In memory of Satoshi Kon, The FAM presents Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories (1995), specifically the first episode of three entitled Metallic Rose, directed by Koji Morimoto and written by the late Mr. Kon. Metallic Rose tells the story of a space-faring salvage team who respond to a distress signal (in the form of a recording of Puccinni’s opera Madame Butterfly) emanating from a giant space station in a particularly dangerous area of the galaxy known as Area RZ-3005 or Sargasso. The ship’s two engineers, Heintz and Miguel, are deployed to investigate. Inside they find an opulent, rococo interior and a woman claiming to be an opera singer named Eva Friedal.
The true nature of Eva is something I won’t spoil, but it is safe to say that she is not exactly who she appears to be. Magnetic Rose then, in sci-fi shorthand, is a mash-up of the used, dingy, space-trucker aesthetics of Alien and the psychological mindfuckery of Solaris; and it succeeds admirably. And while it was based on a story by Otomo, it contains many of the themes that would define Kon’s work: the interest in the protagonist’s mental state and subjective reality. Two years later he would go on to write and direct his first feature film, Perfect Blue, and a brilliant career; but the seeds were sown here in the span of 40 minutes. If only that career could have lasted a little longer.