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Quiet schoolboy Ichi must put up with constant abuse from his classmates, but never does anything to stand up to them. Beaten and attacked at school, he then returns home to a tongue lashing from his parents who criticize him harshly before running off to their bedroom for another noisy sex session with ropes and whips. Ichi stoically endures such torments until the night he finds a wounded animal in the road. He goes to help it, but the confused creature bites him, causing Ichi to snap. Years of pent-up aggression come to the fore as he literally kicks the animal inside out, discovering in the process that he gets a thrill out of dealing death.
Some years later, an amnesiac Ichi is being cared for in a mental asylum. All memories of his earlier life having been blocked out, he has been forced to start again from scratch and has the mind of a six-year-old in an adult body. His parole officer Kakihara finds him work placement at a karate hall, hoping that the discipline of a martial art will help bring Ichi back into society. Instead, it sets him on a series of encounters that reawaken the psychopath within, setting him up for a life as a brutal assassin.
A prequel spin-off of Takashi Miike's violent movie Ichi the Killer (2001), itself based on a manga by Hideo Yamamoto, Ichi refashions the tropes of teen revenge for a new generation who has never heard of Urotsukidoji or, for that matter, the original Count of Monte Cristo that informed Gankutsuou. However, this story ditches fantastic or science fictional trappings in favor of the methods of live-action cinema: shaky-cam effects and moments of surreal magic realism to illustrate Ichi's inner torment. Limited animation is compensated by the liberal use of red paint; there is a great deal of violence. Miike himself voices the pivotal role of Kakihara. LNV