DEAD SUSHI is a reason to see films at festivals. Director Noboru Iguchi (of Tokyo Gore Police and Machine Girl fame) was unable to attend, but sent instructions to the audience. We were to yell “Sushi” whenever there was sushi on the screen, and to yell “Danger” if anyone was in harm’s way. This left about ten minutes of the ninety-one minute film without yelling. Clearly Dead Sushi is a movie that was designed to be seen in an interactive crowd, and not to be watched alone at home.
Surprisingly, there was a fairly detailed plot. Keiko, (Rina Takeda) is the daughter of a high ranking sushi chef, who aspired to become the same. Despite years of training at both martial and sushi arts, she fails to live up to her father’s expectations. Keiko runs away and gets a job at an inn just in time for them to host a corporate retreat. Both the inn and the corporate executives are hiding a few issues of their own.
Keiko finds a mentor, humiliates herself in front of her bosses and the corporate guests, and becomes an unlikely voice of reason and defender of sushi, then against sushi.
The plot moves forward with corporate power plays, an affair between the inn’s sushi chef and the owner’s wife, and revenge from an ex-researcher for being framed. But mostly there is Keiko, trying to do the right thing when sushi attacks. There’s more plot, but that’s not why you’re watching.
If you are looking for a quiet meditation on, well anything, this isn’t the movie for you. When one character turns into a half man-tuna, I thought we’d hit the limit of the surreal. I was wrong. I also hadn’t realized that there was a sushi hierarchy, where the seafood sushi looked down upon the egg sushi. I guess I should mention that our heroine Keiko also befriends an egg sushi named, um, Eggy, who becomes a voice of encouragement through the battle.
The puppetry work, with giggling shrimp sushi and rolls that have teeth half as big as they are, gives personality to piles of rice and fish. There is an attacking squid that pulls one executive’s face off after stretching it like silly putty and a tuna piece which sprouts blades as it is eaten. Then there’re the effects that ingesting or being bitten by the sushi has on the victims.
If the thought of flying (and occasionally fornicating) puppet sushi makes you grin, you’ll get a kick out of this film. But see it with an audience. And don’t forget to shout “sushi” and “danger.”
DEAD SUSHI was featured at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival on October 24, 2012.