The Great Yokai War Takashi Miike

The Great Yokai War is the tale of Tadashi (Ryunosuke Kamiki), a young Tokyo boy struggling with his new small town environment, his possibly senile grandfather and his overworked mother. To add to his worries, he is chosen to be the new Kirin Rider, a mythical warrior who must claim his magic sword from the Great Goblin. Thus begins his encounters with the scary Yokai - bizarre, supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore that enjoy playing tricks on unsuspecting humans. But this time they're not out to torment. Instead, they hope to enlist his help in protecting them from an evil Yokai mistress (Chiaki Kuriyama, Kill Bill's Gogo) and a demon prince (screenwriter Hiroshi Aramata) attempting to bring about an apocalypse by merging the Yokai with discarded technology to create maniacal machine monsters. With his warped mind, Takashi Miike appears to be the perfect director for this freaky family film that attempts to be Japan's answer to Harry Potter. Unfortunately, the plot is fairly thin, some of the effects are cheesy and the action sequences are rather chaotic, with a lot of screaming and a young boy whipping around the screen attached to a sword that chops the limbs off anthropomorphised CGI machines. Children are unlikely to be bothered by these flaws, as they will find amusement in the cute critters and sword and sorcery elements, but The Great Yokai War is also likely to cause nightmares in the younger ones. Miike presents some very disturbing images of violence (a calf born with a human head, the near total destruction of Tokyo) and sex (the damp thighs of the River Princess, the phallic shot of the Snake-Necked Woman), as well as promoting drinking, smoking and lying as desirable adult characteristics. While The Great Yokai War does have its moments, it's a disappointing follow-up to Miike's much more interesting Zebraman, his superior superhero family film from last year. (Kadokawa Pictures Inc.)