I'm becoming a bit of a fan of Japanese cinema (well, at least the films that make it onto TV over here). I liked the ideas behind this one when it came up in the listings and so duly set it to record. Almost a week went by before I found a suitable time slot for a viewing and I have to say it was well worth the wait. It didn't make a whole lot of sense at first but by the end I found it a very satisfying watch. A word of warning for those few out there that still fear the subtitle... it's not dubbed. Here's a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
We begin in 2012 with a comet on a collision course with the Earth. In Japan, an old man finds two young men in a record shop checking out some tunes. The streets are deserted; everyone has gone to higher ground fearing the tsunami that will surely come when the comet makes contact... Just five hours to go. The young men start to listen to a rare Japanese punk record (made before the Sex Pistols if you can believe that) called 'Fish Story'. It has non-sensical lyrics but is strangely compelling. They speculate as to who might be able to save the world in the short time remaining. Little do they know, but the very record they are listening to was the inspiration for the chain of events that leads to salvation. What follows is a series of stories that seem unconnected, but are all related to the song. We even find out why there is one minute of silence part way through the song when we are shown how, and why the record was made. I think that should have intrigued you enough for now.
A very interesting filmmaking style with a series of stories telling the story in flashback. I must admit at first it didn't make a whole lot of sense, but it's worth sticking around because it does improve rapidly when we get to hear the story of how the song was recorded. I found this section of the film the most coherent and the most satisfying; you really cared about the band and what was happening to them. It doesn't really all come together until the very end, but its well worth waiting for. Yes, it does get a little bogged down in a few places where the narrative gets a little too convoluted, but I can forgive that for the pay-off at the end. One slight niggle (for me) was that the song, 'Fish Story', uses a riff that sounds an awful lot like 'New Rose' by The Dammed, circa 1976. Other than that, well worth a look!
SteelMonster's verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 8.2/10