Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Feb 23rd 2013
1 - 6 Streaming
A girl wakes up with no memories. Who is she? Who are all of these attractive young men in stylish clothes who are hovering around her? What on earth happened? A mysterious spirit named Orion tells her that she has amnesia and begs her not to go to the hospital – surely if she pretends that things are normal, she will regain her memories. So why does time keep resetting? What is going on?
SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: If you suddenly wake up with a total inability to remember anything, up to and including your own name, and a pointy-eared spirit dressed like an anime harlequin tells you not to go to the hospital, do not listen to him. Had the unnamed heroine of the otome game-based series Amnesia listened to this sound advice, of course, there would be no show, but it is difficult to think of a thinner premise upon which to base a story, or even one less flattering to the protagonist's intelligence. That aside, Amnesia's first six episodes make for strangely attractive viewing, if only to figure out what it is that keeps us watching in the first place.
The basic plot of Amnesia is that a young woman, who is either in her last year of high school or in college, wakes up on the morning of August first with no memories. A spirit named Orion tells her that she has Amnesia and counsels against going to the hospital. Instead, he says, she should just try to live her life as normal and see what comes back to her. As might be expected, very few things do and she has to learn the hard way that she works at a trendy maid cafe and apparently spends her time surrounded by a bevy of attractive young men with playing card themes. After the show introduces all of the main players, episode two ends with the heroine falling off a cliff, presumably to her death, because when she wakes up in the hospital, it is August first again, but this time she appears to be dating Shin, the heart-themed guy. This state of events helps her to recall a few more things before she is hit by a truck in episode four, causing time to reset again. Now she's dating Ikki (spades)...until she appears to drown in episode six. Presumably when she awakens in episode seven, it will once more be the first of August and she will be dating either Kento (clubs) or Toma (diamonds).
While it is clear that the show is trying to cover all of the game's routes (as in the different options that lead the heroine to end up with one hero or another), it does create a sort of strange fascination for the viewer. Recurring themes of wishing on shooting stars, bullying by other girls, and the fact that the heroine at one point did have a personality and some gumption combine to make things intriguing. What is the deal with August first? How does that fit in with her being stuck on some sort of karmic wheel? Who is that weird fellow with the green hair who apparently can jump timelines? The mystery factor of Amnesia is one that niggles at the viewer's mind, allowing her to put up with the less savory elements of the show in order to figure out once and for all what is going on.
Unfortunately it has a lot to compete with. The female protagonist is one of the least sympathetic to grace the small screen in a while, coming off as terminally stupid (if you fall off a boat, you swim, not stretch your hand up to the surface) and rarely speaking in complete sentences. Kaori Nazuka does her best, but she frankly has very little to work with, and some episodes it seems as if she's just breathing into the microphone. The male leads fare a little better, but that's not hard given the fact that they have actual lines. Perhaps the biggest blow against Amnesia, however, is the way it is primarily animated in still shots. Characters are rarely seen moving, and oftentimes those who have played the odd VN can spot where a dialogue option would have popped up on the screen. Simply put, watching Amnesia is like playing the game without getting to make any of the choices.
Visually speaking it does have some interesting aspects. The clothes are by far more stylish than the average, albeit in a somewhat odd style that consists of checkerboard patterns, particolored tight pants, and lots of buckles. It works for the show, however, making everyone stand out in their own way. Eyes are the most sour note in the visuals, with everyone having a strange block of color on the bottom half of their eyes that gives them a slightly robotic look. The animation isn't much to look at, mostly because there simply isn't a lot of movement, but the color choices and patterns do their jobs to keep eyes focused on the screen.
Amnesia is a tortured mixture of intriguing mystery and irritating plot devices and characters. Parts of it are fascinating as we try and sort out the heroine's memory issues and what the deal is with those first days of August while other parts are intensely annoying. It is the kind of show that has you saying partway through every episode, “I'm going to drop this,” before ending in such a way that makes you say, “...after the next episode.” How the next six episodes handle the wrap up (assuming there is one) will ultimately determine the worthiness of this series, but at this point, it is the equivalent of the food that is not quite to your taste, and yet somehow you keep on taking another bite.
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : C
Art : B-
Music : B-
+ The mystery part is interesting and the visuals are just different enough to be eye-catching. A good effort is made to include all of the game's potential paths.
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