Monday, April 20, 2009


SUPERPOWER GAINED FROM WATCHING MOVIE: The Ability To Be Continually Surprised By The Crazed Weirdness Of Those Wacky Japanese


A Striped Superhero from the wacky, warped, and wicked mind of Miike, a Crabby Head that’s not Andy Rooney, Mighty Pant-Filling Pooper Rangers, Agent STD, Lime Jelly Babies, Paging Dr. Gori & the Faithful Karos, Tons of Nickelodeon Slime, a blobby villain that’s not Peter Ustinov, possibly the best catchphrase ever, and Hello ZebraNurse!

More details here.


School supervisor Shin'ichi Ichikawa (Sho Aikawa) gets no respect. His students hate him. His wife and daughter ignore him. His son has lost complete faith in him. And perhaps with good reason because Shin’ichi is a rather unexciting, insecure, and all-round inadequate kind of guy. While his teen daughter is out catting around, his son weeps and mopes, and his wife whores, he spends his evenings sewing together an elaborate costume based on a Japanese TV superhero known as “Zebraman”. He then prances around his room like a sad little monkey and pretends he’s Earth’s protector. Everyone laughs at him behind his back and co-workers are starting to wonder if he’s cracking up. One day he meets a little boy in a wheelchair who is new to the school and is taken under Shin’ichi’s care. The little boy shares the same wonder and excitement over Zebraman as he does, and Shin’ichi feels like he’s found a kindred spirit who doesn’t vomit or shit their pants at the sight of him. Meanwhile, the Japanese Department of Defense sends two agents (one has crabs) to Shin’ichi’s town to investigate a recent string of killings perpetrated by a murderer who may be extraterrestrial in origin. Shin’ichi’s friendship for the boy intensifies as does his feelings for the boy’s single Mom. Bolstered by the boy’s faith in him, Shin’ichi dons the black and white stripped costume and roams the night in search of the killer. When he stumbles across him, he’s a crab-headed creature with immense powers and ninja scissor fighting abilities. But Shin’ichi discovers that he too has incredible abilities such as a powerful horse-like back kick and the devastating Zebra Bomb finishing move. Zebraman conquers his foe, but his problems are only beginning. While trying to find out how he gained his powers, Shin’ichi uncovers a vast alien conspiracy that’s gooier than the bottom of a nine-year-old’s movie theater seat. What’s more - he also finds a mysterious script from the old show that eerily mirrors his own life in detail. And this episode's storyline has a sad ending in store for the boy, for Zebraman, and for all of wherever prefecture these jokers live.


There are few filmmakers working today that are as prolific as Japan’s Takashi Miike. There are even fewer that are as unique in signature and style. And there are even fewer fewer as completely weird, whacked out, and crazier than a geisha house bedbug. His long list of films reflects his interest in the ultra-violent and sexual, the practice of visual agitation, pitch black comedy, and the absurd insanities of being. Plus, he is one kooky fried egg. In the mid-2000s, Miike took a brief respite from such visceral fare as Ichi the Killer and Gozu and made a couple of kid-friendly films: The Great Yokai War (recommended) and Zebraman, a satirical, bizarre, and ultimately fond reflection of Japanese TV action heroes such as Ultraman and Kamen Rider. The movie is part 70s spot-on tokusatsu spoof, part schoolhouse drama, and part surreal satire. And although it (like most Japanese cinema) drags, the movie also works as a parody of American superhero movies as Miike pokes fun at the genre’s structural pitfalls, childish and simpleminded premises, and the childish sexual fantasies of the genre’s adult followers. But the movie also appears to embrace what it’s mocking as the story evolves into an affirmation of the hero’s faith in his dreams and the belief others have transposed upon him. And there’s lot of green slime. Kids love that shit. Kids and adult will also love the smash-bang final boss fight in the end, making it impossible not to root for Shin’ichi and his delusion come to life. Zebraman drools with irony while remaining frenetically ludicrous, more fun than a barrel of goop, and gloriously super-happy ichiban, America-san.

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