Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Big Man Japan

(Dai-Nipponjin, Japan, 2007)

Poor, poor Tokyo. As I’m sure you know, the city has been plagued by monsters ever since Gojira (better known on these shores as Godzilla) kicked it apart way back in 1954. If it ain’t one critter, it’s another, from Ghidorah the three-headed monster, Mathura, and Rodan, to Dogora the space monster, Mechagodzilla, and the worst of the bunch, Hedora the smog monster. There have been many ways to fight these giant menaces in the past, including Raymond Burr and Gamera the giant atomic flying turtle, but decadent Japanese culture has allowed these good guys to dwindle today until only one is left: Daisatô, descendant of a long line of monster killers. The poor man has been reduced to living in a tiny apartment, renting out billboard space on his back when he fights monsters. His wife has left him and taken their daughter. His agent doesn’t respect him, nor does the public. His TV show has been shuffled back to 2 AM, after a home shopping show. His only friend is his cat, who is a stray.
This movie is a sensitive and heartbreaking documentary about a man determined to uphold the family tradition, even though an overdose of the electricity needed to turn people like him from an ordinary schmuck into a huge, muscle-bound superhero killed his father. We see documentary footage of his grandfather, the Fourth, hob-nobbing with the Emperor Hirohito, and hanging out beside the best geisha houses. (He’s too big to get in.) Now the Fourth is in a nursing home, senile, and when he juices himself, gets big, and runs amok in his demented way, Daisatô takes the blame. But when the old alarm bell sounds, he takes off on his tiny smoke-belching motor scooter or on the train, goes to a power station, stands in the crotch of his pair of giant purple shorts suspended between two flagpoles, and grows into them. He does battle with the likes of the Elastic Monster, the Hopping Monster (just a head and a leg), and the One-eyed Terror, who uses his single giant eye on a retractable stalk (which grows from his crotch) like a deadly bowling ball. And even worse, the Stink Monster, a petulant whiner who smells like 10,000 human feces, and is being pursued by a horny, perverted teenage monster who … well, it’s too disgusting to talk about, but it all goes out on live TV. And what thanks does he get? Stones thrown through his windows. Then, as if things couldn’t get worse, he is being replaced by a family of giant superheroes based on the cheesiest robot toys ever produced in Japan, and their special effects are rotten!