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Film / Cold Fish

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A 2010 film written and directed by Sion Sono, Cold Fish tells the story of a quiet fishmonger named Nobuyuki who once again gets into trouble because his daughter gets caught stealing in a shop. The cheerful and charismatic Yukio who also happens to be a fishmonger bails him out. He suggests that Nobuyuki’s daughter may work at his shop (which is significantly larger than Nobuyuki’s) and that he and Nobuyuki can work together as business partners on top of that. Nobuyuki agrees, not yet knowing that the man he made a deal with is actually a psychopathic Serial Killer who has murdered well over 50 people. Soon he is blackmailed by the life of his daughter to assist him in what he calls making his victims "disappear". This is the beginning of a nightmare of Gorn and humiliation.


Cold Fish contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Nobuyuki in the last act of the story, after he kills Yukio.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: A disturbing example. It’s especially disturbing because of Yukio‘s reaction to the unexpected brutality of Nobuyuki - he seems to have a throwback to when his father raped him as a child.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Yukio’s wife is a very straight example of a lustful woman, but even Nobuyuki’s wife falls into this trope. The sex scene with Yukio showing this is particularly embarrassing to watch and seems very Out of Character.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Nobuyuki’s daughter after his suicide.
  • Beneath the Mask: Yukio may seem friendly at first with his extroverted behaviour. It takes some time until it gets clear that he is a psychopath and Serial Killer.
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  • Beware the Nice Ones: Nobuyuki seems like he couldn’t even harm a fly, but the appearance is disturbingly deceiving.
  • Break the Cutie: Most probably one of the most depressing and nerve-racking examples there is.
  • Call-Back: The very last thing you see before the credits is a picture of planet Earth. This is a call back to an earlier dialogue between Yukio and Nobuyuki: Yukio makes fun of Nobuyuki being fascinated with astronomy because for him, planet Earth is not a beautiful blue planet but just a cold rock in space. With this last picture, the movie raises the question to the viewer if he, after all the terrible things that happened throughout the movie, is still able to see Earth as a beautiful planet.
  • The Climax: The fairly long scene that results in Nobuyuki stabbing Yukio down.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Yukio makes Nobuyuki seem like this because of his fascination for astronomy.
  • Crapsack World: More or less the point of the whole thing; Yukio wants to make Nobuyuki (a man who loves the world) see the world as a crapsack world. He succeeds, with Nobuyuki committing suicide at the end of the movie.
  • Downer Ending
  • Evil Mentor: Yukio is this to Nobuyuki, in a way.
  • Fan Disservice: A lot, especially towards the end.
  • Freak Out: Nobuyuki eventually takes this Up to Eleven, in an extremely disturbing manner.
  • Freudian Excuse: Yukio was abused by his father as a child.
  • Genre Shift: The story begins as a harmless family drama, even though some conflicts are present even then (like the daughter stealing). The first scene to imply where the story is going is the grotesque sex scene with Nobuyuki’s wife cheating on him with Yukio. Once the first murder occures, the movie has turned to a psycho thriller and there is no turning back, diving deep into Gorn territory.
  • Gorn: Scenes of this getting more and more frequent as the plot evolves.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Up to Eleven.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: A very memorable example of Yukio telling Nobuyuki this.
  • Improvised Weapon: A pen.
  • Jerkass: Yukio is an extreme example.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: This one is hard to bare even for Sono’s standards, easily reaching level 9.
  • Not So Different: Yukio and Nobuyuki.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: The finale.
  • Overprotective Dad: Nobuyuki beats up the boyfriend of his daughter. Naturally, this only happens after his aforementioned freak out.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: What Nobuyuki does/lets do with Yukio. After that there’s no turning back.
  • The Quiet One: Nobuyuki.
  • Rape as Backstory: Yukio.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Two cases of this.
    • A very, very rare example of a man forcing another man to have sex with a woman (the wife of the first man). This is the key scene of the movie, making Nobuyuki Freak Out.
    • After his Freak Out, Nobuyuki rapes his wife in another very distubing scene.
  • Sanity Slippage
  • Serial Killer: Yukio is one of the Power/Control type.
  • Strike Me Down With All Your Hatred: Yukio provokes Nobuyuki to strike him down. Noboyuki doesn’t seem to stand a chance against him though. Until he has the Freak Out and the tables turn.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Even though the movie itself states that the story it tells is true in the opening scene, the actual correspondence with true events is very thin.

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