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Fantastic Fest Review: FISH STORY

James Wallace

by: James Wallace
September 26th, 2009


Rating: 8/10

Writers: Tamio Hayashi
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Cast: Gaku Hamada, Atsushi Itô, Kengo Kora, Mirai Moriyama, Nao Omori, Mikako Tabe
Studio: Amuse Soft Entertainment/Dub

Can one song change the world? Music and, moreover, art in general, is a powerful tool that has influenced and encouraged people to achieve amazing feats. But did The Beatles ever stop a comet from destroying Earth? Nay. However, the Japanese punk band Gekirin has. And that is where FISH STORY begins.

The film explores multiple character pieces, seemingly unconnected. In the 1975, Gekirin, predecessors to the punk pioneers Sex Pistols, write one great song and fade into obscurity. In 2012, a record store owner, a young patron, and a pompous rich man discuss the impending end of the world as an unstoppable comet hurdles towards Earth. In the 1990s, a college student faces his fears and becomes the man foretold he will be by a young psychic girl. In early 2000, a "champion of justice" thwarts a hostage situation when terrorists, attempting to create a new ark, hijack a ferry boat.

Well, the stories only appear to be unconnected! That is, until the very end of the film when, in a moment of black and white cinematic beauty, they are all sewn together to reveal that one song can in fact change the world and that one minuscule event can cause a chain reaction that echoes through into eternity. And they say that punk is dead. In FISH STORY, punk keeps us all alive.

Read on for more.

The film is a wonderful look at what happens if you fulfill your destiny, and the chances you must take to get there. That is, if you even believe in destiny. Maybe you see the world as random chance encounters, all acting in a undetermined cause/effect relationship. Whatever your philosophy may be, FISH STORY is a film that explores people at their best and the explosive power this carries in the world. It does so, not in a heavy CRASH-like way, but through light-hearted, self-aware methods. ARMAGEDDON and KARATE KID references abound, FISH STORY is a film that achieves its message without shoving it down your throat.

It is obscure films like this that make film festivals worth while. Like the oh-so-catchy single "Fish Story" itself, I may have never been exposed to it had I not been open to checking out something unknown. I can now say that I am very pleased I did, and hope you too will one day get to see the story of Gekirin, the astronaut, the boy who could, the record store owner, and the champion of justice. Like punk music itself, FISH STORY has something to say and I think you should hear it.

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