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"Kurau: Phantom Memory" May Be "Between Two Worlds", But It’s Behind Five Other Shows

by on July 2, 2007

One decade ago, an accident at an energy power plant changed the life of a young girl irrevocably. She still looks the same, but now has the mind of an alien life form and powers to go along with it. Using these abilities for profit, she’s become an Agent, a master mercenary out for hire. But the cold-blooded girl must confront her past, as the little-girl-that-was seems to have come back. Is this phantom memory a phantom menace, or will Kurau do good by having a Mini-Me by her side?

I’d never heard of Kurau before it came up for review, but having watched it, I feel like I’ve seen it way too many times already. Daphne In The Brilliant Blue, Solty Rei, Outlaw Star, Dirty Pair Flash, Mezzo … All titles in my collection, all with a certain theme: it’s the future, and the main cast consists of bounty hunters/odd jobs/super-powered cops. Throw in a few attractive ladies, some major action sequences each episode, and you’ve got a show. Some shows excel at certain aspects of the formula—Outlaw Star got the humor quotient right, Daphne In The Brilliant Blue had the ladies down. But what has Kurau: Phantom Memory got to keep it from dropping simply into the “action chase” genre?

It’s the 22nd century; “Blue Energy” derived from water has reshaped society into clean metropolises. Kurau is the daughter of a scientist working on a new form of energy derived from Rynax. Problem is, nobody knew that Rynax was actually a binary alien life form.

Well, when you mess with something you don’t know about, crazy stuff happens. Not knowing Rynax was sentient, a visiting Kurau effectively became possessed by two of the Rynaxes. One controls her body while the other lies dormant to save energy.

Skip ten years, and Kurau is leading a somewhat abnormal life. Sure, she’s highly respected in her field for taking down criminals, but she does it secretly using her Rynax powers. Energy blasts, super jumping—she’s effectively one of the Agents from XBox 360’s Crackdown, only with less stubble.

However her life is soon thrown into disarray. The cold and methodical Kurau suddenly melts into a chipper young girl when the dormant Rynax moves to the outside. Resembling Kurau at the time of the accident, this creature is new to this world, and Kurau has to teach her about it. The name she assigns it, “Christmas”, had me instantly recalling bad James Bond jokes (“I thought Christmas only came once a year”).

Problem is, with this new mentality, Kurau gets a little sloppy on a case and shows the world that she has Rynax powers. It turns out she’s not the only one of these “Ryna sapiens”, and the government is chasing down these people, like the way Iron Man is out enforcing the Superhuman Registration Act (Full disclosure: I’m with Iron Man). Her life goes from stable to crazy, as she now has to escape these forces with her “sister” Christmas.

Kurau is technically proficient. The writing is good, the action is good, the animation and audio are good. From a story perspective, though, you don’t care too much for Kurau, Christmas, or any of the other characters that show up; we have yet to see any of their plots interact directly with the main girls. At the end of its first volume Kurau: Phantom Memory could easily just disappear into the background.

That’s the problem. The concept has a very good center: a girl who has to come to grips with the person she used to be before she embarking on a crimefighting career, a version of herself that’s more interested in cooking dinner for someone than going on a mission. But otherwise Kurau is just like every other series of this kind: something changes the status quo and characters end up on the run. Kurau does it by “Those In Pursuit”. Maybe there’s hope; maybe after they get that out of the way better plots will follow.

There’s a decent number of extras on the set, but that doesn’t mean they are good quality. “Key Words” covers some of the terms and settings in the series; a promotional video goes on and on as if it were a slow music video for the first episode; production artwork covers the episodes on the disc; and a booklet entitled “Investigation Report” has interviews with various members of the production. You get one guess as to what would have been better included in the booklet, and one guess what other items ADV could have easily included.

Kurau has a good idea and a good execution, but the banality of certain plot elements weakens the whole product. If you’ve ever seen a show about bounty hunters in the future, you’ve seen this show.

Episodes included on Kurau: Phantom Memory Volume 1 “Between Two Worlds”
Episode 1: “Into The Wide World”
Episode 2: “A Good Word”
Episode 3: “Those In Pursuit”
Episode 4: “Passing Through The Night”

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