Tags: Dark, Sci-Fi, Tragedy
Content Warnings: Su*cide, Child Endangerment, Adult/Child Drug use, Child Su*cide
“Zetsubou no Kaibutsu” is a drama and horror film that follows the story of Aoi Hoshino, a fourteen-year-old alien girl. The Hoshino family uses a special medicine to appear human, but things take a mysterious turn when the medicine’s effects start to fade, affecting only Aoi. Premiering on June 10, 2019, the film has a runtime of 29 minutes and is directed by Junya Kotani, marking their first credit under this name according to MyAnimeList. The average fan score for the film is 5.75/10.
So at first we see a family where the main girl, Aoi, is an annoying little brat, not to mince my words. She’s angry at her mom for not taping the documentary she wants to watch, and calls her the worst.
As you can see, the animation quality isn’t the greatest. Regardless, we get a really long slow burn where Aoi doesn’t eat for a good long while as a result of being punished by her mom (or is it stubbornness? Not really explored in the film). We see that she’s got a relationship going on with one of her fellow classmates.
Well, it turns out this classmate, Keigo, has taped the documentary that Aoi wants to see, and invites her over to come see it. She happily agrees.
We get a cute scene of these two kids as a young, blossoming love beings to develop; but something happens.
Aoi’s body begins to change. And not in a “puberty” kind of way. Her arm starts to change form drastically and she panics, hiding it from the boy as she rushes out of the house. At home, we see that her parents see her and panic. It’s here we learn more about their family dynamic:
Aoi’s family are aliens, who take a drug to disguise themselves as humans. Apparently, they escaped their home planet due to severe unrest, and opted to stay in Japan for a “quiet life.” However, we see that for some reason, Aoi is developing a tolerance to the drug, and thus it isn’t working properly. They have to keep injecting her over and over again for it to work.
The father says he’ll be going on a trip to talk to “some people he knows” on what’s going on with Aoi and why it’s like this. In the meantime, Aoi is holed up in her room so that nobody can see her. She’s extremely lonely, and has to ignore Keigo constantly reaching out to her to see why she isn’t coming to school.
Things take a horrible turn when Aoi’s younger brother wakes up, only to have his entire face disfigured due to his disguise no longer working. The mother is horrified. The father returns from his trip and Aoi eagerly rushes to greet him, only to sense a very somber tone between him and Aoi’s mother. Aoi’s father says that they just have to take this new medicine he’s gotten, and they’ll be fine.
Aoi’s mother snatches the injection gun from the father’s hands and says she’ll go first. She tells Aoi “Mama loves you,” before injecting herself. She collapses and dies on the spot. Aoi screams and the father explains that there’s nothing they can do if the medicine isn’t working anymore except to take their own lives.
Aoi grabs her brother’s hand (who no longer looks like an alien after double-dosing on the initial drug) and rushes out of their apartment as the father pours gasoline everywhere and lights it on fire. The apartment, along with the father and mother’s corpse, explodes.
Aoi takes her brother to a shrine where she comforts him as either her or he applies the dose of the suicide medicine. Either way, it’s clear that it wasn’t explained to him what the medicine would exactly do, or what was going on.
Before using the medicine on herself, Aoi visits Keigo’s house late at night and tells him the truth: that she’s an alien. He, of course, doesn’t believe her, but is shocked when he sees her arm that she’s hiding underneath a blanket. Aoi tells him that she likes him too, before leaving. Our final sequence shows Aoi standing against a sea, about to take her own life.
Opinions / Analysis
I quite enjoyed the anime film, it’s clear there are some obvious production problems, making the visuals of this film. Surprisingly, the voice acting is not one of them! I think the voice acting was great.
I think the story would have been better suited as either a short series about 8-10 episodes, or a longer movie to fully explore its well-written narrative. The story is kind of like Edgar Allen Poe’s tension-filled story mixed with Sci-fi aliens.
I acknowledge the pacing was decent, I feel that a longer runtime might have improved it. On a spectrum, the film is definitely closer to “Too fast” then “too slow”. However, I also recognize that a longer film would require more production resources, and it seems the film had budget constraints.
Don’t watch this film if you can’t focus on the story if the visuals aren’t great. Otherwise, I’d recommend it. I’m hoping to see more adaptations of this story; it seems like a take on Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” short story (no, not the extremely depressing h*ntai).
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