Memories Episode 1: Magnetic Rose Review

Plot: The Corona is a ‘garbage’ ship in the outreaches of space. The captain, Ivanov, is about to head home when Aoshima, their tech specialist, notices an SOS signal. They don’t want to investigate, but fear the repercussions for ignoring a distress call, so they decide to give it a quick check. Ivanov sends his two engineers, Heintz, a serious worker and family man, and Miguel, a goofy womanizer, to explore the odd cluster of debris where the signal is originating only to be astounded when the inside is revealed to be a magnificent mansion where holograms, hallucinations and fake décor are peppered throughout. Who is sending the SOS, and is it really a call of distress?

Breakdown: Memories is actually an anthology film, but I felt it better to review each section on their own.

This project has a lot of talent attached to it. It was produced and based on a manga written by Katsuhiro Otomo, most famous for writing and directing Akira, as well as directing Steamboy and doing the screenwriting for Metropolis,. There’s also, of course, the marvelous Satoshi Kon, creator of works such as Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers and Paranoia Agent.

The talent is definitely reflected here, because the film is off to a strong start with this episode.

It’s a haunting and intriguing tale from start to finish. The characters’ memories and even Eva’s, the lady of the ‘house,’ are manipulated, used and warped to suit Eva and seemingly the station’s desires.

The movie does a good job of connecting you with the characters from the getgo, allowing the film to be filled with tension and be immersive. There are also several aspects of mystery along the way – not just with Eva, but also with Heintz. A particular revelation with him was heartbreaking when I realized it was a real memory and not a manipulation.

The art and animation are fantastic….barring the CGI, which hasn’t aged well. It stands up well against other 1995 CGI, but by today’s standards it’s downright ugly sometimes. Luckily, it’s not very prominent throughout the episode. Only the shots of the station itself and some action shots are noticeably CGI.

The music is beautiful and very impacting. I particularly enjoyed the song at the very end. Yoko Kanno did the music for this segment, so the quality is no surprise.

Overall, this episode is wonderful and a great start to the movie. However, I am a bit wary of the other two entries as they’ve been noted as being much weaker than Magnetic Rose. Hm.

Additional Information and Notes: Memories Episode 1 – Magnetic Rose was directed by Koji Morimoto, who also directed the Beyond segment of The Animatrix and did animation work on Akira. He also co-founded Studio 4°C – the company that produced Memories. The screenplay was written by Satoshi Kon.

The entirety of Memories was based on a manga by Katsuhiro Otomo.

Runtime: 1 Hour, 53 minutes

Year: 1995

Recommended Audience: There’s one fly-by shot of naked breasts via a photo Miguel has, but it’s literally on screen for about a second. Other than that, there’s some corpses and skeletons lying around and a kid is shown to semi-graphically die from a fall. 10+


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Episode One-Derland: Terror in Resonance

Plot: Nine and Twelve are two teenagers who survived a mysterious incident as children. In the fire and chaos, they managed to escape and live their lives independently.

Today, they appear to be domestic terrorists attacking Japan while posing as high school students. While they’re carrying out their latest attack, Twelve, in an effort to get Nine to overcome a past trauma, puts the life of their classmate, Lisa, on the line. He can either let her be another casualty or try to save her life. Likewise, Nine gives Lisa a choice – die where she stands or become an accomplice.

Breakdown:

Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe with music by Yoko Kanno?

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Ahhhhhhhh, I’m just joshin’ ya……..Okay, not really. It’s going to get that verdict. Just scroll a tad. But I’m not the type of person to fangirl over directors or composers….usually.

Terror in Resonance doesn’t give a lot of information off the bat. All we know is that Nine and Twelve escaped from some facility when they were kids with some other children. Nine watched some kid fall behind him and get murdered, which traumatized him.

Today, they appear to be domestic terrorists, but I doubt it’s that simple. Their first viewed act of crime is stealing something from a nuclear repurposing facility. Six months later, they’re posing as normal teenagers in a high school and planning a multi-bomb assault on a huge building.

We don’t know why they’re doing these things, due to this series being a thriller, but it’s an interesting concept.

The role of Lisa could be interpreted as someone just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She’s initially helped out by Twelve when she’s being bullied by some bitches, but he later decides to reel her into their plot one way or another to help Nine resolve his childhood trauma. Twelve believes if Nine chooses to save her, he’ll stop having nightmares because it’s his guilt from being unable to save the other children from their escape that keeps him up at night.

It’s obviously an odd form of therapy considering they’re the ones planting the bombs in the first place, but I can see where he’s coming from. In this instance, Twelve is particularly intriguing because he bounces back and forth between his goofy nonchalant self and a clearly more sinister personality.

Back to Lisa, she spends much of the episode hiding in the bathroom and dodging texts from her mother, of which I can’t read. In addition to finding the restroom as a hiding place from the bullies, she also seems to have stomach problems. She flushes her lunch down the toilet and nearly throws up several times. I might say she has bulimia, but she doesn’t seem to be triggering her regurgitation on purpose.

Lisa just happens to be in the building that Nine and Twelve target, and the rest is history.

Despite the fact that she seems to be incredibly depressed, perhaps to the point of physical illness, she chooses life over death, even if it means that she’s an accomplice to the crime.

This episode does a great job at setting the stage for the rest of the story. While I will admit that we don’t learn much about these characters or the backstory of this whole situation yet, I don’t believe we’re meant to do so, given the genre.

The art and animation is gorgeous…..except the people. Their bodies are designed just fine, it’s the faces and hair that put me off a little. Some of their features seem either scrunched or stretched too much, and this series has an annoying quirk I liked to call ‘hooky mouth.’ No matter what angle the characters are looking in, their mouths are always curved to a slight hook. This is merely a pet peeve, but it’s still there.

While we’re on the subject of animation, it is downright amazing, and just to fangirl a little, some of the choices in direction are simply mind blowing. That scene on the snowmobile during their escape was one of the best action scenes I’ve ever watched. It sucks you into the scene in an instant and brings you along for a great ride.

I don’t believe I even need to mention that the music is great. I’ll admit that nothing’s jumping out at me as a song that I can’t live without, but it’s still wonderful. Yoko Kanno’s style always has a very dreamy feel to it that I just love.

As for the voice acting, I watched the English version on Funimation’s website…..and…it’s okay. No one’s voice is annoying, but Christopher Bevins plays Nine in a very boring and monotone fashion. I can’t say if that’s the way he’s meant to be conveyed, though it very well might be because Nine is the stoic dark bad boy to contrast Twelve’s goof-ball nature, but it comes off poorly.

This episode also solidified that I am no longer a fan of Aaron Dismuke. I feel like an ass for saying that because I loved him as Al in FMA, and puberty is a massive bitch to young voice actors, but it’s just how I feel. Still 100% respect him, though.

He definitely still has his acting chops, but his voice is, for lack of a better term, weird to me. Not annoying – just weird. And I didn’t make any snap judgments going in – I had no clue who was voicing whom until I watched the end credits. I thought him sounding weird in FMA:B was just him trying to adapt to voice acting with his older voice, but it’s been a few years now and it still sounds off to me.

Verdict:

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It looks like this will be a great thrill ride, and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the story is heading.

Edit: I have now completed and reviewed the series. This post will be updated when the review is posted.


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