Memories (1996) is an anime vignette film featuring three shorts based on the work of Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo.
The first is the scfi/supernatural horror of "Magnetic Rose" directed by Kouji Morimoto (The Animatrix: Beyond). It is the year 2092 and a ragtag crew of space salvagers receives "Madam Butterfly" over the distress channel and must investigate the source of the signal. They end up in deep space amongst a cluster of junk, but find a large structure where the call is emanating from. Two salvagers enter the debris-based structure and are shocked to find a lavish ballroom and more opulence. As they try to uncover the mystery, they uncover a woman's past and a force that doesn't want them to leave.
The second is scifi/comic/action yarn "Stink Bomb" directed by Tensai Okamura (Kikaider). Nobou Tanaka has a cold. He works in medical research and makes the ultimate blunder in taking (or-mistaking) an experimental pill. He wakes up from a nap to discover all of his co-workers dead and the facility has gone into emergency lockdown. When he contacts the head brass, they want him to transport documents about their unapproved secret experiments to headquarters before the government and police can get them. But, Nobou is the source of this deadly toxin, and as he makes away to the medical corps headquarters, entire cities fall and the bureaucracy feuds over how to solve the problem of a man whose scent can kill.
"Cannon Fodder" directed by Katsuhiro Otomo is about a city whose entire society is built around firing massive cannons at an unseen enemy. A young boy looks forward to the day he could be a cannon firing general, his father works on a shell loading crew and his mother works in the gunpowder factory. It is a day in the life of a people dedicated to one purpose and an invisible enemy.
As with any short based film, be it Twilight Zone: The Movie or Robot Carnival, depending on you're tastes, some vignettes will rise above others. Take 1968's Spirits of the Dead, which I always felt opened with the weak "Metzemgerstein" by Roger Vadim and ended with the fantastic "Toby Dammit" by Fellini. In Memories, "Magnetic Rose" is a great opener, a strong, moving story of love, loss, haunting heartbreak, and horror chills. I've always liked the story so much I've wished its forty minute running time could be doubled and it could just stand on its own as a Solaris meets The Shining anime. "Stink Bomb", while containing some great visuals and outrageous action, pales and has a wildly uneven tone- I mean, the masses are dying, cities lie in devastation, yet there is this comic, lighthearted bounce going on that doesn't fit what is happening. "Cannon Fodder" is the briefest piece, and it's cartoonish character design is a bit of a contrast to the more figure based design in the first two stories, but it is the strongest work in terms of its allegorical message.
The DVD: Columbia Tristar
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.85:1. Image quality is a solid "A". The print is very clean and sharp with little/no specs flecks or wear. Colors are fairly well-rendered and generally vibrant. The animations details get their due, with such things as the glossy marble of the columns in "Magnetic Rose" and the cramped, lived-in interior of the families apartment in "Cannon Fodder" appropriately impressive if you are a animation fan. "Cannon Fodder's" backgrounds are exquisite and reminiscent of of the detailed work of classic Russian animators.
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese language with optional English, Spanish, French, or Portuguese subtitles. The sound is very good. It shows a decent range and effective mix. "Magnetic Rose" has a very even mix of good fx, music, and general dialogue, while "Stink Bomb" definitely wins over in the action noise fx department. "Cannon Fodder" is deceptively simple, with little dialogue, letting the patriotic music carry most of the short.
Extras: Story and Chapter Selections— Liner insert has a nice page for each story with design sketches.— Columbia trailers for Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Cyborg 009, Final Fantasy, Metropolis, Returner, Steam Boy, and Tokyo Godfathers. — "Memories of Memories" Featurette (29:18). A basic featurette with Otomo and the other directors, showing how the project evolved.
Conclusion: Really, if you are any sort of anime or animation fan, be it causal or a slobbering maniac, this is a worthy film to add to your library. While I'm lukewarm on one of the three tales, the rest more than make up for that stories weakness. The DVD presentation delivers fine image and sound quality and the featurette is a good enough extra to warrant a purchase for those interested.