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Kaze no Namae wa Amnesia
(A Wind Named Amnesia)
Copyright: © 1993 Hideyuki Kikuchi / Asahi Sonorama / Right Stuf Office / Japan Home Video, © 1994 US Manga Corps
Length: 80 minutes
Genre: science-fiction / action
Rating: NR, Parental Discretion Advised
Format: DVD (Original Japanese/English Dub/English Subtitle), VHS (Original Japanese Dialog/English Subtitles)
Original story by: Hideyuki Kikuchi Production: Yoshio Masumizu Screenplay: Kazuo Yamazaki, Yoshiaki Kawajiri Character Design: Satoru Makamura Art Director: Mutuo Koseki Executive Producer of English Version: John O'Donnell English Translation: Neil Nadelman
Recommended for Mature Audiences - Violence, nudity and sexual situations. Several scenes of intense and graphic violence, some casual nudity and scenes of sex. Definitely not for children.
Sometime in the waning years of the 19th millenia, a mysterious wind sweeps across the world, erasing everyone's memories... Well, not quite everyone. A confused and frightened 16-year old happens across a young wheel-chair bound boy, being attacked by the product of military ESP experiment gone wrong. For reasons he cannot explain, the confused young man saves the helpless invalid, only to discover that his benefactor - "Johnny" - is also the result of a military experiment; one that increases the information capacity of the human brain. The result of this experiment was that Johnny still had his memories, and with the aid of a computerized teaching machine, programs knowledge back into the wandering soul. Johnny also gives the young man a name: "Wataru", which translates roughly as "the wanderer."
Unfortunately, Johnny is not well, and a few years later, passes away. But Johnny had a task for Wataru: travel the country, and see what has become of Mankind. For Mankind has now been handed the proverbial tabula rossa - clean slate - and could start anew. Accompanied by a strange female traveller who seemingly has been spared the effects of the wind, Wataru embarks on a cross-country journey to discover the fate of Man -- or perhaps, determine its destiny.
This video should come with a warning - those of you expecting to be able to watch this and not go away reflecting on the contents will be very surprised. Amnesia is a surprisingly thought-provoking exercise in "what if" -- what if man was stripped of all knowledge and preconceptions, and thrust back into his environment? While many anime are content to merely use the concept as a plot device, this movie uses the topic to explore and ponder some interesting aspects of human sociology and development. Material is very well considered, almost to a fault -- at times, you'll feel like you're in the middle of a textbook. That's not so much the fault of the writers, but more the direction. The story is presented in a very matter-of-fact, clinical manner. This is rather unfortunate, since the underlying story is quite well realized.
Animation is very well done, with some effort put into making the backgrounds part of the story telling device. Some will undoubtedly find part of the entertainment coming from figuring out the various landmarks depicted in the movie (I'd be willing to bet that the town in Montana is actually based on Banff, Alberta, a very popular destination for the Japanese.) Acting is something else. Like the directing itself, most of the vocals feel out of place and forced, lending an even more detached feel to the movie. While this may suit the Sophia character (played by Toda Keiko), it doesn't suit the rest of the players, with the possible exception of Johnny (played by Yamaguchi Kappei). One other aspect of this show bothers me: the subplot involving the out-of-control gaurdian chasing Wataru and Sophia across America. The writers have already crammed a lot of philosophy into this production, the addition of this sub-plot was extraneous and feels entirely out-of-place. While the message about technology is fairly clear, I can't shake the feeling the the only reason that this was included was to add some action to what is effectively a cerebral work.
The show is most effective when it sticks to its exploration of the nature of mankind, and the possibility that the various aspects of human nature are inescapable. Sometimes preachy and sometimes sublime, Kaze No Namae Wa Amnesia is a very thought-provoking film. This is one of those movies that you watch over biscotti and latté, not popcorn and Coke.
- AN, 98.04.23