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Post Reply Amnesia and Being Forgotten: Why so common?
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45 / M / Corpus Christi, T...
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/21/17
I've been curious about this for a while. It seems like a very common trope in anime with several variants:

Maybe the MC or someone the MC cares a great deal for has amnesia, or will lose their memory at a certain time, including all memory of the main character and the happy times they've had together.

Or perhaps the anime makes a very big deal out of someone or some thing being forgotten, painting it as the worst possible thing that can happen. In some cases, the person or thing will literally vanish from existence if no one remembers it.

What I'm wondering about is: Why is it so common in anime? I mean sure, it comes up in other kinds of shows, books, etc. from around the world as well, but seems like a really big thing in this particular medium. Is it just because it's an easy way to mine drama, or is there a cultural thing behind it? Or is it not really as common as I think it is?

Anyway, what are your favorite memory loss/amnesia anime? Least favorite?
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17
If I had to guess, I'd say it's more about anime being based on manga about young people with no apparent responsibilities that start as "one-shots" or with no guarantee of serialization. When you're super pressed for time (because if you don't generate immediate interest you'll be dropped from publishing), a cliche such as a forgotten past/mysterious power/isolation hooks a reader within just a page or two.

Cliches are common for the simple reason that they're effective. Similar issue to why there are so many underdressed females with giant boobs. It's not unique or imaginative, but it gets attention.

EDIT: It's also easier to make episodic content. An author can start a series without a real idea how it will end, and the amnesia aspect lets the main characters be surprised/shocked by any strange twists along with the reader. Introducing some crazy character in a cliffhanger ending a chapter is usually more impactful if the protagonist reacts as opposed to calmly greeting their old friend with a "Hey man what's up?"

Especially if at that cliffhanger the author doesn't quite know what they want to do with that new character until they make the next chapter.
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17

memnalar wrote:

I've been curious about this for a while. It seems like a very common trope in anime with several variants:


As the old joke says, "Can you imagine a world where amnesia was as common as it is on soap operas??"
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17
Speaking of amnesia tropes, can anyone tell me the point of 'what's-his-name's amnesia in Gamers? It's mentioned in the first or second episode and then never really brought up again. Hell, Tendou's entire Gaming club is just kind of forgotten about after the first few episodes.

But yeah, amnesia is a lame, overused trope in anime that's hardly ever done right.
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17
*cough cough* Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches.
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17
It’s become less common in Western media, but it used to be a staple of sitcoms and soaps. See Easy Amnesia and related tropes.
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17
All forms of media has stuff that tends to get over used over time.........take the US and it's oh so many CSI, and other crime shows of it's ilk thats been like a flock of locusts for the past couple of decades :p

As for the amnesia bit, i tend to view that from show to show, sometimes you get absolutley superb shows, entierly my own subjective opinion ofcourse :p, like Golden Time. Other times you end up with pretty much your standard run of the mill harems ^^
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17

MadeDragon wrote:

It’s become less common in Western media, but it used to be a staple of sitcoms and soaps. See Easy Amnesia and related tropes.


Point taken. I haven't watched many soap operas in my life, but yeah, lots of sitcoms relied on it. I guess I'm just noticing it more because I'm watching more anime at the moment than anything else, and when the trope is used, it's a really big deal.
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17

memnalar wrote:


MadeDragon wrote:

It’s become less common in Western media, but it used to be a staple of sitcoms and soaps. See Easy Amnesia and related tropes.


Point taken. I haven't watched many soap operas in my life, but yeah, lots of sitcoms relied on it. I guess I'm just noticing it more because I'm watching more anime at the moment than anything else, and when the trope is used, it's a really big deal.


The idea was revived a bit by Memento, and the Japanese creators seem to have been positioned to run with that ball.
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17
I think anime is just reliant on tropes in general

Chuunibyou characters seems to be a popular one recently.

Bad guys that turn good.

Good guys that turn bad.

Siblings who fall in love and find out they are not really siblings.

Teenagers living on their own (dead parents or parents living over seas) Going by anime most of Japan's population must be under 18.

Everyday person finds out they are royalty.

Male finds out he has an ability that previously only females had and gets enrolled in a female only school.

I am not sure if it is lazy writing or catering to an audience, but anime is full oc plot devices and Deus Ex Machina. I think Western media is more reliant on McGuffins though.
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17
If one person can have amnesia, why not the whole world? A Wind Called Amnesia is the classic in this area.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Wind_Named_Amnesia
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17
Amnesia can has several functions besides those that are already mentioned in this thread: It can be used for a mystery; The recovery of the lost memory could introduce an emotional flashback or plot twist at a strategic time; when the story take place in an strange setting or have a strange background story, the amnesia can make the protagonist relatable with the audience before the protagonist develop into an unrelatable character (the plot progress can introduce series of situations that can help relate the audience with the protagonist after the protagonist becomes unrelatable).
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17
Amnesia is a sure way to create conflict where it would normally not exist. Of the shows I watched, Nisekoi and Utawarerumono were notable examples where amnesia played a part. In Nisekoi, the amnesia of numerous individuals exasperated the whole promised girl affair. In Utawarerumono, continuous escalation of destruction and conflict could be heavily attributed to Hakuoro's true identity.

Though I'm not really sure how common it is to present anime. I've watched a good deal of anime on each of this year's three seasons, I can't recall many that significantly featured amnesia. Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor had the Re-L case, but that was more memory manipulation than amnesia. This season's Fox Spirit Matchmaker actually uses amnesia as an unorthodox plot component. In that series, yokai and humans sometimes form relationships. Since humans and yokai have vastly different lifespans, Fox Spirits created a technique to continue those relationships. When a human is reincarnated, the Fox Spirits would use magic to upload the memories of a lover's past life. In theory, this would make the human fall in-love again with the yokai. While this isn't strictly amnesia, it produces a similar effect. In that show, conflicts often arise when a yokai wants to continue the relationship, but the reincarnated human has other plans.
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17

kiltmaker2 wrote:

If one person can have amnesia, why not the whole world? A Wind Called Amnesia is the classic in this area.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Wind_Named_Amnesia


I believe Solty Rei also contained mass amnesia
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Posted 9/21/17 , edited 9/22/17

Austershalin wrote:
In Nisekoi, the amnesia of numerous individuals exasperated the whole promised girl affair.


That's not really amnesia. It's just the fuzziness of childhood memories.



Though I'm not really sure how common it is to present anime. I've watched a good deal of anime on each of this year's three seasons, I can't recall many that significantly featured amnesia.


There was a touch of it in Sakura Quest, but it wasn't a big deal in the end. This trope may be winding down in the East as well.
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