Hidden Gems: Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne

So since my last post was all about relaxing, light-hearted fun, I decided do a total 180 and bring up one of the darkest and most graphic shows I know.  Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne is one of the few anime shows I would say is made specifically for adults.  To get an understanding of where I’m coming from, here’s a brief and not at all comprehensive overview of the industry.  Most anime shows fall into one of two categories, niche shows and broad appeal shows.  Niche shows typically pander to the stereotypical otaku, banking on the kind of customer that buys tons merchandise and so on.  Broad appeal shows on the other hand try to sell dvds and children’s toys to enough people that they can recoup the costs of making the show.  But back in the day niche shows were usually not actual 12 episode shows, they were typically OVAs ranging from 1 to 6 episodes like the original Black Rock Shooter or Gunbuster.  And it was in these OVA’s that the creative and experimental works thrived, because their limited run time allowed much more creative freedom than the larger, safer shows which occupied the broad appeal space.  Rin is such an OVA, containing 6 episodes and safe is the last fucking word I’d use to describe this particular beauty.

Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne is a pretty weird series right from the outset, for starters each episode begins after a time-skip, not including the first episode obviously, and these time skips can range from a single year to decades.  Now ordinarily most shows have to stick to much shorter or infrequent time skips because too many time skips fucks with narrative coherence and pacing, as I explained in my review of SAO.  But Rin doesn’t suffer from this issue because it’s main characters are immortals, left unchanged by the passage of time even as the world rapidly evolves around them.  In fact one the things that makes Rin so interesting is watching how the immortals deal with massive changes in society, mainly because the show’s approach to the issue is atypical.  Immortals rarely get examined closely in most works of fiction, most of the time they just get cast as having been made either bored and/or insane by their long life, they tend to be characterized as though they aren’t truly a part of the world of the story.  Instead they are distinctly apart from the world of the story due to their own immutable nature, often they seem so world weary they don’t register as active participants of the world or are so broken by their long involvement with the world that they actively seek their own death or the death of the world, in sharp contrast to the rest the world which wishes to survive.  With Rin the immortals adapt.  Part of what makes Rin, the titular character not the show, as compelling and engaging as she is how she is at once a constant and also able to adapt to the point where very few individuals are aware of her immortality.  See that’s the thing with most fiction, the immortals are clearly different from the mortals and they do a poor job of hiding that difference, if they even bother to try hiding it.  With Rin we have a character that is intriguing for her unchanging presence and yet feels like she belongs regardless of the type of world she inhabits, be it 1990’s Japan or 2050’s Japan.  That’s not just an example by the way, the show in total spans roughly 60 years to the best of my memory.

But what makes Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne an adult show goes beyond it’s odd and interesting presentation and narrative.  For one thing Rin the character is an adult, as is almost every important character.  This helps add to the realism and maturity of the show as I discussed in a previous post, and while that is not necessarily hard for the younger crowd to comprehend or appreciate, generally I always found those things more rewarding once I got older and more mature.  There’s also gore, metric fuck-tons of gore.  See in Rin the immortals are not the “live forever until they are killed vis a vis elves and vampires in fantasy” immortal but rather the “no matter how many tiny pieces you turn them into they will regenerate regardless” immortal meaning the wounds inflicted on the immortals, and by extension the gore we get to see, reaches the level of straight up torture porn or can at least be met with a hearty “Holy Fucking Shit!” from viewers.  Additionally there are some pretty dark elements and characters in the show that turn the WTF factor to Evangelion levels of weird, and I mean that as both a  warning and a compliment, and who really take advantage of the immortals’ regenerative ability to dish out loads of gruesome punishment.  And Rin doesn’t censor this shit either.  This is blood and guts at a level of intensity most anime don’t match, especially since these are not the generic blood pinatas and arterial fountains of blood most edgy, gory shows go for but is instead more down to earth so we can see the organs and bones and so on that the blood pinatas conveniently hide.

The final element that really seals the deal for making me see Rin as an adult show is the sexiness.  Now I’m not just talking about sex scenes though those totally happen, I’m talking about the way Rin the character handles sexiness relative to the typical anime girl.  This is somewhat true of most girls in the show, but Rin is an adult woman who totally owns her sexiness.  While she is certainly attractive in formal business clothes, Rin doesn’t feel like she’s had sexiness transposed upon her by outside influences.  In my first Raging Rant, I spoke at length about the problems of all the busty anime girls and to a lesser extent the objectification of these female characters.  What didn’t really get a chance to talk about was how women could be sexy without being sexualized, and that’s what Rin does.  With Rin the impression I got was that while she was never hard on the eyes, she was never truly sexy until she wanted to be seen as sexy, that she had the agency to choose when she wanted get guys to pop boners and when she wanted to be taken more seriously.  Keep in mind most of the time Rin is a like a private detective type character and is more of a force to be reckoned with than a love interest to be won over.  In fact she’s the one who initiates the romantic and sexual advances rather the dudes she encounters.  But to sum this up, what this meant to me was that Rin was a compelling heroine who I appreciated as an individual, which only made her even more attractive when she did want to appear sexy.  I’m going to leave a photo (it’s the same one you’ll find from the WordPress Reader) of Rin being sexy at the bottom to see if it helps communicate my point, because in the photo to me she looks like a woman in full control of herself and her sexuality and that is a rare trait indeed.  Please let me know what you all think after seeing the photo or the show, as I’m interested in other perspectives.  Anyway time for the conclusion.

All of the stuff mentioned above comes together to tell a very memorable and unique story.  Because Rin deals with immortals the way it does, not only do its immortal characters stand out from basically any other immortal characters, at least among the myriad I’ve seen, it allows the story to be told effectively in totally different way than most stories can, see lots of time skips above.  This makes for an engaging and memorable watch because it’s so unique, and not just for anime either I’ve yet to see film or literature that lays itself out like Rin does.  This is one of my favorite things about the anime medium, it’s ability to go places other mediums can’t or won’t go.  But even among a medium as experimental as anime, very few shows get as unique and experimental as Rin.  And that does wonders to the show in my mind.  I highly recommend this show to anyone, though I encourage anyone squeamish to give it a pass, and also encourage people to wait until they are college students at least to watch because I think you will appreciate it more that way.  Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you in the next one.  Now onto that photo…



One thought on “Hidden Gems: Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne

  1. Great review! You hit the nail right on the head with this one – I wish I could give a more in-depth comment, but you basically said everything I would have wanted to say only far more succinctly than I could have said it. When I think about adult anime shows (by which I mean shows for adults who are after adult entertainment, rather than shows that try really hard to be dark and cool and ‘edgy’), Mnemosyne is exactly the type of thing that comes to mind.


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