Yuuko’s bitter yet emotive descendant Kirie Kanoe, Niiya sets to work unraveling the mysteries  surrounding Yuko’s death.   However,  Niiya soon discovers that the stories related to Yuko uncover a warped version of her past that includes everything from from a pandemic to human sacrifice

Initially Dusk Maiden of Amnesia begins in a traditional boy meets girl fashion and quickly spirals into dark and bone-chilling tale of the paranormal wherein Yuuko is divided into two separate and opposing entities.  The normal Yuko serves as the representation of her pure and unspoiled self whereas the dark twisted and almost demonic form of “Shadow Yuuko”  is a literal embodiment of her counterpart’s negative memories and emotions. This aspects creates an intriguing duality between Yuko and her darker self which is reminiscent of ChäoS;HEAd protagonist Tokumi Nishijou given the fact that she seems to have the supernatural  equivalent of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)  wherein the the untainted persona imprints her negativity onto the other leaving the true form with a deliberate case of amnesia.. This transference and subsequent removal of  the negative  aspect of her consciousness the character of Yuko in many ways mirrors the division and partitioning experienced by those who have severe Multiple  Personality Disorder..

Ironically, Yuuko’s psychological complex acts as catalyst for the romance that occurs between herself and Niya for the remainder of the series. When Yuko excises her feelings for him  Niiya is forced to declare his love for her in order to restore her recent memories.  In doing so, Niiya allows Yuko to recover some of the emotions she had previously cast off.  Eventually, through Niiya’s acceptance of  her counterpart Yuko is able to merge with her darker self thus allowing her to recall her past and move on.  The romance between Yuuko and Niiya  is a well-developed one considering the length of the series. Even so, it was criminally short lived and left me wanting more.

The ending of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is one of the most soul-tearing, depression inducing climaxes ever to grace anime. In fact those who watch the final aired episode should be advised to have comfort food and a means by which to dry your tears on hand because you will ball like a toddle for the majority of the second half . It is almost a tragedy to watch these lovers as they share their final moments together culminating in one final kiss as Yuuko fades from existence.  Fortunately, the final seconds of the show are light-hearted and act as a contrast to the tone of the previous scene.  Oddly enough, Yuuko returns to Niiya causing the series to end on a happier note.

Style:

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is surprisingly well done.  The animation is crisp and characters as well as backdrops and set pieces are extremely detailed.  However, in an anime filled with emotional extremes I find  that some of its more subtle scenes; this is  especially true with the opening and closing theme sequences wherein Yuko’s lip flaps are synced with the vocal tracks so that she appears to be singing them. In-keeping with the theme of subtlety I find that anime like this are often dark and rely heavily shadows to create ambiance while Dusk Maiden of Amnesia  uses bright colors and intricate lighting effects to create beautiful backdrop that is a feast for the eyes. This is most apparent in twilight and night scenes when the viewer is treated majestic sunsets and an almost ethereal night sky.  These subtle details gives Dusk Maiden of Amnesia  a near magical feel like no other anime out there.

Sound Design:

Sound design is one area in which Dusk Maiden of Amnesia seems to lack slightly.  Aside from the opening theme”Choir Jail” very few tracks from the soundtrack are memorable much less noteworthy. This fact is made horrendously clear when viewing the Sentai Filmworks dub of the series.  While Emily Neves and Clint Brickham do a fair to descent job of voicing Yuuko and Niya others such as Jessica Boone and Brittney Karbowski are annoying to listen to.  This is why I would recommend  the subbed version.  Sorry Sentai, but you have only yourself to blame.

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia  is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.  I implore you fans please stream it legally. Doing so supports the anime industry. If you enjoy it buy it at Rightdtuf.   As a reviewer I think this is a series worthy of  anyone’s collection. That being said, don’t take my word for it.

 

Advertisements

First Look: Attack on Titan

Ladies and gentlemen, I have had it with the overhyped shows that  seem to be populate the anime scene of late. Over last few   years it seems as though anime studios have figured out that today’s audience isn’t as interested in the thinly-stretched storylines and  triple digit episode counts of traditional shounin  action shows as they once were.  Under normal circumstances I would be ecstatic at this news, however it seems that we have paid a terrible price for a shorter runtime. In exchange for a twenty-six episode limited runtime many studios have foregone the completion of a series opting instead to take a seasonal or yearly break between seasons.  This results in over-hyping by the anime public thus hastening the dubbing and release of an  incomplete and often subpar series.

 

It is unfortunate that this is the case with 2013s Attack on Titan. While I thoroughly enjoyed its original subtitled run on Crunchyroll I found it irritating  that I would have wait so long without so much as a satisfying season finale.  I was even more so when found out that Funamation was dubbing  Attack on Titan and that dub would run on Adult Swim’s Toonami block starting May 3, 2014.  As fans surely know that day has come and gone.

 

As I watched the initial episode I saw a few things that bothered me Ironically it started with the the fact that the show’s theme had been butchered with more than half of the intro sequence being left out.  Secondly, I found that  the voice actress for a pivotal character, namely Mikasa Ackerman, played her role in such a dry fashion that the voice lacked any semblance of character thus breaking my suspension of disbelief.  Finally, a similar situation occurred with the character of Armen Arlert who sounded stronger than  than main protagonist Eran Jager despite being a coward.  It seems as though vocal mismatching will spell  the doom of this dub.

 

While I hope the voice talent will become acclimated to their respective roles as the show goes on I doubt it will change as drastically as it should.  This is yet another case of a subpar dub done on an unfinished show. Shows like Attack on Titan  have amazing potential.  I believe these early dubbings are a sign of the decline of anime in the United States.  But I invite you to form your own opinion by wating Attack on Titan Saturday nights at 11:30pm on Adut Swim’s Toonami; for more of my thoughts on anime subscribe to this blog.