A spoof on the post-World War II monster genre that put Japanese film back on the map, Big Man Japan follows the life of Daisato, AKA Big Man Japan, the only superhero left to fend Tokyo from a long list of weird creatures. His power? Growing enormous after exposure to large amounts of electricity. As he reflects on the golden days his celebrated super predecessors enjoyed (including his grandfather, who now battles dementia in a retirement home), we witness the lonely life he leads drudging away as a middle-aged defender way past his prime. He speaks directly to a documentary film crew, answering questions about the separation from his wife and young child, his legacy and the demands of his job.
Big Man Japan trailer
Japan remains one of the few countries with a truly rich, imaginative national film culture, and this 2007 mockumentary is no exception. It draws you in with the promise of an original concept, accented with the unconventional choice of setting innovative CGI up against rougher cinema verite footage. The way the film plays on the tropes of superhero movies provides the few moments of humor, like Big Man having to wear company ads in on his body to make money, or the way they show how he manages to stay clothed when he becomes giant.
It's the transitions from Big Man's slow paced real life, complete with long spans of idle chit-chat and mundane activities, to the actual fight sequences with invading monsters that makes the whole affair so disorienting. Though well animated, the confrontations are awkward, slow and lack the action the movie needs to retain a viewer's interest. The end product is just depressing and bizarre, and not in an entertaining way, resulting in a conclusion that resembles a trippy episode of "Power Rangers" as imagined by Lars Von Trier. Cultural boundaries or no cultural boundaries, this was a total disappointment.