Jellyfish Eyes

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Jellyfish Eyes Movie Poster Image
Japanese artist's fantasy film is disappointing, derivative.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 103 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Attentive kids may have questions about the reason for the disaster that leads to evacuation and Masashi's father's death -- a catastrophe that's reminiscent of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Positive Messages

This is story of teamwork, childhood courage, and friendship. Kids save the day against seemingly uncontrollable forces.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Masashi is kind and selfless, as is the girl on whom he has a crush. Masashi's uncle tries to do the right thing to protect the town and the kids, even though he was originally helping a secret cabal.

Violence & Scariness

The boys fight with their assigned creatures and sometimes end up slightly bruised, too. The creatures can cause injury and even take out other creatures, and most of the kids are frightened by the climactic battle. A clone-like creature has a fist fight with the human he's built like. Creepy cloaked figures plan ways to keep the kids and one adult in line. Painful flashback to the fact that a father was swept away during a disaster.

Sexy Stuff

Flirtation between two students who obviously like each other.

Language
Consumerism

Chee-Kama, a Japanese cheese and fish-cake stick, is prominently featured throughout the movie. The characters have spawned a line of rubber charms.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jellyfish Eyes is a live-action family adventure directed by renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, best known for his colorful drawings, sculptures, accessories, and even Louis Vuitton prints. The movie isn't dubbed in English and therefore requires younger viewers to read quickly enough to follow the subtitled dialogue. There's some violence as creatures fight each other -- and, in one case, a human. Creepy cloaked figures plan ways to keep the kids and one adult in line, and there's a painful flashback to the fact that the main character's father was swept away during a disaster. Expect a bit of mild flirting, too. Ultimately, kids save the day against seemingly uncontrollable forces, and there are messages about teamwork, childhood courage, and friendship.

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What's the story?

JELLYFISH EYES, directed by internationally renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, is the story of quiet middle-schooler Masashi (Takuto Sueoka), who's moved to a new town with his widowed mother to be closer to his uncle, who works in the town's mysterious lab. Soon, Masashi discovers Kurage-bo, an adorable floating creature that loves the snack food Chee-kama. At school, it becomes clear that all the students have their own creatures, whom they handle with mobile devices; the other kids clash with Masashi and enjoy making their creatures fight. It turns out that the creatures are an experiment run by four black-cloaked villains, who harness the energy in children's emotions with these magical, alien-like "friends." The kids must band together to stop being manipulated by the cloaked baddies.

Is it any good?

At best, this movie could have been a whimsical tale about a boy and his magical friend, like E.T., but unfortunately, it's a weird, forgettable adventure that's likely to confuse younger viewers. Although a couple of the creatures, particularly the Chee-kama-addicted Kurage-bo and his female friend's wooly giant pal, are sweet and helpful, there's no logic behind how the creatures can look or act. The visual effects are amateurish, as is the cheesy soundtrack, which features a lot of annoying noises and toddler-friendly tunes.

The story itself is predictable and filled with schoolyard conflicts that don't move the action forward. And despite the plot's familiar nature, audiences will find it difficult to truly invest in Masahi beyond a surface interest in what he's lost and in his unique connection with Kurage-bo. Skip this and rewatch E.T. instead.

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Jellyfish Eyes portrays the use of technology. How are the kids connected to one another? Does technology help or hurt their connections?

  • Are there elements of this movie that seem familiar? Which ones? How does it compare to more mainstream movies you've seen?

  • What are the movie's messages? Who do you think they're aimed at?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love fantasy and adventure

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