"Year of the Fish" is a modern-day adaptation of a ninth-century Chinese Cinderella story, the oldest known record of the tale, written 800 years before the European versions. A lovely young girl named Ye Xian (An Nguyen) travels alone to New York City to try to earn money for her sick father back home in China. She is employed by Mrs. Su (Tsai Chin), who runs a massage parlor in the heart of Chinatown. Ye Xian refuses to do the sex work, so she is made into a lowly servant who must do all the laundry, cleaning, shopping, and cooking. Her only comforts are an enchanted fish given to her by the mysterious hunchback Auntie Yaga (Randall Duk Kim) and her fleeting encounters with the handsome Johnny (Ken Leung), a struggling jazz musician.
The film was shot entirely in New York City's Chinatown. A digital painting technique transforms the live action into a striking, evocative animated movie. The effect is a painting come to life and adds to the fairy-tale feel of the story.
Bonus features include audio commentaries with the director and cast members and a behind-the-scenes look at the rotoscoping process, early rotoscoping techniques, and before-and-after rotoscoping images.