Review of Funky Forest: The First Contact (2005)

Moving picture, 150 minutes

Anno Hideaki (cast).

Seen in 2020.

An ensemble, multi-director sketch comedy, mostly live action but with occasional animation and Cronenbergian special-effects sequences. The concept is similar to Wild Zero (1999) but this one is more heavily influenced by manzai and has even less of a plot. I guess the title comes from a sentai parody where one character dreams of playing the violin in a forest and having a trio of superheroes modulating the sound of the instrument using synthesizer decks installed in the vegetation.

The best part is the “Home Room!” series, where Anno cameos as a rowdy high schooler in a warmly goofy class. The hot-springs trio is also very good, adding a feminine counterweight to all the jokes about not getting any. There’s a less successful skit where Anno passive-aggressively usurps the role of director from a dog in a sketchy animation production project; fun if you like him. There’s some rare good use of ethnicity for comedy in the recurring Guitar Brother segments, where a young Caucasian boy plays the third brother, speaking poor but amusing contrarian Japanese. The DVD translation is overly liberal, trying to add a little more wit than is really present. The whole thing is too long; at least one of the recurring threads should have been cut, and a more cohesive plot—or theme or thesis—would have helped.

moving picture Japanese production fiction