I love animation collections, and Memories is one of the better ones. It features three animated shorts written by Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Steamboy) although I use that term loosely because the episodes are a decent length.
Memories opens with the tour-de-force Magnetic Rose, a ghost story in the great haunted house tradition with a sci-fi twist. Basically the crew of a deep space corporate freighter receive a distress signal and decide to investigate. What they find is a ship in the shape of a rose, a luxurious palace which an opera singer built with her fortune. Once inside, they discover that the ship’s automated functions, including holograms given flesh by gray goop nanomachines, remain eerily active even decades after the singer’s death. Magnetic Rose is really the main reason to watch Memories, featuring a compelling cast of characters, insane production values and dramatic impact. It could serve as a stand-alone film, and I think it would make a brilliant live actioner someday.
The next story, Stink Bomb, is a black comedy that fails to rise to the same level. A worker at a pharmaceutical company accidentally takes the wrong pill to thwart his flu, thus activating the pill’s bio warfare properties. He begins emitting a foul gas which promptly kills everyone in the building. He is unsuccessfully assailed by the military as he works his way to headquarters, oblivious of his condition. The production values, like the rest of the shorts, are quite high but I personally felt the gag ran out of steam before the end. If it had been a touch shorter it would have worked really well.
The third and final story takes a completely different style to any other animated film. In Cannon Fodder, a city armed to the teeth with cannons of all sizes, all pointed in the direction of the “enemy”, a lowly Cannon loader’s daily routine unfolds. As we watch the ridiculous ceremony involved in loading an individual shell the size of an elephant into its cannon, and listen to the mindless drone of propaganda over the loud speakers, the satirical nature of the film is made clear. I really enjoy the look of this one, and if you watch Cannon Fodder carefully and you may notice it has something in common with Hitchcock’s Rope. This disdain for the military industrial complex would later be echoed in Otomo’s Steamboy.
Memories is essential viewing if you are a fan of animation, and makes for a wonderful companion to Neo Tokyo. And Magnetic Rose is worth a watch if you’d like to see a depiction of Bill Joy’s nightmare, though the film actually preceded his famous essay.
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