In the West, for far too long animation was seen as something that was solely the preserve of children’s films. Something immature and inane which adults could guiltily enjoy, so long as they were with their kids. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Studios like Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney recognised the financial potential of this untapped market. In Japan, this is something they’ve known for a long time. Anime is made for all demographics and like Josee, The Tiger and The Fish can be used to impart an important social message.
Tsuneo Suzukawa (Taishi Nakagawa) has big ambitions. He dreams of studying and diving in Mexico but in order to make this come true he needs to work every spare moment he gets. A chance encounter brings him into contact with Kumiko, a teenager who calls herself Josee (Kaya Kiyohara) after a character from her favourite book. She is obsessed with the sea but hides at home, wheelchair bound and unhappy. When he’s employed take care of her it changes both their lives forever.
Josee, The Tiger and The Fish is a beautifully animated film with a huge heart. Empathy is at the core of director Kôtarô Tamura debut feature. Based on a short story by Seiko Tanabe, the message here is about believing in yourself, releasing your creativity and chasing your dreams. Our imagination knows no bounds. Whilst Tsuneo and Kumiko push each other apart it only serves to bring them closer together. Overflowing with ideas and life, Josee, The Tiger and The Fish is a wonderful story which reminds us that life is there for living.
Josee, The Tiger and The Fish is in cinemas from 11 August.