In a city of 10 million people Mika and Shinji keep on stumbling into each other. Is it fate or one of the meaningless coincidences of life? Mika is suffering from internal pain over the suicide of her mother and is obsessed with death. Shinji can barely see with his left eye and it gives him the impression that he can only see and discover half of the world. Can these two “damaged”people make each other complete?
Director Yuya Ishii has based this movie on a poem, telling the story of two different people who do not belong anywhere. The film is a vivid portrait of modern Tokyo, it is shown as a place of isolation, where even in the midst of a crowd, one’s individuality dissolves. For the characters of the film it is both a terrifying and a liberating feeling.
During Q&A Ishii said that the first focus while working on the film was the sound, which is crucial to his work. In TOKYO images come first. They naturally transition into one another, and the short animated sequences are designed to throw you off balance and mark the conclusions and beginnings of the story parts.
The movie has many elements and ideas, some of them come to a resolution, some of them are just thrown into the mix, but the final result is a somewhat surreal painting, not just of Tokyo, but of the modern world where the individual is exposed to too much tragedy and struggles to cope with everyday life.
Mika and Shinji are one of a kind. What they are both lacking is replenished by their humanity and their extreme sensitivity to the world. And even though both of them hate Tokyo no one understands it better than they do.
TOKYO is not your typical romantic movie. It does not flinch from the darker sides of life that are usually invisible to the naked eye. Dealing with themes of loneliness, death and isolation makes it one of a kind; a strangely uplifting love story.
Yuya Ishii during Q&A after the screening at ACMI,