Tarō Hirai is better known as his pen name, Edogawa Ranpo (taken from Edgar Allan Poe). Writing often of the Boy Detectives Club and their leader Kogoro Akechi, he brought his love for Western detective fiction and melded it with traditional Japanese legend.
Shinya Tsukamoto is best known for his stop-motion cyberpunk body freakouts Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer and Tetsuo: The Bullet Man.
So imagine — a director mostly known for his modern takes on man’s inhumanity to man going back in time to Japan’s Meiji era for a story loosely based on Ranpo’s work that ties closely to the same themes he’s explored in our time and the near future.
Dr. Daitokuji Yukio (Masahiro Motoki, once an idol singer and now a serious actor) seemingly has it all. After a military career, he has taken over his father’s practice and has a gorgeous wife named Rin (Ryo, Goemon, Alive).
However, she has no memory of her past. That’s the least of his worries as in short order, both of his parents are killed by a mysterious stranger and his wife shuns him after he treats the rich instead of the poor during a plague. Yes, these same issues still were with us in 1910 Japan.
That strange man (Motoki in a dual role) ends up being his long-lost twin Sutekichi, who throws Yukio into a well and takes over his life. The true secret? Rin was once his and now, he has her back. The once-proud and rich doctor must now crawl from the muck to claim what was once his.
This is one strange movie and I say that in the best of ways. Here’s one small example: no one has eyebrows. Everyone wore makeup to conceal them, which lends the movie an odd look.
You can get this from Mondo Macabro, who were nice enough to send us the blu ray for review. It comes complete with a 17-minute feature, Tsukamoto Shinya ga Ranpo suru, detailing the creation of this movie. It was made by Takeshi Miike, so if you’re a fan of his work, that’s just another great reason to make this purchase.