Anime gets the monster disaster flick footage. Cue blood, guts, hand-drawn boobs and a hell of a lot of fish that are going to eat you alive like a flappy tsunami! Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack may be lean at 70 minutes, but it wastes no time descending into a chaotic grotesque disaster movie.
The disasters faced
Fish, stabbing feet, the smell of poo, fears of being eaten alive and becoming a bloated zombie and the awful truth that you’ll get a pipe stuck up your butt at some point during the movie.
Junji Ito’s disaster sci-fi anime takes a few everyday college girls and places them in an extraordinary situation when they see first-hand fish with legs rise from the sea and charge into town. Kaori wants to meet up with boyfriend Tadashi to escape the mess. Erika was busy getting it on as part of her sexual discovery and is now left reeling and alone. Aki meanwhile is a tad OCD when it comes to smells and given that these fish with legs are rotten to the core – that drives her insane.
At first, the fish they look like they’re just on a rampage but actually, they’re feeding and killing people to use as vessels. The dead human bodies then are taken over by the mechanical legs the fish had before and suddenly they are now eating others and vomiting them up all over the place. There’s an in-your-face mentality to the art style. Blood, guts and skin are abound but because it’s an anime you can take a lot of the surreal effects in and not be so disgusted by it all. There’s a strange beauty to it all and as the story continues and as things get desperate, the way things break down and how characters react is very interesting. Each character has to go up against their own personality issue in order to survive.
The film splits into two paths. Aki and Erika are trapped in the summer lodge whilst Kaori flies to Tokyo to find Tadashi. Here she meets Shirokawa, a journalist who agrees to help her out when their plane crash lands into a field of fish at the airport. Shirokawa thinks he may know the cause of the fish mutation and Tadashi’s uncle is at the centre of his questions.
Who will survive the fish attack and what caused it to happen in the first place?
Why is it worth watching?
At a tight 70 minutes, its action from start to finish and the attack begins literally five minutes in. The main character Kaori is likeable although her friends are utter tools so it’s quite good to watch them fall apart in a slightly sadistic way! The whole mystery behind the outbreak is a good one that gets answered to a point and Kaori’s search for her boyfriend Tadashi, whom we see attacked at the very beginning provides the emotional punch. The transformations of humans into monsters too is quite sad as we see how they slowly lose their human side and become monsters.
There is also the Aki/Erika counterpoint that runs throughout this movie. They hate each other and it is a friendship that is only skin deep. Seeing the seesaw of the two characters trying to feel superior to each other during an apocalyptic attack is weird yet entertaining.
I feel like Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack is a comment on society: specifically excess. Each character who has an excess or greed for something begins to fall foul to problems during this attack because of it. It could be greed, it could be vanity – but as the human characters devolve in the chaos you see their traits bare out as monsters. It is sadistically poetic but provides the emotional depth to such a fast-paced, gory and visceral film.
There is, of course, an environmental message behind it all which is not lost on any viewer. It is a little heavy-handed but well-meant – as are all the plot developments here. Lastly, and I’m trying to avoid spoilers here – we have a discussion of when does a monster not be thought of as a human anymore. It’s an ongoing topic as characters either become infected or come across military personnel who’ll happily mow down infected humans. Are they beyond saving? Are they still human?
The anime artwork is excellent and fast-paced. The film also uses computer graphics and while they do look good, they don’t sit perfectly with the rest of the artwork. It’s a difficult effect to achieve but it’s not massively noticeable as the action moves so quickly. Where the anime really comes to life is when it portrays rotting flesh, evil fish corpses and the beauty of the macabre. Excellent artistic direction – particularly in making a full-on snog look and sound disgusting!
The three schoolgirls Kaori, Erika and Aki are really the mains here, with a shout out to Tadashi as the token male in the scenes he is in before his disappearance drives the plot. Why these three are friends I’m not sure as they don’t seem to like each other very much. They are caught in that transformative phase between child and adult – again a theme I feel Gyo is pointing to. They don’t get much character development but that’s kind of the point. It’s more survival than let’s have long chats about ourselves and that’s just fine with me. Aki is perhaps the character that has the most pronounced character ark – rising up from her rage of being ignored to spite and anger which initially will power her through, but ultimately also be a downfall.
‘I wonder if the stench of death will ever vanish’
Three memorable moments
- Shark attack!
- The moment where we realise the zombies can stay alive if they power themselves through their own farts!
- Erika’s threesome kiss will give me nightmares!
The obligatory weird moment
Whilst the whole premise is utterly nuts, the film loves to parade vulgarity around like a medal. The best version of this is that as humans get bitten or infected, much like a zombie the body begins to bloat and rot. In order to keep yourself alive and going, you’ll have to stick a pipe up your bum to keep the poop and farts in. It is grim.
The drinking game
I would say puke and poo references as the stench of rotting flesh is referenced throughout. You may go blind through drinking though. Don’t watch whilst eating if you have a weak stomach!
Nutty, sadistic, a complete nightmare scenario and a very bleak look at how a lot of people think of themselves in a crisis and not the bigger picture. Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack is entertaining, adventurous and barmy – a welcome addition to the disaster genre. Just expect a lot of bathroom grimness in the process.
Rating: 4 / 5 Excellent
If you liked Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack then you may like…
- Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – Stunning earthquake based anime series.
- Seoul Station – the anime prequel to Train to Busan has a very similar vibe
- Train to Busan – do a back to back with Seoul Station for Korea’s finest zombies
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+This review was updated to ILDM’s new review format on 13/11/19.