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zany Japanese comedy, anticlimactic, but with a poignant message
This is a delicate Japanese comedy about how life can be disappointing. It features three main characters approaching 30; none of whom are satisfied with their lives:- A nervous, shy girl with an unusual affection for fish sausages, aspires to be an artist but is too clumsy to hold down a job, a hospital manager who never confronts anybody and commands no respect because he is always trying to be nice out of fear that people won't like him and the most compelling and amusing of all, Teruo, an obtuse, sadistic and dim-witted park keeper. He likes scaring kids and dreams of one day building a super-ultra-haunted-house-deluxe, which will literally scare people to death.
There is a briefly explored sub-plot in which the two men compete for the affections of the girl, but this is never resolved as she finds love with another man. None of their dreams are realised and there are no scenes where emotional hopes are addressed or aspirations achieved.
This is not a fantasy film, but rather a film about fantasy. The charming movie is set predominantly in a second hand book shop belonging to Teruo's father. Despite the lack of a neat, conventional plot resolution, the film is redeemed by a poignant message about the pleasure that can be taken simply by enjoying one another's company.
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