There’s this anime I used to watch, but no one seems to remember it. I’ve looked it up online but I can’t find anyone who has ever seen it or even talks about it. It’s not like I made it all up in my head, so if you can remember the name, please let me know and I’d love to ask you about what happens in roughly the 2nd half of the anime (a large part of which I missed due to going through some personal stuff at the time). I find myself thinking about it a lot lately, and I wanted to read just a basic plot summary to figure out the loose ends.
What I remember is that basically there’s this girl. Or a guy, I think? It’s hard to remember because the girl wasn’t a normal cute anime girl (if a girl at all). Actually it was a girl, I remember now, you’ll see why. She’s walking home one day–and it’s really ambiguous about where she’s walking home from; we really don’t ever see her at school or even home for that matter–and she gets attacked by this witch. The witch is draining all of her life force from her, and she is completely defenseless (almost irritatingly defenseless, she doesn’t even seem to fight back or seem capable of fighting back). It gets to the point where you’d normally expect Sailor Moon or someone to come in and save her and start the real anime, but instead, it’s the typical, like, super slender handsome anime guy, and he’s wearing a cape and gloves and all sorts of skinny anime guy shit, and he comes in with this big tall scythe. It’s not a normal scythe of course, it’s one with all sorts of crooks and angles in the handle, and the blade is slender and shines like a crescent moon, and it’s really obvious that this is like “His” scythe that he has trained with forever (I heard once that this idea in Japanese media goes all the way back to ancient samurai days, where your sword is Your sword and that your training goes hand in hand with it, so that’s just an extension of You). But he fights the witch, manages to slice her up just enough that she squeals and retreats. The funny thing too is that during the fight, the localization studio that produced it and did the English dub and all that, they decided to use “Zombie” by The Cranberries during the fight. But anyways, he saves her, and the girl is afraid of the guy at first but also strangely curious and obviously attracted to him, so she goes with him.
He takes her to this underground bunker full of scientists. Everything here is all messy with thick electrical cables all over the floor and hanging off stuff, and there are lots of screens and control panels, the kind of stuff that doesn’t really mean anything in real life but just paints a picture of what they want you to feel. And this is funny to me too, because the anime started off with this fantasy vibe at first and then got really sci-fi all the sudden in this scene. But anyways, the main scientists get introduced and explain that they’ve been monitoring and fighting this witch for decades. The guy who saved her, well, his dad was the one who fought the witch originally. He used a weapon that the scientists had created just for him, and he was the only one who could wield it (again with the samurai thing). He would go out there all by himself and fight the witch with all sorts of weapons while the scientists (his old friends and colleagues apparently) would stay back at the base and monitor the fight with all sorts of gear that they attached to him. The data they collected would then go toward creating more gear and weapons. Well finally they managed to make this sword that was so deeply entwined with the dad’s fighting spirit that only he could use it; anyone else who touched it would have their energy sapped and their skin burn. So again, there’s this thing with the samurai and the sword, right? And of course it turns out that the girl is suddenly able to wield it. Even the guy’s own son couldn’t wield it, which the son is a little envious about, but more than anything he’s now determined to train the girl to use the sword and kill the witch as revenge for the dad.
They immediately jump into battle against the witch as soon as they find out that the girl can wield the sword. When they fight, they always fight in these incredibly surreal landscapes, with odd textures and colors. Sometimes its a real life landscape with strange color palettes, sometimes they’re just floating in a strange void populated by prisms and spheres. Every time they cut between them and the scientists, they’re always in a new environment, and no one ever points this out in the show.
The battle goes on for weeks, months even. The gear they strapped her down with (which again has this thing going on of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, like a Robin Hood tunic but with Buzz Lightyear wrist panels, cybernetic shoulder pads, armored pleats) keeps her alive and pumps her full of the energy needed to keep fighting. The witch never gets tired either for some reason, and they just keep battling it out, and it seems like all the girl can do is deflect and string up some weak counter attacks more than actually take the offensive.
It turns out that the two fighters–and even the scientists just by virtue of viewing the fight–are experiencing time differently. A year passes for them at the real life equivalent of a week. There’s a strange aura that keeps them pinned there, too–one of the scientists has a family to return to but could never turn himself away to actually go and leave. When it turns out only a week has passed, he’s really relieved, and only then does he realize that he never considered actually leaving for the entire time, which was totally unlike him. Meanwhile, the girl is aging even more rapidly, and she’s becoming really jaded and angry. Her 14 year old body stays the same but her mind is going through accelerated maturation, and it’s all based on living non-stop in a 1v1 battlefield.
It’s only when the scientists patch into her headset with their discovery that time has barely progressed over a week does something in her snap and she has enough of the bullshit. She rips off the headset and the gear, and with nothing but the sword and her Robin Hood tunic underneath, she zips off and runs far away from the scientists and the witch. The scientists lose contact and the guy from before, the son, he takes off after her. The witch follows behind only as slow the killer in a slasher movie, but at the same time, you never really understand if the witch is working maliciously or is just some kind of animal that wants to kill for the sake of killing.
At this point, the anime takes a really weird turn. The format for each episode swaps the genre into some typical anime/manga genre, and it takes on all the stereotypes of that genre. The girl, the guy, and the witch don’t have any memory of who they are, but they come back exemplifying the stereotypes of that week’s genre, just following out their purpose endlessly. Like there’s a sports one where they’re soccer players, and the witch always comes in with a mysterious black jersey and steals the ball away from the girl (who is the rookie of the team lead by the guy, the captain). And another one, where it’s really silly and the witch has the swirly nerd glasses and is always stalking the girl, and the guy is the cool popular handsome boy that she actually likes and wants to be noticed by. And I think there was one too where the witch was actually the guy’s mom but she only existed as a ghost in his flashbacks and memories, but I don’t remember the genre for that one. But anyways, this lasts for a few episodes, and in each episode, there are side-characters who break character and are trying to speak directly to the girl. It’s subtle at first but then it becomes really blunt, like they tell her to “Wake up” and “You have to escape,” all that Matrix shit.
They make it really clear that the witch has already captured the girl and the guy and put them under some kind of spell, and that they need to escape from this mental prison and remember who they were in the first place.
At this point, the network reset the show all the way to the beginning. I didn’t understand this at the time, but I think what was happening was they were dubbing and producing more episodes for localization. I really didn’t have the patience to watch all of that again, so I just tried to forget about it. I ended up getting distracted with video games and friends and school and I had basically forgotten about the show until one day I happened to catch it on TV on a weekend rerun. It was the same show but somehow different, and the girl was there again, but she had her hair cut short, and she was infiltrating the scientist’s base and slaughtering everyone. They kept sending waves and waves of androids after her, and they were wearing armor with the same designs as the suit she used to wear, but they didn’t stand a chance, she just fucked everything up that came near her. At that time, I really wasn’t into anime or cartoons much anymore, and I remember thinking that it looked like the show had just turned into some dreck about senseless and “cool” action scenes, so I ended up never rewatching it or finishing it.
That’s pretty much all I remember, though. What I do remember is pretty detailed I guess, but I know there are a ton of other parts I’m forgetting about, and I find myself thinking about that a lot.