The film Bright Future originally had the catchy titled "Warning! Jellyfish alert!" Somewhere during the development of the film, someone decided that the title wouldn't attract the kind of audience that this film was aimed towards, and gave the film a more standard name. The original title does describe the plot better though.

The story centers on a young man, who is a bit slow, but in a cute sort of way - like a shy puppy. Him and his best friend live together, dress funny, and work in the same factory, and his friend keeps a poisonous jellyfish in the apartment.

For fairly complex reasons, his best friend ends up murdering their boss, going to jail, and committing suicide while in jail, but before committing suicide he gives his best friends elaborate instructions on how to train his jellyfish to get used to fresh water. The main character destroys the jellyfish's tank in a fit, and the jellyfish gets in to the Tokyo water system.

After the death of friend, the boy makes friends with his friend's father, who kind of adopts him. He also discovers that the jellyfish is alive, and begins to make food for it and dump it in the Tokyo river, when the father figures out that this was his son's last wish he begins to help the boy, until the Jellyfish breeds in to hundreds and thousands of... poisonous... jellyfish (miraculously given that there was just one of them). Tokyo authorities begin exterminating them, but the father wants to save one... he grabs it out of the water and it stings him. He either goes to the hospital, or we see his ghost in the end saying that kids these days are no good (we see the ghost of his son several times in the film).

The two best things about this film is the acting and the way you are drawn into the world of the characters. Both of these things are related. The main character at one point remembers that his boss borrowed his favorite CD, and thus he decides to kill the boss (the boss is already dead when he gets there). Not only does this action seem cute when the main character does it (and his acting is perfectly timed), but in the context of the character one does not understand how he could have done any different. Trying to adapt a jellyfish to fresh water is what these characters would do if they were in jail for murder. And the interaction when the boss is at their house, looking at the jellyfish, is priceless.

The other great thing about this movie is the ambivilence that comes from both the content of the movie, and the film's sketch format. A film director in Japan that I talked to said that the Japanese film industry regularly uses partially developed concepts, because speed of production is often more valuable than a well thought out "idea". What this means is that the places where the symbolic repetoire in this film doesn't really make sense (it often doesn't), it is probably not that you just aren't getting it, it probably just doesn't make sense. On the other hand, as I mentioned above, all the symbolism kind of makes emotive sense. I mean, the friend does not release the poisonous jellyfish on the unsuspecting Tokyo because he wants to kill more people, he does it because that is what one should do in such a situation. Though I could not tell you why, in the context of the film you perfectly understand (there are a few good reasons why one can argue that the story is not simply about how "youth these days are no good"). I think this little disconnect is what really makes the film most enjoyable to watch, because the film deals with symbolism not as though it were a thing one should interpret to reach some deeper truth about the world, but that it is a thing unto itself. To use a big word, the symbolism has its own ontological truth to it. Or to put it more simply, the things in this film, strange, beautiful and horrible, are always escaping their world and coming into ours.

Still, I think the film should have been called "Warning, Jellyfish Alert!"

Buy Bright Future

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