Josee, The Tiger and The Fish: Charming, Captivating and Tear-jerking.
The 2020 romantic comedy and drama Josee, The Tiger and The Fish is many things; Poignant, beautifully animated and touching. Released in Japan by Shochiku and Kadokawa and then acquired for release in the United States by Funimation, Josee, The Tiger and The Fish is based off a short story written by Seiko Tanabe written in 1984 and is a remake of the live action version that came out in 2003. When it was initially released, it opened in 9th place in the Japanese box office. This is surprisingly lesser known movie, considering that the Wikipedia and IMDB pages are lacking information about the movie which is sad considering that this is the first anime movie to feature a disabled artist as a leading character. That beside, this is a movie worth talking about and talk about it we shall.
The story would follow university student Tsuneo Suzukawa (Taishi Nakagawa) who is studying to be a marine biologist with a desire to go to study abroad in Mexico City. On his way home one night, he manages to save a sheltered young woman named Josee/Kumiko Yamamura (Kaya Kiyohara) who was pushed down a hill in her wheel chair. From there, Tsuneo is hired by Josee's overprotective grandmother (Chiemi Matsutera) to spend time with her. From there, a romance begins to grow between the two of them. The story is a study for how to build character relationships in a believable way that is organic. The one problem that the film does have would be over the half way point of the film, it becomes melodramatic and the conflict feels almost forced at one point with how Mai (Yume Miyamoto) talks with Josee. That aside, the story is touching, sometimes funny and a bit tear-jerking.
The characters in this movie are, in a lack of better words, wonderful. Each of the characters in the film are fleshed out with distinct personalities, traits and flaws that work off of each other greatly. The voice acting for these characters also brings them to life and makes them believable. Tsuneo and Josee's interactions are fun to watch as they grow closer over the course of the movie, going from almost antagonistic to slowly growing to love each other. One of the problems that can be found with a lot of romantic comedies is that the couples do not blend together well and you question how they are dating in the first place *cough He's All That cough*. But in this movie, we can genuinely see how these two get over hurdles and better understand each other. But the character that could have used improvement was Mai as her role in the movie, especially the latter half, makes her more antagonistic than she should.
The Cinematography and Animation
What can be said about the cinematography and animation? The film is a gorgeous film to behold, with a combination of warm and cool color palettes that make the film stunning to watch. Using a mixture of Japanese Animation as well as CGI, the settings and characters pop to life and creates imagery that keeps the viewer's attention.
Josee, The Tiger and The Fish is a touching movie that is not only visually stunning, but tells a captivating story of two different people falling in love in a way that feels fresh and enjoyable. Is the film perfect? No, the story becomes slightly melodramatic towards the end, but it manages to spring back and give the viewers an ending worth watching. This is a film that will tug at your heartstrings and will make you tear up a bit. If you liked A Silent Voice or I want to eat your Pancreas, you will like this movie too.
Josee, The Tiger and The Fish is not out on DVD/Blu-Ray or Streaming, this will be updated upon official release.