Japanese culture, as you probably already know, is distinct and often puzzling. They’re a nation who like pigeon-holing and almost everything you can possibly think of sits neatly into one category or another. One much-loved genre is that trodden by the likes of Godzilla, Gamera and Astro Boy. Tokusatsu encompasses TV and Films which rely heavily on special effects. In adult fantasist Sion Sono’s Love and Peace he makes the surprising move into Tokusatsu and family fantasy.
Ryo’s (Hiroki Hasegawa) youthful dreams of being a rock star have been replaced by the lowly life of a clerk. Shy and introverted, he’s ruthlessly mocked by his colleagues who take great pleasure in making his life Hell. The only glint of light in his life is an obsession with his equally shy co-worker Yuko (Kumiko Aso). After rashly flushing his beloved turtle Pikadon down the toilet, Ryo doesn’t believe his life can get any worse. However, when his shelled friend washes up in a subterranean refuge for unwanted toys and pets, his greatest wishes begin to become true.
Love and Peace is a familiar moral tale bound up in a whole heap of madness and chaos. Sono brings his inimitable visual style to play, creating a secret world which will beguile and thrill both children and adults alike. If you’re aware of the director’s previous work (and prolific is an understatement), you would probably expect it to be a lot darker. Playing against type, Love and Peace is a magical fantasy tale which is full of typically Japanese zaniness and good old fashioned fun.
Love and Friendship is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Third Window Films today.