The offspring of the Wago family have their world turned upside down when their parents are run over because a cat stood its ground in the middle of the road. High-schooler Kyomi seems most upset, but this is as nothing compared to the distress she feels on hearing that her big sister Sumika is on her way home - just in time to miss the funeral. Sumika's stepbrother Shinji is more ambivalent about Sumika's arrival, but then they share a past. Shinji's put-upon wife Machiko will meet Sumika for the first time. Her downtrodden existence will look rainbow-coloured by comparison.
Manga, family strife and buried sexual tension are the main ingredients of Japanese dark comedy. They combine wonderfully here in this claustrophobic tale of dysfunctional family relationships. Amoral Sumika spends most of her time punishing Kyomi for exposing her deficiencies years ago in a prize-winning manga. Geeky Kyomi has the inner strength to gaman through her sister's bullying, taking succor in her ever-developing manga skills. Shinji is hopelessly compromised by Sumika, and it is Machiko who feels the sharp edge of his frustration. No one seems to like anyone else very much. The recently-dead parents are hardly missed.
Eriko Satô confounds many who categorised her as eye candy fodder for the B-movie market. She is both seductive and scary as the near mythical Sumika. Hiromo Nagasaku has built up an impressive CV over the years, and gives the most layered performance here as a woman who endures an awful present only because it pales compared to her dreadful past. Veteran Masatoshi Nagase plays Shinji deadpan, a performance that pays off as his fate is the most touching of all. Aimi Satsukawa completes the ensemble and to her credit does not get lost among her senpai, exuding inner strength as the ostensibly weakest third sibling.
Daihachi Yoshida's screenplay sparkles as comedy and pathos are finely balanced in this amplified but all-too-believable tale of the truly terrible things families do to each other. Great entertainment.
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