Daisato (director/co-writer Hitosi Matumoto) is having his daily life filmed by a TV crew. This life is pretty depressing. He doesn’t make much money, his wife has left him, and his neighbours hate him. His job isn’t exactly low-stress, either: he is Big Man Japan, a hereditary job that involves defending Japan against monster attacks. So whenever he gets the call, he has to run to the nearest power plant, get himself zapped until he grows into a 50-foot giant, and do battle with various bizarre creatures (one looks like a plucked chicken with a huge eyeball/penis appendage). But though he does his best, his ratings are down, his show is broadcast in the dead hours of the morning, his agent appears to be taking advantage of him, and there’s a new monster in town that mops the floor with him on their first encounter.
“Bizarre” doesn’t even begin to describe this mix of mockumentary and Japanese monster mash. The premise itself is insane, the tone is as deadpan as the events are outrageous, and don’t even ask about the WTF ending, surely the biggest mind-melter in recent years. If you can imagine Ultraman revisited by Erroll Morris, you are might have an inkling as to what this is like. Though unlikely to appeal to North American audiences outside of monster movie fans, this is a total delight, and filled with sights that will scar your retinas and cortex for the rest of your life.
The picture is very strong. The colours are naturalistic, even gritty during the interview segments, but are suitably lively (without any jarring transition) during the monster battles. The image is sharp and free of grain and edge enhancement problems. This is a fine-looking transfer of a film whose look is an insane fusion of the mundane and the over-the-top.
The volume shifts dramatically from one scene to the next, with Daisato’s dialogue barely rising above a mutter during the interviews, while booms during the battles are deafening. The environmental creation is both good and quite subtle, with background traffic noises present but restrained when we’re with the normal-sized Daisato at street level. There is no distortion, even with the dramatic shifts in volume.
Making of Big Man Japan: (68:00) A fairly in-depth feature that covers pre-production through to release. Unusually, this feature has a subtitled commentary track, which can be a bit confusing when subtitles for both commentary and conversations within the feature appear at the same time.
Deleted Scenes: 16 of them. Substantial.
Trailers: Six of them in the 6-Shooter Film series.
As indescribable as it is terrific. Hang on to your sanity!