Otomo Katsuhiro’s Memories: anime review

Title: Otomo Katsuhiro’s Memories
Genre: action, sci-fi, drama, horror, comedy
Released date: December 23, 1995
Running Time: 113 min
Director: Koji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, Katsuhiro Otomo
Comment: Memories consists of three short stories directed by three well known directors. Magnetic Rose, directed by Koji Morimoto and written by Satoshi Kon, is a typical ghost ship tale in space and also pays homage to other classic sci-fi films such as 2001: Space Odyssey. It is the most conventional but, arguably, considered the best of the three because it provides good combination of science, suspense, horror and drama. The scene in which the pilot faces the dead opera singer is immensely haunting and sad and cleverly reveals the tragic past of both characters. It is amazing that in merely 40 minutes, Magnetic Rose is able to create a world so vivid and characters so complex and realistic. The opera theme from Madam Butterfly and the original score by Yoko Kanno is simply perfect for the anime’s atmosphere.

The second episode, Stink Bomb, is a sudden change of mood. This black comedy is about a not-so-bright bioresearch facility employee whose body releases smelly, deadly gas after he accidentally ate an under experimental pill. What’s funniest is that even after every people in the city died and the army started shooting at him, he still doesn’t know what is the cause of this catastrophe. There are strong comment on politics, the army and the Unitied states. I admire the creativity and humor of this episode and the credit goes to the script by Otomo Katsuhiro.

The final episode, Cannon Fodder, Otomo Katsuhiro takes the viewers into the world infested with war that it becomes part of daily life. Every building has cannons that shoot out across the city wall to the unseen enemy and they teach children how to operate the cannons in schools. This episode is a technical marvel; the entire episode looks like it consists of one long shot and the animation detail is a state of the art. But the problem is that Cannon Fodder has the weakest screenplay compared to Rose or Bomb. It just shows us the daily activity of one family without any significant events or developments and, as a result, doesn’t deliver a satisfying closure to this great collection of short stories. Conclusion: The first episode sets the bar really high and overshadows the last. Nevertheless, Memories is a great anime that no one should miss.
Rating: B+

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