Every year people from the film industry — buyers, programmers and critics — descend on the Tokyo International Film Festival to see what this country has to offer, and every year they usually find at least one gem among the selections in the Japanese Cinema Splash section for indie films.

This year, the standout was director Seiji Tanaka’s debut feature “Melancholic.” It’s about a nerdy University of Tokyo grad who is hired as an attendant at a public bath and learns that it’s used for yakuza-ordered executions — and that one of his co-workers is the hitman. Scripted by Tanaka and made on a ¥3 million budget, “Melancholic” begins as yet another noirish domestic film about strange guys on the margins of society, but develops into a mashup of action, comedy, romance and heart-warming family drama. Given the grim subject matter, this tonal shift isn’t easy, but Tanaka and his accomplished cast pull it off. “Melancholic” has originality in spades.

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