Dir: Katsuhiro Otomo , Koji Morimoto , Tensai Okamura
113 min., 35mm, 1:1.85, Color
Produktion: Bandai Visual Co. Ltd. Buch: Sato-shi Kon (1. Episode), Katsuhiro Otomo (2. und 3. Episode). Regie: Koji Morimoto (1. Episode), Tensai Okamura (2. Episode), Katsuhiro Otomo (3. Episode, Leitung). Hauptzeichner: Toshiyuki Inoue (1. Episode), Hirotsugu Kawasaki & Morifumi Naka (2. Episode), Shuichi Ohara (3. Episode). Designer: Yuji Ikehata, Mitsuo Koseki, Akira Yamakawa, Nizou Yamakawa (1. Episode), Tatsuya Kushida (2. Episode), Katsuhiro Otomo (3. Episode). Ton: Sadayoshi Fujino. Schnitt: Takeshi Seyama. Musik: Yoko Kanno (1. Episode), Jun Miyake (2. Episode), Hiroyuki Nagashima (3. Episode). Produzent: Shigeru Watanabe.
Stimmen: Tsutomu Isobe (Heinz, 1. Episode), Hideyuki Hori (Nobuo Tanaka, 2. Episode), Isamu Hayashi (Junge, 3. Episode).
Uraufführung: 23. Dezember 1995, Tokyo.
Weltvertrieb: Bandai Visual Co. Ltd., SEF Bld., 3-5 Matsugaya 1-chome, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111, Japan. Tel.: (81-3) 5828 3061, Fax: (81-3) 5828 3058.
Fri 14.02. 24:00 Delphi Sat 15.02. 15:00 Arsenal
In 2092 Heinz, Miguel, Iwanoff and Aoshima are independent space refuse dealers with their own spacecraft, collecting and dismantling ,junk' such as scrapped satellites and wrecked ships floating in deep space. On a return flight, after accomplishing a difficult job, they receive a distress signal from the Salgasso space area, which is known as space cemetary. As they rush to the place of the dispatched signal, they encounter a huge spacecraft of an old type, in the shape of a rose. Heinz and Iwanoff make their way into the spacecraft and are astonished to see a magnificent opera stage, appearing abruptly. Each room of the spacecraft is filled with various articles belonging to a gifted soprano singer of the early 21st century, Elizabeth Freedel (Eva). As they continue their search, they are soon drawn into a mysterious make-believe world, an illusion created by Eva's passion, resulting in an unfortunate fate.
The Kofu basin in winter. Nobuo Tanaka, a laboratory man with the Nishibashi Pharmaceutical Company has taken a sample of a new medicine. He had assumed it was cold medicine. In truth, the sample was a piece of research for the bacterium war division, information which the government requested was to be kept in strict confidentiality. It is a ,menace medicine' which produces a gas emitted from the body once the medicine is swallowed. Whoever smells the gas will subsequently pass out immediately. Nobuo wakes up after taking a nap, and the Kofu Basin including the lab is filled with the gas released from his body. All of humankind within the basin, birds and animals are in a death-like state. All the flowers such as sunflowers and cherry blossoms are blossoming spontaneously. Nobuo has absolutely no idea that he has turned into a ,Walking Lethal Weapon, the ultimate Weapon'. He heads for the Tokyo headquarter. The Self-Defence Forces of Japan attack Nobuo by mobilizing snipers, tanks, missiles, and fighter aircrafts but the gas is too strong and it puts them out of commission, unable to check the advance of Nobuo. In the end, the U.S. Army throws in the latest armament in order to catch Nobuo alive.
A boy lives in a mobile city heavily equipped with countless cannons. Batteries carry the enormous cannons to various places in the city. The boy's father works as a charger for battery number 17. His mother is employed in a cannonball manufacturing plant. There is a slogan called ,Shoot, shoot as long as your strength lasts for the town!' which is broadcast on TV. This town is fighting against another country and the centre of civil life is the ,cannon'. School classes are structured around the cannon, in the boy's mathematics class it is being discussed how to improve shooting accuracy. Those batteries make a thundering noise in the town every day. Many chargers, like this boy's father are covered in sweat and soot, and dressed-up chargers fire in the ceremonial movement at the far away enemy. The results of cannon shootings are announced on TV every night. At the end of such an ordinary day the boy goes to sleep wishing to become a cannonader in the future, rather than a charger which is labour work in a low position...
Spectacular Japanimation reunites talents behind world-wide smash Akira, with even better results. Three contrasting stories offer something for everyone, eschewing the usual garish violence in favor of subtler social commentary, boffo humor and eye-grabbing action. Careful handling will yield MEMORIES a long life on rep-house and cult circuits.
It took three years to complete this ambitious omnibus effort, and it was worth the wait. Working with a batch of younger animators, Akira maker Katsuhiro Otomo put together three radically different cartoons, although they manage to hang together due to alternately harsh, spooky and hilarious comments on technological culture and where it may be going.
MAGNETIC ROSE, the first seg - the longest and most technically stunning - is an atmospheric thriller set a century from now, when the multinational crew of space merchants (intergalactical garbage men, really) encounter a feeble SOS from a drifting ghost ship in the shape of a rose. Two of the gutsier crew men, Miguel and Heinz board the ship, which at first seems to be deserted. They soon encounter holographic images of a woman who greatly resembles Scarlett O'Hara; when one image dissolves before them, Miguel says it has ,gone with the wind'.
In a lady-and-the-tiger scenario, she keeps reappearing in different guises; eventually it's clear that she was an acclaimed European opera singer earlier in the century (in excerpts aided here by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra). Heinz soon gets the creeps, but as the ship starts crumbling, his partner goes ever deeper into the mystery woman's tomblike Xanadu.
The CGI's heavy seg's necrotic mood is quickly dispelled by the bright colours and brisk pacing of the next, although STINK BOMB's message isn't excactly comforting. Story centers on Tanaka, a generic company man who works for a major pharmaceutical lab. One day, getting the sniffles, he heads into his boss's empty office looking for a snappy new cold medicine. Too bad the bottles weren't better labeled. Tanaka takes a sample, all right, but when he wakes up from his quick catnap, everybody in the complex appears to be dead. And when he goes outside, cherry blossoms spontaneously generate on barren trees, even as passing motorists immediately crash their cars.
For some reason Tanaka doesn't notice that a sickly green gas flows from his body, but he is sufficiently alarmed by all the plotzing to want to get out of his rural prefecture, which has essentially shut down. Soon, he has hopped a Honda and is trailing great clouds of perfumed poison all the way to Tokyo, where military types try to figure out how to take him, and his top secret weapon, out of the picture. They, in turn, get pressure from the U.S. Army (led by a Colin Powell type) to do things Uncle Sam's way.
This may sound heavy-handed, but vivid seg is rollicking throughout, with its blinking Everyman an ignorant foil for the increasingly frantic development of ever-more arcane weaponery - and the giddiest use of midair explosions since Independence Day.
An undeniably downbeat closure, CANNON FODDER is the only toon animated by Otomo himself (he wrote graphic stories for the others) and obviously the closest to his dour view of human nature. Drawn in a line-heavy, red-saturated style recalling East-European cartoons from the Iron Curtain era, seg depicts a nameless city that exists solely to blast away at other ,enemy' cities with its giant WWI-style cannon. Results of each day's voley are reported on TV, inspiring citizens - such as the main character, an utterly militarized little boy - to dream of supercharged glory.
Tale uses sparse dialogue and brassy music to make digs at Japanese rearmament, political passivity and company-town mentality. Baroque visuals and grisly humour reflect tone of Otomo's only live-action pic World Apartment Horror (described in his CV as a ,directed actuality film'), but CANNON FODDER's style is even more abstruse and unforgiving, and unprepared auds may resent this bleakness after the earlier fun. (...)
All tech aspects are top-notch, and MEMORIES, which had a one-month run at home last year, will stick in the minds of any offshore auds, no matter how distant. Ken Eisner, in: Variety, January 13-19, 1997, New York
Katsuhiro Otomo's work has changed in style with every phase of his work since his debut. This is apparent in that his work in the 90's and his early work are very different. His early style of drawing resulted in such dark images that all the drawings almost seem to be done on black paper. In later animation and cartoon work the darkness faded away and a lot of space and room started to dominate. The white and spacious drawing was his late 70's style. In the 80's he filled the space with various objects in an urban environment while still maintaining the whiteness.
Inuhiko Yomota comments on these changes: ,We cannot say that there is no connection between Otomo's switch from creating the world which cannot come to an end to creating a theme which is a world after the end of the world. The period of telling an ending, using a metaphor of darkness, is over. What is created in ,Akira' is a universe which came into being after the end of the world, and this universe is filled with everlasting white sunglow and can only be created by the complexity of lines'.
(...) The young audience, frustrated with an ending which never comes to an end in Otomo's early work, are now frustrated with the endless world after an end. However, they are totally different types of frustration. Young characters in ,Akira' are part of an endless horizon.
Of course, no end means no escape, this unending universe is completely closed. Many viewers admitted having feelings of claustrophobia when seeing ,Akira', feeling confined by infinite space. We began to sense this upon being introduced to the world of the Internet. We are oppressed by the expanse.
One may perceive an ambitious attempt in CANNON FODDER (the only one out of three short films directed by Otomo). Since from the beginning to the end, rather than constituting visual space frame by frame, it seems to be Katsuhiro Otomo's objective to show everything in the world in one frame. For Akira he did not use the normal method of drawing background and figures on one celluloide film. He drew them on three seperate celluloid films. The space is constituted of three celluloid films, and by adding and removing them the depth is created very naturally as a camera movement going into a deeper place rather than zooming in to the surface. This enables the space to expand the depth. What Otomo learned from Akira must have been incorporated in MEMORIES.
It is important that the space is constituted by layers of thin and transparent celluloid film. A camera can naturally move to a deeper place by removing it, but we cannot ignore what has been drawn one layer further. A net-surfer becomes a net-diver without realizing it, but no matter how deep one goes there will be a feeling of subtle depth. Otomo may have thought that such a subtle feeling of enclosure was appropriate since it can be established through thin films for the world of film and the filmic environment which is wrapped around and created by light and sound. (...)
Koji Morimoto was born in Japan in 1959. In 1980 he graduated from Osaka College of Design and began work at the Mad House Company in charge of drawing and animation. Since 1984 he works in the freelance sector. In 1988 he directed Frankenstein's Haguruma. In the same year he began work as an assisstant director responsible for design and animation in the film Akira. In 1991 Koji Morimoto developed script and storyboard for the animation film Tobe! Kujira no Piku which he also directed.
Tensai Okamura was born in Japan in 1960 and graduated in engineering at Wasada University in 1983, also beginning work at the Mad House Company. In 1989 he developed the drawings for Gokuu, directed Yawara and Uruboshi Yatsura (Yagi-san and Cheese).
Katsuhiro Otomo was born in Hazama-cho in the Miyagi prefecture in April 1954. In 1973 his first cartoon ,Ju Sei' was published, in 1979 his first comic book ,Short Peace' appeared. In 1982 he made his first film Jiyu o warerani. Since then, Otomo has brought out several comic books and made a number of films, among them international successes, such as Akira (1988, Forum 1989)and World Apartment Horror(1991, Forum 1992).
© 1997 by International Forum of New Cinema. All rights reserved.