When the daughter of an explorer brings one of four pieces of the mysterious Skull Stone to these unlikely band of heroes, they must find the other pieces before the Doronbow gang does. The evil force behind the gang, the mysterious Skullobey, wants to use it to steal the world! Technically top-notch production design and visual effects are loud to the point of eye-hurting. Chirpy songs and music in the style of ’70s Japanese children’s programs and commercial tunes exaggerate the mood. Visual insanity aside, Takashi Miike manages to do something most filmmakers have only dreamed of doing with Yatterman. Miike has actually created a film that completely subverts any of the expected moral tropes of 9/10 of the films in this world.
Miike’s, unfortunately, not always reliable with narratives. He’s more of a character motivation kind of guy than a story motivation kind of guy. It’s hard, if not impossible to appreciate Yatterman in any capacity without a little bit of background. The original show, from the late 1970s, was a superhero/mecha show produced by Tatsunoko Productions as part of their Time Bokan series of shows. Many times while watching I found myself feeling simultaneously grossed out, happy, sad, confused, elated, touched, and tricked. Yes, there is a giant nude female robot, Bridesmaidiot, who shoots bombs from her nipples and achieves orgasm while making out with Yatterwoof and simultaneously being attacked by hundreds of mechanical ants. Watchmen, this is not.
Yatterman utilized a ton of CGI which makes me wonder if it basically was filmed in front of a blue screen entirely. This was great because a new world was created and made the various changing environments a lot more interesting. Watching Yatterman is like getting Candyland poured in your eyes. This flick is kid-friendly but a Miike movie through and through. If you were not a fan of Yatterman coming in to seeing the film, you may not know that by the climax of the episodes, the mecha battle is the main focus. The way the movie was arranged, it was like three different episodes were merged together.
While it won’t appeal to the fans who have Miike pegged as an extreme cinema director, it should appeal to just about anyone looking for a goofy, fun way to spend two hours. Thing is, I really don’t care that the movie is sadistically repetitive, or that Gan and Ai are pretty much useless as crime fighters. This is mindless, Japanese fun that I had a fun time watching. Die hard fans of Miike should have no complaints whatsoever. Yatterman is an entertaining ride regardless of the numerous speed bumps encountered along the way.