[Synopsis]: Niiya Teiichi (Yonaga, Tsubasa), a student at Seikyou Academy, loses his way when exploring one of the older school buildings when he encounters a girl named Kanoe Yuuko (Hara, Yumi). It turns out that she is the ghost who has haunted the school for 60 long years and the source of the many horror stories and recounts of paranormal activity that circulate among the students. As she does not remember how she died, she and Teiichi along with Okonogi Momoe (Fukuen, Misato) and Kanoe Kirie (Kitamura, Eri) form the Paranormal Investigations club in order to discover what led to Yuuko’s death and uncover the many mysteries of the school.
Even though the story takes place in a school setting, the cast of characters is actually fair short, consisting of the main four characters and then occasionally introducing side-characters for small 1-2 episode mini arcs.
The main characters are pretty tolerable overall. Teiichi himself feels a little typical in his design and voice however he has a few points that make him endearing enough – chiefly of which is his dedication to Yuuko. While the show most definitely has some harem elements, it plays mostly upon the relationship between Teiichi and Yuuko and treats any other romantic interests as a comedic backdrop to the actual romance of the story. In this way, Teiichi does seem to genuinely care for Yuuko and goes above and beyond the more shallow, noncommittal iterations of the main character in a romance show in the way he actively displays his affection.
Kanoe Yuuko is similarly forwards with her feelings however even more so. I think that she is the best written member of the cast and her sometimes overly attached attitude and hands-on, affectionate nature really helps convey that she has felt very alone for a long time and is ecstatic at the thought of interacting with someone who can see and touch her. She operates equally well in both comedic and dramatic situations and is often the source of both.
Of the group, Kanoe Kirie is the most serious of them however this mood is sometimes undercut by her jealousy of Yuuko and her relationship with Teiichi for primarily comedic purposes. Okonogi Momoe joins the club because of her somewhat fanatical approach to the supernatural and is, ironically so, the only person of the main cast who can’t see or interact with Yuuko. She exists almost entirely for comedy’s sake in my opinion and doesn’t really feature any development or plot-related intrigue so I felt she was a little superfluous overall.
The character designs are fairly subdued which helps the show along in its horror and school elements. The show itself actually has a great deal of visual elements that lend themselves very well to its horror scenes and settings the most notable of which was the refreshingly dynamic directing approach of Oonuma Shin. Outside of utilizing fairly interesting shots in general, the show makes constant use of the white space of the screen to show the scene in animated slides amidst a black surrounding (in my experience, the techniques implored were similar to his other work in directing Ef: A Tale of Memories and its sequel). This technique worked very well given the horror tones of the show as it gave the visuals a dark and claustrophobic vibe when used. There is even an episode shot almost entirely in first person POV which I thought was really fun and worked quite well within the story. One of my only major qualms was that occasionally the body movements during dialogue would look outlandishly out of place with added motion or unrealistic movement but it happened rarely enough that I could overlook it. All in all, the visuals were one of the strongest points of the show and while the art itself may not have been crisp as one might desire, the style with which the show is executed makes up for it.
Otome x Amnesia is a little weird in that the combination of its genres are somewhat contradictory and this is one of my primary concerns with the show. Firstly, it works quite well as a horror show – the meat of the story is done in this genre and the overall tones are of this type as well. Romance is not necessarily a new sub-element within the horror genre either and in fact it feels quite at home within this show as well with the exception of the out of place harem themes and fairly consistent fan-service. Lastly, the show busies itself (unnecessarily in my opinion) with the comedy genre – depicting most character interactions outside of the straight-up horror scenes comically.
In other attempts to occupy multiple, sometimes conflicting, genres some shows feel like they become one genre first and foremost and the others are added for flavor however I can say that in the cast of Otome x Amnesia they are surprisingly equally present throughout the course of the show with horror being slightly predominant. What this all boils down to is that the show tries to be all of these things proportionally and it doesn’t really work for it. In my opinion, it could have been quite good had it only presented its horror and romance elements and nixed its pseudo-ecchi and comedic attributes. I found that the comedy undercut the serious moments of the show and when each horror scene is sandwiched by a comedic moment on either side with them intermittently spliced within – it ultimately cheapens the effect and tarnishes the mood. The comedy itself is not outstanding either and so I feel like it only exists to fill the gaps in action within the show while providing some sex appeal in the way of its fan-service.
The music was good enough but nothing I can make special note of. It mainly occupied the low-toned, ominous background style often seen in horror shows and it worked well for the show. It would play up the music slightly given the romantic scenes and relax a bit when things turned comedic so everything more or less functioned as expected in this regard.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
I thought the show, by way of its style and its story, was interesting and fun however I felt the overall experience was marred a bit by the fan-service, harem elements, and generic comedy. I think the show fell short in some regards and while I think it featured a good deal of potential it didn’t quite achieve would it could have for me.
I gave the show a 5 because, while it had some genuinely interesting and well-executed elements, it had an equal share of issues that made it feel mediocre in my mind however I still found it watchable for its high points.
I would recommend this show to people that enjoy those that enjoy the horror genre – it makes up the small majority of the show and is done quite well in a variety of ways. The romance wasn’t bad and anyone that is a fan of relationships that get to the point rather quickly instead of stumbling around for a while in the ‘who likes who?’ phase would do fine in picking this up. In general, anyone that can overlook the kind of typical comedy and fan-service should be able to enjoy the show just fine but if that kind of stuff is a turn off or might ruin the more serious mood of the anime than I suggest they stay away.