Electromagnetic Girlfriend – Review
Yuu Yuuzawa is a tough kid in a rough town. One day, an odd girl approaches him by the name of Ame, who claims that she was connected to him in a past life and insists on serving as Yuu’s knight. His first reaction is to ignore her, distancing himself as quickly as possible. However, when a serial killer murders one of Yuu’s classmates and Ame seems to know something about the killings, he is forced into cooperating with her to get to the bottom of the mystery. Can this enigmatic stranger really be trusted?
Based on the 1st and 3rd novels of a three-part light novel series by author Kentaro Katayama, the two-part OVA series of Electromagnetic Girlfriend was exclusively bundled with all pre-order editions of the 3rd and 4th volumes of the anime series Kure-nai—which is another series stemming from light novels by Katayama. Considering the history of the OVA’s release, many could consider the Electromagnetic Girlfriend OVA series as simply a minor addition to his more popular title Kure-nai, but Electromagnetic Girlfriend is much more than its bundled release or actual title would lead to you to believe. With a focus on the damaged psyche of its characters, Electromagnetic Girlfriend presents a surprisingly well-crafted and engaging premise that is only hindered through its lack of additional episodes.
With a premise deriving from Katayama’s novel series, the show is refreshingly attune towards exploring the effects of human rationalization when it comes to coping with traumatic experiences. With the help of Katayama’s skill as a writer, the series delivers an appreciable character study, which is a nice treatment considering the short span of episodes the OVA encompasses. I always seem to enjoy animated series that stem from the mind of a talented writer simply because the narrative is often more focused, concise, and more astute in character development. Electromagnetic Girlfriend is no exception in this department, presenting the perceived antagonists—and even the protagonists at times—as ones who are unable to reconcile the traumatic events that have occurred in their past, thus they attempt to absolve that pain through the physical infliction and unhappiness of others. What makes the show appealing is that while we may detest the way some of these characters act out in anger and frustration, we also can understand their ways of dealing with such emotional bondage—even if their actions are delegated to the realm of insanity at times. This is most appropriately seen in the character of Ame. While her obedience towards Yuu is thinly explained as simply being his knight in shining armor in a bygone era, she is clearly not a normal girl in many respects. Despite this though, the show plays around with the different degrees that constitute insanity and how it correlates with that of the simply bizarre to downright frightening. While Ame’s attention towards Yuu is rather odd, in comparison to many of the disturbing antics of the other characters, she may even appear to be the more ordinary one even with her supposed past servitude to Yuu.
The show is centered on the past as a whole, whether it is through Ame’s true belief that in a previous life she was a knight to Yuu, to the correcting of an unhappy event in one’s life by stealing happiness from others, the series looks at human reason in a plausible light. With both episodes widely differing from one another in both scope and presentation, they still magnify some very serious and disturbing dilemmas. In episode one for example, we see a rape victim dealing with her horrific experience by forcing that fear onto others, in turn perceiving her experience as not something unique and in many ways apologetic towards her attacker’s actions. The dark atmosphere of this episode is prevalent throughout its running time, with gritty, damp alleyways and brutal murders exhibited primarily at night. But the psychological torment of its antagonists further extends to the second and final episode as well, where the introduction of a Happiness Club played by certain high school students comes into the fray—where effectively stealing happiness from others is the way to win. Here the visual quality of the episode is visibly brighter, taking place mostly in the daytime rather than night and where the overtly gory presence found throughout the first episode is surprisingly absent. Regardless of these changes though, the atmosphere of the show is replaced with subtle visual cues as to the decaying fantasy stemming from its characters crumbling perception of happiness. With its display of abandoned buildings and rust-covered street posts, the animation—similar to the attention paid in the first episode—complements the dark subject matter at hand through the experiences of its characters. The entire series adheres to this visual structure, where the environments reflect the deteriorating mental framework of its cast of characters, bringing about a sense of dread that permeates throughout.
One can see that the strength of Katayama’s writing and Mamoru Kanbe’s direction makes Electromagnetic Girlfriend an interesting display of human rationale. One could easily point towards the antagonists—and once again, even the protagonists—as individuals completely removed from reality, but are they truly in relation to their experiences? While one could disagree on their villainous responses towards addressing their painful situations, the show demonstrates that most destructive actions are usually justified by one’s own personal rationale. Within their own framework of reason, their actions are definitely reasonable and even vindicated. I believe the broader question asked through the show is the subjective nature in which we view reason, with the show never truly defining a true answer—which is the perhaps most honest approach one could offer. With this in mind, Electromagnetic Girlfriend is a relatively short but earnest series on how one’s erroneous actions can be justified for the sake of hiding their fears, distrusts, and unhappiness. While certainly exaggerated at times in showcasing the conclusive outcome of their actions, the series still upholds its discussion on the real life problems faced by its characters, showing how even uncomplicated emotions can deliver individuals into the arms of lunacy.
Author: Miguel Douglas
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