Jellyfish Eyes (2013)

jellyfish eyes poster 2013 movie
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 7/10

Weird family adventure

Feels more like a rip-off of Pokémon than its own thing

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Jellyfish Eyes

Studio:  Kaikai Kiki Co./Nishimura Motion Picture Model Makers Group

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s):  April 8, 2013 (Premiere)/April 23, 2013 (Japan)/August 8, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

jellyfish eyes masashi kurago bo takuto sueoka

I’ve got to catch them all!!!

Masashi Kusakabe (Takuto Sueoka) has just moved to a new city after the death of his father.  When he encounters a strange creature he names Kurago-bo, Masashi discovers that the other children of the town have creatures too called F.R.I.E.N.D.s that they control with devices given out by a mysterious nearby lab where Masashi’s uncle Naoto (Takumi Saitoh) works.  Masashi finds himself and a classmate Saki Amamiya (Himeka Asami) facing bullies, but something more is happening in the town…and the F.R.I.E.N.D.s could be a key to it all.

Directed by Takashi Murakami, Jellyfish Eyes (めめめのくらげ or Mememe no Kurage) is a fantasy action-adventure.  The film received mixed to negative reviews upon its release.  The Criterion Collection released a version of the film (Criterion #787).

jellyfish eyes saki amamiya himeka asami

Just a girl and her furry F.R.I.E.N.D.

I went into Jellyfish Eyes with just the title and a picture of the cover…and I expected a Japanese animated film.  Instead, Jellyfish Eyes is a live action adventure that walks the fine line between kaiju film, Pokémon, and The Karate Kid.

The film feels like an almost straight rip-off of Pokémon in its set-up.  The kids have these creatures that they keep in computers and they release them to fight.  The hero (Masashi) has a mysterious “untethered” F.R.I.E.N.D. (Kurago-bo) that is a better and more loyal creature than the other characters.  Of course, the new kid is bullied and befriends a girl in his class learns to master his F.R.I.E.N.D. soon enough to battle a kaiju F.R.I.E.N.D…the movie is odd but cliche.

The movie cast is mostly children.  While Takuto Sueoka and Himeka Asami are nice, the rest of classmates are some of the worst brats (it also doesn’t help that they are pretty screechy).  The kids aren’t the best actors, but they are also often acting with computer generated characters that aren’t there.

jellyfish eyes manga girl battle

We are entering Street Fighter territory…

The movie looks…odd.  The film chooses pretty traditional looking animated characters instead of realistic characters including one of the characters who is a Sailor Moon style fighter that takes on the other F.R.I.E.N.D.s with Street Fighter moves.  The aesthetics of the film are good and the characters created as F.R.I.E.N.D.s have have that Pokémon-look, but it feels like a cheaper rip-off the real thing.

Jellyfish Eyes is just a strange movie (and one of the stranger Criterion Collection choices).  The movie feels rather generic fantasy combined with so-so manga style tale.  If the film had been created as a critique or examination of the Pokémon and collector culture, it might have been more interesting, but the story plays it straight.  The movie was meant to have a sequel, but the plans for the sequel were scrapped…which makes this rather open-ended film even weirder.  I choose you, Kurago-bo!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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