A paranormal investigations club has a real leg up on things when its president is a ghost.
What They Say:
Sixty years ago, a young woman was left to die in the abandoned school building behind the exclusive Seikyou Academy. No one knows why, no one knows how; but the horrifying tale and the legends of the ghostly haunting that followed live on to this day. Perhaps it’s not so surprising then, that among Seikyou’s many school clubs is one for students interested in “paranormal investigations.” What might raise more than a few hairs, however, is that the founder of the club is the ghost herself.
Unable to remember how she died and trapped in the grey land between life and death, Yuko latches onto Teiichi Niiya, a freshman who can inexplicably see her. Together they and the other unsuspecting members of the club begin to unravel the many dark mysteries that surround Seikyou. Will unlocking the secret of Yuko’s gruesome death finally free her? Or will her sudden close association with a mortal have even stranger repercussions on both of their existences?
Contains episodes 1-13 plus two soundtrack CDs.
The audio presentation for this release is quite good as we get the original Japanese language in stereo along with the new English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is primarily dialogue driven but it has a number of very good music cues to it and the incidental sounds that hit are spot on in certain scenes to create the right kind of atmosphere for the show. When it goes big, which is a few times, it has a great sense of strength and warmth to it as it plays out, both in dialogue and all the action aspects. The show plays with the dialogue well when it comes to the way the characters interact with each other. This helps a number of scenes along the way, mostly done for comical effect, but the end result is solid overall. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in the spring of 2012, the twelve episodes and OVA For this series are presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and five on the second as episode twelve gets its extended version included here as well. Animated by Silver Link, the show is one that really impressed with its design and visual quality when it was simulcast and the high definition presentation here builds very well on that. Though a lot of the show works through some darker locations throughout its run, it also has a lot of lighter ones and some great vibrancy at times. Some of the sunset scenes alone are just stunning to look at, especially since we get parts of it with every closing sequence. The transfer brings through the quality of the colors in a great way while detail is solid and there’s no problems with line noise or heavy noise in the backgrounds.
The packaging for this release is pretty tight as it has everything inside a standard sized Blu-ray case. The front cover artwork offers up a great and atmospheric image of Yuuko laying down while the simple logo is through part of it, blending it in rather well. With the yellows and oranges here, it has a great look and is definitely eye-catching even if it also has a murky feeling as well. The back cover is darker and less defined unfortunately with a lot of blacks and reds that almost blend and hide the character artwork too much. The premise is laid on top of it in white and is decently readable even though the font is small, but it could have been a bit better. A few shots from the show are included and there’s a solid strip rundown of what’s in the case and the extras that are available for it. The production credits list everything clearly and the technical grid covers all of the information cleanly and accurately.
While there’s no reversible cover we do get an insert here that has a breakdown of the tracks on the two discs with some great artwork on all sides. The insert opens up to provide translated lyrics for the opening and closing songs which is bright and airy, especially since it features a mostly naked Yuuko sprawled in the bed. The requiem gets the back of the insert and is laid out well too. The two soundtracks that are included here are a hugely welcome piece, though I didn’t get a chance to really go through them in detail and enjoy them, but I did add a number of the tracks to a playlist to savor and enjoy later in the quiet of the night.
The menu design for this release is really nice done where we get something pretty in theme and appropriately moody. The main aspect of the menu is the static artwork that dominates it, such as the first volume where we get the shot of Yuuko looking at herself in the mirror. The left side has the navigation which looks like a piece of space that’s opened up to another dimension where it’s tinged red around the edges. It doesn’t extend to the bottom of the screen so that when you use it as a pop-up menu, it looks like it appears right in the show itself at first glance. The layout has the episodes and numbers going down and the language submenu features the access to the episode commentary setup as well. The layout works well and everything loads quickly and smoothly
The extras for this release goes above and beyond here with the inclusion of the original Japanese language commentary tracks. These are always very, very hard to translate and that they made the effort for it is a big plus while also adding a lot of replay value to the release. The show also includes the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as the extended version of episode twelve, which adds some minor changes to what was broadcast.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga Tasogare Otome x Amnesia by Maybe, the shonen series from Monthly Gangan Joker has been running since 2009 and is set to conclude in June 2013 with nine volumes. The anime adaptation of the series for this season is done by Silver Link with Shin Omuna directing, who has some good credits for shows of this nature and was seen last on C3. With the shows premise of working with a Paranormal Investigation Club, it offers up plenty of potential as each season seems to bring out one semi-horror related show if not one outright and this one looks to play the mix a bit with it rather than a full on dark, brutal and creepy show. In fact, the first few minutes of it are almost comical as we see the club member Momoe getting both so very scared and animated in the clubroom over what possibilities there are for mysteries at the moment.
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia works with a very small cast, something that can be problematic with some shows but works very well here. The core of it is the two leads with Yuuko, a ghost that is discovered (or called to) by Teiichi Niiya, a high school student who is able to see her because he’s accessible to the fact that she might exist. The two of them have a near instant bond, one where she likes to mess with him a bit, while his intention is to try and find a way to help her discover what happened to her in the past. With Yuuko having resided in the old school building for some sixty years since her death as a human, the things she’s caused over the decades have become things of school lore, such as the usual mysteries and the like. In order to help her, they have to try and figure out what happened to her in the past, but she’s lost those memories and is unable to remember anything related to that past life.
The group is filled out with two very different people. The first is Momoe, an outgoing and busty young woman who is tuned in to so many of the supernatural goings on within the school and one that she had to deal with herself is what introduced her to the club that exists in that old school building that’s built on temple grounds from decades ago. Unlike Teiichi, she can’t see Yuuko and Yuuko messes with her from time to time, though more often than not Momoe is just oblivious to it actually happening. The other member is the more serious Kirie, a young woman who has an abject fear of ghosts but manages to come to understand Yuuko as the show progresses. She has a really interesting arc in the series as her own past and connections come to light and that helps, through certain coincidences of course, to set the stage right for what’s going on with Yuuko’s past. Sometimes it’s a little too pat and easy, but everything happens for a reason kind of thing with the cast that’s built here.
While the show deals with some familiar themes to be sure as we see the gang dealing with some of the mysteries that are out there, there’s also a recurring theme that comes throughout it as there’s a malevolent spirit of some kind that’s just around the edges and getting stronger with how it’s interacting with others. Thankfully, it doesn’t actually wait until the last episode for the real encounter with it, but rather does it just past the halfway mark a bit and showcases its connection with Yuuko. What this ends up doing is allowing it to delve into Yuuko’s past in a creative way, shuttling Teiichi through Yuuko’s real memories so he can understand what happened in that difficult past. While he is just an observer as one might expect, it’s a bit more interactive and with him experiencing what she does, it makes his connection all the stronger with her. Which makes coming back to the present even harder since it creates a schism between the two and she loses her memory of him. That turns into a kind of familiar premise to work through of course, but because the show is kept small and without much in the way of a lot of angst and complications between the core cast, it gets to focus more on the main two as they struggle through it.
While the show gives us a pretty fun little follow-up OVA that gives us a look at what happens after the series, and I did enjoy it, I rather liked the way the series itself ended even though the manga was at the time still obviously ongoing. What the show does here in its twelve episode run is to tell a good story with a beginning, middle and end that gives us some closure. The show won me over rather handily in its simulcast run and it holds up very well now a year later watching it all in marathon form. Sentai Filmworks really did a great job with this release overall, with a good cast working the show (honorific issues that some have with it notwithstanding), bringing in all the commentary tracks and even going so far as to include a pair of soundtrack releases with it. There’s a whole lot to like here that’s definitely worth spending a lot of time with.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Commentaries, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.