Kaori was planning on enjoying a beach side vacation with two of her friends when they found themselves trapped in the middle of an invasion of ocean creatures with mechanical legs. As they soon discover, all of Japan is being invaded by these bizarre beings. In an attempt to get back to her fiancé, Kaori unwittingly finds herself trapped in the middle of uncovering the truth behind these monsters and the horrible stench that is permeating the air.
Before everyone started losing their minds over sharks riding tornados, there came an adaptation of a Japanese manga by author Junji Ito that would redefine the killer shark sub-genre. No, I'm not talking about Julia Robert's toothy smile. I'm talking about, "Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack!". Both the movie and the manga feature sharks with bio-mechanical legs that allow them to walk on the surface and they're also power by…farts. Yes, fart powered sharks.
Wait, a minute. Fart powered sharks? So you're saying…that they're sharts?
Actually, "Gyo" is about more than farts and sharks. Technically, it's not about either but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to make that sharts joke. I don't care how stupid it was.
"Gyo" is about a young woman named Kaori trying to find her way back to her fiancé after she and her friends are attacked by these mutated sharks, fish and other aquatic creatures that have legs and can freely move about on land. It wasn't merely an isolated incident as it seems all of Japan is being attacked by these creatures and there seems to be an endless amount of them. The country quickly turns into a war zone where it is everyone for themselves, and on Kaori's journey she will discovers what is behind these monsters -- something simply known as The Death Stench.
Thanks to a friend who is a fan of the original author's work, Junji Ito, when the first trailers for "Gyo" hit the scene, I already knew what the story was behind the "death stench". So it didn't come as much as a surprise to me and wasn't much of a selling point as it was for more than a few people who weren't familiar with the premise. "Gyo" is odd and amusing but some how I felt conflicted after it was over. It was not a bad movie by any means and I didn't dislike it but it didn't leave much of a lasting impression and overall it felt like there was something missing.
The concept of "Gyo" is bizarrely interesting: an oder simply referred to as a "death stench" by the characters seems almost sentient -- possessing sea creatures and then eventually humans and and then using the noxious gas escaping all orifices of its victims to control bio-mechanical armatures. Yet some how the movie isn't as interesting as it should have been with that concept. Instead this movie version of "Gyo" is often little more than a straight forward invasion/disaster film. Little is explored beyond a handful of characters and the plot line of Kaori finding her way back to her fiancé while the populous of Japan is taken over by the death stench.
Granted it was done well since the story was good, the characters were good and "Gyo" functions as a well rounded movie. There were some nice touches done in this adaptation such as turning the Kaori character into the lead and having her act as probably the strongest character in the movie -- she's never a victim, even when she's having to fight off sharks and squids. There are also interesting scenes and moments spread throughout the runtime that helps to keep the movie afloat. Such as Kaori friends betraying one another which ultimately leads to one getting their head bashed in with a marble ashtray. A scene punctuated by having a house full of these death stench possessed fish stop their invasion and watch as the two fight it out. Creepy and unsettling are a swarm of undead fish eyes.
Yet still, even when a swarm of these death stench possessed humans attack one of their own because it is using a man-made mechanical body instead of a bio-mechanical one, there still felt like there was something needed in the movie. Perhaps a bit of depth is what was needed. The original source material -- Junji Ito's manga -- seemed to have something to say where as the movie version of "Gyo" did not. I don't think subtext would automatically have made it better but the movie just skims the surface of the story and simply cruises along as a less-than-normal disaster movie. It doesn't explore the material like it could have nor does it produce a product that is as creative as the concept.