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Unless otherwise noted in the post title, these are not
reviews, per se. They are articles for people who have already seen the film or read the book in question--meaning that there will be spoilers. If you're already familiar with the material being covered, or don't mind the plot being spoiled, please read on and leave a comment.

Friday, November 28, 2014

[Ephebiphobia] The Last Days Of The World (2011)

The Last Days Of The World - Japanese Theatrical Poster
Japanese Theatrical Poster
Teenager Kanou's life isn't exactly ideal. His father is unemployed and unable to land a new job, his mother is having an affair with another man, and Yumi, the girl he loves, is dating the school bully. He must have something going for him, though, because God appears to him alone to tell him about the impending end of the world. In fact, God wants his help putting a stop to it, by defeating "him" (presumably the antichrist).

Perhaps if God had chosen a more impressive form than a three-inch businessman, Kanou would have listened to his pleas for assistance. Instead, he decides to spend the last remaining days of existence living life however he wants to, no longer kowtowing to societal rules.

He formulates a three-step plan for enjoying his last days on Earth. Step one: Beat the school bully nearly to death with a baseball bat. Step two: Kidnap Yumi. Step three: Steal a car and run like hell.

As much as Kanou may believe that he loves Yumi, it is really only a demented brand of teen lust. He doesn't want to romance her and hold her hand as the world ends. He wants to lose his virginity before it occurs. Whether she gives it willingly, or whether he has to take it by force, he is determined to make that happen.

The Last Days Of The World - Kanou & Yumi
Kanou & Yumi
He chooses a bizarre time and place to make his move. After driving all day, they stop at a stranger's house and ask for a place to rest. The young blind woman, who is home alone, agrees. She serves them tea and then excuses herself to prepare dinner for her parents who will return home later. While their hostess is in the very next room, Kanou proceeds to rape Yumi. As a sign of his sexual inexperience, he attempts to warm her up by licking her armpit ("Salty!") and is unable to get the condom on—a small concession that he makes for her. At the behest of a ghostly voice on the radio, he opts to take a different route instead, using an entire bottle of mayonnaise—yes, mayonnaise—as lubricant to sodomize her.

The entire scene is inappropriate, but never so much as when, at the end, Yumi finally escapes from Kanou's grasp and runs to the bathroom, offering the camera a nearly orgasmic smile as she empties her bowels. It's played for laughs more than for titillation, but it still left me cringing, as I'm not sure which is worse. Were these sexual antics not enough, Kanou then seduces the blind girl, and they all engage in a threesome that is, to say the least, highly unlikely.

Sometime later, Kanou and Yumi stop off at a beach that is completely devoid of other people. In a bid to escape, Yumi attacks him with the very same baseball bat that he previously used to attack her boyfriend, but Kanou takes the beating and simply will not go down. Utterly defeated, she wades into the ocean to drown herself before deciding that the water is too cold to be comfortable, and asks Kanou to help her back to shore. He does so, and as he dries her off and warms her up, she asks him to kiss her. This, once again, seems unlikely, but in this film unlikely is the flavor of the day.

The Last Days Of The World - Yumi Abandoned
Yumi Abandoned
Back on the road after their kiss, Kanou and Yumi are having a casual conversation, and as he pulls over for the night he turns to her and finds her dead. He is confused by this—she was, after all, talking to him only a moment before—but he doesn't seem particularly overwrought. He props her body up on a bus stop and moves on to greener pastures.

By the end of the film, Kanou has fallen in with a seriously strange party crowd of cosplayers and punk rockers, where he is allowed a platform to tell his message of the end times. It is then that the police finally catch up to him, at right around the same time that a religious zealot pulls a gun, declaring that he must kill Kanou. In the ensuing mayhem, one officer is wounded, the zealot, the leader of the cult-like party crowd, and another partygoer are all killed, and Kanou is shot through the hand.

Kanou is amazed to find that he doesn't feel any pain from his injury, though this matches up nicely with him not falling when assaulted by Yumi on the beach. He manages to escape, but the remaining police officer is close behind him.

The final confrontation takes place on the edge of a cliff, where the officer, exhausted from the chase, collapses to the ground and admits that he doesn't care if Kanou gets away. It has already been established throughout the film that he is just as dangerous and unstable as Kanou is, and in a movie full of unlikely scenarios, it's not all that surprising when he commits suicide, allowing Kanou to go free. Kanou takes this freedom and runs with it...right off the edge of the cliff. As he leaps into the abyss, the image freeze frames, and the credits begin to roll, leaving us to wonder what the hell we just witnessed.

This nihilistic comedy stems from Japanese director Eiji Uchida, and is based on a manga. I'm not familiar with the source material, so I cannot comment on it, but will state that this movie offers a bleak, bleak view of the world. It reminded me of nothing so much as the doomsday films of Gregg Araki. Like those films, I didn't find THE LAST DAYS OF THE WORLD particularly funny or particularly compelling, and yet I couldn't stop watching. I had no choice but to stick around to see what happened next, and though I probably won't revisit it anytime in the near future, I can't say that I was wholly displeased with the ride. It was interesting, to say the least, and definitely gave me something to chew on for a few days.

There are two primary schools of thought regarding this movie. The first is that God actually did appear to Kanou and attempted to recruit him into saving the world. The second, and most prevalent, is that the world is not ending at all, and Kanou is merely batshit crazy.

There is certainly reason to believe that Kanou is insane, aside from the whole talking-to-God angle. Confused about the sudden and unexplained death of Yumi? It's my theory that she really did drown herself, and the scene of Kanou rescuing her and cuddling with her afterwards was merely one of his many slips from reality. When he came back to the real world, he realized that he was traveling with (and thus talking with and even kissing) a corpse.

The Last Days Of The World - Party Like A Rock Star
Party Like A Rock Star
However, I also believe it possible that the world was ending and that God did speak to him. The gunshot wound to the hand that Kanou received closely resembled the stigmata, which could surely be a sign from God that the end was rapidly approaching. Perhaps Kanou, in committing his reckless crime spree, was somehow fulfilling God's wishes—mysterious ways, and all of that. God wanted the unnamed "him" dead, and in pretty rapid succession towards the end of the film, a handful of bodies did hit the floor.

The "him" in question could have been either of the police officers, the leader of the cosplay shindig, the dead partygoer, or possibly even Kanou himself—none of whose deaths would have occurred had Kanou not gone off the rails. My money, though, is on the zealot who attempted to kill him. It would only make sense for the anti-Christ to have some warped religious views, and to attempt to murder the person whom God had sent to stop him.

The movie never explicitly states what the truth is, but one thing is for certain. If these are the types of people that populate our planet, the world has either already ended, or it isn't worth saving.

And maybe that's the ultimate message.

--J/Metro

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