A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mind Game is a 2004 Japanese animated feature in which an awkward 20-year-old escapes near-death, determined to now live a life of bravery and adventure. The lead female character is on the verge of being raped. The male lead character has a gun pressed against his rear end then gets shot. Characters are shot and killed. Profanity, including "f--k," is often used, along with "p---y," "s--t," "d--k," "dips--t," "a--hole," "bitch," and "f-g." Older men and teens make suggestive comments about the lead female character's large breasts. Brief nonsexual nudity is seen: penis and male buttocks. In a bar, a middle-aged man brags about all the women he slept with when he was younger. There are brief shots of posters advertising a strip club (images of naked women with their nipples covered by stars), and the film also includes cigarette smoking, drinking, and a reference to drugs.
What's the story?
In MIND GAME, Nishi is an aspiring comic book artist who feels like his life is passing him by. One night, on the street, he runs into his childhood crush, Nyon, who tells Nishi that she's engaged to be married. They go to Nyon's father's restaurant to get caught up, see Nyon's sister, Yan, who also works in the restaurant, and meet Ryo, Nyon's fiance. Two yakuza -- one older, one younger -- enter the restaurant, the younger one looking for Nyon's father, who seduced the yakuza's girlfriend. During the altercation, Ryo is killed, and the yakuza attempt to rape Nyon while Nishi curls into a ball, crying and afraid. The yakuza presses a gun to his rear end, and when Nishi finally gets the courage to fight back, he's shot and killed, while the older yakuza kills the younger yakuza. Nishi finds himself in a bizarre afterlife where the image of God changes every second. God beckons Nishi to a red portal where he will disappear, but instead, Nishi, determined to live life to the fullest, runs in the opposite direction, escapes the afterlife, and returns to the restaurant with the gun pressed into his rear end. This time, Nishi fights back, kills the yakuza, and escapes with Nyon and Yan in one of the yakuza's cars. Nishi escapes the yakuza who pursue them in their own vehicles by driving off a bridge. They are then swallowed by a whale and end up in the hideout of an old man. They keep trying to escape, but are unable to do so, but as the whale is slowly dying, Nishi, Nyon, Yan, and the old man make a final attempt to escape the whale and return to their home town.
Is it any good?
Even for anime on the surrealistic side of the spectrum, this movie is further out there than anything else in the genre. It's no surprise that Mind Game is a cult classic. It's easy to get lost in the frenzy of the style -- the rapid imagery, the sheer audacity of the way the story is told. The animation is extraordinarily detailed, masterful, breathtaking. So much so, in fact, that it's easy to get lost in the images at the expense of what's happening with the overall story.
It definitely seems like the kind of movie that would reward repeated viewings. There's so much happening all the time, with so many brief asides and changes in animated styles, it's easy to miss everything going on. It's disorienting at times, dizzying and overwhelming. But at its core is the theme of living life to the fullest, to experience everything and everyone that life has to offer. The manner in which this theme is expressed, especially in the film's final minutes, is an incredible work, impressive in its ambition and scope, and as good as anime gets.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the theme of the movie. How did Mind Game express the theme of living life to the fullest, of experiencing all there is to be experienced?
How does the sex, violence, and profanity compare to that of other animated movies geared toward older audiences?
How were women portrayed in this movie?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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