Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Anime Review: Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

Another one of Sentai's many pick-ups, I was intrigued by the premise where I heard was something along the lines "high schoolers in a paranormal club solve mysteries that eventually connect to who killed their ghostly president." The story doesn't quite play out like that but I guess I should just get to the review to talk about that!

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (Tasogare Otome X Amnesia)

Summary: Niiya Teichi never expected to run into a ghost in the old school building, much less for that ghost to develop a crush on him and for him to feel something for her as well. But Yuuko isn't just a ghost, with few memories of her past and rumors flying everywhere Teichi and the other members of the Paranormal Investigation Club soon realize that there was something sinister behind her death, something that is connected to the few, true ghost stories the school has.

The Good: I had to rewatch a little bit of the show, to check the lyrics for the songs, and I have to say the show started foreshadowing much earlier than I thought that there was something decidedly sinister behind Yuuko's death and I must give them credit for that. The show actually managed to tie in almost all of the urban legends that the club comes across in the end and Yuuko's story is easily the strongest part of the show. And I really did like the opening episode which showed the story both from the point of view of Teichi and from the point of view of the one character who can't see Yuuko, I wish the series had had a bit more humor like that.

The Bad: I really didn't like the early episodes that didn't focus on the mystery surrounding Yuuko, because that was the central point of the show and anything that doesn't contribute to that idea in one way or another is filler, and I was about to drop the show which I very rarely do. If one was to cut most of the episodes that didn't contribute to the plot then you don't have nearly enough material for a full length series, it's only 12 episodes to start with, and sadly this wasn't an anime original series, this was an adaptation based off of a manga and you can't cut that much of a series out. The fanservice was repetitive and awkward as someone who is not turned on by boobies (and I certainly wasn't expecting it from promo shots like the one above), only three characters in the entire series receive character development and I disliked the ending as well. In the end, this wasn't the show I was expecting and sadly it wasn't the kind of show I like either.

The Audio: It's been a little while since I've seen an opening or ending that is lip-synced to a character on screen and both of the ones here were shot more like they were music videos for Yuuko than a normal opening and closing. I thought that made them a bit more interesting (although I thought that for the one ending where Yuuko was removed from all the shots it would have worked a little better if they had used the instrumental version of the song instead), although the song lyrics I saw really didn't work. It's true that the stream from The Anime Network I saw the opening lyrics were horribly out of sync which might not have helped, and the ending seemed average and nothing from the rest of the soundtrack stood out to me either.

The Visuals: Since the show is a little dull in parts, and doesn't feel very original either, someone on the production committee must've said "you know what this series needs? ARTSY VISUALS!" and that's what happened. It's not as "artsy" looking as say, a show from Studio Shaft might be (Bakemonogatari, Madoka Magica) but it certainly stands out from other shows in the spring season with it's use of dramatic lighting, composition, and interesting color choices. Overall though I found the artsy bits to be rather, well, amateur, like a newly graduated graphic designer had decided that they had to alter everything they could get their hands on to make it more dynamic. I do like shows that have interesting imagery and symbolism in them (see Revolutionary Girl Utena) but here I felt like the visuals were trying to compromise for an average plot and that just annoyed me.

So, no buy from me but for those who are curious you can check out the show over on Crunchyroll or over on The Anime Network (since they're using the hulu player you can probably go straight to hulu and find it as well). I can't see this one doing well enough to merit a dub/BR but who knows, still wouldn't change my opinion on it at all in the end.   

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