Ubisoft Presents Fantasia 2008

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The Chasing World

(Riaru onigokko)
Sponsored by: Pepsi Dičte Max

Canadian Premiere

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Director: Issei Shibata
Screenplay: Issei Shibata, from Yusuke Yamada
Cast: Takuya Ishida, Mitsuki Tanimura, Shunsuke Daitō, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Akira Emoto
Producers: Toshiaki Nakazawa
Distributor: Geneon Entertainment Inc.


Satos of Japan, beware! Something very strange is happening across the country. A rash of freakish deaths, through bizarre accidents or suicide, is claiming the lives of anyone with the name Sato. Not that high school student Tsubasa Sato is giving too much thought. He’s preoccupied with his sister, catatonic in the hospital. And with his broken, alcoholic father. And with the gang of teenage gang toughs looking to kick his ass. Luckily, Sato is really good at running and dodging, so good there’s something unreal about it. For Sato, though, the unreal becomes real when from one instant to the next he finds himself in a parallel version of our world, the same and yet very different. His friends have changed somehow, and more importantly, the mysterious, masked King, from his imposing tower in the heart of the city, has decreed a sort of public game of tag. Evil, hooded creeps are racing around town, murdering anyone named Sato, and they have their sights set on our hero!

With this delightful adaptation of the novel by Yusuke Yamada, Issei Shibata—primarily a producer, with THE SHADOW SPIRIT, also at Fantasia this year, to his credit—delivers an admirable exercise in clever counterpoint. The pumping adrenaline of the desperate footrace that threads THE CHASING WORLD, a motif of arcade-game simplicity, as well as the deliberate toying with corny B-movie tropes (the King’s mask and courtroom could have come from any of the crappy STAR WARS knockoffs of the turn of the ’80s), are played off an intriguing premise aligned with the transposed realities of Philip K. Dick, an understated, eerily melancholy classical music score, and moments of true darkness. Run, don’t walk, to the lineup for this startling and satisfying little gem.

—Rupert Bottenberg