Region: 2 - UK
Length: 71 minutes
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
A devastating, disgusting "Death Stench" is spreading across Japan, creating deadly mutant fish as it covers the land!
The country is being invaded by ferocious fish with sharp metal legs, hell-bent on death and destruction! Amidst the carnage, Kaori embarks on a desperate quest to find her missing boyfriend before he is lost to the mayhem that is sweeping the land. Facing four legged killer sharks, machine driven squid and the myriad dangers of Tokyo, now an urban war zone, Kaori must find the truth behind these mechanical monsters and face an evil greater than she ever could have imagined. Based on the popular manga from the master of the macabre, Junji Ito (Tomie, Uzumaki), Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack is a bizarre thrill-ride that has to be seen to be believed!
I'm no shrinking violet when it comes to horror. Be it vile or ultra violent, I'm usually to be found relishing every kind of video nasty, delighting in the art of a good old gorefest. There are times, however, when something sneaks up and gets in, right under my skin and I do not like it one bit. Gyo marks the first time that an animated feature has deeply unsettled me since I was three years old and saw the bunny massacres in Watership Down.
The author of the original is the incredible Junji Ito, who happens to be my favourite creator of creepy comics. He has an exceptional ability to both thrill and chill the reader. His surreal sense of humour is twisted into intricate and unpredictable scenarios. In Ito's horror the absurd and the grotesque are inextricably bound together.
Gyo is one of Ito's many tales of terror that I have read excerpts from and I was eager to see how the cinematic adaptation would compare. While the core narrative concepts of the original remain, the film's story is significantly altered from the manga. There are new characters (and a reversal of roles in some instances) but for better or worse, it all comes together to well to forge a strong alternate version of Ito's apocalyptic nightmare.
Animation production by Ufotable is quite masterfully executed and it is every bit as gory, tense and grotesque as any live action horror flick. There are some pretty dubious depictions of the sea creatures (if you know your cephalopods, the tentacled menace is pretty poorly observed from life) and the film often steps across a line that makes the grisly invasion of the human hosts close to obscene and pretty sickening to watch.
In spite of the absurdity, Ito is able to craft tales of terror that haunt us. This is because his outlandish tales often bear some uncanny resemblance to the traumas of real life, fears of the body and of contamination from our polluted earth. Though Ito states that any relation to the cinematic release of Gyo and recent events is purely coincidental, the concerns of mutation, infection, putrefaction and disease are likely to bring the news headlines about nuclear meltdown to people's minds.
It has mixed value as entertainment – it's not particularly uplifting but is sure to make an impact on anyone who can stomach it. While I may not be motivated to watch Gyo again, it is a very original, extreme and powerful example of horror cinema.