Memories of Emanon (Omoide Emanon) is a manga by Kenji Tsuruta based on a novel by Shinji Kajio. The story takes place in 1967 Japan, with the nameless 20-year old narrator returning home from his travels after his wallet gave out. On the ferry back home, he encounters a cool, mysterious girl in blue jeans with a cigarette in her mouth. Her pack has the initials E.N. on it, but she tells the narrator to call her Emanon. She invites him to dinner, and they begin to talk to kill the time.
After making an off comment about remembering an event that by no means Emanon should have experienced, she decides to tell the narrator, a sci-fi fanatic, her background, saying he can choose to believe it or not. It turns out that Emanon is the inheritor of Genetic Memory that gives her the knowledge and memories of everyone in her maternal line of ancestry, including the ones that weren't human, or even multicellular. The narrator and Emanon discuss the possibilities and potential reasoning behind these memories, and about life in general. After claiming it was just a story, Emanon vanishes the next morning leaving the narrator with just a note. Life goes on for the narrator, but he never forgets that night and wonders how his life would have turned out differently if he hadn't parted ways with Emanon.
The manga has been fully translated, but you have to dig around a bit for it (unless you're cool with ebooks). There's an intermittently released ongoing sequel called Wandering Emanon (Sasurai Emanon).
This series provides examples of:
- All Myths Are True: Or rather those surrounding Emanon's stint as a legendary Buddhist nun, though she insists that the legends and folklore got it wrong.
- Bittersweet Ending: The narrator sees Emanon for the last time 13 years later, with him living out his days in a mundane existence. And yet his life would be preserved forever as a fond memory for Emanon.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: By 1967, she's since taken up smoking. Apparently, it's to help cope with her immense memory.
- The Constant: For Japan, as it's implied that over her long life since becoming human, she had since made the islands more or less her permanent home, for the last thousand years.
- Blessed with Suck: Emanon sees her immortality as this. She even repeatedly calls it a disease, since human minds are naturally meant to forget things.
- Evolutionary Levels: Discussed, see Hollywood Evolution below.
- Generation Xerox: Emanon's daughter, seeing as it's still her. Images of her past lives suggest that she's looked mostly the same ever since she became human.
- Genetic Memory: Emanon's method of immortality. Unique in that it goes past human ancestors, and may begin with the first strand of DNA to float in the primordial soup. Whenever Emanon has a child, her memories transfer to the infant, and the mother forgets she had ever had any but her own.
- Genre Savvy: The unnamed narrator, who immediately comes up with several sci-fi-esque hypotheses as to why Emanon is the way she is. In the end, the reader never really does find out if he was correct.
- Historical In-Joke: Emanon in past lives was previously a legendary Buddhist nun who supposedly lived for 800 years, and was the source of many Japanese myths.
- Hollywood Evolution: The narrator is a 60's sci-fi fan, so it's to be expected when he's trying to figure out the reasoning behind Emanon's memory.
- Hotter and Sexier: Sasurai Emanon. Emanon spends a good chunk of it in the nude, albeit non-sexually. Still, Barbie Doll Anatomy and Scenery Censor are completely and utterly averted.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: One of the major themes of the story is if Emanon is actually immortal, or spinning yarns to pass a long night away. This is put to rest when The Narrator meets her daughter 13 years later.
- Meaningful Name: Not her actual name (if she still keeps one), but her moniker as the "Wandering Girl" calls to mind the Wandering Jew of Western folklore.
- Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness: so soft that it could be considered fantasy. Ironic in that the narrator is a fan of some hard sci-fi like Robert A. Heinlein.
- No Antagonist: Not in the original story or the first few sequels, it mainly showcases Emanon's life.
- No Name Given: Taken to an art form. The narrator is left unnamed, and Emanon intentionally goes under a nickname, saying that a name is just a label. Justified in that with how long she's been around, she probably has had hundreds if not thousands of names.
- Science Marches On: Neanderthals are depicted in a diagram as direct ancestors of Homo sapiens instead of "cousins". Cousins that we occasionally got married to yeah, but still.
- Seen It All: After living for three billion years, who wouldn't?
- Time Abyss: Three billion years with no end in sight.
- Time Dissonance: Invoked by the narrator. He realizes that since Emanon is three billion years old, that night probably barely registered as a blip to her in the grand scheme of things. Which makes her comment in their reunion that she'll always remember him and their conversation all the more touching.
- Sdrawkcab Alias: Emanon backward is "No Name," and it is not the girls legal name, just what she uses when she is talking to the narrator.
- Secret Identity Identity: She's inconsistent on whether her various incarnations are herself or just her ancestors.
- The '60s: Much of the manga is set in 1967, while Sasurai takes place around the 1970s to 1980s.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Emanon considering her immortality to be a disease. Eventually the narrator convinces her otherwise.