Remade as Pulse (2006)
Looking at Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s Kairo (Pulse, 2001) again on DVD, it is all the more apparent that the ironic subtext is that with all the means of connecting with others – email, webcams, the cellphone – people are still alienated. Kawashima (Haruhiko Katô), the computer-illiterate economics major, doesn’t seem to have anyone, neither friend nor family (that said, he’s the most resilient, and most persistently optimistic of anyone in the picture); pretty Harue (Koyuki), to whom Kawashima is attracted, has acquaintances – the students she helps out in the computer lab, the graduate student Yoshizaki (Shinji Takeda) – plus she’s more aware of what’s going on, but if anything this makes her more susceptible (it’s the computer geeks that fall victim first).
The one group that shows any cohesiveness are the employees of Sunny Plant Sales, a tiny business that grows orchids and other exotic plants on a rooftop greenhouse. Michi (Kumiko Aso), one of the employees, is worried for Taguchi (Kenji Mizuhashi) and visits him at his apartment (where he promptly hangs himself); she and fellow colleagues Junko (Kuruma Arisaka) and Yabe (Masatoshi Matsuo) meet at a café afterwards to talk about the suicide, and it’s clear from their interaction that they (and the absent Taguchi) were friends.