Suicide Club, known in Japan as Suicide Circle (自殺サークル Jisatsu Sākuru?) is a 2002 Japanese independent film and part of a trilogy that gained a considerable amount of notoriety in film festivals around the world for its controversial subject matter and gory presentation, and has since developed a significant cult following. It won the Jury Prize for "Most Ground-Breaking Film" at the Fantasia Film Festival. The movie was written and directed by Sion Sono. It deals with a wave of seemingly unconnected suicides that strikes Japan and the efforts of the police to determine the reasons behind the strange behavior.
On May 26, 54 teenage schoolgirls gather on a platform at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to commit mass suicide. As the train approaches the station, they line up on the edge of the platform, join hands, and throw themselves in front of the train as it is arriving. This leaves the station in complete chaos as blood literally splashes on the platform from under the train. In the midst of the chaos someone leaves a small white bag on the platform. Meanwhile, in a hospital in Tokyo during a night shift, the security guard is left astonished as one nurse disappears without a trace and another jumps out of a window. A small white bag is found in the hospital.
Three detectives, Kuroda, Murata and Shibusawa, as well as the chief of police, take the case. One of the detectives suggests that a suicide cult might be involved, but the chief of police dismisses the theory. The detectives start to seek a connection linking the 54 schoolgirls together. Soon, a hacker named Kiyoko, who prefers to be called "The Bat", calls the police and reports a strange link between the suicides and a website she found, which has nothing but red and white dots. She agrees to help the police solve the crime.
The two identical white bags (one from Shinjuku Station and the other from the hospital) are opened to reveal their gruesome contents: two rolls of human skin stitched together in an identical manner. The investigators theorize that the skin was removed from the suicide victims before the suicide.
Kuroda returns home to his wife and two children, and the all-girl idol-group "Dessert" is introduced.
On May 28, at a high school in Tokyo, a group of students who are on the school roof during break laugh about the mass suicide. As a joke to imitate the 54 schoolgirls, they end up standing on the edge of the roof, jokingly pretending to get ready to jump off. They pretend to jump off the roof, but their joking gets serious as some actually jump. The ones that didn't jump look down in shock and surprise. Moments later, they also end up committing suicide.
On May 29, the suicide boom has spread all over Japan. Mitsuko is on her way home, when she gets hit by her boyfriend Masa who has thrown himself off a roof. Mitsuko is taken to the police station for questioning. In the autopsy room, Kuroda discovers Masa had an open wound on his back which went right through a butterfly tattoo, and that one of the pieces of skin on the roll fits perfectly on the wound. Mitsuko acknowledges knowing about the wound, but denies ever hearing about a suicide club. The police strip search Mitsuko to see if she is missing any skin and discover that while she has no skin missing, she does have an identical butterfly tattoo. Before Mitsuko leaves the police station, she attracts Shibu's attention, and Shibu gives her his business card so that she can contact him if need be. Later, Kuroda's son, Toru, shows Kuroda a weird website his friend showed him, with nothing but a white flashing circle and a short message regarding the suicides.
On May 30 the police receive a call from a boy who coughs after each sentence. He warns that on that evening at 7:30 another mass suicide will take place at the same platform. That evening the detectives organize a stake-out in order to prevent another mass suicide from happening but nothing happens at the station. Meanwhile, the individual and smaller-scale group suicides continue all over Japan, claiming many lives, including Kuroda's entire family. This section of the film includes a gory scene in which a mother is chopping vegetables in front of her daughter and proceeds to chop off her fingers, and the camera sees the mutilated hand and splattered blood all over her face.
The Bat gets caught by the henchmen of a mysterious psychopath who calls himself "Genesis". She and her sister are taken to his underground lair, where a girl in a white sack is brutally raped and killed by one of the henchmen right in front of them while Genesis sings a song.
A group of detectives has just gathered at Kuroda's home when they get a call from the same child who warned them about the second suicide wave. The boy asks Kuroda if he is "connected with himself" and whether or not one can be in connected with oneself after death. After he hangs up the phone, Kuroda snatches a gun from one of the detectives and shoots himself.
At Genesis' lair, The Bat, after she notices that her sister has already been killed too, manages to obtain access to a computer and tries to e-mail the authorities information about her whereabouts, but is caught in the act by Genesis. He is eager to get his name into the history books, however, and allows her to send the message. The police arrive soon afterward and arrest Genesis and his henchmen, and the bust immediately becomes national news.
On June 1, Mitsuko goes to her boyfriend's home to return his helmet. She goes to his old room. Soon she realizes something is not right. First she notices the Dessert posters on the wall. Then she takes a look at the photo album where she sees pictures of Masa and the members of the band together. Then the phone rings. She notices that the ringtone is one of Dessert's songs. One poster gets her attention. She grabs the cell phone and notices that the girls' fingers and the numbers on their shirts have a connection: with the help of the cell phone she unravels the poster's secret message by hitting each number on the girls shirt one time for each finger they held out — for the girls with double-digit numbers on their shirts, their right hand corresponded with the first digit and their left with the second. The message revealed was the word S-U-I-C-I-D-E. Not long after she has cracked the code behind the poster, the other phone starts ringing. She answers it and is asked to give a PIN. Mitsuko dials 7842433, the same code she used for the decoding of the secret "suicide" message. After typing the number she talks to a boy, who tells her there is no Suicide Club, and invites Mitsuko to "come over".
Mitsuko begins to decode Dessert-related material, though what exactly she found is left unspecified, and in the middle of this finds out Dessert has a concert at an arena the next day and goes there.
On June 2, with the code she just got, she is able to unlock a door and get to the backstage area, where she goes to a stage. The stage curtains are opened and she sees a group of children in the audience. One of the children asks her if she came to repair her connection with herself. She shouts she is connected to herself and the children applaud. She then goes with them to a place where her tattoo is removed. A new roll of skin is made which ends up with the police. The detective Shibusawa notices that one of the pieces of the skin belongs to Mitsuko. That evening he goes to the station where he sees Mitsuko and thinks she is going to commit suicide. He grabs her arm but she pulls away. The train arrives but she does not kill herself. Instead, she quietly gets on it, the door closes and the train leaves. As it does, Dessert announces it is their last presentation, performing their last concert as the movie ends.
- Detective Kuroda - Ryo Ishibashi
- Detective Shibusawa - Masatoshi Nagase
- Detective Murata - Akaji Maro
- Mitsuko - Saya Hagiwara
- Kiyoko (Kōmori, "The Bat") - Yoko Kamon
- Genesis - Rolly
- Detective Hagitani - Hideo Sako
- Security Guard Jiro Suzuki - Takashi Nomura
- Nurse Yoko Kawaguchi - Tamao Satou
- Nurse Sawada - Mai Hosho
- Kiyomi Kuroda - Kimiko Yo
- Sakura Kuroda - Mika Kikuchi
- Toru Kuroda - So Matsumoto
- Director - Sion Sono
- Producers - Masaya Kawamata, Toshikazu Tomita, Seiji Yoshida
- Photography - Kazuto Sato
- Editor - Akihiro Onaga
As of early 2006 the movie has one sequel and a proposed follow-up. Noriko's Dinner Table (Noriko no Shokutaku) depicts events from before and after the happenings of Suicide Circle, and gives more insight on several plotholes of its predecessor. Sion Sono has confirmed that a third and final movie in the series, currently nameless, will soon begin shooting.
Jisatsu Saakuru: Kanzenban (自殺サークル 完全版, translated as Suicide Circle: The Complete Edition) was written by Sion Sono in April, 2002. The book deals with the themes of both Suicide Club and Noriko's Dinner Table, bringing the two movies' plots closer. So far no plans for an English edition have appeared.
A manga of the same title and written by Usamaru Furuya appeared at the same time of the movie's Japanese DVD release. Although Furuya's intention was to faithfully reproduce the film's plot, Sion Sono asked him to write his own story. As a result, the Suicide Club manga is much more straightforward and easy to understand than the movie, and features much more solid character development. It deals with the same opening scene, but there is a twist: out of the 54 suicidal girls, a survivor is reported: Saya Kota. Her best friend, Kyoko, must now unveil the secret of the Suicide Club and save Saya from falling deeper into it.
- The name of the pop group in the movie, Dezāto ("dessert"), is purposely romanized differently on various occasions throughout the movie: "dessart", "dessret" and "desert".
- The pop song by Dezāto that appears throughout the movie, "Mail Me", is actually a cover of a song of the same title by Haruko Momoi.
- Sion Sono also directed Haruko Momoi's "Mail Me" video, which begins with Momoi watching a train go by
- The trailer of the movie features scenes from a subplot about the hospital security guard that had to be deleted due to time constraints.
- Both Masatoshi Nagase and Akaji Maro were friends with Sion Sono before taking part in the movie.
- Most of the teenage and child actors from the movie were first-timers.
- Suicide Club was the first of Sion Sono's films to be released in the West.
- Combichrist's 2007 album, "What The Fuck Is Wrong With You People?" has a song entitled "Are You Connected?", which quotes the movie several times, and samples audio from the coughing kid several times through the song.
- A Brooklyn glitch folk band Mossyrock has a song entitled 'Rain Dries & Clouds Form', which is a quote from a line spoken by a boy to Mitsuko during the scene on the stage at the end of the movie..
- In the scene where the students throw themselves off the building, the crew can clearly be seen throwing buckets of fake blood at the window.
- The song "Dead" by Leak Bros features a sample of the suicide club leader Genesis's "Shine All Night Long (Rong)" and uses the same chorus.
- Noriko's Dinner Table
- Suicide Circle: The Complete Edition
- Sion Sono's official site
- Suicide Club at the Internet Movie Database
- Suicide Club at Allmovie
- "自殺サークル (Jisatsu Sākuru)" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
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