Memories (review): A dive into the universe of Katsuhiro Ōtomo


Memories was released in 1995 in Japan. Since 2004 , the movie is available in France but only in the form of DVD. Nevertheless, this year, in 2022 , we will finally have the chance to discover this work on the big screen in our cinemas . Better late than never. Memories is a set of three short movies made by different people. The common point that connects these works is their origin. Indeed, the three stories are from the collection Kanojo no Omoide by Katsuhiro Ōtomo , who also turns out to be the director of Cannon Fodder

, the last opus that closes the set that is Memories .

Episode 1: Magnetic Rose
Magnetic Rose , the first short movie directed by Koji Morimoto ( Attraction ) and the 4°C studio ( Les Enfants de la Mer ), opens the dance. It lasts 44 minutes and takes place in space. It is undoubtedly inspired by the space operas and science fiction movies that were popular at the time and we can easily say that this influence is successful in it .

Synopsis: Heintz and Miguel are part of the crew of the Corona, a deep space garbage vessel. Their job: to clear the cosmos of the wreckage and debris of satellites that could constitute a danger. While they have just destroyed an old satellite, they receive a mysterious SOS. Problem: This one comes from an area known for its strong magnetic activity. Although reluctant, the crew members head towards the source of the signal.

Indeed, the story of these space scavengers is both short and vibrant . She knows ups , downs , calm moments and other very intense ones . The adventure is lived and followed by different characters but we will especially remember the experience of Heintz and Miguel .

They enter the world and the past of an isolated woman who is madly in love with her fiancé , whom she will end up killing in the hope of keeping the memory of their happy days alive. Immersed in pretense and in a distant time they will end up being swallowed up and succumbing to the illusions shown to them.

Heintz is a character who particularly marks the spirits. Brave , tall and paternal , he was actually hiding a traumatic event that will be remembered to him at the end of the movie. When we understand what it is, we can only wonder about the situation of the character and his sanity.

The spectator can then be caught up in reflection and will wonder about what illusion and memory are . For example, is the death of Heintz’s daughter a totally constructed illusion? Or is it an event that actually happened? The answer may totally depend on your interpretation but the majority will lean towards the second option.

Bercés, ou plutôt malmenés, entre réalité et chimère, les personnages et le movie réussissent en 40 minutes à nous plonger dans une atmosphère et un univers propre à l’œuvre. L’histoire d’Ōtomo, couplée au script de l’illustre Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue) et aux musiques revisitées de Yuko Kanno (Sakamichi no Apollon) en font une véritable réussite qui marque les esprits.

Magnetic Rose is a short movie full of surprises and twists . It seduces with the quality of its animation , its music , its characters and its story . Just like the Corona ship, we too are being devoured by Eva’s rose.

Episode 2: Stink Bomb
Slightly less impressive than the Magnetic Rose , Stink Bomb , remains a perfectly executed short. The animation is of good quality however the characters are much less constructed and interesting than those of the first part of Memories . The short movie is 40 minutes long and is directed by Tensai Okamura ( Blue Exorcist ) and Madhouse studio .

Synopsis: Nobuo Tanaka is a young researcher in an ultra-secret laboratory. With the flu but determined to get through his day at work, Tanaka swallows what he thinks is an experimental flu pill. Dead tired, he still ends up quietly falling asleep in a corner of the lab. When he wakes up, he quickly realizes that the situation smells bad…

The basis of the scenario is very interesting . A man with a bad cold does everything possible to get rid of his symptoms . In a fit of distress , he ends up swallowing a capsule he thinks is for the common cold and inadvertently becomes a devastating weapon . With such an original base, we can expect a lot of things. But, from our point of view, the potential of the scenario was not used in this short movie.

The beginning is very calm , even quite slow . It is necessary to wait a certain time before truly understanding the object of the short movie . However, as the story progresses, we quickly guess the purpose .

Although the character sees everyone dropping like flies before his eyes, nothing seems to shock him . Nobuo is doing his best to accomplish his new mission “Send the documents to his boss’s superior” . He sees that the city is lifeless, that countless bodies strewn his path, that a strange smoke follows him (his smell), that people die when approaching him , that he is attacked by the Japanese and American army but nothing raises his eyebrows.

It is clear that the naivety of the character doubled by the lack of communication and misunderstandings that encompass the work are for comic purposes. We can also see a slight attack against the army and the Japanese and American political regimes. The goal is to make the spectator laugh by putting him in front of improbable situations . Between accidents , failed assassination attempts , explosions and a far too naive hero, Stink Bomb can, indeed, make you smile.