[Screenshot]Memories consists of three separate stories. I’d thought, when I rented it, that the stories would be unified by a common theme, but unless I missed something deep, they’re actually completely unrelated, and furthermore delivered in incredibly distinct styles.

Magnetic Rose is probably the strongest of the three. It provides an interesting story, some distinguishable characters, and an incredibly visually lush style. About midway through I noticed that a lot of the themes and images were pretty common hallmarks of one of my favorite directors, Satoshi Kon. Surprise! He actually scripted this segment, which makes an awful lot of sense in retrospect. It’s akin to a shorter version of any of his more fantasy-laden (in the sense of human fantasy, not fantastical elements) works, featuring characters lost in and living out their memories, and fighting to disentangle them from reality. As always with his films, the visual spectacle presented by these hallucinations makes their entanglement with reality that much more believable. Of the three, this is definitely the one with the most teeth, and the most material to engage with.

Stink Bomb is, in contrast, a comic trifle. It succeeds within its limited ambitions of telling an extremely silly story competently. There’s not much there, and by the time the combined military might of America and Japan fail to kill one person on a bicycle, it has gone past light comedy into farce. This one’s OK as a palate cleanser of sorts, but unlike the other two, I’d say it’s not bringing much innovation, and it’s a bit long for something as slight as it is.

Cannon Fodder brings us back into the realm of the adventurous. This short is pretty much entirely mood: the plot is nonexistent, and the setting is so over-the-top as to be unbelievable, but the dystopian despair is layered on nice and thick, and mostly effectively: the horror of a pervasive bleakness comes across quite effectively, with a skillfully light comic undertone in the absurdity of the entire situation. From an editing standpoint, it’s worth noting that the entire short is in a single “shot”, in the style of Hitchcock’s Rope. Doing this in animation is of course cheating (in live-action it’s stupidly difficult; in animation you just don’t bother to have any cuts), but making it seem natural is something of a challenge in itself, and it works here. It doesn’t feel gimmicky, and it does give the impression that these people are all toiling in the same environment.

The tl;dr version: watch Magnetic Rose for the story, Cannon Fodder for the style, and Stink Bomb to waste 40 minutes.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia, Anime News Network.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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