Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Big Man Japan (2007)

We've talked a lot about giant monsters this month and all the property damage that comes along with them. But what about the flip-side? What about the giant heroes who often fight these massive monsters? You know, like Ultraman or Ultra Seven (or any of the other Ultra named characters) who go off and battle these behemoths to protect the little people. They're an important part of all of this too, right? Have you ever wondered what life would be like for one? I mean real life with all the problems and dilemmas that come with it.

Even giant heroes have regular problems, like finding a good brand of hairspray that won't give out during a fight.

This film features kaiju, most certainly, but the focus is on the hero known as Big Man Japan (or Big-Sato). Masaru Daisato seems to be Japan's only remaining hero to fight off giant monsters and a film crew is following him around, interviewing him and documenting his life as he copes with a less than ideal life. And he definitely has a lot of problems to cover, so let's not waste any time and dive into Big Man Japan.

Walk loudly, carry a big stick.
Starting off the film we're immediately tossed into things as he's being filmed by the documentary crew. They observe his routine, ask him questions about his life, and we see someone throw a brick through his window. Twice. Yes, apparently people aren't really big fans of Masaru and we see a lot of that around everywhere he goes. People look on him like they're judging him, they draw insults on his outer walls, and they talk shit about him constantly. It's really sad, honestly, to see everyone treat him so badly while he tries to shrug it off and live as normal a life as he can manage.

How many heroes do you know who have to travel via bus?
On top of all that, his wife seems to have left him and took their daughter with her. Again, he tries to shrug it off, but it does clearly bother him. All he really has in his life is his job as giant monster fighter and a cat who may or may not belong to him. When he does finally get called in for work, he rides there on a scooter and we see graffiti people left along the road to the "charging station" that is there to insult and belittle him. It was at this point that I wondered why he even bothered, as he clearly gets treated poorly and states that he doesn't make as much as he thinks he should (he seems to get paid by the government while also getting some minor sponsorship deals for displaying ads on himself during fights).

It's about as silly as it sounds.
What seems to keep him going is his love for his grandfather, whom he refers to as The Fourth, as he was Big Man Japan too at one time. The old man suffers from dementia and Masaru makes sure he's being taken care of. This is probably because his own father died as Big Man Japan, leaving his grandfather to care for him. He says he believes that the charging up to grow giant is what caused his grandfather's dementia and we see many pictures and clippings about his gramps around his place. While dealing with his own personal issues and insecurities, he still does his job fighting mosnters, but people just don't seem to care. They call him boring and fat, mocking him and saying he's more of menace than the monsters (even though he doesn't really ever seem to cause any damage).

Although I can't imagine it's much fun to see his big purple ass and taint hanging overhead.
Things get worse for him when grandfather charges himself up and does various things that people with dementia often do, causing a public backlash against him. Because blaming the grandson for what the grandfather does is totally fair, right? But that's not all, as he ends up facing a kaiju that has never appeared before and it summarily beats him up in a very public manner, causing him to flee in shame like when a kid is bullied and belittled for having had his ass kicked. As if right on cue, we then see the public belittling him for having his ass kicked. Why does he try to protect these people again? Godzilla would tell you to just let them fuck right off, Masaru. Seriously.

"Haters gonna hate, bro. Just save the world and fuck their opinions."
Seemingly the only people who care about him are the proprietors of a hotel he rests at after battles and a woman he goes to sing karaoke with. In the aftermath of him fleeing, things get worse again when he ends up being unable to stop two kaiju from having giant horrible sex over a traffic jam. Yeah, I won't lie, that would be a bit upsetting. No one needs to see that. Bloody hell, it's made even worse when you see the monsters themselves.

One looks like a giant penis and other looks like a...well, a starfish, I guess. Those things fuck.
The public turns even more against him when a childlike kaiju ends up dying when he drops it, causing people to label him a child-killer. Apparently these people missed the part where it was a giant monster who latched onto his nipple and bit it. Yeah, that really happened. Masaru seems to have taken a "fuck it" attitude towards everything afterwards and gets hammered, staggered home to sleep it off with his cat friend. The government seems to have other plans though as they break into his house and forcibly charge him up, causing him to expand and destroy his house and inadvertently causing the cat to become giant too. That part gets completely ignored though as the big red monster that beat him earlier is back and he's still running from it.

Running seems pretty reasonable to me though, as that thing is kinda creepy.
It's important to note though that the reason for his behaviour can easily be traced back to his father's treatment of him as a child. His father tried to forcefully transform him at a young age, which looked incredibly painful. Not surprisingly, his father died due to overcharging himself. So we have a guy who has carried around emotional baggage and it only seems to get heavier over time due to other people, leaving him unsure of himself and prone to withdrawing within himself as a defense mechanism. When his grandfather shows up all powered up to help him, it even gives you a brief moment of hope..which is then dashed when gramps dies unceremoniously. The film then goes really weird on us though as his fight with the monster suddenly leaves the CGI realm and becomes classic 1970s rubber suit style when some other giant heroes show up.

They didn't jump the shark. They threw the shark into the sun.
These characters are Super Justice and his family and they're straight up Ultraman knock-offs in the most beautiful way. While our hero watches on, they summarily beat up the red monster and then ask him to join them as they deliver the finished beam blast (which he notes as not even needing him to work). When the monster finally blows up, they take him and fly off into the sky, eventually coming to their home where they discuss their performance over what I assume is dinner. It's a very strange ending and makes me wonder if it's not just Masaru experiencing a complete break with reality as he lies bleeding on the ground, traumatized by seeing his grandfather die and retreating into himself rather than facing the reality of failing once again.

I'll let you decide which is the weirder outcome.
After watching this movie, I must admit I was slightly stunned. The ending really just left me wondering what was actually going on and whether there was some deeper meaning. Throughout the film there did seem to be a meaning to what happened as we slowly watched Masaru's life fall apart. Then again, his life wasn't really all together when we met him in the beginning either. He's a man who let his insecurities rule him and it effected how the public viewed him. He didn't have faith in himself and I think that may be why people disliked him. Confidence always helps.

That and a large stick for beating the shit out of monsters.
Mostly I found myself pitying Masaru and hoping things would turn around for him, that he would better himself in the end and maybe gain the respect of the public. In the end though he proved just ineffectual as before and ended up playing second-fiddle to a group of heroes he may or may not have hallucinated up. As a film though it's a very interesting tale and definitely made me feel invested in the lead. The creatures were ridiculous, but in a good way. Seeing human faces on most of them just highlighted how silly they really were. The only one that seemed menacing was the big red one (at least it was before the style switch in the end). If you love mockumentaries and giant things fighting, do yourself a favour by watching this movie. It was entertaining and is one of the better movies I've covered this month. So, until I get charged up against my will and end up panicking due to my fear of heights, I'll be here trying to decide if I should have another donut. Later days, bleeders.

Kanpai!

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