“Memories”: Japanese skepticism and ferocity to the power of three


Under the title of Memories, it is an unknown film, and yet a jewel of world animation which finally arrives in French cinemas, twenty-seven years after its realization and the long purgatory of its video exploitation. Coming from the boom experienced in Japan by animation for adults between the end of 1980 and the beginning of 2000, which was its golden age, we will not be surprised to find a virtuoso of the genre in charge: Katsuhiro Otomo. A genius draftsman, he is the author of the cult manga Akira (1982-1990). In 1995, fresh off the halo of the pharaonic film adaptation (1.1 billion yen budget, around 8 million euros, 150,000 celluloid drawings) which he had drawn from his own saga (Akira1988), he saw another of his graphic works brought to the screen, the collection of short stories Kanojo no Omoide (1990) – roughly “her own memories”.

The first segment, “Magnetic Rose”, signed Morimoto, consists of a space opera using the codes of the haunted house film

Memories logically takes the form of an anthology in three independent parts, of which Otomo only directs the last segment, entrusting the other two to young stars: Koji Morimoto and Tensai Okamura. All three have in common to be formidable science fiction stories, dark, ambitious, desperate with great evocative power. The first section, Magnetic Pink, signed Morimoto, consists of a space opera using the codes of the haunted house film. A crew of space garbage collectors receives an emergency call from a strange, dilapidated station, which turns it into the megalomaniacal space tomb of a singer from the distant beginning of the 21st century.e century, holographic reproduction of an old baroque palace. The two explorers dispatched to the scene sink without knowing it into the maze of his sick brain, maintained by a computer gone mad.

With remarkable dramatic economy (the screenplay is written by another budding genius, Satoshi Kon (1963-2010), future author of Perfect Blue and Paprika), carried throughout by a bewitching score by Yoko Kanno mixing several opera arias (including the Madame Butterfly of Puccini in majesty), Magnetic Pink finds in the cosmos a reflection of the limits of the human spirit, these abysses where petrified memories diffuse a deadly essence. The prodigious way in which the film switches from reality to a purely mental space is fascinating – especially when the rapper of the singer interferes in the unconscious of the characters, as if to poison it. By making science fiction a dizzying journey inside a soul, Morimoto simultaneously probes universal pain. A masterstroke of barely forty-five minutes.

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“Memories”: Japanese skepticism and ferocity to the power of three

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