Crime or Punishment?!? is a Japanese comedy about a pinup girl who is in love with a serial killer. Sort of. Well, maybe. Actually who knows… This movie is a massive interconnected web of unusual character interactions and bizarre story sequences that is difficult to define in any simple terms.
An opening sequence narration introduces a man called Kase, and just as we think he might be one of the films characters theres a surreal sidestep into murderous chaos and from there the movie devolves into a deranged juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated segments, flitting forwards and backwards through the story in a non-linear roller coaster of strange. Ayame Enjoji (Riko Narumi) is a, somewhat unsuccessful, pin up girl whose meltdown in a local supermarket somehow earns her the position of Chief of Police for 24 hours – from that frankly bizarre sentence you should be able to gauge that the reality meter on this film is broken, or more likely never existed.
Reluctant to take on the duties of the Chief of Police, Ayame is reunited with Haruki Onda (Kento Nagayama) someone she used to date and is now a detective. As if things weren’t odd enough the backstory between these two characters reveals that he has a penchant for brutally murdering girls, but its OK because it’s all quite hilarious… Naturally. This is a comedy, so rather than him being a dark monster who preys on and murders pretty women, he’s a ‘kooky’, bashful young man who just can’t help tearing them to shreds. One interlude actually has his mother and a psychoanalyst discussing his predilections in the foreground whilst in the background he tries to kill Ayame.
Ayame, though, is on his side and no matter how much he wants to turn himself in various other characters also seem happy to let him continue picking off women one at a time and help him to cover it up. Yes. This movie is bat shit crazy. Then there’s a robbery, a kidknapping, an unnecessary sequence involving urine, and various other oddities. It takes a while for any of it to make even a semblance of sense, but like the logic of complex systems seemingly small and irrelevant acts have a purpose when considered as part of the whole, and it takes until the end of the film to finally realise the big picture.
Crime or Punishment?!? takes cues from surrealism, having peculiar and out of place things appear on screen, for instance scantily clad pin up girls are rolled across the screen at one point and no one in the scene bats an eyelid. The movie takes the gamble of muddling everything up into a large surreal melting pot of crazy – both by messing with the linearity of the story, and by the inclusion of so many out of the ordinary things. It’s not immediately engrossing or entertaining nor is it flawless by any means, but if you stick with it there’s enough madness littered throughout for it to be funny and towards the end it’s impossible not to have enjoyed this kaleidoscope of lunacy.
Crime or Punishment?!? is available on DVD May 14.