We all know the trope. A character wakes up in a hospital bed and doesn’t remember anything. Next to them is someone claiming to be their lover. However, instead of lamenting the loss of a relationship with this person, what if this amnesiac is so stoked to be in a relationship that they dive headfirst into loving this new person?
That’s the premise for Cheerful Amnesia, in which a character not only finds that in the three years they’ve lost they were able to find love, but that they’re gay and hella into it. Arisa wakes up to find a slightly older Mari by her bedside, who explains the situation. Arisa is overjoyed and immediately falls back in love with her. They then begin a journey together helping Arisa regain her old life and romance, with plenty of hijinks from the lack of memory. For instance, like when Arisa who only remembers being a kid in high school who seemingly never dated, finds herself sleeping in the same bed as another woman.
Cheerful Amnesia is actually, in my opinion, a breath of fresh air in a trope that still gets used to no end nowadays. Rather than the story being about how amnesia is the loss of something, or a tragic backstory to an edgy character, Arisa is just so freaking excited to be in a relationship with someone so cute, that they dive headfirst into remembering everything that made their partner wonderful. It’s nice, in that way, as Arisa is immensely curious and excited to love someone while Mari has the equivalent amount of patience for their partner, helping her to learn their inner hobbies, kinks, and first steps into adulthood. The kinks part in particular is interesting as while Arisa was vanilla as hell in school, apparently something changed in the time she can’t remember and she turned into a wild child and a pervert. However, now she has trouble dealing with and is constantly surprised by the forwardness of her partner and how willingly her partner is ready to go at a moment’s notice. Rather than focusing on raunchiness, however, the series uses this more for gags, keeping the sweetness of a big, gay cherry pie the whole way through.
That said, while Cheerful Amnesia definitely likes to keep it light-hearted, the series also understands the significance of amnesia and the effect it can have on lives. Arisa seems fine, but underneath, Mari constantly contemplates the differences in character between the girl she fell in love with and the one with her now, smaller things that she finds interesting in comparison. On top of this, as the manga goes on, it addresses the amnesia directly and the circumstances that caused it, eventually pushing the story on the road of allowing Arisa to regain her memory and find out how she lost it in the first place. The story never dips more than a big toe in the darker elements but I did appreciate that the light-hearted series didn’t wave the repercussions of memory loss under the rug.
I do have some gripes, though. For one, Arisa is just way too pure. Like, she doesn’t even understand the very basics of intimacy, which seems odd from someone who is around twenty-one and was around eighteen when they last remembered. She is extremely flustered and clueless about the most basic elements of romance as if she’s never seen a movie or read a book about it before. It also comes off a bit inconsistent. For instance, in one chapter, she begins blushing from even thinking of kissing, but in another, when Mari “eats popcorn” that falls on the nape of Arisa’s neck, she acts as if nothing happened. That said, it’s established early on that while maybe a bit unrealistic, even before the amnesia, Arisa was kinda dumb as rocks, so perhaps it’s possible she just never picked up on it. A lovely young lady that, thank everything holy, has another young lady to take care of her.
Cheerful Amnesia is a simple but lovely story that takes a very different approach to a trope all too familiar in anime. For me, it was the perfect thing to read after working all day and needing something wonderfully ridiculous and lovey-dovey to make things better. Don’t forget to check it out!