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Yatterman (2009)

DVD Cover (Eastern Star)
Genres: Action, Action Comedy, Fantasy
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Director:
Takashi Miike Takashi Miike
Starring:
Sh˘ Sakurai Sh˘ Sakurai
Saki Fukuda Saki Fukuda
Kyoko Fukada Kyoko Fukada
Kend˘ Kobayashi Kend˘ Kobayashi
Katsuhisa Namase Katsuhisa Namase

6.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Ginose
Added: February 05, 2010
I was not looking forward to watching Takashi Miike's "Yatterman".

Yes, I was, honestly, not looking forward to seeing one of my favorite childhood cartoons brought to life by the man I would easily consider my favorite director of all time, and it's not very difficult to explain: Almost every live-action adaptation of a classic cartoon sucks-ass.

Boy, I'd love to argue this fact with someone because, ignoring nostalgia-goggles, almost nothing we love as children is anywhere near as endearing in adulthoodů except for "Exo-Squad", of course. I'm almost positive that if I went back and watched old episodes of "Yatterman" or "Speed Racer" I certainly wouldn't enjoy them the same way I used to (if much at all), but that little piece of me that enjoyed them as a child will always be there to associate the memories of the shows with the good times that (I think) I had with them. That's where nostalgia can be dangerous when viewing materials such as this, in which a childhood memory is being revived onto film. This horrible little troll convinced me to give the Wachowski's "Speed Racer" the benefit of the doubt, regardless of how mediocre it looked (while watching sober, at least), and, although I don't regret seeing it (s'okay) I certainly wish I hadn't gone in wanting to enjoy it as if I were a child again, because it failed miserably for me, in that respect.

So, yes, with that crushing disappointment on my shoulders I was intrigued, but jaded, by the thought of Miike having his way with my childhood. Well, having just finished it, I've got to say that, not only is my faith renewed in giving new life to old serials but that nostalgia can be a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Our story is as simple as its source-material allows: Gan, amazingly gifted mechanic and soon of a toy-maker, and his girlfriend, Ai, protect their beloved city once a week, disguised in their superhero guise the Yatterman (#1 and #2, respectively) from the wicked Doronbo gang, a trio of thieves lead by the gorgeous Mistress Doronjo. This week, however, they've discovered a girl whom it appears the gang was after do to a strange relic her archeologist father left with her; this artifact is revealed to be a piece of the Skull-Stone which, when assembled, is said to make a miracle occur. So, armed with a very limited knowledge of the mission at hand and their adept mechanical know-how the Yatterman go on a search for the remaining pieces of the Skull-Stone with the rescued girl in tow.

I'm going to instantly start this review with a rather defensive statement:

As I said, I was not expecting to enjoy this. I stripped myself of my nostalgia-goggles as well as my Miike brand fanboy-boots and went in with nothing but the film ahead of me in mind, so no factor truly affected my judgment of this work of film.

Now, continuing:

THIS IS A FUCKING AWESOME MOVIE!

Yes, its true, as a stand-alone movie, Takashi Miike's "Yatterman" is a truly great movie. It was a fun, funny and truly clever piece of film, combing both a strikingly faithful adaptation of the 1970s children's show with an almost perverse amount of parody, poking fun at both the camp of the series and the effects of the nostalgia many viewers would surely have upon viewing it.

With special-appreciation to all parties involved in the acting, set-design and, above all, perhaps, the costume-designs of all of the characters. I don't think a better cast could be assembled by anyone, truthfully. Everyone seemed to have such a good time with their characters, stressing all of their quirky mannerisms to the logical extreme, never forgetting that this is meant to be viewed in the same way as the shallow, campy source-material it's based upon.

The action, dialogue, character-mannerisms and, probably most importantly, the visual-style are so perfectly kept to their source, but, more so, adapted by our future space-man technology into a very realized rendition of the cartoon it's based upon.

Yatterwan's utter inability to truly stand his own against the Doronbo gang's mecha and using his "mecha-bone" to succeed, the goofy appearance of the Yatta-Victory Dance, the costumes, the dialogue, all pulled so faithfully to screen and modernized for the general Japanese audience (so long as they can stand the rather perverted humor of the classic television program) and packaged very well towards the classic demographic of children to young-adults. Not to say the movie is made with children in mind, as it really feels like it was a fan project, holding an adult sense of humor, but packaged into a fairly humorous children's action-film.

Example of my seemingly repeated point: A battle between the Yattermans' mecha/dog-shaped, all-terrain rescue-vehicle "Yatterwan" and the Doronbo's "Virgin Roader" is executed in the familiar giant-robot battle method (ridiculous attacks with a lot of blows going back and forth), the latter mechas attacks, however, almost exclusively focusing on its massive breasts ("Titty Missles", "Boob Machine-Guns", etc.)

Someone could easily attribute this to Miike's style, but I'm inclined to disagree. It really feels like he's just a fan of the old cartoon that knew the point of the sexualized jokes and just took them to the logical extreme to appeal to people unfamiliar with the material.

That's really what the whole film feels like: A fan project, given to a fan in order to share their love for the material with the rest of the world.

It's so well-realized that anyone expecting a goofy, children's action-film can watch it and have a good time, but so personally handled that true fans will be laughing at least twice as much as everyone else.

Takashi Miike's "Yatterman" is the perfect cartoon-to-film adaptation, and probably the best I've ever seen.

9.2/10.

Be sure to wait after the credits for a preview of next week's episode!
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