Amnesia is definitely a series that’s holding its secrets close to its flamboyant vest. That applies both to the mysteries surrounding the main character and her memories, and to just what sort of show it wants to be. I don’t mind mysteries – I rather like them when done well, and this one seems pretty decent – but everything is being held in reserve to the point where I’m not as engaged with what’s happening as I probably should be. And the heroine’s complete blank-slate persona, while wholly intentional and part of the plot, makes her a fairly uninteresting person to watch for me.
We certainly seem to have awoken to a different world this time around. Shin and Touma don’t seem to work at the café, Waka has an entirely different personality – to say the least – and Heroine and Shin have been dating for three months. There are other obvious differences, starting with the absence of Orion this time around – was this why he warned her not to go to the hospital? The one person who seems to have a notion that time isn’t behaving normally is Ukyou – who was presumably the photographer who mysteriously joined the main cast at the mountain villa. What his connection to Heroine’s lost memories is certainly isn’t clear (given his “this time” remark it’s clear he has one) but he seems to have a split personality or else have an evil twin, since sometimes when we see him he looked like a lunatic and sometimes as docile as a lamb. And I don’t think Shin’s comment about the news saying experts were “worried” about the strange weather is coincidental, though it could certainly be a misdirection.
All of that is interesting enough in an abstract way, and I continue to enjoy the backgrounds and cinematography a lot. But right now I’m having a hard time finding anything to really grab onto here, beyond a mild intellectual engagement with the mystery. Heroine isn’t going to offer much for a while, it’s likely, and the males in the cast are so over-the-top fabulous that it’s impossible to forget for a second what the source material for this series is. Orion seems to be poised to make a return and perhaps that will help, as he seemed to be the one character that didn’t fit in with the very distinct sensibility of the rest of the cast, but I’m going to need more if I’m to stick with this beyond another episode or so.
Tamako Market – 03
This is another series that’s still in the grey area for me. The hard truth is, I’ve liked each episode less than the one before it – and that isn’t a good trend. I’m not finding Tamako Market insufferable, which was probably my worst fear, but frankly I thought this episode was profoundly boring.
Building the third episode around a character we haven’t met yet – painfully shy badminton (how ironic that TamaKet should remind me less of Tari Tari than ever on the week it introduces a badminton player) player Asagiri Shiori (Yamashita Yurie) is certainly an interesting choice. I suppose it’s too early to say Shiori isn’t an interesting character but her storyline this week certainly wasn’t very interesting. “Much ado about nothing” about covers it – the entire ep was pretty much the flat-lining Shiori trying to work up the nerve to thank Tamako for inviting her over for dinner and taking her to the sento. There’s also more for Dera to do this week than last, as he’s Shiori’s entre into Tamako’s world and he’s got a crush on her (sadly for him, he’s not the sort of birdy she’s into), but the material he’s given to work with is nowhere near as funny as it was in the premiere.
It’s too early to say definitively, but the early returns suggest that KyoAni is playing it very safe with this one – going after their core audience with their most tried-and-tested formula, and least ambitious director. For me there’s only so far I can go with smiling townsfolk falling all over themselves to pamper the Kitashirakawa girls for being so cute and the very soft-edged eccentricities of her adorable school chums. I don’t think Dera is enough to carry Tamako Market and I don’t think he’s going to be asked to in any case, so it really comes down to whether the show offers any compelling reason to continue watching. So far it lacks the intelligence and staggering beauty of Hyouka or the manic energy and solid raison d’etre of Chuunibyou – it just kind of sits there and begs you to love it. Many undoubtedly will, and I’ll give it another chance or two to win me over – though given as next week looks like it’s going to focus on the moemoe imouto, I’m not exactly getting my hopes up.