by John Quigley
It might be Olympic fever, but I’m watching a lot of Anime at the moment, and enjoying it deeply. I’m a huge fan of B-Movies, so when I heard Terror-cotta were releasing a film about mutant seafood with android body parts, I just knew I had to see it. And boy, was I in for a treat.
GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack! Is the new film from the mind of manga horror auteur Junji Ito, and is directed by Takayuki Hirao who is known throughout Japan for his bloody, gruesome and very stylish OVAs (Original Video Animations).
The plot centres around Kaori who is visiting Okinawa and its beautiful beaches as part of her Graduation celebrations with friends, when she find herself caught in the middle of a land invasion by bizarre and aggressive fish, which scuttle on land with sharp metal legs. Things are about to get much worse for Kaori as she finds that the deadly fish are spreading from the island and onto the mainland.
The box bills this film as “the most insane anime to come out of Japan since Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend” and, whilst I don’t necessarily agree with that statement, I do think this is a very surreal, effective and terrifying film, and one which I am unlikely to forget any time soon. For me, the horror and disgusting nature of the film felt necessary without being over-indulgent. By that, I mean I don’t think it revelled in its violence and body horror (of which there is plenty) unlike say, something like Afro Samurai or Ninja Scroll.
For a film with a relatively small budget, I thought the music, voice acting and script were all carried out with precision and care, which is more than you can say for a lot of OVAs these days.
Gyo is a well known Manga story in Japan, and after recalling the time I read it, I can confirm that it is very faithful to its source, perfectly capturing the artwork and dialogue in the Manga. The animation is somewhat limited, as with most anime, though it’s nothing too bothersome and is a lot better than some things I’ve seen. I think for most people it will be perfectly acceptable, as long as they’re not expecting Akira. Occasionally, there are some elements in the frame which are slightly distracting, like mismatched textures, colours and scenery, but again, it’s nothing that is going to ruin your day.
The film had a darker tone than I was expecting, and the existentialist tone Hirao brought to the production profoundly affected me and got me thinking for hours after I watched it. I really enjoyed it, it was completely different to what I was expecting after seeing the DVD art, but it was a pleasant surprise and I will certainly be watching it again (just not after eating.)