I’m going to look back on this year, and wonder what the hell was I doing? Well, my version of back to back, which consists of being a week apart, while interspersed with episodes of Supernatural, and Star Trek Discovery. To get it out of the way, I greatly enjoyed all of these, although for Gyo: Fish Attack, enjoyed is maybe too strong a word. (It was very horrifying though, and I guess that was some of the point.)
Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack
This movie is every bit as horrific as it sounds, and not just because of the fish attack. Its an incredible body horror film from the Japanese manga writer Junji Ito, the writer of Uzumaki (Spiral). Don’t be fooled by the trailer. This isn’t any of the usual titty bouncing inanity that one sometimes sees in anime. It’s based on a manga by Junji Ito, so there’s going to be some serious sub themes bubbling just near the surface, even if the idea of mechanical fish attacking people seems silly, at first.
A young woman, Kaori, and her two girlfriends, Aki, and Erika, encounter a horrible smell on their way to a country cabin, for the weekend. The young lady’s fiance, whom they were supposed to meet, doesn’t show, but they do get attacked by a giant shark, on mechanical legs, that infects one of the girls, before its destroyed. What’s of importance in all this however, isn’t the actual fish attack, although that is pretty gruesome, but the relationships between the girls themselves. As they are being attacked, Aki, who is plump and kind of shy and plain looking, is trapped by the shark, and pleads for her “friend” Erika, to save her, but the other girl decides to coldly kick her in the face, saving herself. Later, the situation is reversed, after Erika discovers she is not just infected with the stink of dead fish, but her body is bloating, and she dying/not dying from the infection. She pleads with Aki for help, but Aki refuses, and the ugly truth of their relationship comes out.
See, after the shark attack, Kaori, deeply worried, left to find her fiance in the city, leaving her two friends alone. Erika then invites a couple of male friends over, to whom she dispenses her charms, while Aki, more than a little jealous, sits downstairs, listening to their indiscreet threesome. Later, when Erika’s infection begins to manifest, she pleads for help, but is rebuked, and even kicked, by Aki, who resents her for being more popular, pretty, or sexually active. Neither of them can save the other, after they have a knock-down, drag out fight, which ends with one near dead, and the other possibly infected.
Eventually, Aki makes her way to the city, where she encounters the now partially dead, bloated, mechanical body of the other girl, Erika has become like the dead mech-fish, and some dark impulse makes her chase Aki, But Aki, after turning to gloat to her pursuer about her getaway, meets a gruesome fate of her own, while again pleading for the other girl to save her, and one is given the distinct impression that none of this would have happened, had the two of them been less petty, stupid, and selfish people.
Kaori searches for her fiance, as the city of Tokyo is invaded by the dead fish, and she discovers the horrible truth, that her fiance, and his uncle, are the ones who caused the plague of fish, which gets worse, as not only is her fiance infected, but is eventually killed for not acting like a proper member of the fish hive mind. The fish attack results in hundreds of people being infected, their bodies bloating, as they spew more of the gaseous stink, which becomes so pungent, it starts to take on a life of its own, forming corporeal tentacles, which start gathering up human bodies, whether dead or alive, and amassing them into giant mechanical monsters.
This was a somewhat harrowing film to watch, and no, it doesn’t end happily for humanity, as the fish are all over the world, and the message seems to be that not only did humanity’s inability to give up on war, cruelty and malice, cause this problem, but that it deserves it. The other message is that humanity cannot save itself, because it can’t unite long enough to fight against its own destruction, too concerned with petty squabbles and resentments. This is shown in one moment where we see three teenagers safely watching the fish attack the rest of the city, from a balcony, but instead of being frightened, or running away, they decide to film the massive destruction, and loss of life, with their phones. They don’t care, as it is all just meaningless spectacle for them.
Kaori ends up the sole survivor of Tokyo, which makes sense, as she was the only person who behaved selflessly throughout the entire ordeal. She saved her injured friends, at the cabin, and she repeatedly worked to save the lives of not just her fiance, but countless others around her, only to fail because the people she was trying to save, suffered from personal weaknesses that got them infected or killed. For her fiance and his uncle, their sin was their hubris in thinking they could improve on nature, without taking into account the exploitative nature of mankind.
We never learn anything about what the dead fish want, so its like zombies, really. The plague is used as a vehicle through which to illustrate that mankind is unworthy. The body horror elements are suitably gruesome, and there’s a certain amount of pathos at the end, but enjoyable isn’t actually the word I would use. I had to make a certain amount of effort to watch this, because it was hard to find for free, but it was worth it.
Kakurenbo is only about twenty five minute long, but its a very gorgeous twenty five minutes. I didn’t entirely understand all of it, even though I had some of it explained to me, when it was recommended to me as a Horror short by Youtube, and it is a very effective thriller, with some great Action scenes.
Here, seven children, (the rules state there must be seven), play a city wide game of hide and seek, late at night, in a darkened Tokyo, not understanding that the game isn’t just being played with each other, but with the massive, mech-organic, demons that are seeking them. This is very much worth watching, and the entire thing is readily available on Youtube.
Triplets of Bellville (2003)
I saw this animation sometime around the year it came out, because everyone was talking about it, at the time, so its not new for me, but you know, I forgot that I’d seen it! I didn’t forget that I’d SEEN it, just that I’d watched this, until it was recommended to me, a few days ago, then I went, “Oh yeah!”, I remember that! I loved that movie!
You ever come across a movie you simply hadn’t thought of in years, even though you fell in love with it, when you saw it that first time? Mostly though, I was reminded again by the title song, which showed up in my recommendations, in which these three little old ladies bop their way through the song, while jamming in an alley with one of the lead characters.
The movie is about a young bicyclist, who gets kidnapped, his doting mother who goes in search of him, with her old, plump, loyal hound. Along the way, she meets the triplets of the title, and they all devise a grand scheme to get her son back from his kidnappers. None of the characters are named, and there is almost no dialogue, but there are a number of great set pieces, lots of doggy dreams and interactions, (no really, we spend a lot of time with the dog, as he barks at trains, dreams about traveling, etc. and its really cute!), and the characters are all very charming, and beautifully, if grotesquely drawn, because French artists have always had this aesthetic where they find ugly things, pretty.
The Box Assassin (2020)
I loved this little movie from the moment I saw the title, but nothing in the title prepared for how great this is. This is one of the funniest shorts on YouTube. I was not expecting what I got, that’s for sure. The title charmed me from the jump, as I thought ,”What the hell is a Box Assassin”? Somebody who kills boxes? I was picturing someone who breaks down boxes in a grocery store! An assassin who lives in a moving crate?
Even though its less than 3 minutes long, I kept trying to predict what was going to happen in it, based on my long history of knowing what happens in Action movies, and I was wrong every time. What’s more, it All turned out to be pretty wholesome.
I would pay money to see a feature length version of this.
Here are a few more animations that captured my attention this month. Some of them scary, some deeply funny, but all of them are really good.
Introducing this cheeky little doggo, who goes as far as he can just to get some crisps…fgs just give the little feller some chips!
This is exactly my sort of humor, because this whole thing just had me crying…no really, I was in tears!
And finally, this is Fat Animal Farm…
(I am currently on holiday, but I’ll be back Monday!)