[Alice and Finch ? Wavering✓ The Hero✓ Span✓ Djeb✓ Inck✓]
Cover page for readers:
This is only a fifteen page portfolio, double spaced (despite what it may seem). In fact it’s shorter than one might expect because poetry uses a lot of lines. The portfolio can be easily navigated using the navigation tools (ctrl + f > type anything from the table of contents.).
Table of Contents
Contents [you can search with ctrl + f]
Alice and Finch – Primary Dawn
The Hero and the Star
Span – Chapter 1 [abridged]
The Djeb Guard
Alice and Finch – Sluggish Mind [Chapter 12]
Alice and Finch – Primary Dawn
Ever since she appeared in the capital, Alice was always a point of interest. During her childhood, she had passively garnered followers, children in the neighbourhood and later others from around the entire city. Alice was an energetic girl. She wasn’t entirely coherent, but she was very driven and children seemed to find value in that. Adults would watch her warily and some would even keep their children away from her. It was the unusual appearance. Alice had an obvious and striking look to her. Her hair was brightly coloured, less Solune-brown and more sandy-orange. Usually her eyes were a deep maroon, but when she got excited or angry they would become an astonishing red. But, the real reason why adults avoided her was because of her unpredictability, paired with her tooth and nail.
Alice was of the mysterious desert people from the east, a Plainkind. She had extra canines, longer and thicker than any Solune’s. They often hid behind her stretch-marked cheeks, but when she smiled they never failed to come out. Her nails were not only long, but claw-like. And her free spirit made many worry; what would she do next? Even worse, there were the rumours, whispers passed behind scornful faces. Had she ever used those claws? Hurt someone? Maybe killed someone? And with a spirit such as hers, whatever she may or may not have done obviously didn’t affect her morality. Did she even have respect for us common folk?
– The Most Artistic Detective Anime (That isn’t Really a Detective Fiction)
From a programmatic perspective, the opening scene of this anime is perfect. Both scenes. The only thing I could think to change would be the placement of the opening (put it after the opening scene, not before it! It’s more dramatic that way.)
Before I begin, let me set up the program for this review. I’ll be covering the first part of Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi, localized as Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne. Although, more accurately it can be translated simply as: Mnemosyne: Daughters of Mnemosyne. I will cover:
The first opening
The Hotel Scene
So, with that out of the way, let’s begin.
The Opening Scene(s)
With the exception of the very “fast” final episode, Mnemosyne is a very tight, well-managed anime. By that I mean that every scene, almost every action, has its place. There would be something missing if you cut five or ten minutes from this show. Compare this to other anime or even television shows—think of how many scenes are just there for fun and may not add anything to the overall story—and you will quickly see why this is a complement.
The opening scene is a great example. Any good anime, television show, novel, play—any art form with a temporal aspect should tell you what it will be about within the first twenty or so minutes of the experience. The simple explanation is that you need to make sure your audience knows what they’re in for. Some people, certain academics anyway, call this the “program” of a narrative. Like the program you get if you go to a play or performance, the program of an anime tells you what’s going to happen, but skips the juicy details. If you’re in, your mind will ready itself for the payoff of the show. If no, you can switch away knowing that you won’t be missing anything you wanted to see.
Mnemosyne opens with the intro song, which I might get into later, and then an opening scene. A woman is running up a stairwell from someone, a predator—a mercenary, sent to kill her. The setting is dark and urban, I might even call it noir, but I don’t know enough about the noir genre to correctly categorize anything. Who we presume is our hero makes it to a door, wearing only a button up shirt. It’s locked! Moving fast, she pulls out some steel and picks the lock, locking it behind her. Running up the stairs, she makes it to the rooftop just as the mercenary breaks the door down behind her. The, the mercenary arrives, armed with a shotgun. She spots her target and shots are fired. Rin sprints beneath the night sky and jumps to the other roof. Our hero didn’t make the jump—she’s hanging by one hand. The mercenary smiles, and shoots her. We watch Rin fall to the ground, dead, followed (rather artistically) by her dismembered arm. The mercenary leaves, but not before crushing Rin’s fallen glasses beneath her foot.
So, is this programmatic of the anime? Simply put, yes. There are a few important elements. The first would be the violence. Not just blood, but a full disembodied limb. It’s enough to give it its well-earned R+ rating at the very least. Later, there are at least two scenes of torture, so an audience had better be expecting something along those lines. The touch of nudity is also important, if only because there’s a bit of sexuality and nudity in the anime. Violence an nakedness are ever-present aspects of Mnemosyne, so a viewer should know right away that there’s a potential for their depiction. More important than the violence, however, is Rin’s reaction to it. She is very calm, despite her doom. This is also meaningful. It is a valid expression of the overall tone of the anime. Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi is a calm, intelligent deliberation on the value of life and immortality.
After this opening scene, Rin wakes up in her bed. A scene later, she’s in an office, wearing standard professional clothing, complete with a vest and tie. Is this a flashback? We’re left wondering for quite a few more scenes. We find out that Rin’s job is something of a jack-of-all trades type private investigator. Almost a Jessica Jones, without all the edginess. Shortly after, we meet another very important character, the character with the problem for the episode. He’s being hunted by some men in suits, and using swift and deadly combat abilities she saves him and they begin to talk.
The man, named Maeno, says he doesn’t know who he is. The scene is rather therapeutic, with him sitting on a red chair, facing perpendicular. “Amnesia?!” Shouts Rin. “No, I have my memory. I also know my address and phone number.” He explains. Maeno has a far worse problem, one a little more original. I won’t give it away, this episode is well worth the forty-five minutes. Right now though, neither party knows what’s wrong with him, although it is revealed by the end of the episode.
There are some beautiful scenes in this anime, held back only by its budget. This image is the scene on which I’ll end my analysis of the introduction. Rin is on the phone. We don’t know with whom, and we won’t know until well past halfway through the series. This is important for the program though, as it alludes to something going on behind the scenes. (As does Rin’s references to the name “Apos,” and the appearance of the partially-incorporeal figure at the end of the hotel scene later.)
I have a lot more to say about this terrific and oft-missed anime, but I will end it here for today. But first, I’ll reveal whether or not the second scene is a flashback. Or rather, I’ll let the mercenary reveal it for you.
Rin is immortal, she survived the fall, and regrew her arm.
Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi is a brilliant, bloody and artistic series. It’s loaded with symbolism and detail that even after analysing, I don’t think I’ve completely come to understand. It is not perfect. I believe that it needed on more episode, as the final one was a little too rush-paced. But that aside, if you’re looking for something truly unique, and with the ethos of an “anime was produced to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the AT-X network,” then Mnemosyne is not an anime to be passed on.
After I caught up with Hajimete no Gal, I struck out in search of another romance manga, and I’m happy I did. I found Saotome Senshu.
Like many romances, Saotomi Senshu has chosen to lower the complexity of the story in order to focus on the romance. Let me tell you a secret. In manga, this is a game-winning idea. Most of the best romances have decent stories, but what they trade in for story, they gain in character.
The reason I think Saotome Senshu, Hitakakusu has a rating of 7.32 on MAL (as of May 2018) is for two reasons:
First, the two main characters get together early on, and their relationship has actual progression. You never feel like you’re being led on, or that filler is being thrown in for something meaningless—things found in other manga, such as the author being afraid of actually letting the main couple get together. This is notable for me anyway, as I used to watch a lot of romance anime when I was a tween, and the main pair would either get together at the end, or never get together at all.
Second, I’ve never seen a coach/athlete combo. Not just romance either, like, in anything ever. (Although, I guess I don’t have enough sports manga experience to really see it). Points for originality.
And here we go. The main character is timid and shy. Oh no, you might be thinking, a cliche right off the bat! Well, fear not, he’s also dedicated, driven, and focused. Satoru is a huge boxing fan. He knows all about it, but he’s quite bad at actually boxing.
Saotome confesses to him, something I’ve never seen a female manga character do. And then they have natural relationship progression!! Augh! Finally!
Anyway, that aside, the coach makes Satoru into Saotomi’s trainer, so that they have an excuse to be together all the time. (Because Saotomi is famous, and you don’t want people talking, right? Honestly, I feel like the secrecy is just put in for tension, but I guess tension is good…) I remember there was a scene where their really pushy friend / manager Mito asks them what they’ve done together.
Sex? No. Kiss? No. Have you two even held hands?
Among all this, the pacing remains natural. They really get to know each other before they move to the next step. This manga isn’t like Akikan or Elfen Lied where they’re just immediately making out all the time.
Back to characters; Mito is fairly interesting. I think we all know someone who loves shipping characters, right? Well, Mito has shipped the main characters—but, she’s actually in the story with them. So what happens? Well, I think it’s enough to say that she acts on her ship. Mito becomes quite the orchestrator in later chapters.
The mangaka has a fairly unique style. It looks like heI’m a huge fan. Satoru looks really shabby but entirely lovable, and Saotomi has a stoic, piercing gaze. Expression is top notch, with people like Mito giving us all sorts of interesting looks.
Also, it seems to be a trend among artists to not give their female characters (even warriors) any muscle mass whatsoever. I personally live by a very simple principal: if a character uses weapons, give her the muscles necessary to wield those weapons. (It’s similar to my clothing principal. A character should dress in a way you would expect them to dress themselves.)
Honestly, this might become my new favourite manga. Hajimete no Gal is great, but its release schedule is really long, like once or twice a month. I’m not sure what Saotome Senshu’s is, but it’s really fast. Weekly maybe?
Overall, if you like romance or boxing, or sports, or just a good drama, read Saotome Senshu, Hitakakusu. It’s wonderful!
It might even get higher, depending on how Hajimete no Gal goes, and how this goes. Both series are just starting, and I need a lot more information before I can place a final score on either.
*Update as of May 2018
(Or chapter 68)
As of chapter 68, I have a better grasp of Saotome Senshu. The story has more depth than I had previously expected, although conversely the characters aren’t as amazing as I initially thought. Sort of the reverse of Hajimete no Gal.
Eventually, I’ll write a fully updated review. Hope to see you for it Feel free to follow this blog.
The next few days of my life will be a sort of strange vacation. Me and 1-2 friends will be playing Tales of Symphonia in its entirety. So, most of my blog posts will be like this, a simple stream or youtube video of us playing this game,
So, if anyone is interested in watching me and my pals play this game, check it out! You can hear my voice and my opinions almost in person.