Memories (1995)

Director: Tensai Okamura, Kouji Morimoto
Edition Details:
Region 2 encoding (Europe, Japan, South Africa and the Middle East including Egypt)
DVD Features:
"Memories of Memories" making-of featurette
, Interviews with Katuhiro Otomo, Koji Morimoto, and Tensai Okamura, Pilot films for Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder, Widescreen anamorphic format



With anime going mainstream like never before with The Animatrix someone must have thought that it'd be a good time to finally bring out this 1995 anthology film in the West on DVD. (Along with Metropolis it is one of the few anime titles to be released by a major distributor here in backwater South Africa.) Like The Animatrix, the far inferior Robot Carnival and the original Heavy Metal, Memories consists of three short films. Even though the shorts were meant to be together as a unit they actually have little - even thematically - in common.

Read the Amazon description and you'll see what I mean: ?Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb and Cannon Fodder. In Magnetic Rose, two space travellers are drawn into an asteroid world created by one woman's memories. In Stink Bomb, a young lab assistant accidentally transforms himself into a human biological weapon set on a direct course to Tokyo. Cannon Fodder depicts a day in the life of a city whose entire purpose is the firing of cannons at the enemy.

The list of talent involved is impressive: Koji Morimoto (The Animatrix), Tensai Okamuro (Android Kikaider: The Animation), Katsuhiro Otomo (the upcoming Steamboy, Akira), Satoshi Kon (Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress, Perfect Blue).

Perhaps the end results don't quite match up with the talent involved, but Memories is still quite worth seeing for anime buffs and even relative newbies should investigate. The animation, music, etc. is top notch. The only problem is that some of the episodes are simply too serious while features bizarrely misplaced humour.

The "Magnetic Rose" episode for instance kicks off with Jan Garbarek saxophone wailings coupled with Gregorian choruses. Things become more "arty" with Puccini extracts and an over-dramatic haunted house in space story that at least acknowledged its dues to the Alien movies by actually naming one character Carlo Rambaldi! (Rambaldi is a special effects wiz that helped bring the original Alien and E.T. to life.)

The most intriguing segment though is the closer ("Cannon Fodder") that takes its very interesting visual cues from WWII iconography and 19th century Prussian militarism. Arty types (you know who you are) shouldn't miss this one.

THE DISC: No English soundtrack! Subtitles, sure, but no English soundtrack. Call me a philistine, but I prefer dubbed anime because it allows one to focus on the animation instead of reading all the time (with live action movies I however prefer subtitles). Still, one can read, can't one?

Few extras: a low-res trailer for the CGI-generated Starship Troopers TV series which makes it even worse than it already is. Trailers for some other anime efforts such as Metropolis and the upcoming Steamboy (which looks visually stunning: it'd be a shame to view this one on a TV screen one day).

Also, one of those talking heads featurettes no-one really ever checks out.


RECOMMENDATION: Anime buffs would want to add it to their collections and newbies to the genre should rent it.



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