Memories Anime Review
Katsuhiro Otomo Presents: Memories
/ Movie of shorts / Various / 13-up
Technically perfect, and mentally jarring--highly recommended.
...A ghost story in space, a comedy about the apocalypse, and a children's book for adults about Stalinist Russia.
US Release By
Shorts: Sci-fi Horror, Black Comedy, and Satire
Movie of shorts
113 Minutes Total
What's In It
- Social Commentary
- Black Comedy
- Deadly Body Odor
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 2 (moderate)
- Sex: 1 (mild)
- Language: 1 (mild)
Memories is made up of three separate movies based on short stories written by renowned anime director and manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo (of AKIRA fame).
Memories episode 1 "Magnetic Rose"
A group of space salvagers answer an SOS call, only to find themselves trapped in a mysterious space ship haunted by images of the life of a former opera diva that begin to draw them in like a magnet.
Memories episode 2 "Stink Bomb"
An employee of a pharmaceutical company looking to try a new cold medicine under development accidentally takes an experimental biological weapon. People die and machinery malfunctions in the strange and deadly odour coming from our hapless and helpless hero.
Memories episode 3 "Cannon Fodder"
Imagine a city which has the sole purpose of constantly bombarding its enemies. A city where instead of houses, cannons of all sizes dot the skyline. Where the men work the cannons, the women make the shells, and the children are taught the mechanics of firing the cannons and dream of achieving the ultimate rank of "The One Who Fires the Cannon." The movie follows the life of an average family on an average day in this grim city.
First off, let me start by stating that these short films are not for everyone. If you belong to the guts flying, bombs exploding, instant gratification anime crowd then this production is definitely not for you. If you're the type of anime fan who likes to think about a movie's meaning after it's over, then you should definitely go watch Memories. Since there are three vignettes, this review is split accordingly.
This little imagery poem is all about reality and illusion. Would you want to live in a perfect world, where there is no sorrow and you are surrounded by your loved ones? Of course you would. But what if this perfect world is nothing but an illusion? That's the question this movie asks. A once-famous opera diva who tragically lost both her lover and her voice builds a mysterious ship holding all her cherished memories and moments. She invites the salvagers to share her illusion--to live in a world where their worries are forgotten and their dead loved ones are brought back to life.
The movie handles the question well and doesn't really give a clear-cut answer, leaving the viewers to form their own opinion. The music (composed by the legendary Yoko Kanno of Macross Plus, Escaflowne and Cowboy Bebop) is simply awe-inspiring, and is coupled with the movie's amazingly fluid animation to form some of the best sequences ever seen in anime. The last scene in particular is extremely beautiful--music and animation choreographed to perfection!
All in all, this is the best of the three shorts and will keep you thinking long after the credits roll.
This is the most lighthearted of the three movies, as you might expect from its hilariously absurd premise. It does, however, belong to the genre of dark comedy. People die all around our hapless hero, who is so ignorant of what is going on around him you can't help but snicker. The upbeat, weird-but-fun, jazzy soundtrack makes the contrast between Stink Bomb and the dead-serious, orchestral Magnetic Rose even more profound. If you set off to look for hidden meaning or even plain old common sense in this little number, then you'll be sorely disappointed. The lighthearted Stink Bomb was meant to be just that: A fun little romp that should elicit a smile after the grim Magnetic Rose.
Not the best of the three, but definitely a very good, and most of all fun, movie.
At only half an hour Cannon Fodder is shortest of the three movies, and the weirdest, but perhaps the one that will give you the most food for thought. The artwork is purposely ugly, with a strange palette of grays and browns. The whole city has a decaying, decrepit look that mirrors the people's spirits, whose only form of revolt is protesting against the use of toxic gunpowder in cannons and demanding the government use a non-toxic one. A very depressing environment I have rarely seen in an anime. This movie's theme is socialism; If everyone had enough to eat, had his position in society secure, then they should be happy, right? Then why are the citizen of Cannon City unhappy? What is missing?
If there was ever an anime that could be categorized as "definitely not for everyone," Cannon Fodder is it. But if you fancy yourself a lover of "Thinking Man's Anime" and are open-minded enough for its strange art, then you should definitely give it a look.
There are few animes out there that could be called truly thought-provoking. Few that could be called works of art. And fewer still are those that achieve both. Memories is such a movie. Technically perfect, and mentally jarring--highly recommended.
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Notes and Trivia
Stink Bomb takes place in Yamanashi prefecture, a relatively rural mountain valley located roughly Southwest of Tokyo. Many of the locations seen are based directly on actual places. [Editorial note from Marc: When I first saw Memories I was in fact in Yamanashi, which was a tad creepy given that I was rather close to a number of the places being devastated.]
The soundtrack was available as a 2-disc set in North America from Geneon; it's out of print as of this writing. Yoko Kanno composed the score for Magnetic Rose, Jun Miyake was responsible for Stink Bomb, and Hiroyuki Nagashima scored Cannon Fodder.
US DVD Review
Columbia Home Video's subtitled-only DVD features the film with English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese subtitles.
A fair amount of violence and some relatively mature themes, but nothing gratuitous; it was appropriately rated PG-13.
Violence: 2 - There's a shocking scene where a little girl dies in Magnetic Rose, and many many deaths in Stink Bomb, but none are particularly gory.
Nudity: 2 - One very brief scene (a picture in fact) in Magnetic Rose.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Magnetic Rose has some romance but nothing too visual.
Language: 1 - A few mild curses here and there, but that's it.
Staff & Cast
Partial Japanese Cast
Heinz: Isobe Tsutomu
Eva: Takashima Gara
Miguel: Yamadera Kouichi
Ivanof: Iizuka Shouzou
Aoshima: Chiba Shigeru
Emily: Hasegawa Ami
Director (Magnetic Rose): Kouji Morimoto
Director (Stink Bomb): Tensai Okamuro
Director (Cannon Fodder): Katsuhiro Ootomo
Writing: Satoshi Kon (Magnetic Rose), Katsuhiro Ootomo (Stink Bomb and Cannon Fodder)
Music (Magnetic Rose): Yohko Kanno
Music (Stink Bomb): Jun Miyake
Music (Cannon Fodder): Hiroyuki Nagashima
Producer: Shigeru Watanabe
Available in North America from Columbia Home Video on subtitled (only) DVD.
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