Tsuneo Suzukawa (voice of Taishi Nakagawa) is a young man living in Osaka, Japan. He’s a poor university student, working several jobs to save towards his dream of doing a student exchange to Mexico.
One day while walking home, Tsuneo is bowled over by a young woman, Kumiko (voice of Kaya Kiyohara). She has lost control of her wheelchair and is careering down a steep hill. Kumiko flies out of the wheelchair and lands on top of Tsuneo, knocking him to the ground. Kumiko’s grandmother (voice of Chiemi Matsutera) comes running to see whether Kumiko is OK, and then invites Tsuneo back to their apartment for lunch. Over lunch Tsuneo tells Kumiko and her grandmother about his struggles, so the grandmother offers Tsuneo part-time work as Kumiko’s carer. Kumiko tells Tsuneo that he must call her Josee.
At first, Tsuneo’s relationship with Josee is tense, and Josee is horrible, rude and unhappy. But slowly Tsuneo’s kindness wins her over and together they begin to explore the city. When disaster strikes, it puts both their relationship and their dreams in jeopardy.
Love; romance; growing up; disability; dreams and ambitions; Japanese culture; diving; facing your fears
Josee, the Tiger and the Fish has some violence. For example:
- In several scenes Josee throws objects at Tsuneo. She also uses threatening language like, ‘I’ll beat you senseless’.
- Kumiko’s grandmother grabs Tsuneo by the testicles and threatens him, saying, ‘Next time I’ll chop it off’.
- Kumiko bites Tsuneo hard.
Josee, the Tiger and the Fish has some sexual and romantic references. For example:
- Tsuneo rests his hand gently on Josee’s back, and she responds by biting him and calling him a pervert. She calls him a pervert several times, although this seems unwarranted.
- Tsuneo’s work colleague talks several times about how he and Tsuneo should be trying to meet women. He’s a flirtatious character and is also seen reading a magazine with a front cover that shows a woman wearing a small bikini. He swoons when he meets Josee, and talks about how delicate and fair-skinned she is.
- Josee is trying to seem more mature/worldly than she really is, so she brags to Tsuneo that she has once had five boyfriends at the same time.
- Josee and Tsuneo fall in love and kiss. Several scenes feature lingering glances.
- A woman who works with Tsuneo has also fallen in love with him. She’s jealous of Josee.
- Josee’s grandmother grabs Tsuneo by the testicles and tells him that next time she’ll ‘cut it off’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Josee, the Tiger and the Fish shows some use of substances. For example:
- Adults drink beer in a pub.
- Josee’s grandmother goes out to drink and play pachinko during the day.
Nudity and sexual activity
Josee, the Tiger and the Fish has some nudity. For example, Tsuneo sits in a boat with his top off after a diving session.
There’s no product placement in Josee, the Tiger and the Fish.
Josee, the Tiger and the Fish has some mild coarse language, including ‘jerk’, ‘stupid’, ‘pervert’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Originally a short story by Seiko Tanabe and previously released as a live action movie in 2003, Josee, the Tiger and the Fish is a sweet, Japanese animated romance. The detailed animation beautifully portrays day-to-day life in Japan.
Because Josee, the Tiger and the Fish is in Japanese with English subtitles, it will be hard for younger children to follow unless they’re confident readers. In addition, the movie’s themes of young romance and following your dreams despite adversity are better suited to teenagers. Young children might find the movie a little boring.
The main message from Josee, the Tiger and the Fish is that even when there are big obstacles in your way, you can find a way to follow your dreams and face your fears.
Values in Josee, the Tiger and the Fish that you could reinforce with your children include bravery, empathy, kindness, a sense of adventure and independence.
Josee, the Tiger and the Fish could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things like expressing painful emotions through rude or angry behaviour. You and your children could talk about how Josee treats Tsuneo badly, but he behaves respectfully towards her because he knows that she’s vulnerable.