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Fish Story: This is the Story of my Solitude, if my Solitude were a Fish

Updated on March 20, 2012

It is the year 2012, and the entire nation of Japan is preparing to be overwhelmed by an enormous tsunami caused by a massive asteroid. An attempt by the Americans to plant bombs on the asteroid failed spectacularly, and there's a 100% chance that the world will essentially end in five hours.

A former conman, racked with cancer, wanders into the only store still open, a used record store with only one customer and the proprietor inside. Despite the impossibility of salvation, the record store owner puts on a record from an obscure Japanese punk band whose song "Fish Story" he claims will save the world. Will he be proved correct, and how?

To find out, it is necessary to visit three other times--1975, when loser punk band Gekirin is hopelessly trying to put together an album everyone knows will fail miserably, 1982, when a timid young man meets a fortune teller who encourages him to be bolder in order to accomplish his destiny, and finally 2009, when a chance encounter between a pastry chef and a schoolgirl on a ferry is interrupted by some uninvited guests. As the movie shifts back and forth between the various times, unexpected connections arise, and it becomes more plausible that the record store owner's prediction will come true--"Fish Story" will in fact save the world.

I really love movies which build around a series of causes and effects to create a unexpected results (the French film "Happenstance" is perhaps the triumphant example of this). In this, "Fish Story" is a triumphant success, connecting together seemingly random characters and events to create a coherent narrative (and if you haven't been able to tie everything together, at the end of the movie the entire plot is essentially recapped with some added scenes to fill in plot holes). The film's fragmentation into four times also was an interesting choice, basically allowing for the film to be four shorter movies woven together.

I also liked the film's offbeat sense of humor, which especially comes to light in the 2009 section, which starts with a girl falling asleep on a ferry in Tokyo and missing her stop, meaning that she has to wait until the next stop--Hokkaido (for those uninformed in Japanese geography, that's rather like missing a stop between San Francisco and Oakland and having to wait until Seattle before you can get off). Feeling understandably miserable, she is approached by the ship's pastry chef, a strange young man who comforts her with the ridiculous story about how his father trained him since birth to become a "champion of justice." While she doesn't believe him, he soon finds an opportunity to prove his strange claims. The whole thing, particularly the supposed champion's strange behavior, generates a bizarre sort of humor where you chuckle not necessarily because something is funny but instead because it was unexpected.

As you may have gathered, this was a very nontraditional movie, plot wise. If you can't handle bizarre twists, long bits where the significance of events aren't explained until later, and a distinctly nonchronological storyline, this may not be a film for you.

However, if you like off-the-wall characters, a plot that fits together in surprising and unexpected ways if you give it time, and a moral that even the most insignificant things can be important, you should definitely check this movie out. It's most certainly worth your time


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