Monday, October 24, 2016

Memories Review

When Akira was released in 1988, Katsuhiro Otomo became a household name in the anime industry and if it wasn't for Akira, the anime industry would have never gained the huge exposure on the West. Later in 1995, Otomo came back to produce an ambitious animation project called Memories, a compilation of anime films that consists on 3 stories all written by Otomo himself and the purpose of this compilation is showcasing different styles of animations and pushing the medium to new heights. The result is a unique experience for those who want to see animation in a way we never see get made in this day & age of oversaturated CG flicks dominating the theaters for decades. Since this is a movie of 3 stories, I will review each anime story separately on this review rather than just review them all at once.

Episode 1: Magnetic Rose:

Directed by Koji Morimoto with a script by Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika) from an original story by Katsuhiro Otomo and animated by Studio 4C, it's about a group of engineers who received a distress signal from a salvaged ship called Corona with Heintz and Miguel deciding to answer the distress signal from the ship and find out if there are survivors on the salvage. What they found is something more sinister and crueler than reality itself. This is regarded as one of the best parts of the compilations and it's easy to see why. It combines elements of fantasy, science-fiction and horror perfectly while portraying a heartbreaking story dealing with love, eternal loss, betrayal, murder and being blinded by our own reality in life where we rather live our lives where everything we do is flawless by living in a delusional reality rather than admitting your own failures or mistakes. Top it off with breathtaking animation conveying an atmosphere of fear and loneliness that makes Dead Space jealous and a fantastic score by renowned composer Yoko Kanno, Magnetic Rose is a masterpiece both in the story and animation department. This short film is a spellbinding experience from beginning to end.

Episode 2: Stink Bomb:

Directed by Tensai Okamura and animated by Madhouse, this comical short film is about Nobuo Tanaka who's a lab technician battling with a terrible cold and one of his partners decided to tell Nobuo to take a pill from a blue case because they though it was fever medicine that would help Nobuo get rid of the flu. However, what he doesn't know is that once he swallowed the pill, Nobuo becomes a living biological weapon set to destroy everything in his path including Tokyo. This short, while not as strong and perfect as Magnetic Rose, is still a fun story on what would happen if a clueless lab technician became a massive weapon and destroyed everything in his path including people and animals around him. The best part of this short is the epic chase scene as the entire Japanese military army are hellbent on stopping Nobuo from reaching Tokyo with all matter of missiles, tanks and jets which ends up being both hilarious and intense. The animation is very impressive with some gorgeous detail in the character models and excellent use of contrast lighting effects throughout the whole short. While not as strong as Episode 1, Stink Bomb is still an interesting but fun as hell short with some top-notch moments of tension and humor.

Episode 3: Cannon Fodder:

Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo himself and animated by Studio 4C, This is probably one of Otomo's most interesting takes on animation because this entire short film is animated with no editing or scene transitions. The short is basically set in a city with cannons and why? Well apparently, they are fighting against an unknown enemy of some sorts and they decide to shoot with their cannons every day without any use of strategy or patience. What's fascinating about the short is that while nothing really happens a lot in the story, it does talk about an interesting social commentary about humanity's over-reliance to war and how they would rather solve conflicts through firepower rather than working together or use democracy to strengthen society. The animation is also deserves huge kudos for having a different take on animation Otomo used in this short with entire sequence uses no editing tricks with everything being a long animated shot sequence that goes fluid and steady all the way to the end. Overall, it doesn't end with a bang but the animation alone is worth the look and the subtle social statements are really interesting.

On the whole, Memories is a very ambitious compilation of anime films showcasing the amazing use of hand-drawn animation by experimenting with different techniques that will surely be used for future animated projects (which ironically, it's still used today). If you're a big fan of animation, Memories is worth a purchase for Magnetic Rose and it's ambitious animation.


As a whole: 4.5/5 

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