Inu-oh (2021)

The competition may be fierce, but it’s probably safe to say that Masaaki Yuasa’s Inu-Oh is the best feudal-Japanese-hair-metal-demonic-curse-serial-killer-political-tragedy-rock-opera of the year. At least so far.

And if that sounds silly, that’s Masaaki Yuasa for you. The filmmaker is crafting an exhilarating career out of transforming oddball pitches into profound pop art, from the grotesquely beautiful Devilman Crybaby to the joyously earnest Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

William Bibbian

An anime rock opera about a blind 14th century biwa player who becomes a massive star after teaming up with the “uniquely talented” Noh performer who lends the film its title (read: a hideous demon from hell who hides his disfigured face behind a gourd mask, breakdances with the help of his giant 10-foot arm, and daydreams about kidnapping children), Inu-Oh unfolds like a mash-up between the Japanese legend The Tale of the Heike and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, right down to the Freddie Mercury falsetto. Not since 1973’s Belladonna of Sadness has an anime feature reimagined ancient history in such hypnotically psychedelic fashion.

David Ehrlich, Indiewire

  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Distribution: Fortissimo Films
  • Editing: Kiyoshi Hirose
  • Music: Otomo Yoshihide