Love & Peace (2015)
Love & Peace (ラブ
The panelists of a talk show suddenly pivot from discussing the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics to trashing Ryoichi Suzuki, a 33-year-old former rock musician now toiling thanklessly as a clerk for a company making parts for musical instruments. Watching the show in his apartment, he rushes out the door in terror. On the subway, every passenger stares at him; strangers taunt him in the restroom; the automatic door at his job refuses to open for him; his coworkers cover his desk and occasionally him with "hazardous waste" labels. Only the reserved Yuko Terashima takes pity, tearing off the label on his back and offering him pills for his stomachache. On his lunch break, he decides to buy a turtle from a street vendor.
Wearing his old rock outfit at home, Ryoichi plays the turtle a tune and insists he is more than the loser people perceive him as. Searching for a name for the turtle, he thoughtlessly settles on "Pikadon" (the onomatopoeia in Japanese for a nuclear explosion) after an interviewee on the talk show mistakes it for the name of a kaiju. He plays The Game of Life with the turtle and finds he traverses the path to success perfectly... until the final fork in the road, where he crawls to the pills Yuko gave Ryoichi. Ryoichi reveals that he is in love with her, prompting the talk show panelists to mock him again. Changing the channel and seeing a report on Nippon Stadium, the arena built for the Olympics, he vows to perform a concert there. He writes down the steps to success on a piece of cardboard, akin to the Game of Life, sets down boxes representing buildings on the sides of the path, and encourages Pikadon to walk down it.
The next day, Ryoichi brings Pikadon to work. Commuters still stare at him, but doors and elevators open for him now. Yuko joins him in the elevator, and he hears her listening to rock music, but he is too petrified to speak to her. At home, he constructs a more elaborate board, which culminates in Pikadon looming over a toy baseball field representing Nippon Stadium. Time passes and Ryoichi grows even more attached to Pikadon—but when Yuko notices the turtle, she sets off a chain of mockery that extends even after he flees his workplace. Despite her quiet assurances, he flushes Pikadon down a toilet in a blind panic. He instantly regrets it, but Pikadon is gone. Wandering in a daze, he lunges for a guitar with a body partially shaped like a turtle; the owner kicks him away.
Pikadon's voyage through the Tokyo sewers takes him to a subterranean workshop full of abandoned pets and toys, all of whom can speak. A homeless man named Pa greets him, then turns his attention to a damaged Robosapien toy who washed up at the same time. The toys rehash old arguments; Sune, a cat, is disgusted at the humans who threw them away, while the doll Maria clings to the hope that her child still wants her, as her parents were the ones who discarded her. Despite Sune's pessimism, Pa quickly revives the little robot. Before going to bed, Pa attempts to give Pikadon a piece of candy that will allow him to talk.
Mourning Pikadon, Ryoichi is suddenly struck with inspiration for a song, which he develops by wandering the streets and looking at signs. Now dog-sized, Pikadon awakens Pa and the others by wordlessly singing the same song. Pa realizes he accidentally had Pikadon ingest a type of candy that will let him grant wishes. The others are aghast that he kept such a wonder from them, but he warns them that wishes can compound and grow out of control, as Pikadon is starting to do. Still, he vows to make the wish most important to them come true before the year ends.
The following morning, the guitarist Ryoichi accosted, Shu Naito, throws him into his van with the help of his band, Revolution Q. They drag him onstage during their next concert as a spectacle. Shu mockingly gives him a guitar and orders him to sing, only for him to astonish the band and the audience alike with his new song. Overcome with emotion, he flees the scene and returns to work, but reminders of Pikadon are everywhere. His misery is interrupted by Matsui, a producer at a record company who was moved by his song, which she misinterprets as an anti-war anthem. She vows to make him a star. His new manager, Satoru Inagawa, rechristens him Wild Ryo and pairs him with the now-friendly Revolution Q. Inagawa and Shu encourage him to quit his job and devote himself completely to music. The moment Shu leaves, Inagawa also tells him to quit Revolution Q at year's end and rise to even greater heights. He reveals that he has replicated the entire contents of Ryoichi's apartment at the company's headquarters, the better to let him concentrate on songwriting. Ryoichi awakens the next morning in a panic, having overslept for work, but when his boss calls to harangue him, he tosses the cell phone aside and gazes out at his stunning view of Tokyo Bay. Newly emboldened, he hands out tickets to his first official concert to his coworkers, including Yuko. It's a wild success. At Matsui's suggestion, Ryoichi replaces "Pikadon" with "Love & Peace" in the song's lyrics.
After the show, he thanks Yuko for coming and takes her back to his new-old home. The song even reaches the sewers, where the toys dance to it on the radio. The robot toy PC-300 malfunctions, having drunk Pa's whiskey, and as the old man repairs him, he tells the toys and animals that he will soon bring them up to the surface and find them new homes. Some are determined to leave before then, but Sulkie talks them out of it, reminding them that their old owners are no more likely to want them now. After Maria leads them in a round of "Love & Peace", a tearful Pikadon seeks out Ryoichi. He finds him struggling to write a new song. Ryoichi is overjoyed at his return, and Pikadon promptly provides him with the melody for another song; then, by knocking over stacks of books, adds the lyrics. Yuko discovers Pikadon when she returns to his apartment and quickly realizes that he's the same turtle he had before. Angered by the reminder of his old life, he orders her to leave, but Pikadon departs too. He debuts the second song at his next concert without informing his bandmates, leaving them standing uselessly on the stage as his basks in the crowd's adulation. They threaten to quit, put off by his arrogant attitude and the new sound, but he reminds them that he's the sole reason for their success. Yuko tries to reconcile with him, but he believes she only cares about him now due to his success.
Pa closes the sewer gates after Pikadon returns, though he is ready to deliver Ryoichi another song. When Pa falls asleep, the toys and animals conspire to open them so that Pikadon, Marie, Sulkie, and PC-300 can head to the surface, concealed under dozens of cardboard boxes sewn together. As they approach the concert hall, onlookers throw off their disguise, and Marie and PC-300 become separated from Sulkie and Pikadon in the confusion. Ryoichi announces the dissolution of Revolution Q on stage, again to the fury of his bandmates. Pikadon interrupts his press conference afterwards; feigning telepathic abilities, Ryoichi coaxes another tune out of him before a stunned crowd, then poses for photos with him. Sulkie watches in disgust.
After pushing around the other members of Revolution Q, who call him a sellout, Ryoichi agrees to let them stay on, though he will now be billed as a solo act. He discovers too late Pikadon's capture and imprisonment by the government; even his fame is unable to secure his release as a team of scientists prepares to study him. Meanwhile, Sulkie finds Maria staring longingly at the store where she was originally sold. She refuses to return to the sewers, believing that Pa's promises are lies. Later, she spots her former owner with a new doll, leaving her heartbroken. The mood is almost as grim in the sewer, but Pa, dressed as Santa Claus and decorating a Christmas tree, promises them that Maria and Pikadon will return. He gives them drinks to make them sleep and heads up to the surface, now no longer just dressed as Santa Claus; he is Santa Claus. He finds Maria and gives her the same drink. When they return home, all the animals have become young again and the toys are fully refurbished and in their original packaging. As he sets Maria in her box, the same happens to her. He loads them all into a sleigh, which true to form is pulled by a reindeer. Sulkie warns him that he will have to repeat this process with more abandoned souls next year, which saddens him for a moment, but he presses on.
On Christmas Day, Ryoichi's first concert as a solo act takes place at Nippon Stadium, exactly as he dreamed. But it's still not enough: he wants to embark on a world tour next. Pa, unseen by the scientists, visits Pikadon and gives him the candy that will allow him to speak before vanishing. As the concert begins, Pikadon breaks out of his restraints, growing to the size of a kaiju. After destroying the laboratory, he stomps through Tokyo. Despite the destruction he causes, his slow pace leads to zero causalities, and the city's residents are generally thrilled to see him, recognizing him from Ryoichi's press conference. He imagines himself on the board Ryoichi built for him and continues on a path towards Nippon Stadium. Tanks open fire on him, but are powerless to stop him from toppling the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Despite its proximity to Nippon Stadium, the noise of the crowd drowns out its collapse. Suddenly Pikadon comes into view, leaving Ryoichi speechless. Pikadon echoes what Ryoichi once told him about having hidden depths and terrifies him by broadcasting his love for Yuko before dissolving into light.
Ryoichi staggers off the stage as Yuko rushes to see him. In tears at what he has become, he leaves the stadium and returns to his old apartment. Pikadon, now a regular turtle again, crawls through his open window to his awe and adulation. Yuko, having followed him, stands at the threshold of his apartment building, seemingly preparing herself to walk in.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Sion Sono
- Written by Sion Sono
- Executive producers Hirofumi Shigemura, Shuichi Nagasawa, Hidetoshi Yamamoto, Naoto Miyamoto
- Produced by Atsushi Moriyama, Masao Teshima, Eiichi Kamagata, Tsutomu Yanagimura
- Line producer Takeshi Suzuki
- Music by Yasuhiko Fukuda
- Theme song "Slow Ballad"
- Performed by RC Succession
- Written and composed by Kiyoshiro Imawano, Mikan
- Arranged by Katsu Hoshi, RC Succession
- Cinematography by Nobuya Kimura
- Edited by Junichi Ito
- Production design by Tsuyoshi Shimizu
- 1st assistant directors Noshin Kaze, Chihiro Maruya
- Director of special effects Kiyotaka Taguchi
- 1st assistant director of special effects Masayoshi Takesue
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Hiroki Hasegawa as Ryoichi Suzuki
- Kumiko Aso as Yuko Terashima
- Kiyohiko Shibukawa as Manager Satoru Inagawa
- Eita Okuno as Shu Naito, Revolution Q lead singer
- Makita Sports as Section chief of Ryoichi's company
- Motoki Fukami as Toru Tanaka, Ryoichi's coworker
- Toru Tezuka as Scientist
- Toshiyuki Nishida as Pa / Santa Claus
- Ichiro Ogura as Ryoichi's coworker
- Erina Mano as Schoolgirl
- Megumi Kagurazaka as Lily's mother
- Daikichi Sugawara as Reporter
- Kazuki Namioka as Ryoichi's neighbor
- Miyuki Matsuda as Matsui, record company producer
- Ryosuke Maniwa as Amano, Ryoichi's coworker
- Soichiro Tahara as TV host
- Hakase Suidobashi, Shinji Miyadai, Daisuke Tsuda, Ken Mogi as Pundits
- Dai Hasegawa as Dead (Revolution Q)
- Yukimasa Tanimoto as Nega (Revolution Q)
- IZUMI as Jane, Revolution Q keyboardist
- Kazunori Yokoo
- Gen Hoshino as PC-300 (voice)
- Shoko Nakagawa as Maria (voice)
- Inuko Inuyama as Sulkie (voice)
- Ikue Otani as Pikadon (voice)
Weapons, vehicles, and races
Sion Sono originally wrote the script for Love & Peace at the start of his career, but was unable to find investors willing to back it for roughly 20 years. The final script includes extensive references to the 2020 Summer Olympics, which Tokyo was selected to host in 2013. According to Sono, the tone of the film would have been darker had he been able to make it in the 1990s.
Kiyotaka Taguchi's tokusatsu unit filmed Pikadon's trek through Shinjuku from January 8, 2014, to January 14. They filmed the real Yasukuni Street area he travels through from the same angle, allowing real cars to be composited in front of him. The sheer size of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in relation to Pikadon required a 1/25th scale portion to be constructed for the monster to smash, whereas the collapse of the towers was accomplished with a separate model built at a smaller scale.
- Main article: Love & Peace/Gallery.
- Main article: Love & Peace/Soundtrack.
- China - April 19, 2015 (Beijing International Film Festival)
- Japan - June 26, 2015
- South Korea - July 18, 2015 (Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival)
- Canada - July 26, 2015 (Fantasia International Film Festival); October 22, 2015 (Toronto After Dark Film Festival)
- France - September 4, 2015 (L'Étrange Festival)
- Austria - September 22, 2015 (/slash Filmfestival)
- United States - September 30, 2015 (Fantastic Fest); November 9, 2015 (San Diego Asian Film Festival); July 16, 2016 (Japan Cuts)
- United Kingdom - October 11, 2015 (BFI London Film Festival)
- Scotland - February 24, 2016 (Glasgow Film Festival)
- Ireland - April 9, 2016 (Japanese Film Festival)
- Sweden - October 25, 2015 (Lund International Fantastic Film Festival)
- Argentina - November 1, 2015 (Mar del Plata Film Festival)
- Poland - November 18, 2015 (Five Flavours Film Festival)
- Italy - November 22, 2015 (Torino Film Festival)
- Serbia - March 2, 2016 (Belgrade Film Festival)
- Netherlands - April 21, 2016 (Imagine Film Festival)
- Germany - May 25, 2016 (Nippon Connection Film Festival)
- Mexico - June 25, 2016 (Riviera Maya Film Festival)
Love & Peace played at least three American film festivals: Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas (September 30, 2015); the San Diego Asian Film Festival (November 9, 2015); and Japan Cuts in New York City (July 16, 2016). Chicago Filmmakers also screened it on January 8 and 10 in 2016.
Love & Peace grossed ¥53 million during its Japanese theatrical run.
Love & Peace has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 8 reviews.
King Records DVD/Blu-ray (2015) [Standard Edition]
- Region: 2 (DVD); A (Blu-ray)
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: Unknown
- Special features: None
King Records DVD/Blu-ray + DVD (2015) [Collector's Edition]
- Region: 2 (DVD); A (Blu-ray)
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: Unknown
- Special features: 16-page photo book, postcards, stickers, two behind-the-scenes featurettes, trailers (85 minutes total)
- Notes: The featurettes and trailers are included on a DVD regardless of the format of the feature film.
Third Window Films DVD/Blu-ray (2016)
- Region: 2 (DVD); B (Blu-ray)
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1 for the DVD; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for the Blu-ray)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Behind-the-scenes featurette on the film's kaiju attack sequence (23:51)
- Ryoichi's disposal of Pikadon and the turtle's growth into a kaiju echo Gamera the Giant Monster and Gamera Super Monster, where the young boys Toshio Sakurai and Keiichi, respectively, are pressured by their parents into releasing their pet turtles. In Gamera the Giant Monster, Toshio believes that his turtle became Gamera, although the monster first appeared beforehand, while in Gamera Super Monster it is ambiguous whether Keiichi's turtle turned into the monster.
- Revolution Q may be named after the influential 1966 tokusatsu series Ultra Q. Its 6th episode, "Grow Up! Little Turtle", also focuses on a boy whose pet turtle turns into a giant.
- Two longtime Pokémon actors have self-referential roles in the film: Ikue Otani (Pikachu) voices Pikadon, while Inuko Inuyama (Meowth) voices the cat toy Sulkie.
- The English subtitles included on the film's home video releases by Third Window Films reference Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, with one of the pundits on the talk show Ryoichi watches asserting that "[t]he 2020 Olympics will make Japan great again."
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