A plot device employed by legions of storytellers, from George Orwell and Kazuo Ishiguro to creators of the Final Fantasy video game series, amnesia can be used to probe the reproducibility of character traits and relationships while adding tension to the narrative. It is when the trope is repeated so often with previous character growth swiftly retraced, romantic ties dutifully reaffirmed and memories miraculously regained, especially in the span of a few episodes, that the intended emotional impact of witnessing love that overcomes tremendous adversity becomes lost on some viewers. Alternatively, amnesia can be introduced right at the start of the story, without disclosing the lost memories to the audience, to create mystery and intrigue. Not only does this type of amnesia offer open-ended developments, it speaks to the modern man’s search for purpose in life and questions about his true self.
A third use of amnesia may also keep the audience in the loop like the first, but opens up a philosophical question as well by forcing a character to live with two selves. Continue reading