If you like eating fish then this is Apocalypse Chow because Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack is an anime that combines gross kaiju horrors with the wholescale decimation of civilisation with massive numbers of monstrous… monstrosities.
Three students – Kaori (Mirai Kataoka) and her friends Aki (Masami Saeki) and Erika (Ami Taniguchi) – have travelled to Okinawa for a much needed beach holiday. However they find that it quite literally stinks. Their house smells foul but there is a simple explanation for this when they discover the corpse of a strange looking fish. And it would appear that it’s not the only fish out of water – for rising from the depths of the ocean are pernicious piscine predators which can walk using metallic arachnid limbs, sometimes individually, sometimes en-masse, but all with the aim of spreading an insidious contagion to an increasingly defenceless human society. Kaori wants to return to Tokyo to be in the (hopefully) safe arms of her fiancé Tadashi. His uncle, Doctor Koyanagi, may have some knowledge about what is happening. But the fishy situation is escalating everywhere and even the transport home could be more problematic than she anticipates.
Gyo is based upon the manga series by writer/artist Junji Ito. Junji Ito is renowned for his horror manga, a large number of which have been made into films, most notably the Tomie series (1999) with its bewildering number of sequels and related entries, Kakashi (2001) and Uzumaki (Spiral, ). Gyo marks the transition of his adapted work from live action to anime. It is an OVA (original video animation) film, effectively a straight-to-video release, where censorship rules are more relaxed and the format can therefore permit a more ‘specialist’ output. As a result there are plenty of elements on show that are distinctly unpleasant. Promiscuous Erika’s fate after being bitten by a fish results in her body mutating horribly, misshapen by post-aquatic infection and rendered into a gross and horrific non-human. The film’s depiction of the intensity of the horrors occurs from the viewpoint of our trio of female central characters and this helps focus the story as matters escalate to apocalyptic proportions.
Combining cell-based animation with CG elements helps create the mass hysteria of the entities, adds a realism to the environment and the thoughtful use of compositing balances matters between horror genre staples and enjoyable anime art – albeit in a manner that is worthy of the macabre body horror that it seeks to depict. It does this with an enjoyably unpleasant edge. It’s part H.P. Lovecraft, part kaiju Armageddon.
So is this a gill-ty pleasure? Yes, in some ways this is exploitation horror with sex and gore but is succinct in execution which makes this a satisfying, but necessarily grotesque, watch. Recommended for horror and anime connoisseurs seeking something a bit fishy.
D on 3rd September.