Plot: A girl loses her memory after bumping into a fairy named Orion. She tries to get through her regular activities without alerting anyone, but soon finds out that she has a boyfriend, and hiding the secret from him proves difficult. She spends about a month with him before suffering from an accident which suddenly causes her to appear at the beginning of the same month, in a different world with a different boyfriend. The pattern keeps repeating over and over, reliving the same month with different boyfriends in slightly different worlds suffering from a terrible accident before repeating the pattern again. Will she regain her memory and find her real world?
Breakdown: I was going to review this show, but I FORGOT what I was gonna say! 😀
Amnesia is simultaneously terrible and perfect.
Not a perfect show – oh god no, I mean a perfect adaptation of an otome game….to a degree.
Amnesia is indeed based on an otome or reverse harem dating sim game of the same name with a very similar plot. Like most dating sims, the player chooses who they end up dating by a series of choices. The story is tailored to your selections. When you do this, you choose a specific ‘route’ in the game and, after a certain point, this route can’t really be changed much.
There’s a severe problem in adapting dating sims to anime. Because the player can freely choose which guy or girl they go after, there’s usually no one you’re ‘supposed’ to be choosing – no specific route you’re ‘meant’ to take. That’s kinda the point. The player chooses who they want based on their own preferences.
Because of this, most dating sim adaptations go down one of two routes; Have the main character, IE The Player, go after all of them equally and turn out to be a cheating douchenozzle because of it (EX: White Album and School Days) or you can force a main relationship, pre-select a mixed ‘route’ if you will, and have the main character get into all sorts of wacky accidental-romantic situations that you won’t care about because you know the person will go with the guy or girl that was obviously selected from the get-go.
This show is ‘perfect’ in a way as an adaptation because they allow the main character to date all of the eligible bachelors without cheating or seeming like a whore. This is achieved through the magic of alternate realities.
The main character – and I know I’m avoiding saying her name, trust me, I’ll get to that in a minute – is bumped into by a fairy named Orion. The contact ends up giving her amnesia of her entire life. She deals with this for a bit and finds out that she’s dating a guy, but after a month goes by she nearly dies and ends up waking up in an entirely new reality, back at the start of the same month, where she’s dating a different guy. Lather, rinse, repeat.
So, it’s not cheating, because she’s living an entirely new life in an alternate reality! Yay space/time continuum!
That being said, this show really is just consecutive ‘routes’ played out and all of them are purely about the guy with a little peppering of how the main character affected their lives. At least until we get to Toma and Ukyo anyway.
On that note, we really have to address the characters and the various ‘routes’, but before we do I need to address the art because I’ll be including pictures.
The art is fairly unique, beautifully detailed and very pretty, but when it comes to the character designs, it’s almost too pretty. The eyes all have this weird thing going on where the colors are glaringly bright, and many characters have gradients in their eyes that make them two completely different (insanely bright) colors. It, in no way, looks natural and it’s incredibly distracting.
Then there’s the little light gradients of colors like pink and purple that usually go into the hair and clothes. I feel like most of these people are made of leaking highlighters.
One thing anime has taught me is tolerance for insanely stupid and illogical clothing choices. While the clothing isn’t too bad a lot of the time, there are some characters here and there that look more suited to be in an MMORPG than a mystery/reverse harem anime. A lot of black, bright neon colors like yellow, lime green and orange, lots of horizontal and vertical black stripes (on top of the neon colors, of course) and checker patterns for whatever reason. One character is quite literally covered in belts from head to toe.
LOOK AT HIM! How long does it take him to get dressed in the morning!? I counted, he has 25 BELTS ON HIS CLOTHES! And that’s not counting the latches on his boots which may or may not be belts as well. And there’s 10 belts merely on his left arm. I think there actually may be more hidden on his back! And this is the character most known for being incredibly logical!
Shin also wears two belts on his neck while one of the female characters wears at least six on her clothes as well.
At least Orion is supernatural, so he has an excuse for looking like a court jester’s LSD chugging nephew, but wow. Did the Joker open a Hot Topic or did the Shuffle Alliance lose their minds?
*cough* On that note, let’s get to the characters.
This is our main character. She starts out–…..Oh sorry hang on.
Uhm, I’m getting word that I put up a picture of a cardboard box instead of the main character. I’m almost certain that’s her….No?….Seriously? You’re right, the box is far more interesting. Sorry.
THIS is our main character. And she…..is the biggest….most obvious Mary Sue….I have ever seen in my entire life. You wanna know how I know that?
You heard me. She is never given a name ever in the series. She also doesn’t have any in the game. She’s known only as ‘the heroine’ or ‘Heroine’ to make it more personal. She has a couple of fan names, but not an official one, and over the series she’s either called ‘Senpai’ or a pronoun.
She has quite literally no personality. She’s incredibly quiet and when she does speak she never raises her voice or puts any personality into her words. I get it, she has amnesia. Thus she wouldn’t be able to project as much of her original personality, but that doesn’t mean she should have zero personality whatsoever, and it doesn’t make her anymore enjoyable to watch. It gets unbelievably old really fast.
Watching paint dry on an unsalted cracker narrated by Ben Stein would be far more interesting than watching this chick for more than five minutes. I never thought lack of character would be so irritating, but Heroine pulls it off without a hitch. Bravo.
She has varying personalities and backstories in the different realities. However, the one we see has the same annoying as crap non-personality of barely ever speaking a complete sentence or speaking at all, never changing her tone, never getting angry or emotional, always speaking in such a soft and barely audible voice while hardly ever changing expression.
That very situation is why she gets an out in regards to the question of ‘Why do all of these guys like this completely boring and generic girl?’ It’s simply because they know her as someone who’s supposedly interesting.
I get annoyed by bitchy characters and jerks. I get annoyed by characters who act like idiots and think they’re funny, but I can usually ignore characters who have no personality. The main problem here is that the personality-less person is not usually the main friggin’ character. How can you even give a shit about what’s happening to her or who she really is or what her true memories really are when she doesn’t even seem to really care? How do you care about someone who, by all means, is just nothing? How do you care about her relationships with these guys if she shows no actual interest in any of them? If she just instantly ignores her previous reality’s boyfriend for the next? If she even thinks of anything at all. It is by far the biggest issue in this series.
For a rantier rant on Heroine, see my entry on her for The Salty Anime Challenge.
The guys in the series are based on card suits. In fact, their specific routes are labeled as such; diamond, hearts, spade, clubs/clovers and joker. Why?
The first boyfriend is arguably the most boring with Shin, the heart route. Shin’s somewhat abrasive and a bit closed off, but he’s still a kind person who is childhood friends with Heroine. The Heroine in the hearts reality is apparently a nice girl who joined a band and liked to sing, though apparently she wasn’t good at it and only recently got somewhat decent.
I’d like to point out that the Wiki notes that as her only skill. Something she’s only passable at and only exists in one reality is her character’s only notable skill. Geez, her blandness might be affecting her alter personalities.
Shin’s big backstory is that his dad killed a man when Shin was a kid. Because of that, he was bullied and most kids kept away from him either on their own or because of their parents. Only Heroine and his other childhood friend, Toma, stuck by him. Eventually Heroine and Shin started dating a few months prior to the start of the hearts route.
That’s pretty much it. I honestly don’t know why he’s seen as the most canon choice outside of Ukyo.
The second boyfriend is a little more interesting with Ikki, the spade route. Ikki is the resident bishie god that every girl adores. In fact, one of the few plot lines that runs through most of the stories is Ikki’s batshit insane ‘fan club’ who bully Heroine quite often either because she’s friends with Ikki or because she’s dating him, depending on the route. They do all sorts of awful things to her and she just takes it instead of confronting them or trying to retaliate or telling anyone because that would require her actually doing something.
Ikki’s story is that he wished on a star as a child that girls would love him and he soon found that his wish came true. He could instantly gain the heart of any woman that he wanted if they looked into his eyes. In fact, he wears sunglasses in his route sometimes to combat this ‘condition.’
Because of this ‘power’ he found he couldn’t get close to people either due to his popularity and rabid fangirls or because he figured anyone who did love him would just be under the power of his charms. He eventually just decided to screw it and dated a bunch of different girls, gaining the reputation of a playboy.
The Heroine in this route didn’t fall for his charms, which peaked Ikki’s interest as he’d never been rejected by a girl. He decided he’d do his damnedest to get her to love him. In the visual novel, this is apparently because she had a playboy father and didn’t like that attitude, but this is never stated in the anime.
Ikki’s personality is pretty bland. He’s a nice guy, polite and really calm, but that’s about it.
The third boyfriend is more interesting in terms of their actual relationship, which was a surprise, with Kent, the clubs. Kent is a very intelligent mathematics major who is pretty damn robotic, yet he still has eons more personality than Heroine. That is just amazing.
In my opinion, he’s actually the most interesting and entertaining characters in the show.
He’s very logical, blunt and cold, yet is still fairly kind and caring when he wants to be. His relationship with Heroine almost seems to be like a training session for Kent to be more human as he’s slowly learning how to act more normally and warmly to people the longer he’s with her.
He is completely clueless when it comes to their relationship, and he frequently does awkward things like constantly text her ‘good night’ and ‘good morning’ by her wishes without ever including any other messages, or sitting in complete silence in his office with Heroine for hours at a time while he studiously works because he noted she wanted to spend more time together. It’s not that he’s an asshole, he just legitimately doesn’t know what to do.
Sometimes this awkwardness is cute and funny, but other times it’s just awkward.
Heroine, in this reality, isn’t really well-explored. What a shock. She’s apparently not very upfront with her wishes in their relationship, and they frequently argued mostly in regards to his awkward and cold nature. Oddly enough, the amnesiac Heroine’s kindness or lack of yelling gives Kent hope that he can have a good relationship with the other Heroine as well when she jumps to another reality.
Toma is the fourth ‘boyfriend’ and the prompt of the diamond route. Toma’s a pretty cool character in the few other times you see him in other realities, mostly the heart route, as he’s a pretty easy going and fun loving character. In fact, I was really looking forward to his reality, and he was in the front running for my favorite character. In this route, he’s still basically like that…for a bit.
In this route, Ikki’s fan club is out in full force because they don’t like how nice he is to Heroine. It’s hinted throughout the route that this reality’s Heroine is cheating on Toma with Ikki in secret and his fan club is getting agitated with her. They start pulling a bunch of awful pranks on her like filling her mailbox with garbage everyday and giving out her personal information online to shady people who seem to think she’s an escort or something. Toma has been protecting her from these pranks, but there’s a few issues here.
First of all, he is not really her boyfriend in this reality. Neither is Ikki. She just assumed Toma was her boyfriend here because she’s gotten used to the shtick and Toma rolled with it because he was in love with her, subsequently taking advantage of her amnesia. The Heroine in this reality is again childhood friends with Shin and Toma but liked Toma more because of how much he cared for her. In fact, she’d cry on purpose to get Toma to pay attention to her. However, she didn’t like the fact that he always seemed to like her as a friend or sister and never saw her as a woman, so she was asking Ikki in secret for advice on the matter.
Second, Toma becomes completely obsessed with ‘protecting’ her and keeping her away from Ikki.
How obsessed? Well, let’s see – he steals her cell phone and makes her believe that she broke it, takes advantage of her amnesia to pretend that they’re boyfriend and girlfriend, practically needs to be where she is at all times, makes several comments in a rapey vein about how, since he’s a man, he can’t control himself around her, practically demands that they be together 24/7, drugs her regularly to make her sleep so she’ll stay with him, oh and there’s that little thing about KEEPING HER IN A DAMN CAGE AGAINST HER WILL FOR DAYS! An actual cage! Look!
EMOTE, YOU REACTIONLESS SACK OF BRAN FLAKES!
This just….what the hell?! Oh and if that’s not bad enough, in addition to Heroine being so stupid that she hears Orion warning her about Toma drugging her and not to eat or drink anything he gives her and just decides to do it anyway without a thought, because she’s a massive dumbass, her response to all of this is just ‘aw, but he just wants to protect me. I’ll forgive him for everything even though he probably would’ve imprisoned me forever and maybe raped me if he never found the diary.’
He actually says lines like this:
“If I take all of you by force, will you see nothing but me? Or will you break?
If I can’t protect you, should I break you?”
But of course little miss ‘dumb as a brick with about as much personality’ doesn’t get angry at this at all. She doesn’t even seem scared. She has the same reaction that she does to everyfuckingthing. ‘Well, this is happening now.’
And you wanna know something else? Something really creepy? Toma is a fan favorite character….BECAUSE OF THIS. I thought it was in spite of this, but no, you can find all sorts of ‘Toma: The Obsessed’ fan stuff out there. What is wrong with you people!? I liked Toma a lot too, but that was before all of this stuff. Seek help!
I just realized that hat makes him look like a taxi driver.
WARNING: We’re touching upon stuff that actually matters to the plot now. While everything else is completely inconsequential to the overall story, this one actually does tie into everything. Spoilers, is what I’m getting at.
Ukyo is the final boyfriend and supposedly her original and ‘real’ world lover. He’s also the Joker of the suits. Ukyo is another string in all of the realities because he approaches the Heroine in all of them seemingly knowing that she’s jumping between realities. The final route takes place in his reality where he is dating her, but there’s a catch.
The reason for the reality jumping was that she was Ukyo’s lover but she died in Ukyo’s world. He wished to see her live past her death on August 26th, and his wish was granted by a passing god named Neil.
It’s really not entirely clear, but apparently she hops from world to world and lives out the month of August in another reality. Ukyo is allowed to jump as well with Neil’s help to watch her for that month, which grants his wish.
The problem here is that she still ‘dies’ in every reality…as does he? I honestly don’t get it. The point it is that they can’t coincide in the same reality. If they’re in a reality where Ukyo doesn’t belong, the world kills him and if they’re in Ukyo’s world, where Heroine doesn’t belong, the world tries to kill her….I think.
He spends the entire month warning her of the various dangers in his reality because he’s seen her die in those ways. He wants to keep her alive past midnight on August 26th because she’ll stop being killed by the world, but since she doesn’t belong there, Ukyo has to die and…he does, but he also lives past midnight and he dies and turns into light and that stops the jumping and–
Ukyo has another problem. Because of the jumping between realities and being killed so many times as well as seeing Heroine get killed over and over, he’s developed two personalities; the good or normal one and a murderous psychopath.
Ukyo’s pretty likable but it’s disappointing that the guy who is supposed to be Heroine’s actual lover in her original reality doesn’t get explored much. Ukyo’s a very kind and gentle person, who has a bit of Heroine fever in that he frequently frowns and apologizes a lot.
Because the Heroine does jack squat in terms of everything, our main plot doesn’t move in the least until episode 11, and we don’t get much information on what’s really going on until the huge exposition dump that is episode 12. And let me remind you of how useless she is by pointing out that she spends at least a month with each guy in each reality. Meaning a good four months go by and she still does absolutely nothing to regain her memories, figure out what’s causing the jumps or anything at all. She is the most benign, stagnant main character, or character period, I’ve ever seen.
That’s partially why I’m still so confused. Episode 12 slams you with all sorts of exposition, backstory and trying to tie up as many ends as possible that it’s overwhelming. It’s like they compressed what would’ve been the linear storyline and jammed it into one episode.
If there’s one final character we need to address, it’s Orion.
Orion is a fairy or spirit who bumped into Heroine, causing her to lose her memories. While he does his best to help her out in terms of regaining her memories and dealing with the various worlds that she visits, he spends much of the show being absent because he keeps being forced out of the worlds for reasons never revealed.
Orion’s a pretty likable kid, and he has to practically babysit Heroine in the various worlds because, again, she’s useless….and stupid. And as stupid as the outfits in this show are, I really like Orion’s for some reason. It’s just fun.
Art and animation: While the colors are bizarre to say the least and the clothes are just baffling, they are extremely well detailed and stylized. The backgrounds and various set pieces are also very well detailed. Practically everything is a pleasure to look at. The animation is good, but given that there’s little movement needed, it’s hard to see it really tested.
Music: The music was pretty good. While not horribly memorable, it was still nice to listen to and there are some BG tracks that are memorable.
Voice Acting: Japanese – Heroine’s VA got on my nerves because of how light and breathy she was probably directed to sound like the entire time. It’s not an awful voice, it’s how it’s presented. Everyone else was pretty good, especially Ukyo’s VA who bounces quite well between his two personalities.
Bottomline: Have no question, this is just pure indulgence for anyone who likes anime guy eye candy and wants an experience of a dating sim without that pesky game to get in the way. The plot itself is interesting but they do nothing with it until the very end. The majority of the show is just getting to know the stories of the various guys and sometimes it will touch upon the Heroine’s personality in that reality.
However, it’s not like that even really matters. It’s established that the characters are somewhat or drastically different between the realities so even if we know the various Heroines, they’re still not her in her reality and neither are the other guys. I guess, in a way, that’s good because that means Toma might not be a rapey dungeon lord, but that means that most of the episodes are completely pointless besides pasting your picture on Mary Sue McPaperpersonality and imagining you’re the one all these guys are pining after.
In the end, the story still doesn’t make much sense to me either way because of the horrific pacing with the actual plot.
Heroine makes this show a massive chore to watch. She is downright infuriating with how zero dimensional she is. And I swear if I see that dumb expression that she wears 99% of the time again, the only memory she’ll need to worry about is remembering the number for emergency services when I beat her in the face with a rock…..A rock that probably also has more personality and is much more interesting than her.
Guilty as charged, if it wasn’t for the eye candy I would’ve dropped it purely because of her.
Additional Information and Notes: Amnesia was directed by Yoshimitsu Ohashi, who barely does any directorial work, but directed some episodes of Code Geass R2, Trigun and the entirety of Witchblade.
It was written by Touko Machida, who also wrote Allison and Lillia, Boku wa Imouto—wha, really?! I can’t escape that damn show. Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru, and Lucky Star.
Animation was produced by Brain’s Base, and it is currently licensed in the US by Sentai Filmworks.
Recommended Audience: There’s some self-harm and one instance of suicide, some kinda dark moments, but no nudity, no sex though there are allusions to it, no real swearing, some minor violence. 10+