Wednesday, May 25, 2005


A great little anime anthology from 1995. The first two, directed by Kôji Morimoto and Tensai Okamura respectively, are variations on classic sci-fi story archetypes. Magnetic Rose shows us what happens to a bunch of deep space dustmen that answer the siren-like call of a distress signal and Stink Bomb is an exuberant take on the bio-weapon breakout trope.

Katsuhiro Ôtomo (Akira etc.) delivers are more subtle, nostalgic animation, Cannon Fodder, in which he depicts a militarised future as it might have been imagined in the first half of the twentieth century - humans lead alienated lives in a vast mechanical metropolis at war, whose wan-looking citizens have howitzers on their rooves. Every day the biggest gun in town is prepped and fired by a general with an extravagant feathered helmet and long coat and the evening news reports on damages to the distant, unseen foe presumably living in a city beyond the wasteland that surrounds their own.

History seems to just find the right balance between technology and political culture to avoid any serious interruptions. What if the folks of 1914 had the technologies we have now?

While Magnetic Rose made me think of Alien and Ghost Ship, this last one has echoes of Brazil and Metropolis. All three of these animated manga shorts are in the tradition of Heavy Metal (Metal Hurlant) minus the adolescent masturbatory fantasy material.

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