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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • Japanese DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New interview with director Takashi Murakami
  • Two new behind-the-scenes documentaries on the making of the film
  • Trailer for Jellyfish Eyes 2

Jellyfish Eyes

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Takashi Murakami
2013 | 101 Minutes | Licensor: Kaikai Kiki

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #787
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: December 8, 2015
Review Date: December 15, 2015

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SYNOPSIS

Takashi Murakami, one of the most popular artists in the world, made his directorial debut with Jellyfish Eyes, taking his boundless imagination to the screen in a tale that is about friendship and loyalty at the same time as it addresses humanity's penchant for destruction. After moving to a country town with his mother following his father's death, a young boy befriends a charming, flying, jellyfish-like spriteóonly to discover that his schoolmates have similar friends, and that neither they nor the town itself are what they seem to be. Pointedly set in a post-Fukushima world, Murakami's modest-budgeted special effects extravaganza boasts unforgettable creature designs and carries a message of cooperation and hope for all ages.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Artist Takashi Murakamiís feature film debut Jellyfish Eyes receives a new Blu-ray release from The Criterion Collection, who present the film in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this dual-layer disc. The high-definition presentation is delivered in 1080p/24hz.

The film was shot and completed digitally and the transfer notes say the final files were used as the source for the presentation here, with some colour correction performed. Unsurprisingly it looks pretty good on Blu-ray, without any print damage present obviously, and we get a very sharp, highly detailed image. Itís a very colourful film, loaded with bright blues and greens, and they look absolutely wonderful, bright and vivid and beautifully saturated. Black levels on the whole are fairly rich and deep and I didnít notice any issues with crushing. The colour scheme to the film has obviously been planned thoroughly by the director, fitting the sensibilities found in his artwork, and there are some absolutely incredible looking sequences in the film that look stunning on Blu-ray.

Darker sequences look a bit noisy, though this doesnít appear to be related to any compression or encoding problems on Criterionís part: it looks more to be inherent in the source, an issue with the digital photography and low lighting. The encoding itself looks solid, nice and smooth and quite clean. In the end itís a very sharp looking presentation, and admittedly what I pretty much expected.

9/10

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AUDIO

Presented in Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround, we get a fairly active yet still subtle surround experience. Dialogue probably didnít sound as lively or as robust as I would have expected, but itís clear and intelligible. The filmís music sounds very clean and fresh, and has been nicely mixed to fill out the environment. Itís not overly showy in this regard, but it does wrap around the viewer nicely. The action sequences in the film are where the most activity happens, with obvious splits and direction while bass throughout the film is noticeable and effective but doesnít drown out anything else. Range and volume levels are also excellent. The mix as a whole is very dynamic and effective, perfectly suiting the film.

9/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion includes a handful of solid features on here, starting with a new interview with artist and director Takashi Murakami. In what is actually a rather insightful 22-minutes, Murakami talks about the influences on his art and the influences that would eventually play into the film, both American and Japanese, including various events, science fiction, and monster movies and shows, with special attention paid to Ultraman. He talks about how certain tensions and unease in Japan basically lead to monster movies, Godzilla being an obvious one, and Jellyfish Eyes is his monster movie response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. He then talks a little bit about the development of the film.

He only brushes over that latter subject but two of the other features on the disc get more in-depth on the production. The 15-minute Making F.R.I.E.N.D.s feature gives a very extensive look into the design and development that went into the creatures within the film. Though the creatures are obviously all CGI creations, Murakami and his team actually sculpted and constructed these creatures to be used as props while filming, and in some cases they were even wearable outfits. Most of the feature concentrates on the design of Yupi, a frog-like creature in the film, the large sculpture of which is constructed and destroyed multiple times. We also get to see the construction of the central F.R.I.E.N.D. Kurage-bo, who appears to be made out of silicon.

That rather fascinating feature is then expanded upon by the 40-minute making-of, Takashi Murakami: The Art of Film. This behind-the-scenes piece follows the development of the film, right from the beginning. Murakami mentions in his interview how he got into making the film thanks to the help of filmmaker/production-designer/make-up artist/jack-of-all-trades Yoshihiro Nishimura, and here we get to see how heavy his involvement was right from the beginning, which starts with him questioning Murakami on the script, which he finds confusing in areas. He also helped in the design work (which we also got a glimpse of in the previous feature) and directed some scenes. Itís obvious that when filming actually began Murakami was unsure what to do, so Nishimura stepped in to help him out, but as the feature goes on we see Murakami start to feel more comfortable in his new role and he becomes more active in the directing process. Things like that make this making-of a better-than-average one, and itís also fun watching the filming of sequences that will become very effect heavy in the film, like the classroom fight sequence and how the puppets/models made in the previous feature come into play (crew members are basically throwing these puppets around).

Unfortunately thatís really all that makes up the main set of supplements. Oddly Criterion does include the trailer for Jellyfish Eyes 2, which looks to sport a heftier budget and feature a much darker tone, yet the trailer for this film is not here. The insert also features an essay by writer Glen Helfand, who covers Murakamiís artwork and how the film fits into it. I was somewhat surprised Criterion didnít present more about Murakamiís career and his artwork (though we get glimpses of it through the features), and I also have to say Iím stunned Criterion doesnít include an English dubbed track as an option, since it may appeal to children that only speak/understand English: my children seemed charmed by the film but werenít happy that I had to read the dialogue to them.

Despite the lack of these things I was still fairly engaged by the supplements we do get: despite the fact they donít look like much at a glance they offer a fairly fascinating, in-depth analysis of the filmís production.

5/10

CLOSING

Itís a fairly decent budget release, delivering stellar image and sound. The supplements may leave a bit to be desired but what we do get is quite fascinating and entertaining.


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