As the introduction by the writer and artist of Akira notes, this is his eighth collection of his shorter work, but the only one available so far in the west (and even now it sadly seems to be out-of-print). It's an eclectic collection, most of the stories having a science-fiction theme, but within that the tone and quality of the work varies widely. The imagery, the exciting dynamic layouts and many of the themes are however instantly recognisable as the work of one of the best contemporary Japanese manga artists.
Like his most famous work in Akira, but also elsewhere in his film and anime work, there is very much a celebration of anti-establishment sentiments - often personified in the form of long-haired hippy characters, whose very existence alone seems to threaten disorder and rebellion. Often the characters battle against mere machines, sentinels sent out to maintain order - again looking very much like the work in Akira. But the rebelliousness can also be in the very irreverence of the stories themselves, such as in the parody of The Old Man and the Sea, in the knockabout slacker version of the Knights of the Round Table, and in an couple of extended episodes of wars between alien sushi.
Much more successful however is the more famous title story, Memories - itself adapted brilliantly to anime and by far the most accomplished work in the collection - but the Moebius influenced Flower and A Farewell To Weapons are also strong examples of Otomo's work. The longest piece in the collection, Fireball, is also of great interest, looking very much like a prototype for Akira, but rather weaker and unfinished in narrative terms, the artist merely exploring ideas at this stage.
An uneven collection then, but certainly with some moments of brilliance. Each of the stories comes with a short introduction by the author - and the main stories Memories, Flower and A Farewell To Weapons are partially coloured by Otomo, with additional computer colouring for the western edition by Steve Oliff.Read more ›