As one of the most cutting-edge Japanese filmmakers, Kiyoshi Kurosawa once again wraps a lowbrow, much-maligned genre -- in this case horror flicks (which were the rage in Japan at the time of this release) -- around some decidedly highbrow philosophical concepts. At the film's outset, Michi (Kumiko Aso) and her cohorts at a rooftop nursery cannot get ahold of their co-worker, Taguchi (Kenji Mizuhashi), who has an important floppy disk. When she ventures over to his apartment, she finds him pale, listless, and unusually quiet -- that is until he suddenly hangs himself. While the suicide is disconcerting, what really freaks Michi out is that Taguchi's body seems to dissolve into the wall, leaving a sickly black stain. Meanwhile, college slacker Ryosuke Kawashima (Haruhiko Kato) logs onto the Internet for the first time even though he is not particularly fond of computers. Instead of stumbling into a porn site or a chat room, he finds himself in a most peculiar site -- he just sees ghostly images of other people going about their everyday life. Then the computer prompts him, asking, "Would you like to meet ghosts?" Even though he eventually pulls the plug, the machine still on occasion springs to life. He eventually consults a comely computer maven named Harue (Koyuki), who is also utterly baffled. As more and more Internet users seal themselves into their rooms with red duct tape and melt into black splotches, Kawashima and Michi independently come to discover that the Internet has become portal for an increasingly crowded afterlife. As Tokyo becomes increasingly depopulated, Kawashima and Michi cross paths. This film -- which also features cameos by Kurosawa regulars Koji Yakusho, Jun Fubuki, and Sho Aikawa -- was screened at the 2001 Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals.
by Jonathan Crow synopsis