AKA: Kaza no Na wa Amnesia, The Wind of Amnesia
Year Released: 1990
Running Time: 80 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 16+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Mad Max, Total Recall, Akira, Green Legend Ran, Wicked City, Fist of the North Star, Demon City Shinjuku, Suikoden Demon Century, Battle Angel
-The Japanese version was used for this review, but I’ve seen it dubbed in the past.
-A Wind Named Amnesia is streaming on RetroCrush.
-A Wind Named Amnesia is based on a book of the same name that was published in 1983. It was written by Hideyuki Kikuchi who also created Vampire Hunter D, Demon City Blues, and Wicked City. It was illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano who also co-created Vampire Hunter D. Outside of that, he has contributed art and animation to Speed Racer, Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets/G-Force/Eagle Riders), and even some of the Final Fantasy games.
-Sophia was voiced in the Japanese version by Keiko Toda. Her acting career started when she was only in the 5th grade. Some of her anime voice acting portfolio involves playing Matilda from the original Mobile Suit Gundam series, Osono from Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Yukinari from Pokemon 4Ever. Outside of anime, she is the official Japanese dubbing voice for Jodie Foster, Julia Roberts, and she was the dub voice of Sally Carrerra in the Cars movies.
-One of the composers was Kazuhiko Toyama who contributed music for the likes of Cyber City Oedo 808, New Cutie Honey, and Tekken: The Motion Picture.
-Language Bonus: Sophia is a name based on the Greek word of “Wisdom”. In a world full of primitive savages, the meaning of her name becomes quite apparent in this film.
-Hilarious in Hindsight: That large man the main characters meet in Los Angeles goes by the name Little John. Does anyone want to make jokes involving a certain Robin Hood character or even a rapper (Okay, he’s Lil’ Jon, but that’s besides the point)?
I completed one of my challenges with this post. This review involves something I’ve seen before but never reviewed and is the 5th film for that 2021 goal as well as tallying off something for revisiting anime projects. Besides those goals, I had heard about this RetroCrush place a while ago, but never got to experience the site as much. Looking at the movies and series available, I was certainly impressed with the overall selection. There were multiple things available to stream that I remember watching when I was younger, so I know this website was a nostalgia trip in and of itself. While I wasn’t as nostalgic for this movie, I did manage to see it a few years ago when I got back into anime. I remember hearing the name of that movie as I was very intrigued by the concept.
Is this an unforgettable anime movie or something that should be forgotten because of a mysterious wind?
A Wind Named Amnesia takes place in the year 1999, but the world has become a terrifying wasteland. Two years prior to the events of the movie, a great wind blew all over the earth which wiped out the memories of billions of humans to the point where they have the emotional and intellectual equivalent of a newborn baby. Humanity becomes savage and millions of people die by this primitive society. There was one human living in America named Wataru who managed to learn language, social skills, and survival skills who travels around the wastelands. He meets a mysterious woman named Sophia who travels with them. They start out in San Francisco, California and they have to got to the destination of New York City. They travel around this ruined America to get to their location while meeting people along the way while also fending off danger from Guardian robots and some violent neo-neanderthals killing people on site.
Rediscovering this movie especially in these tense times got me thinking. While most of the characters can’t talk and have primitive states, I do wonder how much humanity is that different despite being more intelligent and I’m just going to leave it at that. The horrors really feel frightening with the onscreen chaos or major cities being in ruins, but there’s a lot of offscreen fridge horror that happens which makes things more terrifying. Since a vast majority of humanity lost civilization, coherent speech, and act like wild animals with guns, there’s so many possibilities unseen like cannibalism, new forms of tribalism, child sacrifice, and so many other gruesome things that could’ve happened. There were so many mysteries that I didn’t expect to happen, but they do a good job explaining how Wataru was able to talk or how there were some humans that weren’t affected in a believable way in the context of this world. The concept was quite eye-opening and quite cerebral. There were so many possibilities that could happen if humanity were to lose their memories whether they were moments in lives or essential life skills. In this movie, it feels like the audience is learning along with Wataru as to why the world is the way it is with how scary the environment is shown. The animation is dark, gritty, and uses a tons of shadows as Madhouse was wont to do especially in their earlier portfolio (this can also apply to Battle Angel, Ninja Scroll, or even Tokyo Babylon to name a few). The art style was also vintage Madhouse with the flowing hair from the characters, specified facial features, and the backgrounds really look like places you don’t want to visit. Even major cities shown like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York City are barely recognizable with all the destruction that befell it. A Wind Named Amnesia does use the post-apocalyptic themes to great lengths to invoke this fearful environment instead of just making it some cheap action thriller.
A Wind Named Amnesia can be full of hot air at times. This may be a Madhouse work, but this isn’t one of their best productions from a visual standpoint. There were some moments where characters froze and the animation certainly looked dated. While there was a good art style, I can’t un-see Wataru looking like a younger version of Rambo (Thanks a lot, Ashley! JK, You’re still awesome!). Speaking of being dated, well…this takes place in 1999 and I know that year looked nothing like what was shown in this movie. No one is certainly partying in this movie if one pardons the obligatory music pun from the purple-clad one, but this was loaded with zeerust. Do you remember giant robots, laser traps, or futuristic utopian cities? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Even with the futuristic city Eternal Town is shown, it was made for an expo about what America would look like in 2010 and I just laughed out loud with how unintentionally funny that description was. Come on, In Time takes place in the 22nd century for example and it looked less gaudily futuristic than that locale. There were scenes with misspelled English including a map that grossly misspells Philadelphia. Going back to the maps, there was a geography fail with the plot. Why are they trying to get to New York City by going to Los Angeles from San Francisco? I’m not even from either New York or California, and even I know that makes no sense especially since San Francisco is further North than LA and one would more or less have to go East and Northeast from there. Why go South just to go Northeast from there? I’m sorry, but that affected my suspension of disbelief especially when they show them with a road atlas for crying out loud. This also gets points off with that priest totally looking like a witch doctor with a bone necklace and long nails. Of course, they made him a Black man which is so facepalm-worthy. They never explain where the wind came from which confused me and the ending felt very flat to me. The music was also dated and theme song was just early 90s adult contemporary schmaltz that makes the Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion duet version of the Beauty and the Beast theme look like “What’s up, People?” from Death Note by comparison. While I thought the plot concept was original, I was proven to be wrong after finding out that the concept was lifted from the book Rebirth by Thomas Calvert McCleary from another review. Ouch, that really doesn’t help. While the horrors are nowhere near as crass as original, it does hurt that it wasn’t as innovative as I thought.
This was an interesting movie to watch, but parts of it certainly aged. There was a good art style, but the animation wasn’t as top-tier as one would expect of Madhouse. I thought this movie was very unique only to find out that it wasn’t so original. A Wind Named Amnesia was able to have characters as well as more sci-fi elements to differentiate it, but I do have to dock it some points.
Adjustable Point Scores:
-Add 1-2 points if you like post-apocalyptic anime.
-Add 1 point if you like old-school Madhouse works.
-Subtract 1-2 points if you want more plots explained to you.
-Subtract 2-3 points if you don’t like gory or scary forms of sci-fi or action workers.
-Decent art style
-Some good character development
-Effective usage of onscreen and offscreen horror
-Spelling errors and a big geography fail in the adventure
-Is actually derivative and not so original
Final Score: 6/10 points
Content Advisory: A Wind Named Amnesia is not for kids. The violence is brutal and the fight scenes get very bloody. It’s implied that millions of people on Earth died from this mass amnesia. There’s one sex scene near the end and female nudity with two of the characters at some point in the film. The atmosphere is very creepy like a skeleton piloting a mecha, cities crumbling, or people being sacrificed to the “Smasher-Devourer” god which is actually a construction crane. The implications are quite disturbing throughout the whole movie. Wataru also swears a couple of times, but it’s not as bad as the other objectionable things.
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