Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne
by Polly


Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne is another one of those shows I tried to get into while it was airing and just couldn't quite make the push through. Even at a mere six episodes, something about it just never clicked, and the first two episodes were sent marching towards the Recycle Bin never to be spoken of or remembered again. It recently appeared on Netflix's instant streaming service, thanks to Funimation's dedication to having Japanese Cartoons available on everything from your PS3 to your fucking toaster, and since I was bored this past Sunday evening with nothing else on my "To-Watch" list being immediately appealing at the time, Mnemosyne jumped out at me again, thanks in part to its easy to pick up and put down running time.

Mnemosyne is what happens when an animation studio and a TV station famous for showing everyone's favorite Japanese Cartoons with all the nudie bits and icky, sticky bloody parts unedited get together and decide to celebrate ten years of sex and violence. It goes something like, "HOW DO WE CELEBRATE THIS WONDERFUL MILESTONE?" "I KNOW, LET'S HAVE A LOT OF TITS!" "OH OH OH AND SOME BLOOD TOO! LOTS OF BLOOD!" "Okay, hold on guys, GENIUS IDEA...BLOOD...BOOBS...BOOBS PLUS BLOOD...AT THE SAME TIME!" "Hold on, Yoshi, I just shit my pants and came at the same time! Get me some new trousers and your finest character designer on the phone, THIS HAS TO HAPPEN!"

And thus, Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne was born. A title that tries really hard to harken back to the 80's/90's style of OVA one-shot/short series formulas where you typically got a lot of well...sex and violence, and most likely not a whole lot of substance...Other than blood or other bodily fluids. Does it succeed in capturing that sort of feeling or even being a good show at all? Well, let's just dig out our sharpest set of butcher knives, cut this fucker open, and fiddle around with the insides a little bit and see!

Right from the get-go, the series gives you a pretty damn good idea of what it's all about. Yes, no doubt that just like the previously reviewed Highschool of the Dead, by the time this show's opening animation is over, you'll know if you're in this one for the long haul (well, maybe not so long) or not. If you haven't guessed by the brief introduction, you're in for a good deal of sex, torture, violence, and bondage, with a fair good bit of kick-ass over the top action thrown in to mix things up a bit.

Mnemosyne begins its journey in Shinjuku in the year 1990, focusing on a tiny private investigation firm run by the buxom and somewhat whimsical Rin Asougi and her "yeah, you look way too young to be doing this kinda stuff" partner Mimi. Together they take on seemingly banal jobs like finding peoples' lost cats, but find themselves also drawn into larger mysteries and operations including assassinations and high-level hacking. Rin is the brawn and Mimi is the brains, and the roles become quickly defined and set in stone once the show gets rolling. There's not a whole lot of character progression worth mentioning beyond a couple of dark pasts, but the mains do a good job of carrying the show, and their friendship is believable. Sounds like a perfectly good set up for your average buddy detective/police'ish comedy kinda show, but very little in Mnemosyne is a laughing matter.

As it turns out, Rin and Mimi are immortals incapable of dying after receiving time fruits (or spores of time depending on the sub or dub) that are randomly scattered about by Yggdrasil, the fabled world tree. Any female receiving one of these randomly spewed fruits becomes immortal and ceases to age, while any male who happens to have an unfortunate run in with the shiny little orbs becomes an Angel, a pale-skinned, winged creature whose only desire is to have sex with immortal women and devour them afterward. The relationship becomes even more dangerous for female immortals, as they completely lose their composure in the presence of an Angel, and will become a more than willing participant in an Angel's twisted ritual. Naturally, there's an antagonist primed and ready to take full advantage of this situation, and sets plans into motion that will have drastic affects on all of humanity if he's not stopped. He's a smarmy little shit too, the kinda guy you wanna fuckin' hate a lot, so points for effectiveness there.

If this show's idea of immortality and casual twisting of religious imagery sounds like it's ripped right out of a schlocky porn or hentai title, then you wouldn't be alone. Much of the entire series' focus is on sex, and our heroines will lose their shit and become cock-crazy and unable to fight back a good number of times throughout Mnemosyne's short six-episode run.

Thankfully, it never really degenerates to porn-level unwatchability, thanks to a pretty interesting story progression that keeps things moving forward at a pretty good pace. Each episode takes place anywhere from one to twenty-five years after the previous. The series starts out by throwing events at you in a way that makes it seem almost episodic, much like those 80's/90's OVAs were. Rin and Mimi helping some poor shlub figure out who he is, this being an event and chance meeting that'll reverberate its importance throughout the entire show's run. As the series slowly crawls toward the final back half of episodes, you'll start to notice an interesting line of continuity that'd been there the entire time, with dots matching up and other peoples' roles becoming more and more defined, and though the ending certainly isn't the greatest in the world, it comes to a stop where it should leaving no dangling threads.

Since nearly every episode takes place in a different era, and the jobs that Rin and Mimi are tasked with stay varied and interesting, Mnemosyne never becomes boring, however the set up might be a bit disorienting to some. I found that the constant time skips kept things fresh, and the writers and animators did a great job of keeping the immortal and aging characters consistent over a good chunk of time, and making the eras each episode takes place in, real or fictional, believable and immersive.

Being that our two main heroines are immortal, it should go without saying that this show spends quite an amazing amount of time putting them both through the wringers of pain, agony, and death no less than two or three times per episode. It's the series' whole gimmick, really, and the writers clearly had what some may consider a little too much fun doing so. In no certain order, immortals in the show will be slowly tortured to death, riddled with bullets again and again, blown up by suicidal androids who just HATE losing battles, and of course there's everyone's favorite, being vivisected without the aid of a good stiff drink, sedatives, or dinner and a movie first.

I'd say this series isn't for the squeamish, but in a very short time these painful deaths and bouts with torture become so common and brazenly over the top that one quickly becomes numb to it, and will eventually begin to find the whole process a little absurd and humorous. It's almost like being forced to sit there and watch a video of every Mortal Kombat Fatality ever conceived. It's really hard to find any of it mature or offensive, even if that's the envelope the writers were trying to push with their liberal usage of red digital paint.

And, of course, if the violence won't do anything for ya, they're really hoping that the sex scenes, or sex scenes accompanied with strong elements of torture, rape, and BDSM will be their ticket to SUPER EDGY THIS IS SO DANGEROUSVILLE! Mnemosyne just oozes sex out of every pore, from the character designs right down to the mechanics of how its world works. Everyone in this show has sex on their mind 24/7, and odds are they'll probably get it, whether the timing of it makes sense or not. The most baffling sex scene occurs in episode five, when an all-girl orgy just breaks out for no reason whatsoever as these girls were supposedly in the midst of preparing for an all-out assault on their base of operations. Sometimes, ya just REALLY need to fuck, I guess. Some people need their morning coffee, some girls just need their twat twiddled by three other women just to make it over that 10:00AM slump. Note To Self: Possible cure for cappuccino addiction found. Investigate further.

Depending on your views, the sex in Mnemosyne probably does have a chance to offend. Everyone's got different tolerances and tastes there. Personally, I'm strongly against rape being used in such a tasteless manner, but everything else seemed as laughable to me as the violence the show dishes out. The only other offense I'd take with the sex in Mnemosyne is that they play that "she looks like she's only fourteen, but she's actually ABOUT A THOUSAND YEARS OLD" card with Mimi. A thousand years old or not, ain't no fifteen/sixteen year-old looking girl that's got anything I wanna see. Other than that, the sex in the show is about as graphic as you'd get in a Skinemax flick, which is mostly just some bare tits being fondled, nipples being sucked or licked, or a hand creeping toward a bare and non-detailed nether region.

Given its OVA-size budget, there's absolutely no reason to suspect that Mnemosyne looks anything but pretty damn good at all times. Character designs are sharp and sexy, animation quality is almost always stuck in high gear, and action scenes are as pretty and well choreographed as they are fun. There's almost nothing bad here, save for a few distance shots where character faces and identifiable features can become a bit of a mess, and the sex scenes often devolve into awkward close-ups of bodies gyrating together.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the visuals is watching the world change and mortal characters age over the course of the sixty or so years that the show spans. A lot of really neat detail went into convincing the audience of the era they were in, such as the computers and operating systems we now consider ancient relics from the 90's, to 2050's idealistic view of a world where the line between the internet and reality has been completely blurred. Taking in all those fine details of the past and surreal imagery of the future can prove quite fascinating, and overall it does a good job of immersing the viewer into the world when the characters and story really just can't.

On the listeny-heary side of things, I can't really say any of Mnemosyne's audio stood out whatsoever. It's comprised solely of tunes that fit the action/horror dynamics that the show has to offer and is only good at providing a solid padding so that characters and sound effects aren't being played over silence. There's no real melodies that stand out and the atmospheric stuff really didn't do much for my ears. Similarly, the opening and ending themes are just some thrash metal wank synced up to bondage imagery that's neither impressive nor terrible. Again, it's just there.

Though it's heavily flawed, far too obsessed with seeming "mature", and a bit squishy in the overall storyline department, at no time did I ever find myself wanting to turn off Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne in disgust, and certainly not out of boredom. It's actually a pretty fun show for what it is, with really good visuals and a storyline that unfolds in a unique and refreshing manner. That said, perhaps Rin's most egregious offense isn't the copious amounts of tits, sex, and gore, it's the simple fact that you can tell that it desperately wants to be taken seriously. It's simply trying too damn hard to throw so much sex and violence in your face that it almost becomes sad, like that kid on the playground that says cuss words and wants you to think he's cool (see: Beepner).

That's not to say that the visceral images presented here don't detract from the overall product, because the story could have functioned well, if not better, without them. Even if the storyline has a few refreshing concepts, the show's main gimmick is simply an instant turn-off for most people. It instantly alienates a large group of people from ever wanting to experience it, but given that the show wants to be so OMG EDGY, that's probably what they intended anyway.

Not the worst way to waste a Sunday evening, but I wouldn't really recommend adding this one to your collection or spending the five or so hours on Netflix unless you've really got some money or time to burn.

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