[EXPRESSO] Josee, the Tiger and the Fish (2020) | and the Andersen

Eventually anime is coming back to cinemas here as well, starting with 2020’s anime adaptation of the short story Josee, the Tiger and the Fish by Seiko Tanabe, already adapted in live action form both by japanese and corean production, here with animation curated by studio BONES.

It’s a romantic drama about Tsuneo, a university student working a part time job that one day stumbles upon an old lady carrying a big wheelchair for a girl with cerebral palsy, calling herself Josee, after the heroine of a Francois Sagan’s novel. He starts frequenting “Josee” as her attendee for hire, and as time goes by he learns more about her, etc. I don’t think i have to explain how romance 101 work, so i won’t.

So, it’s a fairly common setup for an anime romance film with actual ambitions to drama, with the girl suffering from a disability or disease of sorts, i can’t really claim this movie does anything new never seen before in any way, it’s definitely what you think it’s gonna be, so don’t expect to be “surprised”, even though people don’t see romance movies for Shaymalan style twists.

But it’s honestly fairly good, definitely good enough to have it nominated at Annecy last year, fairly well executed, good animation, decent to good characters and – yes – good romance, actually surprisingly quite funny as well. What stops it from being great is that it basically does the usual framing of “disability” as some sort of “personal extra hurdle” situation to the romance, touching upon the themes that come with it but not exactly in a nuanced way, most likely because they mean well but don’t know or want to know much, resulting in a less impactful execution.

Still, it’s worth seeing, just don’t expect A Silent Voice.

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