Kurau Phantom Memory [2004] 24 Episodes

Yup.  This is a girl.

Yup. This is a girl.

If you have watched a significant amount of anime you could peg the kind of show Karau Phantom Memory (KPM) is from the opening scene.  It is a somber, slow-paced show around a boring, perpetually unhappy character.  It is insidiously misleading if you judged this show by its opening credits which show happy girls with bright expressions amongst fields of flowers.  The reality is that there are more smiles in the opening credits then there are in the entire 24 episode run.

There are tried and true elements used in many anime productions that people enjoy.  However in the case of KPM those elements are tired and stretched out.  For 23 and a half episode you live life on the run with a misunderstood character filled with inner turmoil.  She is of course chased by the evil militaristic conspiracy who wants to use her for limitless power and the creation of super soldiers.

"How long must I hold this expression?" "For about 23 episodes."

"How long must I hold this expression?" "For about 23 episodes."

A thin but confusing 2 episode plot that takes 24 episodes to resolve concerns Rynax energy beings that can inhabit human bodies.  They can be a source of energy if caged.  They exist in pairs and are pretty much miserable alone.  As for humans, KPM sets the table on an unhappy world filled with sad or selfish people.  Only the thinnest fraction of interest and the thought of warning you…er, writing about this show kept me going though the episodes even at 2X and 4X speeds.

The future technology displayed is not that interesting.  Floating cars and practical space ships.  Of small interest are their battle-pods which are a sort of levitating upright tank with arms.  However the designs of these were not awe inspiring and the promise they held in one episode’s interesting gladiatorial fighting was never fully explored.

Take a look at this misleading picture.  It is quite literally the exact opposite of what you will see in the show.  In fact this shot is only seen in the credits.

Take a look at this misleading picture. It is quite literally represents the exact opposite of what you will experience in the show. In fact this shot is only seen in the credits.

The character designs were equally uninspiring.  If the character designers were trying to rebel against pretty characters they succeeded.  Mannish female lead Karau is no pleasure to behold.  Her younger pair Christmas is a prettier character; the only one in the series.  I appreciated the cool-ish look of the stereotypical female police officer that chased them through much of the series.  You know the type, overly serious, blindly obedient to orders until she finds out about the conspiracy, and unfulfilled in her femininity.

One thing I did appreciate about this show, which makes this take just slightly less scathing is the epilogue.  As in many forms of narrative entertainment, I enjoy seeing what happens to the characters in their future.  They did the “ten years later” bit which showed all the remaining characters in happier times, married, and or moved on.  It did not erase what this show was, but it injected a squirt of saccharin into your mouth to leave you with a slightly better taste than what was brewing there.

This scene, reminiscent of the one in 2010 leads me to say, "Open the pod bay doors Hal."

This scene, reminiscent of the one in 2010 leads me to say, "Open the pod bay doors Hal."

There were a few action scenes spread throughout the 24 episodes that were interesting.  In one Karau has to get on board a tumbling spaceship on a collision course.  However the action to episode ratio was not in the show’s favor.  If you have time to waste and feel the need to explore the meaning of life – and by life I mean the alien life of a Rynax – KPM may be for you.  Otherwise I suggest you spend your time elsewhere with so many better anime efforts from which to choose.

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