It’s strange that Takashi Miike’s most accessible exploit to date would only now see a release—it premiered at Rotterdam in 2004—and stranger still that the creator of such wicked bloodbaths as
Audition and Ichi the Killer had it in him to craft a nearly family-friendly flick. No doubt, this kitschy CGI-action spoof is still deliciously insane: Set in 2010, a nervous-nelly schoolteacher (Sho Aikawa) who privately escapes into costumed fantasies as the superhero of a long-cancelled TV series (think
Ultraman or Power Rangers) finds that he’s fated to become the real-life protector against an alien invasion. To the ridiculous battle cry of “Black and White Ecstacy!” comes the inventive threat of crab-helmeted rapists with boomerang cutlery, sentient flubber, eggplant assaults, and neutron bombs. Hilariously scripted by Kankurô Kudô (director of last year’s criminally underseen
Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims), Zebraman has come to save our summer from bloated Hollywood product that takes itself but not its audience seriously (here, it’s the other way around). For the perfect Miike double- feature, check out
The Great Yokai War on DVD, his other absurdist reimagining of Japanese pop-cultural monsters.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 7, 2007