Big Man Japan

Well, I watched it. I watched it a while ago, and it’s stayed with me in a way that films rarely do, and I’m not sure why, and I’ve been wondering about what exactly I can say about it. Hmm.

It’s as nuts as the trailers and clips would suggest, but in a different way than you might expect. The monster battles, impressive and fun as they are, only make up a very small part of the narrative. Much of the rest of the film is a low-key mockumentary following Daisato, the scruffy, morose, socially awkward man who, through the application of massive amounts of electricity, occasionally transforms into Big Man Japan and defends his country against big monsters.

We meet Daisato’s agent who keeps trying to get him to wear sponsorship labels when he’s fighting, and his ex-wife and child who don’t want anything to do with him, and we get sneering vox-pops from the ungrateful population that Daisato saves time and again. And all the while Daisato shuffles through life, unassuming and somewhat tragic. It’s sad, but charming and funny in a dark and bitter-sweet way, and the performance of Hioshi Matsumoto, who also co-wrote and directed the film, is understated and human.

It’s an odd film. The humans are bastards for the most part, the monsters are amazingly weird and imaginative, and the battles end with the spirits of the fallen ascending into the sky. Why? It’s never explained. And then there’s the last ten minutes or so which are… batshit insane. I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t, but if any of you have seen the film, or watch it in in the future, and I absolutely recommend you do, please get in touch and we can sit round a table scratching our heads and asking each other “but what does it mean?” Everything from the title “Let’s enjoy the rest live!” onward. Baffling, but in a good way.

Somehow the last ten minutes transform the film from a lovely but inconsequential comedy into something more. It’s hugely unsettling, and nightmarish, and funny and… odd. Watch it, man, and tell me I’m wrong.

“Peace!” Bonkers…

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