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Jellyfish Eyes ("Mememe no Kurage")

Canadian Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2013
  • 101 mins
  • HD
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
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“Famed Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami has made his first film, and it looks absolutely incredible... the Pokémon kaiju movie of our dreams” - Annalee Newitz, io9

Having lost the man in their lives to the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, sad-eyed nine-year-old Masashi and his widowed mother have relocated to a small village, site of a university research facility. Masashi’s new life presents familiar difficulties — he’s the new kid at school, and thus a lonely target for bullying — and at the same time, a strange new discovery. It seems that that Masashi and his mom have a third housemate, a cute, friendly little flying mini-monster. Masashi nicknames him Kurage-bo (“jellyfish boy”) and smuggles him to school, only to discover that all the other kids have their own marvelous little creatures, each one unique and all but Kurage-bo controlled by smartphone devices. The kids, of course, make sure that no grown-up ever sees their so-called “friends”, especially when the troublesome types use theirs to fight and bully. There is a sinister link, however, between these delightful critters and the research facility, where a cabal of black-cloaked conspirators is carefully observing the kids and their creatures, and plotting something very dark…

Japan’s Millennial answer to Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, mastermind of the Superflat movement, is easily the most recognized Japanese figure in global contemporary art. The design work and installations he and his studio create for galleries, museums and clients around the planet are the epitome of Japanese cool, intense and often subtly subversive explosions of manga, anime, tokusatsu and kawaii aesthetics. It was perhaps only a matter of time before Murakami moved into the realm of cinema. JELLYFISH EYES, the first film of planned trilogy, is a lively and loving celebration of the Japanese pop-culture tropes that feed the Superflat sensibility, nodding to Pokémon, yokai and kaiju films, fantastic manga and kawaii characters that push the cute meter to overload levels. It’s also a heartfelt critique of Japan’s institutions in the era of Fukushima, proving that there is in fact remarkable awareness and moral depth to Murakami’s notion of “superflat”. If you have even a passing interest in the rich, phantasmagoric world of pop fantasy from the Land of the Rising Sun, you absolutely need to feast your eyes on JELLYFISH EYES!

— Rupert Bottenberg