The film begins with 12-year-old Mitsuko who accidentally walks in on her school principal father raping her mother. Her father realizes this and one day invites his daughter to watch him and his wife having sex with Mitsuko locked in a cello case. Having been forced to watch her parents' love-making, Mitsuko's pervert father decides it's her turn. He locks his wife inside of the cello case and has his way with his daughter as his wife watches in horror.
This goes on without anyone at the school finding out, but over time, Mitsuko's mother Sayuri becomes extremely jealous of her daughter having sex with her father. Sayuri begins to attempt to kill Mitsuko on multiple occasions when her husband Gozo is away. When Mitsuko finally stands up to her mother, she pushes her down the stairs, killing her. But even after the funeral, Mitsuko's abuse continues at the hands of her father.
Mitsuko continues going to school where her father is the principal and one day jumps off the roof in an attempt to kill herself but only ends up in a wheelchair.
This is the Gorn filled tale of murder, incest and suicide that wheelchair-bound novelist Taeko intends to write. With her Bishounen assistant Yuji she will figure out the truth behind her newest story and her own past as well. But will her constant nightmares become too much to bear?
Strange Circus Contains the following Tropes
- Abusive Parents - AND HOW!
- Gozo rapes his wife and his daughter as he pleases, but Sayuri refuses to report her husband to police and Mitsuko becomes broken beyond repair.
- Sayrui get jealous of Mitsuko and tries to kill her when her husband is away.
- Mitsuko getting thrown down the stairs over a lost earring.
- All Women Are Lustful: In this movie they are, Mitsuko being the only exception
- Amnesiac Hero: Taeko shows some signs of this. Not all of her backstory is told and she can't seem to remember who she was as a child. And toward the end of the film, she admits to never knowing whether or not she was Mitsuko in the first place.
- Beneath the Mask: Happens to several characters, but namely Mitsuko's family and Yuji:
- Mitsuko always has to put on a brave face at school and hide the fact she's being abused and raped.
- Gozo is a caring elementary school principal who rapes and abuses his daughter as well as his wife.
- Sayuri is a housewife who has been raped, abused and forced to watch her husband's perversions.
- Yuji is Taeko's assistant that works for her publisher but it's revealed that he's actually Mitusko (?) all grown up and ready to go on a rampage for revenge.
- And especially Taeko who is actually Sayuri thinking she's Mitsuko grown up.
- Bishounen: Yuji
- Broken Bird: Mitsuko easily becomes this.
- Bungled Suicide: Mistuko, which is why she ends up in a wheelchair.
- Can't Have Sex, Ever:
- Yuji is shown to be the only main character who tries to avoid sex.
- Averted with Taeko even if she is in a wheelchair
- Chekhov's Gun: The earring Sayuri almost killed Mitsuko for.
- Circus of Fear: The movie opens up with one, although the only thing that you might consider frightening about this particular circus is that they brought a guillotine onto the stage and asked if anyone in the audience wanted to die.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Taeko is somewhat of a ditz and spacey.
- Domestic Abuse
- Driven to Suicide: Mitsuko
- Foreshadowing: Yuji suggests that perhaps Taeko should have Gozo and Mitsuko amputated. Come the end of the film Gozo is amputated...and Taeko/Sayuri (who believes she's Mitsuko) is next.
- In-Series Nickname: Taeko often calls Yuji 'Robo-chan' because of his somewhat robotic mannerisms.
- I Am Who?: Taeko begins to wonder who she is toward the end of the film. [[spoiler:She later learns that she's really Sayuri who believes she's M Itsuko.
- Leit Motif: The movie has some pretty amazing music despite its touchy subject matter.
- Love Martyr:
- Gozo and Sayuri's marriage (if you could call it love)
- And Gozo's love for his daughter Mitsuko
- Mind Screw: This movie lives, eats and breathes MindScrew.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Taeko.
- "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization:
- Mitsuko hates having sex with her father, but feels as though she was becoming her mother and when she becomes her mother, she claims to start enjoying the sex
- It's actually played with. At the end, the real Mitsuko rages over the exact line that states this, showing that she herself DID NOT enjoy it.
- Offing the Offspring: Sayuri attempts to do this because she's jealous of her 12-year-old daughter having sex with her husband. Subverted; Mitsuko survived the fall down the stairs.
- Once More, with Clarity!: At first it seems as if Sayuri died by falling down the stairs. When it's seen again, it's the opposite. Mitsuko fell down the stairs (but survived) yet Sayuri thinks she killed her daughter.
- Parental Incest: Gozo rapes his daughter in front of his wife.
- Rape as Backstory
- Sex Slave - We don't see this happen to wheelchair-bound Mitsuko as a teen but her father starts having multiple women over and having sex with them even when she's in the room. Even to the point of neglecting Mitsuko's needs such as going to the bathroom
- Show Within a Show: It's a movie within a movie, or rather, a book within a movie. It might be easy to forget but the things Taeko writes are not an exact re-telling of what happened, as shown by Mitsuko's reactions to them in the final act.
- Swallow the Key - Remember that earring Sayuri told Mitsuko to find when she was dying? One of Gozo's many sex slaves swallows it in front of Mitsuko to make her suffer after Mitsuko begged her to give it back.
- Wham Line: The Twist Ending of the story starts when Yuji tells Taeko this.Yuji: Shut up, mother.