The effects take the headline but it is also surprisingly sweet and engagingly human too
The friendship between two Japanese office workers changes whenever one of them eats a live puffer fish and undergoes a startling transformation.
As the poster for this short film suggests, it is one that is memorable for the visual effects; namely the transformation of the main actor's head to be that of a puffer fish. Visually this is incredibly well done and it looks as realistic as it can, given that it is a human with a fish head. Other effects include moving sushi and other touches, but primarily it is the head that sticks in the mind and the eye. With this being the case, it could have been the situation where the film was just a showcase for the special effects work – particularly since writer/director West has his background in that field. However, as slight as the film is, it does manage to be more than this thanks to a nice character dynamic, and the performance from the two main actors.
The story hooks into this friendship and, while delivering a slightly comedic mockumentary, it is also quite engaging. This is managed through the interviews with the two men. The performance of Hara is the one that gets the headlines since he deals with the special effect very well, bringing out a person below the effect; however for me the most impacting in the film was that of Hashimoto, who gives much more of his heart and feeling into his character, and provides an engaging hook into why the film is more than just what we see. It had scope to do more with this, but it still works with what it does, and it is ultimately surprisingly sweet, which is a very nice addition to a visually quite impressive short.
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