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?
StoryJust 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.AnimationAlthough 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.SoundI 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.CharactersAll 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.OverallDespite 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 - Daughters of Mnemosyne is 45 minutes x 6 OVA episodes of a detective, mystery anime with supernatural and explicit themes that I’d probably label as seinen. It’s definitely for the faint of heart, even I got chills during my spine during many points of this anime and the sotry is complex to the point where it can even be confusing, similar to the likes of Ghost in the Shell. There’s some fairly heavy themes which aren’t obvious at first glance, stuff that can put people off. Otherwise it’s a decent blend of detective and spy, though some may argue the two are one and the same. Due to the length, it’s essentially a 12 episode series, but with less intros/outros, a bad thing since those bits are pretty good. Looking at the synopsis, one would think it’s just gore and sex, but first off the latter is depicted sensibly like a movie (i.e. go watch ecchi instead if you want something to perv over) and there’s much more to it. Some real freaky shit. As usual, I’ll divulge my dislike of pointless ecchi/fan-service in anime. Animation I got the first episode in 720p, since I wanted the anime in dual audio. For a 2008 anime, the quality was bursting out of the screen. I then went back and found it in 1080p, which did the high fidelity of this anime justice. There was one occasion where something seemed a bit off, but I never noticed anything like it for the rest of the anime. The animation style is nothing surprising, it’s fairly standard anime style and it’s done well. I guess I can’t always complain about anime not trying to be different, especially when the traditional style is done so well. So the major point of discussion about the animation is what is shown in this. The Anime Planet page mentions explicit violence, which is right. It is very gruesome, with a lot of torture, gore and mutilations. It's potentially off putting and the sadistic characters involved send a chill down my spine. Still, I'm glad it had the balls to go that way. It also mentions explicit sex, which is also on point. Don’t get confused between fan-service/ecchi and sex, the two couldn’t be more exclusive from each other (it’s very rare to get a fan-service anime where sex occurs at some point during the plot). Thus I’m not mad at this anime, a lot of western media often depicts sex and we’re okay with that. Things start to get iffy when it gets to Game Of Thrones level, but I didn’t mind that since they took it seriously. There are some suggestive camera shots, a bit of explicit flirting and a few funny moments (Rin’s butt trips a security laser), but nothing that really annoyed me or put me off. Heck if this anime had fan-service, the occurrence of sex would justify it. The inclusion of sex is justified, it’s a part of the lore. But it’s also a bit off-putting as this story aspect suggests sex against ones will. And in some ways it was grotesque, particularly with the angels. There’s a bunch of possible implications of sex, some where it obviously didn’t happen and others where the viewer isn’t sure whether sex was had. At one point, there’s definitely an orgy. Were it more explicit, then it’d be designated a hentai, which would be a shame given how interesting the story is. I will have to say I was glad when this anime was done, since it was starting to bother me a tad. Sound Both the intro and outro are so good, it makes me sad that this is 6 long episodes instead of 12 normal length episodes. I did get the soundtrack and I must state my bias towards rock and metal (I listen to J-rock a lot). The background music has variety and is put to suitable use in the anime, some of the creepy scenes are enhanced by some suitably uncanny string music that would feel right at home in a horror movie. Some of the music sounded rather old, it seemed to me like it would feel right at home in an 80s movie or 90s anime. There’s some suitable jazzy music for when things get a bit ‘seductive.’ Not necessarily bad, though it did sound odd at times. This anime is available in both English and Japanese audio. And if you’re thinking I watched it in English, you’d be right. But once more there’s a reason why I’ve avoided the Japanese version. One of the voice actors in the Japanese version… let’s just say I can’t stand the voice. I was also pleasantly surprised by one of the voices in the English version, one of the meaner characters had a voice I recognised to be someone who usually plays more ‘light-hearted’ voicing roles. Heck, given how explicit this anime is, I’m surprised it was released in English at all. Nonetheless, here’s some info on the English voice cast. Rin is voiced by Colleen Clinkenbeard, the voice of characters like Nice Holystone in Baccano, Youko Takahashi in Baka to Test, Ritsuko Akagi in the Evangelion remake, Riza Hawkeye and Rose Thomas in FMA, Mitsuki Hayase in Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien, Cordelia in Romeo X Juliet, Reina Souhou in Witchblade and Yuuko in Tsubasa Chronicle/XXXHOLiC. Mimi is voiced by Jamie Marchi, the voice of Shouko Kirishima in Baka to Test, Ophelia in Romeo X Juliet, Elizabeth Thompson in Soul Eater, Arashi in Tsubasa Chronicle and a whole host of other roles in anime I haven’t watched/don’t think are worth mentioning. Robert McCollum voices Kouki Maeno, the voice of Zhijun Wei in Darker than Black, Goten in Dragonball GT, Kazuma in Kaze no Stigma, Curio in Romeo X Juliet, Yukito in Tsubasa Chronicle and Yuusuke Tozawa in Witchblade. Apos is voiced by none other than Todd Haberkorn, voice of Firo Prochainezo in Baccano, Raki (*shudder*) in Claymore, Yutaka Kouno in Darker than Black, Death the Kid in Soul Eater and Kimihiro Watanuki in Tsubasa Chronicle/XXXHOLiC. Yuki Shimazaki is voiced by Cherami Leigh, who was July in Darker than Black, Elicia Hughes in FMA: Brotherhood, Shana in Shakugan no Shana, Patricia Thompson in Soul Eater, Himawari in XXXHOLiC and other roles I’m running out of space for. Teruki Maeno is voiced by Brina Palencia as a kid, but is voiced by Patrick W. Reid for the rest of it. Yamotsu Yanagisawa is voiced by Christopher Bevins and Laura is voiced by Clarine Harp. Notable secondary characters include Mishiho Maeno voiced by Luci Christian and Sayara Yamanobe is voiced by Monica Rial. Characters Rin Asogi is a very long-lived immortal woman, who enjoys working as a detective. She wears glasses (which never need to change due to the immortality), has big boobs and is a heavy drinker. She likes to flirt, especially with her friend and co-worker Mimi. She doesn’t seem to respect herself, letting guys sweet talk her and not having a problem with sleeping around (with other women) and she even shares a bed with a guy at one point (which is weird since they aren’t married, neither do they bang). She’s often suffering from a hangover from all the drinking and has many contacts to help her job, including a policeman and some shady underworld criminals. She is seen often phoning someone at the end of the day, who she confides in. Her rival and nemesis is the assassin Laura, who she often has run in’s with. She seems to potentially be a slut as there are many implied men in her long life. But her true enemy is the mysterious immortal man called Apos. Mimi is Rin’s petite side-kick and friend-with-benefits, who specialises in hacking. She’s even more of an alcoholic than Rin is, offering her vodka instead of water for hangovers while always stating the phrase: “vodka means water in Russian you know.” While she looks young, she’s also long-lived with her other immortal companion, a big dog (looks like a Komondor or Ovcharka breed) who is likely a female dog to explain the immortality. Mimi hates the informant for being sleazy and asking for sex as payment, though later on it seems she’s a bit tsundere about it. She’s very flirtatious, especially when it comes to Rin, but she also values Rin a lot. The two don’t want to lose each other. Initially it also seems she doesn’t care much for Kouki, but it’s soon apparent that she likes having a man around. Even if it’s just to have someone watch while she feeds Rin booze by mouth. Apos is the primary antagonist here, a very manipulative and egotistic individual. Like the girls, he seems to not age and appears immortal, he even consumes time fruit taken forcefully from other individuals. He seems to have a history with Rin and Mimi and is often behind the scenes, sending Laura after them and setting events in motion to hinder them, but also for his own agendas. He’s also a sadistic freak of a guy, he keeps and immortal woman prisoner for purposes of torture and who knows what else. Kouki Maeno is just a normal human being unlike the rest of the cast. Though he still has his own oddities and troubles at the start, which he goes to Rin with for help (as a job). He soon after joins Rin’s company and is effective at gathering info. At first he seems to be a lightweight when it comes to drinking alcohol. Mimi likes having him around, as a drinking buddy at the very least, it’s unknown if there’s other reasons. It seems that finding trouble is in his blood… …and he’s generally a reasonable man, at one point trying to convince Mimi to have her and Rin give up this dangerous line of work. He reminds me a lot of Togusa from Ghost in the Shell, similarly Kouki becomes a bit of a family man. To mention too many other characters would add spoilers so I’ll be careful with the rest. Laura is an assassin, under Apos who repeatedly tries to kill Rin, despite her immortality. Laura herself doesn’t seem to be immortal, but that doesn’t stop her from being persistent. Sayara Yamanobe is a scientist woman, who has some demonic curiosities. She has a big ego and is demented (Rin compares her to Hitler at one point I think), but most of all she’s sadistic like Apos. She loves to torture and maim, not worrying about getting herself covered in blood. She also seems to have the hots for Kouki. Tamotsu Yanagisawa is a cop who behaves oddly at times, but is Rin’s contact with the police, giving her valuable information due to some information that Rin seems to have on him about something that occurred ‘that December.’ There’s rumours of a possible relationship between him and Rin in the past. Getting into dangerous territory here (in terms of almost being spoilers), but Yuki Shimazaki reminds me of Ocelot from Metal Gear, the men she cares about in her life all seem to be taken from her in a similar fashion. All I’ll say about Teruki Maeno is that he’s initially a bit of a delinquent, bleaching his hair and spraying graffiti, but most important is who he is (look at his name). Similarly with Mishiho Maeno. Story The mythical tree Yggdrasil often appears in the world, releasing its fruit which float through the air like spores and pass through things like ghosts. Very rarely (less than 1 in a million chance), one of these fruits is a time fruit. If a time fruit enters a human body or is eaten it grants supernatural abilities. First off, irrespective of gender the individual can see Yggdrasil and all of its fruits, which are invisible to normal human eyes, which can only see fruit that has been in someone. The most important ability the fruit bestows depends on gender. Women gain perfect immortality, they never age and never die no matter how badly they get killed. The immortality offered retains them at the time of consuming the fruit, thus is they have any sort of illnesses or abnormalities, those will remain with them for eternity. For men, the effects of the fruit are more short lived, they turn into powerful winged creatures called angels that only live for a few weeks and lose control over themselves. It seems angels can extend their lives by consuming more time fruit. Perhaps most alarmingly, the angels and immortal women are drawn to each other by sexual desires, irrespective of the persons thought and feelings, often against their will. It would be rape, and it kinda is, yet the immortal woman wants it, even against their own inclinations. Thus, they will copulate and during this process the angel devours the immortal woman, staining his fruit in blood. The angels are effectively the one weakness of these immortal women, capable of ending their eternal life while being sexually irresistible to them at the same time. Pretty grotesque if you ask me. I’ve got to applaud the somewhat serious use of sex here, even if used rather explicitly. Though I am very put off by the lack of will involved, at times it seems almost like rape. Heck that might even be the best way to put it. On to the better stuff. Since Rin and Mimi are immortal women, the events of this anime spans a long period of time, from the 1990s to late 21<sup>st</sup> century. The way in which they deal with this continuity is exactly what one would hope for. Heck during an earlier episode I joking thought of something that I didn’t expect to happen (a relationship between 2 characters), which actually came to be. People age and change properly, except for the immortal of course and technology progresses. Virtual reality and augmented reality are things that develop over the time period and at one point Mimi even quotes processing power of machines. This passage of time is something that often isn’t done in anime and here it’s a main plot mechanic. Rin’s story involves her struggle against Apos, the true intentions of whom is kept a mystery throughout most of this anime. Towards the end it all falls into place of course, the last 2 episodes (equivalent to 4 normal episodes due to length) directly follow on from each other instead of leaping through time. And events that occurred earlier on in the anime have significance. Great story-writing. Yet at times the story is very convoluted and tricky to get a head around, it reminds me of Ghost in the Shell for that reason. Some of the crazy themes and the excessive nudity and one small phase of the story reminded me of Elfen Lied too. The whole gender thing and empowering women reminded me of Witchblade. All decent anime. But this stuff can put people off and it may even seem like there is no narrative to the anime, that’s it’s just some twisted version of a slice of life. But trust me there is. Conclusion This is definitely a niche anime that few people would enjoy. I think I’m within the target demographic, yet even I found some of the aspects disturbing and I think that it’s meant to be disturbing. I’m not sure who would be completely tolerant of this anime. Even if you just like sex in anime (i.e. pervert), you’d probably be better off watching hentai or something, since they manage to balance just right so that the sex aspect isn't in your face all the time. The rapey stuff did worry me a bit. If you think you’re the type of person who can handle gruesome fucked-up-things then maybe give this a go. I’m not sure who’d want to jump at an anime like this. I’ll tell you what, I’ll recommend this to folks who enjoyed similar anime like Elfen Lied, Ghost in the Shell and Witchblade. Though it’s a bit more grotesque than even Elfen Lied. As someone who enjoys a unique crazy story that requires me to think… I actually enjoyed this anime quite a lot and I'm glad this was made. But… I’m also glad that I'm done with it and that it was only essentially a 12 episode series. I need to watch some light-hearted anime to cool down after this one. This was a tricky one to write about. Family-friendliness Rating: 5/5 Explicit themes (lower is better) Overall Rating: 8/10 (higher is better)
Disclaimer: This is not a site review. If you're reading one of these, it's unlikely I'll ever write a site review for this anime. Probably because I don't want to pick it apart. ^_^I'll be honest. I saw Mnemosyne, because VivisQueen felt obligated to mention the large amounts of sex in her review. That said, I enjoyed the whole experience heartily. After the lackluster first episode, the OVA gains momentum until the final installment ends in a comparatively unimpressive manner. Maybe if there had been seven entries instead of six, the conclusion wouldn't have felt as rushed and confusing.Story aside, I liked the side characters in the story a great deal. While Rin's studied cool and Mimi's willful childishness certainly formed the centerpiece of the series, I enjoyed watching the Maeno family grow more than the machinations of the principal actors. The immortal girls' lives touched many people and their growth really added meat to the narrative and fleshed out the world of the OVA. I think the focus on Mimi and Rin's relationships with others prevented this series from being a typically self-indulgent story of the supernatural.Paired with decent visuals (points here mostly went to competent execution and excellent character designs) and an effective soundtrack (Rie Kugimiya, FTW!), Mnemosyne was definitely worth the watch. And the ending really was't as bad as I feared it would be.
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