Tuesday, March 3, 2009


If you are at all familiar with Takashi Miike, then you know that you are never quite sure what you are going to get. He can make a movie as over the top and gory as Ichi the Killer, and then make a movie as beautifully haunting as The Bird People of China. If you haven't seen either of these, maybe I will review them sometime in the future. Not a director known for showing restraint, in every Miike movie there are a few WTF moments. I watched Zebraman with my stepdaughters and they kept telling me it was the weirdest movie they had ever seen.

Zebraman is about Shinichi Ichikawa, a junior high school teacher who is ignored and disrespected by his family. He teaches at the school that his son goes to, which causes his son to be picked on by the other students. His daughter is a bit of a slut and is "dating" an older man. While he tries to tell his daughter that she can't go out on a school night, his wife tells her to have a good time and even gives her money! To escape his life, Shinichi fantasizes about a character from an old television show that was cancelled years ago after only 7 episodes, Zebraman. Shinichi even makes his own Zebraman suit and pratices his Zebraman moves in front of his mirror. He eventually ventures out of the house with the suit and confronts a bad guy in a crab mask. This would be one of the first WTF moments, but with Miike, it will not be the last. During the confrontation he finds that maybe his superpowers are not just in his head!

Here is a basic summary of what happens, hopefully without giving away too much.

A UFO crashed near the Junior High School where Shinichi works leaving little green aliens that look like they are made out of jello. Shinichi has a new transfer student, Asano, who is in a wheel chair after witnessing his father commit suicide by jumping off a building, and who shares his love of Zebraman. As Shinichi/Zebraman confronts the criminals in town they all have green glowing eyes and seem to have a green "jello like" substance that comes out of them when he fights them. The police are aware of the aliens and track them down at the school and decide to blow it up unless Zebraman can defeat the aliens first!

The movie is basically about believing in yourself. When Shinichi has the support of the ones he loves, he finds he has the power to be more than he ever dreamed of! Boy did that sound corny!

It is really hard to describe this movie, and even harder to know who will like it or not like it. I was pleasantly surprised that my stepdaughters enjoyed it, even though they did find it very strange. Of course they are into anime and manga and all things Japanese, so they might not be your ordinary kids. If you go in with an open mind I think you will enjoy this. If not, I will have to give you the "Zebra Screw Punch"!