Review: Fish Story (フィッシュストーリー)

The song that saved the world…

Rating: ★★★★★

In short: Fish Story will take you on a wild, improbable ride in which you cannot help but smile once throughout. It is a film that rewards multiple viewings as it will leave you thinking and wishing to watch it again almost immediately. Inspired acting and an incredibly well put together set of events leads to a movie that definitely should be seen. My favorite film of 2009 so far.

If you haven’t seen Fish Story yet, you may want to stop reading this review after this paragraph. There aren’t spoilers in my review, but it is one of those movies that is best viewed with no preconceived ideas about the plot. Watch the film and enjoy the twists and turns that the story takes. It is a ride that most will undoubtedly enjoy.

Fish Story is about a punk band named Gekirin that recorded a single called “Fish Story” in 1975, a year before the Sex Pistols popularized punk music. Despite knowing that their music won’t sell, Gekirin and their supportive producer decide to record this song knowing that one day it will impact the life of at least one person. The film jumps around different time periods ranging from 1975 to 2012, where a meteor is on a collision course for Earth. Going through the movie, the viewer is shown different stories without knowing what is going on or how they factor in to the main narrative.

Each part of the film is captivating, despite the fact that we don’t really know what is going on in the film as a whole. Every new story reveals a piece to the puzzle and when they all come together at the end you’ll feel like jumping up, running outside, and telling everyone that they NEED to watch Fish Story. Then you’ll want to watch it again. This movie has one of the most satisfying endings that I have ever experienced.

The cast is great. Acting is solid, but no award-winning performances.  Omori Nao, who played the producer that discovered Gekirin as well as a music shop owner whose store is open despite the pending destruction of Earth, was particularly good. I also thought Kora Kengo, playing Gekirin’s singer, and Moriyama Mirai, playing a guy trained since birth to be a “champion of justice” (his action sequences were really cool) stood out. Based on a novel by Isaka Kotaro and adapted by Hayashi Tamio, Fish Story has a great script. Also, the cinematography is good (though certainly not groundbreaking) as well as the directing. Music is great, especially the song “Fish Story” which was written specially for the film.

There aren’t many faults with Fish Story other than that it was a little bit draggy in some spots. Also, some may not enjoy the girl’s (Tabe Mikako) overenthusiastic acting but I found that it fit her character. The film was just under two hours, but length was not a problem.

Fish Story jumps around to different genre’s (thriller, martial arts action, comedy, music documentary, etc) which keeps the movie incredibly engaging, constantly changing up the pace. During my second viewing, I couldn’t help but think that I would enjoy watching a film that just took any one of the multiple stories presented and made it feature-length. All of them are that interesting. Having each individual story in the span of a single film, though, is what helps make Fish Story a magical experience. From beginning to end, you will be engaged and entertained. I advise everyone to see Fish Story.


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