It’s a crazy, mixed up world and we are thankful for movies that offer proof. Slashfilm’s Weekend Weirdness examines such flicks, whether in the form of a premiere for a provocative indie, a mini review, or…GAH, bugs!

When I learned of Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, a documentary on the profitable Japanese subculture and love of insect collecting, my inner capitalist gave a high five to my slouching indie purist. A press release for the film highlighted a $57 rainbow beetle, the film’s website teased the recent $90,000 sale of a single specimen. Those nuts. I envisioned the film as an educational PBS special. Lots of well narrated close-ups on creepy-crawlies inside plastic containers, stacked high and labeled brightly, in bustling specialty shops. And the film begins like so.

At start, we see a young Japanese boy in a shop captivated by a “Kokasasu beetle!” and he shouts “Oh…I want it!” A hovering guardian suggests he’s likely short on cash. He counts his change, eventually settling on a beetle $10 cheaper. Later we see a group of young Japanese bug enthusiasts at home, referring to their hefty pet horn beetles as “kids” and dropping them into a “cage” to battle. Satisfied for a moment, they quickly stomp upstairs to examine more “kids,” and bypass the family dog. The dog looks bewildered. Outdated. But cute market-centric scenes like these make up only a small part of the film. Unexpectedly meditative and adorably hypnotic, Beetle Queen aspires to link the broad presence of bugs in Japanese culture from their role in popular video games to ancient religion; connecting fireflies to symbols of unrequited romance, dragonflies to symbols of the samurai.
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