“Magnetic Rose”, directed by Koji Morimoto and written by Satoshi Kon, follows an astronaut salvage crew as they explore a rogue abandoned spaceship. The more they investigate, the more they discover about its now-deceased owner, Eva. She was a successful opera prodigy until her voice gave out, and after the murder of her fiance she became obsessed with preserving her memories by recording them into the ship’s computer. Each room unlocks different video projections of the woman, whether it’s part of a performance or a recollection of time spent with her lover. She lived out the rest of her life surrounded by nothing but her memories. Her personality became ingrained into the ship, and now will stop at nothing to manipulate the new visitors into staying there forever.
This was beautiful in all of its aspects, with intricate set details, cinematic presentation, and excellent attention to movement. The premise is fascinating and haunting, and very well-executed visually and script-wise. The story is a little slow-moving, but that didn’t bother me too much. It’s an interesting, futuristic take on the Emily Grierson and Miss Havisham archetypes- a very sad rumination on obsession and loss. And as an awesome side note, the score is by Yoko Kanno, the extremely gifted composer of Cowboy Bebop‘s soundtrack.
“Stink Bomb”, directed by Tensai Okamura, is a comedic large-scale disaster tale. Suffering from a cold, Tanaka, a research assistant at a powerful pharmaceutical company, accidentally takes a new drug thinking it’s fever medicine. He quickly falls asleep, waking up a few hours later to find everyone in the building knocked out. After calling the police, he contacts the company executives, who, fearing a new experimental drug they’d been developing for the government is the cause, instruct him to covertly bring the drug to headquarters in Tokyo. As he makes his way there, he witnesses more and more people collapsing in the middle of a thick yellow fog. It is quite obvious to everyone but Tanaka that he himself is the cause of this destruction, so he continues his trek to Tokyo even as the army moves in to stop him.
This was another excellent premise with great animation. Tanaka’s cluelessness was adorable but also sort of depressing- he seemed incapable of comprehending the wreckage he was causing, perhaps as an instinctive defense mechanism. I like that concept a lot. “Stink Bomb” is exciting and funny, and I think it’d make an awesome full-length film.
“Cannon Fodder”, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, presents a day in an industrial Russian-esque communist society committed to war with an unknown enemy. A young boy wakes up and breakfasts in a dank, metallic apartment with his downtrodden parents. He attends class but dreams of being a part of the battle. His father and mother are shown working in factories brandishing “No Conquest Without Labor”. After much preparation, an impressively outfitted, portly general slowly makes his way to the button that fires the main cannon. The day’s hits and damage statistics are read off to the citizens at the end of the day. After drawing himself as a war general, the boy asks his father who they’re fighting, only to hear “You’ll understand when you’re older” in response.
This was the shortest of the trio, as well as the most stylistically daring. I loved the muted, washed out color palette and sketchy details, but really disliked the character design. The tale itself was sparser than the others, and less engaging. I liked it, but not as much as the first two. As a statement on extremism it felt a little empty, but it was still an interesting short with great animation. It also has a really cute segment of the boy’s doodle coming to life.