Memories is an impressive production made up of three very different short films from some of the leading names in anime. First up is Magnetic Rose, directed by Koji Morimoto of Animatrix fame. How a simulation program triggers the memories of the explorers and gets mixed with synthetic memories is done in a very intriguing form. Much of the story takes place to a soundtrack of beautiful opera music such as that of Puccini, since it’s the soundtrack what gives depth to the happenings here told.
Stink Bomb is purely entertaining. Right from the start, we as viewers connect with the poor pharmaceutical researcher we see before us and his plight throughout this very comical and incredulous short. Stink Bomb being the more lighthearted of the three. While still maintaining a grim reality, and almost eerie sense of setting, using a more modern day look, and music. Otomo’s anti-war statement in Cannon Fodder closes out the film with a subtle bit of thought-provocation about a city whose entire purpose is the firing of cannons at an unknown enemy. It is the most thought provoking, and its style is completely apart from popular animation styles of today. The most intersting part is that the movie is one cut- meaning the backrground flows entirely throughout the movie without the scene in front us chaging suddenly.
After watching Memories, I couldn’t help but feel that Otomo has positioned himself as something of a satirist in the world of manga and anime. The animation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from Otomo, and full of sweeping single-cut shots that give you chills. Stink Bomb is unabashedly stereotypical. The Japanese General is short and feisty while the U.S. General is a cool and constructed on a massive scale. The Japanese would like to destroy the weapon’s courier, America would prefer to capture the subject. It really makes you think about our cross cultures and the stereotypes that come along with it.
This film is unique in that it is really three smaller movies blended together to create one of theatre length. I expected them to all be intertwined, and in a way they are, only in substance if not in plot or characters as I had imagined. The common denominator across these stories is that they make you think. This is not the typical anime, with a hero fighting against the evil guys. Instead we find stories that have many layers and messages for the viewer to discover and ponder. Not to ruin the specifics of some of the shorts’ details, but the poignancy of the piece hits home though when the boy does asks his father who it is they are fighting. This exemplifies the wonderful ability of Otomo to not only be a great master in animation, but a relevant storyteller as well. If you are a newcomer to anime, this is the perfect introduction to what anime can do. The films are based around a narrative structure that will help anchor down western-raised audiences who might be skeptical concerning the validity of an animated feature.