A DOUBLE DOSE OF TAKASHI MIIKE NEWS
Director to helm a new DAIMAJIN for Kadokawa/ Media Blasters brings ZEBRAMAN to US
Takashi Miike has developed a reputation as one of the most prolific, talented, and controversial filmmakers in the world with credits such as AUDITION, ICHI THE KILLER, GOZU, ONE MISSED CALL, IZO, ULTRAMAN MAX, THREE EXTREMES, and the “banned” episode of Showtime’s MASTERS OF HORROR. This past week saw two big announcements concerning the director; one from Japan, the other from America.
Following 2005’s THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, Kadokawa Pictures has hired Takashi Miike to helm a remake of the classic film DAIMAJIN. At Anime Boston, Media Blasters revealed that they would be bringing Miike’s hilariously entertaining 2004 favorite ZEBRAMAN to America for the first time.
Robert Saint John and Clay Holden provide some early news plus a look back and forward to these projects…
Kadokawa-Herald Pictures has recently updated its movie line-up page with news that it intends to remake and distribute the classic fantasy film, DAIMAJIN. The 1966 original, produced by the Daiei Motion Picture Company, told the story of a village in feudal Japan that comes under the domination of the evil warlord Samanosuke. The children of the deposed ruler are hidden away in a nearby mountain occupied only by the giant stone idol of the land’s protector god, the Majin. Ten years pass and the grown children return in the hope of retaking their birthright, but the warlord’s grip over the land is strong. The prayers of the princess bring the statue to life, but will the giant idol bring salvation to the people, or destruction to the land?
Few details about the remake are known at this time, but it appears that Takashi Miike has been selected to direct, and the film is scheduled for release in 2008. From the description on the website there is no indication of whether the story will still be a period piece, or updated in a fashion similar to THE GREAT YOKAI WAR. “When a girl offers a prayer, a legendary giant deity awakes!” reads the description. “From an old tomb is excavated a clay image of a soldier. Who made it, and why? The never before seen secret of the birth of Daimajin will be revealed here!”
SciFi Japan will have more information as it becomes available.
ZEBRAMAN: An Appreciation
Author: Clay Holden
During Anime Boston this past Memorial Day weekend, Media Blasters announced they had acquired US rights to ZEBRAMAN. No release date or DVD specs have been set.
If Takashi Miike’s AUDITION was in some ways the ultimate date film for a relationship you were hoping to end, and his D.O.A. series a guilty pleasure you weren’t sure you wanted to share with your closest friends, you may find ZEBRAMAN both a film you can love and one you can share with both family and friends.
In the same sense that Jay Ward’s ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE was simultaneously accessible to young children and provided enough sly humor aimed at adults to keep parents entertained as well, Miike’s ZEBRAMAN has something for the whole family.
Starring Show Aikawa, one of Japan’s best-loved actors (and a Miike regular) as a schoolteacher with an utterly dysfunctional family, who in addition to his other domestic and professional problems, also happens to be a closet fan of a failed ’70s tokusatsu series called ZEBRAMAN. While the other members of his family are dealing with their own personal issues, Aikawa’s schoolteacher character is locking himself in his room, donning his home-made ZEBRAMAN costume, and trying to rationalize wearing it in public.
Meanwhile, his town has been invaded by cute but incredibly malevolent aliens from outer space, intent on taking over the planet. Our unlikely hero discovers that when he wears his ZEBRAMAN costume, he somehow takes on the powers of his dream hero, and becomes the real deal. Will he be able to save the world with his super powers, or succumb to his low self-esteem? The fate of the planet hangs in the balance!
Having seen the film numerous times, both as an un-subtitled Japanese DVD, as well as several variant poorly English-subbed unofficial releases, I have high hopes that Media Blasters will do this great film justice, and walk successfully the fine line between too much/too literal and too loose/too casual a job of translating the Japanese script.
This is a film for the ages, heartily recommended to anyone who still loves the likes of ULTRAMAN, KAMEN RIDER, KIKAIDA, etc., parents with children over the age of eight, and everyone who has found Miike’s other films fascinating, even if sometimes uncomfortable.
The success of ZEBRAMAN in Japan clearly opened the door for Miike’s recent successful remake of THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, which to many fans of Japanese sci-fi and fantasy, was one of the most satisfying films of the past year.
In simplest terms, ZEBRAMAN rocks the house. Even if you aren’t a big fan yourself, watch it with your children, and let them explain some of the in-jokes you may miss.