Top 5: Supernatural Anime – They aren’t always creepy but these anime all do something a little beyond the ordinary.

Tuesday's Top 5

I am a big fan of horror and supernatural stories in general and I do love a good horror or supernatural anime (for the sake of this list I’ve excluded stories that deal with Japanese folklore as that is going to be a whole other list at some point). So this list is my top 5 favourite supernatural anime. I’ll definitely do a horror one at some point and there may be some cross over.

Before we get into the top 5 supernatural anime, how about some honourable mentions?

Baccano (more gangster than supernatural), Dance in the Vampire Bund and Black Blood Brothers (while both would appear on a list of vampire anime they just didn’t stand up here), Ao No Exorcist (feels more action than supernatural), Fruits Basket (romance more than supernatural), Ghost Hunt and Another (lost to another ghost story), Death Parade (other than the characters being dead didn’t have a lot of supernatural going on) and Inu X Boku (focus on Japanese folklore so will probably show up on another list at some point).

Yes, that is a lot of honourable mentions and that’s the cut down list. As I said, I’m a big fan of the genre.

Number 5: Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

While I get this isn’t the single most amazing anime in the world (and a lot in my honourable mentions are actually better as stories), this one made my list because the supernatural is at the front and centre of every single episode. Yuuko also made my list of characters with convenient missing memories.

The characters form the Paranormal Investigation Club and the club president is literally a ghost with amnesia. Also, the story doesn’t fit any genre except supernatural. There is romance, there is coming of age, there’s some detective and mystery work, there’s some horror, but it isn’t any of these. Dusk Maiden of Amnesia just a good supernatural anime and that’s why I put it on the list.

Number 4: Kokoro Connect

Kokoro Connect starts with a group of friends who are literally jumping into one another’s bodies and have no idea why. Even when the culprit appears, they are no closer to figuring out why or how. When that phenomenon finally stops (in a manner that I will not spoil, watch the anime), it isn’t too long before another challenge awaits them.

Kokoro Connect is heart wrenching, funny, touching, and generally just a great character piece even while it plays with most of the common tropes of highschool kids in a club doing not very much. While the supernatural element is never really explained that actually makes the story work because it kind of makes sense for beings that can do the sorts of things that are being done to these kids to not bothering to explain them.

Number 3: Angel Beats

Another heart break anime. Okay, there really isn’t a way for this to not break your heart given the characters are all young and all dead and really haven’t got anything left except for this insane desire to fight against god who they aren’t even sure exists.

What drives Angel Beats are the characters and the way each of them dealt with tragedy in life and deal with their own tragedy and the tragedy of their companions in the afterlife. Yeah, there’s also a lot of high school hijinks and the usual running about doing silly things but ultimately the situation these kids find themsleves in is tragic and the final episodes place that tragedy front and centre and make you embrace it even while offering hope.

Oh, what’s supernatural about it other than the characters being dead? Just a possible angel, guns being made out of dirt, hypnosis, an inability to die, and having your personality overwritten by a potential computer virus.

Number 2: Death Note

An excellent combination of mystery, crime and the supernatural, Death Note is kind of all of my favourite genres in one. A death god drops a notebook on earth and it is picked up by Light, who it turns out wants to change the world by killing every single criminal and now he has the means to enact this. It’s a great story with some really compelling characters and the entire thing is driven by the fact that Light is able to commit crimes without leaving any physical clues because all he is doing is writing names in a notebook.

Number 1: Black Butler

Making a deal with a demon? It doesn’t get more supernatural than that and Black Butler does is one superb supernatural anime. Even though Ciel’s story of revenge (being enabled by his demon butler) sits at the front and centre, there are a host of other mysteries and supernatural beings to be found. From the peculiarities of the servants, to the mysterious Jack the Ripper case, to the story of the missing girls, and then demon hounds, every episode delivers something fun and tragic simultaneously.

I know I have missed a lot of great supernatural anime when I made this list (even with the honourable mentions) so feel free to add your choices in the comments below. What would you have included and your list and why?


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Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Dusk Maiden of Amnesia Series Review

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There’s no mystery that I really enjoyed aspects of this anime. Yuuko took a place on my Top 5 list of Characters with Convenient Missing Memories and the anime made my top 5 list of supernatural anime. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues with this series. With its varying tone, characters that don’t always click, and generally a sense that the main story is really only about four episodes worth of content and the rest is just kind of padding to flesh it out to a whole season, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is a fun ride at times but isn’t exactly A+ material.

So what is it about?

Teiichi Niiya has just enrolled in a new school and after getting lost in the old school building comes across a room that is rumoured to be haunted. There he meets Yuuko, the ghost of the school and somehow he can see and touch her. The two form the Paranormal Investigation Club to figure out the mystery of Yuuko’s forgotten past. They are joined by Kirie Konoe who can also see Yuuko but is convinced she’s an evil spirit and Momoe Okonogi who would love to see spirits but remains blissfully ignorant of most of the goings on.

Just so you know, there are spoilers in the review below.

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As much as I genuinely love the experience of watching Dusk Maiden of Amnesia it is a hard anime to recommend to someone else. The biggest issue being that this story wants to be three separate anime and keeps changing its mind and shifting directions. That isn’t to say that each part isn’t entertaining in its own way, however the abrupt tonal shift and change in direction for the characters is a little bit jarring. Also, the first episode, while amusing if you watch it through after watching the rest of the anime, is a pretty terrible introduction to the series. Given how many people will stop right then and there, it isn’t a mystery as to why so few people end up talking about what is otherwise a fairly reasonable anime.

One of the positives of this story is Teiichi Niiya. As the lead in this story had the potential to be just another middle-school anime protagonist. And at first he does seem like that. He starts out fairly generic and dull in his response to Yuuko’s dilemma.

Oh, you’re dead. That’s too bad. You don’t remember what killed you? Let’s find out.

But that quickly gives way. After his initial acceptance of what Yuuko tells him and the situation he starts to realise that things are off and becomes quite active in his pursuit of the truth hidden in the school. He persists in this even after Yuuko actively seeks to stop him. So does that make him just a go-getter who won’t give up on his goal?

Not really. There are several instances where things look dicey for the pair. After Niiya breaks his leg (or his leg is broken after shadow Yuuko pushes him down a flight of stairs), and after Yuuko purposefully sheds all memory of Niiya it really does look like things are done and it takes awhile and some prompting after some events for things to get back on track.

Teiichi, while accepting enough of the premise so as to not be the annoying ‘in-denial’ protagonist (of the kind William became in Devils and Realist) is also not over-powered, super-smart, the centre of a harem (though it almost goes there) or anything really other than the descendant of someone who had been close to Yuuko and an actual nice guy (but not a complete push-over for the whole series).

Yuuko

Yuuko is another positive. The reason for her fairly selective memory loss is not only a plot device that is explained, but it is actually kind of clever and almost believable in a supernatural story. That the trauma of her death was too much of a burden to carry that she threw it off, creating a shadow version of herself, and then she continued to throw off any negative emotions or memories, feeding the shadow version and remaining up beat regardless of the situation, feels like something that could happen (when dealing with a ghost at least). I really liked how this part of the story played out and I loved how Yuuko utterly resisted being reconciled with her memories. And when we see how she was killed it is pretty horrible.

With these two leads at the helm, there’s a lot to enjoy about how the events in Dusk Maiden actually plays out even if it isn’t all smooth sailing.

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The music and atmosphere of this show is also pretty amazing. It’s part of the reason I wish they’d played this story straight as a supernatural investigation with a hint of romance instead of trying to squeeze in the school club, slice of life, comedy elements. The old school building is dripping with atmosphere and the sunsets, lighting, use of wind, everything just creates this glorious supernatural atmosphere and it is all preceded by an opening song that while it isn’t great to listen to on its own (it’s not bad) just perfectly fits what this show could have been.

But, that brings us to some of the more negative elements of this anime.

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I mentioned this before but the show does not know what it wants to be other than supernatural (which doesn’t tell you much other than that there’s a supernatural element in this case a ghost). It starts off almost pure comedy with the ghost playing with Okonogi who can’t see Yuuko, and this is almost immediately followed by the ghost trapping herself and Niiya in a food elevator which leads to the standard accidental breast grabs that show up in anime all the time.

However, after a few episodes the comedy elements seem to give out to actual supernatural investigations and several cases are taken and solved (though it turns out Yuuko’s boredom accounts for a lot of the mysteries around the school). Anyway, this is very much the kids in a club phase of the story.

Then things take a turn for the dark and it seems like they are looking for some genuine psychological horror at this phase of the story but it is hard to take it seriously due to everything that came before.

Lastly, we seem to hit upon a supernatural-romance ending. Which is sweet and dramatic and really touching but was I watching a supernatural romance?

None of these parts are bad in and of themselves and they actually do all work to form a cohesive story but it’s hard to know just who the intended audience was given very few people are likely to sit through all of those different phases happily even if it is only 12 episodes.

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And of course, this anime being a school comedy goes for the classic boob grab as comedy aspect. Girls have breasts. We get it. Amazingly enough this is a known fact. Do our two female students and one ghost need to compare sizes and take any opportunity to glare at each other’s busts. Does our male lead need to actually grab Yuuko’s breast to prove he can touch a ghost?

While this isn’t over the top groping or fan-service it just doesn’t feel like it fits into this story (at least not after the first couple of episodes where it kind of feeds into the comedy elements). Normally these sorts of anime antics are ignorable, but as I said, they just don’t fit with anything else on the screen so it almost makes you wonder if they were contractually obligated to include it.

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The entirety of episode 1 is a problem. As an extra or something similar, this episode isn’t so bad, but as an introduction to the series it is pretty terrible.

While I know this gets said a lot, I will say it anyway. This show does get better. The first episode is really not a good example of what this show does well nor is it particularly interesting when you don’t know or care about any of the characters. This episode fares better after you’ve watched the whole series and then when you do a rewatch you actually don’t think the first episode is so bad. I just remember it took me three goes to initially watch the anime in the first place because I kept rage quitting episode 1.

As I said, this is a hard anime to recommend but if you like supernatural stories then you will probably find lots to enjoy in this even if one or two parts of it annoy. On the bright side, none of the elements really stick around long enough to be too painful because this show just keep pushing forward.

If you’ve watched Dusk Maiden of Amnesia I’d love to know what you thought of it.

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Karandi James
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DUSK MAIDEN OF AMNESIA : COMPLETE COLLECTION
DUSK MAIDEN OF AMNESIA : COMPLETE COLLECTION

Tuesday’s Top 5: Characters With Convenient Missing Memories

Tuesday's Top 5

Characters with missing memories are an overused plot device, a cliché, and a cheap way to build a big reveal into a story, and it’s a staple in far too many anime.

That said, not every story built around amnesia (or every character with convenient amnesia) is all that bad. Sometimes this well established storyline is delivered well and it is these small miracles that convince other writers to try and duplicate the efforts leading to such an oversaturated field.

However, this probably isn’t a list of the best characters but rather the ones where I actually enjoyed finding out what they had forgotten. As always, it’s entirely subjective and I invite you to give your own suggestions below.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Tuxedo Mask (Sailor Moon), and Tada Banri (Golden Time). I love these characters but they didn’t make the final cut (nor did 07 Ghost, Hitsugi no Chaika and a whole slew of other titles where characters have convenient missing memories).

Character with Missing Memories Number 5: Yashiro Isana from K

As someone accused of murder and with more than one group of people out to kill him, it would probably help is Yashiro Isana remembered who he was or what he’d been doing.

The fact that his amnesia was imposed on him from outside (with the best of intentions) makes him interesting as most anime characters just seem to have missing memories from either shock or blunt force trauma.

The other reason I like Yashiro is that it is only through him having no recollection of events that he is able to ask the questions the audience needs answered. And yes, this definitely falls under the category of cheap plot device, but imagine being dropped into K without a clueless protagonist to ask all those questions. The audience would be even more lost than most of them are when watching the show.

Besides, I find him a genuinely likeable individual as he floats along through his narrative and slowly finds the missing pieces of his memories.


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Character with Missing Memories Number 4: Zwei from Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

Of all the characters on the list, Zwei from Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, is the only one I actually feel sorry for. He was an ordinary tourist who witnessed something he shouldn’t and then got kidnapped, had his memories erased, and was forced to become an assassin.

While eventually his missing memories return, this is (at the time) more a curse than a blessing as it only reinforces that he’s gone too far down the road of an assassin to return to his normal life.

His identity and his future become very muddled for a fairly long time. Zwei is definitely more of the blank slate amnesiac than Yashiro, but despite limited interactions with other characters, he still manages to leave quite an impression. His development when contrasted with equally blank slate character Ein is really interesting to watch.

Character with Missing Memories Number 3: Akira Takizawa from Eden of the East

Akira’s amnesia is entirely self-inflicted, or so we learn as the story progresses. Quite why his former self thought this would help the situation is never really made clear, but his current self is forced to try to learn more about what is going on and what he needs to do now.

Eden of the East is just an interesting story and much like K, the main character having to learn about the rules of the game from the ground up really is the only reason the plot is accessible to the audience without lengthy expositions that seem to serve no purpose.

So, definitely a plot device, but also a fundamental part of Akira’s character. He felt cornered enough to have his own memories erased. It leaves you seeing his character in a very different light. It also casts some shadows over his growing relationship with Saki as you can never tell what is really going on in his head.

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Character with Missing Memories Number 2: Yuuko from Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

Right from the title, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, you know that this one is about a character who has missing memories. The fact that the character is a ghost who is rumoured to haunt the school makes it a little bit different but that by itself isn’t enough to really add Yuuko to the list.

While this is a big spoiler, Yuuko’s amnesia is caused by her essentially denying anything bad ever happening to her. She literally throws off any bad memory to a shadow version of herself. And boy does she not want to confront these memories.

I really enjoy watching Yuuko and the way she interacts with the human characters (those who can see her at least) but she isn’t exactly demonstrating a healthy approach to dealing with trauma.

Character with Missing Memories Number 1: Chiyuki from Death Parade

I think I like Chiyuki from Death Parade the most because even though she has lost her memories, it isn’t the crutch for the entire plot. Everyone who visits the bar has missing memories. Chiyuki knows things aren’t right and she puts a lot of things together on her own, but even without direct memories, she is most decidedly a complete character.

She isn’t stumbling around trying to figure out who she is and what’s right and wrong. At times you even forget that there’s anything missing. Which fits in with the theme of the show of trying to determine who people are at their core. When the truth is finally revealed it is more a natural next step rather than a shocking revelation which makes this character feel more like a real person than a plot device.

Finally, it is Chiyuki’s developing relationship with Decim that is just a pure joy to watch in an otherwise fairly dark show, that allowed her to top my list of anime characters with missing memories.

So, which character would you choose to add to the list? I’d love to know.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James