It’s been a very welcome trend this year that movies that seem over the top often hide a layer of sensitivity. Most of them at least. That’s not to say I don’t tolerate silliness, but I since other years I have opted for the most audience-friendly of movies, I am content that this year I’ve stepped a bit out of my comfort zone and found some real gems. I ended up feeling more empathy for the character than I thought.
Inuyashiki is the brainchild of director Shinsuke Sato and writer Hiroshi Hashimoto. The title character is the soft-spoken and mild-mannered Ichiro Inuyashiki (Noritake Kinashi), often ignored in his own household by his own wife and children. One night, he’s in the park when a bright light appears and turns him into something else.
He’s not the only one. A high school student named Hiro Shishigami (Takeru Satoh) was also in the same place and time, and has also been changed. No longer organic, but entirely cybernetic the two characters embark on two completely opposite journeys. Hiro finds himself with the means to kill anybody he can literally point a finger at while Inuyashiki discovers he can heal the sick. Eventually their paths will cross.
The human touch here is that the movie never frames the scenes in a way that we are forced to laugh at Inuyashiki. His wife and children are rather self-involved and even cruel to him, but there’s no laugh track and no quick cuts. There’s some humour and sadness and it’s not forced into neither angle. It’s the same in Hiro’s personal life, you can feel his pain and what drives him to feel rage the same way we might feel pity for Inuyashiki’s life. Hiro lets the power go to his head the difference is that Inuyashiki never does. While the villain wants to bring all the system down, Inuyashiki never utters a single hero-type phrase. He doesn’t want to stop him in the name of justice. He wants Hiro to stop on his own.
The action ultimately takes over. Action fans will probably focus in the action-packed confrontations and put anything else aside. I liked that the movie included the human part. The downside for me is that in the end both of our characters are supposedly machines which really forces my suspension of disbelief to work overtime. I like that the movie comes packaged with both action and depth, but I wish the science fiction component was grounded in some sort of science facsimile.
Recommended for action fans with reservations. Action fans might be bothered by the human component. I would have been happier with the sci-fi component being some sort of superhuman powers rather than “turning into an alien machine” but I understand that’s the core of its source (the mangaka of Hiroya Oku). The suspense of having a city under siege does add to the story becoming more of a thriller in the end, which makes this an entertaining film with both action and humour to add to the mix.
That will do for now.