Memories is a 1995 animated anthology film series composed of three unrelated scifi stories focusing on the individual themes of each story than a core theme throughout. However they do all share a technical and inspired approach to their visual style boasting some of the most spectacular animation Japan had ever created for its time. All three shorts were based on stories written by Katsuhiro Otomo known for creating the visual spectacle that is Akira and here he serves as producer and the director for the last episode working with some of the industrys biggest names to deliver arguably the greatest anthology series in all of anime. Because of the structure of Memories this review will look at each separate part in chronological order starting with the most memorable part. Magnetic Rose To put it in one word impressive. It boasts some of the most resplendent animation and music that compliments the unnerving tone and setting along with the script being in the hands of Satoshi Kon. The short chronicles how the Corona a salvage freighter in deep space comes upon a strange space station after responding to a distress signal. The two engineers of the crew Heintz and Miguel enter and discover a luxurious European interior that once belonged to famed opera singer named Eva. As the two engineers further explore they both become engulfed in Evas memories through a series of paranormal encounters with both men each reliving their own memories. For a ghost story this is one of the best Ive ever seen. In a 40minute duration it delivers on capturing the essence of the anthology title creating a haunting yet intriguing world of ones past and presents a disturbing message of the dangers of living in the past. Eva is a literal representation of that very message and attempts to lure both men into her past and while some may resist others might be more willing to fall into the trap seeing it as an escape to a better place. Magnetic Rose explores love lost and the desperation of a lonely person determined to regain a kind of love so precious no matter what the cost. This idea is woven masterfully into the plot making it as thoughtprovoking as it is terrifying. Kons style of storytelling is also present here blurring the lines between reality and hallucinations and keeping viewers thinking throughout its duration. Fun fact for any film buffs out there: This short also holds references to other scifi films such as Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey with certain scenes yet never feels cheap or derivative. Magnetic Rose has these familiar elements and makes them feel fresh a testament to the staff behind this show. The overall story exudes intrigue and ends in a way that answers enough questions to feel satisfying and make sense yet leaves enough to viewer interpretation to leave its mark. Satoshi Kon was also behind the art direction and like the story its stunning. The fluid animation cinematic techniques and overall attentiontodetail make Magnetic Rose a marvel of animation. Considering this came out over 20 years ago by the time Im writing this and still looks incredible. The scenes in space alone demonstrate how impressive the show is on a technical scale. Despite looking dated with its art style and not being vibrant or colourful Magnetic Rose shows that there is more to animation than simple visual look. Meanwhile the sound was composed by Yoko Kanno and is mostly operatic matching the setting and tone of the tragic story perfectly. Voice acting was great all around with Evas voice actress in particular being breathtaking in her role. Her version of Madame Butterfly is aweinspiring even if you dislike like opera you will still probably appreciate the piece and the overall music in general with how it complements scenes so effectively. Magnetic Rose excels in so many ways that the only way I could see it have been better is if it were its own standalone movie. And on that note I am very surprised this story has not even been rumoured at all for a potential Hollywood adaptation considering the high potential for a successful anime adaptation. It is the highlight of this anthology and is the part of Memories that you will strongly remember. Stink Bomb Here Memories transitions from haunting beauty to a dark comedy that uses satire to demonstrate how stupid humanity can be. The change of tone and pace can be seen immediately from the start showing a rather overly cheerful television program with fitting music and colourful art compared to Magnetic Rose. Stink Bomb follows Nobuo Tanaka a young lab technician of a hospital trying to cure his cold and when trying to find a new cold medicine under development he takes the wrong pill the red pill. But instead of finding enlightenment this buffoon finding all his fellow employees dead and panicked rushes to deliver the experimental drug he mistook for cold medication to headquarters in Tokyo. Unbeknownst to Nobuo his mistake is the cause behind everyone in the hospital dying with him now spreading death and destruction everywhere he goes without him even knowing. Because of this Nobuo becomes a target of assassination and kidnapping by the government. Most people find Stink Bomb easily the worst of the three entries feeling like a 40minute long dumb joke that wasnt funny to begin with however I feel as though Stink Bomb gets too much negative buzz than it deserves. Its a lighthearted take on how foolish our species can be when in dire straits ala Kubricks Dr. Strangelove ridiculing such in overthetop comedic fashion. The idea that a lab technician is so unbelievably stupid is not something that I consider detrimental to the show his density fits the kind of comedy the show is going for and is the perfect example for how one man can cause such disaster and triggerhappy militants can further the damage with both ease and lack of common sense. Even if you did not find the comedic style to your liking and I myself will admit that I did not find it that hilarious apart from some overexaggerated missiles it is definitely an entertaining short that I never once found dull. The animation is the weakest of the three lacking the technical quality art direction and sheer unique look of both Magnetic Rose and Cannon Fodder. It also looks the most dated but still holds up enough to not lessen the experience and contains some of the most actionpacked scenes with fluid animation to match. The music is arguably the best part of the short composed of lively jazz expertly incorporated throughout and is surprisingly appropriate for Stink Bombs chaotic style of comedy. Both the animation and sound add to the storys lightheartedness and thats exactly what Stink Bomb strived for. If you come into this looking for some sort of hidden meaning you will be disappointed. Its intentions are purely to elicit a smile on your face and for me it succeeded. Cannon Fodder Cannon Fodder is aesthetically the most intriguing of the three shorts creating a world comparable to a communism dystopia filled with massivelyoversized cannons that fire at an enemy moving city that is never visually confirmed by the show clearly an allegory on society. Cannon Fodder is the most literal title this show could have had. Everyones life revolves about firing cannons the men work the cannons the women make the shells and the children are taught on the mechanics of firing cannons. Cannon Fodder looks at the life of an average family on an average day in this bleak world. We see the father going through the motions as he loads cannons only living to work to the nave child aspiring to someday be the man who fires these cannons. Its a dreary 30 minutes that leaves you in a bleak state having seen how bleak these characters lives are and that it wont change. Cannon Fodder is certainly not for every anime fan. Its a short similar to artistic anime like Texhnolyze that are merciless in their depiction of a hopeless world. Its also a highly political film with its critique of militarism socialism and propaganda very noticeable throughout the story. Its shown the leader of the city is nothing more than a chubby man yet is portrayed through portraits and such as a fit powerful leader and worshipped by civilians. An interesting fact: none of the characters are ever given names another result of living in this kind of world where cannons are valued more than the individuals that work on them. The premise and story of Cannon Fodder is simple and not subtle in the slightest making it even more frustrating to some viewers. However considering how political firstworld countries have gotten in recent years I feel like this short is worth the 30 minutes it takes to watch. The artstyle for Cannon Fodder is ugly no doubt about it and it complements the dark depressing vibe the world has. The palette of greys and browns gives the city a decaying decrepit look that mirrors the people belonging to it. Steampunk elements blend into the city seamlessly with cannons sticking out of every building present. The people themselves dont even look human with sickly grey skin and sunken eyes look more like they can straight out of a nightmare than anything resembling the kind of world we live in. From a technical perspective the attention to detail is perhaps the best of the three shorts but what really makes Cannon Fodders animation so great is Otomos direction. The entire short is one continuous sequence without a single cut. Can you recall an anime youve seen that has no cuts in its entirety? Otomo utilizes an array of cinematic techniques and transitions that blend in with the story and animated scenes so well that they may go unnoticed to the average viewer and that is in my opinion the sign of a master of cinematography. Cannon Fodder is quite possibly one of the greatest onetakes in the history of cinema in general and like Akira is a testament to Otomos ability as a director. In conclusion Memories is not your typical anthology series it does not have any overarching narrative that ties the three entries together. But what Memories does contain is a unique collection of short stories that individually showcase some of best animation the industry had at the time and it still hold up. But saying that its value only resides in the animation undermines other great aspects of Cannon Fodder and Stink Bomb such as directing atmosphere themes etc. and nearly everything about Magnetic Rose. None of these films should be ignored and are all worth the time it takes to experience each of these wonderful pieces of animation.
70 /100
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