Phantom Memory Kurau Anime

November 16th, 2004

One of the stand-out anime that I am watching at the moment has got to be today’s entry, Phantom Memory Kurau. I really cannot recommend it enough. In a season full of mostly-predictable, fanservice-filled retreads, Kurau stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Technically Kurau isn’t really from this season – it began last season on Japanese TV and was licensed very quickly by ADV, who saw a winner in it. And I agree wholeheartedly. Even watching this series raw has been a pleasure. In fact, I’m amazed at how much (other than the police lingo and scientific jargon) I can follow. Which says alot about how basic the idea of this series is.

The setup is presented neatly at the beginning of the anime as Dr. Amami, a scientist, is exploring a new form of energy, called Rynax energy. His daughter, Kurau, is invaded/attacked/infested by the Rynax and begins to show signs of mysterious and completely para-human abilities. After an accident in which Dr. Amami loses an arm, in an effort to protect her father from her unpredictable nature, Kurau leaves her father. When we encounter her, she is an adult, working as an “agent,” a sort of free-range PI. Not surprisingly her powers make her very, very good at her job.

But life is not perfect for Kurau. She is awaiting the arrival of her “twin”,” her Rynax partner. Shortly after her twin manifests, the two are pursued by a para-military police force called the GPO. Kurau’s twin, Christmas, looks like a younger version of Kurau, but does not initially appear to be able to manifest Rynax powers.

The chase still goes on as the series approaches ep. 26, but the story has been consistently excellent. There has been the occasional threat of a predictable plot complication, but so far the writers have avoided any serious plot potholes.

As bad guys, the GPO seem pleasantly conspiracy-theory-ish, while the individual GPO members have developed really interesting personalities. Leading the pack is Ayaka Steiger, an angst-filled GPO career officer with many axes to grind. Her pursuit of Kurau and Christmas quickly becomes personal…but it’s to Kurau that Ayaka reaches out when she needs to be understood.

Even the sidekick all-knowing smart guy and ex-GPO dude, Dag, isn’t annoying. How is that possible? Ex-whatever guys are *always* annoying. Not Dag. He’s just a really, really nice guy.

Yuri-wise you’re not going to get anything blatant here. Kurau and Christmas are like sisters, but they definitely, genuinely love one another. Their connection is really deep and really touching. In fact, despite her age, Christmas is such a good character and so great with Kurau that even *I,* child-hater that I am, don’t dislike her. Plenty of people are seeing yuri there, but I’m not a big fan of yuricest and I don’t see anything physical between them, just sisters that share a major connection through the Rynax.

There is serious yuri potential between Ayaka and Kurau, however. As the recent episodes have played out, Ayaka has sought out Kurau, befriended her, opened up to her and, if you’re a typical yuri fan, you’re seeing sparks starting to build. I can totally see Ayaka x Kurau fanfic in the works. If the anime doesn’t provide the actual bread, it’s certainly handing us the grist. :-)

Even the science in Kurau is interesting. Some of it is quite plausible, which gives the more hypothetical stuff a firm base. And I love the way the terraformed moon is drawn. It’s too cool. :-)

Story – 9
Character – 9
Art – 8
Music – 8
Yuri – 5

Overall – 8.

Let’s see – cool, competent older lead. Cool, competent potential love interest. Gee, you *think* it’s my type of anime? LOL

And not a single school uniform to be seen. Happy sigh. :-)

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3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Overdosed from 15 years old, sailor-suit wearing characters, Kurau is certainly a very refreshing change. How often do we see an intelligent and cool past-20 female lead?? And her hair’s black too (no offence meant)! IMHO, the relationship between Kurau and Christmas is like a soulmate kind of thing, not really sisterly, they aren’t totally human afterall. And I agree with you, the Dag guy is likeable (amazing). I just love this anime. Not to mention the fantastic ED, Moonlight by S.E.N.S. (it’s a popular new age group/duo in Japan). – aurelius

  2. I actually prefer the opening theme myself. :)

  3. Anonymous says:

    it’s very satisfying to see such a great but well-known series be appreciated. It’s my favorite, personally. :3 Only thing is, Kurau and Christmas do not share a romantic relationship of any kind. The production notes that come w/ one of the dvd volumes (I can’t remember exactly which one) does mention that Kurau and Christmas share a sisterly/maternal relationship, and that it is even deeper than that. They are indeed special. But they had no indications that they were a couple. (First of all, I think they’re about 10 years apart in age!)

    The Rynax live in pairs, but we’ve seen through examples that the relationship between these beings isn’t always romantic. Yvonne Tardiu’s situation was, but the two twin brothers towards the end of the series- Bindt and Reigel share nothing but a brotherly love, and I think part of that is the human’s feelings being involved too. It varies.

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