Saturday, October 8, 2011
Movie Review: Yatterman (2009)
The most recent movie I watched was Yatterman, directed by one of my all-time favorite directors, Takashi Miike. It's strange to watch his movies when they're based on well-known intellectual properties, because the first films of his that I watched were low-budget horror and gangster films. He is the director of such films as Full Metal Yakuza, Audition, Dead or Alive, MPD Psycho, Visitor Q, Ichi the Killer, and Thirteen Assassins. With films like these, one wouldn't expect him to take on a film based on a children's franchise. Yet he has made many children's movies in the past--The Great Yokai War, Zebraman, Ninja Kids, etc. To me, he seems to be very capable of adapting for his audience.
The movie is a gigantic parody of the typical style of Yatterman episodes. In the beginning, we see a battle between the heroes and the villains. After Yatter 1 and 2 defeat the Doronbo Gang in combat, the villains resort to using a giant robot shaped like a short-order cook. It fights Yatter-wan until the villains are forced to flee. In the aftermath of the battle, the heroes discover that the gang's target was a young woman who possesses one of the four skull stones.
True to Miike's form with blockbuster films, he uses a great deal of blatant CGI to mimick the original anime style of the cartoon. Since it is a comedy, the characters often act in peculiar ways and break the fourth wall to address the audience. Also, since it's a Miike film, there are strong sexual undertones throughout the movie. In the same way that adult humor is worked into American children's movies so parents don't get bored, Miike adds sexual tension and toilet humor. Though it may be standard in Japanese entertainment, it might seem odd to American viewers.
This was a fun movie. I think Japanese children would like it, but that there's not enough substance for American audiences, similar to most of Takashi Miike's mainstream films.