As the school festival continues, the legend of a bloodthirsty monster called Akahito spreads through the school like a virus. One Kirishima Yuuko, who just happens to share her name with the famous ghost, is committed to destroying all ghost stories and those who spread them. However, she gets caught by crazed mob who prepare to make her an offering. At Teiichi’s request, his Yuuko takes on the form of Akahito to scare the mob straight, saving Kirishima from harm.
This series is all over the place. It’s tone is consistently inconsistent. That being said, we can still enjoy individual episodes, without trying to make any sense of the series as a whole. Perhaps it’s the creators’ intent to make things as strange and disjointed as possible, or perhaps they’re as clueless as we are about where this is going. Last week was a character study of Kirie, but this week went for full-on horror, complete with some admittedly creepy camera work and some very over-the-top, nightmarish elements, like half the school going totally mad and bloodlustful, Another-style.
Despite some interesting and dark moments, though, this is no Another. Considering this story came out of nowhere and even defied logic by having a new legend show up right in the middle of a student festival that was still going on for some reason, it doesn’t have the lasting power it would have if the series hadn’t been spinning its wheels up to this point. In short: it’s all bark and no bite. And despite the post-credits cliffhanger of the “real” Akahito cornering Kirie in the clock tower, we can’t be certain next week won’t return to lighthearted flirting between Yuuko and Teiichi with horrible comic relief by Okonogi. This show is unpredictable…in a bad way.
Rating: 4 (Fair) (dropped)
During the school cultural festival, Yuuko decides the P.I. club will have a haunted house, and she’ll be the ghost. Kirie gets fed up with watching Yuuko hang off of Niiya, and storms off with Okonogi, bump into some of her friends who conscript Kirie for cat maid cafe duty. The experience boosts Kirie’s confidence, but then she realizes how similar she looks like Yuuko, and goes in the haunted house to face her own fear: the fear of being at the bottom of the barrel, and looking like a ghost. She runs out and bumps into Niiya, who compliments her in a roundabout way after she asks him why he likes Yuuko.
Ah, cultural festival episodes. They’re apparently an absolute necessity in most anime involving a school, and this episode represented dutiful compliance with that convention. It did, however, set Yuuko and Niiya flirting aside for most of its running time, focusing on Kirie, who up until now we’d known little about besides the fact she’s not as annoying as Okonogi, a bit of a tomboy, and Yuuko’s granddaughter. Here we learn what we could have predicted: she likes Niiya and is annoyed that he pays more attention to the ghost. She makes Niiya a stand-in for society at large: if he won’t give her the time of day, why should anyone else? After all, she has – gasp – short hair and – double gasp – a modest bust! Yep, she’s basically devilspawn.
When Okonogi dresses her up as a cat maid, to the approval and captivation of the cafe patrons, it’s a much-needed boost of self-esteem. She realizes that she’s got the Kanoe charm; some of the same qualities that make her granny so alluring to Niiya (well, that, and the fact Yuuko is so lovey-dovey with him.) Only she has an edge over Yuuko: she’s still alive. Is Kirie being a bit overly dramatic, considering she’s not that bad-looking at all? Sure. Is her performance this week all over the place? Definitely. But we still enjoyed her little journey of self-discovery, which was punctuated by a bevy of weird close-ups and quick changes of mood. Nothing spell-binding, but enough to hold our interest…for now.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Over summer vacation, Kirie spearheads a training camp for the club, which involves swimming in the pool, sleeping in the abandoned night duty room, and investigating school legends, like the ghost of said room. Yuuko is upset that Teiichi ignored her, and pulls several pranks to punish him, but at the same time shows him the “other side” of the school.
After four weeks, this series’ dilly-dallying is growing tiresome. For yet another episode, we’re teased by suggestions of darker elements, only to have them utterly deflated by Yuuko’s silly antics. She’s basically just messing with Teiichi the whole time, and as a result, we feel like the series is messing with us. It doesn’t know what it wants to be, which is why it’s trying to be everything…and not succeeding. Yuuko has potential as a character, but that has yet to be realized and there was no urgency to correct that this week. She seems content in her amnesia, as long as she has Teiichi to play with.
As for the rest of the cast, the whole reason everyone was together at all was Kirie’s desire to have a training camp. There wasn’t a strong reason why Kirie joined the club at all, and there’s no reason at all why she would organize such a camp. The only reason there was a pool scene is so the girls could be in swimsuits, which has nothing to do with anything. As for Okonagi Momoe, she’s officially the most annoying character of the season (yes, more than that blue-haired girl in Medaka Box). If we don’t see some improvement next week, it will be hard to not drop this.
Rating: 4 (Fair)
Teiichi recieves a note instructing him to meet in a secluded place to talk about “the girl standing behind him”. It turns out to be Kanoe Kirie, Yuuko’s grand-niece, who believes she’s responsible for the sudden student disappearances. Kirie warns him to stay away from Yuuko before she sucks him into despair with her. After seeing Yuuko the way Kirie sees her – unkemp and with skin like dirt, he dismisses her warnings and professes his faith that she’s a good ghost, and Yuuko returns to normal. He then inspects her remains, and not only finds she had a broken leg, but died quite close to an ancient shrine. Kirie joins the club to help Teiichi and Yuuko, and remains worried about another evil spirit she saw and mistook for Yuuko.
More than previous episodes, this week had a somewhat uneven tone: jumping rapidly from dark and creepy to lighthearted and silly. Teiichi is incredibly embarassed by Yuuko’s nudity one moment, and the next, talks to her as if she’s clothed. Even when Kirie is telling him about Yuuko’s “true evil form”, she points out he sees her as a young, vital, attractive girl because he’s a pervert. That muddled tone reveals a kind of thematic indecision; but at the same time, there’s something to be said for a series dealing with corpses and ghosts not taking itself too seriously, nor making a mockery of the genre.
Yuuko isn’t just some annoying girl flirting with and hanging off of Teiichi; he is the only person who sees her as she sees himself; and the first one she can talk to (Kirie can also interact with her, but prefers not to). Thus it’s understandable she doesn’t want to lose him. Kirie’s influence almost does just that, but something in Teiichi refuses to condemn Yuuko. Kirie simply has the wrong ghost; Yuuko is (mostly) harmless and just wants companionship, and for the details of her death to be unearthed. There’s certainly the potential for her to become something more dangerous, but Teiichi won’t let that happen.
Rating: 5 (Average)
First-year Niiya Teiichi gets turned around deep within his mazelike school’s older buildings, and comes across the ghost of a former student named Kanoe Yuuko, who died trapped behind a mirror. She’s as surprised as he is that he can see, hear, and touch her, but she has amnesia and has no idea who she was or why she died. She starts a Paranormal Investigations Club and makes Teiichi the first living member. Their first client is Okonogi Momoe, who is afraid a ghost is stalking her since her “Hide the Demon” ritual was interrupted.
In a manner similar to Haganai, the first episode took place when everything and everyone was established, and the second episode goes back in time to when Teiichi first meets the ghost Yuuko. It’s certainly an interesting way to start things; allowing the series to throw you right into the thick of things first, then take a step back and explain how things began. Not too far back, though; the episodes are called “mysteries”, and the main one of who Yuuko was and why she died will the occupy the balance of this series. As veterans of recent goregasmic gems like Shiki, Blood-C and Another, we can’t say our horror itch is very effectively scratched; this is much lighter fare with a supernatural edge. It’s more about the romance and mystery than the horror.
Details: the labyrinthine school is effectively creepy; there’s some decent moments of comedy when Teiichi is talking with Yuuko (invisible to everyone else); the concept of autohypnosis and preconceptions of the supernatural allowing people to see what they want to see is interesting, as is the flimflam show that appeases Momoe. Finally, the history of the school is provided through the use of some tasteful-looking traditional painted scrolls. This isn’t the best the Spring has to offer, but it’s not bad, either.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Niiya Teiichi, Kanoe Kirie, and Okonogi Momoe are members of a Paranormal Investigation Club at their school, tasked with investigating their school’s many ghost stories. Their club president Yuuko is the ghost of a long-dead girl at the school, who only Teiichi and Kirie can see and hear. Momoe suspects a poltergeist when things start to move on their own, including Teiichi himself. They head to the alleged grave of Yuuko in the woods on a hill, a place she doesn’t seem to remember. Teiichi seems to have agreed to help her find out the mystery of what happened to her, perhaps so she can rest in peace.
While Sankarea is clearly the more horror-tinged of the two supernatural series we’ll be watching this Spring, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia is bent more towards mystery and point-of-view. This first episode cleverly began from Momoe’s, in which neither she nor we could see or hear Yuuko, and then the act reset to where we could see and hear her, but Momoe still couldn’t. We’re not sure if Kirie can hear her, but it seems she can see her. We like how Momoe believed Teiichi could read her thoughts, even though he was only responding to Yuuko and just happened to match them.
As for Yuuko herself, she’s a mischievious flirt of a ghost, not above lightening the mood with antics, but also clearly in need of some answers, since she hasn’t moved on to the hereafter and all. This episode limits our exposure to just these four club members, and while the 3:1 girl-to-guy ratio portends a harem, but at least one of the girls in question is dead, which makes things more interesting. Technically speaking, the series impresses with a bold and atmospheric presentation. The old, sprawling school oozes with secrets waiting to be uncovered, and characters are brought to life with some intense close-ups, quick moments of action, and decent voice work. Most of all, we want to know more about who Yuuko, how she died, and why she chose to haunt Teiichi, so we’ll keep watching.
Rating: 6 (Good)