Tasogare Otome x Amnesia – 01 Review
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia – Episode 01
Being one of the many supernatural-rom-coms airing this season, I went into Tasogare Otome x Amnesia without a lot of expectations. Ultimately that was a good thing. Although Amnesia’s visuals are stunning, absolutely nothing else about the show is.
At the Private Seikyou Academy, there is a legend that all students have heard. Sixty years ago, there was a girl who for some reason was left behind in the old, abandoned school building to die. Teiichi Niiya one day meets a beautiful, mysterious girl named Yuuko Kanoe at the old school building and gets a surprise. She’s the ghost of the girl who died 60 years ago, but does not remember her past or how she died. Teiichi becomes determined to help her remember, and together, they seek the truth behind the gruesome legend.
(Courtesy of ANN and AniDB)
This episode is fairly easy to summarize, considering that 75% of it was just one scene, shown from two different perspectives. Typically I consider this sort of thing to be quite lazy, but it was fairly well done here. The scene is little more than an overly drawn out introduction to the characters, all members of their school’s Detective Club. Without giving any background on the characters, they can’t be viewed as anything more than stereotypes. The setup is that of a harem anime with a generic and dull male lead (Niiya Teiichi). The harem girls are typical – the annoying, hyper, stupid girl who will never succeed in bagging the main-chara; the bitchy and cold one who doesn’t offer anything of value and complains about things in a failed attempt to add humor; and the girl who will end up being the main-chara’s primary love interest, a mischevious, flirty, domineering, tsundere-type who happens to be a ghost and is probably suffering from being misunderstood and all sorts of other tropes. Oh, and the ghost girl (Yuuko) has amnesia… or something… although none of that is really covered at all in the episode.
This “opening” scene primarily shows the stupid girl arriving at a club meeting a bit early and being incredibly loud and stupid, and then the remaining club members join her. While the stupid girl is busy being painfully obtuse and busy gushing about how great the dull main-chara is, strange things are happening around her, including a flying coffee cup and stack of papers. Stupid girl manages not to notice these things until the very end, where she stupidly starts yelling and flipping out about being in the presence of a poltergeist. The other characters come in and have a strange conversation that seems quite strained, but serves to fan the fires of stupid girl’s lust for main-chara. At the end of this long scene, it suddenly starts all over and we get to see it yet again, but this time with the addition of the mysterious club president who is a ghost. She’s the “poltergeist” responsible for the flying objects and the awkward one-sided conversations that have taken place.
The last five minutes of the episode show the club going out and investigating a claim of paranormal activity, which is presumably what the club’s purpose is, although that wasn’t made explicit. They all go to check out a haunted dumbwaiter and the ghost-girl violently kicks the main-chara into it, and the two proceed to have one of these generic almost-make-out-sessions that are far too common in ecchi-harem series. Obviously, the main-chara ends up groping the ghost-girl’s boobs and the bitchy girl accuses him of being a pervert, and there’s lots of blushing and fumbling… etc etc. Then the group decides to explore a haunted grave on a hill above the school and discovers a rock with Yuuko’s name on it. There’s a whole lot more of the stupid-girl being obnoxious, some foreshadowing about some sentimental stuff regarding ghost-girl’s apparently forgotten past, and something about Yuuko’s body being underneath the club room. The episode ends with the main-chara giving us a voice over synopsis that sounds like it’s straight from ANN, in a half-hearted attempt to clear up the fact that the series has had nothing to do with mysteries or amnesia.
Amnesia’s animation is attention grabbing. It is vibrant, colorful, with nice character designs, if a little overdone. The direction is superb too, it felt very fluid, but perhaps a bit heavy on the SHAFT-esque style that’s so popular lately. If nothing else, Amnesia is a very pretty show and it might a worthwhile watch based on the visuals alone.
But…. That’s about all I liked.
This show seems to me to be another one of those mediocre rom-coms with generic characters doing very generic things. I found nothing even remotely compelling about any of the characters, and if something had caught my interest, it would have been quickly overshadowed by my intense urge to strangle, shoot, obliterate, or otherwise destroy the loud and stupid-girl chara. I really hate characters like that, and even seeing them at the brunt-end of some half-assed ecchi-slapstick jokes doesn’t make up for how grating their overall presence is.
And half-assed ecchi-slapstick jokes seem to be the best one can expect from Amnesia’s humor. I suppose that if you’re the sort who thinks it’s funny to see yet another dull main-chara accidentally grab a girls boobs and blush and get called a pervert for it, well then this show was made for you. Or, if you like to see domineering female charas kick the main lead and cause him to suffer from a head injury, or perhaps you’re the sort who likes to see dumb-girls get even dumber and go into chibi-mode while screaming a lot… Amnesia has all that and plenty more brilliance to offer. As for me, I prefer a subtler, more sarcastic, wittier sort of humor… and there’s none of that here.
Besides all those cons, there were far too many major plot holes considering that this is only the first episode. Ghost-girl is going on about how only the main-chara can see her and touch her, but the bitchy-girl had no problem seeing her or getting her faced messed with by her, so what gives? And apparently, most of the ghost stories around the school revolve around ghost-girl, so it doesn’t seem to me that she’s particularly isolated or unperceivable. Also, the club went to figure out the mystery of the haunted dumbwaiter, but they… didn’t. The main-chara got shoved into it, rode it downstairs, and then nothing. Instead of being even remotely interested or concerned about it, they all just cheerily skipped off to solve the problem of the mysterious grave on the hill. I suppose that for everyone else in the club (besides stupid-girl) after realizing that Yuuko had been responsible for the dumbwaiter’s actions there was nothing left to be concerned about. And, I suppose that stupid-girl is not only raging moronic, but that she also has the attention span of a fly. So, uhhhh, mystery solved?
Making the main female a ghost isn’t enough to make a generic ecchi rom-com stand out from the pack. Actually, giving the main female some sort of supernatural qualities is the standard these days – she can be a ghost, or a demon, or a zombie, or a devil, or a flame haze, or an alien, or whatever – and the commonness of it makes none of it matter anymore. Besides, simply giving the main female chara some sort of supernatural hook in no ways excuses the crappy storytelling that the majority of these series have. It drives me a bit crazy. Seeing a dull-harem-main-chara get flustered when a girl flirts with him isn’t funny in the first place, and making said girl into a ghost absolutely does not make it any funnier.
The only thing that made me want to watch this show was the promise of some sort of supernatural mystery, but all that seems to have been forgotten by the writers even before the first episode aired. A ghost with amnesia? About what? Has she forgotten who her killer was? Was she even murdered? Who knows? I suppose I might add, Who cares? Answering *any* of these questions could have made the series interesting. And while some folks out there may be entertained by seeing some lackluster characters accidentally groping one another or seeing a dumb girl get trolled by a ghost, it’s not really my cup of tea. Although I truly enjoyed the art and the directing, it wasn’t enough to make this series into anything beyond something I might watch one day when I’m down with a cold.