That’s not a rotting fish smell. That’s the rotting smell of a corpse.
What They Say:
A devastating, 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 ever could have imagined.
The audio presentation for this feature is pretty good as we get the original Japanese language in both stereo and 5.1 mixes, where there stereo is encoded at 224kbps and the 5.1 is at the full 448kbps. The show has a good use with the mix as it handles the sounds in all too engaging of a way, especially the air escaping the corpses, but also in the action and the general movements of the creatures and the way they kind of dominate things. The dialogue is well handled too with some good placement and depth as it goes on and the small ambient sounds are even creepier in general when things get quite. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2012, the transfer for this feature is presented in its oiginal aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show, animated by Ufotable, has a good mix of animation with some 3DCG effects that do stand out but fit into the narrative overall. There’s a lot of detail to the show and plenty of movement and the transfer brings it all to life very well, and in a way that says it’s probably best not to have a high definition release as that’d be even creepier! There’s a real world palette used here with some good colors throughout There’s some really fluid animation at times and the transfer as a whole really holds up well with solid colors, a high bitrate and a clean look about it that’s very appealing. There’s nothing to really fault with the look of the show and the source materials.
The packaging for this release comes in a clear standard sized keepcase that has a generally decent horror feeling about it. with a tear through the middle with the logo, the top has the two main characters being chased by the shark while the bottom runs with a negative image of two of the girls in a panic. There’s a fair bit of dark space along here but the tearaway aspect of it works nicely. The back cover carries over the black background design with a simple tagline along the top and a decent summary of what to expect inside. A few shots from the show play up the violence and horror well while the rest has the standard production and cast credits and a simple technical grid that lists all the specs of the release well. No show related inserts are included but there is artwork on the reverse side that has a pair of schoolgirls enjoying the show of the fish running along the street.
The menu design here is rather nice if it seems simple at first where along the left we have a pair of blue strips with a simple font that lists out the show and the bottom has a strip that has the navigation strip which is made up of the basic selections that are quick to load and easy to navigate. The bulk of the menu is split into different quadrants that change over the course of the menu runtime which brings in various images and clips from the show that plays up the beauty of the locales and the absolute horror as well. It’s an interesting menu and not what I expected based on the first blush exposure to it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Junji Ito that ran for just two volumes starting back in 2001, Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack is a seventy minute standalone piece animated by Ufotable. I remember when Gyo first came out in manga form and saw what Viz Media was releasing and just felt queasy about it. But I’ve never been a “fan” of what Junji Ito has produced as it’s typically not my type of horror and I’m not a huge horror fan myswelf. When Aniplex announced the release of this title, I was pretty amused though since it was something unexpected and as much as the manga creeped me out, I just love the title and the kind of reaction it begs. Just saying it out loud is fun and I couldn’t help shaking the case at people for a couple of days before I sat down to watch it, just playing it up a bit.
The story here is very simple and unfortunately it’s also one without any real resolution to it, but it tells a story that plays to the creepy and disturbing side of just how something would work. The show focuses primarily on Kaori, a young woman who is with a couple of friends on their college graduation trip to Okinawa where they’re staying at a really great summer house. It’s a typical dynamic for the three women where Kaori is the general all around good girl, one that has a fiancee and is basically set for life once she graduates, another girl is the popular and beautiful one who has come in the trip for lots of sex with men while the other is a slightly nerdy and slightly chubby girl who thinks the other two really don’t like her and just tolerate her. There’s nothing that feels like a deep bond between them and certainly more than a few resentments that aren’t just below the surfaced but voiced in some passive aggressive ways.
While they’re vacationing, things go bad pretty quickly when some strange things start to come out of the way, first with a decent sized fish that has a shell along the bottom with spindly pincer style legs, which the girls manage to kill and dispose of quickly. But things turn worse the next day when a shark ends up bursting into the house in the same mold and causing all sorts of havoc. While it’s kept small but intense within the house, the girls learn that things are happening all over the area as the fish are spreading out from the ocean in this bizarre way with a strange kind of symbiosis. While we see things unfold in Okinawa, and a real breakdown in the three girls relationship as they each start looking out for themselves pretty quickly, we also see that the creatures from the sea are coming out elsewhere in Japan (and eventually the world over). It turns into a huge situation quickly, and we at least get a connection in Tokyo with Kaori’s girlfriend.
Similar in a way to a sprawling zombie attack, the dead fish that are in this symbiotic relationship expand their reach and start taking on humans as well as there’s a way that they basically infect them. It gets pretty twisted, and we see it happen in a few different ways, but the bodies decompose and expand with gas inside them and through the way the mysterious creatures bond with them, it’s just a surreal and truly creepy experienced. Particularly with the stench that comes from them, which the characters note, but is also shown with the way the air is filled with the smell through the animation. That works well with the kind of haze it gives off which just ads to the situation in a pretty big way. There’s just a sense of decomposition through the color design and the way it just fills everything. Never mind the way it comes out of various bodies too.
The show does focus more on Kaori and she does make her way to Tokyo where she hopes to find Tadashi, whose uncle is also a scientist who may have some clues about what’s going on, but even that situation gets surreal. With the way the creatures attack and dominate the city, it’s brutal, bloody and violent and it really is a strong couple of sequences as she and a photojournalist she hooks up with manage to survive and move forward. But the further it gets, the more surreal it gets, from what they discover from them to what we see going on back in Okinawa with how her friends responde to events and even the military and others. It just builds to this large, oppressive feeling and one that leaves you hanging in the end. That gets to be a bit frustrating, because you want more, you want to know if they deal with things or if it’s the end of everything, but it doesn’t even feel like it ends on a note of hope. But there’s something to be said for doing that and after all the creepy moments throughout it, just having a bit of calm at the end punctuated by views of how the rest of the world is falling to these things is disheartening.
Gyo: Toyko Fish Attack is really amusing show when you get down to it, but it’s pretty creepy and disturbing at times as well with what it wants to do. Unfortunately, the story we get here is more of a first chapter kind f work where it offers up the foundations and the right characters, but it progresses only so far and doesn’t offer any real resolution. And that’s something that you do want out of it as it goes on, to know how the threat is going to be dealt with and what will be involved. Still, even without that, there’s a lot to enjoy here in a twisted way as we see a biological impact run rampant and cause worldwide destruction and some really up close and personal chaos and danger. It’s really well animated, which in some ways is unfortunate since they make it so disturbing, and I rather enjoyed the pacing of it all when you get down to it. It’s not for the squeamish but it’s not as bad as it could be either.
Japanese 2.0 Language, Japanese 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: July 9th, 2013
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.