Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust is a time-traveling comedy that looks no further than to entertain the audience. It isn't going to blow anyone's mind, but Bubble Fiction is cute, funny, and at times incredibly campy. I love it when a movie is honest about it's intentions and comes through in it's delivery.
Nothing seems to be going right for Mayumi Tanaka (Ryoko Hirosue), a young woman who has not only recently lost her mother Mariko (Hiroko Yakushimaru), but is constantly avoiding Tajima (Hitori Gekidan), a scuzzy loan shark who's trying to collect his dues. Deep in debt and completely alone for the first time in her life, Mayumi works at a hostess club to pay the bills, all the while being observed from a distance by a mysterious older man by the name of Isao Shimakawaji (Abe Hiroshi). After approaching Mayumi, Isao informs her that he works for the Finance Ministry, and it turns out that her mother isn't really dead! Isao helped "orchestrate" Mariko's death so that she could travel back to the year 1990 and stop the then director of finance Serizawa (Masato Ibu) from passing legislation that could devastate the economy of Japan. Obviously bewildered at the news she's hearing, Mayumi wants to know what her role is in this whole situation. Isao tells her that he, and the rest of the ministry, need her help in finding Mariko as they haven't heard from her in days and fear the worst. With the incentive of having all of her debt paid in full, Mayumi agrees to help Isao. Isao takes Mayumi to her mothers basement laboratory and shows her the time machine that her mother built and that she'll be using to travel back to the year 1990.
After gearing up to take a spin in the washing machine, Mayumi emerges in 1990 Japan and immediately knows it by the fact that Rainbow Bridge (the main bridge crossing northern Tokyo bay) hasn't been constructed yet. More upsetting however is the fact that she can no longer use her much beloved cell-phone as they haven't become a staple in everyday life yet! Mayumi begins her search for her mother by going straight to Serizawa's office and naturally, he says he's never seen her. She then bumps into 1990 Isao and this version of Isao is instantly taken with Mayumi and is willing to do and agree with anything she says in hope's that he'll have a "chance" with her. Isao shows Mayumi around 1990's Tokyo and along the way she sees some familiar faces and hears music that is thankfully now a part of everyones past. Eventually, Isao comes to believe Mayumi's far-fetched story of time travel and agrees to help her find her mother and stop Serizawa from making the big legislation announcement on television. Isao also enlists the help of his TV reporter friend Kaoru Miyazaki (Kazue Fikiishi) to check the police stations for Mayumi's mother, as Serizawa has been having anyone acting suspicious or snooping into his business arrested. It's obvious that Serizawa is up to something, and Mayumi and Isao are the only one's that can find out the truth. Many surprising things come to light along their journey, but business has to come first. Saving Mariko is one thing, but can they really save the economic future of Japan?
Bubble Fiction is definitely one of those silly comedies that asks it's audience to suspend disbelief in order to really get the most out of it. The very idea of time-travel alone should be enough to make you realize that, but in case you take things too seriously, the fact that the time machine is a washing machine should give you a heads up. It's also a heads up to the type of humor one should expect upon watching Bubble Fiction, but at the same time, my major gripe about the movie is that it sometimes acts as if it wants to be taken more seriously. The story, revolving around Japan's debt and the downfall of the economy is definitely a major issue, but the movie puts more emphasis on being a comedy making it all feel a bit unbalanced. When things do get wacky however, they get really wacky and the action scene in the final act is proof of that. The "recreation" of 1990's Japan is interesting and amusing enough, but this aspect is clearly geared more towards Japanese people in what is sure to make them say, "Ah! Natsukashii!". (Ask me if you don't know!). I've complained about it before, but somehow, even with a running-time of nearly two hours, Bubble Fiction doesn't seem to drag on and has it's joke spread out well enough to keep you interested throughout. Kudos for that.
Make no mistake, Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust is a "popcorn movie" with a story better served in a dramatic format. However, even with it's short-comings it stills manages to be a successful comedy thanks in large part to it's engaging leads and an often hilarious look back in time. So put your brain on auto-pilot, sit back and enjoy the ride. (Lee)
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