So far Winter 2013 is generating a lot of premières that leave me feeling genuinely undecided, and you can add Amnesia to the list.
OP: "Zoetrope" by Nagi Yanagi
Generally speaking my track record liking anime adaptation of otome games hasn’t been a very good one. But this is Brains Base, and if there’s one studio that currently earns a free pass for a minimum three-episode rule, they’re it. Flat-out, they just don’t miss very often – and it’s not so much that the quality of their productions is so good (which it is, of course) but that the choices of material to adapt are equally impressive. If Brains Base decided Amnesia had the potential to be an outstanding anime, I’m going to give it every effort to prove them right. They’ve definitely earned it.
The fact is, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the first episode apart from a general lack of “grabbiness”. It’s not as if you’d have expected differently but the animation and art are possibly the best of the season so far – it’s the usual Brains Base approach of winning visually with style and technique rather than flash. The OP song by Nagi Yanagi is gorgeous and flawlessly delivered. There’s a nice dark and slightly unsettled mood through the episode that matches the gothic look, too. It’s just that nothing especially stands out as memorable yet – “interesting” is about the farthest I’d go in describing most of what happens.
The story seems pretty straightforward. The lead, known only as “Heroine” (Nazuka Kaori) works at a Maid/Butler café along with a cast of bishounen who could only have come from an otome VN. The twist is that she has no memories of who any of them are or indeed who she is herself, and no explanation as to why. The only one who seems to have a clue is Orion (Igarashi Hiromi) a winged little puckish fellow who describes himself as a “spirit from another world”, and says he mistakenly bumped into Heroine as he was entering our world – and in the process wiped her memories and wound up sharing the same soul. No better explanation for that yet, so you’ll just have to take his word for it. He also tells her that the worst thing for her is to go to a hospital, since what she needs to regain her memories is human interaction with those she knows well. And that would appear to be her co-workers, including the kindly and protective Touma (Hino Satoshi) and the tsundere Shin (Kakihara Tetsuya). Interestingly Hino-san and Kakihara-san are also cast together in this season’s other anime aimed at the female demographic, Hakkenden. Ishida Akira pops up as another potential route, the scholarly Kent, and the somewhat stern café manager is played by Takahashi Hidenori.
Based on the premiere, you’d say the guys in the cast – with the possible exception of Orion – could have been plucked from any similar source material and you’d hardly notice a difference. But one episode is too soon to jump to that conclusion, and it certainly doesn’t hurt having Nazuka-san in the main role – she’s proving herself one of the most versatile actresses this side of Tomatsu Haruka, and she nails Heroine’s anxiety perfectly. There are clearly a boatload of mysteries involved in the memories missing from Heroine’s mind – there’s this freaky guy, and three hard-looking women whose mere appearance causes Heroine to faint dead away. Not to mention hints that each of the guys at the café has something odd about them that they’re hiding from Heroine. Whether that will all up to a compelling story I have no idea, but there’s certainly enough in the premiere to give me hope that it will.
ED: "Recall" by Ray