Noh Theatre Monster
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Zeiram 2 is the sequel to Zeram, (I don't know why "i" was dropped in the Fox Lorber release of the original, but "Zeiram" is the correct transliteration of the Japanese spelling of the title monster's name) a low-budget, charming science fiction/monster-in-the-rubber suit film directed by Amamiya Keita and starring supercool Moriyama Yuko. Endowed with a slightly bigger budget, the sequel is even more of a delirious fun. Moriyama returns, of course, and so does Zeiram, now wrapped in layers of body armor and heavy artillery.I have to say Zeiram is a great monster. Its design is obviously inspired by noh theatre aesthetics, including the ultra-creepy, pasty, rouge-lipped noh mask face attached to a long, snakelike neck that serves as a feeding mechanism. This part of Zeiram devours chunks of whatever organic creature it encounters and manufactures a "capsule monster" out of its genetic material: shades of Ultra Seven! Every time Zeiram makes appearance it is accompanied in the soundtrack by rumbling male chorus and percussion, as if it is a supernatural presence in a noh play. The relationship between two bumbling electricians and Iria, the rogue investigator and arch-enemy to Zeiram, is also highly unusual in a science fiction setting, in that it is a genuine friendship (between male and female) developed from mutual admiration for each others' abilities and resourcefulness. Although these two guys, Kamiya and Teppei, are inserted in the series as kyogen (comic noh) figures, here they get to reveal different shades of their characters. All these human dimensions are completely missing in the anime version. (Who (...)needs to know about Iria's brother?) Media Blaster's DVD transfer is generally good. I suspect that the source material was Japanese laserdisc, which tends to have little depth in black levels, so the resolution does suffer a bit during nighttime sequences in the last 10 minutes of the movie. You may have to adjust brightness and contrast levels of your TV set to get the best picture. However, no compression noise or artifact problems seem to be present, at least overtly noticeable ones. Subtitles are much better than usual, and English dubbing is pretty well done as well. Far superior to the original Fox Lorber edition on this count. However, it is disappointing that the "Making of Zeiram 2" featurette, a very enjoyable and personable account of low-budget science fiction filmmaking, is not available as an extra. It came free with the Japanese VHS, never mind laserdisc! Don't stint on the extras please!"
That Robot Just Ate Your Dog...
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 05/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is probably the first time that an anime series has inspired me to watch the original film. Zeiram, the animation is actually a prequel to this film in which director Keita Amemiya tells the story of bounty hunter Iria's origins. Zeiram and Zeiram 2 occur later and are reprises of Iria's running battles with the cyborg-like Zeiram - robots powered by weird creatures that look like Noh masks and will eat anything including your dog.In Zeiram 2, Iria and her 'assistant' Fujikuro are tracking down an ancient artifact called the Carmarite. Fujikuro betrays Iria knocks out her faithful computer friend Bob, leaving her facing some 50 combatants with only the help of an experimental cyborg helper who looks an awful lot like - you guessed it - Zeiram. After literally mowing down the bad guys, Zeiram goes out of control (bad programming, of course). Also involved are two of Iria's old friend, Kiyama and Tepphei, who are the Abbott and Costello of the electronic repair business.What follows is the kind of delightful silliness that Amemiya is noted for - a hectic action plot that is full of comic crises and heroic stunts. Everyone, including Zeiram, get to ham it up with Power Ranger class stunts as the action shifts from temple to factory to shrine with impunity. If all you have seen before this film is the animation, which has a much more serious plot, it will take you a while to realize that all this vaudeville is intentional rather than bad acting.Special effects, costumes, and sets are truly imaginative, reminiscent of Escher and Giger. The Zeiram cyborg in particular has as many tricks as a Swiss army knife. The truth is that the film is well crafted, even though its unconscionable silliness frequently obscures Amemiya's better moments. Zeiram 2 is purely a confection, it's hard not to like as long as you are careful not to take it seriously."
war_of_the_4 | Panama City, FL | 10/12/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is the sequel to the live action "Zeiram" (or "Zeram"). The special effects, fights, and costumes are better than the last movie, but the plot and characters (or lack of both) are kind of a let-down.Now when comparing both live action "Zeiram" movies to the anime "Iria: Zeiram the Animation" I find the live action severely lacking in just about everything possible. Iria's reason's for going after Zeiram in the live action are reduced to money and survival, the whole revenge thing from the anime is left out. Fujikuro is turned into nothing but a bumbling, double-crossing kid. Also left out are Iria's computer partner Bob's origins, multiple characters, and any other planets besides Earth (Earth wasn't even in the anime).However, the live action movies do have a plus side. Zeiram looks [good], especially in the first movie. And you can watch them half asleep and not miss much of a plot.If you like live action movies like "Hakaider" and shows like "Kikaida" and the other Japanese hero series, go and get (buy/rent whatever) "Zeiram". If you like it, then get "Zeiram 2". Otherwise, you'll probably be let down."