Anyone who has been to Tokyo would recognize the array of neon lights and their reflections in nearby bodies of water. For the uninitiated, Yuya Ishii’s The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue is an accurate introduction. The colorful, bokeh’ed opening sequences are at once beautiful and romantically lonely. In a megalopolis of over 35 million people, is it even possible to feel alone? Protagonist Mika muses that falling in love with Tokyo is like committing suicide. Somewhere across town, Shinji, is almost obliviously on a similar quest for love and for self-validation.
Through the use of complimentary colors and various techniques to demonstrate sensory contrasts (noise vs. silence, motion vs. stillness, etc.), we watch Shinji and Miki fumble through a relatively mundane life. The themes of death and hope punctuate everyday occurrences. Through framing and visual metaphors, we see the tiny individual against the vastness of Tokyo.
It is logical that the film feels wistful and poetic, as it is based on the poetry of Tahi Saihate. The lush color schemes, dreamy bar sequences and somewhat passive-aggressive emotions create a fantastical atmosphere for very ordinary life trials. Albeit sudden and therefore perhaps less cohesive than the rest of the ambiance, there are animated sequences that further add to the fairytale-like take on young adulthood in the most populated mega-city in Japan. Sometimes a beautiful film doesn’t need a flashy action sequence or a crazy plot twist to be successful. The Tokyo Night Sky… is a thoughtful, slow piece that’s both sad in its realism, yet somehow still uplifting.
The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue screens at the Fantasia Festival. JS De Seve Theatre (Concordia), July 21st, 2017 at 9:45 pm and July 25th, 2017 at 1 pm.