Executive Koala (Review)

Executive Koala

aka Koara kacho

Directed by Minoru Kawasaki
Written by Minoru Kawasaki and Masakazu Migita

Executive Koala is a animal-suited joint from Japanese cult director Minoru Kawasak. His start in movies begane with low budget direct to video junk, but his genius became apparent even with some of the trash, as good jobs on manga films such as Maboroshi panty vs. Henchin pokoider lead to him getting financing for The Calamari Wrestler. He also gained fame with kaiju fans for The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit, even if most didn’t like it. One of Minoru Kawasaki’s favorite themes seems to be putting anthropomorphic animals in human settings, be it wrestling squids, goalkeeper crabs, or wrestling beetles, Minoru Kawasaki just loves it. And so must someone, as the films kept making money for a while, but by Neko Ramen Taisho things had slowed down and he’s been less active recently with wacky fun films. I guess the market for animal suit films is the first to go when the economy implodes.

The focus here is on Executive Koala, the film about a koala who is an executive, as the title states, quite clearly. He also might be a murderer, and there is a lot of weird memory things going on. It’s a pretty good memory loss thriller, with a mystery that slowly unravels as we go along. The presence of the animal suits turn what is a Lifetime movie level script and elevate it into something memorable. We can all agree that Cyber Seduction would have been ten times better had the lead character been a wallaby.

Kawasaki’s exploration of genres with his unique convention of both parodying them with visuals, but playing it mostly straight, give his film an added quality that gave him a deserved cult following in the US. So let’s get going, shall we? Mustn’t keep the cult followers waiting…

Keiichi Tamura (???) – Just your regular desk job koala stuck in middle management of a pickle company. Spends most of his day being sweaty, shy, guilty, and weak-willed. His wife Yukari is long missing, and his new girlfriend Yoko is said to be murdered. Keiichi may also have a dark side coming out. We shall see!
Yukari (Elli-Rose) – Yukari is Keiichi’s missing wife. But Keiichi has begun to move on, even as rumors swirl that he murdered her. Then things happen… Elli-Rose (エリローズ/Eri Roozu) is a Japanese model/actress who also does DJ work.
Yoko Abe (Elli-Rose) – Yoko Abe is Keiichi’s new girlfriend. She totally doesn’t look like Yukari, just what are you implying? And it definitely isn’t a plot point!
Detective Ono (Hironobu Nomura) – A suspicious detective who follows around and harasses Keiichi, while his partner Kita seems less interested.
Mr. Kim (???) – Keiichi is given the job to babysit/keep happy the owner of Korean company Bae Foods, to help with a business deal. Mr. Kim has an assistant named Yu and owns Momo the flying squirrel. Practices Sinanju, a Korean martial art that’s actually the fake marital art from The Destroyer novels.
Convenience Store Frog (???) – Yes, even frogs are forced to be register jockeys in Japan. Luckily, this frog knows a thing or two about everything, and slips helpful notes into Keiichi’s bags.
The CEO of Rubbles Pickles Co. Ltd. (???) – Great, every time I invest in a company, they elect a rabbit as CEO! It’s crazy. And they squander the company profits in an attempt to get their hands on Trix!

Continue reading

Neko Ramen Taisho (Review)

Neko Ramen Taisho

aka Pussy Soup

Directed by Minoru Kawasaki
Written by Minoru Kawasaki and Masakazu Migita

Minoru Kawasaki makes some of the weirdest films to come out of Japan since the last weird film to come out of Japan, which was like last week or something. Okay, Japan has a LOT of weird films, but at least Minoru Kawasaki’s are entertaining. And usually not insane enough that you can talk about them with strangers and they won’t think you are insane. If you disagree with this, try explaining the plot of Tokyo Gore Police to the person sitting next to you on the bus and see if they start looking disturbed. Minoru Kawasaki specializes in films where animals do people’s jobs. Usually, the animals are human sized, but in this film the cats are cat sized, even if they are played by puppets. Besides the animal films, Minoru Kawasaki also directed The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit.

Neko Ramen Taisho started life as a Flash anime series. Then it became a movie with puppets, thus being superior because puppets>anime any day of the week. The English subtitlers decided to call it Pussy Soup, which is clever, but as I learned all about it and eagerly awaited it as Neko Ramen Taisho, that’s what I call it and that means I will ignore the Pussy Soup jokes.

There are some famous Japanese cats in this film, so if you enjoy famous Japanese cats, this is a sure bet winner!

Jeff III (Toru Furuya) – William Thomas Jefferson III – will go by the name Master, aka Taisho, thus the title of the film. Amazing, huh? Jeff III was groomed to be a Cat Idol by his father, but Jeff III wanted none of it, and after being beaten around by his father runs off to find his lot in life. Eventually settling on running a ramen noodle shack, things change again when a rival cat ramen noodle shop opens down the street.
Jeff II (Seizo Kato) – William Thomas Jefferson II – will go by the name Shogun. He is a famous Supermodel Cat (aka Cat Idol) and demands his son follow his path. Is brutal in his disceplin to make his son a Cat Idol, so much that Jeff III runs away. Even when Jeff II is shamed and run out of the model industry, he follows his son to try to shame him further.
Tanaka (Kazuki Kato) – A regular customer in Jeff III’s ramen shop and probably Jeff III’s closest friend. Kazuki Kato is a J-pop star.
Mariko (Nao Nagasawa) – A woman who is friends with Tanaka and pseudogirlfriend. Not a big fan of ramen noodles, but supportive of her friend Tanaka even if she has completely different ideas. Nao Nagasawa is a singer and model that you can see more of in this gallery post as well as see her as a ninja in Geisha vs. Ninja.
Ramen chef (Toshio Kurosawa) – The Ramen chef who rehabilitates Jeff III from his depression, and infuses a love of crafting ramen noodles into Jeff III, giving him newfound purpose in life. Also helps his student during the challenge from his father.
Miki (???) – Miki is the girl with the cat who is the love interest for Jeff III.

Continue reading