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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City Review

Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City

"Don't stand behind me!"  The line of our hero Zebraman before he kicks backwards like a zebra setting he's enemy into a wall.

Zebraman 2 is another kick to the Japanese superhero genre. It reminds me of the recent Karate Robo Zabogar movie, but with better cinematography and special effects. If you've ever seen a Japanese super hero show, you'll see it being mocked by this whole film. It's being mocked hard with incredibly stupid plots about the future and what it means to be a hero based on a Zebra.
Going in I was skeptical about Zebraman 2, because I didn't like the first Zebraman movie and found it hard to follow. However, this film became another classic of "Super Happy Fun" entertainment from Japan that holds value for great night time viewing or laughing with your friends.
Zebraman starts off with the main character Shinichi, your average elementary school teacher being known as a hero to the world, being stalked by the media. Then a quick skip to twenty-five years into the future with "Zebra Time"  in effect? Now our hero doesn't remember anything and is being hunted by masked zebra cops while a music video about the Zebra Queen is playing? What the Hell is going on?
*It's great to stick us in to a (overused) bad future, but why does Shinichi have to jet around screen on his little motorized grocery cart during the music video? Your watching a sexy music video in the vain of Brittany Spears and director Miike decided to act even more silly and put his hero Shinichi on a cart going around the screen. The music video to Shinichi's painful escape was fine, it shows us Zebra Queen has the power, Zebraman is at a loss.
After being shot more than a hundred times by Zebra police Zebramen is found by the White Horse group (loved their headquartersa set design). The White Horse is a group with others hurt by Zebra Time. Zebra Time is  five minutes at five am and five minutes at five pm where, get this, a laser shoots up into a sky that fires into a satellite that blankets all of Tokyo (now Zebra City) in a zebra filter. That screen of zebra coloring does absolutely nothing. What happens in Zebra Time? Crime is legal and Zebra cops go around blowing away anyone on the street. Sorry, but you'll have to watch the bizareness of that sitution to fully comprehend the black and white madness, let's head to the next part.
So Kinichi meets up with his old student and kind of son, now a man, whose the doctor treating everyone at the White Horse. He also meets Ichiba, who eventually reveals he played Zebraman on TV. Yes, there's a Zebraman TV show in the movie about Zebraman about a fake costumed Zebraman. With Ichiba's dvd collection of his show,  Shinichi starts remembering his past.

He also encounters a young girl with aliens in her. When he touches her, he becomes half of his former self. He becomes Zebraman White. After a confrontation with Zebra Queen who turns out to be his darker self he unsuccessfully tries to stop her.

I'm not gonna ruin some key points, but eventually Zebraman White must fight Zebra Queen Black during an all out alien assault on Zebra City.

This ends with one of the most strange acts of heroism ever. Zebraman... I can't even explain how bizarre I found it and the way it looks, but it ends just like any other Japanese super hero movie with the hero heading off into space.

End of spoilers

Zebraman 2 kicks butt and stripes away evil with action and silly moments. There's a lot of build up in the start for a killer third act the will solidify this movie in your brain into a "what the Hell just happened thought".  I could see the fart joke a mile away when it was coming towards the end, it's not beyond the Japanese to put the stupidest joke possible into an action movie with deeper thoughts about Japanese society and being a real hero by just being yourself.

I kind of wish the part on what Japanese society could be was cut or had less focus, it's never really about that in these movies, it's about the hero growing. It's never really about the people who are thrown away as monsters rack up the casualties to insane levels. You'll know it's that kind of movie when a certain sex scene happens. It's so ludicrous to everything that's going on.
Extras should have included this Revenge Of The Zebra Mini Skirt Police , but maybe it'll come out on it's own, it is 40 minutes, but on a Blu-ray that's nothing. The Mini-Skirt police have zero fights with Zebraman White and are almost forgotten by the end of the movie. The exta movie their in takes place before the events of Zebraman 2. The actual extras are plentiful with interviews with cast and crew and behind the scenes featurettes. Kind of would have like something silly with all the the silly antics from the movie. Possibly a full Zebraman TV show episode.
Damn, Takashi Miike is prolific and if he wanted to could be doing mainstream movie work in America, if he weren't bat shit insane. Zebraman 2 had super hero action scenes on par with what anything Hollywood could throw out with million dollar budgets. Plot wise it's totally insane with mixed in corny jokes.

There's kind of like an unsettling feel of many Japanese movies not being professional, but movies like Gantz and this are showing a much better look in cinematography and style. To be taken seriously, they'll have to lose the zany plots and odd cinematography.

Run like a Zebra and pick it up now, a Zebra, so random.