Image sourced from http://www.hanabee.com.au/

Image sourced from http://www.hanabee.com.au/

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (aka Tasogare Otome x Amnesia) truly shines when it lives up to the promise of the opening and ending credits.

Unfortunately only the second half of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia really lives up to that promise. The rest is dragged down by excessive fanservice and high school tropes.


The Opening and the Closing

Here’s the opening to Dusk Maiden:

Here’s the closing:

The anime that was promised

The opening and closing promise a serious anime, one that deals with loneliness and abandonment. Although not entirely obvious from the opening the main character, Kanoe Yuuko [2], is a ghost haunting the Seikyou Private Academy.

As is often the case with ghosts Yuuko has some serious issues to resolve, and the opening/closing almost promises that dealing with these will be at the heart of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

The anime that is actually delivered in the first half

Oh… dear.

Leaving aside the quite clever opening episode [3], the first half of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is a comedic slice of life that just happens to involve a sort-of relationship between a Ms. Fanservice ghost and the boy who can see, hear, and oh yes, touch her in inappropriate places [4].

Some of this was so inappropriate, as well as gratuitously unnecessary, that it nearly put me off the series entirely.

What kept me going was advice from a housemate that the series dramatically improves at episode 7 or so, and the sense that there was something more going on.

That there was something that wasn’t quite right and that there was a darkness hiding just out of sight.

In terms of story, the first half is Niiya Teeichi forming the Paranormal Investigation Club to research Yuuko’s forgotten past, and the various ghost stories surrounding the school. Along the way an unlikely romance begins to develop [5].

The second half that redeems (and explains) the first half

Then I hit episode seven, and everything changed: suddenly I was watching the anime promised by the credits.

Instead of the human members of the Paranormal Investigation Club dealing with a bright, happy, whimsical Yuuko, they find themselves dealing with a ghost who has a literal split personality.

Yuuko has split herself in half, and it is the rarely seen dark half that has all of the pain, anguish, grief, and incredible anger at her cruel death 60 years previously.

Yuuko has also forgotten that this happened, and will repress any attempts to remind her of the past.

Ultimately it is up to Teiichi to reconcile the two halves to make it possible for the reunited Yuuko to move on, and to do so he must face and accept the horrors of Yuuko’s past.

This section of the story is beautifully handled, despite the occasional lapse into the fanservice moments. The final moment of the ending doesn’t quite work for me, and the OAV is purely silly, but overall it is the second half that I would be buying the series for.

The really sneaky thing here is that the second half of the series explains the silliness of the first. I think that the series itself is structured to match Yuuko’s personalities: the first half is Light Yuuko, the second half is Dark Yuuko.

This was a clever, but risky, way to structure the series. I have to wonder how many people never get past the flaws of the first half.

The Look

Whatever else can be said for Dusk Maiden of Amnesia it is a beautifully designed series, and oh so pretty when it needs to be.

The story requires that the Seikyou Private Academy be a mix of grungy old buildings squatting amidst new construction, and this is gloriously rendered throughout. This sets the foundation for the look of the show, and it rarely disappoints.

The character designs, especially Yuuko, are usually [6] excellent and work well in the context of the show.

The Extras

As briefly mentioned the main discs include a fairly silly OAV, as well as clean opening and ending credits [7].

The biggest extra is the inclusion of two soundtrack CDs.

I’m currently listening to the first, and so far I’m quite impressed. Very much classically influenced, this is a soundtrack that would work well in isolation as background music to a conversation between friends.

Unfortunately the soundtracks don’t seem to include the opening song, although the closing song is present in both full length and TV versions.

The Verdict

Despite nearly shooting itself in the foot in the first six episodes, it is worth persevering through to the end of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. Overall I would rate this as above average, and I’m considering picking up my own copy.

[1] Yes I’ve actually seen The Place Promised in Our Early Days; I may even review it one day.

[2] One of my favourite touches with the opening/closing animations is the way that Yuuko appears to be the one singing. This really personalises the opening, and goes a long way to establishing sympathy for Yuuko.

[3] This is definitely worth watching just on its own.

[4] Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is M rated in Australia for a reason.

[5] The various harem tropes in play can be safely ignored. This is definitely a case of First Girl Wins, and the other girls are never seriously in the running.

[6] The main exception being the Gainaxing Gag Boobs that Yuuko tends to sprout whenever the excessive fanservice is required.

[7] It is worth noting that there is only one of each, and that there are a few episodes with subtle variations in the openings and endings.