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Memories (1995) – DVD Review

DVD cover art for Memories


Written by Satoshi Kon and Katsuhiro Otomo, based upon the manga by Katsuhiro Otomo
Directed by Koji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, Katsuhiro Otomo
Music by Yoko Kanno, Jun Miyake


  • DVD booklet
  • Featurette with interviews

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Opera
  • Angst and doom
  • Stupidity and selfishness galore
  • Philosophical messages
  • Violence

Released by: Columbia TriStar
Region: 1
Rating: PG-13
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Get it fast.

Pic from Memories

Memories is actually three movies in one, each about forty-five minutes long. Magnetic Rose, based upon the manga by Otomo, is a science fiction tale where space workers detect a signal from the area of space known as Sargasso…what they receive is a piece of “Madame Butterfly” on the emergency channel. Maritime space law dictates that they investigate, and they do, only to discover a world created from space debris and the memories of a young woman with plans of her own for her rescuers. This take is not only frightening, but sad and haunting. The increasing claustrophobia and disorientation follows the increasing revelations about Eva and the temptations facing the spacefarers.

Stink Bomb is a kind of super-villain origin story where a chemist takes the wrong flu pill and accidentally turns himself into a biochemical super-weapon bent on destroying Tokyo. In this tragedy, there are moments of near humor, when you realize that Tanaka has no idea what he has become and that he’s killing everyone around him. Meanwhile, the government shows just how “capable” they are. This story is a hymn to human stupidity and carelessness, as well as the helplessness of governments, and how the mistakes of one person really can affect and even destroy the lives of thousands more. Libertarians beware.

Finally, Cannon Fodder depicts a graceless future were a city and its residents exist only to fire giant cannons at an enemy they know nothing about. No one knows anything about the enemy or why they’re firing, but this war affects the lives of everyone in the city, no matter what they do and do not know or feel. This part of the trio makes the least sense of all three, but is, like opera, still an effective piece of psychological theatre. You will feel something, even if you don’t understand the symbolic language Otomo is showing you.

Pic from Memories

The audio is solid, with good voice acting and a nice balance between the voices, special effects sounds, and musical accompaniment, opera included. There is no English dub, meaning that non-Japanese-speaking viewers will be expected to read the show, while also taking time to appreciate the gorgeous graphics. The visuals are outstanding, with nice artistry, fine detail (especially in the space ship scenes), and interesting, distinct character design. The colors are rich or dark where they should be, and there are no problems with the digitalization.

The special feature is truly special. We get a half-hour featurette, “Memories of Memories,” that includes introductions to the creative genius behind the shows and looks at Otomo’s previous works, such as Akira. It also includes snippets from interviews with Otomo, Koji Morimoto, and Tensai Okamura. The featurette also includes the original pilot films for all three shorts. There are no other special features on the disc, other than the usual ads for other DVDs, although the sizable DVD insert has a number of lovely images from the pieces and detailed chapter listings.

Memories should be in every otaku’s anime collection, and in the collection of any fine movie fan. If you enjoy angst, war, message pieces, psychological drama, horror, passion, suspense, mystery, or fantasy, you’ll find something to enjoy here. The three movies are all marked by Otomo’s trademark fine writing and flair for drama, but they are very different in mood and content, even in artwork and style. It is, after all, available for an incredibly reasonable price for disc of this quality.