Just to cut to the chase: the answer is yes, Mnemosyne involves a lot of sex and a lot of violence; however, for those who don't mind that kind of thing per se, there is much more to discover than meets the eye. While Mnemosyne has an explicit S&M theme, the presentation style is fairly sophisticated and makes it surprisingly palatable. Don't get me wrong, it's as sexist as ever - sexual scenarios predominantly involve women getting impaled, tortured, raped by other women, and Rin getting murdered in every way imaginable whilst scantily clad. In comparison, the closest we get to hot, naked male characters are mindless ‘angels' who rape and eat their way through the women. Miraculously, Mnemosyne avoids coming across as cheap despite that; sex is most of the time a complement rather than the main point of the narrative, and admittedly isn't as distracting as it could be.
More importantly, Mnemosyne remains at all times a plot-driven supernatural mystery; most of the events are clever enough to keep you guessing and extreme enough to keep your eyes glued firmly to the screen. Especially good are the episodes involving Maeno and the sadistic scientist; while her way of dealing with victims surpasses even the sickest imagination, the character developments remain strong enough to offer some very emotional moments.
Still, no matter how well Mnemosyne begins, it's unavoidable that it will stand or fall by how well it ties the various elements of the mystery together - unfortunately, this is precisely where Mnemosyne lets itself down. Similarly to Darker than Black, it is a gory, explosive mystery which never quite finds the right way to outdo itself at the ultimate moment; while the final episode delivers a basic sense of closure, it relies too much on the sexual themes to be fully convincing and comes across as less accomplished than the episodes that came before.
Although Mnemosyne has a few good action sequences, it's the strong atmospheric feel and clean look of the backgrounds and characters that make the series visually delightful. Moreover, since the setting moves from the post-Cold War era to the near future, I find the world of Mnemosyne constantly interesting to observe. One good example is how Mimi deals with the progression of technology across time, from 3 ½ inch floppies to a world where reality and virtual reality coexist as one.
Above all, however, I really like Rin's character design; her green hair is distinctive in a universe where everyone else has normal colouring, and her professional trouser suit and glasses make her immediately believable as a kick-arse detective.
I have not found a better set of opening and closing themes from Spring 2008 than Mnemosyne's - anyone with hair longer than three inches will be head-banging for all it's worth to these singles. ‘Alsatia' by Galneryus, has a fantastically heavy sound, which perfectly captures the pumped and dark style of the narrative, and ‘Cause Disarray' by the same band is great for its catchy chorus and spine-tingling instrumentals (not to mention the epic vocals in both!). Whilst the rest of the score (comprised of metal and synthesised beats) is not memorable in itself, it is highly atmospheric and suitable at all times. This is without a doubt a must-have sound-track.
As for the voice actors, they tick all the right boxes; they do a fantastic job of portraying emotion and the dialogue is delivered with sleek competence. My only complaint is that I never quite got used to Mimi's high-pitched ‘magical girl' voice, which seems oddly misplaced in the otherwise sophisticated tone of the cast.
All in all, I must say that the decent level of characterisation took me by surprise, although, with hindsight, the writers could have gone that extra mile to make the cast more complex. As a prime example, Rin is not just likeable but actually combines a stable and mature personality with sensitivity and great pragmatism; sadly, she also lacks a motivation of her own beyond mere survival, which means she tends to be rather reactionary where Apos' scheming is concerned.
As for the others, Rin's sidekick, Mimi, has no value beyond providing perverted lesbian scenes; I put up with her only because she isn't that important to the central story. Maeno, on the other hand, is another highly likeable character, and his role deserves to be far more prominent than it turns out to be. Perhaps the most disappointing character is Apos, a mysterious being whose main hobby is to torture faceless women in bondage. Don't get me wrong: his schemes are truly intriguing for most of the story, but his ambitions, when they are finally revealed, turn out to be rather mundane. On the face of it, he is a vindictive, perverted little creep... and when you probe a little deeper, you realise that's all he is.
Despite a below-par ending and an antagonist whose only purpose is seemingly to fuck with everyone (pun very much intended), Mnemosyne provides a strong enough viewing experience to be an instant hit. I can't see anyone with a reasonably open mind disliking the final product, since it's sophisticated, punchy, and delivered with a refreshing adult twist.
Rin is a private investigator with an advantage: near immortality. Thanks to the spores of the Yggdrasill tree, both she and her assistant Mimi have lived many years longer than the average person. That isn’t to say that being immortal doesn't have its problems. With 'angels' wanting to devour them, the being Apos sending wave after wave of professional assassins to kill them, and constant hangovers from long nights of drinking, being immortal still has its downsides. With Apos' attempts at removing them from the picture increasing, can Rin and Mimi figure out what he is after so they can return to their morning shots of Vodka?
I'll review anything as long as there are words in the dictionary to describe it. Disagree with me? Want to leave feedback? Please do, but take a look at my personal rating scale first.