Sunday, February 5, 2012
Anime Talk: Rin Daughters of Mnemosyne
So late last night I watched RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne, and thought that I would review/analyze it. Before I got into this thing I should tell you two things. First off I liked it. Second off it has a lot of violence and a lot of sex. Yep so much so that after watching I spent a lot of time thinking about how the series uses sex and thought, " I could write a literary essay about that". And guess what that's what the second half of this bad boy is going to be.?
But first off a general review. Occult detective? Check. Attractive women both in terms of personality and uh, oh let's just be honest overt fan service? Check. Kickass action sequences? Check. Philosophical mind screw? Check.
Apart from her... other assets -I can't get around it the series has fan service up the wazoo, and fan disservice but I'll get to that- I like Rin's, the lead character's personality. Until the shit hits the fan she gets a lot of funny and fun dialogue. She's catty in a good way. She wants to do what she wants and isn't going to let anyone hold her back from it.
The action sequences are breath taking. When they need to be blazing fast they are but at the same time the series isn't afraid to just ratchet up the suspense. Even though the protagonist is immortal you still are on the seat of your chair because, well they put the woman's body through the ringer. Sure she can't die but all that kind of stuff has to hurt like hell. One antagonist knowing she can't kill her gets her jollies by just causing her pain. Then again that seems to be most of the antagonists' MO. Again I will get to this later but her body get destroyed, broken and violated in the worst and I do mean worst ways.
The major complaint people have about the Highlander series is that it doesn't seem like the immortals there realize that their bodies don't act normally. A large reason why people "don't" is because we intuitively know we only get one body and if you majorly mess it up you don't get a do-over.
Not the case here. I guess what I am saying is that for better or worse they do things to the body in this series that are just wrong.
Yeah. It's not exactly for the squeamish.
The first four episodes are really good and the last two are really weird. Not bad, just weird. I'm going to have to watch them again.
Remember when I said that this series does things to the body that are just wrong. Well I suppose that is part of the point. On a philosophical level I am intrigued by the body as is the series. But let us divorce ourselves from it a bit.
The only possessions we are born to by right are our minds and our bodies. Taking it even further we are aware of our bodies far sooner than we are of our minds. The body for this reason has a profound importance on our concept of self and of the development of that concept. While more often than not when describing myself I am describe my mind, without physical form that mind would not be able to interact with the world around it.
As such the body is one of the most precious things I possess. It is the translator of the mind's intent as well as the translator of the world's reality. When physically restrained our freedom is taken from us in the most basic ways. When the body is literally forced to do what we would not will we are violated in the most basic way. And yes there is a lot of rape imagery in the series.
At the same time when we are in full control of our bodies and able to use them to the fullest we are most free. I'll get to the sex later, but right now I want to focus on the concept of immortality. Through the process of aging a human being is unable to use their body to its fullest. It is a natural restriction and a frustrating loss of the freedom the body once afforded.
The series highlights this by spanning more than half a century. While several characters in the series do not age, several of them do. We see one character move from his 30's to his 60's and another go from his early 20's to probably his early 40's.
While at the time it seemed a throwaway line the protagonist does discuss that maybe one of them should take it easier.
The two female leads, when not in moral peril are eternally youthful, and as such are free to use their bodies to the fullest. There is no overt sex between the two but the series gets as close as it a can without having them do the horizontal tango. The second main character, Mimi, makes a point of saying that when you know you aren't going to die why the hell not do what you want. As stated earlier several of our inhibitions are tied to intuitive knowledge of the body's limitations. But when those limitations are removed, such as in the case of regenerative immortality, why not use the body to its fullest. In that circumstance would not our attitude towards the body change. It would no longer potentially be a prison but an open field a possibility.
Secondarily in the series the biology of immortals makes them... randy as all hell. Some of the time it's in an "anything that moves sense" and the series has fun with it. But when a male of their species enters the picture they literally are unable to control themselves. They are literally like animals in heat. To complete the animal metaphor the physical general difference between male immortals and female immortals are less subtle than in the rest of humanity. While the females become immortal, males' lifespan are shortened as mayflies, they sprout wings, become flying ids that have sex and kill the opposite gender.
The series presents some interesting ideas about the dimorphism of male and female but later. Most of that was in the last two episodes and I am still trying to wrap my head around them.
Again, there is rape imagery. As such I am curious if the writers were attempting to make a "pleasure does not equal consent" statement. Even the males of the species, when themselves enough to be themselves, would rather take death than be in a state where they cannot control themselves. And make no mistake the series does, make it pleasurable for both genders, but again pleasure does not equal consent. Prior to and after these encounters are played as traumatizing. And it does not cease there. There are several sex scenes where the participants are reluctant.
All of this contributes to the dichotomy of the body as an instrument of freedom and the body as an instrument of enslavement. As stated in the general review the series is not shy about shooting up, binding up, blowing up, raping, stabbing and mutilating it. Half the time in the series the body seems like a liability. The other half, not so much. The body is a tool for communication, combat, general utility, and old fashioned pleasure. There is, "good sex" in it as well. (Again this series is really fanservicey)
The mind and body are a package deal in the living. A running motif in the series is the separation between the two, the separation between the physical body and the non-physical mind. The first is an origin of sorts for Maeno Kouki. He starts the series as a young college student, but against his will his mind is transplanted into a cloned body. Throughout the first episode he is trying to discover why his mind and body seem divorced. Again this was a violation in the most basic sense.
This idea is further explored in later episodes. The series starts in about the late 80's and moves towards a point in our future. As it does different forms of virtual reality are explored. The first is as a wholly different form of reality wherein the series establishes that reality 2.0 can not affect reality 1.0. The second is more of an augmented reality that is integrated into our own, which further blurs the line between the physical and non-physical world. In such an augmented reality would the physicality of things become less important, especially when by default we are part of that physicality? Furthermore things are partially defined by their physicality. A rock is a rock partially because it feels like a rock. This is only subtly mentioned when one character orders his daughter to put on real clothes rather than the holographic ones she can change at will.
Unlike other stories that deal with virtual reality, in which the mind is considered more important than the body such as Ghost in the Shell this series seems to place equal or greater importance on the body.
Because of its physicality it is portrayed as being truth while things that lack that physicality are considered illusion. In a scene in episode 4 the series presents 1.5ers, people who spend so much time in reality 2.0 that they seem to have left their bodies completely behind in reality 1.0. The idea that the body is nothing more than a shell is presented as troubling.
All in all I'm going to end this thing by taking the Sage route and suggest that maybe the reason why I'm doing all of this thinking is to allow myself to actually enjoy some of the fan service and the series as a whole while not be disgusted with myself while thinking about all graphic "Eghhahahh, flavin, that is just badong!"