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Underwater Love [DVD]
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Asuka works in a lakeside fish factory. She is just about to be married to her boss. One day, she encounters a Kappa, a water creature living in the lake and learns that it is the reincarnation of Aoki, her first love. What ensues is a zany spectacle of love, music and sex.
Limited Edition run of 2,000 copies including original soundtrack CD
3 Interviews with Christopher Doyle
Interview with director Shinji Imaoka
'Porcupines' - Behind the scenes shots by Christopher Doyle
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Top customer reviews
The film is shot quite naturalistically and without any special effects. The creature is a bloke with a beak mask over his face and a turtle-shell shaped backpack. It is mostly shot under grey skies in a fish factory and on the side of a dismal harbour. The various people, apart from the Kappa, look, dress, and talk normally. So what we have here is a modern day fairy tale. The Kappa's appearance helps the lead character question her upcoming marriage and reflect upon what is important in life. Perhaps this is overstating the depth of the film; it is clearly more a throwaway piece of entertainment than a think piece, but there is more here than immediately meets the eye.
Soft porn? Not really. There's as much T&A as your typical French art house film, but no front bottoms. We do get close-ups of the Kappa's fantasy penis (cf. The Beast), which is pretty impressive in a foot-long knobbly kind of way. There is also an 'anal pearl', but you'll have to watch the film to find out what that is; suffice to say, it looks extremely painful.
The musical numbers are short and rather fun. The songs are light pop songs with catchy melodies and the dancing that accompanies them is deliberately hopeless, which makes them quite enjoyable. The musical numbers don't get in the way of the narrative and add to the ambience of the fun, low budget spectacle. The whole thing rattles along at a healthy pace and certainly never gets boring.
It is enigmatic and weird and an interesting comparison is with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. But whereas that film takes itself far too seriously for its own good, this is a fun-filled 90 minutes of endearing strangeness.
The story is a love story; an old woman (she's 35! - her age is given in the film) works in a fish factory, when her first boyfriend (to be; they were too shy and never got that far), who died 16 years ago, is reincarnated and appears as a kappa (a water being) (ignore the mask/makeup - it's not important) and he has a task to carry out. She's going to marry the factory boss, but it's not his self-set task to break up the relationship.
There is soft-core sex, some humour and a few songs, and at the end all the cast perform a musical number. The story doesn't drag, the main leads are likable, and although I got the meaning of some of the symbolism I'm sure there was much more that I missed - but would make much more sense to a student of Japanese conventions in film and theatre.
I got the film because the second female lead is Ai Narita, whom I saw (and liked) in The Curse M, but she is under-used here. Still, the film is likable, if a bit mad (intended, I’m sure), and I don't regret the time I spent watching it. Oh, and I got the Limited Edition soundtrack CD with the DVD, which has titles – but only if your CD player displays CD Text, as none are printed on the sleeve – but too many to list here!