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"In the future, present, or imaginary world, MEMORIES reveal themselves like rose petals opening."

Memories is a set of three anime episodes adapted from three of Katsuhiro Otomo's manga short stories. Katsuhiro Otomo produced the film, but each of the episodes was directed, scripted, and had music composed by a different team, giving each episode a different style. It was released in Japan on December 23, 1995.

The three episodes are:

Magnetic Rose, directed by Koji Morimoto from a screenplay by Satoshi Kon, with music by Yoko Kanno. It's set in space, where a presumably abandoned space station gives out a distress signal. Two men from a spaceship go to investigate, and find much more than they bargained for.

Stink Bomb, directed by Tensai Okamura from a screenplay by Katsuhiro Otomo, with key animation by Yoshiaki Kawajiri and music by Jun Miyake. A Black Comedy featuring a worker from a bioresearch facility, a weapon of mass destruction, and a lot of chaos.

Cannon Fodder, written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, with music by Hiroyuki Nagashima. Uses a unique animation style to give the illusion of being filmed in one long take. The story centers on the residents of a city of cannons that is forever at war.

Has a Spiritual Successor in Short Peace, also produced by Otomo.

Discotek Media has licensed the film for Blu-ray release in the U.S. in 2021 including a brand new English dub, with NYAV Post handling Magnetic Rose and Sound Cadence Studio handling Stink Bomb & Cannon Fodder.

Memories contains examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The computer in Magnetic Rose carries out Eva's escapist fantasy long after Eva is dead, destroying other spaceships to assimilate them into itself.
  • Ambiguous Situation: By the end of Cannon Fodder, it's left unclear if the enemy city actually exists and the cannon city simply cannot reliably hit it but lies to its populace anyways, or the enemy city used to or never existed at all and the government of the cannon city simply uses its threat as a means to control the population.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Miguel Costrela, from Magnetic Rose. He has a considerably darker skin tone, especially when compared to the obviously Caucasian Heinz and Ivanov, and the Japanese Aoshima, but the short doesn't give any hint of his past, nationality or ethnicity. At best one can guess he is Latino, but that's about it.
  • America Saves the Day: In Stink Bomb. Or so they try to.
  • Armies Are Evil:
    • The JSDF in Stink Bomb goes well above and beyond the call of overkill to try to stop Nobuo (although it's justified given how lethal he has unwittingly become), and the American military liaison that appears not only reveals himself as the man who ordered the creation of the bio-weapon Nobuo swallowed, but also conspires to capture Nobuo alive.
    • The city of Cannon Fodder only exists to shoot cannons, all day, every day, and all of the activities of the people in it has been organized by the government to revolve around this (the children only learn trig and chemistry for the sake of figuring out shooting solutions, for example), they don't care about the safety of the citizens, and it's implied that there is actually no rival cities to shoot, but they lie about it, Nineteen Eighty-Four-style.
  • Artificial Gravity: The Eva ship in Magnetic Rose has this on its lower levels. Notably, the main character's ship does not... which allows for an impressive fanservice scene in which Miguel spins around while only wearing a minuscule thong.
  • Art Shift: Used in the last sequence of Cannon Fodder, where we jump into a child's drawing.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Magnetic Rose ends with the insane AI fully accomplishing everything it set out to do, and more. Heinz survives being ejected due to vacuum but he is almost guaranteed to die in space, as his spaceship and crewmates blew up due to the Eva Ship's powerful magnetic field. Miguel survives inside the Eva ship, but the AI has basically brainwashed him, and he is not going to live much longer either, as all food inside the ship is fake and previously Heinz found another astronaut corpse, pretty much calling out Miguel's fate.
  • Big Bad: Magnetic Rose has some sort of ghost or being haunting the ship that Heinz and Miguel explore, constantly showing off apparitions to try and attract, trap them or straight up attacking. Its the ship's AI gone insane trying to carry out its now long-dead master's wishes.
  • Brainwashed: The final fate of Miguel, courtesy of the insane AI.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Played for Black Comedy in Stink Bomb, where Nobuo doesn't seems to understand there has to be some reason why the JSDF is firing enough explosive ordinance towards him to kill Godzilla and every time he encounters people (who, knowing what he has become, stampede to get away from him and some don't succeed and choke to death on his gas and he sees it happen) is to run after them going all "wait for me!".
  • Creepy Changing Painting: In Magnetic Rose, Miguel gets irrationally jealous when he sees a photo of Carlo kissing Eva during their search. As he and Heintz leave the room, the picture has swapped out Carlo for Miguel.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Played for Black Comedy in Stink Bomb: Nobuo somehow managed to hijack one of the American Powered Armor spacesuits in the midst of all the AKIRA-level chaos to capture him at the tunnel and he gets out of it right inside of the bunker that is apparently beneath Tokyo, killing everybody. It is obvious from the horrified reactions of everybody, especially the American General, that this was not part of anybody's plan.
  • Daddy's Girl: Emily from Magnetic Rose.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Heinz in Magnetic Rose.
  • Determinator: Nobuo was given one task, and one task alone: deliver the documents and experimental drug to his superiors in Tokyo. Nothing, not even carpet bombing, heavily armed barricades, collapsing tunnels, liquid Nitrogen, Americans in huge spacesuits, or his own grandmother's pleas, will deter him from this mission. Naturally, this make it a twisted subversion of the trope's usual heroic overtones.
  • Detrimental Determination: Played for Black Comedy (and a little bit of horror): normally, someone with Implacable Man levels of determination would be a heroic thing, but within the context of the situation at hand and what will happen if he succeeds, it paints Nobuo as a hard-core example of Lethally Stupid.
  • Dead All Along: Eva, the apparent main antagonist of Magnetic Rose has been dead for decades at the very least. The actual danger is the AI of her ship, who went insane and impersonated her. The climax shows Eva's actual corpse, that has decomposed down to the skeleton
  • Derelict Graveyard: Where the ship emitting the Distress Call is centered hinting at the true nature of the ship.
  • Distress Call: Starts off Magnetic Rose. Turns out that Eva's ghost continues to call men to their death... but it's because the computer thinks it's her!
  • Downer Ending: Practically all three episodes end on bad notes.
    • In Magnetic Rose, Heinz escapes the station with his life, but he's stuck in space after getting sucked out by the Corona's analyzer, his fate uncertain. Ivanov and Aoshima likely died when the space station's magnetic field absorbed the ship and the countless others of the graveyard into its mass, transforming the entire area into a giant rose. Miguel got the worst fate out of the whole crew; he's still alive, but his mind has been completely brainwashed by the insane A.I. posing as Eva into thinking he's Carlo. With no proper food at the station, he'll likely die from starvation and join the other victims Heinz saw at the episode's climax; once that happens, the cycle will start again, with "Eva" luring more people to her home to continue her escapist fantasy.
    • In Stink Bomb, just when it seems that the Japanese and U.S. military have finally found a way to stop Nobuo by trapping and freezing him in a tunnel, by some miracle, he survives by climbing into one of the U.S. space suits. After the military unknowingly brings him to their headquarters in Tokyo, Nobuo shows himself after giving his suitcase to Director Nirasaki and kills everyone when he tries to leave his suit after thinking they can't hear him. It's unclear what happens after that, as the episode ends there, but it can't be good for Japan or the U.S. now that some of their military leaders are dead.
    • Cannon Fodder is not chocolates and roses, either: our glimpse into a single day in the life of the city is all the more depressive knowing that there is no change coming. People will live and die shooting cannons all day, every day, with no end in sight.
  • Dystopia: The city/state featured in Cannon Fodder is not a nice place to live.
  • Eagleland: Stink Bomb has the evil variationnote , with the African-American officer who commissioned the bioweapon Nobuo ate, and who plans to capture the unwitting stinkbomb despite the risk to Japan.
  • Fanservice: One of the first scenes of Magnetic Rose has both Heinz and Miguel wearing very skimpy outfits before they gear up in their spacesuits to go into the Eva ship. Heinz only has a pair of tiny shorts (which due to the zero gravity are rather floaty, giving quite a few views of his tights) and a revealing wifebeater shirt while Miguel is literally just in a thong prominently showing off his physique, featuring even a happy trail. Even more blatant is the shot in which Miguel spins around while moving his legs for a solid 10 seconds in zero gravity, giving the viewer an extremely generous show of his ass and bulge from several different angles, as well as a peek of his asscrack a bit later. The scene in question doesn't serve any reason besides pretty eye candy, as Miguel doesn't even speak as he sexily spins and only makes a short comment at the end of it.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Miguel's ultimate fate. By the end of Magnetic Rose, the central computer posing as Eva has completely brainwashed him into thinking that he's Carlo. With no proper food in the space station, he'll eventually starve to death and join the rest of the victims Heinz saw at the episode's climax.
  • Fertile Feet: A side effect of the chemical in Stink Bomb is that every plant Nobuo comes near bursts into bloom regardless of the season even as every animal drops dead.
  • Forced to Watch: In Magnetic Rose, Heinz gave his daughter a space-suit, promising to take her up with him next time. In her eagerness to show it off, she climbs onto the roof after him while he's repairing a weathervane, and winds up losing her footing. He barely misses saving her. And because of the Lotus-Eater Machine, he has to watch this happen twice - once mirroring his own memory, and the second time while standing on the ground, still helpless to save his daughter.
  • Foreshadowing:
  • Forever War: The basis of Cannon Fodder. The population is devoted to maintaining the eternal war machine of their city, receiving daily propaganda to boost their patriotic fervor. Why are they fighting? No one knows. Turns out, there may not even be any enemy. Every shot fired lands somewhere in the desert landscape beyond the city; ancient craters are visible just beyond the walls.
    • However, in a Freeze-Frame Bonus a news announcer mentions how much damage was done to the enemy's mobile city but this actually adds to the bleak war since either it was invented to justify the apparent inability to defeat the enemy via constant bombardment for years or the enemy can never be truly defeated since they constantly move away.
  • Glamour Failure: Magnetic Rose shows a realistic and futuristic example. Despite the space station's interior looking like a pristine royal palace, if one looks closer, the glamour doesn't hold up, literally. The beautiful "outside" are holograms to hide the rest of the ruined station, the "food" might look delicious, but it only mimics the smell, not the taste, the dresses and jewelry instantly fall apart with the slightest touch because they're that old, and as Miguel sees as he goes further in the station, the statues, furniture, and walls are rotting and dripping with black goo.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: For Magnetic Rose, that's it's better to face a painful truth (Eva's loss of her career and fiancée, Heinz's lost daughter) than to find solace in comforting lie.
  • Hero-Tracking Failure: Stink Bomb. Justified in that the chemical agent damages electronics (such as aiming devices,) even at long distance, the same way it kills animals... but it doesn't explain why bombs keep missing him too.
  • Hologram: In Magnetic Rose, the entire interior of the ship is full of these, utilized by the deranged A.I. to disguise the ruined interior.
  • Idiot Ball: Just about everyone involved in Stink Bomb is a devoted ball carrier. Nobuo takes the cake, but his superiors and the army come a close second.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Eva murdered Carlo when he tried to leave her.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Magnetic Rose has Miguel fall for Eva due to her being a Lotus-Eater Machine. Early on he did seem to be falling for her more genuinely but as it goes on he begins just acting like a controlled puppet..
  • Leit Motif: Magnetic Rose has "Un Bel Di" from "Madame Butterfly" as a recurring theme, right down to using the song as a distress signal. This also doubles as foreshadowing, as Carlo had left Eva just as Pinkerton had left Butterfly.
  • Lethally Stupid: In Stink Bomb, Nobuo is this to a degree that turns him into a Person of Mass Destruction. Starting with taking a pill that he assumes is an experimental flu medicine but was actually a bio-weapon (a co-worker explicitly told him what color they were and he misremembered) and continuing with him trying to follow the orders of his boss (to take his company's secret documents to Tokyo) like a good little Salaryman come hell or high water (and by which we mean "the JSDF tossing everything and the kitchen sink at him doesn't deter him") without bothering to think why the hell the government would be so absurdly determined to stop him or why every human he approaches that doesn't run like hell just keels over dead. The short ends with him killing all of the government and military officials inside of a secret bunker implied to be somewhere under Tokyo (and which means he may wipe out Tokyo, too, once he leaves) when he takes off the Powered Armor he somehow managed to get into because he thinks the officials aren't hearing him well.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Smart move, Heinz. It might have ended up being the right choice, as the AI did not manage to brainwash Heinz... not that his fate ends up being any better.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The ship in Magnetic Rose is dominated by an AI which went nuts, taking the form of its former master, Eva, who tricks rescuers by bringing their fondest dream to life... or tricking them into living hers.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Happens a few times in Stink Bomb when the entire military is trying to kill a single guy on a moped. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Magical Realism: Magnetic Rose has shades of this at least until The Reveal. But even then, it could be questionable... Even so, the AI's apparent weird Psychic Powers are evocative of something not technological
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Most of the comedy in Stink Bomb is repeatedly watching hordes of people noticing that Nobuo is wandering towards them looking for a ride to Tokyo and stampeding to get away from him, with the ones who were too slow suffocating to death as they inhale the gas, and for further Black Comedy, at no point Nobuo questions what is happening and runs after them, which leads to more deaths and running. Rinse and repeat until everybody in Japan is screwed.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Eva in Magnetic Rose. Her ability to read Heinz' mind, the sheer effectiveness of her illusions, and the borderline Eldritch Location aspects of her ship interior make it seem like she's evolved far beyond being "just" a hyper-intelligent, insane AI. But nothing is confirmed either way.
  • Mechanical Abomination: Eva is the entire ship in Magnetic Rose, able to twist her insides to resemble palaces, beautiful fields, or even the memories of an intruder. All of this is actually rusted, disgustingly organic-looking scrap metal she takes from the ships she lures in to kill.
  • More Dakka: The entire city in Cannon Fodder is dedicated to heavy artillery, with nary a building lacking a giant cannon on its roof.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Nobuo. Hee hee. He becomes a living bioweapon, kills an unknown amount of people in rural Japan (and in Tokyo, as the ending implies), and causes chaos on the level of a natural disaster, and not once does he ever think that he may be the reason for it.
  • Mind Screw: Magnetic Rose has industrial levels of this.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Somehow, Nobuo manages to get himself into one of the NASA spacesuits when nobody's looking and makes it all the way to the executive he was delivering his MacGuffin to. And he still doesn't realize what's going on.
  • Multinational Team: The ship's crew in Magnetic Rose consists of Heinz Beckner (German), Miguel Costrela (Spanish or Portuguese), Aoshima (Japanese), and Ivanov (Russian).
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Eva's dead fiance has the exact same name as a special effects designer named Carlo Rambaldi, who worked on famous films such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Alien, and Dune (1984).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Aside from singing her rendition of "Un bel di vedremo", Eva bears a striking resemblance to famous opera star Maria Callas, right down to being referred to as "a Tigress" by the press, and Callas having similarly lost some of her vocal ability, though Eva had lost all of hers.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • The events of Stink Bomb happen because the guy in charge of Nobuo's lab thought it was a good idea to leave an experimental bio-weapon, in capsule form, right on his desk where anybody could grab it and swallow it, thinking it to be medicine.
    • The city in Cannon Fodder definitely considers shooting all day, every day more important than the safety of the people working to make it happen (we see a bunch of people protesting that chemicals used for shell propellant have harmful fumes and the punishment for screwing up while loading one of the cannons is to be ordered to stand close to it with no ear protection). Justified because it happens in an Alternate Universe where something like OSHA probably hasn't been created yet, if ever.
  • The Oner: Cannon Fodder is animated to give the illusion of being filmed in one long take.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Seemingly the premise of Magnetic Rose is about a haunted, sinister spaceship It's not a ghost, but an AI gone insane having taken the visage of its master and trying to carry out its will
  • Poisonous Person: Nobuo becomes a walking dispenser of poisonous gas, and only becomes more powerful the more he gets agitated.
  • Powered Armor: The NASA experimental spacesuits from Stink Bomb that the Eaglelanders use to try to capture Nobuo. The reason why they look the way they do is that they were designed for walking on Venus' surface.
  • Power Incontinence: Again, Nobuo. He never even realizes he has become highly toxic.
  • Psycho Electro: What Nobuo ultimately (and unwittingly) becomes. Turns out that once his bio-chemistry hits critical mass because he's stressed out, not only does he unleashes Deadly Gas, but the gas somehow develops a mighty electrical charge that works as ECM and goes full AKIRA when he finally freaks.
  • Psychic Powers: The insane AI in Magnetic Rose has the ability to mind read and brainwash, as it precisely does the later to Miguel, and has to have the former to create the holograms of Heinz memories
  • Putting on the Reich: A rather odd example. While the society shown in Cannon Fodder is pretty militaristic, its aesthetics are drawn from the early 20th century, being a mix of WW1 French, German, and British uniforms and weapons. However, in the faux Latin alphabet used on posters and signs, the letter "S" looks like the Waffen SS rune.
  • Shout-Out: The use of "Un Bel Di" in Magnetic Rose as the ship's unusual SOS signal. "Un Bel Di" is a famous aria about a woman watching the sea, waiting for her husband's ship to return so they can be together. Of course, Madame Butterfly is also a tragedy.
  • Sole Survivor: Heinz is the only one who escapes the wrecked space station with his life. Miguel is also alive if you want to get technical, but he arguably got the worst out of the Corona's crew.
  • Space Isolation Horror: Heinz's final fate as he is ejected into space while his ship and crew explode.
  • Spoiler Cover: The back of the DVD case (pictured at the top of the page) shows Eva's desiccated corpse, which only appears at the very end of Magnetic Rose.
  • Steampunk: Cannon Fodder.
  • Superpower Meltdown: The more agitated or distraught Nobuo gets, the higher concentration of lethal biochemicals he exudes.
  • Superpowered Robot Meter Maids: The little cherub statues in Magnetic Rose remind their mistress of her schedule... and also fly and shoot Eye Beams.
  • Take That!: An obscure one. One of the titanic and ugly buildings in Cannon Fodder has an engraving quoting Le Corbusier's definition of architecture ("the skillful, accurate, and magnificent play of volumes seen in light"). Much of Le Corbusier's large-scale work has been controversial, often described as cold and inhuman.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Nobuo is painfully ignorant of the fact that he is a walking Person of Mass Destruction. The army is trying to kill him, his own grandmother begging him to stop. Perhaps justified in that the worker can't see the neurotoxin gas he's emitting, but the crowning moment of his delusion, is when he puts on one of the NASA experimental spacesuits from an American he just killed, so he could get near his superiors hiding from him in Tokyo. What would possess him to do that? It's open to interpretation as to how Lethally Stupid he's behaving, or if the bio-weapon experiment is somehow controlling him in order to spread itself to new victims.
  • Title Drop: Not for the shorts, but for the whole movie: in Magnetic Rose, Heinz mutters out that "memories... memories are not to be toyed with!" before he tries to go Rambo on the crazy ship A.I. in retaliation for it trying to Mind Rape him with the memories of his dead daughter.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • While one could argue Nobuo is delusional from suffering a nervous breakdown, it's kind of ridiculous he doesn't put together that he is the reason everyone keeps dropping dead, especially when it happens multiple times right in front of him.
    • Zigzagged with the Head Researcher. He kept dangerous biochemicals unsecured in his personal office but was shrewd enough to know he was about to die in seconds with no time left to issue a warning, and his Idiot Ball carrying superiors in Tokyo would try to recover the bioweapon away from a suspected leak, not knowing Nobuo is the cause of the leak. He turned off the bio-contamination warning system, but the moronic Nobuo of course, turns it back on.
  • Toxic Phlebotinum: It's not clear what the bio-weapon chemical that Nobuo ingested in Stink Bomb even is. The military seems to be incapable of using their guidance systems to accurately kill this Walking Wasteland, as the gas messes with their electronic systems regardless of how far away the target is. Okay, fine, but when Americans arrive in NASA experimental spacesuits that the deadly gas is now ineffective against, to apprehend him, freaking lightning comes out of him. It seems on some molecular level, this dangerous substance, whatever it is, wants to spread, and it found the perfect host in the Lethally Stupid Nobuo.
  • Truth in Television: In Stink Bomb, the idea that a person can unwittingly become a walking biological weapon sounds ludicrous. However, it's based on a real event where hospital workers inexplicably fell ill when treating an emergency room patient forcing an evacuation. While there is no official cause for the incident, the commonly accepted theory is that a chain of highly unlikely circumstances occurred that caused a chemical reaction within the patient's body that caused it to start releasing toxic dimethyl sulfate gas.
  • Typhoid Mary: Nobuo in Stink Bomb becomes a living bio-weapon, a walking dispenser of highly potent Deadly Gas.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In Stink Bomb we have both the fellow researcher who tells Nobuo about the experimental flu medicine in the director's office (that Nobuo ends up mistaking for the bio-weapon) and Nobuo himself, who arrives at his work while having a cold and it's implied that the flu shot he was given at the local clinic before arriving interacted with the bio-weapon somehow, and most definitely not in a good way.
  • Walking Wasteland: Again, Nobuo from Stink Bomb. Made all the more ironic considering he's also a case of Fertile Feet.
  • Wham Line: From Magnetic Rose. Carlo was murdered the night before her wedding with Eva, with the culprit never being found. When Heinz confronts her for brainwashing Miguel to replace him and refusing to accept his death, she reveals this bombshell.
    Eva: Carlo will live on forever, always, here within my memories.
    Heintz: What?
    Eva: You understand. I know you do.
    Heintz: This is all bullshit! You're just living your life in denial. Carlo is already dead!
    Eva: (laughs) I prefer to think I've made my Carlo eternal.
    Heinz: You what?!
    Eva: And the Carlo that lives in my memories will never have a change of heart.
  • Wham Shot: In Cannon Fodder, the shot of craters littering the wasteland beyond the city, deliberately suggesting that the cannons are literally firing at nothing.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Eva, an opera singer in Magnetic Rose.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: A variant occurs in Stink Bomb.
  • Wilting Odor: The entire premise of Stink Bomb revolves around a lab technician who, after mixing up some experimental pills, exudes a smell so unbearable it kills everyone in Kofu. As mentioned earlier, ironically it makes plant life bloom.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Eva from Magnetic Rose (or better said, the AI that took her Broken Bird personality).
  • Yandere: Turns out that Eva wasn't willing to let Carlos leave her. Or any of the replacements she finds, for that matter.