Harry Styles, a question, what’s with all the fish?
Not content with dipping a toe into the MCU with his Eternals character Eros, Harry Styles has now set up his own cinematic universe in the new “Music For a Sushi Restaurant” video: The Harry Styles Fish Universe.
Phase one began as all franchise debuts do, with world-building. 2019’s “Adore You” introduced the fictional island of Eroda, and with it the unlikely love story between a man and a very large fish. A lonely, fisherman-knit-adorned Harry Styles is cursed with a blinding smile in a village where everyone frowns. Isolated and sad, he forms an odd couple pairing with a glowing fish that he carries around in a bag until he gets too big and he has to be released back into the ocean.
Humble origins, sure, but then fast-forward to 2020’s “Golden”, and a sun-dappled music video just in time for the Summer box office season. There’s no actual fish in this one, per se, but shots from under the water looking up at a shirtless, glowing-in-the-Italian-sun Styles point to something lurking in the ocean. The fish is more of an overarching energy here, but its presence is nonetheless fundamental to the evolution of the HSFU. Let’s call this one the franchise’s side quest, like when Doctor Strange shows up to hang out a bit with Spider-Man and then gets on with his business.
And now 2022, the culmination of the trilogy. The end of the road, unless the studio decides to milk it for one last go around, of course. This time we’re going bigger and bolder than fans ever thought possible. It’s not enough to see Harry and a fish, no. Instead, Harry is a fish. Third-act plot twist! “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” gives what it says on the tin. Well, if David Cronenberg was the maker of said tin. Gruesome body horror in the shape of a half-man, half-squid, Harry Styles is plucked from the ocean and, instead of being made into sushi, becomes a novelty chanteuse in the restaurant’s deranged cabaret. Decked in pearls, feather boas and vaseline, there’s a distinct horniness to Harry’s mersquid persona that makes us finally understand Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water.
It’s a diversion from the fish universe we’ve been presented with so far, but maybe it’s best to think of it as when a stalling franchise does a random tonal shift halfway through its series. It’s like when they made Logan a poignant final(ish) outing for Wolverine, or when the Fast and Furious characters basically became superheroes instead of boy racers.
So where does the universe go from here? The fish has gone from a quirky sidekick to an omnipresent entity to being supernaturally fused to our main protagonist. As character progressions go, this one has been swift. Most franchises worry that big swings will risk jumping the shark, but come to think of it maybe that’s the perfect plot point for this one.