Haruhiko Katô (Loft)
Kumiko Asô (Ring 0)
Koyuki (The Last Samurai)
Kurume Arisaka (Lizard Baby)
Masatoshi Matsuo (Tomie: Reokay)
The first story involves a young woman named Kudo Michi (Kumiko Aso) who works at a plant sales company. She has recently moved to the city and her main friends are her three colleagues, Sasano Junko, Toshio Yabe and Taguchi. At the start of the film, it appears Taguchi has been missing for some days working on a computer disk. Michi goes to visit his apartment and finds him distracted and aloof; in the middle of their conversation, he casually makes a noose, leaves and hangs himself. Michi and her colleagues inspect the computer disk he left behind and discover it contains an image of Taguchi staring at his own computer monitor, which is displaying an image of Taguchi staring at his computer monitor, creating an endless series of images.
In the monitor, Michi and her friends discover a ghostly face staring out into Taguchi’s room. Yabe later receives a phone call that seems to be Taguchi saying “Help me”, over and over. He goes to Taguchi’s apartment and sees a ghostly black image on the wall. He notices a door sealed up with red tape and enters, encountering a ghost. Yabe shows up at work later depressed and uncommunicative, ultimately taking to hiding in his apartment. When Michi goes to check on him, she discovers that he has dissolved into a black mark on the wall similar to the one on Taguchi’s wall. Michi and Junko are soon alone at work; their boss has also disappeared. Doors with red tape are cropping up all over Tokyo. When Junko enters one of them, she is attacked by a ghost. Michi rescues her, but the encounter proves too traumatic for Junko, who dissolves into ash.
In the Second Story Ryosuke (Haruhiko Katô) is an economics student who has recently signed up to a new Internet Service Provider. His computer accesses a website by itself, showing him disturbing images of people alone in dark rooms, exhibiting bizarre, depressed behavior. That night, Ryosuke wakes up to find his computer on again; the site now shows a man with his face obscured by shadows, who is then replaced by a man with a plastic bag over his head. Before he pulls it off, Ryosuke unplugs his computer in panic. The next day, Harue Karasawa (Koyuki), a post-graduate computer science student, suggests he either bookmark the page or print the images for her to examine. Ryosuke attempts to follow her advice but finds that his computer will not follow his commands. Instead, a video plays of a man with a plastic bag on his head standing in a room with the words “HELP ME” written all over the walls. A fellow student mentions the appearance of ghostly-looking people around campus and explains his theory that souls have begun to invade the physical world.
Harue begins exhibiting strange, depressive behavior and suggests that ghosts would want to save humans from the loneliness of the afterlife by bestowing immortality on them. Later that night, Ryosuke visits Harue to find her acting even stranger; the two try to escape to a faraway place using the subway. However, the train stops and Harue is seized by a desire to return home and flees. Upon returning to her apartment, she claims that she is “not alone”. When Rosuke bursts into her apartment later, she is gone.
As more and more people begin to vanish, evacuations of Tokyo begin. There are ghosts appearing everywhere. Ryosuke meets Michi and they find Harue in an abandoned factory, where she shoots herself. Ryosuke later wanders through a door sealed up with red tape and encounters a ghost who explains that “death was eternal loneliness.” Ryosuke loses the will to live, and Michi has to drag him to safety. They drive through a burning Tokyo, encountering numerous apocalyptic scenes : the sky turns black, a US Army C-130 cargo plane crashes out of the sky, and people leap to their deaths from tall buildings. The pair find a ship about to depart Tokyo, crewed by a small group of survivors who tell them that similar events are happening all over the world. As the ship heads for Latin America, Ryosuke and Michi go below deck, where Ryosuke disintegrates into ash.
The movie is a major cinematic effort, one deserving of the words stated before: If problematic pacing that eventually reveals its motives, scattershot narratives that end up coming together brilliantly, and difficult questions answered in equally challenging ways are not your idea of entertaining cinema, then by all means, skip Pulse/Kairo. But if you are willing to be challenged, to have your mind opened to brave and brazen issues executed with intelligence and style, this is the film you’ve been waiting for.