“Zebraman” Review

I’ve got a new review up on Basement Jockeys of Takashi Miike’s Zebraman, which he did right before 13 Assassins (my review of which you can also find on Basement Jockeys).  Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City is currently in post-production, but I’ll be sure to do a follow-up review of that . . . whenever it’s released in the US, that is.

Anyway, check it out: Zebraman Teaches its Audience the Power of Believing, but without all that Hokey Bullshit.

As always, I hope you enjoy it.

Be sure to check back on Sunday for a new exercise!

UPDATE: The site Basement Jockey’s is no longer in existence.  Below is a reproduction of the original Zebraman review.

“ZebramanTeaches its Audience the Power of Believing, but without all that Hokey Bullshit”

With this movie’s sequel already made and awaiting release, I thought it pertinent to enlighten you all to this Takashi Miike film before I rush off to see part two and subject everyone to its review.

The main character of Zebraman is Shinichi: a sad, lonely man who’s ignored by his wife and kids, and who’s despised by most of the elementary children he substitute-teaches.  At the beginning of the film, his only joy is watching 70’s shows in the vein of “Ultraman” and dressing up as his favorite hero of these programs: Zebraman.  Shinichi gets a little more relief when he meets a transfer student—a ten-year-old boy bound to a wheelchair—who’s also an avid fan of the short-lived “Zebraman” show.  Gaining confidence from the new-found relationship with the boy and his mother (Kana), Shinichi starts venturing out of the house in his Zebraman costume.  Eventually, he encounters a crime and—amazingly—is able to stop the bad guy.  As Shinichi becomes aware of his actual power as a superhero, real monsters start popping up around town, and it’s up to Zebraman to stop them.  The real conflict of Shinichi, then, is to become the revered Zebraman.

While this isn’t the sole explanation of how Shinichi spontaneously develops super powers, it’s mentioned early on in the movie that the character of Zebraman gets his powers not from radioactivity, magic, or extraterrestrial sources—Zebraman gets his powers from belief, particularly belief in himself.  How cool is that?  Sure, it sounds lame at first, but just think about it.  How many superheroes—ever—get their abilities from something as simple and pure as human belief?  Instead of spiders, aliens, or cosmic rays, Zebraman is made from the human mind.  When you think of everything else that comes out of the human mind—language, atomic power, flight—getting superpowers from the same source doesn’t seem too illogical.

In this way, Miike uses Zebraman to promote the idea of mind over matter, without a lame little-engine-that-could or an after-school special.  Instead, he uses superheroes, explosions, and crime fighting.  And quite honestly, who doesn’t want to learn important life lessons from that?

See the trailer here.  I couldn’t find one with English subtitles, but rest assured that option is available on the DVD.


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