Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Rin is a curvaceous small-time detective with a dark secret; she's an immortal, carrying a "Time Fruit" from the ever-present Yggdrasil, the tree of life. She can take a whole lot of physical punishment (and can easily regenerate her body parts), which is a good thing, because when Apos, a godlike creature with a sadistic streak shows up and wants to drink her memories like so much Gatorade, the battle's on!
RIN - Daughters of Mnemosyne was originally created as an “anniversary project” for the Japanese cable channel AT-X, which is most known among anime fans for being the boob-friendly network that airs uncensored versions of stuff like Queen's Blade and Charger Girl Ju-den-chan late at night. In a sense, they're kinda like Japan's version of Cinemax, which is famous (or infamous, rather) for running low-budget softcore porn, usually gussied up in sci-fi or thriller genre trappings (and with hilarious titles like Alien Sex Invasion or Detective Lust or something like that) in the wee hours of the morning.
So it stands to reason that Mnemosyne feels exactly like one of those silly “Skinemax” movies, with the requisite amounts of violence, kinky sex and violent kinky sex piled on so you're aware that what you're watching is totally edgy anime for adults. Surprisingly, and perhaps in spite of all that, Mnemosyne isn't really a bad show, provided you know what you're getting in to and don't take any of it very seriously for even a second.
Rin, overall, is a little complex but not difficult to decipher; there's this big ethereal magic tree (Yggdrasil, marking the 10,000th time the legendary Norse ‘tree of life’ has been referenced in an anime) that sheds these things called “Time Fruits” that float down to the general populace. When one infects a woman, she becomes an immortal who can withstand a ridiculous amount of physical damage. When one infects a man, he becomes a rageful superpowered winged beast (nicknamed “angels”). Notably the immortal women can't help but desperately want to have sex with the angels, who devour them during the act. Rin, a green-haired, fiercely independent woman with serious karate skills who runs a small-time detective agency, is one such immortal. Although her stated business is finding lost cats and tracking down stolen items, pretty much every case she takes winds up connecting to her mysterious (and sexy!) past in some fashion, and usually involves a lot of violence and expository dialogue that explains the show's weird plot. The chief villain is a smug kid named Apos who seems to wander between “immortal” and “angel”, obviously knows everything there is to know about this strange world, really enjoys tormenting immoral girls in bondage and, naturally, must have Rin for himself!
Story-wise, Mnemosyne feels like halfway-decent dark erotica if it were written by someone in their early 20's who's played a whole lot of “adult” tabletop roleplaying games. There are some pretty unique story ideas in here and some fun pseudo-religious imagery; while it's difficult to honestly care about any of these characters, the show walks the line between “confusing” and “compelling” just well enough to keep you watching and wondering. By the final episodes, the show gets really bogged down with exposition and it feels like you're just watching the characters explain what the hell is going on while raping and eating eachother, but hey, it's never boring, and it remains interesting until the very end.
The show absolutely has a preoccupation with violent sex and torture, and presumably, that's the selling point here. It's all very EDGY – meaning you're going to see a lot of sexual mutilation and rape and people getting sliced up while naked and all that. To be frank, the shock value is pretty much over by the end of the first episode (which features such pleasantries as involuntary nipple piercing), once you realize they're going to just go as far as they can with the bloody sex angle. Simply put, they're trying too hard and there's just so much of it (especially in the series' Grand Guignol final episode) that you wind up laughing and rolling your eyes at each new atrocity rather than having your mind blown on the train to edge-ville. Which is for the best, really; there's so much ludicrous violence and sex in this thing that if it actually did have an impact on the viewer or felt like anything more than the screenwriters showing off just how “adult” they can be, the result would just be exhausting and unpleasant. As it is, the fact that it's nearly impossible to take Mnemosyne seriously is a mark in the show's favor and adds to the whole trashy appeal. It's guilty late-night cable entertainment through and through.
The production values are pretty good, and it looks like they had a nice OVA-sized budget to make this thing happen. The animation is uniformly very fluid, the characters – who have very distinctive designs and aren't just generic girls with neon hair – stay on-model, and the fight scenes are generally very well done. The show's visuals manage a strange consistency even when they're fluctuating wildly between standard modern-day Tokyo landscapes and End of Evangelion-esque sex-apocalypse theatrics, which is a considerable feat of design; it'd have been easy to make this show feel like it's two completely different series mashed into one, but they manage to avoid that pitfall. The lone exception to the show's overall high quality is the score, which sounds suspiciously like it was ripped from a 1990s PC game.
Funimation's dub is about what you'd expect from them at this point: a pretty high quality, mostly-rewritten-for-the-better affair that makes the dialogue flow a lot more naturally in English. There's a bit more swearing than there is in the Japanese track (at least according to the subtitles), but that's sort of par for the course for a show like this. Colleen Clinkenbeard does a fantastic job as Rin, performing at just the right pitch and with the right amount of smooth confidence to bring the character to life. The rest of the cast does just fine, appropriately playing it straight without diving into the sort of hammy wink-wink dialogue that probably would've ruined the show's sleazy sincerity. It's definitely a lot more fun to watch in English as a result.
RIN - Daughters of Mnemosyne is yet another in a long line of “adult” anime series where the word “adult” doesn't necessarily mean “mature”, rather simply that the series is completely inappropriate for kids. However, as hilariously extreme as Mnemosyne gets, it still somehow manages to avoid that creeping juvenile feeling that infected previous attempts at this genre (Speed Grapher, that means you). It is by no means a series to be taken seriously and should probably be watched one episode at a time rather than shotgunning the box set in a single sitting (one can only take so much of this at a time), but if you're looking for fun, weird, entertaining sleaze without a hint of irony or cutesiness, this is it.
Just keep the volume down so your neighbors can't hear all the moaning and stabbing.
Overall : B-
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : C
+ Trashy fun, unique storyline, great dub, nice animation.
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