“Memories”, a virtuoso triptych on the mirages of technology

Memories **

by Katsuhiro Otomo, Koji Morimoto and Tensai Okamura

Japanese animated film, 1 h 54

Astronauts to the rescue of a ship emitting an SOS to the sound of Madame Butterflyan average employee mistakenly transformed into a bacteriological weapon that the Japanese army is unable to neutralize, an entire society turned towards the war effort against a flying city that no one has ever seen…

The mirages of technology, especially in its warlike applications, are at the heart of Memories, program of three animated short films by the great Katsuhiro Otomo. The mangaka and filmmaker, who had adapted into animation Akira (1988), his masterpiece, then delivered this explosive ensemble in 1995, just as virtuoso in form, but undoubtedly more uneven in its screenwriting.

If he imagined the three stories, Otomo only realized the last one, Cannon Fodder (“Cannon fodder”), undoubtedly the most anecdotal, despite the technical feat it represents. The filmmaker has fun multiplying the camera movements (panoramics, tracking shots, etc.) in order to give the illusion of a long sequence shot of twenty-two minutes. Graphically close to Franco-Belgian SF as practiced in the columns of Screaming metalthe whole sounds like an Orwellian denunciation of a militarized society furiously resembling Hirohito’s Japan.

piece of bravery

Equally anti-militarist, Stink Bomb (“Stink Bomb”), directed by Tensai Okamura, is a fun parody of disaster movies, if a bit long-winded. Otomo makes fun with the same black humor of the incompetence of an overly rigid bureaucracy and the carelessness of the army in coming to terms with a single man, even if he were transformed into a chemical weapon by the ingestion of a drug he thought was a painkiller.

The piece of bravery of this triptych is the medium-length film which gives it its title. This adaptation of an Otomo manga is staged with undeniable mastery by Koji Morimoto.

The misadventures of space garbage collectors through a cemetery of satellite debris turn, during the encounter with a phantom singer, into a metaphysical epic worthy of 2001, Space Odysseyby the grace of strange sets, dazzling in detail, electronic music haunted by the tunes of Puccini, and original framing playing on weightlessness.

The paw of Satoshi Kon, in the scenario and in the artistic direction, is not there for nothing. The future director of Millennium Actress and Paprika will develop this same theme of reality deformed by technology, seeking to show the influence of fiction on our lives.

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