Both the director and writer behind Fish Story bring another topsy-turvy tale that will have you guessing till the thrilling climax! Moving into his new apartment in Sendai, college student Shiina meets his new neighbour Kawasaki. Tall, confident Kawasaki and short, mild-mannered Shiina seem to be unlikely candidates for friendship, but they click over a mutual interest in Bob Dylan. Kawasaki is an odd duck, but in an irresistibly cool and charming kind of way, and Shiina can’t help but be drawn into his more exciting, if slightly loony world. Kawasaki’s head is full of unpredictable ideas, like his absurd warnings about pet shop owner Reiko or his even more absurd plan to steal a dictionary for their Butanese neighbor. Next thing Shiina knows, he’s standing watch with a toy gun outside the book store, on the beginning of their bizarre, existential adventure.
This is a small gem that is no doubt doomed to obscurity because its a small little film with out explosions, monsters or an armful of awards. In all honesty I only found out about the film because Third Window Films is finally giving this film the proper release it deserves. I can say there is murder, revenge, kidnapping, a love triangle, and more but there is a massive twist in this film that prevents me from really diving into the meat and potatoes of this film. As one of the characters says “You’ve come into a story that’s not your own”, and its true as our hero tries to make sense of all that’s going on around him. I’d really like to explain whats happens except that doing so would remove some of the layers of the film. Normally that might be okay, except that in this film the story replays events several times as we and our hero learns things. If I tell you what things mean then I’ll have stripped away some of the layers and that isn’t fair. Things like in life are not always what we took them to be on face value. I know its not fair, but thats life and this film.
Just as Fish Story, the film also contains a mystery that makes us curious. In this film, we are placed in a position similar to the position of Shiina, the person who brought the stories that actually have nothing to do at all with him. However, because of irregularities in the stories, the mystery presented in this film is quite intriguing, though curiosity here is not the passionate curiosity as when watching movies such as mystery, like the film Mother, where the mystery intrigued me abis-abisan and feeling tense throughout the movie. This movie does not give that kind of curiosity, and does not give rise to feelings of tension, but we still want to know about what actually happened.
Kawasaki is an odd duck, but in an irresistibly cool and charming kind of way, and Shiina can’t help but be drawn into his more exciting, if slightly loony world. Kawasaki’s head is full of unpredictable ideas, like his absurd warnings about pet shop owner Reiko (Nene Otsuka from I Wish) or his even more absurd plan to steal a dictionary for their Bhutanese neighbor. Beyond the element of mystery, the film also contains some social critique. And in its own way, this film managed to make me feel touched and impressed. Overall, I really liked this movie.