Based on the novel “Real Onigokko” by Yusuke Yamada, which has spawned six other films, “Tag” is another bloodthirsty trip by one of the masters of the category, Sion Sono.
The film starts in a fashion expected from Sion Sono, as a bus filled with schoolgirls is torn in half along with them, by something that seems like wind, in a bloodbath that leaves only Mitsuko standing. The cutting in half of schoolgirls continues for a while, until Mitsuko arrives in a school where Aki greets her, although she cannot remember who she is.
The film continues in that fashion, with the protagonist finding herself in different settings, in one as Keiko, a woman who is about to get married, and in another as Izumi, a runner. The rest of the film is a sequence of battles and constant running, in a story that is quite hard to follow.
Sono drifted far away from the book, instead shooting a surrealistic “Alice in Wonderland” film of shorts, which is filled though, with many of his usual perverse themes and notions. In that fashion, the movie entails much violence and gore, gorgeous female protagonists, martial arts fighting among girls, some subtle lesbian notions and much fanservice, including schoolgirls with much too short skirts (to the point where their pants are often shown when they are running), and in general anime aesthetics, not to mention the teachers in a killing spree and the groom with the pig’s head that squeals.
Actually, the film unfolds like a loop, with the protagonist constantly changing her persona while perpetually running, although the one behind all those women who hunt her is not revealed until the end, as is the male presence in the film.
There are some points where Sono seems to try to make a social comment regarding the position of woman in society, his effort though is swallowed by all the violence and nonsensicality that permeate the film. Furthermore, he does not seem to to be bothered by those who have accused of being misogynistic, instead the film looks like a harsh reply towards them, with all those women dying in horrenodous fashion.
The actresses portraying the three personas (Reina Triendl as Mitsuko, Mariko Shinoda as Keiko and Erina Mano as Izumi) are all gorgeous, since the first two are also models and all of them are considered idols in Japan. Do not expect much, though, in terms of acting, since their roles are limited in running, yelling and fighting, at least for the most part. The one who stands apart is Yuki Sakarai as Aki, whose character is the one with the most depth. She is also gorgeous btw.
As for the technical aspect, Sono cooperated with some of the greatest in the genre. Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police, Helldriver) injects his splatter genius in the special effects, once more creating gruesome scenes of excellence. Maki Ito does a great job in cinematography, deploying drone-mounted cameras to shoot the constant running, while the shots of the environment are gorgeous, particularly the ones in the woods. Lastly, Momo’s contribution to the film’s music with their rock sound is also a point of excellence, heightening the sense of agonizing urgency that characterizes the film.
Fans of Sion Sono will definitely enjoy the film, despite the fact that “Tag” has not achieved the quality of films like “Guilty of Romance” or “Cold Fish.”