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View Poll Results: Do you like the amnesia trope?
I hate it 7 13.21%
So-so 6 11.32%
I like it 3 5.66%
I don't care 9 16.98%
It depends on... (state reason) 20 37.74%
rori, cut the BS polls already 8 15.09%
Voters: 53. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 2010-05-01, 06:51   Link #1
roriconfan
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Amnesia - one of the most overused and bad tropes ever?

If you think about it a huge bulk of anime (and even western) stories implement the amnesia routine. When I was little, I though it was a thing only found in soap operas and b-grade dramas. But now, I see it's everywhere!

If it was a nice implemented trope, I wouldn't mind much. But besides the overuse of it in almost every story of modern fiction there is... isn't it bad? I mean why is it there if not to ruin the story? Something like a convenient reset button, an excuse to halt progress, a cheesy attempt at poor written drama, a pulling out of an ass plot twist. Sure, it all depends on how you use it but come on, when was the last time they used it without making an ass out of the otherwise interesting story?

Here are some famous anime where amnesia is used: Code Geass, Death Note, Elfen Lied, Eden of the East; heck, even Haruhi indirectly has it.

Think of how the story would be without the amnesia routine. Harder to pull off but at the same time far more mature. Yes, all these titles are damn successful and most would probably not even give a rat's ass about it but for the sake of discussion, would a series WITHOUT amnesia be overall more creditable than one similar in themes WITH amnesia?

I will be more honest here; amnesia is almost always like magic and it has no explanation. I can admit that it was very interesting to see it in Battle Angel Alita or even Gantz, dressed under the pretext of memory manipulation through technology. I still think that not using it would make any story overall better.
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Old 2010-05-01, 06:57   Link #2
Haak
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Depends on how it's used. It can be used poorly (e.g Elfen Lied) or it can be used brilliantly (e.g Memento)

To Aru Majutsu no Index uses it sort of okay. It's a plot point, but it probably would've worked better if Touma cared a bit more.
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Old 2010-05-01, 06:58   Link #3
risingstar3110
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Normally I hate it, but most of time i don't care if it's not in my favourite show. But certainly it depends on how do they use it as well (for example in some case, it's not really amnesia, just a block in memory due to magic or indirect mystery reason).
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Old 2010-05-01, 08:32   Link #4
Marcus H.
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Actually, Toaru Majutsu no Index handles the amnesia quite good. It reveals how the character can be intelligent as he tries to bluff his way out of totally "new" faces and ends up acting like he never got an amnesia.

He even mindf*cked an enemy with a torn-off right arm and his exceptional bluffing skillz.

On another point, the only bad reason for having an amnesiac is when it's used to force a one-person retcon (e.g. a man who has went through the biggest adventure in his life gets hit in the head and lives on not knowing any of that) or an "epic handicap" (e.g. when the protagonist almost gets all of his best guns on the ready when he suddenly gets an amnesia moment... right when the final boss is just so close).
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Old 2010-05-01, 09:18   Link #5
Chiibi
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It doesn't bother me as an intro but I really hate it when they do it in the MIDDLE or END of a series.
Memories of love and friendship getting erased really freaking sucks.
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Old 2010-05-01, 10:46   Link #6
kresslia
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It doesn't bother me as an intro but I really hate it when they do it in the MIDDLE or END of a series.
Memories of love and friendship getting erased really freaking sucks.
ugh, this. especially at the very end. makes me wonder why i even bothered watching.
it is indeed overused, but it mostly just depends on the circumstances with me. for example, i was fine with it originally in tsubasa because first of all, it happened in the beginning. it was a major plot point, having to get back sakura's memories.

actually, thinking about it, it is pretty crazy how overused this trope is. i can think of SO MANY series that has used this trope, it's kind of insane.
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Old 2010-05-01, 11:22   Link #7
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Originally Posted by kresslia View Post
ugh, this. especially at the very end. makes me wonder why i even bothered watching.
it is indeed overused, but it mostly just depends on the circumstances with me. for example, i was fine with it originally in tsubasa because first of all, it happened in the beginning. it was a major plot point, having to get back sakura's memories.

actually, thinking about it, it is pretty crazy how overused this trope is. i can think of SO MANY series that has used this trope, it's kind of insane.
The irony of your post is that Kobato's anime series (and it had deviated from the manga much earlier) used it at the near end too.
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Old 2010-05-01, 12:13   Link #8
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Hm, I must admit that using amnesia in the beginning feels more excused than in the middle or ending. FFVII comes to mind. It was the middle of the story (media res?) when the game began but it was all about Cloud's and Sephiroth's mixed memories of the past that made the story interesting... Although it was more of memory blending than strict amnesia, so it's not the exact same thing.
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Old 2010-05-01, 12:56   Link #9
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^Yeah Utawarerumono, Kaiba and Higashi no Eden all use amnesia quite well mostly because the series starts with the characters having lost their identity...

There's something truly fascinating about the struggle to reclaim ones own identity. But, when the quest for identity is the side note in a series (when it is not the main story), then I find it fairly anoying, especially considering how easily the side-quest is resolved (Bounen no Xamdou, for example, had an awful use of this trope, specifically because the amnesia was mostly superfluous).

Last edited by james0246; 2010-05-01 at 13:07.
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Old 2010-05-01, 14:09   Link #10
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It has Amnesia. Supposedly multiple cases actually. I votet "hate it" but here I actually don't care that much. Its too early, but I feel it's being done for keeping the mystery of the place and I'm looking forward to a revelation at some point.

Otherwise it's mostly done so the character can act and do whatever without any reasonable base on their personality and past experience. It's just an easy way out, very annoying.
Also it makes for an easy setup with the new cast: Because the character wont remember his past relationships with anyone he doesnt have any.
Humans don't have reset buttons!
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Old 2010-05-01, 15:01   Link #11
DragoonKain3
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Overused? Just using last year alone (with start dates of December 2008 to November 2009), shows that include amnesia are...

White Album
Denpa Teki na Kanojo
Asura Cryin
Eden of the East
Utawarerumono OVA

... and of that, the first three is more really a case of the character forgetting (or in Asura Cryin's case, modified memories) than it really be a case of true amnesia. And that's out of maybe 120 something odd total shows that aired during that time period, which means only about 4% of shows featured some sort of memory loss, or less than 2% if you count true amnesia.

So no, I wouldn't say that the cliche is overused, at least in anime (unless I missed like the bajillion other shows that featured amnesia in that time period). I personally never felt like it was overrused, to the point that when two shows aired in winter 2010 with amnesia (omamori himari and dance with the vampire loli), I didn't really think anything of it.


Is the trope itself bad? Well, as with everything, its not that its inherently bad, but its all how well it is executed. And again, as with everything, you can see examples of good and bad ways how to handle such a trope, so I don't find it particular special or exceptional in comparison to other cliches floating around.


As for Angel Beats, so far, the only people who has shown not knowning how they died is Otonashi. Everyone else who shared their pasts remembered it distinctly.
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Old 2010-05-01, 16:59   Link #12
Spectacular_Insanity
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Generally, yes, I do hate them. For one thing, it's unrealistic. If someone actually suffered damage to the brain bad enough to make them lose their memories, they'd be dead. And secondly, if amnesia DID happen, it would not affect past memories but rather the ability to form new ones.

Basic neurobiology 101 rules. Amnesia as is used in books and media are exaggerated.
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Old 2010-05-02, 00:05   Link #13
Marion
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Generally, yes, I do hate them. For one thing, it's unrealistic. If someone actually suffered damage to the brain bad enough to make them lose their memories, they'd be dead. And secondly, if amnesia DID happen, it would not affect past memories but rather the ability to form new ones.

Basic neurobiology 101 rules. Amnesia as is used in books and media are exaggerated.
Well it is possible to some extent to lose something - they won't lose all their memories but may forget something relating to it. A classic example is a musician. A musician with retrograde amnesia would remember the instrument and what it can do but wouldn't be able to recall how to play it after getting amnesia.

But there's also repressed memories, which normally happen do to traumatic stress, but that's not really amnesia so to speak.
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Old 2010-05-02, 15:24   Link #14
Spectacular_Insanity
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Well it is possible to some extent to lose something - they won't lose all their memories but may forget something relating to it. A classic example is a musician. A musician with retrograde amnesia would remember the instrument and what it can do but wouldn't be able to recall how to play it after getting amnesia.

But there's also repressed memories, which normally happen do to traumatic stress, but that's not really amnesia so to speak.
Repressed *memories* are a myth. Bad childhood experiences are typically repressed through states other than straight-out amnesia, such as schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder. Unless you can cite for me an officially documented case of amnesia that is as you describe (that is, specific experiences are forgotten while the rest of memory and personality are intact), I don't buy it.

Well, some of that may be true, and the person may lose their past knowledge as well, in general that's not always the case. However, there is the interesting case of Clive Wearing (some may have heard of him before), who is literally the man without a memory.

Here's a shortened version of the BBC documentary. It's about 3 minutes long, and does a good job of summing up his condition.

The full documentary is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDNDRDJy-vo

Oddly, despite everything, he can still play the piano. He also recognizes his wife (she's the ONLY person he still knows).

Despite his condition, he's not stupid... he perceives his continual presence in the present with amazing clarity, even if it is repeated as he forgets his previous thoughts.

He's also the most unusual case in history, as no one with amnesia like he has has yet been recorded. I'm just using him to point out that amnesia does exist, but it's not usually as people like to think of it. Amnesia in Clive Wearing's case is very nearly absolute.
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Old 2010-05-02, 15:31   Link #15
Haak
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I bet you'll love Memento, then.
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Old 2010-05-02, 15:38   Link #16
Spectacular_Insanity
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I bet you'll love Memento, then.
I've seen it. While it has a few obvious plot-holes, it wasn't bad. The only problem I have with amnesia is its overuse and misuse, then people applying that misinformation to real life. I have no problem with watching it in media because fictional universes are just that. Fictional.

For instance, I quite enjoy the manga/anime Angel Heart, even though the very basis of the plot is inherently bullsh*t. If you've read/watched it then you know what I mean.
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Old 2010-05-02, 15:45   Link #17
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For instance, I quite enjoy the manga/anime Angel Heart, even though the very basis of the plot is inherently bullsh*t. If you've read/watched it then you know what I mean.
I don't like the Ryo Saeba in Angel Heart :|
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Old 2010-05-02, 16:02   Link #18
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I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. If we can willfully suspend our disbelief to accept elves, 20 meter tall walking robots, catgirls, kickass lolis, FTL travel, etc, what is so hard to accept about exaggerated amnesia? Unless we are willing to divorce all fiction from our entertainment, there is no real reason to dislike a particular trope unless the fictional world in which it is used does not adequetly explain the trope...
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Old 2010-05-02, 22:53   Link #19
kresslia
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The irony of your post is that Kobato's anime series (and it had deviated from the manga much earlier) used it at the near end too.
Haha, I didn't watch the anime because I didn't like where it was heading, anyway.
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Old 2010-05-02, 23:15   Link #20
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I don't think its a bad trope by itself but its certainly overused.
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