Just a heads up that this is a 15 rated horror film and I included information that may or may not be classified as spoilers.
Over the years, I’ve developed a habit of picking up whatever freebies I’m offered, usually resulting in the accumulation of various leaflets with discount codes, extra carrier bags and energy tablets(?) every time I go to London Comic Con. This year was no exception, and so my attention was drawn to the “free anime DVDs” being handed out near the entrance.
At first glance, I thought it would most likely be a like an anime version of Sharknado, or something.
Discarding the parody aspect, I wasn’t entirely wrong…
Are you ready for the invasion? A devastation, 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 could ever have imagined.
Based on the popular manga from the master of macabre, Junji Ito (Tomie, Uzumaki), Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack! is a bizarre thrill-ride that has to be seen to be believed.
So, as the back of the DVD says, these killer fish with legs that smell of rotting human flesh take over Japan but our main character is trying to find out if her fiancé is ok, amongst all the chaos.
The animation isn’t terrible, but it appears to have been made at about 20 frames per second, or something stupid (most likely in an attempt to cut costs). Despite this, the 3D animation is surprisingly okay. Sure it’s obvious and it doesn’t mesh very well with 2D, it’s not obtrusive in the overall viewing experience. But really, Ufotable animated this? I would expected better from the studio behind the cutscenes for Tales of Xillia, Zestria and Berseria (as well as the anime for the latter two). The character design seems to make up for the animation, making everything and everyone seem more mature and realistic, despite the giant sharks flying around the streets.
The music is okay but it’s the generic kind of stuff you’d expect from a horror film.
However, I quite like the directing. There are just little things here and there that made me go “that’s cool”. For example, the choice to visually show the smell is especially effective when it appears for the first time, along side the appearance of the first walking fish. Not 10/10 but definitely, notable.
Unfortunately, this is where my praise for the film ends.
I don’t know what kind of story the manga had but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to get away with something this…meh for more than a couple chapters.
Our main character has two generic friends and a generic fiancé/boyfriend. They literally exist to be infected by the killer fish and eventually die…wait, does that count as a spoiler? Whatever, it’s too obvious anyone to actually care. The photojournalist guy seems like he could have been an interesting character if he had more time to be fleshed out, but I guess that’s asking took much from a 71 minute horror film. The rather boring characters paired with the most bizarre explanation of the disaster (blaming everything on World War 2 experiments got old a long time ago) just amounts to a very bland, cliché story. The only original part is probably the fish themselves. But the vague explanations form them really isn’t good enough. They should have just kept it a mystery.
And then, there’s the writing. It’s not unbearably cheesy or anything, but there are quite a few scenes where responses feel poorly timed or out of place. I know there isn’t much time in this film but the photojournalist’s backstory is given less than 10 seconds of slightly out of place expository dialogue. If you’re going to do that, you may as well not bother including it, especially since it adds NOTHING to the near-nonexistent story. They probably only included it so that the audience would become emotionally invested in him, making his end more tragic? I don’t know, that’s the only reason I could think of. MC also overreacts a bit too much in a few scenes, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ it’s allowed, I guess.
Ultimately, everything about this film can only be described as average. If you want a random horror movie to waste 71 minutes of your life, go ahead, be my guest. Just don’t expect high quality entertainment.
But does it “have to be seen to be believed”, like the DVD blurb said?
In a nutshell: meh
GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack! can be bought on DVD wherever you tend to buy your anime DVDs.