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30 March 2009

Review: Yatterman(2009) the movie: A perfect B-class movie[***+]

A Japanese article is available here. 日本語版はこちらへ

Early March 2009, the live-action film 'Yatterman' premiered on the big screen. This film is based on the classic Tatsunoko anime of the same title, from the Time Bokan series.
Contrary to many skeptics(including me) who loved the original anime, this Yatterman(2009) was a surprise hit in Japan. According to an entertainment news source (JP-only), the number of viewers easily exceeded one million. This film will be distributed to more than 30 countries.

Here's my short review.
(Note: full marks is *****)

[Visual works: ****]
If you knew the original Yatterman(1977), you'll be very happy with the live-action adaptation. The visual effects, which includes the setting, scenery, and the stage props, are authentic and well made. For example, you can see a skull-shaped cloud after an explosion, the escape three-wheeled bike, and so on.

The adaptation is so faithful that mechas even retained the eccentric features of the original design. For example, Yatterwan (the protagonists' dog robot)  has no cockpit like the anime version (*1). Vice Mecha, which is used the by the Vice Trio(三悪トリオ[san'aku trio], A.K.A. "Doronbo Gang"), has a cockpit. But it also has the self-destruct button like the original.

[The Performance of actors/actresses: **+]
I have mixed feelings. The protagonists are SAKURAI Sho(櫻井 翔)as "Gan-chan/Yatterman 1 gou", and FUKUDA Saki(福田 沙紀)as as "Ai-chan/Yatterman 2gou"(*2).
But the performances of both SAKURAI and FUKUDA are unfortunately mediocre. On the other hand, the performance from the villains is very good. Especially, NAMASE Katsuhisa生瀬 勝久), who plays Boyakki speaks in the same voice like the original character, is the best actor in this film. NAMASE's performance can be called a convincing performance(怪演[Kaien])(^^; .

[Script/Storyline: ***+]
The plot is predictable because this is a condensed edition of original Yatterman anime(1977). Most of all characters' roles mimic the anime.

[Music: ***+]
The music is newly made. But It is close to the original score. All the songs in this film are also newly recorded versions of the original soundtrack. I'm very pleased with the theme song, which is sung by YAMAMOTO Masayuki(山本正之)(*3).

[Overall: ***+]
I had no expectations prior to watching this film. Because there had been many bad examples of live-action adaptations of anime properties (Please see supplemental info as shown below) . But I am slightly delighted after watching this film. It's a good example of a live-action adaptation of anime. If you have a good memory of the original Yatterman, this movie is for you. It's doubtful to pay JPY1,800(*4). But it's definitely worth JPY1,000(*5) for a ticket.

[Bibliography]
Staff/Cast : Please refer to Wikipedia-EN, and Wikipedia-JP
Official HP: Available[JP-only]

[Supplement info: live-action adaptation of anime in Japan's movie history]
Believe it or not, there are could be more live-action adaptations of anime more than you expected. Even "Lupin the third (the 1st season:1971)" had its own live action movie, entitled "Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Battle"(ルパン三世 念力珍作戦) in 1974.(*6)
Live-action movies based on anime were periodically made(*7). But most of these movies are either weird or poor adaptations. Maison Ikkoku(めぞん一刻, 1986) could have been one of the worst-adapted movie, I believe. Wikipedia-JP tells you how it is so poor.
In 2004, CASSHERN, Devilman(デビルマン), Cutie Honey, were also made into live-action movies. But these movies were heavily slammed by many viewers.  I think that Cutie Honey(2004) is a ANNO Hideaki's blemish on his career as a director.

So, this Yatterman(2009) is an excellent exception.


[Trivia]
1) All the on-location scenes are filmed in or around Tokyo. The 1st scene is a devastated Shibuya. The secret base of Yatterman is located in Shinbashi. The scenary of Shinbashi is drastically modified by CG works.

2) The original Vice Triad (voice)actors/actress: OHARA Noriko and TATEKABE Kazuya are seen in a conveyer sushi restaurant as guests. This is also described in Wikipedia-EN.

[Note]
1) This is because Yatterman is always hanging down from Yatterwan.

2) Please let me allow to call her "Yatterman Ni-gou" "or Yatterman No.2". Strictly speaking, she should be called "Yatterwoman". But in the original episodes, She was defined as "Yatterman ni-gou". In those days, no one pays attention to grammatical correctness.

3) This theme song is "The Song of Yatterman(ヤッターマンのうた)", and is YAMAMOTO's one of the best known songs.

4) JPY1,800 is a standard admission fee for adult.

5) JPY1,000 is a discounted admission fee for adult. Some movie theaters offer discounted rate for a late show, and for a specific date(i.e. every Wednesday) showing.

6) This is such a weird movie(^^;;. You can watch the trailer on the web. MEGURO Yuuki(目黒 祐樹) played Lupin in the movie. It's rumored that Hollywood has a plan to remake the live-action movie of "Lupin the Third". In a recent interview of a magazine, MEGURO proudly said "No one but me can play Lupin perfectly"(^^;.

7) If you can read Japanese, Please refer to a Wikipedia entity. This page has good description of live-action films based on anime or manga works.

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