For this edition of the Yuasa Chronicles we are taking a look at a movie, and not just any movie, Yuasa’s directorial debut. This is of course film based on a manga of the same name, Mind Game. Now for anyone who has seen this film, I do not need to talk to you about exactly how weird this movie is. For everyone else, the chief difficulty in talking about is getting you to understand exactly how weird it is, and how utterly normal at times. Of course the GIFs can help a lot in that regard. Which with that in mind lets use a GIF to talk about what is one of the coolest parts of the movie.
That is of course, the interpretation of God in this film. The main character is a wimpy coward who when hanging out with the girl she loves and her fiance, he ends gets shot by a Yakuza through the butt. In his final moments he had shown bravery to protect the girl he loves, which is part of why the Yakuza shoots him of course. He ends up meeting God, who in the world of Mind Game is represented by a creature that our minds are not able to comprehend and therefore is constantly changing form. Instead of going into the afterlife the protagonist instead charges the other way trying to get back to life. The god impressed by his resolve allows him to return to life, where he returns slightly before death, instead taking the gun using his butt and killing the Yakuza before running away in the stolen car.
Now if that seemed like a lot it is because it was, this movie likes to take its sweet time at parts and at other parts try to hotwire your brain with the sheer amount of things happening. Now I’m not saying this as a bad thing, but there are definitely several very abrupt pacing changes in this movie, so if you’re not ready for whiplash this may not be the movie for you. After he kills the Yakuza and drives away he ends up driving off a bridge to get away from other Yakuza and him, his crush, and his crush’s sister end up getting swallowed by a whale. Yes, you read that right, swallowed by a whale. Inside the whale they meet an old man who has been living there for many years and start to live with him.
Now I don’t want to talk too much more about the plot, but I would like to talk about how the movie really slows down here and looks at the character. Obviously not all of it lands, because it never could all land. When it does though it is often very interesting looks into characters that we have barely gotten to know so far. Spending so much time trapped inside a whale can change people and they are different when they escape. The main protagonist loses all of his clothes as he leaves the whale helping to symbolize rebirth into a whole new person. This is something that Yuasa also employs later in The Tatami Galaxy with the loss of clothes and rebirth into a new person of the main character.
I honestly just have less to say about Mind Game without spoiling more of the experience. This film has so much information packed into it that it really becomes impossible to write about for a medium length. You either dedicate an insane amount of time to pour over this film frame by frame or you can talk more briefly about your feelings towards it which I went with the latter. This movie packs in a lot of details that seem inconsequential that later end up coming back and meaning something. If you want just a fun watch with some deeper meaning behind it, or a film to write a ten page paper on for a film studies class I highly recommend Mind Game. It may not immediately seem like it, but it has something meaningful to say behind its fun veil of insanity.