The Japanese word shinjū has, historically, signified a number of different types of suicide. It can mean 'lover's suicide' (where two lovers, for societal reasons cannot be together commit suicide), 'family suicide' (where an entire family commits suicide together), or the more recent interpretation, 'group suicide', where complete strangers commit suicide together. This final interpretation was used by Shibui for the title for his book, Netto-Shinjū.
At no point did the film glamorise suicide. It approaches it in a restrained manner, seemingly interested in examining causes of suicide and how The Suicide Manual might help. And then goes completely off the rails and crashes into the buffers of silliness by adding supernatural elements.
Indeed the film fails to build much atmosphere thanks to its conventional direction and low-budget feel as is seen in the sets. That is not to say that the direction is bad, merely adequate much like the acting. The film flows easily from one moment to the next and there are no shots that feel out of place. Mizuhashi convinces in his portrayal of depression and self-pity but the script offers little serious analysis of suicide and its co-opting of the supernatural undermines proceedings. I get the feeling that given a better script and bigger budget Osamu Fukutani might turn in something good. Unfortunately any attempts to seriously discuss suicide are shuffled off to the side in favour of an inconsistent plot involving suicide spirits. This stands in complete contrast to Suicide Circle which had a narrative that bombarded viewers with ideas and scenes that were thought provoking, compelling characters that were well written and acted, and an unpredictable plot that kept viewers on their toes. 2b1af7f3a8