Tag: Riaru Onigokko [J-Wave Movie Review]

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

I do not claim copyright to the images shown in this post. All images are copyrighted to and sourced from the movie itself, except for the movie poster from Google

Movie Info

Tag (Riaru Onigokko)

Movie: TAG

Romaji: Tag (Riaru Onigokko)

Japanese: リアル鬼ごっこ

Director: Sion Sono [園子温]

Writer: Yusuke Yamada [山田悠介] (novel), Sion Sono [園子温]

Release Date: 11 July 2015

Runtime/Episodes: 1 hour 25 minutes

Genre: Suspense, Action, Horror

Distributor: Shochiku, Asmik Ace Entertainment, Universal Studios

Language: Japanese

Country: Japan

Music Tracks:

  • Real Onigokko [performed by GLIM SPANKY]
  • The Last Dawn [performed by MONO]
  • Pure As Snow (Trails Of The Winter Storm) [performed by MONO]
  • The Land Between Tides [performed by MONO]

Movie Synopsis

A quiet high school girl named Mitsuko survives a gust of wind which slices through her school bus, bisecting everyone onboard. She manages to escape the gust of wind, which chases her and kills all the other girls she comes into contact with. Dazed, and surrounded by numerous other dead high school girls, she cleans herself off and changes into another girl's school uniform and stumbles onto a different high school campus. She is greeted by her friends Aki, Sur (short for "Surreal") and Taeko. Not knowing who they are, Mitsuko confesses to Aki in private that she cannot remember if she ever attended this school and believes she had a nightmare about girls being killed by a gust of wind. Aki reassures her that it was just a nightmare and proposes that they all cut class and go to the woods to cheer her up.

In the woods, the girls muse about whether destiny is truly predetermined and whether there are multiple realities with multiple versions of themselves. Sur illustrates predetermination with a white feather, stating that it would mean the time it takes for the feather to fall and where it will land are all decided already. Mitsuko wonders if there is nothing she can do to escape destiny, but Sur suggests that fate can be tricked by simply doing something one would never normally do, thus changing the outcome. The girls happily return to school. Aki and Mitsuko's homeroom teacher begins class, but suddenly brandishes a machine gun and opens fire, killing all the girls except Mitsuko. Before she can fire another round, Sur and Taeko burst in, grab Mitsuko, and the three hide. Another homeroom teacher, who has just killed her own entire class, finds and kills Taeko and Sur. Mitsuko and the remaining girls flee the grounds, running for their lives as they are gunned down. One of the girls recognizes Mitsuko and pleads for her to do something and think about why this is happening. The remaining girls are then sliced apart by a gust of wind.

Mitsuko continues to run, and then finds herself in increasingly surreal situations where her identity and appearance change: first, as a bride named Keiko on her wedding day, who is forced to marry a grotesque groom with a boar's head while her guests (all girls from the previous school) jeer at her, then later as a student named Izumi in the middle of a marathon, flanked by her friends and well-wishers (again, made up of the girls from the school and wedding ceremony). In each scenario, she is supported by a version of her friend Aki, who either readies her for combat or distracts her attackers, made up of the groom and the two homeroom teachers from before. In every scenario, she must flee while the surrounding girls are slaughtered in various ways.

After encountering a group of revenant girls who try to kill her after stating that so long as she lives, they all will continue to die, she is once again rescued by Aki. Aki tells her to focus and remember that although she is both Keiko and Izumi in these scenarios, she is ultimately Mitsuko. After returning to her original appearance as Mitsuko, Aki tells her that the two of them and all the girls are in a fictional world being observed by "someone" and that they will continue to hunt Mitsuko down and try to kill her while slaughtering the other girls unless Mitsuko, as the "main character", does something to change it. Each of the scenarios she encountered is a different world, and to reach the final one, Aki tells her that Mitsuko must brutally kill her. Urged on by Aki, Mitsuko reluctantly kills her and a portal opens up before her.

She finds herself in a lewd dingy city called "Men's World" filled with only men who pervertedly enjoy a poster advertisement for a "legendary" violent 3-D survival horror video game called "Tag", depicting Mitsuko, Keiko, and Izumi as playable characters. She passes out and awakens in a temple where all the girls from the various scenarios are showcased like mannequins. She arrives at a room where a decrepit old man is playing the game on his TV, showing the various trials she went through. Mitsuko is horrified to see full-size models of herself, Keiko, Izumi, Aki, Sur, and Taeko behind a glass display case. The man tells her that she is in the future and that 150 years ago, she was a girl he had admired as a fellow student. When she died, he managed to take her DNA and that of all her friends and make clones for his 3-D game. A younger version of the old man appears beside a bed and strips down, beckoning her to come to bed with him. The old man tells her that the final stage is the fulfillment of his deepest wish and he tells her to succumb to her destiny. Instead, Mitsuko attacks the younger man, screaming at him to stop playing with girls like toys. She rips one of the pillows, showering the room with feathers. Remembering what Sur said about tricking fate, she then commits suicide by stabbing herself, to the shock of both the old man and his younger self. Finding herself once again in the beginning of each of the three game scenarios, she simultaneously commits suicide on the bus, at the wedding chapel, and during the marathon before any of the violent scenarios can begin. Mitsuko then awakens alone in a field of white snow, gets up, and runs away, realizing that "it's over now."

TAG Recurring Characters


The sole survivor of a high school trip calamity is Mitsuko, who dodges a murderous airstream that killed her classmates. She flees to a town where, somehow, students she doesn't know acknowledge her as a longtime friend and classmate. In actual reality Mitsuko was the one dying inside, she felt alone and she felt different. And she realized she wanted an ending to this loneliness that surrounds her. As you can see in Chapter 1, all her classmates in the bus were talking and enjoying themselves, but Mitsuko is the only one who is "alone" despite not being in a lonely situation.


Keiko, a 25-year-old woman readying for her wedding, where the happy smiles and well-wishing guests soon melt away as she is rushed down the aisle toward a potentially purgatory-like future. This was the view of how Keiko view herself. Where everyone was so happy for her but in actual fact, that was all front for something else much more sinister. She knows that behind those smiles and words of congratulations, that's not what most of them think of her. The groom is sort of an escape from reality from something that is holding her back while at the same time, the groom represents lust itself.


A marathon in which the runner Izumi competes against villains and monsters bursting onto the scene from the previous chapters. From the various scenes that we can see, Izumi was a top athlete who is very much adored by everyone. But what was wrong with it? She was actually pressured and everyone was expecting too much of her. She was also pushing herself to the limit where she was no longer happy and at the point where she thinks that she can no longer lose or everyone will think differently of her can see her as a fake.


Aki, Mitsuko's friend in all 3 of Mitsuko's different characters. Despite being a friend, she somehow acts more like Mitsuko's subconsciousness personified as a human female by the name of Aki as we do not see the existence of "Aki" at all when Mitsuko had to run for her life to survive in the very first chapter. In actuality and reality, she plays the biggest role in the movie and I am absolutely convinced at this point that she doesn't really exist at all. She was the one deciding on what actions they should do, the next course of action, is it fight or is it a flight impulse action or a.k.a the mind/subconscious when Mitsuko forgets what she needs to do to stay alive.

My review...

Although this movie was supposed to be based on a novel, Sion Sono himself has pretty much never read a single page of it instead using it as an entry point to his own unique creation. Purists of manga/novel live action movies might feel upset that sometimes the live action itself doesn't much follow-up to the original story itself, however, I felt that because Sion Sono is a maestro of JK (Joushi Kousei, a.k.a High School Girls in Japanese terms) horror, his touch simply turned a movie into solid gold. I also feel that Mitsuko gives a real sense of fear and helplessness in the chapters she was in. Confusion, fear, despair, hope, all rolled into a single character. When we first saw Mitsuko, she was lost in her own world of poems on a school bus while her classmates were having the time of their life chatting and monkeying around. But all that instantly changes when a cataclysmic event occurs and changes the lives of Mitsuko and others around her forever. Surreal, scary and strange things happen to the point where the rules of living have been bent, and shocking bouts of violence are repeatedly brought forth suddenly and this all occurs exclusively to all the females in the entire movie.

Tag Riaru Onigokko
Pretty sure that is what every school teacher in the world dreamed of doing when dealing with obnoxious students

When we see Mitsuko as Keiko again, she was being rushed to a wedding that she has no clue of. A groom that she has not even met before, but seemingly approved of by everyone around her. Initially in the beginning, we see all the females surrounding her and wishing her well. But apparently, that isn't the case. Notice how when Mitsuko stumbled into a peaceful town devoid of males and the only male in sight is her supposed "groom" that she has no knowledge of. But as soon as she reached the church as Keiko, Aki informs Keiko that she is in fact Mitsuko and that she is being hunted down and the only way out is to fight her way out of the marriage ceremony. Fast forward to when Keiko approaches the wedding altar, all the female guests started disrobing into their undergarments and hurriedly pushing her towards the altar while making a mockery out of her. This time round, Keiko is being pushed into the arms of lust itself, almost without having a choice to. It's either surrender to lust or fight her way out of it.

Tag Riaru Onigokko
Marrying a guy is great, but marrying a guy represented by a pig is pretty much bad luck

And towards the second last chapter of the story, she changes into Izumi, a top athlete who is adored by everyone around her. Confusion sets in once again, and her "friends" in her running team kept constantly reassuring Izumi about her school days where she runs faster than everyone else and that her competence as an athlete is readily confirmed by everyone who saw and knew her. But all that changes when she is once again pursued by the groom in the previous chapter, or as I say it, lust refuses to leave her alone and constantly hunting her down.

Tag Riaru Onigokko
Turns out Mitsuko is just being used for fun as a "toy" in a male-dominated world

In short, the story could be interpreted of a gender-based social oppression as seen by a woman undergoing rituals of adolescence and adulthood from the constant flashes of white objects, such as the white bra Mitsuko is wearing when she changes from her bloody uniform in Chapter 1 to a clean uniform, a white pillow, fluttering white feathers, flashes of white panties and so on. The violent interventions break up long scenes of solidarity in a world without men, the sense of optimism and freedom vividly captured by drone filming. When at the final chapter of the movie, all truths are revealed about the nature of the 3 different protagonists reason of existence and the only way they can break out of this misogynistic vicious cycle - through their own deaths.

My thoughts...

Throughout the entire movie, we keep seeing everyone around Mitsuko dying. But in fact, it is really Mitsuko trying to find escape in a world where women plays second fiddle to men, where women are just sex toys and sex objects in the eyes of men, existing only for the sole pleasure of men only. And to escape this life, the only way out is by dying. I'll give it a 7/10 as I find the ending a little beyond my comprehension. Just because a female is being treated like a second fiddle doesn'nt mean she needs to be the one to die.

You can watch this movie on my channel via Dailymotion in 3 parts via playlist/x4ghfi_riih-pu-niao_tag-riaru-onigokko/1#video=x47q9bq or watch the embedded movie below:

Part 1: Tag Riaru Onigokko Movie [English Subbed]

Tag (Riaru Onigokko) - Part 1 by riih-pu-niao

Part 2: Tag Riaru Onigokko Movie [English Subbed]

Tag (Riaru Onigokko) - Part 2 by riih-pu-niao

Part 3: Tag Riaru Onigokko Movie [English Subbed]

Tag (Riaru Onigokko) - Part 3 by riih-pu-niao


Riih Rion is bashful when facing cameras and video-cams. But she soon realized she is more comfortable behind a PC screen than in front of a lens. Riih is passionate about beauty products, paranormal & folk lore from anywhere in the world and sushi. Especially sushi. Come visit her blogs or drop her a comment :D

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