Memories is Katsuhiro Otomo’s three-part film anthology. Released in 1995, it marked Otomo’s next big project since Roujin Z. It features three unrelated stories: Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder.
Magnetic Rose is everything it claims to be, and more. It is a jarring and stunningly artful story about a group of space debris workers and their encounter with a mysterious opera singer. It features the scripting brilliance of Satoshi Kon, as well as the musical brilliance of Yoko Kanno. The entire segment feels similar to the “Rats in the Attic” episode of Cowboy Bebop. It is, by far, the most visually impressive segment, and arguable the best. The characters are amazingly well flushed out given their short amount of screen time. The story is dauntingly beautiful and capped by an abstrusely calm ending.
Stink Bomb remains the one segment that garners the most dividing opinions. It begins with a serious tone, but rapidly shifts into a comedic one. It tells the story of an average salaryman who mistakingly becomes host to an experimental bio weapon or “stink bomb.” As he runs across Japan, he is targeted by snipers, tanks, helicopters, fighter planes, etc. Pretty much the entire military arsenal is used but to no avail. The sheer ridiculousness of Stink Bomb is a sharp deviation from the previous installment. Much of its criticism stems from poor characterization, however, its real selling point is the comedic storytelling. Much like how Roujin Z was a film about how to deal with elderly people, Stink Bomb is a fun little short film that acts as a social commentary of sorts on the multitude of corporate layers in Japanese society.
Cannon Fodder is perhaps the most obscure segment of the anthology. The story, in its traditional sense, is almost non-existent. The viewers are introduced to the characters by observing how they live and work; as well as strange governance system in which they employ. When all is said an done, the overall message of Cannon Fodder is to show the daily life of a child who aspires to fire cannons at thin air. In fact, in such a society, it may be the only thing that can be aspired to. Cannon Fodder doesn’t tell a story, nor does it pose a question; it instead gives us the answer, and makes us ask the questions.
Final Thoughts: 7/10
Memories is a movie that gets progressively stranger as time goes on. While Magnetic Rose is a visually masterpiece and Stink Bomb has its charms, Cannon Fodder’s obscurity walks the thin line between brilliant and cryptic. Overall, the Memories anthology does Otomo’s name justice and is an excellent movie to watch especially for fans of Akira, Roujin Z, and Satoshi Kon’s works.