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Review: Underwater Love – Onna no kappa (2011)

Directed by: | 87 minutes | , fantasy, | Actors: , , , , , , Hiroshi Satô,

Asuki (Sawa Masaki) is in his thirties, works in a fish factory and is about to marry her boss until she suddenly comes across a kappa. This kappa turns out to have been her old classmate Aoki (Yoshiro Umezawa) who drowned at an early age and was never able to express his love to her. Although Asuki initially doesn’t want to know about this strange creature, she seems to become more and more intrigued by Aoki. The ‘kappa’ are in Japanese mythology. These are creatures that are half human and half tortoise. For example, they have the human structure but also a shell on their back and a kind of tortoise beak. The kappa must also keep their scalp wet and therefore always be near water. In 2007 the very successful ‘Summer Days with Coo’ was released which was about these creatures. The kappa is also central in ‘Underwater Love’ by director Shinji Imoaka, but there is a very big difference: ‘Underwater Love’ is a pinku production: a film consisting of explicit sex scenes. And this is not all, the subtitle of the film is ‘A Pink Musical’.

To start right away on the musical aspect: this is very bizarre. The songs have an extremely strange structure and are therefore difficult to hear. These musical scenes are complemented with even stranger dances that are very funny to watch. Unfortunately, this is also the highlight of the film, because otherwise there is little to enjoy. The story, as might be expected from a pinku movie, is dramatically bad. The main aim is to keep the viewer’s attention through the sex scenes. But these are also not very special and do not appear sensual in any way.

Most notable about ‘Underwater Love’ is the collaboration of cinematographer Christopher Doyle on this product. Doyle, known for the new classics ‘Hero’ and ‘In the Mood for Love’ may not immediately throw his name away, but his choice to work on ‘Underwater Love’ is difficult to understand. Scarce beautiful staging reminds of him, especially the opening scene in which a kappa in the water between the water plants is eating cucumbers, but otherwise it is all very poor from a cinematographic point of view. ‘Underwater Love’ has a number of brilliant dances, but that is far from saving the film. Unfortunately, this pinku musical will soon be forgotten, and that’s a good thing.

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