The screenplay for Charisma was originally written in the early 90s. It earned Kiyoshi Kurosawa a scholarship from the Sundance Institute, which allowed him to study filmmaking in the U.S. Being a devoted fan of American genre cinema, he accepted the opportunity with relish.
Yabuike (Koji yakusho) is a Tokyo detective who is called in for the difficult cases. He attends an incident where an Mp is being held at gunpoint. The captor’s note reads “Restore the rules of the world”. Reading this demand ,he gives up any hope of resolution and as he leaves ,the entire hostage situation goes to hell. He is suspended from duty. Yabuike is so shocked by this incident that all he can do is to be asked to be driven somewhere, anywhere and eventually he gets himself lost in a dying forest . Yabuike’s real adventure into lunacy begins , where he will soon learn that the laws of nature governing the forest are far more stark than anything he has encountered in Tokyo. He meets a variety of personalities living within the forest. They are in dispute over an unique tree named “Charisma” growing in a clearing in the forest. Botanist Jinko believes the plant is toxic and it will eventually kill the whole forest. A former sanatorium patient wants to protect the tree even if that leads to the death of the rest of the forest. Some other people want to take the tree away for a collector.
Charisma emerges to be a highly metaphoric , thematically rich piece of cinema. It raises questions about the role of individual in modern-day Japanese society (as represented by the unique tree). The various supporting characters represent the ideological struggles between reactionary and revolutionary forces over this debate of individuality.