\Usually you can tell when an anime is going to suck, but in the case of Phantom Memory Kurau, they had me fooled right up to the very end.
Back in November when I first reviewed Kurau, I had two beliefs – that it was a brilliant series, and that it had very little yuri. Well, I find my opinion now 100% reversed on both counts.
What was a finely crafted exploration of science and emotion, love and friendship and ethical ecological and humanitarian responsibility, in the end, became nothing more than a weak fairy tale. I maintain that the final episode was written by a 6 year-old who, when questioned about what should happen said, “They all got married and had babies and lived *happily* ever after! The End!”
In the beginning, there was alot of good material between tough-as-nails cop Ayaka and mystical-powered-agent Kurau, a lot of love and shared experience between Kurau and her Rynax “twin” Christmas…and in the end, there wasn’t anything. Just Ayaka going off with her child, and Kurau, having been stripped of her Rynax entities and the power they brought, has becomes stale, flat and unprofitable…and a mother, although apparently, not a wife. Only Christmas is left, alone with her Rynax energy, until, unexplained (and inexplicably) a new Kurau-Rynax clone appears to fulfill her dreams and bring her happiness. The end.
I spit nails for a long while after watching this last episode, I admit. I don’t understand why they chose such a shoddy, pat ending to what had been right up through the penultimate episode, so excellent.
However, in retrospect, my opinion of the yuri potential of the series has changed. In the beginning, I stated that Kurau and Christmas seemed more like sisters to me than lovers – especially as Christmas had been formed from Kurau’s own Rynax energy. But it was a side story that changed my mind. In this side story, we encounter a young boy, also a Rynasapien, who is desperately looking for his “twin” (Rynax, apparently, function well only in pairs.) I had assumed that all Rynax pairs were like our idea of twins – two beings who are related, in this case, by the Rynax energy…in other words, a kind of sibling. So it was a bit incest-y for me to imagine Kurau and Christmas as lovers.
In the side arc, the boy (whose name is escaping me at the moment…) who is looking so intently for a twin finally finds one and finds some happiness for a short while. It’s a tragic arc, but there is no doubt that they have bonded deeply and permanantly by the end of the arc. So, clearly, Rynasapien do *not* have a pre-determined twin, but can find one as chance allows. Which means that they are not, a priori, related or bound to each other. Which means it can be a kind of love that brings them together, as opposed to a kind of energy-bond.
You see where I’m going with this? In short, Kurau *could* be in something that looks more like love with Christmas than, say, sisterly affection, and vice versa. Now…I’m going to hold on to the fact that the first Kurau and Christmas had that sisterly relationship. But the second Kurau, the one made up of only Rynax energy and Christmas’ hopes…*that* one could be, if we so desired, love. So, yeah, based on that, I’ll up the yuri rating.
But the overall still goes down because the ending totally blew.
Story – 7
Character – 9
Art – 8
Music – 8
Yuri – 7
Overall it drops to a 7 because it was, *overall* a good series, but the final episode was a 1. Maybe a -1, because I felt like they owed me when it was all over.
Just watch the first 23 episodes, the go write your own ending – you’ll be a happier person for it.