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Tokyo OnlyPic 2008

North american Premiere

  • Japan 2008
  • 117 min
  • video
  • Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere

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Director: Riichiro Mashima
Screenplay: Riichiro Mashima
Cast: Yûki Himura, Junichi Mogi, Shôko Nakagawa, Osamu Shitara
Producers: Akira Takayama
Distributor: Geneon Entertainment Inc.


While the whole world was glued to its TV sets last summer, watching the grand, international spectacle that was the Beijing Olympics, a (somewhat) comparable event was occurring not so far away, in Tokyo. Sure, Beijing had its closing blow-out with Jackie Chan and Andy Lau, but that’s nothing compared to the opening ceremony of the unusual, unorthodox, utterly unhinged Tokyo OnlyPics. Starting innocuously enough with a display of pigeon dancers (the OnlyPic mascot is a cross-eyed cartoon pigeon), it wraps up with a chaotic clash of giant robots, sushi floats and a monumental Buddha head whose eyebeams destroy half of the New Tokyo Stadium. Following an address by the president on the OnlyPic committee and a rather dismaying “dance” by the freakish Egashira 2:50, 128 countries introduce their athletes and the games begin! Since you missed them in August, here’s your chance to enjoy such exciting and fascinating sports as the Women’s Hell Marathon, the Race for Love, a Brancer competition (the obscure sport of kicking one’s shoe off while swinging in the playground) and of course the subtle and surreal Watakkyu, a mystical variant on ping-pong.

In 2005, as part of DJ XL5’S INTERNATIONAL ZAPPIN’ PARTY, many of you witnessed the silly thrills of digital animator Riichiro Mashima’s SKI JUMPING PAIRS: ROAD TO TORINO 2006, a parody of the overblown absurdity of Olympic events which went on to sell a half-million DVDs. That was just a small taste of the Olympic lunacy that Mashima has assembled here, with the able assistance of an appropriately global crew of animators including Ignacio Ferreras, Richard Fenwick and Bill Plympton, whose “Luv Race” segment is a standout. “Hosted” by authentic (if somewhat secondary) Japanese celebrities Junichi Mogi and Shôko Nakagawa, TOKYO ONLYPIC 2008 is a non-stop cavalcade of hilarious gags and surreal ideas in a kaleidoscope of styles—live action, 2D and digital animation—that pokes fun at every aspect of sports broadcasting.

—Rupert Bottenberg

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