Tasogare Otome x Amnesia – Parting Ways
June 29, 2012 2 Comments
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia has been a series about friendship and the acceptance of your own darkness. It was a series about how an innocent meeting between two different people can change the way they look at the world forever. Between them they were the light and the dark in the series, with Yuuko being used in places as a metaphor for peoples inability to truly accept their own dark sides, as if it would destroy them. Her fear of the emotions and feelings that she felt during her final moments set of a chain of events that filled Seikyou Academy with ghost stories and supernatural phenomenon. She was so afraid of her own darkness and the negative emotions that were associated with it, that Yuuko pushed it away, creating shadow Yuuko.
The stories surrounding Yuuko, along with Shadow Yuuko suggest that they are malign spirits, bent on dragging innocent students to their grave. They are classic ghost stories with a vengeful girl killed in terrible and strange circumstances out for revenge at this injustice. All these stories have elements of truth and do feed back into Yuuko’s death, along with the various older stories and beliefs that the town’s people have kept alive. But that is all the are, stories, and yet, such stories have gained an immense amount of power, changing themselves and those who hear them. The Yuuko that we know and see on screen is a far cry from that in the ghost stories, she is not vengeful, and she does not hunt innocent students simply for the fun of it. Rather she is a somewhat naïve and playful high school girl who is in part attempting to escape from reality.
Her amnesia as we learn is not medical, nor is it necessarily supernatural, but Yuuko has created it in order to protect herself from the pain in her past that she wishes to forget. Shadow Yuuko is therefore the other side of the Yuuko that we see with Teiichi, and more importantly, she is far from being evil, but is as lonely and as sad as Yuuko. We have seen over the course of the series how stories involving Yuuko can be twisted and changed into something terrible, with a bloodthirsty Yuuko who may curse of kill you. The story involving The Red Woman – someone who chooses a human sacrifice to appease the gods – how these stories can corrupt people, turning them on each other as if they were beasts. Yuuko is at the centre of this; with the students involved firmly believing that by using Yuuko as a sacrifice, The Red Woman will be appeased and their lives will be spared.
Such fear, anger, and resentment feeds into Shadow Yuuko, further adding to her enmity for Yuuko, and causing her increased amounts of pain as the series goes on. By pushing away all her negative emotions, thoughts and feelings, Yuuko creates something that is a shadow of herself, forcing it to live carrying such a terrible burden no matter what the cost. Shadow Yuuko is therefore upset, angry, and above all, lonely; she is forced to watch on while Yuuko and Teiichi are happy flirting and spending their days together, oblivious of the surroundings. The negative emotions that such a situation generates appears to push Shadow Yuuko over the edge, making her chase after Yuuko and attempt to take her over, making her feel the pain, anger and loneliness that she feels everyday.
It is a series about someone who is running away from her past, but who cannot escape it since they are always being drawn together. Yuuko cannot, or perhaps, will not remember, she is afraid of her past and of the terrible things she felt, said and thought, as if the negative emotions and feelings that she felt would overtake her and twist her into something terrible and destructive. Her meeting with Teiichi is a turning point, the start of her accepting her own past and coming to terms with what happened when she was sacrificed by the village elders out of fear for their lives and those of the village. While others may have believed many of the stories involving Yuuko, Teiichi is able to see the truth before his eyes.
Rather than this fearsome visage attempting to destroy those he cares about, Teiichi sees an incredibly beautiful and playful girl, someone who simply wants to have friends. And although he does have two moments of weakness where Teiichi falls prey to the power of the stories, he is able to overcome them, realising once again that Yuuko is simply a beautiful and lonely girl. To Yuuko, Teiichi is the first person that has ever been able to interact with her as if she were a real human. Her attachment to him is therefore partly due to the strange and unique position that they find themselves in, with Teiichi being the first person that can truly interact with her. Her feelings of love for Teiichi partly come out of this need for human contact, although this does not make them any less genuine or important.
Their relationship steadily grows over the course of the series, with Teiichi and Yuuko getting ever closer despite the many obstacles in their way. And yet, Yuuko once again gets scared and rejects what she sees as immensely dangerous and damaging emotions. She has never fallen in love before, and as such the power of this new emotion overwhelms her, making her push Teiichi away quite literally. While we do see Teiichi and Yuuko nearly forget about each other, they are able to overcome such an obstacle and once again accept their own versions of reality. This simple gesture of learning to love finally allows Yuuko, with the help of Teiichi to accept her past, acknowledging that regardless of the emotions she felt, the thoughts she had, and the pain she experienced, they are all a part of her. Teiichi is able to accept her as she is, rather than as she wanted to be, and by doing so lifts a shadow from Seikyou Academy, exorcising it of the dark presence that had been lingering there since Yuuko’s death.
But this simple gesture also changed something far more fundamental, not only in the Academy, but in Yuuko. By accepting the pain in her past and once again becoming a whole, the true Yuuko as it were, she has fulfilled her role as a ghost. She begins to fade, but instead of telling Teiichi decides to spend her last moments fulfilling her wish of spending time with him. Their date is a bittersweet moment where two people who are deeply in love with each other can enjoy each others company and do the things that they thought were impossible. It is a beautiful moment where the playfulness of Yuuko is tinged with a hint of sadness and with the knowledge that there is something terrible about to happen.
Yuuko’s attempt to hurt Teiichi, believing that by making a clean break he will be able to forget about her is beautiful, but also terrible. She knows that she is fading; she no longer has any regrets and can pass on knowing that someone truly and deeply cares for her. As Kirie suggests, her existence itself is odd, a solitary ghost who continues to haunt the school, yet there are no other ghosts in the area. Yuuko acknowledges it, and suggests that none of these ghosts can remain for long, once they have got over their earthly regrets they can once again move on and go to the afterlife, wherever it may be. Yuuko attempts to suggest that her time in Seikyou Academy was time she should have never had, as if her existence itself was too unnatural to continue. In doing so we see Yuuko trying to make their last moments together easier to bear, suggesting to Teiichi that he can easily get over her and find someone who he can settle down with for the rest of his life.
Teiichi on the other hand does no agree, his time with Yuuko is something precious, something important, and something he does not want to forget. Their feelings for each other are the same, but they react in different ways and wish to go in different directions, but at last we see two people joined together, sharing in their last precious moments. This final scene with Yuuko and Teiichi is as wonderful as it is heartbreaking, a tragic romance that perhaps should never have existed. But by falling in love with each other, we have seen Teiichi grow as a character, and Yuuko capable of accepting her painful past. The final sequence in the clubroom in a way mirrors the episode where Yuuko could not see Teiichi out of fear of her past. This time, while Teiichi can touch her, he cannot see her, rather than any dialogue, we instead get brief phrases of words written in the familiar notebook like they are communicating across as a void.
It is a gorgeous and heartrending sequence with Yuuko finally disappearing during their final kiss, showing that whether they wanted to or not, Yuuko and Teiichi finally left each other with feelings that they will never forget. Teiichi goes on with life, but instead of forgetting about Yuuko, locks those feelings, emotions, memories and pain away in his heart. It is like he has to push them away into a corner in order to get on with his life, and yet he is never quite the same again. The true ending comes as a surprise, and yet, while it may appear to be a cop-out after such a beautiful yet tragic sequence, it curiously enough fits the series. In a sense Teiichi does what Yuuko did, instead of acknowledging his pain he attempts to push it away. Yuuko’s return can in part be viewed as the pain in Teiichi’s past coming back to haunt him, she is the embodiment of his pain, his love and his joy.
This series was expertly crafted with a wonderful script story and characters, the resolution, while slightly odd felt right, showing how two people can be drawn together and change their lives and their fate. It was a series in part about the power of stories and beliefs, and how they can change and twist those who listen to and believe them. Yuuko’s death was caused by the village elders fear of the unknown and trust in their long held beliefs and stories. It was also a series about being able to accept your own darkness and acknowledge that no matter what you might say it is what you believe and your actions that are important. Yuuko, through her meeting with Teiichi is able to overcome her own darkness and live a life filled with playful joy, and the series ending feels like it is no less than these characters deserve.
The series has been wonderfully animated, with Silver Link and Sakamoto Takashi working together to create a brilliantly atmospheric piece that combined a fascinating visual style with entertaining characters and an excellent soundtrack. It was a highly stylised series, with a wonderful use of colour that matched the characters actions, helping to further enhance particular scenes, making them even darker, or creating a wonderful fantasy feel with a colour palette that few other series can match. And let us not forget the voice actors who helped to bring these characters to life; in particular Hara Yumi who voiced Yuuko helped to pull this show from the verge of being terrible or worse mediocre into something simply spectacular. She is a seiyuu with very few roles up until this point, but she managed to create a Yuuko who was mature, mysterious, serious, but also playful, and constantly flirting with Teiichi at every opportunity. It was a series as playful as it was serious, one that could maintain a serious plot, all the while adding on silly little scenes involving the ever energetic Yuuko, or the constantly curious Okonogi.
It did have its faults of course, with a first half seemingly meandering through the plot, not necessarily knowing which direction it should go in, however, everything came together in the second half, with a convincing story matched with outstanding visuals and wonderful voice acting from the entire cast. It was fascinating to watch how such a small cast could grow and change over the course of the series, and while certain characters such as Okonogi were generally used more as foils for Yuuko’s jealousy to bounce off of, they were still important to the story itself. In the end Tasogare Otome x Amnesia was a simple yet wonderful romance series, one where the central characters had to overcome their own difficulties in order to be together. While you watched this series you quickly began to forget that Yuuko was a ghost, her presence was so great that it was almost impossible at times to even consider her as someone who no one other than Teiichi and Kirie could see. While it has a supernatural and quite dark element to the series, the central premise of two people who meet and fall in love remains the same. This may seem unoriginal to some people, however, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia helped to create something that was brilliant to watch, with immense highs and emotional lows, easily one of the best of the year so far.