Kaori, Erika and Aki are three friends who have taken a vacation together, staying in a house by the sea. Early on they notice an awful smell, and are freaked out by a weird scuttling creature in the house.
The next day, they are attacked by a shark. Whilst at home.
The shark, you see, has sharp metal legs. It crashes around the house, injuring Erika. It seems that fish (amongst a myriad of other sea creatures) have somehow developed these legs, and are attacking Japan. What starts as a small isolated incident quickly escalates into a national emergency as thousands, if not millions, of fish, sharks, even whales make their way onto land.
Kaori travels to Tokyo, in an attempt to find her beloved, while Erika and Aki stay at the holiday home.
The characters are basically riffs on the standard horror victims, although the relationship between Erika and Aki develops in a darker way than I would have perhaps expected, and the film manages to avoid some of the tired cliches.
The animation is great, with what seems to be a mixture of basic cell animation (or a digital version thereof) and some more CGI heavy moments. It’s clear, good looking and has a great sense of scale at times.
Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack repeats many of the themes apparent in Japanese ‘creature features’ since Godzilla. Themes which are perhaps more relevant now than for many years. Monsters, death and destruction climbing out from the ocean. There are many scenes from high above, where the thousands of creatures look like a flood filling the streets, reminiscent of footage from the recent tsunami.
The potential for bad science (Which is even traced back to WWII, the same age as the atomic weapons that bred Godzilla) is also touched on.
The sense of danger, panic and emergency is tangible, and it is perhaps this that lifts the film from being a basic monster film. There does seem to be more going on in Japan than just the story we’re following with our protagonists.
The monstrous here, though, is the ease with which the humans are reverted to simple machines – moving, attacking, excreting. What makes it disgusting is the focus on bodily gas, orifices and so on, while the soul and mind of humans seems so casually discarded.
Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack is inventive, disturbing and thoroughly entertaining.
Trailers, a couple of features on the Terracotta Film Festival, an interview.