It’s been 15 years after grade school teacher Shinichi Ichikawa turned superhero, but now he’s not only lost his powers, but his memories too. That’s ok though as the world he saved so valiantly in the last film hasn’t forgotten him. They’ve built an entire city around his persona in fact, with the intention of spreading the love the world over.
As these stories go of course, it’s not all black and white.
Let’s get right to it. This series is not really known for it’s deep storytelling. Takashi Miike is in my view, the uncontested, best living Japanese director today. Most mainstreamers will know him as the director of the recent 13 Assassins, but he’s also known for numerous (understatement) critically loved films; among them Audition, Gozu, Ichi The Killer, Deadly Outlaw: Rekka, and so many more I could probably fill a couple paragraphs with just the titles.
Anyway, Miike created this particular film series as a sort of modern nod to the Power Rangers like super shows of his youth. These shows were the GI Joe equivalents in Japan and had heroic every-men donning costumes and powers to fight the forces of evil. Evil was represented by the most creatively designed alien menaces around. Narrative depth and Logic gave way under the weight of spectacle and the enjoyment of this kind of film came from witnessing what’s really just a fanboy filmmaker exercising his unmentionables in public. So, yeah — less about the story and all about the cool and the very weird.
If you’ve seen the original film, and for those that haven’t, you really don’t need to, but also you really should do. For those that haven’t seen the original; be forewarned. The story is very weird.
You know orthodoxy is out the window when your character, in an otherwise straightforward indie drama becomes a superhero (with real superpowers) generated by sheer force of will. He believes so much that he literally just becomes a superhero. His boss is a reluctant alien invader and the earth is about to be overrun by gummy monsters. Yep, that’s pretty much the first film. Think stranger though.
The second film takes all that and adds the strangest case of split personality, overeating, tentacle fondling, a 25 year old in a 10 year olds body (with all the awkwardness that presents.) It’s all quite weird. It’s also textbook Miike.
The action is over the top, but satisfying, the acting is mostly forgettable, but again — you’re looking for great performances? Wrong film. This is unfettered Miike and he’s here to exorcize his demons. Place popcorn firmly in hand and don’t forget that soda bottle works great as a portable urinal.
C- for the acting
B for the action
A+ for the WTF factor
Overall just go rent, see this film. The first one too.