A girl wakes up but doesn’t remember anything and for some reason seems to intrinsically trust whichever guy shows up in her life first.
Originally I reviewed this over on Crunchyroll immediately after watching it. Probably a bad idea (it was pre-blog) and I really didn’t like it very much. That said, I probably didn’t hate it as much as some people did. This review isn’t a rehash of the previous one on Crunchyroll but rather a reconsideration after time and a rewatch which has more or less brought me to the same conclusion. Amnesia isn’t terrible, but it just isn’t very good.
Any kind of accurate plot synopsis that tells you more than my overview is going to spoil what few plot points there are in relation to why she keeps waking up without her memory so I’m just going to point out that the plot makes sense in that the ridiculously shallow character archetypes wander through the events and usually respond in a way that makes sense (even if the characters themselves don’t). The problem with the plot is only that it relies very much on the central gimmick of a main character with amnesia and the suspension of disbelief when they reveal why.
If you haven’t already backed out of this review and are still reading I’m now going to turn my attention to the characters.
My original description of the main character was ‘blank slate heroine’ and I’m sticking by that. She genuinely has nothing, not even memories. So forget the usual blandness of self-insert and just think of a Doll from Darker Than Black without the potential for evolving. And that leads me to wonder who this anime is for. The stereotypical hot guys (personifying various tastes) dancing around in every other shot would indicate they are trying to appeal to women and yet the main character isn’t someone you can self-insert onto even if you wanted to (and given the personalities of a lot of the guys you would have to wonder why you would want to enter that world – this one is much safer at a distance). She is so hopelessly blank you almost pity her. So while a stronger heroine who could negotiate with the various men in the harem might have provided for an entertaining bit of escapism and a flirt with danger, the heroine here just makes you cringe and want someone to rescue her from her very existence.
Or maybe that was just me but my impression from first viewing to second actually got worse because the first time through I just found her bland and the second time I was genuinely wanting her out of most of those situations.
The shock deaths that are thrown at you throughout the series are also kind of off-putting (and this is from someone who actually appreciates slasher horror). In amongst this warped romance these deaths feel incredibly out of place and because the heroine is so hopelessly defenceless against them it kind of hurts to watch. This isn’t the amusement of watching a bad horror in action, or even the thrill fo watching a good horror play out while you wait with anticipation for the next shoe to drop. This is just uncomfortable viewing at the best of times. I think it’s because it really feels like the writers at times felt that having the girl fall in love with or be played around with by the possessive guy or the jerk or the whatever wasn’t edgy enough so let’s add a dose of inconsequential death and that will give it some edge.
My final major criticism with this show is that all of the main characters really are dressed like extras from a circus. It helps distinguish them from one another (because little else does) but you have to wonder how long it would take to put on some of those outfits and given the truly bizarre effect of them, why they would even bother (not a criticism of individuals who have clothes with flair but rather a criticism on ordinary character designs poorly disguised up by overdressing characters).
So if it seems like this is truly dreadful from that then I’m probably not being fair. Amnesia is perfectly watchable with a plot that works during the viewing and fails on the reconsideration. The characters are not good but with the exception of the central protagonist they aren’t so dreadful as to make this an unwatchable ordeal and even my main criticism of the protagonist is that she is an empty shell rather than a terrible character (though some would argue that this is worse).
On a personal level I really disliked the show. I hate the way the heroine is portrayed and romance in general and the ending (while conclusive enough) is not satisfying nor does it seem to justify the journey (though it is logical enough within the context of the show). But I can’t bring myself to actually say I hate Amnesia because mostly I am walking away realising that much like after my first viewing I’m going to forget this very quickly and move on to other anime that leave a more lingering impression. More importantly, I can kind of see that some viewers would enjoy elements of this show even if they aren’t for me.
If you’ve watched Amnesia, I’d love to know your thoughts.
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