I LOVED THE SHOW. kAWAII ENDING. DEVELOPED CHRACTERS. wOULD RECCOMEND. SCARY AT TIMES TOO. ITS SIMILAR TO THE ANIME ANOTHER. THOUGH, IT ISNT GORY...
My anime reviews are always simple, short and straight-forward and is 100% spoilers-free.
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Romance, Shounen, Supernatural
Additional Info: You thought this is scary? No, this is a hidden gem that'll melt your heart and make you cry like a baby.
Ending Rating: 95%
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia or Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is a spectacular masterpiece of anime. The outstanding blending of horror, mystery and romance are really to be commended in this anime. This anime is capable of melting your brittle heart with its heart-warming romantic moments. Be ready for the feels as you progress through the story. This anime will surely make you cry and plunged yourself in the toilet.
Please Note: So I can better analyze certain aspects of this series and its characters/story without inhibition—I reserve the right to give spoilers in this review. With that said, many of the plot points I go over in this review shouldn’t ruin the viewing experience…I will say I found myself disappointed in some respects with this title. You may want to know what I have to say before spending around five hours watching this series to find if it is for you or not. I know for certain I would have liked to have known what I’m about to explain in this review.
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia Review (Also known as Tasogare Otome x Amnesia)
I’m conflicted about this series. In some ways, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia exceeded my expectation and I adored it over its thirteen episodes- but in many others I was left sorely disappointed. As a whole, I find that it’s very hard to hold certain grudges against a series for what it didn’t do—because that is admittedly sort of subjective and unfair and I feel takes away from the positive qualities I experienced as to highlight the series’ negatives. Also, I’m something of a romantic. Even the worst love story can still get under my skin. In any case- much better is to take the perspective of what can be improved rather than tarnished, and in many ways I am indeed happy that I watched Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. For what it’s worth- I regret neither buying nor watching it. How the series handles its love triangles and initial challenges between Teiichi and Yuuko, for example, is at first pretty engaging because the viewers suffer along with Teiichi in trying to decide whether to trust Yuuko or not. Until the story affirms that Yuuko is not, in fact, an evil spirit past episode 1 and 3 the series is in actuality quite suspenseful in select moments…It’s unfortunate that it loses this suspense until Episode 7 and Episode 12, respectively- seeing as it decides to push a more light and romance-based route.
I do appreciate the series’ production values, as another example, which took advantage of a beautiful color palette and the artistic talent provided courtesy of studio Silver Link. (Who made Kokoro Connect) At the very least, I never once was disengaged from the story for how it looked- which is another underrated attribute I do appreciate. The audio, also superb to an even higher degree than the visuals, carries much more weight than such an aspect should. Finally—and most importantly—there were numerous points in the ending three episodes that I felt touched by the inter-character dynamics between the leads Teiichi and Yuuko. Like when Yuuko would lose memory of Teiichi, or Teiichi would become invisible to Yuuko for various reasons. Or when Yuuko’s past is revealed and Teiichi silently suffers the memory with her. These are all possible problems of a love between a human and a ghost. As it relates to the romance, the series is indeed quite ingenious at times and has successful moments- even as it is, literally, cringe-worthy at numerous other long points in between these dramatic conflicts and points of development.
However, the damning problem with this series is that Dusk Maiden of Amnesia fails to deliver on its primary premise as a horror or psychological mystery. For that reason, I will forever bear a grudge against it. And I will educate as many potential viewers as possible to its true nature because I honestly do not believe there is feeling worse to an anime fan than failed expectation. Yuuko, even at her most vile or dark points in the story, is never a truly malignant entity- and past the first few episodes her presence does not induce a sense of horror. Instead, the series becomes all about drama. Can the romance continue past this external issue is what becomes the primary basis for conflict. This isn’t necessarily bad if rom-coms are your thing, but even in the romance department Dusk Maiden of Amnesia relies heavily on established genre tropes that can be found in any other popular ecchi or harem title. There are lots of boob grabs, lots of instances of objectification, and the basis for the romance is sort of flimsy, at best, given that Yuuko is drawn to Teiichi simply because he can see her and he pays attention to her...even as he continues to be oblivious to both her and his inner feelings until forced to act due to a developing conflict or crisis. Every time Yuuko asks Teiichi to touch her I’d cringe. Every time Teiichi acted like a dumb idiot I’d cringe harder. It’s a case example of the blind leading the blind.
While gratifying, the premise of the series is what initially drew me in. I thought that the series premise was one of a horror mystery that included elements of romance. Just because the romance turned out to be entertaining (as well as the focus of the series) at some points doesn’t take away from the fact that Dusk Maiden of Amnesia should have been much more suspenseful, horrific, or psychological based off the series’ premise and its first few episodes and fanfare. In truth, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is a relatively straightforward romance between a high school student named Teiichi Niiya and a female ghost of the same age (at least appearance wise) named Yuuko Kanoe. It’s not all fun and games, of course, but again just because some of the drama is able to pull a viewer’s heart strings at its strongest points doesn’t mean the show gets a pass for its faults. Far from it. My understanding of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia when I ordered the complete series released by Sentai Filmworks off Amazing was that it was a contemporary to other popular horror-mystery anime titles like Another; this series was supposed to be something of a high-quality horror title. At least, that was my impression of the series based off the glowing positive reviews I saw on Amazon and elsewhere. I did notice that certain anime review websites like T.H.E.M and Nihon gave the series negative reviews with a 4/10 and three stars, respectively. However given that I’m a fan (not fanboy, mind you) of other badly-received series like Akame ga Kill and Broken Blade I decided to give conventional wisdom the middle finger and go for it.
Alas, I must admit that this time I was wrong…mostly. As is usual, both the critics and the fanboys were wrong. The truth lies squarely in the middle of the two claims that this is trash and that this is a top-tier romance/horror. It’s good. Worth watching but not much else…and probably more worthwhile reading than watching now that we mention it.
Not once did I see it mentioned that this series was primarily a romantic high school rom-com with some supernatural elements thrown into the mix. So I’ll say it now: this is a romantic high school rom-com with some supernatural elements thrown into the mix. A little on the suspenseful side at select moments? Sure. But the series is hardly be called psychological or anything remotely scary. Here’s the thing. This series handles its horror and romance elements just well enough that I can’t say I hated it. As stated, there were indeed many moments that I found myself attached to the main characters’ continued internal and emotional struggles- Episode 11 being a highlight as Teiichi relives Yuuko’s tragic death- but it becomes quite evident early on that implications of every melodrama, every conflict, and every character interaction would amount to very little beyond what is introduced in the first episode. One highlight that was built up was Yuki’s forgotten past that’s literally in the name of the series, [“Amnesia”] but the traumatic buildup leads to a cliché confession of love from the primary character towards those dark memories. It’s touching, true, especially when the series dares to use the confession as an inciting incident to cause Yuuko to start to disappear in the final episode—it’s not anything that truly challenges or changes the dynamic of Teiichi and Yuuko’s relationship in the end. It may have, had the series lived up to the tragedy introduced in the 12th episode- but of course series pulls a fake-out in the last moment and finishes on an inconclusive note. There’s a thirteenth OVA episodes that adds near-zilch to the storyline but serves as an epilogue of sorts to the events of the main series. I’ll take it, and I’ll say that I’m happy it was created- but I do harbor numerous grievances towards it. Just like I do for the numerous other filler episodes that are textbook cases of rom-com conventions.
Throughout the series Teiichi and Yuuko undergo trial after trial to their unique relationship, some of which are just cringe-worthy, and I just kept lamenting over and over how objectified and one-dimensional the characters all were most of the time. I blame convention and tropes for this, but how in the world could such a dichotomy could be so popular is beyond me. Even in the context of a romance, if a series does not seize the opportunity to create meaningful development…than any emotional experience really amounts to nothing. This is the case for Episode 8’s drama surrounding Yuuko allowing herself to forget Teiichi’s existence. The series had some real great opportunities to create a meaningful development for Teiichi and Yuuko that could have delivered much more powerful messages to the viewers than what we ended up with. Again, it’s all just a matter of missed potential. I can only fault the series so much for what it didn’t do… because hindsight is 20/20. Given what’s there, and within the context of established convention, the series does what it does quite well. Even if it completely misses its horror/psychological marks at the same time. But what of the filler material from Episode 2, Episode 4, Episode 5, and the OVA? These are all standard rom-com fanfare that must be waded through instead of truly enjoyed. A class festival, a couple of stake-outs to solve mysteries the four members of the paranormal investigations club themselves came up with…Not pointless, but not exactly quintessential beacons of development either. Episodes 6/7 are a horror-arc of sorts that totally and utterly fails in every respect possible. It introduces a self-contained conflict centering around paranoia spawned thanks to rumors caused invariably by Yuuko’s existence and paranoid fellow students' attempt at human sacrifice to placate her. Even the thought of parental or adult supervision breaks the basis for this entire conflict. It does feature the single character in the series besides Teiichi, Yuuko, Kirie, and Momoe to make an appearance in more than one episode. Her name is Yuuko Kirishima and she serves as a one-shot antagonist of sorts who is neither foreshadowed, mentioned, nor ever seen again.
Despite my better objective judgment, being super disappointed at this series’ missed potential means I’m holding something of a grudge. I was expecting more of a horror story and less of a romance, and I received the exact opposite. Not only that, even during the few horror segments/moments the series has during Episodes 1 [Last scene], Episode 3, and Episodes 8-12 the series seems to radiate that, as a whole, the script-writers, directors, and animators of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia didn’t really want to have any horror segments at all. The series never breaks “the line” that is convention and really makes viewers sweat. Why? Every instance of horror ends up being tied into the series’ ongoing melodramatic interactions...which center exclusively around Teiichi. Can Teiichi find it in himself to trust that Yuuko isn’t an evil haunting spirit in Episode 3. Can Teiichi find it in himself to confess his feelings to Yuuko so she remembers him in Episode 8. Can Teiichi find it in himself to face and experience and accept Yuuko’s dark past in Episodes 9/10/11. It’s all still high-quality and enjoyable, but I’m using hyperbole here to get across a point: not every conflict is supposed to have a convenient resolution. Making difficult choices is the basis for any great story and especially love stories. Was this is a fault of script writing or pacing? Possibly, but considering the series does have a number of moments of ingenuity I attribute this more to an unwillingness to break convention. All instance of horror end up being downplayed when they should have instead been played up. Yandere-like instances of jealousy shouldn’t be settled as misunderstandings. Love driving Yuuko to her dark creepy/haunty side shouldn’t be what ultimately breaks her from her dark side. As a ghost who can’t be seen by anyone except Teiichi, she can cause some serious damage if she were to decide to haunt Teiichi- but this threat never materializes. All suspense foreshadowed in earlier segments of the story shouldn’t amount to being mere catalysts to tease viewers with further romance and half-baked dramatics. Viewers deserve better than being led on like that. The story shouldn’t wallow in what’s already been done in other romances like Angel Beats. Instead, it should strive to be better than the best out there. Be more brutal, or more twisted, or even more dramatic, or more satirical. Why have any hint of horror at all if the series is going to lean more towards comedy anyways? The reverse is also true.
One honest dilemma that was on the top of my head the entire time during this series is one of Necrophilia. Discovering Yuuko’s body in the basement of the building, and falling in love with her ghost form…Shouldn’t that raise some natural questions? If Teiichi truly wanted to “love” Yuuko than how would they have sex? Surely that must have crossed his mind with all the innuendo flying around. This dilemma never once mentioned given that the series barely allows for a single kiss or holding hands—fate forbid an actual romance. But groping and voyeurism [both forms of sexual assault even if accidental] are fine. Or even more basic- how about the age-old dilemma of loving someone who is undead or immortal? Can such entities or spirits even truly love humans given that they are innately unnatural? The entire series does, admittedly, play around with some aspects of Yuuko being a ghost- but only just. Beyond having a grisly past, Yuuko is very much human. Even her “dark” side that she supposedly threw her bad traits onto when her personality split still holds on to reason and is revealed to be acting in a very rational way given she is forced to live with horrible memories while the “light” side of her goes scott-free. Does the shrine Yuuko’s is discovered at have any unexplained quality? Where is all the adult supervision throughout the series? Why is Yuuko the only ghost in the series? Why are there only like five or six characters in this entire story? I’m mentioning these questions to be a smartass, but to highlight just how far this show could have gone in exploring new ideas surrounding love or horror. Again, I really don’t like holding things against series for what they didn’t do—because Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is still a very enjoyable watch—but I hate the feeling of lost potential and being let down. I'd assume the same is true for other viewers too.
In hindsight, I think it’s more accurate to say this series was premised towards the Clannad or Angel Beats crowd rather than the Another or Higurashi crowd. At least to me, there really isn’t much of a sense of danger past the first episode that Teiichi’s reckless meandering with a specter could result in his physical endangerment. To my recollection, there were precisely three moments in the entire series where Teiichi seemed to be in any kind of real danger: the end of Episode 1 where Yuuko’s dark side is first introduced, the end of Episode 7 where Dark Yuuko breaks Yuuko’s conscious and causes her to lash out at Teiichi and attempt to hurt him, and the final Episode 11 where Dark Yuuko has a final confrontation with Teiichi who wants bring Yuuko inner peace. (How about threatening Teiichi’s sanity by experiencing Yuuko’s traumatic death through her body?) There’s a one-shot side conflict of sorts encompassing Episode 6 and most of Episode 7 centering around paranoia of Yuuko created from a female student named Yuuko Kirishima, who has a grudge against Yuuko that’s never mentioned before in the story nor after…surrounding the fact that they both have the same name. I don’t even know why it was included except as a side arc that may have been picked out-of-context from the manga. The entire ordeal fell flat on me. Besides these irredeemable episodes, [6/7] each of those stated situations was an intuitive opportunity for legitimate tension and development. Alas, such ideas only are teased and never explored- but even their presence as potential plot threads is very satisfying to see during the course of this series.
At every turn the external and inner conflicts are geared towards encouraging Teiichi to persevere without a second thought of consequence. That’s all he has to do, really, is be his unremarkable self and find he is continually adored by the three main love interests in a harem-esque environment. In fact, a major complaint throughout the series is just how few characters there really are in it. There’s Teiichi and Yuuko, of course, and then the two other interests Kirie Kanoe and Momoe Okonogi. With the exception of Kirie Kanoe, the series’ primary foil who is like Teiichi because she can also see Yuuko’s ghost, none of the main characters have any particular reason to take attraction to Teiichi. It’s extrapolated by Kirie when she’s first introduced that maybe Yuuko took interest in Teiichi as to trick him as a malevolent being…but that turns out to be false claim. Yet, in traditional conventional fashion, she remains by his side and faithful to him for the remainder of the series because she has a breakdown of character [breaks down like a little girl and starts crying] and Teiichi is there to rescue her. Teiichi is just some immature kid, polite and kind in some ways, but by the end of the series he’s still a relatively immature person who can’t handle any sort of mature situation, and only stands out insofar that the female characters are made unnaturally dependent. Much to my angst and disappointment, Teiichi’s character is the walking definition of a trope. There’s no less than ten scenes where he cluelessly stumbles into a sexual situation for the sake of slapstick comedy on the writer/director’s part. I don’t necessarily mind having such a cliché character archtype if the writers are decisive and decide to do something with it. Otherwise, the focus of the series falls squarely on the romantic interests. While Yuuko is definitely a well-written character when she isn’t acting like an object, she alone can not keep an audience engaged. It’s the same problem that plagues countless popular shows like Future Diary and Akame ga Kill. Girls are not objects, and gentleman don’t have to be stoic and asexual white knights who care for incapable females. Ironically, some of the most genuine moments in the entire series are when Teiichi displays genuine fear towards Yuuko, or displays true empathy for her suffering. It’s not even innovative, but it works because it’s some of the few moments that the series breaks from convention ever-so-slightly and showcases genuine and competent writing.
The last major issue with this series is undoubtedly the end. After nearly nine episodes of constant back-and-forth between quality and underperformance, the series finally produces two plot twists that caught me by surprise. Going in reverse order, the first is that as a direct result of Teniichi helping Yuuko disover and overcome her dark past (that was literally haunting them) Yuuko has no reason to fight the natural order of existence and starts to disappear. This conflict takes the primary focus of the last episode of the series, and it’s by far the most touching episode. It’s engrossing, and the blu-ray set I bought contained an extended edition of this episode that contained a whopping thirty seconds of extra footage, but every scene in this final episode is carefully crafted- and is helped along by an incredible soundtrack. Finally, there is a real opportunity to showcase development and genuine storytelling as the two leads spend their final moments together in this world. And then…The biggest fake-out I’ve ever seen in an anime. A final kiss binds Yuuko to the world again and the show ends a super-happy note. There’s one more fun OVA episode side-adventure for kicks [that has zero mention of the previous episodes’ huge event] and then the series ends just like that. I have mixed feelings about this entire juxtaposed direction. At it’s core, even the sad ending is of itself a direct pastiche (replication) from Angel Beats or countless other titles with “Tragedy” in their genre listing. The second twist is how Teiichi finally discovers Yuuko’s past is by accidentally trying to defend her from the dark specter that is actually Yuuko. He touches her in Episode 9 and again in 11 and relives her memories in real-time. Of all the dark/psychological elements of the series- this is by far the most intuitive and in-touch with the genre classification.
Despite the failed fulfillment of the series primary attributes, [horror and romance], its premise, and what critics have claimed of it- Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is still very much an enjoyable watch. Not great, but not bad either. One great phrases I’ve adopted into my repertoire is that the more great a story is the more glaringly apparent its flaws become. This phrase is very much true for Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. I didn’t really detail it, but the greatest complain I have with this series is that it seems to have ended too soon and on an inconclusive note. Though I’d argue it had a decent dénouement before changing its mind and going with a happy—if open ended—conclusion. There are more than a few glaring plot holes and potential plot threads that are introduced and left hanging…or not explored at all. There is an uncomfortable amount of fanservice as well as an uncomfortable amount of filler material that adds zero development and falls strictly within rom-com convention. Even so, the entire series is beautifully done and the ideas it does introduce serve as a prime example for what could have been. At it’s core, it’s still a solid love story though. As a romantic I’d never give a negative review to the exploration of love. Just don’t go in expecting Dusk Maiden of Amnesia to be your next great horror-romance experience.
Thanks for reading,
I have somewhat mixed feelings about this show because of how they handled the girl and boy relationship and threw in two others to disorient the viewer. On the one hand it was done pretty well with steady story development but on the other hand, there were intangibles that did not feel like they belonged which sort of sabotaged the good parts. This would be a far better show: if the girls had boyfriends; or were older; or were relatives of the boy; or they were male friends instead; or so on. However because they had to delve into the harem esque cliched genre and not take it for anything more than a way to tease the viewer, this show therefore loses several potential points for essentially spoiling what could have been a much better show. Cliches often ruin otherwise good animes like this either because they are tired old cliches or more importantly because they try to throw things into a story that doesn't fit. Case in point here, the harem tease does not fit and only makes you feel sorry for the other two girls and a bit weirded out by the ghost relationship. Yet for a ghost, she is a bit too tangible. Granted what happened to her is not only unbelievable in the modern world as well as criminal but, I would have felt much more rewarded if they somehow got properly punished too or at least we saw a glimpse of them suffering greatly for their crime. However that does not happen. The connection to her friend she saved honestly could have been done much better and with a bit more involvement. Part of what throws off the viewer is how the ghost is, she is pretty I suppose for an anime character but she is too disconnected and dispassionate to feel real. So, I am forced to wonder what was there to understand or fall for? What makes it more conflicting and confusing is, she changes completely about 2 or 3 times. For most humans, even a small change like that might be more than enough to sever a budding relationship so seeing this only provided more confusion. I wonder if I missed something like did he actually know her for many years and not really just meet her at the school only a few days or so earlier? Something about how the *ahem* relationship develops just does not make sense nor add up. As compelling as it is, I have seen better such ghost love stories such as of course "Ghost" with Patrick Swayze and "Somewhere in Time" which was sort of a mix of a ghost and time travel or in a sense Shounen Onmyouji but in that case it is more like friend or brotherly love.
really good op and ed
I hate this okonogi
Most beautiful end of anime i ever seen
Niiya sometimes was annoying