Kaijyu Mono (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2016]

kaijumonoIn the only logical location for Kaijyu attacks, Japan, a Kaijyu wakes up and eats teenagers in a forest.  A scientist and his assistants look into the event and get involved in the fight against the Kaijyu. The film is directed and co-written by Minoru Kawasaki who also worked on The Calamari Wrestler, a film with a very particular story line.  With his co-writer on Kaijyu Mono, Takao Nakano, they create a delightfully bizarre tale that only makes sense when screening at Fantasia.

The story they build here is full of surprises and twists, not all of which make sense but they somehow fit in this film.  It’s hard to explain, but it works, possibly because the whole premise is completely crazy.  The characters they have created are not particularly original or deep and they feel like crazy caricatures which brought this viewer to the conclusion that it’s a wanted thing.  They add so many odd selections to their film that it all has to be planned.

The cast for this is composed of Saki Akai, Bin Furuya, Shinzo Hotta, etc.  They all are a bit cartoon-y and definitely do so on purpose as this is what the story lend itself to.  That being said, the acting, within its confines and limitations, is quite good.  It cannot be easy to keep a straight face when the elder actor on set shows up dressed as Sailor Moon for example.

The titular Kaijyu us fun, but not particularly original.  It looks similar to many Kaijyus seen before, which is most likely a wanted thing as a throwback to old school Kaijyu films.  This particular monster is clearly a man in a suit and it shows, adding charm to its appearances and to its fight sequences.  In these sequences, the monster fights a giant man, made so by shots in the story and by using cool maquettes in the film techniques, bringing even more nostalgia to the proceedings.  The fights themselves are more like wrestling than martial arts even though they do through some of that in there, they are very exaggerated, but quite entertaining.

Kaijyu Mono is a fairly simple film, keeping proceedings to a minimum of locations and characters.  It’s fun and entertaining but doesn’t re-write the book on its genre or bring much new elements to the table.  It’s silly, many elements are just there to be funny or look cool, but it works in a sense that it’s entertaining non-sense with a strong sense of nostalgia.  Fans of old Kaijyu films should love Kaijyu Mono.

Fantasia International Film Festival ran from July 14th until August 3rd, 2016 and will be back in the summer of 2017.