JapaneseFumiyo KohinataYumiko Takahashi
Haruko's Paranormal Laboratory
Also known as: Haruko Choujou Genshou Kenkyuujo
Medium: film
Year: 2015
Writer/director: Lisa Takeba
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Keywords: fantasy
Actor: Moeka Nozaki, Sayaka Aoki, Tetsuhiro Ikeda, Fumiyo Kohinata, Aoi Nakamura, Takumi Saitoh, Yumiko Takahashi, Hiroko Terada, Brother Tom
Format: 76 minutes
Url: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4343040/
Website category: Japanese SF
Review date: 4 January 2023
Haruko Paranormal Laboratory
A television comes alive as a handsome man with a TV on his head and a prehensile cable. His owner (Haruko) is delighted, sleeps with him and makes him her boyfriend. She doesn't like people. Electrical appliances are much better.
After that, the film gets a bit odd.
Occasionally, I found its underplotted happiness a bit uncomfortable early on. It's obvious that Haruko and Television are going to make some questionable decisions and make a mess of things, because there wouldn't be a story if they didn't. It turns out that Haruko wants Television to stay at home and be basically a pet with a big penis. When he says he wants to get a job, she gets sulky. Conversely, Television is capable of saying things like:
"You must feel relieved. That I'm just a TV. You almost lost the idiot box that you look down on. I am not your escape from reality. It's all your fault. If you hadn't talked to me, I'd just be a TV."
Television can speak ten or twelve languages, so he gets a job as a TV presenter on language programs. A TV on TV. Yes, that's right. He also encounters a freak show. There's a sexually frustrated middle aged lady who'll claim to be an arsonist, unless that's just her idea of an extremely unlikely chat-up line. There's a cop who hits his long-lost wife on being reunited with her. There's a small gang of toughs who avoid having a fight with Television because they're intimidated by the size of his penis. (I think. It doesn't make much sense.)
Sometimes, the film's silly. The wilderness training montage with TV Licence Fee Collection Bloke has deliberately cheesy special effects. The programs we watch on Television are all black-and-white stuff that you'd see in the 1950s, even though the film has a modern setting. We're told at one point that appliance-headed people are becoming common in America and that it might be the work of aliens.
That said, though, the film's also saying serious things. (Sometimes. A bit.) Haruko has issues with her family and has avoided them for years. Ultimately, the film's about her personal growth. The film has a pessimistic view of middle-aged married people's sex lives.
I like the characters. Haruko and Television are both engaging, sympathetic people, albeit also capable of being jealous, insecure and/or irresponsible. They're nice together. (Usually.) The storyline is surreal and the film as a whole can verge on self-parody. Or a parody of something, anyway. It's deeper than it looks, but getting there means digging through layers of nonsense.
"On that day, my brother was kidnapped by a UFO. But I was really hoping for something more paranormal."