User:Astounding Beyond Belief/Sandbox/Jellyfish Eyes
Four cloaked figures conduct a mysterious experiment in a laboratory, resulting in the brief appearance of a wispy, monstrous head. They deem the test a failure, in need of more negative energy to succeed. A researcher berates them for carrying out the test without notifying him.
A year after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, two evacuees prepare to begin a new life in a rural town. Before long, young Masashi Kusakabe notices strange things in he and his mother's apartment: glimpses of a small figure's shadow and chee-kama (cheese-and-fish-cake stick) wrappers strewn about the floor.
The next day, Masashi returns home from a visit to his new elementary school to find it ransacked. Suddenly, a box of chee-kama launches itself towards him. He pins it to the ground and discovers a floating pink creature inside, who he names Kurage-bo (Jellyfish Boy). They quickly become friends, playing soccer and practicing martial arts at a deserted shrine. That night, Masashi dreams about feeding chee-kama and talking to his now-deceased father, who made the snack as part of his job. They are interrupted by a tsunami shimmering with unnatural colors.
On the first day of school, Masashi brings Kurage-bo in his backpack, sneaking him chee-kama when he gets hungry. To his surprise, everyone in his class possesses a similar companion, who they call F.R.I.E.N.D.s. Small rectangular Devices allow them to summon and control these creatures, who emerge en masse as soon as their teacher turns around to write equations on the board. A frog-like F.R.I.E.N.D., Yupi, menaces Masashi at the whim of its owner, Tatsuya, but Kurage-bo defeats it in a fierce battle.
Masashi comes home to find his uncle, Naoto, who works at the local research center, arguing with his mother at the door. “This town is dangerous,” Naoto appeals to Yasuko. She retorts with anger, “You want us out of here?” Later, Naoto makes Masashi promise to report to him if he notices anything strange. Although Naoto takes note of Kurage-bo in Masashi's backpack, he doesn't bring it up.
One day on his way home from school, Masashi comes across his classmates playing on the grounds of a shrine, making their F.R.I.E.N.D.s fight one another. The boys try to force Masashi to join the battle, but Kurage-bo is nowhere to be seen and the F.R.I.E.N.D.s are upon him. At the crucial moment, enormous and powerful Luxor appears together with Kurage-bo and they fight the F.R.I.E.N.D.s off. Luxor, Masashi finds out, is his classmate Saki's F.R.I.E.N.D.
Saki reveals to Masashi that her Device was given to her, at a time when she was feeling down about family problems, by the top-level members of the research center. Cloaked in black, the four told her that the Device would give her “a friend who will never betray.” They gave out Devices to all the elementary school students in town. Soon the children started pitting F.R.I.E.N.D.s against F.R.I.E.N.D.s in battle, and now these battles take place all over.
Meanwhile, a school festival is going on at the University, where Naoto's research center is located. The cult group to which Saki's mother, Shizuko (Asuka Kurosawa), belongs claims that the research going on at the University is evil and dangerous. They have organized a protest. When Shizuko presses Saki to pray with her, Masashi and Saki run away hand-in-hand and end up stepping into the midst of the research center. The Black-Cloaked Four, seeing the powerful energy in Masashi, start plotting to trap him in their hands.
Having shared their problems with one another, Masashi and Saki start to develop a bond. But Tatsuya and Juran, who have found out that Naoto works for the research center, conspire against Masashi and kidnap Kurage-bo. While visiting Masashi, who is injured by Yupi and hospitalized, Naoto gives him a Device "as protection," but something seems amiss.
What have the Black-Cloaked Four done to Naoto? As the negative emotions of the children heighten, the mysterious research center sends a message to the children, luring them to the ultimate F.R.I.E.N.D. competition.
What is the true aim of the Black-Cloaked Four? Can Masashi reunite with Kurage-bo? And what is the secret kept inside the F.R.I.E.N.D.s? Masashi and his schoolmates must now face the most powerful F.R.I.E.N.D. of all, summoned by the Black-Cloaked Four...
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Takashi Murakami
- Written by Jun Tsugita, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Takashi Murakami (story)
- Produced by Mana Fukui, Chiaki Kasahara, Yoshihiro Nishimura
- Executive Producing by Takashi Murakami
- Music by kz, Yoshihiro Ike
- Cinematography by Yasutaka Nagano
- Edited by Yoshihiro Nishimura
- Production Design by Nori Fukuda
- Assistant Directing by Jun Shiozaki
- Special Effects by Kiyotaka Taguchi, Tsuyoshi Kazuno
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Takuto Sueoka as Masashi Kusakabe
- Himeka Asami as Saki Amamiya
- Asuka Kurosawa as Shizuko Amamiya
- Kanji Tsuda as Tatsuo Kusakabe
- Mayu Tsuruta as Yasuko Kusakabe
- Takumi Saito as Naoto Kozuka
- Masataka Kubota as Blue Dragon
- Shota Sometani as White Tiger
- Hidemasa Shiozawa as Black Tortoise
- Ami Ikenaga as Vermilion Bird
- Takehiro Otsuki as Tatsuya Kodaira
- Taiki Negishi as Juran Sagara
- Arata Ishikawa as Koh Nakagawa
- Masaya Fukumoto as Manato Hayashi
- Wataru Murakami as Toshida
- Eihi Shiina as Home Room Teacher
- Shoichiro Masumoto as Mr. Sasaki
- Kentaro Shimazu as Vice-principal
- Kentaro Kishi as Ichiro Kodaira
- Umi Yamano as Cultist
- Shin Ikeda as Cultist
- Makishi Suzu as Cultist
- Naoki Haga as Akira Shibata
- Tensei Matsuoka as Ryo Kokubo
- Kakeru Yoshida as Yusuke Kuwano
- Ruka Uchida as Hayato Yokosaka
- Keiya Inada as Shingo Noguchi
- Kazuki Hashimoto as Kazuya Hara
- Ami Fujii as Hisako Sawano
- Miyu Takagi as Kumiko Okada
- Mofuku-chan with Denpa Gumi.inc as Idol Singers
- Akiko Yajima as Kurage-bo (voice)
- Houko Kuwashima as KO2 (voice)
- Flamingo as Performance Group
- Shofukutei Riko as Rakugo Performer
- Arata Yamanaka as Manato's Father
- Ikuko Tsuruoka as Akira's Mother
- Nami Miura as Ryo's Mother
- Mieko Ishikura as Yusuke's Mother
- Masaki Hayashi as Naoto's Body Double
- Naoto's Body Double
- Dozens of other unnamed F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
- United States - April 8, 2013
- Japan - April 23, 2013
- Spain - October 12, 2013 (Sitges Film Festival)
- Canada - July 20, 2014 (Fantasia International Film Festival)
- Mexico - November 14, 2014 (Morbido Film Fest)
- Argentina - April 18, 2015 (Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema)
- Poland - November 19, 2016 (Five Flavours Film Festival)
Toho Blu-ray (2014)
Criterion DVD/Blu-ray (2015)
- Region: 1 (DVD) or A/1 (Blu-ray)
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (5.1)
- Subtitles: English
- Special Features: Leaflet, Jellyfish Eyes 2 trailer, interview with director Takashi Murakami (23 minutes), Making F.R.I.E.N.D.S. behind-the-scenes featurette (16 minutes), Takashi Murakami: The Art of Film behind-the-scenes featurette (40 minutes)
The trailer, available on the Criterion DVD and Blu-ray, indicates that a significant amount of post-production work had been completed by 2015.
- The title Jellyfish Eyes comes from a misprint in a famous manga by Yoshiharu Tsuge, "Screw Style." It furthers a favorite theme of Murakami's: that "misinterpretation, misunderstanding, produces something new and interesting. As the title for my first film—because I didn’t have any idea what I was making, where it was going—I wanted the title to be something that can be anything." He first used Jellyfish Eyes as the title of a piece in 2002.
This is a list of references for Astounding Beyond Belief/Sandbox/Jellyfish Eyes. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: