Film festivals are events deserving of the appropriate solemnity. It is an opportunity for stoic consumers of art, to join together in appreciation of the finest cultured selections. Film festivals are to be taken seriously and are a haven for only the most seriously crafted of cinema…Just kidding. Here’s our review of Monster Seafood Wars.
In Monster Seafood Wars, young Yuta Tanuma is a disgraced scientist that is now working at his father’s sushi shop. His father has a reputation for picking only the very best seafood, so it’s devastating when Yuta Tanuma has a bike accident that causes him to lose the prized catch of the day — an octopus, a squid, and a crab. Things go from bad to worse when the seafood delights come back as fearsome monsters! Tanuma must (reluctantly) join the Seafood Monster Attack Team to save the city, and maybe find romance and a nemesis along the way.
Monster Seafood Wars is directed by Minoru Kawasaki and stars Keisuke Ueda and Ayano Christie Yoshida. Kawasaki has been a previous Fantasia favorite, with titles among the fest’s previous selections like The Calamari Wrestler (2004), Executive Koala (2005), and Rug Cop (2006).
Kawasaki drew his inspiration for Monster Seafood Wars from an octopus-centered Kaiju film by the legendary Eiji Tsuburaya. That abandoned octopus monster would be the jumping-off point for none other than king of all monsters, Godzilla. Monster Seafood Wars is an official selection of the 2020 Slash Film Festival and the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival. The film will enjoy its International Premiere at Fantasia 2020, as one of the fest’s On Demand offerings.
The film is as warming and comforting as the massive seafood bowl of the film’s climax. It’s an ideal cultural stew of Japan’s storied Kaiju genre, as well as an exploration of Japan by way of cinematic tropes and cuisine. It’s clear to any viewer that Minoru Kawasaki is a master of his genre and an expert in all things monster. His understanding of the appeal and history of Kaiju films is so great that he can easily create an almost-parody, with a lot of sincerity and even more heart. Monster Seafood Wars is a buffet that offers up a tantalizing spread of Japan’s cultural highlights, resulting in a delightful and accessible watch for any viewer.
The film is a wonderful return to the more retro style of suited monster battles. Everything about the film feels scrappy and imaginative. The film does not boast high-budget visuals and instead runs entirely on passion, imagination, and downright silly practical effects (and we mean silly in the best possible way). The film is ridiculous and ridiculously fun. The crudeness of the effects and performances all add to the charm. There’s a childlike imagination that is inherent to the film that has the power to spread to and overcome the viewer.
An unexpected treat is that the entire film operates as “feel-good food porn.” The monsters are, regrettably, absent from a great deal of the film and more often Monster Seafood Wars relies on mouthwatering shots of food to keep the audience engaged. This critic can appreciate the hustle and assures you that the balance of ghoulish monster to gourmet hits the spot!
With Monster Seafood Wars, prepare to throw away any pretentious sensibilities! The film is an escape and a delight. Come for the monsters, be taken in by the seafood, and stay for what feels like 82 minutes of creative playtime. Charming and imaginative, Monster Seafood Wars is serving up one of the best watches of Fantasia 2020 thus far!
Monster Seafood Wars is available On Demand during the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival. The fest runs from August 20 to September 2, 2020.
Monster Seafood Wars
Caitlin is a sweater enthusiast, film critic, and lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began with being shown Rosemary’s Baby at a particularly impressionable age and she’s been hooked ever since. She loves a good bourbon and hates people who talk in movies. Caitlin has been writing since 2014 and you can find her work on Film Inquiry, The Financial Diet, Nightmarish Conjurings, and many others.