Back in the 90s Manga Video (as this was the dark ages of VHS) made their name by selling 15 and 18 rated anime full of sex and violence. Memorably they used to add extra swearing to their dubs to obtain a higher certificate (a process known as ‘fifteening’), often with hilarious results. Years later things are quite different. The trend for naughty tentacles has (thankfully) passed, and Manga now release anime for a much wider variety of audiences. What does this gratuitous trip down memory lane have do with Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne? With its big red 18 on the cover in many ways this feels like a flashback to an earlier time in anime fandom in the UK. In fact just on its eye-catching cover art alone, this appears to be the kind of thing Manga would have fallen over themselves to release back in the day.
Coincidentally, the series itself opens in an alternate version of the distant year of 1990. The series revolves around the titular Rin, who along with pint-sized sidekick Mimi runs a private investigation firm, and will take on any assignment no matter how big or small. In the first episode they attempt to protect a young man with a mysterious past from those who are trying to harm him. She may dress like a sexy librarian, but it turns out that Rin is a bit handy in a fight; in fact, she has supernatural powers, and can regenerate from any wound or injury no matter how severe. These abilities come from making contact with a ‘Timefruit’, a spore of unknown origin that also prevents her from aging. Consuming the Timefruit only has this effect on women – or rather, on females, as Rin and Mimi apparently have an immortal dog. When a male consumes one he becomes a rubber-man who… oh wait, wrong series! In fact men become angels, although they are about as far removed from the ones who appear in the nativity as possible. These winged beasts are driven by their most primal urges, and are uncontrollably drawn to Immortal women and vice versa. However it is in the Immortal’s best interest to stay out of their way, as the angels see them as both lover and lunch. It turns out that the so-called Immortals can actually be killed (permanently) by removing the timefruit, a favourite pastime of the series’ main antagonist, the dastardly Apos. But who is he really, and will he achieve his aim of destroying Rin once and for all?
This is a slick sci-fi series with a compelling setup and some nicely animated action. The practically indestructible heroine means that the action scenes are able to go further than in other shows, pushing things to pretty extreme levels. The show is certainly violent and is definitely not for the squeamish. Certain sequences will make much of the audience wince. The violence is strong with some sadistic overtones, but it feels mostly like it’s there to serve the story and is not dwelt on.
As indicated by the synopsis and the promotional artwork there is some sexual content too. There is a fair bit of nudity and a number of sexual scenes; there’s no doubt this show earns its 18 certificate. It’s not overly graphic though and as with the violence it feels like it makes sense in the world of the show.
However, the sexual and violent content will be too strong for some people, and if you’re offended by such things you should definitely stay away.
The immortality of the characters also allows the events of the series to take place over a long period of time. The first episode takes place in the early 90s but each subsequent episode jumps forward a number of years, finishing ultimately some 65 years later. Although Rin, Mimi and the mutt stay the same, human characters notably age, technology advances, and some episodes even feature the decendants of those in earlier episodes. This is a really interesting idea and it’s beautifully executed.
Although nicely animated and well designed it is really the concept and the setting that make this series worth watching. The characters are likeable (or hateable in the case of the villains) although not massively memorable. Rin is basically your typical feisty anime heroine, and Mimi the typical youthful sidekick, but despite this they are strong central characters who are easy to root for. In fact, the series loses its way a little in the final episodes when Rin is less central to the action.
At six episodes it’s a little short, but the episodes are twice as long as those of most anime TV series. It also suits the series, wrapping up the story neatly whereas stretching it to a full season would probably have been to the show’s detriment. Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne offers something that stands out in a crowded market, and is not like any other anime you are likely to see this year. If you’re old enough to vote, are looking for something different and aren’t put off by a little old-fashioned sex and violence, then this comes recommended.