The Melody of Oblivion is a series rife with cultural references ranging from Zen archery and Bushido to the Bible’s Book of Revelation, stories of Greek Mythology, and images from Borge’s “The Garden of Forking Paths” can be seen in the series.
Melody of Oblivion’s premise is that in the 20th century, humanity waged and lost a war against beings known only as the Monsters. In the 21st century, the Monsters rule the earth, but they have reconstructed society such that virtually no one born after the war ended is aware that it ever happened. Children are disappearing mysteriously. Only the Warriors of Melos are still fighting against the Monsters. The series focuses on Bocca, a teenager who chooses the path of the Warrior. In doing so, he gains the power to fight back at the horrors he sees, but it costs him his place in society.
Melos Warriors are the only ones who can see the ephemeral “Melody”, personified as a girl who appears at important times and shows emotion but does not speak. The Melos, as they are also referred to, fight primarily with bows and arrows infused with the energies of their spirit (seemingly described in Italian words and phrases used in musical notation). The visible marks (Sacred Scars) that they employ in this infusion process appear as tattoos on their person.
Opposing the Melos Warriors are the Monsters themselves and their human lackeys, the Monster Union. The former are always shown as normal looking human beings, however this is not what they truly look like. If a normal person (one who is not a Melos Warrior) looks at their true form, they will automatically transmogrify into a bizarre object (such as stone statues or puppets, but varying with whatever monster is being viewed.) It should also be noted that all the monsters mirror creatures of Greek Mythology, such as Horu, the first monster featured, who is referred to by Kurofune as a “disgusting cow” and is said to have been sealed in a labyrinth. This, along with the fact that a pair of bull horns and legs manifest when he is around, implies he is the legendary Minotaur. Several other featured monsters are Medusa, Hecate, Talos, and Pan. All monsters seem to have some control over reality itself and can only be killed by Melos Arrows.
The Monster Union, which is part Satanic cult and part ultra-fascist secret society, is composed of people who have been given power and authority in exchange for providing a steady supply of human sacrifices to their Monster overlords, and keeping the majority of humanity in the dark as to who holds the real power and what really goes on in the world. The process of imbuing Monster Union members with their powers leaves a visible mark on the body identical to a hot iron brand mark.
Melody of Oblivion has a very distinctive soundtrack featuring prominent virtuoso violin by Hijiri Kuwano and acoustic guitar solos and other classical-style music. The music was composed and arranged by Yoshikazu Suo and Hijiri Kuwano. The theme music is titled “The Spirit of Flamenco”. There are also more disturbing synth and amplified guitar pieces during scenes of creeping horror. The show itself is also full of musical references, from the Melos Warriors’ given names (Kurofune Ballad being the most obvious) to the Italian musical vocabulary which flashes on the Melos Warrior ‘targeting interface’ during battle (animato, con fuoco, passionato, energico, etc.).
This anime has so much going that when I first watched I had to go and re-watch episodes to really get everything. With music being a very important part of the story I’ve added some pieces from the soundtrack to give you an idea about creepy this series can be.