Another spastic doodle by the irrepressible Takashi Miike, Zebraman is essentially a more kid-friendly—though less pro-family—strain of Visitor Q. It’s 2010 in the Yachiyo ward of Yokohama. Bearded seals are swimming upriver, wild birds are dropping dead, cocks are itchy, and a schoolteacher, Shinichi Ichikawa (Sho Aikaway), is coming to grips with the fact that his family pretty much sucks: his wife is having an affair, his son’s a pussy, and his daughter has pretty much built a freeway straight into hers. Enter Pretty Lady with Handicapped Boy in tow and suddenly Shinichi is rising above his pathetic middle-class misery. Donning a Zebraman superhero outfit inspired by a 1978 TV show that was cancelled after seven episodes, Shinichi offs a crab-masked psycho killer before saving the town from boogery aliens who hijack bodies and compel schoolchildren to eat watermelon. Like the faux gays from Japan’s defense agency, Miike refuses to get real, but his gonzo, punch-drunk surrealism has never felt so arbitrary. The really funny Power Ranger vs. Grudge Ghost face-off Shinichi watches on television in one scene is emblematic of Miike’s hybridized sense of humor, and an example of how attuned he is to our pop-cultural void—into which he happily flung his horrendous One Missed Call in 2003. With Zebraman, Miike tries to revive an old-school superhero ethos but doesn’t give his main character’s exploits the gravitas and political nuance of the considerably less retarded Godzilla movies. Wormholing his way into the present (or, rather, the future), Zebraman may save the day but his only lasting impression is to his deluded sense of self.
- Media Blasters
- 115 min
- Takashi Miike
- Kankurou Kudo
- Sho Aikawa, Kyoka Suzuki, Teruyoshi Uchimura, Yui Ichikawa, Koen Kondo, Akira Emoto, Ryo Iwamatsu, Ren Osugi, Atsuro Watabe, Naoki Yasukouchi, Atsuro Watabe
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