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Dusk Maiden of Amnesia PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 30 July 2012 00:00
Teiichi Niiya's life gets a little complex when he meets - and subsequently falls in love with - the school ghost, Yuuko. With no memories of how or why she died, Yuuko's destined to wander the school halls forever, and so Teiichi decides to help her uncover her missing past. Which turns out to maybe not have been the wisest of desicions...

The Paranormal Investigation Club at Seikyou Private Academy investigates the strange occurrences that happen on school grounds - a task that at least one of the members, Momoe Okonogi, perhaps takes a little too seriously. Recently, the students have noticed that the old dumbwaiter, formerly used by the school kitchens but now out-of-use, has been working by itself. Is this the work of malevolent spirit - or is there something else going on..?

Turns out it's just the school ghost, Yuuko, playing tricks on her - like most of the student body, Tomoe can't actually see Yuuko. There are two people who can, though: the other two members of the Paranormal Investigation Club, Teiichi and Kirie. To Teiichi, Yuuko is a vision of beauty, and someone who's downright fun to be with - if a little exasperating at times. To Kirie, Yuuko used to be the vision of a demon (you see what you want to see), until Teiichi helped her change her perceptions. That Yuuko somehow died on the school grounds was never in doubt, but in trying to help her uncover the past the she no longer remembers, Teiichi uncovers are dark and painful past - a past that Yuuko had deliberately sealed away and that has since taken on a life of its own.

It's been a bit of a strange season, what with moe pirates, moe zombies, and now moe ghosts, all vying for our attention. Yuuko certainly is an appealing personality - in her innocent form, she's a bundle of fun, with a sense of, well, life about her that makes her an infectious character to watch and that lulls you into a false sense of security during the early episodes. Despite the dark and atmospheric visuals, the series starts off by playing around with its characters and audience, with very little hint of what's to come. During this phase of the series, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is almost a ghostly comedy, and one that works very well.

But the darker side is there, and soon comes to the fore. Teiichi's investigations reveal that Yuuko's death that neither accidental nor natural, and the circumstances of that death haunt her still. The reason she has no memory of the incident is that the memories are too painful to bear - a betrayal of trust leading to a death that was neither quick nor painless, and that left her with plenty of time for form and develop powerful negative emotions. Emotions that are not roaming around on their own, very much the malevolent spirit that you would more expect a ghost to be.

During the darker side of the show, the atmosphere and feel of the show are spot-on - you feel the emotions, the ominous presence of Yuuko's darker half, and in places the fear that goes along with what's happening on screen. As Yuuko's story unfolds, it drags you in (partly thanks to the rather clever way it's portrayed) and doesn't let you go. As ghost stories go, it's bloody good. There are still moments of lightness - that seems to be Tomoe's sole reason for being in the series - but I was surprised by how well they seemed to fit, how they lightened the mood when I needed them to without taking me completely out of the experience.

It really is quite an impressive package overall. There are complaints: there are particular plot "twists" which rely on the use of ye olde reset button, and I really hate that; and the series gives itself a definite conclusion which it then goes and completely undoes for no real reason, other than to go for the happy ending rather than the bittersweet. Call me a miserable bastard, but in stories like this I'll take the bittersweet every time, especially when it felt so right here.

But the mis-steps are rare. I'm not usually all that interested in tales of the supernatural, and more ofthen that not I'll end up laughing when I should be squirming (hi there, Another), but Dusk Maiden of Amnesia works surprisingly well - which in turn makes it well worth checking out. An unexpectedly engaging little series.

Rating - ****