The sequels Miike has made, have on the whole been quite successful and well received, even on this site. What works for this film is, unlike the first film, the Zebraman story is played with a serious tone. Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City is set in 2025, and awakes our hero, amnesiac and white-haired, only to be gunned down mere minutes later by the mayor’s death squad. On top of that, there is an alien invasion and the aliens start possessing citizens and using them them as people puppets. The final nail in the coffin is that Zebramans identity is finally discovered.
I love all the visual gags that Miike includes in Zebraman 2 and all the references to other cult shows. This is not a perfect endeavor, mind you. Some of the acting is a bit off at times, but there are so many positives here that they far outweigh any negatives. It is apparant that the Japanese film industry will continue to change and with that will come more over-the-top antics and wacky situations. Zebraman 2 features all of this and more. For instance, two of the agents in the film put up a gay front to avoid public suspicion about their activities. Also, the nonsensical lyrics of Zebraman’s theme song, that’s actually pretty common for Japanese superheroes. This movie just turns it up to eleven.
It’s interesting to note that Miiki’s location settings and architecture are employed in the same manner. Some of the locations he has picked to shoot are so weird that I had to rewind the film a few times to catch every crazy detail. Also cool is the character portrayed by Aikawa, now pushing 50, makes no attempt to hide the lines and wrinkles in his face. Actually, thinking back, Zebraman 2 could be seen more as a parody than a genuine action pic. This film has been trashed to the point where I have seriously questioned the sanity of the world.
Perhaps the characters were too old for teenie-boppers to identify with, but I liked this aspect of the film and it gave it a different spin. Also, Miike as a director is clearly known as the bad boy of Japanese films has toned down his shock value in order to cater to a wider audience with this film. As a film, it is mediocre, but as a sequel it is great. The joke of a cosplay superhero living out his fantasies, while being scared out of his wits, has been done before (Kick Ass comes to mind) but the injection of Japanese weirdness has kept this movie from being a rip off. Definetely a worthy sequel that you should check out if you were a fan of the first one.