Kurau: Phantom Memory

Genre: Sci fi Action Mystery
Length: 24 episodes
Score: Good

Dr Amami is a scientist, researching a new form of energy. One day, something goes wrong: a being from another dimension, a Rynax, appears and posesses the doctor’s young daughter, Kurau. The new, hybrid Kurau has all his daughter’s memories, but isn’t the same person. A decade later, the new Kurau is working as a private agent, taking on dangerous jobs. Being a Rynax comes with a helpful dose of superpowers, but also an inescapable desire to find its pair. After ten years of sleeping, her pair emerges, and becomes a person, a younger twin of Kurau, who she names Christmas. (yes, I know it’s a crap name, go blame the Japanese writers)

Kurau isn’t the only rynax in the world any more, and the authorities are determined to lock them up. Possession by a Rynax means having both dangerous powers, and in most cases, a deeply unstable psyche. The shock of entering our world, truly alien to them; the pain of being separated from their pair; and their unfamiliarity with human emotion make each one a walking time bomb. But Kurau is determined to protect Christmas, and the two repeatedly struggle to avoid capture.

The purpose of any sci fi is to use unfamiliar situations to explore what it means to be human. Kurau: Phantom Memory uses beings who aren’t human, but who live in the human world and have access to human memories. There are only a few rynax in the series, but each is different: some like Kurau are compassionate and peaceful, having learned to live and think as humans; others are psychopaths, dangerous creatures inhabiting a body they don’t belong in. The GPO, like many government bodies, isn’t interested in the distinction – they just want all the rynax gone, and won’t let something like human rights stand in their way.

Rynax powers include walking through walls, flying, dissolving and manipulating objects, etc., and rynax are resilient but not invulnerable. Aside from these, much of the sci fi is quite realistic. Humans live on both the Earth and the Moon, and the experience and motion of being in space is well done. Cars can fly, but more often choose not to because you can’t really brake as easily when you’re flying. Fighting is done with bullets and knives rather than ray guns, even in space.

The counterpoint of all this action is Kurau, whose compassion and understanding of both human and rynax are the key to the series. She’s almost the only one who cares about the welfare of both, and isn’t willing to take the life of either. She and Christmas (ugh, hate that name) spend much of the series running away from the GPO and meeting various dangerous people, trying to protect each other and balance their principles with the need to survive.