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Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne Complete Series UK Anime DVD Review

12 min read
I wanted to say something like “Sexy girls doing things in sexy ways.” But frankly, that just wouldn’t do this series justice. Even if it is true.

Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the mind screw.

What They Say
Rin Asogi is an immortal private detective with a thirst for vodka and a talent for attracting things that go bump in the night. In a series of nightmarish vignettes spanning sixty-five years, Rin’s lush body is sadistically pierced, blown up, and mulched to a bloody pulp. The fiend behind her tortured existence is Apos, an eternal being obsessed with sacrificing Rin to Yggdrasil, the tree of all life. While Rin struggles to unravel the secrets of her endless agony, Apos lurks in the shadows, eager to tear into her ripe body and devour the memories of her countless lives. Rin’s no stranger to the realm of the dead, but her next visit could last forever.

Contains OVAs 1-6.

The Review:
For this review, I watched the series in Japanese – switching to the 5.1 occasionally to compare the stereo to the Dolby Surround. It’s a very good transition, reminds me of the Lupin review I did a while back from Manga Entertainment, but gets a lesser grade due to the fact I couldn’t really tell much difference despite the English having surround sound. However, it’s still a very strong release as there were no problems between the transition between audio and video, or with subtitles.

The video as standard isn’t bad, as there are no problems combining the audio and video, but there are two problems I found with it. First of all, the subtitles are unusual because of their font and their size – they seem very distracting at times, and whilst it’s not so much a problem in Japanese, one subtitle setting allows you to switch on the subtitles for street signs and such – in similar to the review of Ouran Host though not as bad, the sign subtitles are very distracting during verbal dialogue. The second problem is that the full-screen effect is too dark – now granted this is in context with the show and not the distributors fault, but this makes it very hard to take notes down when watching it at night ‘” I had to put a desk lamp on to keep with the atmosphere. More of a personal niggle than one that really would affect the series.

The menu, like the show, is quite dark on both discs, with the same setting of cherry blossoms flowing across the screen with a shot of Apos and his ‘companion’ sitting down during their chess game. Again, slightly lower marks as the menus are done on a dark background and it’s hard to sometimes notice where you are selecting. Also, the audio commentary in English is located in the episode select screen on Disc 1, though it does make sense as the commentary is on episode 2, whilst the remaining extras on the second disc contain episodes 4-6. You just need to keep an eye out for it.

Rin has a few extras up her sleeve. The basic ones are on the second disc, with a still image gallery of colour shots from all the episodes. There is also the clean opening and ending, which is a joy to watch because this show has a couple of the strangest in history, so to get a good look of them clean is a weird joy to watch.

The big extra on Disc 2 is a 14 minutes talk between four of the Japanese voice actresses talking about the show. Followers will most likely know these ladies – namely Mamiko Noto (Rin), Rie Kugimiya (Mimi), Sayaka Ohara (Laura) and Rie Tanaka (Sayara). All of them have appeared in some of my favourite shows over the years and their discussions are fun ‘” for example we learn the anime was produced to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the AT-X network, which it originally aired on, before discussing things about the show itself, which is the usual standard what they think about their characters, the discussions of some of the aspects of the show (their faces are classic discussing the erotic violence and the lesbian aspects), the meaning of Mnemosyne’and teasing poor Kugimiya-san for reading some of the characters wrong.

On Disc 1, we have an English commentary for episode 2. As each of these episodes are OVA length (45 mins) we have a big one involving Michael J. Tatum (director), Rob McCallum (Koki), Jamie Marchi (Mimi) and Colleen Clinkenbeard (Rin). This commentary is insane, pure and simple. The cast are on a non-alcoholic high, having a blast and they reference the show in a unique way (like they basically convincing the male Vas to work on the show by promising to show the yuri scenes, how they compared the call ups for the show compared to Romeo X Juliet – the difference of people wanting to go for Rin and R X J is’as you probably expected). It’s basically one hilarious mess of a commentary from start to finish as the group are genuinely having fun over the hilarity of the absurdity of the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne is one of a few 18+ shows I’ve had to review, but knowing nothing about the show beforehand, I was wondering what I’d let myself in for. Turns out, I was in for something that gave me flashbacks to Serial Experimental Lain – but unlike Lain, I was still confused by the end of it’s not a good sign.

We start off in what appears to be a scene of someone being chased, but is quickly changed to a shot of two young women drinking vodka in the morning. We’re introduced to Rin, a young woman who seems to be some sort of jack of all trades worker for hire, and her assistant/lover Mimi, a computer expert. This is immediately confusing as it suggests in the part before that the person in the chase scene who fell to her death was indeed Rin, and yet we see her alive and well, sharing vodka. With explanations needed, whilst on a job, she bumps into a man named Koki, who seems to have amnesia and pursued by some thugs. After Rin defeats them, she decides to help Koki on a whim to find out who he is. Revelations are made about him, but weirdly not about Rin ‘” as she is apparently killed again during a torture sequence when their infiltration of a building it appears Koki was working for, yet emerges from her body bag, goes after the sadistic Sayara, and after scaring her half to death, leaves her in the hands of other ‘experiments’ she had on her. It basically leads to asking Koki what to do with his life, and lets him decide ‘” which leads to him joining Rin and Mimi in their line of work.

At this point, it appears the episodes are all episodic. Episode 2 flashes forward a year to where Koki has been working, and we get more into Rin’s relationship with Mimi which is more sexual than the first episode would have implied. In this episode, she’s hired to find a rare postage stamp which is discovered that her old master and teacher has one. However, it is stolen from him and the assassin who apparently killed Rin at the beginning of the first episode has set up a trap, killing Rin with a bomb. Finally, it’s here where the plot begins to not confuse the viewer ‘” Koki is on a job trying the brother of a woman named Yuki, and sees Rin’s mutilated body regenerate. Mimi explains to him that both she and Rin are immortal due to Time Fruit inside their bodies, and that women with them become immortal, whilst men who do become superhumanly strong but have a short lifespan. However, women with the fruits are forcibly attracted to angels and sexually aroused by them, whilst angels devour them. It leads to the fact that Yuki’s brother is in fact an angel, who has been committing murders linked to finding the stamp. Rin confronts him, and in a sexual, bloody scene, manages to kill him. We also are introduced to the main villain, an angel-like deity named Apos, who is after all the Time Spores for his own consumption, but Rin manages to get it first, and gives it to Koki and Yuki, who become a pair.

To say the plot is confusing is an understatement as so many things happen in the episodes, but then it goes even weirder. For the next 3 episodes, the show fast forwards so many years into future generations ‘” both showcasing the girls immortality, and also just how long the true plot continues. Episode 3 fast-forwards to the year 2011 (20 years after episode 2) where Koki is still working with the unchanged girls, whilst he and Yuki are married and have a son, and despite the forwarding of two decades the nature of the show seems the same ‘” Rin is hired for a job, here she investigates something from the Second World War’s past known as Death Island and how it’s related to a recent group of bombing. It basically leads to the return of Sayara, who was alive due to also being immortal but has to rely on an exo-skeleton to move around. The battle basically leads to Koki helping out by consuming the fruit he received twenty years ago when he’s about to die, Sayara’s defeat and Apos coming up at the end to finish Koki off and take Sayara’s spore, whilst Rin appears to have fallen into the sea’

‘and then 14 years later for episode 4, is alive and well. We now get to Koki’s son now a young adult, and the world has changed with the grasp of virtual reality and the Internet now intermixed with reality. He is having cyber-sex with a woman named Ruon and asks to meet her in real life she refuses but he does see her where she is apparently murdered. In a similar situation to episode 2, Rin is killed again by the now cyborg assassin from episode 1 and 2 (named Laura) and like father, like son, Teruki has to witness Rin regenerating. It leads mostly about the technology created the girl named Ruon, to try and create a version of immortality. It leads to a battle in a plane where Ruon and Rin fall to their deaths in a jet engine’

‘and then you fast forward another 30 years where it is now possible to download into the real world, Teruki has a daughter, and is a businessman. Rin is also alive and well, but as it took 25 years for her to fully regenerate, she’s got memory loss and Apos has made Laura commit murders of angels and immortals in the disguise of Rin. Teruki’s daughter, Mishio, is being nosy in her father’s files and basically finds files on Rin, and notices someone who looks exactly like her. Rin is working at an office, has a fiancé, and seems to be having a normal life despite wondering what her past was. This is rectified by Laura as she hunts them down and kills them both ‘” however, the gunshot brings Rin’s memory back and with the help of Mishio escapes. They decided to find Mimi, who since Rin went missing, had become a nun ‘” at her temple. However, Laura and Apos are waiting for her, and whilst Rin is victorious against Laura, Apos reveals his true nature’

‘the final episode finally gets some grip on the plot, as Apos is in control of Yggradsil, and is a god/angel hybrid with the control of many Time Fruits. He seems to have a very special interest in Rin’s fruit, and delights in torturing her by making her kill an angel which was her fiancé, and then double-crosses Laura just to keep Rin alive. Rin also meets her old lover (as in 1000 years ago) Tajimamori, who is also Apos’ father. However, Apos doesn’t approve of them rekindling and kills his father, and begins his plot to merge Rin with Yggdrasil. However, thanks to a plot point back in episode 3 where Koki’s time fruit was thrown into the sea (Rin happened to pick it up) and the help of Mishio and Mimi, and manages to break free ‘” and also reveal how Koki’s family tree are in fact relations to Tajimamori, which is why Mishio had the power to break free. It leads to Apos’ defeat, and Rin having a child as the bloodline continues on.

As you probably guessed, this was a longer than normal review because I really had to dissect every episode ‘” it is very confusing. The immortality plotline is explained in episode 2, when episode 1 had 2 instances of Rin’s death confusing the viewer. Apos’ motives have remained unclear until the final episode and even then they just seem to be bordering on selfishness. A few of the reveals (like Apos’ true form, and Mishio’s relation to Tajimamori, heck, even Tajimamori himself) felt tacked on near the end to confuse the viewer even more. It also felt very repetitive, and whilst I can see why (as Rin reveals to generation to generation about her immortality) it got a bit dull at times. And this is definitely not a show for the faint of heart ‘” there is blood, sex, violence, rape, and cannibalism just to name a few things ‘” some of the scenes seemingly pointless whilst other scenes seemed to like cutting to something else (this seemed to be in particular to any kiss scenes oddly enough, mainly to Mimi and Rin, whilst a lot of the yuri sex scenes were mostly shown for example). Overall, the show is a jumbled mess.

However, it is just about passable for me mainly for a couple of reasons. First of all, confusing as it is, the two leads are good ‘” Mimi and Rin have a great dynamic, Rin is badass and fun, and she’s very open ‘” Mimi is sweet, the intelligent one that fills in a number of blanks for the characters (and the viewers), and I must admit I enjoyed the running gag of water/vodka at the beginning of the first few eps ‘” they are also a great pair, both comically, professionally and romantically, mainly as compared to every other scene they are quite innocent. And we have a couple of generations that also make the series passable ‘” we have Koki in episode 1 and 2 with his noble sacrifice in episode 3, his son Teruki in episode 4 who has to go through everything his dad went through, and most of all, Mishio in episode 5 and 6 who actually acts as a normal teenager yet delves too much into the past ‘” yet instead of collapsing like the two previous generations, she’s strong and helps out Rin out to the best degree. Granted, the tack on of how the family was related to the origin of Yggradsil seemed tacked on, but the characters themselves I can’t fault. The villains on the other hand are not sympathetic, their motives not really explain and Apos is just plain horrible. The show is saved mainly because of the good guys, because they at least try to keep the story coherent, and their interactions made it just passable to watch for me without looking at the timer every 5 minutes.

In Summary: 
Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne is not a show for everyone. The amount of sex and violence can lead to uncomfortable viewings (the 18+ rating is there for a reason), and the whole plot is very confusing and may take a few tries watching. Combined with the darkness of the show making it even hard to watch at times it almost got it down to a D grade. The saving grace is the two leads and the Maenos generation as they manage to get through the story, explain a number of points to keep the show being watchable and are a combination of likable and kickass. It’s definitely a mind screw, and it’s hard to watch again, but there’s a decent amount of extras and characterization which may make it at least good enough for one viewing to see if you can figure out everything.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Ending, Image Gallery, Japanese Seiyuu Discussion

Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: September 21st, 2010
MSRP: £19.99
Running Time: 430 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37C3030 – 37″ Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV ‘” Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers ‘” Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.