Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Ai Fukaya, Ayumi Kinoshita, Sayaka Yoshino, Mitsuki Koga
Directed by Yûichi Kanemaru
Distributed by Switchblade Pictures
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but if you are, bear with me because it bares repeating – the Japanese are weird.
Nu-Meri: Book of the New Spawn is the latest bit of weirdness from Japan that further proves my firm belief that the Japanese are in fact weird. I have absolutely no clue even after watching why the film is called Nu-Meri: Book of the New Spawn or what that title might possibly mean. Chalk that up to the weirdness.
The movie centers on cute fish-obsessed Mari. She works at the fish market with her family. She makes sure every day to stop by the local religious shrine dedicated to fish to pay her respects. She attends college where she studies marine biology. She gets an internship at Pacific Institute, a marine bio-engineering firm. When she isn’t carving fish or studying fish or praying to fish, she can be heard talking non-stop about wanting her future research into marine science to be something that protects the little fishies and benefits mankind in the process.
Nearly 40 minutes of film time transpires before something occurs that is not devoted to Mari’s day-to-day life of fish, more fish, and yet more fish. This is a major faux pas, not just because Mari’s 24/7 fish fetish gets insufferable, but also because the movie itself is only 76 minutes (the closing credits comprising the last four). Nu-Meri: Book of the New Spawn is a fairly short film, and that’s perfectly acceptable in this case given how little story there is. There’s almost nothing by way of coherent narrative or character development; it’s more free-form than plot-driven.
What finally happens is that one of her friends at Pacific Institute turns up dead in the water. Not just dead, but growing fish scales and looking to have been bitten by some of the other fish. Mari sets about to solve the mystery of her dead roommate, and by mystery I mean she gets a flashlight and heads over one night to the top secret laboratory where this creepy scientist that looks like he’d make a great Lurch on a Japanese version of “The Addams Family” tells her to stay out for her own good, which she does, until the next day when he isn’t around and she merely jumps the fence to get in.
What she finds inside this grungy, dimly-lit building will again solidify my stance that the Japanese are weird. First she gets bloodied by flying piranha fish heads – just their severed fish heads powered by flapping fins. Then seaweed that makes chirping noises ensnares her. Following this is an attack by large hopping oysters that latch on like leeches. For about 10-15 minutes, Nu-Meri: Book of the New Spawn briefly became one of the most astounding movies I have ever seen.
The resolution comes so quickly it left me so reeling I wondered if the film had skipped a reel somewhere towards the end. I am still unclear what exactly happened or why this movie exists. Was it a case of genetic engineering gone haywire, or was it some form of supernatural sea life retaliation against man for, as a cop investigating the murder puts it, the countless marine animals that lost their lives at this facility; the spirit of millions of dead pissed off fish probably haunt the place?
Only one message was clear to me at the end: You better respect the fish.
And the Japanese are weird.
2 out of 5
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