Here is my public service for the year: The Warped Forest is not a sequel to The Funky Forest in any way, shape or form. It may often look and sound very similar, but the films are defined more by their differences. If you go expecting the kind of film The Funky Forest delivered, you will be disappointed. But hopefully, with this very important bit of knowledge, you can fully enjoy The Warped Forest on its own terms. Because, while not nearly as fun or interesting as its predecessor, it might actually be the better film.
Here's another public service, this one for those to whom the former public service read like insane nonsense: In 2005 the Earth was introduced to The Funky Forest. Directed by three directors (Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine and Shunichiro Miki), the film was more cinematic experience than narrative. The Funky Forest treated viewers to two and a half hours of vignettes which it cycled through seemingly at random and with the same impatience of a bored channel surfer. It's almost like watching a slow motion version of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Most of these sketches focused on sudden dance numbers, adorably sexual body protrusions and general Japanese wackiness.
Enjoyment of The Funky Forest requires patience for its extended running time and an ingrained appreciation for not just absurdism and surreality, but Japanese absurdism and surreality. It's not for everyone, but those tuned to its wavelength will find a lot to love.
The Warped Forest is a different beast. Directed by only one of the former film's three directors, Shunichiro Miki, The Warped Forest shares a great deal of the former film's tone, actors and highly recognizable aesthetics, which raises its potential for letting down Funky Forest fans.
Take one of The Funky Forest's more complete vignettes and expand it to feature length and you'll have an idea how this film works and why it's so different from what one might expect. The film sticks to its narrative guns for the duration and while there's still plenty of casual weirdness, it lacks the wild experimental feel that identified The Funky Forest.
This complicates things significantly because while viewers expecting more Funky Forest might walk away disappointed, The Warped Forest is probably the better film. By combining the rampant weirdness (and relative to most films, this is still a crazy weird movie) with an actual story, Shunichiro Miki has crafted a far more accessible film. I can't be 100% sure about this, but I think the story involves a bunch of people who accidentally travel to and live parallel lives in a forest that happens to be very warped. In real life they're strangers visiting a hot spring, but in the forest they are husbands and wives, friends and lovers, and everything in between (which doesn't leave much). Each of them expell acorns from their navals which they use as currency to pay a monolith in the forest to grant their wishes. If you're still reading this, you're either sold or convinced I'm just fucking with you.
Ultimately, The Warped Forest offers a curious opportunity. This second movie is actually the gateway film to the much weirder first film. So if you're thinking of stepping into this wild world of vagina fruits that writhe when you lick them and cute fuzzy hats that give birth to snot monsters, do this one first to get the easy cliff-notes version before belly flopping into blissful nonsense of The Funky Forest. But for those hoping for another two hours of unbridled craziness, you're just going to have to take what you get here and make the best of it.