The main storylines in The World of Kanako concern a washed up detective and a bullied high school student obsessed with a beautiful and dangerous shcoolgirl. When a former detective turned drunkard named Akikazu Fujishima finds out that his daughter has been missing for nearly a week, he gathers himself and begins searching the streets for clues. During this time, we see a series of flashbacks involving a young man who becomes entranced with Akikazu’s daughter, only to be led down a path of self destruction and chaos.
There have been an innumerable amount of films that have come hot off the heels of the Tarantino bandwagon, and The World of Kanako really seems to be one of those movies that tries incredibly hard to position itself in that vein. Even as a nod to the films of Takashi Miike and the likes of Park Chan-wook or Kim Jee-woon, this fall short and fails to meet the mark. I found it to be more of a manufactured effort to pander to the hardcore and gritty new-school noir crowd; and honestly if Kanako had provided any kind of point to account for the mayhem, it would have potentially been profound and deeply intriguing.
Kanako is a schoolgirl who seduces everyone around her and entraps them in a web of drug use, sexual depravity and murder. Her father is a deadbeat former cop who embarks on a wild search to find her when she goes missing, only to leave a trail of bodies behind him. The story of the schoolboy who gets involved with the girl, goes from difficult to hopeful to destructive over the course of the film; and the mystery of Kanako’s disappearance quickly becomes a bloodbath involving street gangs, corrupt officials and all other kinds of deplorable characters.
Other than a very strong performance from Koji Yakusho as Kanako’s father Akikazu and an array of excellent practical effects, The World of Kanako is a movie that paints by the numbers with a Japanese grit meets bubblegum gloss. The hyper-stylized and youthful party scenes of teen drug use, followed by extreme scenes of sexual abuse and torture do not mix well and are unpleasantly jarring. The film has few too many enjoyable scenes to counter the oddly wooden yet spastic performances from some of its younger actors; and the pacing feels like the running time has been padded out, only to meet an uneventful end. It’s a shame that despite its obvious influences, The World of Kanako winds up being nothing more than a wasted effort.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars