Yatterman Blu-ray & DVD

Monday, 21 May 2012 16:43

Yatterman movie on Blu-ray & DVD“Yatterman” is a madcap, live-action remake of a late 1970s Japanese anime series. From their secret base under a toy shop, teenagers Gan and Ai spring into action whenever evil comes calling, aided by a huge mechanical dog-vessel called Yatterwoof and a small, ditsy robot called Toybotty. Together they form a super-powered, crime-busting outfit called Yatterman. In this feature-length adventure they are on a mission to locate four pieces of a mystical rock shaped like a skull.

Against them is team Doronbo, an equally strange bunch made up of Catwoman-esque Lady Doronjo, her two sidekicks Boyacky (a rat-like man) and Tonzra (a piggy-man), and their own super-mechanoid fighting machine-cum-vehicle. The dastardly Doronbo gang are searching for the skull rock for their illusive, god-like boss Skullobey. Across the globe, random buildings and objects are disappearing and the magical rock is to blame. In the wrong hands it could spell the end of the world.

I came into this movie completely blind as to its subject matter and tone, though the quirky DVD sleeve gave me a rough idea of what to expect. As can be seen from the reproduction on this page it depicts the masked pairing of Gan and Ai, a towering Yatterwoof, Toybotty in one corner and a small robotic pig climbing a palm tree. Bit odd, I thought, but to be honest it is only a small taster of the relentless peculiarity and creativity that spews from the film, all delivered at a supersonic rate.

What this movie lacks in plot originality (good guys and bad guys fight over a prize) it makes up for several-fold in visual ideas. There are dozens of gadgets, crazy weapons, and varied locations filling every second with colour, energy and movement. Each time the two teams confront each other, which tends to happen at the location of the next rock segment, they set about progressively launching their ever-upgrading arsenals at each other, starting with the small-fry (but still pretty explosive) weapons before escalating to full-on Yatterwoof-versus-Doronbo mech war.

Explosive missiles, deadly goo and electrical bolts fly in all directions, but the film does a decent job of keeping up with the frenetic action.

The sets are generally small-scale affairs with masses of green-screen scenery bolted on, but the epic finale takes place in a massive, black, clockwork lair quite reminiscent of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. For such a fast-paced movie there is an incredible amount of detail in every single aspect of the production, from the costumes and the Yatterman base, to the mini-robotic armies that emerge from within the larger mechs.

My favourite is a musical band of mini robotic dogs that comes from inside Yatterwoof (Trumpton-style), pronouncing the arrival of his ‘Super Surprise Mecha’ army. This being a wacky Japanese film, the force can be anything from hundreds of robot termites to a platoon of walking sardines.

You might have noticed that this release has been slapped with a ‘15’ age certification. Why is this, you might be asking, when it sounds all very innocent and childish? Well, the reason is that there are a small number of overt sexual references in the film. For example, Lady Doronjo’s outfit is quite risqué, one of the Doronbo mechs takes the form of a woman with large, exposed breasts and, most disturbingly, it moans in a very provocative manner when being attacked, attracting the attention of a suddenly very ‘jiggy’ Yatterwoof.

There is a fine line between pantomime smut and something a bit more blatant, and sadly “Yatterman” steps over it once or twice, denying a younger teen audience access to what is otherwise a fun and child-friendly picture. Whether this is the influence of famous director Takashi Miike, whose output includes such violent adult fair as “Ichi The Killer” and “Audition”, I could not say. Japanese anime sometimes contains stark clashes between childish and sexually explicit imagery and topics, so this incongruity is not entirely unexpected.

One other minor grumble would be that Toybotty tends to add the word ‘botty’ to every other word or sentence, and Skullobey cannot resist saying ‘obey’ at the end of each of his sentences. I found this aggravating but then I am considerably older than the target market for this film!

In general, though, I would recommend the movie to those old enough to qualify, especially fans of the likes of Dragon Ball and Power Rangers. The special effects are fairly impressive, the movie rarely sags and even those with attention deficit issues will struggle to keep up with the fast-paced action!

Special features in both the DVD (reviewed) and Blu-ray versions include:

  • Japanese Teaser Trailer
  • Behind the scenes featurette - Rehearsals & filming (15 mins)
  • Behind the scenes featurette - Set & costume design (9 mins)
  • Cast and Crew interviews (Takashi Miike, Shô Sakurai, Hiroshi Sasagawa)
  • Cannes Film Festival promo
  • Stills Gallery

“Yatterman" (2009) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 112 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £15.99 on DVD and £16.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Monday, 23 July 2012 10:42

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