Cold Fish

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Cold Fish
Promotional release poster
Directed bySion Sono
Written bySion Sono
Yoshiki Takahashi
Produced byYoshinori Chiba
Toshiki Kimura
StarringMitsuru Fukikoshi
Asuka Kurosawa
CinematographyShinya Kimura
Edited byJunichi Ito
Music byTomohide Harada
Release dates
  • September 7, 2010 (2010-09-07) (Venice Film Festival)
  • January 29, 2011 (2011-01-29) (Japan)
Running time
145 minutes

Cold Fish (冷たい熱帯魚, Tsumetai Nettaigyo) is a 2010 Japanese film directed by Sion Sono. Cold Fish premiered at the 67th Venice International Film Festival on September 7, 2010, and received the best screenplay award in the Fantastic Features section at Fantastic Fest 2010. The film was released as part of the Bloody Disgusting Selects line.


Nobuyuki Shamoto is the quiet and unambitious owner of a Shizuoka shop specializing in selling tropical fish. His home life leaves much to be desired, as his daughter Mitsuko is rebellious and physically abuses her stepmother Taeko, his second wife. One night Nobuyuki is summoned when Mitsuko is caught shoplifting at a local supermarket. Yukio Murata, a patron at the supermarket, persuades the manager to drop the matter and invites Nobuyuki to visit his own, larger tropical fish shop. During an impromptu tour of Yukio's shop, Nobuyuki meets his wife, Aiko. Stating that fate brought the two men together, the gregarious Yukio convinces Nobuyuki to go into business with him. Yukio also takes on Mitsuko as a worker in his shop.

The film is loosely based on the exploits of two Tokyo serial killers, Sekine Gen and Hiroko Kazama, a husband and wife duo who owned a pet shop and murdered at least four people.[1]



Following Alien vs Ninja and Mutant Girls Squad, Cold Fish is the third film to be released by Nikkatsu's Sushi Typhoon, their gore-themed series.[2]

Director and writer Sion Sono was influenced by Japanese crime cases while developing Cold Fish, specifically about an actual killing spree committed by a dog kennel owner in the 1990s (the story of the film involves a family of three that becomes entangled in a string of ongoing murders perpetrated by a tropical fish salesman in Shizuoka Prefecture).[3] Sono also wanted to "depict a sense of total hopelessness" which he felt is "lacking in Japanese films."[3]


Cold Fish premiered at the 67th Venice International Film Festival on September 7, 2010.[2] It was also shown at film festivals in Pusan and at the Toronto International Film Festival where it received its North American premiere.[4][5] Cold Fish won the best screenplay award in the Fantastic Features section at Fantastic Fest 2010.[4] It was released in Japan on January 29, 2011.[2]


Film Business Asia gave Cold Fish an 8 out of 10 rating, praising the actor Denden, without whose "tour-de-force performance… Cold Fish may never have worked."[2] The review went on to state that "Though there's considerable gore on display, it's largely cartoonish. Cold Fish is not so much a blood-and-guts horror movie, more a danse macabre about social breakdown."[2]

In the United Kingdom, Total Film gave the film a three out of five rating, suggesting that plot twists and black comedy offered welcome reprieve from the "largely hysterical acting and rivers of viscera."[6]

The Guardian found the film to be "fairly ordinary" in comparison to Sono's other works and felt that the film was too long.[7] Radio Times gave the film three out of five stars, praising the acting from Denden, Fukikoshi and Kurosawa and Shinya Kimura's photography and Takashi Matsuzuka's production design, which made up for "some overindulgent directorial moments".[8]


  1. ^ Brown, Todd (January 20, 2011). "Screenwriter Yoshiki Takahashi Talks COLD FISH". Twitch. Archived from the original on February 25, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e Elley, Derek (September 10, 2010). "Cold Fish (冷たい熱帯魚)". Film Business Asia. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  3. ^ a b CJ (November 28, 2010). "Sion Sono's 'Cold Fish' nets Japan premiere at Tokyo Filmex". The Tokyo Reporter. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Landreth, Jonathan (November 8, 2010). "Notorious Japanese Director Sion Sono Unveils Next Project". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 11, 2011. (subscription required)
  5. ^ Deming, Mark. "Cold Fish". Allrovi. Archived from the original on November 29, 2011. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  6. ^ Harley, Kevin (April 13, 2011). "Cold Fish". Total Film. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  7. ^ French, Philip (April 10, 2011). "Cold Fish – review". The Guardian. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  8. ^ Parkinson, David. "Cold Fish". Radio Times. Retrieved July 11, 2011.[permanent dead link]

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