The Tokyo in Pulse is empty and eerie. People are lonely and disconnected from each other. The characters are all young and, in one way or another, alone.
We observe a man, Taguchi, in his home, through a low resolution camera of some kind, and we wonder who is watching him, apart from us. One of his work colleagues, Michi, comes to pick up a computer disk, and he hangs himself in front of her. Meanwhile, at the university, Ryosuke, a charming economics student, tries to install the internet on his PC. Something goes wrong, and he finds himself looking at someone sitting in a room through a camera, and they seem to be looking back at him.
There are cables, wires, hoses and tubes everywhere in Pulse — in the dead Taguchi’s apartment, in the classroom where the wonderful Harue offers to help Ryosuke with his Internet problem, and in the rooftop glasshouse where Michi works — but they are not connected. Screens are a perpetual threat. It’s all depressingly prescient.
Lots of unsettling things happen in the background of shots. Some of the best shocks come in deceptively simple ways. There’s a lot to think about, but it’s left to the viewer to interpret, and Kurosawa takes the story to its absolute limits. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to watch this. It’s a masterpiece.