aka Zeburaman aka ゼブラーマン
Directed by Takashi Miike
Written by Kankuro Kudo
If you know anything about cult cinema, you know Takashi Miike is awesome. Miike is always firing with all cylinders, and even on his weaker efforts he never does a half-assed job or sleepwalks through a film. Miike hops genres like Q*bert down a pyramid, able to make the most disgustingly violent film you’ve ever seen and follow that up with a kiddie flick. Zebraman is a love letter to tokusatsu heroes, particularly those from the 70s and 80s on Japanese television. Miike takes a fictitious hero and series and turn it into much more than just a simple tokusatsu film. It becomes a tale of finding yourself, of destiny, of belief, and about doing what’s right because you’re a hero. And it also has a guy riding a flying zebra while battling a giant goo monster. Zebraman takes these conventions and has fun with them, turning some deadly serious and others into more ridiculous fare than they’re treated by the real tokusatsu shows.
The fun with Zebraman is how all these different conventions and story bits add up to create a good story, despite the difference in tone and style. It’s a testament to Miike’s talent that he can take so many differently shaped parts and put together the puzzle with no missing pieces. My biggest fault with Zebraman is that the sequel outshines it at every turn. But I’ll worry about that when the review of the sequel goes up. For now, let’s learn about the man, the myth, the hero, Zebraman!