Demon Pond is no exception, only now there's the distinction of it being live, video-taped theater, with Miike directing both the camera-work and editing as well as the actors on stage. The play is about a pond, of the title, and the principle character Yamazawa, Hagawara, and Yuri. There is a bell right next to where Yuri lives, and it must be rung three times or else there will be dire consequences. But there's also a drought going on in the nearby village from a lack of the river from the pond. There's also curses to be had, and an irate princess who can't stand that the bell is rung as it keeps here from her one true love and wants to cut it down. There are some other things that happen- one of which in the last act that would be a terrible spoiler- but suffice to say it's surrounded in fable and mythological lore, the likes of which will be more familiar to the students and fans of Japanese mythology and stories.
In fact, one of the joys of Demon Pond is storytelling, as sometimes a character will prove himself by telling a story, as one does for Yuri to possibly get a place to sleep for the night. It's also a plus that, for much of the time, the humor is genuine and I found myself laughing along with the audience at both the absurd little beats in the script and the exaggerated performances by the supporting players (while my least favorite section of the play, the mid-section with the men with their catch of fish, there are plenty of crazy laughs). Here and there the story might be a little tough to follow, as characters go on and on about things that don't have much to do with the central plot. When it does work, however, it's a splendid synthesis of superb 'stylized' acting (i.e. the princess), production design and flamboyant costume designs, and sweet and somber music. There are even one or two fairly quotable lines, like "Don't scream 'Tokyo' at me in anger", or "I like Veggie, but don't call me Mr. Veggie!"
So, congratulations to Mr. Miike, as he's somehow pulled off some very good and fascinating direction on a good fantasy play/video, even if, sad to say, I'd still much rather see how he'd do it as a real film: now *there* would be something incredible. And, as another note of interest for Americans, I happen to find the DVD as something of an anomaly at my local Blockbuster. 7.5/10