Eri KitamuraAmi KoshimizuMisato FukuenYumi Hara
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia
Also known as: Tasogare Otome x Amunejia
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2012
Director: Shin Oonuma, Takashi Sakamoto
Writer: Katsuhiko Takayama
Actor: Ami Koshimizu, Eri Kitamura, Misato Fukuen, Tsubasa Yonaga, Yumi Hara
Keywords: anime, fantasy, ghost
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Website category: Anime early 10s
Review date: 23 March 2023
Tasogare Otome Amunejia
It's remarkable, in its modest way. A sexy ghost girl (Yuuko) fancies a living boy (Teiichi). The show's first half is charming, light and funny in a way that plenty of shows never achieve. Yuuko's Fantasy Anime Girlfriend behaviour would be odd in real life (and it irritates Kirie), but it makes sense given her circumstances. She's been dead for decades and can't leave the school. Normal people can't see or hear her. Teiichi can, though, so of course she's acting like a sex-starved sailor on shore leave. He's the first available boy she's met in fifty years, while for her even being touched by a living person is emotional.
The fact that she genuinely likes Teiichi for himself is the icing on the cake.
Fantasy Anime Girlfriends are a fairly common trope. First-half Yuuko is a likeable, funny one and there's an entire genre that never goes beyond that.
However the show also has a significant horror element. It's rather good and dark at ghost stories, although most of them turn out to have mundane explanations. (i.e. Yuuko.) The show then starts deconstructing this unrealistically carefree, positive Yuuko it's constructed. It turns out that she's a supernatural being with psychological problems that would be impossible for the living and that she's been suppressing horrors. Ep.10 is unspeakable and genuinely shocking... and the original manga version was even nastier.
There are broken reasons for why Yuuko's the way she is. Being unaware could get you hurt. To pick a spoiler-free example, for instance, her liberated attitude to nudity is (partly) because her ghost form isn't her real body. She's mortified, in contrast, if anyone sees her corpse.
Another big element in the show is Momoe Okonogi, even though she can't perceive Yuuko and is comedically ignorant of what everyone else is seeing and hearing. No matter how dark things get, Okonogi will always bounce in with inappropriate enthusiasm and lift the mood.
On the other hand, Kirie is a harsh, angry girl who's slow to forgive and thinks Yuuko is a hate-filled spectre. (Mind you, ep.13 reveals that she's a complete dork. It's just that her intensity had always covered it up.)
The anime's also very well directed and, by all counts, significantly different from the manga. (The manga's got more fanservice, for instance, whereas the anime cuts back on that sharply and instead is genuinely sexy.) There's gorgeous use of colour (e.g. in the opening credits) and lots of disorientating tricks with shadows, distortions and screen proportions to create a ghost story mood. There are lots of shows you can half-watch in the background without missing much. This show you've got to watch, properly, if you want to register all the character beats, jokes, symbolism and details hidden in plain sight.
I admire this show. It's funny and happy, but it makes its characters earn that. Yuuko is at least four different people. It's a supernatural tragic horror that's also romantic, comedic and occasionally a bit ecchi. Even by anime standards, it's a bit off the beaten track.