Everyone needs a goal in life, and that of Mamoru (played by the very tasty Asano Tadanobu) is to adapt his red medusa jellyfish to fresh water and set it free. A lovely goal, except for the fact that the things are highly poisonous, and he wants to liberate his in the waterways of Tokyo.
But despite what the director says, this is not a monster film. There are no giant red jellyfish lurching out of the canals to menace children and tear down buildings, no screaming, car crashes, or evacuations of a city under siege (I feel as though that should be in capitals, with plenty of exclamation marks, but I’m going to resist the temptation). The jellyfish serves largely as a device to connect characters, aside from some lovely shots of the creature in its moodily-lit tank.
The personal relations in this film seem, to me at least, fairly realistic. They’re messy, uncommunicative, and tend to change in odd ways. And there’s never a classic, end-of-film-so-we-can-all-go-home-happy resolution, because life just ain’t like that.
Overall, this film holds up a subtle mirror to life, allowing us to identify with, and sympathise for, the lonely and dysfunctional main characters, while providing occasional moments of beauty that we don’t see in our own lives. Or perhaps we don’t see them because we’re too busy looking elsewhere. A thoughtful and moving film.