From Katsuhiro Otomo, acclaimed creator of Akira, comes an animated masterpiece: three short stories all put together as a series of Memories. Part one is titled Magnetic Rose, a science fiction tale that tells a chilling story of love, loss, and the unwillingness to forget. Part two is titled Stink Bomb, a tongue-in-cheek story of a chemical researcher who is just looking for a way to get rid of his cold... so why is everybody around him dying? Part three is titled Cannon Fodder and is an introspective tale about modern wars and simply following orders. Music conducted by Yoko Kanno, Jun Miyake, Hiroyuki Nagashima, and Takkyu Ishino.
Due to a sudden restructuring of the MAL database, what you're reading is a review of only episode 2 and 3 of the Memories OVA: Stink Bomb and Cannon Fodder:
Directed by a guy who has been involved in plenty of great anime, Stink Bomb is a gloriously insane depiction of what not to do in the face of a bio-threat in the shape of an utterly witless Japanese salaryman with a cold and penchant for surviving military strikes.
The set-up is simple: dude takes wrong medication at his workplace; everyone around him starts to die. The brilliance is in the farcical nature of the anime, the Dr Strangelove-esque incompetence in handling the national crisis. Wherever the poor bastard goes, he wrecks havoc and has no idea why; he doesn’t question it, and he shouldn’t because this black comedy would never work otherwise.
The music is light-hearted and quirky, totally in sync with the irreverent style. The animation is decent, pleasant to look at whether we're watching characters interacting with each other or landscapes being destroyed by attack helicopters and tanks. The direction is solid, with lots of hilarious pay-offs.
A comedy classic, with an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation who doesn’t help matters by escalating them for our unbridled pleasure. Thanks must also go to the countless numbers of soldiers and generals who died in the name of comedy. I salute them all.
Cannon Fodder. Literally. Humans are made to fire cannons. That is their life, their purpose, their reason for being in Katsuhiro Otomo's brilliantly directed tale.
By this point we can successfully call him an auteur; his creative stamp, his identity, is clear in all his works. The unconventional character faces, the extremely detailed backdrops to his stories. The physicality of the technologically advanced society, draped with heavy duty cables and dirty pipes everywhere; bikes and bullets in Akira, steampunk in Steamboy, no clinically clean and sleek holographics in Otomo's worlds.
And its like so in Cannon Fodder. A military-minded society where every human being's life revolves around the habitual firing of gigantic cannons into a far-off indistinct target. Yeah, there's shades of dystopian literature at play, like Orwell's 1984 poking its head. It's not forced or clichéd though; Otomo has made this dystopic nightmare his own creation for us to marvel at.
His direction is brilliant, so good that it might actually pass you by without you even realising it. He's not into blowing you away with over the top theatrics, he doesn’t fling his camera about like a hyperactive child. This is a master of cinema at work here; he follows the action like he was born with a steadicam attached to his hip. We revolve, flow, and pan around his military industrial complex in service of the narrative, not just for style.
Some scenes just go on for over a minute without a single cut. It's like he's channelling Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, or to be more current Alfonso Cuaron, into the anime medium, always keeping the visuals fresh, inventive but never sacrificing narrative coherency in the process.
All this is never more clear than in the firing of the first cannon. Watch and marvel at the flawless direction. Pay close attention at the movement of the camera, it refuses to cut away, everything is staged to service the story, Otomo makes this long sequence look easy. It's probably one of the greatest scenes in the history of anime.
Then I realised something. After this scene, the camera never cuts away all the way to the end. I went back and watched the movie from the beginning and realised the camera never cuts away during the entire movie. Not one of the greatest scenes in the history of anime after all. Cannon Fodder is the greatest one-take in the history of anime, and if it were in live action then it would be the best in cinema, period.
It's nothing but one ingenious transition to another, creating the feeling of being immersed in a city swarming with life at every corner. Katsuhiro Otomo is one of anime's greatest directors, tragically underrated or brushed off as just 'the guy who made Akira', but he is so much more than Akira, he's a visionary filmmaker continually striving to define anime as a brilliant medium to show us all the wondrous possibilities of the animated moving image.read more
Probably the most underrated anime piece of all time.
Magnetic Rose really shows how far animation can go in terms of direction and perfect pacing. Some of this was probably the inspiration to much of Cowboy Bebop, redefined space sci-fi anime by allowing music to take a much larger role in the story telling. There is some nice CGI that doesn't distract from the film.
The story, which I heard was co-written by Satoshi Kon, is very memorable and well-plotted. It's obvious that much work has gone into perfectly balancing the scenes and using them wisely to help develop the characters in such a short time.
The artwork and animation are almost unparalleled. I rarely see animation so fluid, detailed and beautiful, in either anime or western animation. The characters are always doing something, even while they are talking, albeit subtly, it helps to develop who the characters are. I think the animation rivals that of Akira, Wings of Honneamise and Angel's Egg.
The music is beautiful, fully orchestrated and operatic. It's very well paced with the progression of the scenes to such a high degree, it is a work of technical expertise. Even if you dislike opera, you will still probably enjoy how it fits with the scenes, the story, and the plot. It gels nicely.
Overall, Magnetic Rose is my favorite sci-fi anime. I wouldn't really consider the short length a flaw, since I consider that this film is a piece, and makes good with the time it's allotted to. Had it been longer though, we could learn a bit more about the characters, which could increase its lasting appeal. However, I firmly believe that this beautiful piece of art is a masterpiece. read more
Memories is an anime movie co-produced by Madhouse Studios and Studio 4°C, and it also was co-directed by Tensai Okamura, Kouji Morimoto and Katsuhiro Otomo. It is a collection of three short movie, each directed by one different director and every one are adaptations of three of Otomo's short stories.
I am going to address every story separately, as I think everything will be clearer this way. I am also going to say my final remarks at the end.
This is the only short of the three that deserves to be called Memories. The atmosphere is done in an incredible way that always leaves the viewer on the edge of his seat, expecting something to happen and creating even more tension in the process. The visual style plays a big part on that and it also is pretty and well-detailed, but visually old.
This short as a whole is incredible, actually, I think that it would have been actually better as a sole and full-length movie, as that way we would have been able to explore this wonderfully tragic story with more time and it wouldn't have to be paired with the other movies. Needless to say after that, Magnetic Rose is my favorite short of this collection and the best one, by far.
Supposedly, this short was comedy, but no one in the room I watched it laughed. More than that, the story feels unimaginative and the characters are so ridiculously dumb that it makes you wonder how they became scientists of that level. Despite that, I got to say that it is very pretty, albeit a bit old-styled.
This was, for me, a terrible short. I actually was glad that it ended. The quality drop between the two first short is astounding actually. I can't really recommend it to anyone.
This short is, at least for me, a well-defined criticism to some cultures and elements of our society. In that it is pretty successful, but it doesn't manage to tell a particularly interesting story in the process.
Its most marking characteristic is its visuals, specially when paired with the awesome soundtrack that accompanies it. I would categorize the visuals as experimental and unique. Also, it is not really possible to explain it, you just got watch it to understand it. Also, it uses a trick similar to the recent Birdman to make it seem as if the movie is just one continuous shot.
Cannon Fodder is experimental and interesting, but it definitely isn't something everybody would enjoy. I would recommend it to people who enjoy experimental stuff or this style of criticism.
As a collection, Memories fails, its title doesn't fit, the themes have nothing in common and, overall, it isn't that good. The only great short it has is Magnetic Rose, that is an incredible sci-fi. Because of that, I can't recommend it whole-heartedly to anyone. My advice is: watch only the first short and, maybe, give the third one a try if you enjoy that type of stuff; just skip the second one, for your own sake.read more
This movie has three lil movies inside, I'll name them in order of appearance -"Magnetic Rose", "Stink Bomb" and "Cannon Fodder".
The first episode "Magnetic Rose": I felt that it reflected the title pretty well- the theme definitely correlates to memories. This was probably the most impressive in terms of story and art- the only complaint is that this would've been ideal if it was turned into a full-length movie instead of being thrown into a 3 episode movie. But that's just me. The story is basically about two space dudes from the future exploring the interior of what was once home of a famous opera singer of the century (our generation).
The second episode "Stink Bomb": I'm not sure how it relates to the title at all. This was the most humorous and light-hearted of the three. It's about a chemist who takes a pill right before he sleeps and then he wakes up with everyone around him dead- it sounds very dark and depressing but they managed to keep it surprisingly mellow somehow believe it or not. I enjoyed this one a lot as well.
The third and final episode "Cannon Fodder": This felt a bit underwhelming in comparison to the first two, no offense. In terms of visuals this was probably the most unique- it's very rough and gritty but it can be very charming. Its about something comparable to the Industrial Revolution and the war around the early 1900s. I always kind of waited to see the little boy the majority of the time as he felt to be the main character but sadly he doesn't get as much screen time as i hope he would. The only thing that corresponds to memories is the little boy saluting a general from the past and he dreams of eventually becoming one instead of being a cannon launcher like his father.
Overall: It's pretty good- but if i were you i'd watch it all in reverse (episode 3 first, episode 2 second then episode 1 last). It'd probably be more satisfying than if you did it in order. There isn't a chronological order to it anyway it's just three different movies with some connection ..with i guess the theme of memories tucked inside.read more
Before he was one of the greatest anime directors of all time, Satoshi Kon was a manga artist. From early success in college to ambitious collaborations with the likes of Katsuhiro Otomo and Mamoru Oshii, his manga work is highly recommended to better understand his genius.