Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa • Drama • With Joe Odagiri, Tatsuya Fuji, Tadanobu Asano • 2003 • 115 minutes
"Casts its spell by drawing out the horror of everyday existence bit by bit, and then tossing in some otherworldly weirdness that makes the hair on the back of your neck try to run for cover." —The New York Times
Kiyoshi Kurosawa, one of Japan’s most unique auteurs, builds a fascinatingly disorienting and quietly apocalyptic tale of alienated twenty- somethings in this haunting drama. This was Kurosawa’s first feature to be selected for the prestigious Cannes film festival and marked a departure from his previous famed J-horror masterpieces such as Pulse and Cure.
Enigmatic Mamoru (Tadanobu Asano) lives alone with his poisonous but hauntingly luminous jellyfish that stings anyone getting too close. Mamoru’s intense antisocial behavior is echoed by his co-worker and sole friend, Yuji (Jô Odagiri). They also share a dislike for their excessively solicitous boss, Fujiwara. However, and inextricably, Mamoru takes matters to the extreme, murdering both Fujiwara and his wife. With Mamoru in prison awaiting execution, Yuji is entrusted with the care of the lethal jellyfish, becoming attached to the strange creature while continuing with Mamoru’s previous efforts to acclimate the saltwater animal to thrive in freshwater. As the day for the creature’s transformation looms closer, Yuji befriends the doomed man’s father, Shin-ichiro, who bonds with Yuji and takes him under his wing. Just as Yuji’s life begins turning for the better, the jellyfish slips through his fingers into a nearby canal. There, it begins reproducing in massive numbers, menacing the entire city.