Anime: Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi / Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne
Original Run: Feb 4, 2008 to Jul 7, 2008
Genres: Action, Horror, Romance
To most people, death is inevitable and absolute.
But to those women like Asogi Rin whose bodies have absorbed Yggdrasil’s special time spores, death is only a temporary condition. But being immune to death is not the same as being indestructible and there’s nothing that stops others from attempting to kill Rin through methods that range from relatively tame to utterly horrific. And when someone seems to be actively hunting immortal women, it seems that Rin’s existence might be in real danger.
Mnemosyne spans 65 years of Rin’s life as she lives in a changing world with her unchanging body, longing for someone whom she can’t seem to attain.
I don’t know exactly what I expected from Mnemosyne but what it delivered was something truly unique. There are only six episodes in this anime but they’re 45 minutes each and, with the exception of the final episode, there are timeskips between them. Each episode features a particular event or mystery, often introducing important new characters. The entire anime spans 65 years, from 1990 to 2055.
Rin, one of the immortal women, works as a private detective with Mimi, another immortal woman, as her assistant. Despite the danger that’s common in Rin’s line of work, her immortality means that no matter how thoroughly she’s killed, her body will be restored to the state it was when the time spore entered it. The show is not shy about abusing this and Rin gets killed in a myriad of gruesome ways from the first episode onwards. Oddly enough, the deaths never feel cheap even though it’s guaranteed that Rin will come back, perhaps because of their brutality.
Mnemosyne’s greatest strength is the excellent execution of its premise. Immortal people wandering about among us is not a new concept but the anime builds an intricate world around this aspect, giving some very unique twists to the idea. The details concerning the immortal women, their male counterparts and the origin of it all are scattered throughout the narrative, each one revealed in due time rather than dumped on the audience via rushed exposition. I prefer the first four episodes which are more or less self-contained, each focusing on a particular story. Towards the end, everything becomes a little confusing as new information is rapidly revealed without allowing any time to process it all. The conclusion is still satisfying but not as enjoyable or impactful as the preceding episodes.
I feel compelled to warn potential viewers that this anime does not shy away from sex or violence. Rather explicit sexual content of the lesbian and straight variety is common as are scenes of torture and mutilation. That in itself wouldn’t be too surprising but Mnemosyne just loves to blur the lines between the two which means that violent and sexual content often go hand-in-hand, ending up in a kind of fan disservice. But none of it is gratuitous, instead helping to push the plot along.
Due to the the long timespan of Mnemosyne, it has a number of characters but most of them perish before the end. The ones who last the most aren’t explored too deeply in the narrative but at the same time, it manages to make them appear quite rounded.
Mimi, Apos, Laura, Kouki
The central character, Rin, is also this anime’s main attraction, literally and figuratively. Even in-story, everyone loves Rin. Men and women fall in love with her left and right, and even some of those who don’t have feelings for her certainly want to sleep with her. I can’t blame them since Rin is one of the most charming protagonists I’ve come across. She’s smart, capable and compassionate, fully utilizing the advantages her immortality gives her to go out of her way to help others who are in need of it. She does have her own plethora of problems but not once do we see her break down from the pressure of it. Liking Rin does come with its own set of difficulties since it involves watching her get mutilated in grotesque ways again and again.
Mimi, a girl who’s far less young that she seems, is another immortal woman who’s been Rin’s companion ever since the latter once saved her. They seem to be in a relationship of sorts but drifts apart over the course of the anime. A computer whiz and skilled cracker, Mimi considers herself to be helpless and reliant on Rin for protection. Mimi doesn’t really shine until the last two episodes where she truly displays the true extent of her skills while also fighting down her weaknesses to do what needs to be done.
Teruki, Tajimamori, Sayara, Mishio
As for antagonists, we have Laura and Apos. Laura former is hitwoman who develops an obsession with Rin that manifests in the form of an intense and relentless drive to kill her permanently. Laura’s nonchalant confession of love to Rin is also one of the best scenes in the show and she’s a fascinating character despite the relatively little screen time she gets. Apos, the main villain of the show, is utterly vile from beginning to end. Though he’s far from fearsome, he is most definitely effective and has a through presence in the story from the start.
Other characters include the various members of the Maeno family whose lives seem to be entwined with Rin’s, the faceless man that watches over Rin, the police officer who’s in love with Rin…yes, Rin really is the center of this show. There’s Sayara though, who’s only concerned with herself and also somehow manages to be as despicable as Apos.
Art and Music:
The animation is nice, though not of the best quality. Faces seem off from a distance and details are sparse. However, it still manages to effectively construct an elaborate world. The supernatural as well as technological features that pop up multiple times per episode are handled quite well. I like the filter used in flashback as it portrays the vagueness of memories quite well.
Mnemosyne’s music gets no complaints from me. The OP, Alsatia by Galneryus, is fine but even better is the ED, Cause Disarray by the same artist. Both convey the chaotic action that makes up a large portion of the show. The original sound track is good as well. Purity, the track that plays during poignant moments, is particularly noteworthy.
Mnemosyne is an entertaining and solid show but it is definitely not for the faint of heart. There are also some very unfortunate implications in the way time spores change men into uncontrollable beasts that feel compelled to violate the women who’ve absorbed the same time spores while the immortal women are left with no choice but to succumb to the men’s advances. But that aside, this anime is worth a try.