Tonight, we will be watching a series of three short movies, collectively known as Memories. The three short movies are Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder. Katsuhiro Otomo, better known for creating Akira, directed Cannon Fodder. Memories was released in 1995.
A variety of artists worked on the soundtrack for the movie. The music for Magnetic Rose is composed by Yoko Kanno (Escaflowne, Cowboy Bebop, Macross Plus). Jun Miyake composed the pieces for Stink Bomb. Hiroyuki Nagashima did the tracks for Cannon Fodder. Takkyu Ishino composed the end credit music.
Magnetic Rose begins with a garbage-collecting vessel receiving an SOS signal from a rose-shaped ship. Miguel and Heintz board the ship and investigate the source of the SOS signal and the reason for it. Once inside the ship, they unravel the past of the famous opera singer, Ms. Eva Friedel, while at the same time try to hold on to their sanity and fight off her illusions and memories.
Stink Bomb is centered on this medicine lab worker named Nobuo Tanaka. It's cold season and he's taken just about every medicine possible in order to recover from his cold and fever. A co-worker tells him to try some of the red pills in the blue case inside the boss's office, and the fun begins from there. Watch for all sorts of flowers in bloom and the shady Westerners.
For the rest of the article, John will be talking about the third part, Cannon Fodder.
The first time I saw Memories was during my sophomore year. Of the three, I loved Stink Bomb the most, was in awe of Magnetic Rose, and was just downright disappointed by Cannon Fodder, the concluding short story. I thought, "Man, what's up with these character designs?" and, "What, did they just run out of money for the last part of the movie?" For whatever reason, I thought Cannon Fodder was the perfect name for that story.
Maybe I've matured since then, or maybe all those history classes I took for electives really taught me something, but after watching Memories with my roommate (in order to write this article), I felt like kicking myself in the head for initially dismissing Cannon Fodder. Be forewarned though, Cannon Fodder is probably one of the most different pieces of anime you'll ever see. You might not catch it the first time; if not, wait a couple of years before giving it another chance.
Cannon Fodder manages to say something much deeper than the first two stories. It's not a personal struggle with acceptance like Magnetic Rose, nor is it an encapsulated postscript of Roujin Z like Stink Bomb. Some would say that Cannon Fodder is an obvious portrait of the attitude governments took during the Cold War. Blindly accepting rumors (of other countries' military powers) as fact in order to justify one's own armament into the nuclear age. Day in, day out, preparing for the day when the enemy would strike. But if you take a second look, Cannon Fodder goes even deeper.
I was impressed at how much Otomo was able to say in this story, considering the time constraint. Before you can really analyze it, you need to ask a few questions. Do they actually know there is an enemy out there? Do they even care? Would I care? Then you can start to realize that the point of Cannon Fodder isn't just about the government or a cheap political statement. Rather, it's about life in general, the rituals we have, the routines we do, every day without a second thought. How many useless cannons do we fire each day? How many unseen enemies do we do battle with throughout our lives? How much do we deserve the title of Cannon Fodder.