Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Akira Emoto, Makiko Watanabe, Shô Aikawa, Atsuro Watabe, Kyôka Suzuki
Director: Takashi Miike
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Comedy
The year is 2010. Shinichi is a second-rate third-grade teacher who gets no respect from his family and little from his students. It seems that in 1978 he fell in love with a tv super hero named Zebraman that was cancelled... more »
Miike's Curious Family Film Blend
John P. Marsh | North Las Vegas | 11/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Zebraman" is a male fantasy fairytale involving a repressed/milquetoast's attempts to embody the characteristics of his favorite TV series character (a not so popular 'Zebraman' who survived 8 episoides.) The idea of this film is pretty good, actually, and if I was still in Hollyweird I might be tempted to try to develop this. The plot, however, falls apart and is predictable in the last third of the film (which doesn't however, impact too much the enjoyability level. It's supposed to be cliched and comfortable - not like the usually disturbing Miike fare.)
Miike, suprisingly, always works well with young actors, but his low-key male lead is also nuanced here. The film is slow, allowing emotional involvement with the characters (doesn't always pull it off but it tries.)
The 'force' payoff (where Zebraman learns to fly based upon his belief system and the faith of a young boy) is pretty lame, but I think it's supposed to be. More interesting is the surrogate family Zebraman adopts (it threatens to explode into infidelity - in this, a kid's film?)
While this film is a mixed tonal bag at times, it's ultimately warm and nostalgic, very pro-human at it's core. Worth seeing, even if the story is a little wayward and the 'family fare' a little 'too adult.'"
3 ½ Stars: Takashi Miike's Comedic Super-Hero Spoof!! Yep, t
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 02/20/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Takashi Miike--the acclaimed director of such nail-biting horror films such as "Audition" and "Gozu", such gritty yakuza-themed films such as "Dead or Alive" and "Fudoh", the cult-hit "Ichi the Killer", his contribution was banned from the Showtime "Masters of Horror" series for "Imprint"--one wouldn't be hard-pressed to assume that Miike is only capable of such macabre and violent films. Nope, Takashi Miike is actually better known in his native land for his "family-friendly" films such as "the Great Yokai War", and this film, "ZEBRAMAN". This film is Takashi Miike's comedic parody of the superhero genre.
Shinichi Ichikawa (Sho Aikawa) is a grade school teacher. He is a humble man, with some major family issues--his wife is cheating on him, his daughter Midori (Yui Ichikawa) doesn't respect him and his youngest son is being bullied at school just because he is his son. Back in 1978, he is also obsessed with a TV show called Zebraman which is set in 2010, now when that year rolls around, Shinichi attempts to escape his issues by fashioning himself a "zebra man" costume and begins to play the character at night. What began as escapism, soon becomes a bizarre reality as a monster from the original show actually appears. Shinichi finally realizes that his beloved TV show wasn't fantasy but a prophecy foretold. And now, dressing up as Zebraman, he elects himself its fulfillment. Now, he has little choice but to take the role seriously as hostile aliens does surface and he must protect the people of Japan!
The film's strength lies in its energetic direction. The film may seem rather comical and silly in many ways but the "cheesiness" and goofy feel is a main part of its premise. Appreciating the occasional cheesy sequences is just a matter of being in the correct state of mind. The premise of the movie is rather simple but the energy and pacing of the film's structure does keep it from becoming too predictable, it maintains an interesting quality throughout. The film also has a theme--as with believing in yourself and Miike's doesn't hold back on some social and political commentary, very subtle and not entirely obvious until the final act. While it doesn't deliver everything with a straight face, the film's main message is self-reliance and it does somewhat condemn the use of nuclear arms.
The film's action is rather "cartoonish" and comical; it is meant to be this way. The costumes looked very inspired by Japanese serials such as "Ultraman" and the action contains some martial arts also reminiscent of the series. The villains are your usual men in rubber suits and they move as they would in such TV series. There is some CGI images and the aliens have that "Flubber"-like look but they do look menacing in a very cartoon-like manner. The film is decently acted and I really had fun watching its odd touches of humor.
Honestly, the film is the type of experience not to be taken seriously and one may miss the importance of exactly what it is trying to say--"Believe in yourself and your dreams will come true" is the film's powerful message. Miike is telling his audience that self reliance and hard work is always the answer and dependence on an outside force may prove to be disastrous. After all, Japan is a country that had suffered an atomic attack, but it managed to still become an economic powerhouse after the 2nd world war. Sakinichi's friendship with a young boy on a wheelchair named Shinpei Asano (Naoki Yasukochi) is the strong catalyst for his resolve. His mother, a hard working single mother (played by beauteous Kyoka Suzuki) also adds a lot of needed humanity as Shinichi imagines her as "Zebra-Nurse". (What the heck?) Oh, yes, as with most Japanese films, I've seen in this genre, it does have a good number of scenes which made me say: "What the Heck?!"
All in all, this may not be one of my favorites from Takashi Miike, but I do appreciate what it was trying to do. The film does leave certain aspects of its plot undefined as to Shinichi's newly acquired powers, but I guess the answers are there if you look hard enough (the manga it inspired never had Zebraman gain any real powers). Some elements were also underdeveloped (you barely see his wife and daughter) and the final act of the film is definitely those very used to the "Ultraman" style and it is NOT for everybody. Still, Miike's energetic direction kept the film grounded and the film is never boring. "Zebraman" isn't one of Miike's best but it does stand well as a testament to this director's versatility.
Recommended! To fans of Japanese cinema [3 ½ Stars]
Hilarious, with great special features!
Mel Skinner | West Virginia, USA | 12/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Zebraman" is a hilarious comic book satire film from director Takashi Miike! This came as an absolute surprise to me--I'm sad to say I'm not usually what one would call a "Miike" fan. His movies simply aren't, usually, my thing. However, this film proved that I can never completely ignore a director so open-minded and imaginative.
From the special features of this particular DVD set(2), I learned some fascinating facts about the film, and more specifically, the lead actor: Sho Aikawa. His performance in "Zebraman" actually marked his 100th role as a lead actor in a film, which I was given to understand is especially uncommon in Japan. One of the special features is an interview with him, while another follows his experience.
Another great thing about the special features was the amount of Behind the Scenes footage you got to see compared to American filmmakers' interpretations of the same with their films. With "Zebraman" they showed the whole process--good and bad--the long hours, the injuries, the exhaustion, the little things...truly it was fascinating. I almost felt like I was on set watching the filming. Whereas with American versions of Behind the Scenes previews and Making Of clips, I've only ever seen glimpses, prepped interviews, or very limited views of anything else. For me, the Special Edition was worth buying just for that experience, if nothing else.
If you're not one for satire, or you can't take comic book humor, this movie wouldn't be for you. However, if the two appeal to you, and you happen to love Japanese movies as well, this movie will rock your world!
"Zebraman" is the funniest movie I've seen in months!!!"
Zebraman, Kamen Rider going through a mid-life crisis.
Kamen Rider | 09/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've only ever seen two of Miike's films, Great Yokai War and this one. I dare say, it's one of the best comedies to ever come out of Japan. I think it should be made apparent that this is far from a kid flick. I believe it was more meant for the fist and second generation Tokusatsu fans who grew up with Kamen Rider and other Henshin heroes. The main hero is a guy who grew up idolizing the underdog of these heroes, Zebraman, whose show flopped after six episodes. Through his interaction with a young boy who through miricle of the Internet had rediscovered his hero, the hero finds the power within himself to become a true hero.
My favorite part of the film is the climatic final battle where Zebraman ascends and becomes a true superhero. The very purpose of this scene is to parrellel the contemporary movement in Japanese media to bring back and modernize classical superheroes with a newer and more high grade appearance. It has been done to Ultraman, Kamen Rider, and even Lion Maru.
Zebraman is worth watching, both for fans of the henshin hero genre, but also those who like comedy. the English voice cast was also pretty okay as far as quality."