PEOPLE: Part 1 is written by renowned master animator Satoshi Kon — but NOT animated by him! (What a twist!) That is how we came to watch this film; his 2010 death prompted us to watch everything with his name on it, since we loved Perfect Blue so much.
The three sequences (this is a collection of 3 30-to-40-minute ‘shorts’) are directed by Koji Morimoto (animator; director of of 1 Animatrix segment; producer of .hack//Roots), Tensai Okamura (animator:Cowboy Bebop the movie, 2 eps of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost In The Shell), and Katsuhiro Otomo (director:Steamboy; writer:Akira, Metropolis, Steamboy). Well-known Japanese voice actors were used for many of the parts in this movie, but I won’t go into too much detail there.
Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): It’s like Ghost Ship mixed with Planetes, but without the science, politics, or smoking chambers. And maybe with a sprinkle of Firefly and The Matrix.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): A man unwittingly becomes a living biological weapon, killing everyone around him.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): A militarized society seemingly revolves around the act of firing cannons at the enemy. But does this enemy even really exist?
UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARIES (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]→
Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): Garbagemen left to die in space (one exploded, one left drifting alive with limited oxygen).
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): World’s luckiest and most clueless man kills hundreds, humiliates military.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): Communism’s inefficiencies fail to protect children from night raids.
QUIRKS: Three different anime stories with three different looks and feels.
VISUALS: Three different styles. Part 1 is in space, and just looks like mostly generic anime. That is to say, better than American animation coming out at the same time. Part 2 is on earth, and has interesting painting-like backgrounds… A concept quite familiar to Samurai Jack fans. Part 3 reminds me a lot of Rene Laloux‘s unique animation style. Everybody is green and a bit inhuman looking. Plus, they used a really interesting English font, where certain letters also look a lot like runes. It’s just different enough to slow you down reading it, but just same enough to still be readable. Nice touch.
Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): Beware of mind tricks.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): Try not to be as stupid as this guy. Get a clue.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): Communism sucks.
Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): None.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): The military-industrial complex engages in all kinds of idiotic behavior. Created to protect us, they make even more money if they endanger us. We should not trust them to work in our best interest. This is why forces like Wikileaks need to exist.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): Communism sucks. (Actually, I think every system can be run in a completely inefficient way, and a better political moral would be that authoritarianism sucks. Communism gets lots of bad rap for the fact that its leaders tend to be brutal authoritarians. However, Part 3 is most squarely aimed at communism and not authoritarianism, so this critique is more about anti-communism sentiment than Part 3 itself.) Also: The threat of war is often manufactured to be worse than it is. See also: 1984 and American Foreign Policy (especially 2000-2010).
Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): Very creepy and suspenseful, until the mind-tricks start. Space garbage collectors, like in Planetes, end up getting into a Ghost Ship level creepiness. Salvaging inside of an EPICly large spaceship combines claustrophobia and agoraphobia into one giant fearfest. But then, it stops being as good by the end.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): Very funny to watch a military humiliate itself so badly.
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): This part actually isn’t nearly as good. The best thing about it is simultaneously the worst thing about it: Longest canon-launching scene EVER in any movie EVER. But it’s a commentary on communism, so people, especially in Asia, should understand this. The cannon is red; could it be any more obvious?
Part 1 (Magnetic Rose): The ending isn’t nearly as good as the beginning.
Part 2 (Stink Bomb): After all that, the only way he is saved is by [highlight for spoilers]→ Marines wearing Nasa suits? THAT’S how you win? But wait! It’s the guy! WTF! D-d-dumbass. And he’s STILL clueless?!?! . This guy has to be one of the stupidest people in existence (yes, even fictional existence!) That ending is a bit of a cop-out.
Parts 2 & 3: What did these have to do with memories, anyway?!?!?
Part 3 (Cannon Fodder): Longest and most boring cannon sequence in any movie EVER. And the ending is kind of a cop-out. Much like part 2, it’s a twist one way, and then a twist back to where you think it’s going, to create a sort of “fake twist” cop-out ending. Two twists that cancel each other out. [highlight for spoilers]→ Oh look! It turns out there’s no enemy! But oh look #2! It turns out there IS actually an enemy! And communism didn’t save its own citizens from it!
CONCLUSIONS: Even though I didn’t like them individually as much as I had hoped, I really liked the offering of several miscellaneous animated treats that were all interesting.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 7.6/10, Netflix: 3.6/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.5/5 stars–the exact average of our two ratings, as well as the exact average of the 3 ratings I gave individually. However, I actually scored the movie as a whole at 4/5 stars; greater than the sum of its parts).
RECOMMENDATION: Anime-lovers should definitely check this out, what with Satoshi Kon‘s name being on it.
SIMILAR MOVIES: Part 1 reminded me of Planetes meets Ghost Ship!
FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Tripp loved it.
Music: Atari Teenage Riot – No Remorse (live)