Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack
Official Selection, New York Asian Film Festival 2012
While her fiancé Tadashi toils in Tokyo, lovely young Kaori and her girlfriends Aki and Erika head south to sunny Okinawa for a holiday, to celebrate their graduation. When the girls get to the secluded cabin where they’ll be staying, though, things are amiss the moment they walk through the door. A vile, nauseating smell permeates the place, and it’s coming from a small but horrific critter they manage to corner and crush — a fish with metallic, arachnid legs. An upsetting discovery to be sure, but within mere hours similar monstrosities are emerging from the waters by the thousands, engulfing the seaside city suffocated by the stench of death. Not just the little ones, either. Catastrophe has crawled ashore across Japan, and the horror of great underwater predators hybridized with mechanical insects is only the beginning.
The name of popular Japanese manga artist Junji Ito isn’t unfamiliar to fans of disturbing, leftfield horror cinema. The live-action films UZUMAKI (Fantasia 2000) and the extensive TOMIE series (the festival presented TOMIE UNLIMITED last year) are based on his comics. Until now, oddly, anime adaptations have eluded Ito. GYO, from the graphic novel of the same name, is one of the trilogy of stand-alone anime releases, unconnected to any TV or film series, from the studio Ufotable this past year inaugurating their new offshoot video label Anime Bunko. Inspired by guardians of the grotesque Hideshi Hino, Kazuo Umezu and H.P. Lovecraft, Ito’s body of work blends biological nightmares with the mechanics of madness, accenting his troubling tales with vivid idiosyncratic quirks and potent imagery. With GYO, Ito offers his own twisted take on the zombie apocalypse, dragging the heavily codified genre into freakish and frightening new territory. Dive into the delirium of GYO and you’ll quickly find yourself in uncharted waters, the murky depths of which are festering with terrors only a mind like Ito’s could conjure up.
— Rupert Bottenberg