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Fish Story - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Fisshu sutr

Japan 2009

Mystery, Comedy, Drama

Yoshihiro Nakamura

Atsushi Ito
Kengo Kora
Mikako Tabe
Mirai Moriyama
Gaku Hamada
Nao Omori
Kiyohiko Shibukawa
Toshimitsu Okawa
Takashi Yamanaka
Kenjiro Ishimaru

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Fish Story

Story: It is the year 2012 and the world stands on the brink of disaster. A meteor is about to hit earth in only a few hours. Any attempts to blast it to pieces have failed. Japan is completely evacuated. Only an old man strolls the streets and finds two man in a record shop, who are, unimpressed by the upcoming catastrophe, listening to some music. When the shop owner (Nao Omori) digs out a record of a punk band with the name Gekirin and plays their song "Fish Story" he declares that this song will save the day.
The story of the punk band led by Shigeki (Atsushi Ito) and their singer Goro (Kengo Kora) in some way seems to have some connection to later years and the lives of the student Masashi (Gaku Hamada), who hears of a mysterious minute of silence in the song, and the schoolgirl Masami (Mikako Tabe), who falls asleep on a ship and therefore is still onboard when a sect is taking everyone hostage. The band Gekirin faces the fact that the world doesn't seem to be ready for their music yet, and therefore they record their last song "Fish Story", which is about to change the course of history.

Review: "Fish Story" is no story about a punk band of the 70s that soon vanished into thin air, but a complex and humorous conglomerate of several stories, that are woven together in a smart way. While the movie occasionally stands out with some flashes of genius in the beginning it cements its place as one of the best Japanese films of recents years with its resolution! At the same time the wacky story leaves enough space for down-to-earth comedy as well as some surprisingly well elaborated characters which, despite the short amount of time they are granted on screen, will instantly grow on you. The drama revolving around the punk band gains some depth especially towards the end. Eventually, "Fish Story" is a wonderfully written movie that is deeply touching and manages to put a smile on your face.

The cleverly devised story doesn't come from nowhere, in fact it is based on a novel by Kotaro Isaka. "Fish Story" starts with the impending end of the world and so we first believe to have been thrown into a science fiction film here. But that's not the case at all. We travel back in time and are told seemingly independent stories and after every single one of them we are thrown back into the year 2012 for a short time. However, there are constantly small connections we can make out, like the old guy in the record shop who is a prophet in one of the stories and predicts the apocalypse. But apart from that prophecies play a major role in general, that is because they link past, present and future. Until the last third of the movie you can't tell what role the song of the punk band plays in the whole story, though.

Why is there a one-minute break of silence in the song? And why is a baker trained by his father to be a champion of justice? Some of this might sound completely absurd, but nothing of it is ridiculous, except where it is supposed to be. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura ("A Boy and his Samurai") manages to present his movie as a coherent whole thanks to his reserved but very thought-out directing and yet you can easily distinguish the different time frames the stories take place. How much love for detail there actually has been put into the stories is also shown in the baker who, when he faces the hijackers of the ship, displays some extremely impressive martial arts skills, without them ever really feeling out of place. Additionaly, the movie naturally scores with its music, which will not only appeal to punk fans.

In "Fish Story" it is demonstrated that believing in yourself can actually change the world. The chain reaction, and how exactly the several stories are linked, only becomes clear when we follow the very short rise of the punk band. Here the fantastic cast also proves to be a special strength of the movie, because strangely enough especially this episode, the centerpiece so to speak, would have become rather lengthy without it. Eventually, the story becomes surprisingly profound and at the same time features some self-irony. The resolution is perfectly executed and you can almost hear the penny drop when all puzzle pieces come together at once. That the director doesn't refrain from recapping everything most likely and mainly serves the purpose to emotionally involve the viewer into the story once more.

"Fish Story" is a small film, almost an independent flick, but you can never tell by looking at it. The few special effects that are used are neat, the little martial arts sequence is very good and the story is simply fantastically told. This film just has its very own style and makes your heart jump with joy. At the end the story proves to extraordinarily rewarding and the grin that you inevitably will find on your face during the resolution is clear proof of that. "Fish Story" is simply a wonderful film, that sadly didn't get the promotion it deserves. Maybe the director, like the punk band in the movie, thought that his work won't sell anyway? However, you shouldn't underestimate the power of word-of-mouth advertising. I will contribute my part and recommend: Watch it!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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