A great trilogy overall - the varied, unique soundtracks in particular blew me away.
Animé 1: Rating 4; haunting, isolation, space.
Animé 2: Rating 3; mainly for the soundtrack. I think I saw this one a bit like a music video.
Animé 3: Rating 5; long and demanding, but hardcore, technical, pointlessness, 1984-ish, depressing.
The Magnetic Rose (1995) review
Published by grimoireofhorror.com and The Yurei 11/01/21
Isolation and vast emptiness are a very base fear for humanity, the mind often creating horrors far greater than anything set in reality as paranoia takes hold of rational thought. It is through this that the idea of deep water or space can leave one feeling anxious and uncomfortable and the thought of exploring these environments can be all the more terrifying.
The Magnetic Rose is a Sci-fi horror OVA directed by Kōji Morimoto, known for his work as director for the short Beyond for The Animatrix (2003) and the music video for Extra by Ken Ishii (1995). Kōji also worked as an animator on such greats as Akira (1998), Kiki’s delivery Service (1989) and Jigen Bakudan, a short story from the anthology Genius Party Beyond (2008). The short is part of a trilogy called Memories (1995) along with two other sci-fi related OVA’s Stink Bomb and Cannon Fodder directed by the great Tensai Okamura and Katsuhiro Otomo respectively.
In the year 2092, The Corona, a deep space salvage freighter working on a skeleton crew, receives a distress signal whilst out on a recovery mission. As they investigate the signal, they come across a huge ship graveyard orbiting an abandoned space station. Inside they discover a world built by one woman’s memories and have to navigate their way through before their ship is drawn into the wreckage by the station’s strong magnetic field.
The anime has beautiful hand drawn animation, heavily influenced by popular sci-fi films such as Alien (1979) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), giving exterior scenes a very sleek and stylized look to them, capturing the realism of the desolation of space perfectly. The set designs are used beautifully to set the ambience of a scene, with the space station interior lavishly decorated in a classic European style clashing with its overall analogue sci-fi aesthetic really helps make the characters feel removed from their reality.
Though being only forty minutes in length, the pacing is a slow burn, with subtle scares unsettling the viewer leading to a crescendo of supernatural events and an ending that leaves a deep feeling of fear and despair. A classical soundtrack and its use in the story add a lot of depth to the ambient mood, with Un bel di vedremo from Giacomo Puccini’s Madam butterfly taking center stage as an incredible piece intermediately used throughout, giving scenes an overwhelming sense of power and foreboding.
Memories was released to positive reviews and is highly regarded inside and outside the anime community, The Magnetic Rose being favored as being the better of the three stories, almost feeling out of place by not having a similar tone, as the other two stories are more comedic and less about horror but are still well-made pieces of art.
This is a must watch for anyone who likes sci-fi or horror with its eerie atmosphere, haunting soundtrack and is a great introduction to anyone new to the medium of anime with a solid story and beautiful animation.
What I Liked: Using Madame Butterfly as a motif doesn't feel out of place, even in the 2090's. Great sound design and soundtrack. Good set designs, ranging from industrial-style rusty spaceships to grand Victorian-style interiors. Engrossing plot. Smooth character animation. Love the display of the psychological effect of nostalgia, deepest desires and holograms.
What I Didn't: Muted colour palette feels dated and flat.
What I Liked: Lively, comedic score helps add to the absurdist feel to the episode. Darkly amusing and funny plot, if you ignore the body count. Good mix of science fiction and movie science that is (luckily) somewhat based on real events. Interesting war room scenes.
What I Didn't: Movie science may distract some viewers. The Unnamed Foreign Commander is one-dimensional and irritating.
What I Liked: Cute, sketchy animation with amazing detail and good colour palatte. Stunning background art. Interesting character designs. Great worldbuilding, albeit a little sluggish. A somewhat humourous and fantastical look at a city at war with an unseen enemy. Good soundtrack that almost has a steampunk feel with jaunty pianos and horns.
What I Didn't: Colours are muddy and the lines lack crispness (less out of stylistic choice). This feels more like a slice-of-life than a science-fiction piece. No discernable plot.
Memories is a mixed bag of memorable and not-so memorable science-fiction shorts that all have plenty to say about the human condition and the potential of science. While all three "chapters" have completely different moods, styles and plots they're all interesting in their own way.
Memories is a movie-length science fiction OVA divided into three separate stories. While not exactly dystopian in nature, the future looks like a somewhat depressing place based on these unrelated "memories" episodes.
Episode one - Magnetic Rose. Animation blends both detailed photrealistic drawings and traditional line art cartoon-style drawings well. Music is haunting and evocative, with a cyber-feel to it. Incidental background sounds integrate seamlessly into the story and effectively establish mood without ever feeling intrusive.
I had a feeling of deja vu while watching this one. The story of a space-debris collecting team receiving an emergency SOS distress call and responding to it to find an abandoned area of space (a "Sargasso Sea" space graveyard area of floating debris and wreckage) and an alluring siren call beckoning them inward, seems somehow familiar to me.
Two of the explorers from the rescue ship enter the distress signal area. They are caught up in the still functioning computer-programmed dream reality of a long-dead opera diva named Eva Friedel. Eva created the program as a refuge to live again with her dead-husband and she resided for many years alone there after retiring from public appearances. The rescue turns sinister when the two become inextricably interwoven with the dream-reality's main plotline of never allowing Eva's husband to ever leave her.
This chilling tale explores love lost and the desperation of a lonely person determined to regain and keep such a love that was so precious ... whatever the cost.
Episode two - Stink Bomb. A change in pace is signalled by an overly cheery television segment's syrupy canned Good morning introduction. Animation for this is more traditional and music is a louder, jazz-infused score which sometimes overpowers the video and dialogue.
In an attempt to cure his cold, a researcher mistakenly mixes medications and awakens from his rest afterwards to find all personnel in his research facility collapsed and himself involved in a plot of government intigue.
The hapless researcher, unknowingly spreading death and destruction wherever he goes, becomes a target - of assassination and kidnapping attempts.
An ironic tale of the fate of an unlucky soul being kept ignorant of the plots around him while managing to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Episode three - Cannon Fodder. This story begins immediately after the fadeout from the last story, and jumps right into the start with a clanging alarm clock going off. Animation designs for machinery and background seem fairly realistic and typical; character designs and people less so. These are not pretty, and not designed to win us over. Background soundtrack is more than serviceable, and generally works well for the anime. Ending theme is a rhythmic electronic tune.
The story shows us a rather bleak glimpse at an industrial town, featuring select scenes from a typical day in the life of a family, who lives and works in a military support town, where life is focused on the maintenance and firing of the great cannons used in the ongoing war effort against an unseen enemy.
It's a tale that shows some of the daily results of a life spent under strict discipline and of obeying orders.
Each story presented is a short portrait giving each director's memory impression; we get a provocative flavor to ingest but no real nourishment. Each is just a thought presentation; no story is fleshed out enough nor are characters developed enough to cultivate a strong and lasting impact.
Three separate science fiction stories, each with a different setting and feel.
The stories vary from good to dull and in my opinion episode 1 is the best and episode 3 is the worst.
Episode 1: Magnetic Rose, is a story about space junkers who get a s.o.s message and go to investigate.
Episode 2: Stink Bomb, features a dumb man who has a flu and after nothing seems to work, he decides to try an experimental medicine.
Episode 3: Cannon Fodder, is about a society whose only job is to wage war, the men work in shooting giant cannons everyday, the women work in factories producing ammunition and the children learn about war tactics in school.