Funimation // 2010 // 123 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 4th, 2012
Fear the Zebra.
From the man who brought you the fantastic 13 Assassins comes...this thing.
Zebraman was Japan's biggest hero, a hapless, regular-guy graced with spectacular powers that allow him to transform into a striped superhero to defeat all manner of plastic-costumed evil. The sequel picks up in 2025, with Tokyo lying in ruins thanks to the maniacal rule of the fearsome Zebra Queen. Aided by her ruthless police force, the Queen squashes rebellion though "Zebra Time," which allows her thugs to indiscriminately murder passersby for ten minutes a day.
The world clamors for Zebraman! Will he answer their desperate pleas?
Sure he will, but that doesn't mean this movie makes any sense. Actually, if this movie made less sense and amped up the craziness, that's a trade-off I'd happily make. As it stands, Zebraman 2 is a plodding, shockingly tedious excursion into a dependably bizarre Japanese world that manages to make guys dressed up like Zebras fighting women dressed like Zebras boring. The ingredients are all there: future Tokyo, attractive leather-clad female villain with hooves, director Takashi Miike at the controls. Sadly, the resulting concoction is bland.
The problem is pacing. Too much runtime is dedicated to the slow burn of Zebraman's re-introduction to the populace. He has to fraternize with a bunch of resistance fighters, then track down a little girl who holds some sort of mystical key to his transformation, before he's able to finally don the Zebraman outfit and engage in some CGI-infused chop-socky. If this is a sequel, shouldn't we all be enjoying the hijinks of a full-featured Zebraman? Give the public what it wants!
The good news is that Zebraman 2 is a slapstick comedy and not a serious superhero movie. When the lunacy and action is muted, there are more than a handful of inspired gags, starting with the introduction of an unsuited and uninspiring Zebraman. Plus the visuals are inventive with lots of eye-candy. Miike's imagination is still intact, even though his 13 Assassins sensibilities appear to have left him.
Zebraman 2 (Blu-ray)'s strong 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen transfer gives these wild visuals some pop. Even the CGI benefits from the enhanced resolution, a welcome change considering high-definition tends to be unkind to low-budget visual effects. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (Japanese, with English subtitles) is active when the on-screen shenanigans call for it. Bonus features: making-of featurettes for the film and the "Zebra Queen's Theme" music video, a series of interviews with the director and actors, TV commercials, theatrical trailers, and a DVD copy.
What could have been a bout of Japanese craziness is hamstrung by a glacial flow.
Guilty. Poach Zebraman.
Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* TV Spots/Trailers
* DVD Copy
* Official Site