With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ACF 033: Zebraman

Zebraman
(Japan 2004)
US Premiere
A New York Asian Film Festival 2007
Preview Review

Zebraman battles Crab Man!
Shin'ichi Ichikawa (actor Sho Aikawa whose numerous film credits include Pulse and the Dead or Alive trilogy) is a new teacher at a junior high school in Yokohama. His students and fellow faculty members are not particularly respectful. And things aren't better at home. His wife comes home late every night, having done things we can only speculate about. His oldest child is a daughter who earns money by letting men look at her panties. And his young son, the target of bullying at school because of his father's position, resents him.
Ichikawa's one joy is putting on his self-made Zebraman costume and fantasizing about being the TV superhero who defended Earth from evil alien invaders and whose show was cancelled years ago after only seven episodes. One day he discovers that a new transfer student, wheelchair-bound Shinpei Asano, is also a big fan of the character . A bond develops between the two of them, which turns out to be most fortuitous.
See, there are these tiny green-bodied aliens with big heads living under the stage of the school. They're from a ship that crashed nearby 34 years earlier. (The film's story takes place in 2010, the same year in which the Zebraman TV shows were set.) And these creatures are taking over human bodies!
Ichikawa, wearing his Zebraman outfit, one fine day encounters Crabman, one of those who have been possessed by an alien creature. In battling him, Ichikawa discovers that he's acquired real Zebraman superpowers! But it'll take the brave example of Asano to give him the faith and confidence to "believe in his dreams" and to face the big boss alien in the film's climax.
Zebraman was directed by the prolific Takashi Miike. The first of his films that I saw was Ichi the Killer (2001) and boy was I blown away by it! Subsequently I've seen Visitor Q (also 2001), and Audition (1999). This film is quite different in tone, to say the least. It's a sweet little paen to the power of fanboy devotion.
Zebraman gets a 2.5 stars out of 4 ACF rating (recommended especially for fans of the genre, director or star, but others might very well enjoy it also. )
For further info and showtimes, click on the film's Subway Cinema link below.

Links:
Zebraman - Subway Cinema, imdb
Takashi Miike, director - imdb
Sho Aikawa, actor (Shin'ichi Ichikawa/Zeburaman) - imdb

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