At their best, films about the future — sci-fi, fantasy and anything in between — offer up mind-expanding speculations and deep-drilling allegories, if not necessarily accurate predictions. Hardly anything in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" came to pass by 2001, but its vision of something out there continues to haunt us.

But what if you have only a tiny fraction of Kubrick's budget, translated into today's yen? Then you have to rely on imagination and chutzpah, as did Daisuke Nishijima, who created the comic that served as the basis for the wacky, sweet, pitch-dark sci-fi/fantasy "Sekai no Owari no Izukoneko (The End of the World and the Cat's Disappearance)." An award-winning sci-fi manga artist, Nishijima not only co-wrote the script with director Michihiro Takeuchi, but stars in the film as the nerdy high school teacher Miike, despite a seeming blank spot in the "acting experience" section of his resume.

Screened at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in February, the film stars idol singer Izukoneko (aka Mari) as Itsuko, a girl in Miike's class who has a sideline as a budding star on the 2035 equivalent of YouTube. As she sings, dances and muses for the webcam in her bedroom, comments from fans flash all over her futuristic transparent computer screen (that no doubt drove the film's poor subtitler mad).