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[Fantasia ’22] ‘Popran’ review: Penis envy

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Popran manages to mix an over the top premise with a grounded story. Tagami Tatsuya (Yoji Minagawa) is the successful CEO of an online manga reading platform. On his way to becoming the head of his company, he has estranged himself from his friends and family. He cares little for others and is completely wrapped up in his work. When he wakes up one morning and notices an important part of his body is missing, it leads him on a journey of self-discovery.

Writer-director Shinichiro Ueda (One Cut of the Dead) knows how to use comedy without overpowering the story. When the plot involves flying penises and a club that is dedicated to finding their missing Popran, this can be very difficult. Ueda spaces out the laughs which allows the more somber parts of the story to sink in while giving the jokes time to settle.

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In a strange way, this gives Popran an almost no-nonsense feel. As Tagami hunts for his missing member, he comes across important people from his past. This allows him to look back and rethink the choices he has made. He is more than just a guy chasing after his dick with a fancy butterfly net; he is someone who is has a hole in his life despite -or perhaps more correctly, because – all of his accomplishments.

[Fantasia '22] 'Popran' review: Penis envy

This does lead to rapid changes of tone throughout the entire runtime. As engaging as the film is, it never quite melds the two different moods. It is very funny and it tells a very strong story, but it is never as moving as it should be. That being said, Popran is a delightful watch and one of the most unique movies playing at the Fantasia Film Festival.

Popran makes its North American premiere at Fantasia Festival

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