Memories Off

November 11, 2011

Out of all the Memories Off anime series, I only watched the second instalment. And that was a pretty long time ago. I don’t remember exactly why I didn’t watch the rest. Most likely it was unavailable then. Can’t remember. Really. You could say that my memories for this went somewhat off, eh? Anyway it was a good thing that I get to watch the entire series again. Yeah, I get this satisfaction of finally completing a series instead of that puzzling feeling of why I only saw part of it. So here is the first blog on the first instalment of the series.

Adapted from the dating simulation game of the same name, there are only 3 OVA episodes for the first instalment that came out in late 2001. Yeah, around a decade ago. Makes it look so old. But each of the episodes are independent though inter-related. What do I mean? Put it simply, each episode sees the main protagonist guy meet a girl and fall in love with her while overcoming his tragic trauma of the death of his previous girlfriend. Yikes. It’s tough for a guy to move on and forward when the first girl he loves passed away. It is only worse if he takes all the blame himself. But you know about love, it works in a mysterious and magical way. So it’s like each episode is like another alternate world. Another day, another life. Yeah, if real life can only be like that. Oh, we have a word for that scenario: Multi-branching arc.

Episode 1
College student Koyomi Kirishima gets off the train and thinks it’s a nice day to get a boyfriend when Tomoya Mikami and Yue Imasaka bump into her. However they are in a hurry and can’t stay to ‘entertain’ her, much to her dismay. However Tomoya dreads that he’ll receive some punishment from Koyomi especially in his lunch. Rush as they might to school, however they are too late so Tomoya jokingly blames Yue. As Tomoya sleeps on the rooftop, he has a nightmare of his late girlfriend Ayaka Hizuki. Seems she went to fetch him on a rainy day but got involved in a car accident and died. No matter how many times Tomoya screams for her not to come, the inevitable always happen. He is awakened by his friend Shin Inaho. Seems he has missed all of the afternoon class. Shin asks an important question: Is Tomoya dating Yue? That’s the important question? Tomoya scoffs it off as they’re just childhood friends. Nothing more. It should have occurred to him that since Shin has been pestering Tomoya if that is true so many times, you can tell that guy has a crush on her. Tomoya walks out of school with Yue and his words of letting fate and fortune decide his future means he hasn’t studied for tomorrow’s supplementary exam. Yue sees a pregnant cat and gets excited. She puts some Jewel Choco ornament on its collar as it is rumoured if you do so, you’ll end up with a nice person. She then makes a wish. Eventually Tomoya goes to study at the library. Shin comes in and tells him he will confess to Yue at the park. Because of his incessant pestering wondering if Tomoya is okay with this, they get too loud and it descended into a verbal argument. So much so, they didn’t notice the several attempts of librarian, Shion Futami telling them to pipe it down. In the end, she blows her top that she becomes the loudest among them and Tomoya fell off his chair!

Thoughts of Ayaka cloud Tomoya’s mind even during the exam. After that, he sees a letter in his shoe box locker asking if the rain has stopped. He starts to remember how Ayaka promised that she, Tomoya and Yue will always be together. He rushes to the park to see Shin coolly sitting on the bench. He says he has been rejected and Yue has just left. Plus, she said she had someone she liked. He catches up to her and she berates him why did he come since she was going to give up at last and be able to forget everything. She starts crying now that she can’t forget. She felt she didn’t know what to do after Ayaka’s death. Even so, she has always liked him ever since. He promises her that they will always be together so she hugs him. Tomoya and Yue start dating and have fun at the amusement park. However Tomoya starts seeing Ayaka in her. At the end of the day, Yue says she not only had fun today but for the past few weeks. That’s good enough for her and won’t be sad anymore. She knows Tomoya isn’t having fun because in his mind is only Ayaka. She thanks him. But she starts crying. Tears of joy? Think not. She runs away. In class, Tomoya sees visions of Ayaka (in angel form). She asks if she is going to forget her. He vehemently protests that he will not but she fades away. Then he sees a picture of the 3 of them when he was young. He remembers how Yue comforted him when Ayaka passed away. He was clearly depressed. He learns Yue has gone out to buy stuff for the cultural festival but hasn’t come back since 2 hours ago. He rushes out in the rain to find her. He ponders why Yue wasn’t able to realize that she too is in his heart just like Ayaka. The sound of the ambulance and Yue’s umbrella on the roadside was enough to make him fall into distraught. However she was using the umbrella to shield the abandoned kittens. She starts to panic. But Tomoya gives her a quick kiss (so quick it makes me wonder if their lips met). He thought he had lost another one and doesn’t want her to disappear. He assures she is always in her heart. He confesses that he has liked her for a long time. He apologizes that he wasn’t able to tell as he puts on the Choco Jewel on her finger. Happy Yue hugs him as she confesses she likes him. Probably they should go somewhere warmer to hug… In the end, Tomoya has to adopt the kittens. But he’s going to teach them to take care of themselves. But it’s his way to say that he’s lazy to feed them. Yeah, he thinks to need to feed himself first because he’s poor. Ayaka gives off a happy smile from the rooftop.

Episode 2
Tomoya and Yue rush to school but bump into Shion, causing her to drop her books. Though Yue scrapped her knee, it wasn’t serious. Yue chides Tomoya for not recognizing their classmate Shion, the transfer student. However Shion doesn’t recognize Tomoya too! Koyomi seems to be having a hard time managing the crowd at her bread booth. Hope she didn’t collecting the wrong payment amount. Tomoya finally got his and as he goes out to enjoy his lunch, he sees Ayaka sitting on the bench. However she turns out to be Shion. Guess what? She doesn’t remember who he is! Anyway she leaves thinking she prefers to be alone when Tomoya wants to finish his lunch. He notices she left behind her tumbler and as he is about to dig in, he realizes Koyomi messed up his order. Tomoya falls asleep during English class and dreams about Ayaka. She’s asking whether he has read a book called Force. Something about the hero who doesn’t realize the hidden power he has. She thinks Tomoya is similar to the hero. He is rudely awakened by the teacher who wants him to read the text but since he is lost, Shion does it flawlessly. However Shion gets annoyed when the teacher calls her a foreigner. As for Tomoya’s punishment, he is to translate 10 pages of the book and hand it in. Oh boy. Tomoya is worried about his assignment but his friends suggest asking Shion. Then he remembers he forgot to return her tumbler. He does so at the library but at first she didn’t remember who he is! Seriously?!  However she is grateful because she thought she had lost her mom’s keepsake. He then requests her to tutor him English. During tutoring, she seems to be fascinated with this samurai thingy and wonders if there any around. But Tomoya learns that it was probably an amusement park with people dressed up as samurais. Shion gets disappointed and says she hates Japan now. WHAT?! How can you hate the land of anime, manga and video games?!

Later Tomoya obtains free passes to Marine Land (by winning from Koyomi) and plans to use this to apologize to Shion. Then Yue hands him Shion’s handkerchief so that he can hand it back to her. He waits at the library but falls slowly asleep and dreams of sleeping on Ayaka’s lap. He is abruptly awakened by Shion who is taken by surprise when he suddenly gets up. He returns her handkerchief and offers to help clean the library but seems she has already done everything. However she says he can help out tomorrow. Tomoya asks if there are any interesting books to read so she recommends Force and lends hers. Urm, I think he already got that book. Next day after Tomoya helps out Shion, she brings him to pick thorny chestnuts since her dad is returning tomorrow. She didn’t realize they can buy this at the store so the orchard farmer comes chasing them. Run for your lives! While resting at a safe distance, Tomoya makes up an unbelievable storey that they picked too much that’s why the chestnut fairy got met. However he says that this orchard belongs to one of his relatives and will apologize later. Shion starts laughing and notes that he is nice even to someone like her. Tomoya and Shion enjoy their time in time. Then resting on a bench, he invites her to Marine Land as he thinks there will be some people in samurai suits. She agrees. Then while dining at a cafe, the waitress accidentally slips and it’s as though she is going to spill all over Shion. Tomoya is faster than The Flash (really!) that he covers Shion and gets soaked instead. However Shion seems upset rather than grateful. She doesn’t like the idea of being too nice to him. Urm? WTF?! She runs out but Tomoya chases her and catches up. She says this is not the real her and is just wearing a mask. As revealed, Shion’s dad moves from place to place all over the job due to his archaeology job. But when she got back to Japan, all the kids bullied and tormented her just because she’s not Japanese. That’s when she decided not to have any relationships with anyone. She will wear this mask each time she comes to Japan. She was planning to do the same this time till she met Tomoya. She can’t stop thinking about him. Now breaking down, Shion continues she’s afraid to let him see her true self but wants to be with him. So why does he care about her? Simple. Because he loves her. Whether she puts on the mask or not, he loves her. He wants her to take off her mask and move forward together. To start it off, they should go dating tomorrow.

Back home, Tomoya reads and finds Force interesting when he gets a call from Shion. She profusely apologizes that she can’t go with him tomorrow and will say no further. But Tomoya says he will wait for her till she shows up. Tomoya did wait but she didn’t turn up. On his way back, he meets Shin who relates a message from Shion. Seems her dad is leaving this country today due to his job. He frantically searches for Shion in the crowded city. What are the chances? He sees vision of Ayaka and remembers she said about the hero’s hidden ability: Luck. Yup, that’s what he’s got as he finally manages to meet Shion. They both embrace. Shion in tears really wants to be with him. Out of nowhere she gets a call from her dad saying that she can stay since she has made a precious friend. Boyfriend rather. How convenient? How does he know? Well, he was part of the crowd and saw his daughter’s true feelings. Tomoya and Shion kiss. Maybe they should get a room instead of boldly exhibiting in public. Tomoya and Shion go through the events they had done over the past half year. As Ayaka’s words echoes to Tomoya: All he has to do is be right there. That’s enough for her to let her be herself. Shion notes that his power is the hope he gives.

Episode 3
Tomoya sits alone in the train as he heads for school. Something unusual has happened. In a train which is usually packed with all kinds of people, there is no one else but him. What kind of conspiracy is this? Has everyone been abducted by aliens? Or maybe he may have just woken up late. But he’s not the only one in the coach as a few seats away, he spots Minamo Ibuki. As the train arrives at its destination, Minamo was engrossed with her notes that she almost didn’t make it out. Luckily Tomoya holds the door long enough for her to get out. Both of them have a nice chat while walking to school. Guess what? Minamo is Yue’s best friend. It’s a small world alright. She thinks Tomoya is secretly dating her! Minamo wants Tomoya to teach her some literature so he agrees to do the best he can. Him? Literature? Does he look like the studious type? Yue teases him not to assault her no matter how pretty she is. Tomoya wakes up from his late girlfriend’s nightmare again in class. He helps Minamo read some sad poem but Minamo aspires to be like the poetic because she finds it romantic that she is eloping with her lover on his back. As thanks, Minamo treats Tomoya at the ice cream parlour. He learns that she likes to draw as she shows him her sketchbook. Seems pretty decent. One of the scenery drawings seems pretty familiar to him but he can’t put his finger on it. Then Minamo asks if he would be free this weekend. He thinks it’s going to be a date and gladly looks forward to it. It turns out to be a big picnic with their friends. There goes his hope… Minamo and Tomoya see a dried leaf flutter and shined like gold. Minamo gets excited thinking if all the gold leaves filled the sea, it would be a wonderful sight: A golden sea which keeps shining.

On a rainy day, Tomoya gets a letter in his shoe box from Minamo. She is waiting for him at the school gates. Oddly, she was just standing in the rain without any umbrella (perhaps to rain suddenly came?). Tomoya gives her a piggy back ride to the infirmary since she has a fever. She notes how this is like that poem she read and perhaps her wish came true. In bed, Minamo reveals that she knows him since a long time. From Yue? Nope. From Ayaka. You see, Minamo and Ayaka are cousins. Ah, it’s indeed a small world. Ayaka was like a sister to her and they frequently exchange letters while Minamo spends most of her time in hospital. So she learned lots about Tomoya during that. Tomoya starts feeling guilty that he is the cause of Ayaka’s death. But Minamo says she doesn’t want him to be sad and that Ayaka was happy. As Tomoya goes to find a nurse, he accidentally knocks over Minamo’s sketch. He sees her sketch of the ocean and promises her to take her there. Tomoya thinks he can move forward now but he gets the bad news from Yue that Minamo’s condition is worsening (it wasn’t due to the rain by the way). The doctor talks to Tomoya as he learns that the only way to cure Minamo’s disease is via transplant operation. But they can’t find a donor. Tomoya pleads to be her donor but the doctor will need to run some tests to check his compatibility. While visiting Minamo in her room, she notes how she can’t draw her own face. He narrates that she was getting thinner and thinner so much so her hand can’t catch up to it. He is putting his hope on that small possibility to cure Minamo. But Minamo wants to go to the sea now. Tomoya tells her to be patient and will take her there once she is better. The test results indicate Tomoya isn’t compatible but the doctor tells him she did have a compatible donor before: Ayaka. Minamo got the transplant right after her car accident. Plus, Minamo knew about this since the doctor told her before the surgery though she was shocked. Tomoya sinks into depression and didn’t answer the incessant phone calls. He can’t face Minamo after what he has learned. Ayaka’s spirit appears and tells him he should think about Minamo’s feelings. Then the doorbell rings. It’s Minamo. She partially collapses into his arms. She wants to keep their promise because she loves him and she wants to be with the person she loves every moment till the end. Tomoya carries her all the way to the sea as they watch in awe the sunrise reflecting the waters, giving off a beautiful shine of gold.

Memories are made of this…
Well, for a drama romance I guess everything is rather okay. Not to mention it was one of those anime so the plot is rather forgivable. I have not played the actual game itself but I’m guessing that the other girls could have been included if given more episodes like Koyomi and Kaori Otoha (Tomoya and Yue’s classmate-cum-friend). But then again, it would be more or less the same thing and offering nothing new. In each OVA, we see how each one of them have their own issues or ghost of the past to deal with. Thus the chance encounter brings them together and makes them move forward. Tomoya is able to get over from the death of Ayaka though at times memories of that scathing accident threaten to undo everything back to square one. It clearly goes to show that clinging on to the past only impedes your step forward. I have a theory why the series is named so. With Tomoya ending up with a different girl in each episode, it’s like as though his memories have been ‘reset’ and thus memories off. Geddit?

As I have said that this is an old anime, the art and drawing is of that era. It is not as good as compared with today’s standards. However, I have to point out that the quality is annoyingly bad at certain points, especially the second episode. The consistency of the animation is fluctuating so bad that it seems like there have been different artists drawing them and then putting it all together. I tried to scoff it off but it was really obvious. Too obvious that it made the characters look way different than they originally are. The opening theme song is Yuuki No Tsubasa by Maria Yamamoto. Sounds like your typical anime pop for a dating simulation game. However I find that the singer’s voice isn’t suitable at certain lines. It is as though she is trying to reach certain notes during the chorus but seems like she’s struggling to do so. And even if she did, it sounded ‘strained’. I’m not sure whether it’s on purpose or not. As for the male background voice. I just felt it should sound better without it. The ending theme is Yasashii Seiza by KAORI, a slow gentle ballad.

Recently we had another anime with a guy dating different girls in much longer arcs (Amagami SS) so I thought that the best way for a dating simulation to get adapted is to have it this kind of format. It’s like giving every girl a fair chance and then at the end of it all, you yourself personally decide which is the best girl who should suit him, though this is based on your personal preferences and open to discussion. It’s possible to do this too all at the same time. That term is called a harem. But this way you’d hurt others when one is picked and everyone if you remain indecisive. Thus having alternate possibilities of what kind of girlfriend that you end up with seems like a nice idea but doesn’t it just feel tiring after a while? You can have your slice of your cake and eat it but not all of it.

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