Small Screen Quarantine – Homunculus (2021)

Leaving this here as a placeholder, because halfway through the film I already know that it deserves some thought and consideration. The plot alone is worthy of consideration.

Susumu Nokoshi (Go Ayano) once worked for a top foreign financial company. He is now a 34-year-old homeless man, usually found around a park in Shinjuku. He then meets medical school student Manabu Ito, who is looking for volunteers to undergo a surgical procedure known as trepanation. The surgery involves drilling a hole in the skull. Susumu Nokoshi is not interested in having the surgery, but he agrees to have the procedure for 700,000 yen. After the operation, when Susumu Nokoshi closes his right eye and sees someone with his left eye, he sees people having a distorted appearance. Manabu Ito tells him that the distorted appearance is a form of visualization from deep within the mind. Susumu Nokoshi communicates with people, who possess a dark side in their subconscious mind.

Note for continued exploration: It is mentioned by a minor character that Nokoshi is a strange one as he feels no empathy and is unable to mourn when a friend dies. The power he gains after the experiment, though it manifests in hallucinations in a way, seems to me to be an enhanced empathic power, and a kind of hyper-compassion.

My thoughts on this film are still not complete, and it’s important to remember that this film is adapted from manga and has very little connection to any scientific/biological theory. Just for the historical context though: HOMUNCULUS

So the trepanation procedure leaves Nokoshi with the power to see/observe the projection of each person’s homonculus, or more specifically a physical manifestation of the trauma that rendered them in whatever state they are currently in. He connects to them through the trauma and walks them forward through the repressed emotions until their distorted, monstrous images reconcile with their physical appearances. He saves a couple people but then the plot kind of comes apart at the seams. I’m thinking it would have been better served as a mini-series. There are twists that while very interesting, seem to come from nowhere and move along too quickly. It is in Japanese also with English subtitles so there may have been some loss there. No spoilers here but there are things I still don’t get. I may go back and watch it again because there are a couple scenes where the ideas deserve closer attention than I was able to give it.

Very interesting film though… so this is still incomplete.

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