Japanese body horror auteur Shinya Tsukamoto, still best known in the U.S. for Tetsuo, teams with hipster icon Tadanobu Asano for the psychological drama Vital. Asano plays Hiroshi Takagi, who wakes from a coma, his memory seriously impaired, and decides, to the relief of his parents (Kazuyoshi Kushida and Lily), to go back to medical school. His memory returns slowly. Eventually, Hiroshi remembers that he had a girlfriend, Ryôko (Nami Tsukamoto) who was with him when he wrecked his car. She was killed in the crash. As he and his classmates begin to work on human cadavers, Hiroshi catches the attention of another top student, a driven and manipulative young woman named Ikumi (Kiki). The two become involved in a twisted relationship of sorts, but Hiroshi is more and more focused on his work. He comes to believe that the corpse he's working on in the lab is Ryôko's. Distraught, he goes to visit the dead girl's parents (Jun Kunimura and Hana Kino), who offer little comfort. Meanwhile, the other students are disturbed by Hiroshi's growing obsession with his "subject." Vital was shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of the 2005 Film Comment Selects.
by Josh Ralske synopsis