Yatterman (Cert 15)
1 Disc (Distributor: Eureka) Running Time: 111 minutes approx.
The mythical Skull Stone has been split into four parts and discarded around the world. The evil God of Thieves Dokurobei has despatched the Dorombo Gang -comprised of sexy leader Doronjo (Kyoko Fukada), the rat faced engineer Boyacky (Katsuhisa Namase) and pig faced muscle man Tonzuraa (Kendo Kobayashi) – to find the three remaining pieces. Opposing them in the name of justice are the Yattermen – #1 Gan Takada (Sho Sakurai), his girlfriend #2 Ai-chan (Saki Fukada) and their robot Omotchama.
Based on the popular Anime from the 1970’s this live action adaptation follows on from the return of the series to Japanese TV in 2008. Ideally, when you want to make a film aimed at a younger audience the last person you would turn to is the highly prolific but equally controversial Takashi Miike, helmer of such violent, unnerving shockers as Ichi The Killer and Audition or his recent Samurai hits 13 Assassins and Hara-Kiri – Death Of A Samurai.
Presumably it is in light of the successes of the latter titles here in the UK that Yatterman finally arrives on these shores three years after its original Japanese release. However Miike proves his versatility by delivering a film that embodies the spirit of the original series – albeit with his own twist that unfortunately is enough to put it out of the reach of the intended audience. To wit: the giant Mecha dog Yatterwoof becoming aroused at the sight of a giant female Mecha with rocker launching boobs which in turn becomes aroused every time it fires off a missile. Yup, even with the child friendly aesthetics, the 15 certificate is well earned.
If one can dismiss this as “typical Miike” then it is pretty much a single aberration in what is otherwise a fairly clean and good natured superhero romp of nutty proportions. It combines the camp overtones of the 60’s Batman TV show and Super Sentei shows of Japanese TV with modern CGI effects to create a visually stunning and harmlessly entertaining film, wrapped around a plot as flimsy as a Coalition Government promise.
Forming something akin to a sub plot – outside of a love quadrangle involving Gan, Ai, Doronjo and Boyacky – is the presence of Shoko Kaieda (Anri Okamoto) whose father went missing whilst searching for the Skull Stone. Shoko brings virtually nothing to the story until the final act and even as pivotal as her role was, it still seemed somewhat pointless in the long run.
In tribute to the episodic nature of its TV predecessor, the film contains a running joke in which Yatterman and the Dorombo Gang face off on weekly basis with good always triumphing over evil. The Dorombo Gang then run some evil scam to make money to build a new Mecha – from the Virgin Road (of the boob gun fame) to the Gant Squid.
The Yattermen bring out Yatterwoof which always ends up destroyed yet rebuilt bigger and better for the next showdown. When Yatterwan is down, Gan feeds it a Mecha Bone which allows it to create Mini Mecha to help combat the Dorombo Gang Mecha. Pardon the pun this film is seriously barking mad but in a good way of course.
The special effects are a mixture of CGI, wire assisted stunts and full sized models that are seamlessly blended together on screen over some amazing set pieces. No expense seems to have been spared on that aspect. The cast all have fun in their roles and ham it up accordingly with a knowing wink yet still give it their all. Gan is portrayed by Sho Sakurai from popular boy band Arashi so his effete looks fit the role perfectly and provide something for the ladies.
Us fellows are blessed by the heavenly presence of Kyoko Fukada, if only for the sexy leather outfit she wears as Doronjo – not to mention the wedding dress in one of the scam scenes. We’re talking seriously sexy here yet Kyoko still manages to be cute too, especially when she pouts when things go wrong or in her dreams as a happy and expecting housewife.
If this was an anime, it would be nosebleed city for the male viewers. Of course, since camp, tongue-in-cheek entertainment is the order of the day, everyone hams it up accordingly to create a communal vibe between audience and cast of sheer unadulterated fun.
Thrills, spills, musical numbers, comedy, giant robots, sexy women and a positive story about love and the triumph of good over evil with a satirical and slightly subversive twist Yatterman is the guilty pleasure release of the year.
Japanese Teaser Trailer
Behind The Scenes Featurettes
Cast And Crew Interviews
Cannes Film Festival Promo
Ratings – ****
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