A good portion of my fellow anime fans have watched the first episode of Amnesia. Most of them did not like it. They called it boring, unoriginal and just not worth their time. I hesitate to say my comrades are wrong, but they are not seeing the anime’s true potential. They don’t understand just what it is the creators of Amnesia are going for.
Last year (2012), we had a popular anime with the name of Sword Art Online. We also had another less popular anime called Accel World. Both of these anime, especially Sword Art Online, featured real characters entering a video game.
The concept of being whisked away into a game or simply a story based around virtual simulation video games is not new. It has been done many times by many series like .Hack/Sign. Amnesia takes this cliche premise and literally turns it on its head.
You see, Amnesia is not about real characters entering a game, it is about video game characters entering real life.
Don’t worry, I have 2 pieces of irrefutable evidence to back up my claim.
Irrefutable piece of evidence 1: Characters are puppets
When it comes to games, there are two types of characters.
1. Well defined, deep characters.
Some games feature deep, well built, defined characters. When you play a game as one of these characters, you are simply guiding them through their life. You are experiencing their life, their journey and in turn being presented a story. Good examples include games like Uncharted or Psychonauts(which I should really finish someday).
Anime feature characters of this type. Anime should be telling you a story and through the use of animation and audio. They should let the viewers experience the adventure that is being unfold in front of them. They should let the viewers dream about what having a similar adventure would be like. They should not however let a viewer experience an adventure of the viewer’s choosing.
2. Shapeless Characters
Contrary to what I have called them, undefined, vague characters are not a bad thing in games. They aren’t used to showcase a story, but rather used so gamers can have their own adventure.
Not all of us the time and skill required to beat a dragon so video games with undefined characters give us the impression that we can. We go on adventures that would otherwise not be possible. The character’s adventure in the game is our adventure to!
I suppose you could also call this wish fulfillment, but there is nothing really wrong with that since the impossible will always be impossible. Good examples include many RPGs like Persona 4, Fallout 3 or Dragon Age.
(Note: There are some games that attempt to the combine the two types of characters. Many fail, but some do succeed.)
Ordinary anime would absolutely never, ever resort to wish fulfillment characters because that would defeat the entire purpose of an animated story. Amnesia however does resort to shapeless characters, but it doesn’t do that because it wants to suck or act like wish fulfillment.
No, Amnesia includes them because it wants to encourage discussion on game characters. That is the only possible reason I can think of for including those characters. Including shapeless characters for wish fulfillment would be a horrible thing to do and I am sure no writer wants to make a horrible anime.
Irrefutable piece of evidence 2: Their eyes
The greatest piece of evidence that suggests commentary about video games is their eyes.
You see those little semi-circles in the bottom halves of their eyes? I don’t think they exist for the sole purpose of making these character designs look unique or cute. No, it should be quite obvious, but they are energy bars!
These characters are game characters that have been brought into the real world and they have brought their energy bars with them. That is the only reasonable explanation for their existence.
I am going to guess that the energy bars represent health and mana or some other spirit based energy. I am pretty sure that neither of them are experience bars because they are both full and this is very important.
By telling us that the characters are already maximum level, that they won’t grow anymore, the creators have saved us much time. While watching this show, we won’t have to look for character development because we now know that there won’t be any! I am very grateful for this time saver.
Now, some of you might claim that yes, Amnesia feels game like, but this is only because it is an exact replica of the Visual Novel, created to give VN fans moving pictures to fap to. I disagree with this line of thought.
It feels like a crass assumption to presume that Amnesia was made solely to satisfy VN fans and had no artistic input of its own whatsoever. On top of that, the thought that people masturbate to 2- Dimensional pictures is a disturbing one and most certainly not true!
I hope you are now sure that Amnesia is not a wish fulfilling copy of the VN, but an anime that wishes to provide commentary on video game characters. As for what it wants to comment on, well you probably shouldn’t ask me as I was asleep for most of the episode.