It’s the year 2012 and as it turns out, the Mayans were right: Earth is doomed. An asteroid is heading our way, and it seems that nobody, not even the United States can save us (their ambitious asteroid-busting mission has failed). But we still have one thing on our side that the Mayans and their “Long Count” didn’t predict: punk rock. And not just any punk rock, mind you, but the very first punk rock song, recorded in Japan a full year before the Sex Pistols burst on to the scene.
The closest companion piece to Fish Story that I can think of is Jang Jun-hwan’s criminally unknown Save The Green Planet!, which also juggles genres and storylines with considerable aplomb. But whereas Save The Green Planet! is ultimately driven by a dark sense of humor and a huge dollop of pathos, Fish Story is warmer and more optimistic in its storytelling, albeit in that gently absurd manner that you find elsewhere in Japanese cinema (e.g.,The Happiness of the Katakuris, The Taste of Tea, Kamikaze Girls). The film is ultimately an examination of how even seemingly random events are subtly connected in ways that nobody can truly foresee, and how even the most insignificant or arbitrary decision or action can have far-reaching consequences.
The only one of the companions Jason mentions that I've seen is The Taste of Tea, which is a good point of entry, although Fish Story isn't as giddily bizarre. For example, a song figures prominently in both films, and I could imagine "Fish Story" coming to life in the real world, I can't say the same of the song in Taste of Tea. I think the anime film Summer Wars could be a good comparison, too.
I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how the different pieces of this movie fit together, and I guessed a few of the connections before they were actually revealed. About the connections the "putting it all together" montage reminded me of a similar sequence in Contagion, of all things.