My initial impression of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (a.k.a Tasogare Otome × Amunejia) was fairly positive but this story of a romance between a naive boy and a yandere ghost turned out to be even better than I thought. I’m inclined to call it the best anime of the Spring 2012 season (with the caveat that I’m only counting shows that ended this season.)
The production quality is very high with some terrific artwork. The writing is first-rate. The ending is bittersweet but beautiful.
I am aware that there are people who hate this show. For one thing this show has a problem shared by many series that emphasize character development: you have a character who ends up good but is initially so obnoxious (or in this case, terrifying) that some viewers can’t stand her and tune out right away.
In this case Yuuko is indeed horrifying but she ends up being sympathetic. Teiichi initially seems like a wimp but he turns out to be extraordinarily brave. (Heroism doesn’t necessarily involve shouting and waving a sword around.)
I feel a bit less positive about the two secondary characters. Kirie acts tough but she is a wimp underneath. I think she makes some progress but she doesn’t fundamentally change. And Momoe is just plain annoying. Still they are written that way for a purpose. They have their roles to play and they play them.
TypicalIdiotFan (hey, I didn’t pick his pen name) raises another objection:
Ever have one of those sudden moments of realization where something was so stupidly obvious but your mind just shut it out because it would ruin the mood? Y’know, like one half of your brain is saying “Oh crap you guys!” and the other half is going “Shut up, other half of the brain! We don’t need to know!”. Well, I had one of those moments, but refused to acknowledge it until it was printed out for me, black and white, and I had no choice but to learn it.
The protagonist is 12 years old.
Ugh. First year middle schooler… do the math other half of the brain… you should have known that already. Why oh why did I have to realize this? I was actually having fun before I learned that. No, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia isn’t particularly good. It’s a mess with the narratives and the visuals, and feels an awful lot more like Scooby Doo than Scream. Still it was cute and humorous, with a different kind of love story. But now, like Kanokon, I’m forced to basically watch a much older ghost trying to get a freak on with a child. God dammit, Japan.
Well I happen to think the visuals are great and if you are going to watch a lot of anime you need to learn to deal with non-linear narratives.
But as to TIF’s main objection,
- Teiichi is 13 years old. He’s Japanese, he’s in the first year of middle school, and the story takes place in Autumn.
- Yuuko was 15 years old when she died and clearly has not matured either physically or emotionally since then.
- It’s very common for an anime hero to fall for a slightly older woman, and a 2-year age difference is quite typical. (See this season’s Accel World for another pairing of a 13-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl.)
I’m not saying that this show is perfect. I was annoyed by the epilog which left the impression that the writers’ storytelling judgement was overridden by the commercial pressure to leave an opening for a possible sequel. I don’t think this show needs a sequel and it’s hard to imagine one that would not be a let-down.
Still the ending as a whole was so good that even the nonsense during the final credit roll was unable to ruin it.