Dusk Maiden of Amnesia – Anime Review
Title: Dusk Maiden of Amnesia
Alternate Title: Tasogare Otome × Amunejia / 黄昏乙女×アムネジア
Encompasses: Complete 13-episode Season
Published by: Hanabee (Australia and New Zealand) / Sentai Filmworks (North America)
Based on: Manga Series by Maybe
Genre: Harem, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Supernatural
Audio: Hybrid Dub
Classification: This title has been classified as M for Mature Themes, Sexual References and Nudity
Special Thanks: Hanabee for providing me with a copy of this release to review!
It’s tough being president of a school club. It’s even tougher being the club president and dead.
In the most creepy, old abandoned school building lies the Paranormal Investigations Club of Seikyou Private Academy. The president of the club isn’t your typical student though as Yuko Kanoe has been dead for 60 years now, with her body still lying under the clubroom itself. With no memory of her past or of how she died, Yuko has been wandering aimlessly through the school’s halls until she meets Teiichi Niiya.
Teiichi seems to be the only person who can see her and he is determined to uncover the truth. But there are some things that are better left alone and Yuko’s past might just be one of them.
Seikyou Academy is a private school with a long history spanning many decades. Rather than renovating older buildings the schools board continually decides to expand into new buildings. This means that within the labyrinth of corridors that riddle the school there are classrooms that have become forgotten about, hallways that are never walked in, classrooms that are becoming dilapidated and the word of ghost stories has spread over the many years in various shapes and forms. However while ghost stories are spread universally, Seikyou Academy is different in that they actually have a ghost wandering their halls. With her remains in a basement room and suffering from amnesia, Yuko Kanoe has spent many decades by herself unable to interact with anyone.
That was until Teiichi Niiya followed a rumor about her spirit which allowed him to become aware of her existence. Wanting to get to the bottom of her history, the two of them form the schools Paranormal Investigation Club which uses the cover of solving the mysteries of the school in hopes of finding some fragment of information on Yuko’s existance. Joined by fellow club members Momoe Okonoge who has no idea about Yuko’s existence and Kirie Kanoe who has the ability to see her long lost ancestor, they soon discover that the mystery may lie in a shadowy figure that has begun appearing around the school. Sure it may not be the horror series you might guess from first glance at the cover, but it turns out to be a very interesting series.
First impressions about Dusk Maiden of Amnesia can easily be misleading, and while starting off strong it soon delves into some of the usual “school life” plots such as a camp out in the school at night and a two-episode culture festival. The series ticks many of the boxes when it comes to being a typical harem anime and by the end all three of the girls will have some emotional attachment to Teiichi. However rather than veering off course at this point they choose to stick with the love story between Teiichi and Yuko that serves an important role throughout the plot and you get to see how they emotionally evolve as the episodes progress. While light-hearted for the first half or so of the season, as you get closer to the ending the episodes suddenly become more serious as the dark history of Yuko is unveiled and the role of the shadowy figure is investigated. Episode 10 in particular is a highlight, being one of the better dramatic flashbacks I have watched in quite a while.
While there are shows that struggle to cram everything into a 13-episode block or alternatively have to pad the episodes with filler content in order to fit a single season of anime, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia went well with the episodes allocated to it and through its strong writing managed to leave this viewer coming out with just enough of everything without going overboard. More importantly all the elements of the story harmonized well with everything else, wrapping up nicely at the end without any major plot holes.
While you couldn’t really consider Dusk Maiden of Amnesia to be a horror series, its visual style is reminiscent of the genre and does a fine job at setting the darker tone on both interior and exterior environment designs. The environment designs have been detailed to depict their wear and tear which when coupled with the good use of colour tones / lighting choices tends to make the world seem more vibrant thus helping set the tone. One of the more impressive elements of the artistic design is the detail put into the sky, especially during sunset-like scenes which look aesthetically pleasing.
Character designs also go well with the environments and with a smaller main character cast they were able to produce characters that stand out from one another and matched their respective personalities well. They were also able to depict the characters actions, emotions and other quirks appropriately – all of which were elements used well in conjunction with the storyline to deliver the overall enjoyable and engaging experience.
Music / Voice Acting
For reasons that will be uncovered if you read downwards into my “Extras” section, you are initially given the impression that the music used in Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is of a high standard… and fortunately that presumption is warranted. The opening theme CHOIR JAIL by Konomi Suzuki is a J-Rock track with a fast-paced beat that I think could easily be enjoyable by itself even without animation. The ending theme Calendrier by Aki Okui however I think bests CHOIR JAIL by a small margin, offering a softer but still very enjoyable song coupled with some rather nice animation and visuals throughout. The animation gives the impression that Yuko is singing it, and in Episode 11 her Japanese voice actress Yumi Hara does perform the song.
The remainder of the music backing is also of a high standard. The music doesn’t intrude that often but instead lingers in the background to add weight to the scenes with a track best suited for almost every scene thrown at it.
When it comes to going with either the English or Japanese dub, this really would come down to personal preference as I found both enjoyable. Emily Neves (Ringo Oginome – Mawaru Penguindrum) offers a strong performance as the series lead female role while Clint Bickham (Renji Asou – ef: a tale of memories) matches quite well with his Japanese counterpart in the role of Teiichi. As the other two members of the Paranormal Investigation Club, Brittney Karbowski complements the hyped up character of Momoe while Jessica Boone suits the more skeptical and serious role of Kirie.
With Hanabee’s release of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, you are first faced with the decision of what edition to buy. With the blu-ray release you get the usual blu-ray packaging with four discs crammed inside it while if you choose the DVD case you get quite a nice slipcase which holds two DVD cases similar to what the company did for the second part of Toradora. Irrespective of what edition is picked up, it will come with a two-disc soundtrack containing a total of 45 tracks. This is quite a nice extra containing much of the music from the series including the ending theme, and is something I wish more releases would have.
Aside from that you have your standard set of textless opening and closing sequences plus some trailers. However there is one bonus perk over both discs… while you have the English and Japanese dub tracks, there is also an additional Japanese commentary track with subtitles hidden away in the Set-Up menu which as someone who loves listening to commentaries I was ecstatic about.
Personal Opinion / Final Words
With a small character cast and a well-paced storyline, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is a perfect anime series for someone wanting to just watch a series and not have to feel obligated to look through its source material to fully appreciate the happenings. The fact that they packed this installment to the brim with additional goodies doesn’t hurt either.
Overall a great anime series that blends romance, drama, comedy and school life well while also keeping you engaged and attentive from start to end. Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is well up there with a chance to be my Australian Anime Release of the Year 2013.