Director: Takashi Miike
Starring: Kyoko Fukuda, Sho Sakurai, Saki Fukuda, Katsuhisa Namase
Those that are interested in this film are most likely interested because of one of three things: they are fans of the original animated series, the director is cult favorite Takashi Miike, or you just want to see Kyoko Fukada in a leather dominatrix outfit. All good reasons to be sure, but is the film itself any good?
An adaptation of the anime series of the same name, this big budget film boasts high production values, a large number of special effects shots, and a smattering of the naughty type of comedy that is indicative of many Miike works. The film centers on toymaker Gan and his assistant/girlfriend Ai and their battle against evil, particularly against the Doronbrow Gang, made up of Doronjo, Boyacky, and Tonzra. This week, the gang is in search of pieces of a sacred skull, said to grant the user unlimited power to whomever unites the pieces. With the pieces scattered throughout the world, our heroes go off in search of the sacred artifacts before the Doronbrows can get their hands on them.
Considering the source material, the film plays itself very much as an anime come to life. Personally, I was not too familiar with the Yatterman franchise, outside of a few Time Bokan episodes and the recent fighting game, Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom, however, with the bright colors, outlandish costumes, and use of music to set the tone of the scene, it also seems to be quite an accurate adaptation as well; that of an exaggerated nonsensical other-Earth, where threats to humanity are always taken care off within its allotted time slot and the status quo is re-established in order for next week’s conflict to air on time. In truth, the Narrator seems to break the fourth wall for both comedic effect and as reference to the series from which it is based a number of times.
The principals of Sho Sakurai and Fukuda Saki, Yatterman-1 and Yatterman-2 respectively, play their roles with the expected naivete of teens superheroes. They do the job adequately but really do not bring much to set apart their acting from any number of idol vehicle films in Japan. Like most films, the strength of the conflict lies heavily on the strength of the villian(s) and Kyoko Fukada’s Doronjo is both very attractive eye-candy and probably the most developed character in the film. Despite the film’s title, she is truly the star here, and plays her role as the leader of incompetent goons and love-stricken girl with equal parts innocence and sulty bravado. Worth mentioning also is Anri Okamoto in the role of Shoko Kaieda, as a relative newcomer to the entertainment world, her character starts out as supposedly quite important but is soon on the receiving end of both physical torment and comic relief. This was a bit surprising at first, but considering the ‘episodic’ nature of the film, her character probably isn’t going to be around for a sequel anyway.
During the course of the film, Miike directs a vibrant, fun and, for me at least, entertaining mish-mash of sight gags, musical numbers, and parody of the Japanese superhero genre. Use of music is done quite brilliantly, with highly over melodramatic music during the so-called ‘serious’ moments, and ridiculously written lyrics during the battle themes. To say the film does not take itself seriously is an understatement. Those looking for anything more than a ridiculous, colorful, anime adaptation are not going to find it in this film. While hardly Miike’s greatest achievement in film, it does what it set out to do, entertain and perhaps introduce a new generation to this decades old franchise.
You may like this if you are a fan of: Cutie Honey (Live Action), Zebraman, and Sentai programming.