Main character is a grade school teacher with some major family issues. His wife is cheating on him, his daughter doesn’t respect him and his youngest son is being bullied at school just because he is his son. Back in 1978, he is also obsessed with a TV show called Zebraman which is set in 2010, now when that year rolls around, Shinichi attempts to escape his issues by fashioning himself a zebra man costume and begins to play the character at night. What began as escapism, soon becomes a bizarre reality as a monster from the original show actually appears. If you’re not one for satire, or you can’t take comic book humor, this movie wouldn’t be for you.
think it should be made apparent that this is far from a kid flick. I believe it was more meant for the fist and second generation Tokusatsu fans who grew up with Kamen Rider and other Henshin heroes. Takashi Miike, suprisingly, always works well with young actors, but his low-key male lead is also nuanced here. The film is slow, allowing emotional involvement with the characters. This is a spoof of sorts and full of comedy moments and yet it is ultimately about achieving your dreams in the face of adversity. The notion of a superhero without any notice of his powers is not new but the visual storytelling overcomes plausibility.
While this film is a mixed tonal bag at times, it’s ultimately warm and nostalgic, very pro-human at it’s core. Miike is usually obscure and quirky but this is his most straightforward release. Sure, this is definitely an inspirational and easy-to-relate-to tale and when he first finds his powers, it is easy to muster up excitement for him. But this doesn’t carry the viewer on for a two hour story. It is hard to take a guy dressed up as a zebra seriously and in the same vein, it is hard to take this film seriously which will stop it from achieving a high score from me.
Anything to do with the government agency that is trying to cover-up the alien invasion is extremely silly. Appreciating the occasional cheesy sequences is just a matter of being in the correct state of mind. The premise of the movie is rather simple but the energy and pacing of the film’s structure does keep it from becoming too predictable. Zebraman boasts a pretty good musical score, some decent, though not entirely convincing, CGI effects, and a good supporting cast. The film’s only real weakness is the storyline, which contains several plotholes. All those who are rushing out to see Kick-Ass in theaters soon should realize Japan has been making these films for years now. It is nothing new.