Engineered to be a love toy for two rich and powerful women, Pinocchio is soon tossed out into the world with no memory of who he once was and is unable to function beyond being a sex slave. He happens to run into Himiko; a former nurse but also has no memory of who she once was, and the two immediately form a bond. Though the two have no idea of the psychotic journey they are about to embark upon while the company that created Pinocchio is desperate to find him.
While Shozin Fukui may not be a household name like Shinya Tsukamoto, his movies have managed to become staples in the cyberpunk subgenre and is also one of the few directors that have been able to make a title comparable to Tsukamoto. In my eyes at least. Though it shouldn't be surprising as he has worked with two of the most influential Japanese directors; Tsukamoto and Sogo Ishii. Though I find his later film, "Rubber's Lover", and prequel to "964 Pinocchio", to be the most comparable to "Tetsuo". But "964 Pinocchio" manages to be one of the most raw and utterly insane punk films from Japan.
Now if you were to look at "964 Pinocchio" from a traditional film stand point, you'd find a not so great movie. The acting is over-the-top and down right horrible, a loose story, a headache inducing jumbled pace, less than impressive effects, and a very notably amateur effort and execution. Though for some strange reason as an experimental-punk film, it somehow makes it work in the movie's favor and creates an intense experience in surreal movies.
"964 Pinocchio" deviates from the norm of traditional filmmaking to the point that it's hard to even see it as a movie at times. Going back to what I said earlier, the acting is over-the-top and ridiculously absurd at times but the movie relies on the characters so much that it almost feels like your watching a piece of performance art rather than a movie. I believe that's what Shozin was going for as well, which is why you have so many scenes of the characters interacting with an unsuspecting public that ends up only adding to the bizarre nature of the movie and its mind numbing insanity.
The characters and how they behave are an important key factor into understanding what the movie is all about since there is no sense of traditional story telling and the story itself is very open to interpretation. The basic story structure though is about a person (Pinocchio) being unleashed into the world and acts like a new born baby: cannot speak and learns how to function during the progress of the movie. He is guided through the world by Himiko, a mother figure who also represents the love interest and soulmate for Pinocchio. We have no choice but to watch the surreal horrors of the transformation of these two characters, both internally and externally as they transcend through different levels of existence. There are the big bad corporate goons that try to retrieve Pinocchio, but they really don't hold much relevance to the story of Pinocchio and Himiko and act as nothing more than antagonists that push them along in their transformations.
While "964 Pinocchio" is my least favorite Shozin Fukui movie, it embodies the punk filmmaking attitude and the experimental cyberpunk surrealism almost perfectly. Its nature is absolutely chaotic and with a great attention given to the lighting, becomes a colorful and unique parade of bizarre imagery. The fact that the movie is shot in color helps provide a nice break from the typical black and white stock. Even though its amateurish nature is noticeable at times, it still has rightfully earned its place as being a staple in its respected subgenres.