Anime Review: RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~

Rin Asogi and her partner, Mimi, run a “consulting firm” in Shinjuku. It is all just a front, of course, as the two girls are actually private investigators who specialize in the dark and paranormal. While pursuing a missing cat, Rin runs into Kouki, a mysterious man with his memory erased. But when she decides to take on Kouki’s case of missing identity, she goes down a deep dark hole of a major conspiracy, and eventually she ends up dismembered into a bloody mess.

But there’s a catch. Rin and Mimi are actually immortal, so no matter how many times Rin is gunned down or dismembered, she sprouts right back to life. So sets up RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~, an epic 6-episode OVA* thriller spanning over 65 years and multiple generations.

And it is the first “must watch” anime series of 2010.

The key to RIN‘s success is just how well the story is written and way they go about telling it. Every 45-minute episode in this OVA series feels like its own full-length feature film,  with each episode one being a sequel to the one before it. Most of them follow the same formula, starting off with playful dialogue between Rin and Mimi about hangovers and vodka. And like a movie franchise, each episode typically centers around one specific plot, and ends with a finite conclusion to that plot while still leaving enough open-ended for the sequel.

The first episode begins in 1991 and the last one takes place half-way through the 21st century. The fact that each episode often takes place decades after the previous one allows the viewer to fully grasp the scope of this massive timeline. The science, technology, and city landscape evolves remarkably with each jump, and side characters grow up, get married, and have children. But the fact that each episode begins with the same banter between Rin and Mimi allows the viewer to see how cruel it must feel for an immortal to see the world change around them while they remain the same. It is a brilliant premise for a story told in a very brilliant way.

However, if I had to find anything wrong with RIN, it would have to be its extreme portrayals of sex and violence. The story and tone often dives in hentai territory as the characters are often naked and getting it on with each other. One episode clearly shows cunnilingus being perform twice, once by a male and again by a female. The characters use the excuse that they must engage in extreme acts because normal life gets too boring for immortals. But I felt that the perversion really crosses the line with one particular gut-wrenching torture scene in the first episode. The viewer must be prepared for some truly disturbing moments.

But is all this fetishism sexy?

Well, I would not really say that.

I cannot really call all the sex, nudity, lesbianism, and BDSM in RIN “fan service” like I normally would with anime. The series runs so deeply into these ideas that it eventually becomes a part of the show’s style and theme. It gets to a point where you will see a throne created out of a pile of naked women moaning in sexual pleasure, and you do not think twice about it. It just seems normal at that point.

The fetishisms in RIN goes beyond sexuality and becomes a form of art, which I find to be one of the most amazing things I have seen an anime series go for and actually succeed in. In fact, there is so many parts in this OVA series that you can point out as crowning achievements within the genre. It is the perfect suspense thriller created for the anime medium, and you must check it out if you feel like you can handle its violence and sexuality.

* * * * *

The Good: A finely crafted story taking place over a huge timeline. Makes great use of every 45-minute episode, and turns fetishism into a work of art.

The Bad: A number of gut-wrenching violent scenes and extreme sexual situations may prove to be too disturbing for most viewers.

Final Verdict: RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~ is the perfect anime suspense thriller. It is the year’s first must watch series… that is, if you think your stomach can handle it. Watch it!

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment.

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* UPDATE: I have been informed that RIN actually isn’t an OVA series. It originally aired on satellite TV with one episode airing per month for six months. It was a special event miniseries, which is not normally done in anime TV broadcasting. Personally, I still feel more comfortable calling it an OVA series given the unique circumstances because it meets the criteria of that genre better than it does as a weekly episodic TV series. But in its strict definition, RIN was not a direct-to-video release.

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