BIG MAN JAPAN
Giant Monster Comedy Opens in Theaters Across America on May 15
Source: Magnet Releasing
Official Movie Site (US): sixshooterfilmseries.com/bigmanjapan
Official Movie Site (Japan): dainipponjin.com
Special Thanks to Janeal Bernhart
“Decidedly odd, even by Japanese standards, this mockumentary about an electrically charged, skyscraper-high superhero saddled with misfortune, bad press and even worse TV ratings is tears-down-the-face funny and a genuine, jaw-dropping oddity. A must for midnight madness slots as well as Asia and fantasy-themed fests, pic will astound auds of all stripes. A long and healthy life as an ancillary cult item awaits.”— Russell Edwards, Variety
A middle-aged slacker living in a rundown, graffiti-ridden slum, Masaru Daisatou (Hitoshi Matsumoto) is the subject of a documentary that follows his banal daily routine. That is, until he prepares for his job, which involves being shocked by bolts of electricity that transform him into a stocky, stick-wielding giant several stories high who is entrusted with defending Japan from a host of giant monsters. These ridiculous villains include a stretching freak with a comb-over and a revolting farting beast.
Dai Nipponjin is a sixth-generation superhero guarding his country from these outlandish “baddies,” as Daisatou calls them. But while his predecessors were national heroes, Daisatou is a pariah among the citizens he protects. His battles are broadcast late at night to diminishing television ratings while the public bitterly complains about the noise and destruction of property he causes.
And Daisatou has his own problems— an agent insistent on branding him with sponsor advertisements, an Alzheimer-afflicted grandfather who transforms into a giant in dirty underwear, and an ex-wife and daughter who are embarrassed by his often cowardly exploits.
A wickedly deadpan spin on the giant Japanese superhero, BIG MAN JAPAN is an outrageous portrait of a pathetic but truly unique hero.
After an enthusiastically received premiere at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, a successful theatrical run in Japan, and appearances at festivals both in the US and abroad, BIG MAN JAPAN will be released to theaters across America on May 15, 2009. The movie concludes the first wave of films in the “Magnet 6-Shooter Film Series” from Magnet Releasing, the genre division of Magnolia Pictures. The series features US theatrical releases for six films representing the vanguard of genre cinema from around the world. Previously released in the “6-Shooter Film Series” were the critically acclaimed Swedish vampire film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, the American superhero comedy SPECIAL, the Spanish time travel caper TIMECRIMES, the French sci-fi thriller EDEN LOG, and the British thriller DONKEY PUNCH.
The following BIG MAN JAPAN press notes are courtesy of Magnet Releasing…
ABOUT THE FILM
BIG MAN JAPAN, or DAI NIPPONJIN (literally “Great Japanese”) was created by Hitoshi Matsumoto, one of Japan’s leading comedic artists.
Matsumoto is renowned for implementing unusual methods in his work and credited with the creation of several techniques that move beyond conventional standards of humor. His expansive body of work over the last 25 years has provoked the traditional Japanese sensibility, stirring a revolution in comedy, while remaining fresh and relevant to contemporary issues.
BIG MAN JAPAN is Matsumoto’s first feature film, in which he applies a peculiar and unconventional method, resulting in an original entertainment never before seen in films.
This film explores the concept of a “hero’s real and unreal image,” depicting Matsumoto’s frequent exploration of the deconstruction of super heroes, while utilizing a “mockumentary” approach. According to Matsumoto, incorporating a documentary style using interviews and reports was the best way to make the film successfully. Through this method, he was able to comprehensively embody what he had in mind in a limited amount of screen time.
BIG MAN JAPAN took five years of preparation and one year to shoot. Matsumoto adhered to shooting in chronological order, while disclosing very few details of the film to the public. “We kept the content of the film out of publication, not because we didn’t have confidence in the work, but because we wanted the audience to watch the film in a perfect condition, without any preconceptions” said Matsumoto. He completed BIG MAN JAPAN in the spring of 2007.
The Strangling Monster (Shimerunojyuu): Also called the “Squeezing Baddie”, it is a white, segmented monster with a comb-over. It uses its circular limbs to strangle like a vice, and to rip buildings out of the earth.
The Leaping Monster (Hanerunojyuu): A happy-go-lucky monster that jumps about on a powerful leg with sharp claws. The monster constantly yells “Sei!” Also known as “Jumping Baddie”, the creature is played by Riki Takeuchi (DEAD OR ALIVE, BATTLE ROYALE II, ICHI).
The Stink Monsters (Niounojyuu): Called the “Smelly Baddies”, they emit a foul odor equivalent to 10,000 human feces and travel to major cities to find a mate. The Female Niounojyuu is played by Itsuji Itao (THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, DEATH NOTE II: THE LAST NAME).
The Evil Stare Monster: The “Mean-Look Baddie” uses its eye as a weapon which it hurls at enemies. The Evil Stare Monster falls asleep instantly whenever it is in darkness.
The Child Monster (Dounojyuu): The “Little Boy Baddie” is a frail and weak monster that is harmless to humans. The Child Monster is played by Ryunosuke Kamiki (SPIRITED AWAY, THE GREAT YOKAI WAR).
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT – HITOSHI MATSUMOTO
I had no particular reason to make a feature film. It was a game, a roll of the dice, which led me to the production of BIG MAN JAPAN. From the beginning of the project, I never urged the company to rush the shoot. “The project will be done when it is done. If you don’t think that way, it’s better not to make it. There is no use in making films by force.”
The only thing I kept in mind throughout the process was to not duplicate or overlap anyone’s work. Therefore, watching what others were working on was essential. In the comedic world, duplication of ideas tends to happen and I often hear “you should have told us in advance.”
We had the first project meeting when I was 38 years old. I am now 43 years old which means it took five years to complete the film. While it took a long time to produce, that time was necessary to get the film to the point where I was satisfied.
My work has always been novel and well received by an audience. When the audience doesn’t connect to my material, it is often due to the lack of experience with the portrayed situation. Even in that case, I don’t feel I am straying in my work, but rather confident that in the future, it will be acknowledged for what it is.
About ten years ago, when I made a short video called TOUZU, I had a firm intention of making it artistic. At that time, government regulations were loose, allowing us to experiment artistically on television. Unfortunately, now television programs are strictly regulated, which lessens my motivation to create an interesting project for that medium.
You may think that we have intentionally kept the contents of the film secret, but to be honest, I have no idea how to talk about it. If my explanation is poor, the film runs the risk of becoming unpopular or the audience may possibly misconstrue the message of my film. For example, when you tell kids a bedtime story, they always ask what the story is about even though you are just about to read it to them. At a restaurant, you can easily tell what kind of food is going to be served depending on whether there are forks/knives or chopsticks on the table. I don’t like to give a rough idea of what a film is about in advance. Actors in the film may have no idea why they were told to do something. When they watch the film afterward, they may see differences from what they had originally thought.
One thing is certain of my process— the film will never fail to be amusing and interesting.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
HITOSHI MATSUMOTO | Director, Co-Writer and Actor
Hitoshi Matsumoto (born 1963) is a self-proclaimed hyōi-geinin; hyōi means “spiritual possession,” and geinin means “entertainer.” This term is said to have been invented by Matsumoto, and it refers to entertainers who can take on a personality completely different from their own when on stage or in front of a camera. Hyōi-geinin tend to be shy and uncomfortable with revealing their true character and find it hard to perform without hiding behind an outrageous personality or appearance.
In 1983, Matsumoto made his debut, teaming up with Masatoshi Hamada to form the comedy duo called “Downtown.” Since 1990, he has made innovations not only in the comedic world, but also in the general entertainment arena through his creation of a new definition of humor. His aggressive comedy style with striking originality has attracted musicians, performers, writers and many famous people in different artistic fields.
In 1990, while he continued doing team projects, he started his own live comedy skit. He charged a relatively high admission fee of 10,000 yen, but he came up with the unique idea of letting audiences evaluate his performance after the show and also decide the ticket price. He called this method a “pay later system.” Since then, he is constantly creating new comedy routines and ideas.
In 1998, he published Visualbum, a collection of high quality comedy routines. His next film, SYMBOL, which he also wrote, directed and starred in, is currently in post-production.
Yoshimoto Kogyo Productions and Magnet Releasing Present BIG MAN JAPAN
A film by Hitoshi MATSUMOTO
Running Time: 113 min.
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Sound: Dolby Digital
Festivals – Official Selection
Austin Fantastic Festival
Cannes Director’s Fortnight
Toronto Midnight Madness
Hitoshi MATSUMOTO: Dai NIPPONJIN / Masaru DAISATOU
Riki TAKEUCHI: HANERUNOJYUU
UA: Manager KOBORI
Ryunosuke KAMIKI: DOUNOJYUU
Itsuji ITAO: Female NIOUNOJYUU
Takayuki HARANASHI: Male NIOUNOJYUU
Haruka UNABARA: SHIMERUNOJYUU
Hiroyuki MIYASAKO: Stay With ME
Daisuke MIYAGAWA: Super JUSTICE
Tomoji HASEGAWA: INTERVIEWER
Shion MACHIDA: Daisatou’s EX-WIFE
Director: Hitoshi MATSUMOTO
Screenplay: Hitoshi MATSUMOTO, Mitsuyoshi TAKASU
Associate Planners: Mitsuyoshi TAKASU, Tomoji HASEGAWA, Mitsuru KURAMOTO
Music: Towa TEI
Associate Producer: Yoshiya NAGASAWA
Photography: Hideo YAMAMOTO
Editors: Souich UENO, Hisaya SHIRATORI
Light: Akira ONO
Sound: Mitsugu SHIRATORI
Production Design: Yuji HAYASHIDA, Etsuko AIKOU
VFX Director: Hiroyuki SESHITA
Producer: Akihiko OKAMOTO
Executive Supervisor: Hisaya SHIRAIWA
Executive Producers: Isao YOSHINO, Hiroshi OSAKI
Production: Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., Ltd.
Associate Production: Realproducts Inc.
Japanese Theatrical Release: June 2, 2007, Shochiku Company, Ltd.
US Theatrical Release: May 15, 2009, Magnet Releasing
ABOUT MAGNET RELEASING
Magnet Releasing is a new division of Magnolia Pictures, the unique and expanding film distribution business co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban. Specializing in the wild, unquantifiable and uncompromised, Magnet provides an outlet for a different strand of films, which had previously been released alongside Magnolia’s traditional specialties: independent dramatic features and award-winning documentaries.
Magnolia already has a robust history of releasing acclaimed “genre” titles such as THE HOST, EXILED, TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER, SEVERANCE and ONG BAK: THE THAI WARRIOR; moving forward, Magnet will be home to productions and acquisitions that fit in this vein.