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Tear Jerker / Isle of Dogs

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Isle of Dogs continues Wed Anderson's unique way of telling quite sad stories.

This page contains unmarked spoilers. You Have Been Warned!

  • The film's villain, Mayor Kobayashi, is responsible for pretty much every single unfortunate event in the film. All the canine main characters are good-natured and very selfless at best, and it makes Kobayashi's face very tempting to slap for heartlessly condemning these good-hearted creatures to a miserable existence.
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  • Dr. Watanabe's statement when he wonders "What ever happened to 'Man's best friend'?" Kind of a sobering testament of how quickly the people of Megasaki city allowed themselves to forget their friendship with the dogs. His tear is a nice cherry on top to drive the point home, showing that this is a personal issue for him as well as a professional one.
  • Dog owners and dog lovers will be hit very hard by the premise. While it can pass for Black Comedy, the Narrator goes over a list of all the diseases the dogs catch while living near, and eating, trash on an island, with visual aides to boot.
  • Assuming it's not just a rumor, according to Duke, his brother hanged himself with his own collar.
  • When the dogs bring Atari to the cage where Spots (supposedly) died, the poor kid tearfully stares, teeth gritted at the futility of coming to Dog Island.
    • The ensuing flashback showing Atari and Spots' first interaction. It's a quiet, gentle scene (aside from Major Domo's presence), but it establishes how Spots wasn't just Atari's guard dog: he was his emotional support after the latter lost his parents.
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  • Whoever "Sport" was, not only is he one of (possibly) many dogs who could not escape their cage, but his owner will not be reunited with him by the end of the film.
  • Spots maintains an extremely professional attitude that only ever wavers a few times, one of which is shortly after he arrived on Trash Island where he admits, even though his relationship with Atari was supposed to be strictly professional, he loved him anyway. He breaks up slightly when he admits the only reason he's breaking protocol to say this is because he likely won't ever see Atari again anyway.
  • Duke sharing a disheartening rumor he heard that Doggy Chop, a famed dog food brand, folded in the span of the 6 months the dogs were banished. Anyone who's ever experienced the Gut Punch of learning a beloved food chain went out of business in their absence note  can relate to this.
  • Chief telling the others about his brief stint as a family dog. In spite of his pride in being a hard core stray, his tone of voice and choice of words betray just how much that time meant to him... only for it to painfully end when he bit a child badly enough to hospitalize them, all because the poor kid startled him. It's clear that Chief doesn't just want to be a stray; he feels that he needs to be.
    Chief: I'm not safe. (with intense bitterness) I bite.
    • Chief went through all this trouble telling such a tragic backstory, because it was the only way to explain what his favorite food has ever been and the significance behind it.
  • Chief casually mentioning how all of his sisters were drowned at birth in such an offhand manner that it could almost count as black comedy. Then you remember this truly is a normal occurrence in canine society.
  • Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono going into a deep Heroic BSoD after Dr. Watanabe's assassination poisoning. She's a sweet woman who had the good doctor's best interest, and she's reduced to an emotional wreck after his sudden death. She's seen mourning in the once pristine lab, now trashed and ruined beyond recognition, much like the scientists' hope and future.
  • Upon being captured by the 'cannibal' dogs, Spots meets their leader Gondo, who confirms the rumors false: they do not eat other dogs routinely or willingly. It actually only happened one time in the past when their former leader was stuck in a coma from the harsh island conditions and to survive they all agreed to put him out of his misery. Gondo breaks down in the middle of telling the story, and he even howls into the sky in mourning. Then they all howl. The tears forming under his eyes and his shaky voice afterward shows none of them ever wanted to eat their beloved leader, but their only other choice was to die. Gondo is insulted that a rumor like that would spread, but is still kind enough to take Spots into their clan.
    • The appearance of some of these dogs is rather tragic. They still bear scars from their days as lab animals (from bald patches to stitches to tubes sticking out of them).
  • Tracy's student exchange being revoked after she publicly denounces Mayor Kobayashi as a crook. She's pretty tearful, not just because she failed, but because she went through all this trouble to save her own dog Nutmeg. Moments later, she's then Forced to Watch Nutmeg be euthanized along with every other dog she failed to save.
  • A brief one, but after Atari goes down the Pagoda Slide, he looks around calling for Chief ("kuro inu," meaning "black dog") a few times before sitting down and trying not to cry. Chief, who had walked off in exasperation, comes back a few moments later, but for a second Atari must have felt very lost and abandoned when he found he was alone.
  • For some reason, seeing Mayor Kobayashi's poignantly surprised expression at hearing his nephew speaking kindly about him begets pity. It marks that moment when he starts to realize he's in the wrong.


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