Director Isshin Inudo should be quite happy these days. Recently, he wrote the screenplay for Resurrection (Yomigaeri, 2003) which director Akihiko Shiota turned into a big hit across the country. Now, Inudo’s own movie Josee, the Tiger and the Fish has turned into both an indie crowd pleaser and a successful crowd puller.
While Yomigaeri is a fantastic fable about the dead coming back to life in order to settle things with those they left behind, Josee is a much more down-to-earth story about a normal guy falling for an abnormal, physically disabled girl. What is fantastic about Josee, though, is its unique cinematic style and quirky humour that makes it a heart-warming experience.
Tsuneo (Tsumabuki, of Waterboys fame) is in the beginning of the movie an easygoing student who enjoys a laid-back college life consisting of a part-time job at a mah-jong parlour and casual sex with girls from his school. The life ahead of him seems pretty straightforward and predictable. Then he hears rumours in the mah-jong parlour of a strange old woman who pushes a baby carriage around in the neighbourhood. Why does she always bring a baby carriage? What does it contain? While the busy minds of the customers in the parlour ponder over these questions, the manager asks Tsuneo to take his dog out for a walk. Out walking the dog, the baby carriage in question literally bumps into Tsuneo, and his curiosity leads him to peek inside it. That becomes his first encounter with the strange young woman, Josee (charmingly played by up-and-coming Ikewaki).
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