Judge William Lee recommends starting your morning with quick oats and time fruit.
It only hurts forever.
Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne: The Complete Series pushes the content limits of televised animation about as far as possible before being categorized with adults-only anime. No tentacle monsters here but there's plenty of gory violence and lesbian sex. The story involves the usual dose of weird supernatural logic found in Japanese cartoons, but the tight scripting helps to keep it sensible most of the time.
Facts of the Case
Rin Asougi is a green-haired private detective based in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo, Japan. She's also an immortal, her sexy body able to quickly regenerate from any injury inflicted upon it. With the help of her teenage-looking assistant Mimi, Rin tackles cases while dodging attempts on her life by long-time enemies Laura and Apos. The six 45-minute episodes of the series are spread across two discs:
• Cats Don't Laugh
• Angels Don't Cry
• Flowers Don't Shed Tears
• Ghosts Don't Scream
• Holy Nights Don't Shine Brightly
• And Then, to the Door of the Kingdom…
The world of Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne feels like a cross between Highlander andWicked City with its dueling immortals in an urban setting populated with disgusting monsters. There is a huge World Tree, called Yggdrasil, which can only be seen by immortals. It is constantly sending out invisible spores, the majority of which pass through objects to be reabsorbed in the earth. About one in a million spores are time fruits and these can infect humans. Infected females become immortals, able to quickly regenerate (like Wolverine from the Marvel comics); infected males become angels, grotesque horndogs with wings. When immortals and angels are in close proximity with one another, they are driven to copulate and then kill their mate.
Since she can't be killed, Rin is subjected to various forms of violence over the course of the series. She's regularly shot and blown up but the filmmakers especially enjoy torturing Rin, as well as the other characters, with knives and other bladed weapons. Rin isn't a skilled fighter but give her points for resiliency.
There is quite a bit of animated nudity in this show. There are no distasteful close-ups and, most of the time, the lighting effects partially mask the nudity in silhouette or under a bright glow. Still, naked boobs and butts are amply displayed. The box states the show is rated TV-MA but if Rin were a movie, it would certainly be rated R for the violence and suggestive sexual content.
Setting aside the complex rules of Rin's world for a moment, the individual episodes are very enjoyable. The detective stories are easy to follow even if some of the explanations don't immediately stick the first time you hear them. Rin is attractively drawn and the character possesses a worldly sophistication and a cool, confident attitude that makes her a likeable protagonist. The writing also smartly touches on technology, from the humorous hindsight of 1990s computer hardware to the sci-fi speculation of the future.
The animation is about average for television anime so some scenes are rendered smoother than others. The image on this DVD set is good. The anamorphic image is clean and the lines look crisp when they're supposed to be. The lighting effects do a lot to maintain the techno-noir mood and even in the shadows reasonable detail is present.
This Funimation DVD release includes the original Japanese audio as well as an English-dubbed translation. Purists will delight in the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix, which keeps all the channels active. The music and environmental sound effects are precise and strong. To my untrained ear, however, it was sometimes hard to distinguish the Japanese voices. The English subtitles appear to be a direct translation of the Japanese script.
Viewers preferring their cartoons in English will hear a quality dub, also mixed in 5.1 surround, that makes the dialogue more natural sounding for North American audiences. Colleen Clinkenbeard (Murder Princess: The Complete Series) gives Rin personality and Jamie Marchi (Burst Angel: Death's Angel (Volume 1)) voices the otherwise obligatory screechy anime teen role with control. The small trade-off if opting for the English language track is that the sound effects and background audio is slightly subdued.
Funimation has included a handful of extras that don't add a great deal to the experience but will be enjoyable for fans of the show. The promotional videos were used to sell the show before its debut on Japanese television. The textless opening and closing sequences are actually useful in this instance because the animated footage isn't used elsewhere in the series. The opening also hints at details that aren't revealed until the last episode so it's interesting to see it without the distracting credits. The video interview with the Japanese cast is more like an informal chat but it's fairly amusing to hear the actresses talk about their roles. They also take a stab at explaining the title for those who aren't familiar with Greek mythology. The second episode is accompanied by an audio commentary with the voice director and cast of the English dub and it very enjoyable for their lively and frank discussion about working on the show.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
A lot of anime series are padded out with generic monsters of the week so I appreciate the tight storytelling of Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne. Every episode feels essential which maintained my interest as the bigger story arc was gradually revealed. However, some of the supporting characters are shortchanged as a result. The police officer who has a history with Rin and the informant who demands lesbian sex for information are just two examples of intriguing side characters that deserved a little more screen time.
For mature audiences looking for some edgier stuff, Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne should satisfy. There's enough stronger content to titillate, thrill, and intrigue but the storytelling and direction keeps the show from becoming all about the nasty stuff. It's a good-looking show with interesting characters and it doesn't waste time with unnecessary plot developments. Extra points for employing an underused grapheme.
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