Tasogare Otome x Amnesia 09 and the Burden of Painful Memories
June 8, 2012 2 Comments
asogare Otome x Amnesia has always been a series about the repression of painful memories, the amnesia that Yuuko suffers from is created by her attempt to escape from the pain in her past. As a character Yuuko is an enigma, seemingly always happy and enjoying life, or her version of it, but at the same time, her name appears in numerous dark and painful stories that circulate and in parts define Seikyou Academy. As mentioned on numerous occasions, her meeting with Niiya and their subsequent friendship, along with the introduction of other people to the Paranormal Investigation Club have been immensely important to Yuuko as a character. But, this has come at a cost to both Yuuko and Niiya as we have learned throughout the series.
The problem with Yuuko is her forced amnesia; the pain and horror of her past were such that she tried to escape from it. She disassociated her memories and feelings of pain, anger, resentment, jealousy, and loneliness, pushing them away with such force that they have created their own version of herself. This Dark Yuuko is the other face of Yuuko, she is the very embodiment of all the pain and hatred that Yuuko’s past had created in her, and is as much a part of Yuuko as the happy Yuuko who we see clinging to Niiya on a daily basis. Yuuko was, and in some ways still is running away from her past, she does not want to have to think about the terrible things that were done to her.
In a way, we can see this as Yuuko attempting to escape from reality through the deliberate disassociation of all painful memories and feelings. Feelings, and particular those that come with strong effects frighten Yuuko, she is scared of what the feelings do to her physically, as well as mentally. Her meeting with Niiya started to change Yuuko gradually, bringing up new feelings that Yuuko had never felt before, feelings that scared her tremendously. Instead of admitting that she loved Niiya, and that seeing Niiya with other girls upset her, and made her either angry or jealous, Yuuko instead attempted to once again run away.
Yuuko physically, as well as mentally pushes Niiya way; she is incapable of being truly honest with her feelings because they scare her. While Yuuko may have died over fifty years before the start of this series, effectively making her sixty or seventy, she is still, in effect a fifteen-year-old girl. Love is a mystery to her, and this is the first time that she has ever experienced what it is like to truly be in love. These new feelings of love and jealousy threaten to upset the delicate balance that Yuuko has managed to maintain through the disassociation of her past and all the negative aspects of her character that are related to it. This is a very deliberate and calculated act to run away from her past, and while she is unable to come to terms with it, the pain may continue and perhaps even increase.
We see Yuuko and Niiya drift apart, incapable of acknowledging each other, and in a sense, Niiya is escaping from reality in the same way as Yuuko does. However, by admitting to their feelings and realising the importance of having such feelings does at least partly stop this vicious circle. Both Niiya and Yuuko are finally capable of being honest, not only with themselves, but with each other. We now see Yuuko and Niiya flirting almost constantly, with Yuuko in an even clingier mood than she was previously.
What is interesting though, is the change that admitting her feelings for Niiya has had on Yuuko. She becomes jealous and angry with Kirie when she interrupts Niiya telling Yuuko how much he loves her. That slap may seem inconsequential, but it shows how much of an impact admitting her feelings has had on Yuuko. Furthermore, we see new and in a sense, strange reactions of jealousy, sadness and even embarrassment from Yuuko. This implies that something has fundamentally changed with Yuuko, as if, rather than merely admitting that she loves Niiya and getting her memories of him back, Yuuko is gradually learning, or perhaps rediscovering long repressed feelings.
But at the same time, Yuuko still suffers from amnesia, and while she still cannot, or perhaps does not want to know about her past, she has also forgotten significant memories that she had with Niiya. All those wonderful memories that she made with Niiya as they searched for answers to her situation fare gone, pushed to one side, or perhaps hidden. In particular the rock of curses from episode four was an immensely significant moment for their relationship, where Yuuko showed Niiya Seikyou Academy as she sees it. Yuuko has effectively blocked off everything that links to her past, and even those events that Niiya is a part of are lost to her. It is as if a part of what made Niiya love Yuuko has vanished, with the memories and the events that are associated with them never existed in the first place.
It is quite obvious why Yuuko did wish to repress her memories of Niiya, and while her memories and feelings for him have returned, so has something far darker and more dangerous. Yuuko is now afraid of being left alone, she is afraid of the loneliness that being stuck in Seikyou Academy campus brings. In effect, part of her reason for pushing away all semblances of human feelings was so she could survive the loneliness of being stuck in an academy all on her own. By rediscovering, at least in part, her memories, Yuuko has rediscovered what it means to be and to feel alone, furthermore, she is afraid of Niiya disappearing from her life, leaving her to be once again alone in this world without friends or anyone to recognise her for who she is.
The emergence of Dark Yuuko is particularly interesting here, especially when, rather than have a demonic visage, she instead takes on the appearance of Yuuko herself. Furthermore, by finally recognising and admitting her feelings for Niiya, Yuuko has released the long repressed memories of her demise and the events that led to it. The darkness in her heart has effectively been let loose at last, and Dark Yuuko attempts to return, bringing with her everything that Yuuko wished to forget forever.
Yuuko’s past is a dark and terrible one, marked by a terror and horror that would make anyone lose his or her minds. It is quite obvious why she pushed these memories away, wishing to become someone new and beautiful, believing that her past has stained her, made her ugly and turned her into the thing she hates the most. Such feelings of terror and hated created Dark Yuuko, but they are one and the same, and in effect neither can live separately. Yuuko must therefore come to terms with her past if she is to be able to live in the present; however, she is currently incapable of doing that. She believes that she is ugly, stained by the pain in her past, and that, if Niiya knew who she truly was then he would hate her, thus recreating the vicious circle of pain, hatred and repression.
Both Yuuko’s feel the same, and while Yuuko may feel pain and fear at the thought of Niiya hating her, Dark Yuuko also feels pain, only in her case it is doubled. By splitting herself in two and pushing all the darkness into one half Yuuko is not truly complete, and by continuing to repress her feelings of hated, fear, anguish and pain, Yuuko only makes things worse. It is fascinating to see Niiya attempt to talk to, and in a way, reconcile these two opposites who are also the same. He truly cares for Yuuko, and we see his realisation that regardless of their different appearances, they are also the same Yuuko, just different sides.
It feels that the only way for Yuuko to reconcile with, and accept her past, is for Niiya to come to terms with what it means to love someone who has such a dark, and bloody history. He must therefore fully accept everything that he sees in Yuuko’s past, and by acknowledging that they exist, but don’t make him hate her, Yuuko may have a chance at becoming happy. What we do know is that neither Yuuko is the true Yuuko, both are equal, with one representing the pain in her past, whereas the other shows us the playful and happy elements of her personality. By coming to terms with, and perhaps, finally discovering what painful things lead to her demise, Niiya may be able to bring the two Yuuko’s back together.