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Reviews for The Great Yokai War ( 2005 )

odd, entertaining kid's film (IMDB: 7)

On: 9/21/2019 12:00:00 AM By: cherold
Watching The Great Yokai War really felt like going back to childhood. To that youthful time watching movies on a Saturday afternoon that were a little fanciful and that I, at 9 or 10, couldn't quite follow but still enjoyed.

The movie is utterly bizarre, as a young boy is chosen to battle against a great evil with the help of Yokai, which are fantastical folkloric Japanese creatures.

The story is fast paced, doesn't always make sense, is very weird, and is sometimes pretty violent and disturbing for a kid's movie.

It's hard for me to judge the visual quality of this movie because I found a low-rez version on youtube. All I can say for sure is the creatures themselves are tremendously entertaining.

I watched this movie because I'm ever in the search for something weird and not too dark from director Miike, who make The Happiness of the Katakuris but mainly makes movie that sound so dark I can't bring myself to watch them. Yokai War isn't as good as Katakuris, but it is entertaining.

Watchable for sure, but not a great movie... (IMDB: 5)

On: 9/15/2019 12:00:00 AM By: paul_haakonsen
I think I watched "Y?kai daisens?" (aka "The Great Yokai War") back around in 2006 or so. But I don't really recall the movie, so I sat down to watch it again here in 2019, as I was presented with the chance to watch it again.

It should be said that the movie definitely has a lot of interesting costumes and creature designs throughout the scenes, but the storyline was watered down and almost non-existing. And that was a shame, because the movie suffered from having an inferior storyline and a weakly written script.

Granted, the movie is from 2005, but the CGI special effects look like something you'd see in a late 1990s computer game in many instances. And that wasn't really helping the movie along either.

What did work in the movie was most of the acting performances, as they put on good performances, despite of having little to work with in terms of a proper script and storyline. And also the creature design, that was definitely a plus for the movie.

This is not really your average Takashi Miike movie. I mean, the director definitely have some odd and interesting movies to his director career, but "The Great Yokai War" is a deviation, even for Takashi Miike.

All in all, "The Great Yokai War" was mediocre in terms of entertainment value and enjoyment. So I am rating it a five out of ten stars.

Great Fantasy Movie from Japan (IMDB: 9)

On: 5/12/2014 12:00:00 AM By: ebiros2
The original concept of this story is based on 1968 movie that was created by comic artist Shigeru Mizuki who single handedly started the genre of Yokai (Japanese folk lore monsters) based stories. In this version, along with Mizuki, writers Miyuki Miyabe, Natsuhiko Kyogoku, and Hiroshi Aramata contributed their creative talent to the story.

Tadashi Ino (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is a wimp of a kid, but on the night of the town festival, he gets chosen to be the Kirin Rider. Kirin Rider has obligation to get the sword of Great Goblin from the mountain, and Tadashi embarks on a journey to the mountain where the Great Goblin resides. In the mountain Tadashi is met by Yokai monsters who were waiting for him. Covertly they chose him as Kirin Rider to battle the dark army of Yasunori Kato who is an embodiment of the grudge of ancient Japanese people. Together with Yokai, Tadashi faces the deadly army of Kato.

The movie was a big budget movie ( approx. 14M USD ) for a Japanese movie, and uses effective balance between CG and live performers that helps to maintain the realistic looks throughout the story. Ryunosuke Kamiki puts in a great performance as the main character despite his age (of 10). The cast reads like who's who of popular Japanese actors, and writers Mizuki, Kyogoku, Aramata, and Miyabe all makes cameo appearance in this movie.

This is probably the best movie Takashi Miike has directed, helped by solid script written by the aforementioned team of writers.

This is one of the best fantasy movie to come out of Asia, and is entertaining to both children and adults.

A decent fantasy film, but not a great Miike film. (IMDB: 6)

On: 3/7/2012 12:00:00 AM By: GorePolice
What happens when director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) tackles a children's fantasy film? Unfortunately, the end result is not as awesome as one might expect. The Great Yokai War is a reinterpretation of the Japanese monster classic Spook Warfare (1968) and, like its predecessor, features a host of creepy, and sometimes just plain goofy (I'm looking at you, umbrella monster), creatures from Japanese folklore. Ryunosuke Kamiki stars as the young hero Tadashi who squares off against the evil Lord Kato (Etsushi Toyokawa) and his twisted, but incredibly hot, henchwoman Agi, played by Chiaki Kuriyama (EXTE, Kill Bill: Vol. 1).

Tadashi, the son of recent divorcées, moves from Tokyo to a seaside village to live with his mother and grandfather. In typical children's fantasy fashion, Tadashi lacks confidence. He finds it difficult to adapt to his new life and his heavy-drinking mother and dementia-suffering grandfather don't make it any easier. Everything changes when Tadashi is chosen by the Yokai to be the Kirin Rider, protector of all things good, at a local festival. He discovers that, as the Kirin Rider, he is destined to obtain the magic sword, Daitenguken, from the Great Tengu and protect the Yokai from the advances of Lord Kato and Agi.

Meanwhile, we discover that Lord Kato has summoned Yomotsumono, a massive factory-like Yokai born from all the things that humans throw away. Lord Kato and Agi have also imprisoned several Yokai, including Tadashi's friend Sunekosuri, a cute hamster-like thing with a penchant for humping shins, and developed a method of absorbing their powers and, in the process, transforming them into rage-driven mechanized guardians. Accompanied by a small group of companions, Tadashi undertakes the quest to defeat Lord Kato and rescue Sunekosuri (and Tokyo) before it's too late.

Although this sounds like a great premise for a children's film, in Japan at least, The Great Yokai War never quite reaches its full potential. I expected a bit more experimentation from Miike, especially given the weirdness of the source material. That's not to say that there aren't some great moments: an early scene in which a dying newborn Yokai warns a frightened witness of the coming war is both visually striking and establishes the rather dark nature of the film. Unfortunately, this destined war never quite materializes and, by the end of the film, things just start to seem goofy.

Thematically, Miike tackles the human potential to discard things without a second thought and the detachment from the realm of nature and imagination that inevitably occurs as we grow older. All in all, this is a message that is more likely to resonate with adult viewers than with children, upon whom a lot of the underlying thematic subtleties of the film are probably lost. Adult viewers will find themselves wishing that Miike had explored this rather depressing subject matter as an adult fairytale, something more along the lines of Guillermo Del Toro's excellent Pan's Labyrinth, than within the constraints of a children's fantasy film.

As it stands, The Great Yokai War has its moments and does boast great special effects and a horde of unique and interesting monsters. Unfortunately, it never quite succeeds as either a children's fantasy film or a Miike film. It never really establishes a sense of epicness in regard to Tadashi's quest, an element that is of utmost importance in this type of film. However, genre-wise it is much more akin to the mildly disturbing children's fantasy films of the '80s, like The Neverending Story, The Dark Crystal, and Return to Oz, than to other Miike works, like Audition, Visitor Q, and Ichi the Killer. Fans of the former will probably find a lot to like in The Great Yokai War, while fans of the latter will more than likely be a little disappointed.

Gore Police (dreadfulreviews.com)

Interesting Movie (IMDB: 6)

On: 9/5/2011 12:00:00 AM By: rls0812
It's not very often I run across a movie that deals with parts of Japanese culture, especially yokai ( translated as " spirit " or " demon " ) .

After watching this, I am of the strong opinion this should have been an anime, not a real life movie.

The limited budget was very apparent in the CG effects used. It just looks cartoony. The costumes of the real life actors were not very well done either.

Set design was all over the place. Ranging from good, to cheap, to cartoon ( when rendered in CG ).

The acting I can not comment on, since I have the dubbed American version. The dub acting, on the other hand, was bad. The emotions were not effectively relayed.

The dub syncing is literally the worse I have ever seen in ANY dubbed movie, from ANY time period. " Martial arts " movies I have watched from the 70's have better voice syncing than this movie made only a few years ago! You can clearly see characters there, not moving their mouths, as dub dialog is spoken.

Also hearing about 50% of the movie, filled with the same " fearful screams " of the main character, gets real annoying, real quick!

Camera control is alright, though continuity issues pop up.

A good example is the main character and the grandfather character are walking along a street talking. In mid conversation it jump cuts to them sitting a bridge, still talking like nothing happened.

Speaking of continuity, there are quite a few scenes that seem like they were cut short, or major chunks were removed.

A good example of this is " grandfather's " six English word long song ( Ode to Azuki Bean ) . That shot just randomly appears, for no reason in between 2 other scenes.

I have been interested in yokai lore for quite some time, and have studied the subject on my own. It may seem like nit picking, but the way yokai are portrayed in this film is VERY inaccurate. Most of them are cast as " just silly creatures ", though quite a few I recognized in the group shots, are in fact quite violent by nature.

The worst part of this movie is the ending. No were in this movie they set up for the resolution to happen the way it does. It just happens, as a huge, unexplained anti-climaxed plot hole.

Welcome to the Neverending Story, Miike style! (IMDB: 7)

On: 9/17/2010 12:00:00 AM By: gothic_a666
In many ways, The Great Yokai War is a Japanese version of The Neverending Story. Both push the limits of fantasy as a genre and create a dynamic world in which a young boy becomes the hero of an epic. But Yokai stays true to its folk roots by crowding the plot with all sorts of creatures drawn straight from the very repertoire of Japanese lore. There are kappas, objects turned spirits, snow women, river sprites, gozu, tengu and the list becomes endless as the story progresses. But the movie is much more than an homage to traditions. It is also self-conscious in its parade of monsters as is made evident when a flying fortress is mistaken for Gamera.

Miike, known for his hyper violence, manages to create something that will appeal to children without being limited to that target audience. There are hints of the dark material for which he is known but they are harmonized by good humored moments and by the colorful imagery. The acting is also very competent with a child actor that is believable. Amidst the chaos there is also a family drama that is not stressed too much so that it does not overpower the impression of fun. The ludic element is indeed the main ingredient in this cauldron of insanity.

Unlike so many of Miike's movies, this one to be enjoyed without any qualms. Even the hints of a coming of age narrative are subordinated to the ideal of splurging in fanciful fantasy. And that it achieves beautifully. While some deeper considerations are hinted that, such as the critic view on a society that produces too much waste, what the movie excels at is the manipulation and employment of archetypes to propel a flawlessly entertaining adventure.

Turn off your brain and don't question what you see--just watch and be amazed (IMDB: 8)

On: 4/1/2008 12:00:00 AM By: MartinHafer
This film is a bit reminiscent of the German film, THE NEVERENDING STORY because a child is magically transported to a strange land in order to be a hero. However, due to far superior modern technology, puppets and CGI are used to make an amazingly realistic looking world--one that will blow your socks off due to its realism and scope.

I enjoyed this film, but boy was it a chore at first! Unfortunately, for most Westerners, this film is one you might give up on very quickly or dismiss it since everything in the film seems so odd. However, give it a chance. Don't think or try to understand everything you see--just allow the story to unfold and you will most likely enjoy the film.

In many ways, this is exactly the sort of advice I'd give to adults who watch Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY because it is very similar and features tons of Yokai (Japanese mythical spirits). The big differences between the two is that THE GREAT YOKAI WAR is live-action and SPIRITED AWAY is much more child-friendly. While I do think THE GREAT YOKAI WAR was intended mostly as a kids' movie, in the USA, most parents would not want to show this to younger kids because it's so violent, scary and features some adult behaviors. So who is the audience in the West? Well, older kids and adults who appreciate foreign films with non-Western themes and composition. This is a rather narrow audience, indeed!

While you are watching, look for all the strange little touches. In fact, you could watch the film dozens of times and notice different tiny things each time. A few of the funny references I liked were the comment about Gamera, the scene that came with the comment "KIDS: Don't Try This At Home" as well as the use of Kirin beer to allow a person to actually see the Yokai (hmm,...perhaps that scene should have also contained this warning)!

By the way, director Takashi Miike is a hard one to pin down stylistically, other than to say that none of his stories I've seen have seemed "normal". Some of his films are rather disgusting and disturbing and I hated them (especially AUDITION and ICHI THE KILLER)whereas some of them are magical and among the best films I've ever seen (THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS). One thing for sure, it's hard to watch one of his films and not have a strong reaction one way or the other.

Why don't they just say symbols, why do they add the 'ism' ? (IMDB: 7)

On: 9/15/2007 12:00:00 AM By: siderite
This is a movie that has a lot of things that only Japanese people can understand. Even well translated, there are some things that are obviously private jokes or regional symbolism. My guess is that it tried to send a message of some sort, but that just got wasted on me.

What I felt that is basically this is a mediocre movie with nice special effects. Some kid becomes "The one" and in the end has almost no relevance to a yokai war that makes no sense whatsoever anyway. It would have been nice to understand what the hell they were talking about, but between the Azumi bean washing yokai and the one that looks like a big tongued umbrella (Rihanna eat your heart out!) I couldn't really discern the plot.

Bottom line: nice visuals, the kid screams a lot, the river princess is terrible cute and the rest is crap.

don't judge this by U.S. standards (IMDB: 9)

On: 5/28/2007 12:00:00 AM By: screaminmimi
The only reason I'm giving this a 9 is that the other kid actors who played Tadashi's tormentors were not up to the job. I presume they were just kids who happened to be the right age and handy, but they were not well coached, and their scenes were a minor annoyance.

I say not to judge this by U.S. standards because it's full of ambiguities and the kinds of equivocations that Japanese culture readily embraces, and is not beholden to the black-hat/ white-hat moral constraints U.S. kids' films are routinely subjected to. For example, there is a preciously funny moment when Tadashi's small band of yokai companions finds themselves let down and abandoned by the other yokai, and Shojo--the avuncular Kirin herald--does what many a stressed-out Japanese adult would do. Hint: this would not happen in a Disney film. This picture also has the best product placement for beer you will ever see in a kids' movie.

Early on, there's a moment where a school teacher smacks a couple of bullies on the head with her attendance book. There was a TV commercial in Japan a couple years before this movie came out. It was a stop-motion clay animation about a kid who's depressed and playing guitar and singing the blues in his room. His mother yells at him from downstairs to shut up. Then, someone gives him a candy bar and he cheers up and sings a happy tune, but his mother comes in and tells him to shut up again and gives him a dope slap that leaves a dent in his forehead. I mention this commercial, because it was considered funny, and I didn't hear any objections to it while I was there. There is a lot more bloodshed and physical cruelty on screen in "The Great Yokai War" than one would find in a Disney movie. As a parent, if this were a U.S. film, I would be up in arms about such things, although not necessarily the moral lessons drawn at the end of the picture, which, of course, are also not black and white. Since it's a Japanese movie, I accept that those cultural norms allow for imagery that would not get past the standards and practices cops in a U.S. production. However, I'd probably be a little uneasy taking young kids to see it without giving them some sort of pre-show briefing and/or post-show debriefing about the violence and other off- color stuff, or I'd wait till they're older to show it to them.

Great visuals, at least, but that's about it. (IMDB: 5)

On: 5/4/2007 12:00:00 AM By: trancejeremy
The plot of this movie isn't exactly new - young person is chosen for adventure, then faces various trials and tribulations. It's pretty much a staple of mythology in any culture. What makes it interesting is that it's based on Japanese mythology.

Japanese mythology is literally one of the most colorful in the world. So a movie based on it really needs to be vivid to do that mythology justice. And here, this movie really succeeds. The various Yokai or goblins or critters are portrayed exceptionally well.

Where it really doesn't work well is as a movie. It's difficult for children to be the main character of a movie, because frankly, children are obnoxious. It can be done. Unfortunately, that's not the case here, the main character in this is really obnoxious, very whiny and wimpish. I supposed it's supposed to make the viewer sympathetic, but he's just so wimpish, you are more likely to yell at him for being such a loser.

I could excuse this if the movie were aimed at children, but I cannot believe it's meant for them, because it would scare the hell out of them. Even the nice Yokai are incredibly creepy and would give them nightmares for months, if not years. Also some scenes of graphic violence, and well, the secondary villain is incredibly sexy and is also perhaps not appropriate for children (might jump start boys into puberty).

Also, like some of Miike's movies, this is drawn out too long in some parts, but then rush too much in others. Nice cinematography, though. Probably more enjoyable to just watch it with the sound off and just enjoy the visuals.

A beautiful movie (IMDB: 10)

On: 1/28/2007 12:00:00 AM By: Lnarc
Now, I have seen a lot of movies in my day, but out of every single one there have been a very select few that have been really good to me. And I'm a 19 year old man which is impressed by this movie directed towards a younger audience. This is a very underrated gem for those who watch foreign movies. Almost all the acting is believable, the graphics are decent (for which you won't even be caring about as you watch the movie. Trust me, bitching about the graphics would be a stupid thing to do), the story is well written and it's a movie that everyone can enjoy not just the kids.

Here's basically what this movie made me to. It one, made me laugh...a lot, two, made me feel for the characters like you're suppose to, and three, it's a very uplifting story. By the end of this movie you will feel good. Sure, what anime out there hasn't featured some young kid turning into a great warrior and whatever to defeat some great evil. It's a formula that is used a lot. But, in this case it is forgivable because even though they use puppets for some characters and some average graphics you'd see 5 years ago, the appearance of it is not to be judged. It's very touching, the ending is original, and it keeps you into the movie like it is suppose to. If you however try comparing this to other movies like "The Never-ending Story" or whatever it will diverse your opinion. Watch it as it is and you will enjoy it.

It has been a good long while since I've been impressed like this. The only other movie where I have gotten this feeling is when I saw TMNT way back when it came out. There is something about this movie I felt about TMNT that really made me love it. So don't over-analyze or take this movie too seriously, just enjoy it.

Not one of my favorite Miike films, but even mediocre Miike still makes a good film (IMDB: 7)

On: 10/30/2006 12:00:00 AM By: zetes
Miike makes a children's adventure film, not unlike The Neverending Story. It's actually one of my least favorite of the director's films. Even the worst Miike is better than a good many films, though, and The Great Yokai War has a lot in it that's worth recommending. It's at least as loud and obnoxious as most American kiddie flicks. I might think kids themselves would find a lot to like in it (the DVD includes an English dub), but, like all of Miike's films, it can tend to move very slowly. That means you've got kind of a weird unevenness, where sometimes there's a loud action sequence and the next scene will drag on forever as characters converse. The story itself isn't very good, either, and Miike's perpetual flaw of incoherency rears its ugly head. Most of what I liked came from the technical side of things. This has to be Miike's most expensive movie, and it looks fantastic. "Yokai" are Japanese spirits, and they come in all different, fantastical forms, and the costume designers, special effects crew, and everyone else involved in the designs just did an outstanding job. I've seen the 1968 film this one is supposedly based on (Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare), and the cheesy rubber-suit monsters you can find there have been transformed into more believable entities using state-of-the-art makeup and special effects. I especially liked the look of one of the bad guys (or girls, in this case), Agi, who sports dark eye shadow, a tight, white outfit, a white beehive hairdo and a whip. She's played, incidentally, by Chiaki Kuriyama, whom you might remember as Lucy Liu's teenage henchgirl in Kill Bill: Vol. 1. The hero of the film is played by Ryunosuke Kamiki, who provided voices for Miyazaki's Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle.

gorgeous and imaginative fun fantasy adventure! (IMDB: 9)

On: 3/12/2006 12:00:00 AM By: diseriq
Wow! So much fun! Probably a bit much for normal American kids, and really it's a stretch to call this a kid's film, this movie reminded me a quite a bit of Time Bandits - very Terry Gilliam all the way through. While the overall narrative is pretty much straight forward, Miike still throws in A LOT of surreal and Bunuel-esquire moments. The whole first act violently juxtaposes from scene to scene the normal family life of the main kid/hero, with the spirit world and the evil than is ensuing therein. And while the ending does have a bit of an ambiguous aspect that are common of Miike's work, the layers of meaning and metaphor, particularly the anti-war / anti-revenge message of human folly, is pretty damn poignant. As manic and imaginatively fun as other great Miike films, only instead of over the top torture and gore, he gives us an endless amount of monsters and yokai from Japanese folk-lore creatively conceived via CG and puppetry wrapped into an imaginative multi-faceted adventure. F'n rad, and one of Miike's best!

Very good tale of a kid turning hero to save his friends and family is a nice change of pace for action director Miike (IMDB: 8)

On: 3/10/2006 12:00:00 AM By: dbborroughs
Where was this film when I was a kid? After his parents split up Tadashi moves with his mom to live his his grandfather. Tadashi's sister stays with their dad and they talk frequently on the phone. Grandfather is only "here" every third day. Moms never really home. The kids always are picking on the poor kid. During a village festival Tadashi is chosen the "kirin rider" or spiritual champion of the peace and justice. Little does he suspect that soon he will have to actually step into role of hero as the forces of darkness join up with the rage of things discarded in a plot to destroy mankind and the spiritual world.

Okay that was the easy part. Now comes the hard part, trying to explain the film.

This is a great kids film. No this is a great film,flawed, (very flawed?) but a great film none the less. It unfolds like all of those great books you loved as a kid and is just as dense at times as Tadashi struggles to find the strength to become a hero. Watching it I felt I was reading a great book, and thought how huge this would have been if it was a book. I loved that the film does not follow a normal path. Things often happen out of happenstance or through miscommunication, one character gets sucked into events simply because his foot falls asleep. There are twists and turns and moments that seem like non sequiters and are all the more charming for it (which is typical Miike) Certainly its a Takashi Miike film. That Japanese master of film is clearly in charge of a film that often touching, scary and funny all at the same time. No one except Miike seems to understand that you can have many emotions at the same time, or that you can suddenly have twists as things get dark one second and then funny the next. I admire the fact that Miike has made a film that is bleak and hopeful, that doesn't shy away from being scary, I mean really scary, especially for kids. This is the same dark territory that should be in the Harry Potter movies but rarely is. This a dark Grimms tale with humor. My first reaction upon seeing the opening image was that I couldn't believe anyone would begin a kids film with a picture of the end of the world, then I realized who was making the movie. Hats off to Miike for making a movie that knows kids can handle the frightening images.

Its also operating on more than one level. The mechanical monsters that the bad guys make are forged from mankind's discarded junk. Its the rage of being thrown away that fuels the monsters.One of the Yokai (spirits) talks about the rage sneakers thrown away because they are dirty or too small feels when they are tossed. You also have one of the good guys refusing to join the bad guys because that would be the human thing to do. Its a wild concept, but like other things floating around its what lifts this movie to another level. (there are a good many riffs and references to other movies,TV shows and novels that make me wonder who this film is for since kids may not understand them, though many parents will) And of course there are the monsters. They run the gamut from cheesy to spectacular with stops everywhere in between. Frankly you have to forgive the unevenness of their creation simply because they are has to be hundreds if not thousands of monsters on screen. Its way cool and it works. One of the main characters is a Yokai which I think is best described as a hamster in a tunic and is often played by a stuffed animal, it looks dumb and yet you will be cheering the little bugger and loving every moment he rides on Tadashi's head. (Acceptance is also easier if you've ever seen the old woodcuts of the weird Japanese monsters) I mentioned flaws, and there are a few. The effects are uneven, some of the sudden turns are a bit odd (even if understandable) and a few other minor things which are fading now some two hours after watching the film.. None of them truly hurt the film over all, however most kind of keep you from being completely happy with the movie.

I really loved this movie. I'm pretty sure that if I saw this as a kid it would have been my favorite film of all time. (where's the English dub?).See this movie. Its a great trip. (Besides its a good introduction to the films of Miike minus the blood and graphic sex)

Mr. Black My rating = B (IMDB: 7)

On: 12/24/2005 12:00:00 AM By: dvdguy2005
2005 Toronto Film Festival Report It is official; "Takashi Miike" is whacked.

The annual midnight screening of the new "Takashi Miike" film, "The Big Spook War" or "The Great Yokai War" or "Y?kai daisens?". Call it what you will this is a fanatical ride.

Colin Geddes, the fearless programmer stated this film was originally geared towards children in Japan. Think of "Lord of the Rings" or "Neverending Story" for Japan. After the screening I can understand where they were going with that, but damn this is "Takashi Miike" after all. He directed the '01 film "Ichi the Killer", when it screening at the festival barf bags were handed out at the screening. And no, that wasn't just a marketing ploy.

Plot Summary: A young boy with a troubled home life becomes "chosen," and he stumbles into the middle of a Great Spirit war, where he meets a group of friendly spirits who become his companions through his journey.

This is not really for kids, well not 'too' young. Certainly see them getting scared shitless with some of these spirits (even the friendly ones) on display. This is unlike anything I've seen in the movie theater before. A fantasy naturally, some very funny (but dark) material. You will not be bored can guarantee that. Will this ever hit North America? Doubtful.

My rating = B

Miike unleashes his imagination in less deviant lands (IMDB: 9)

On: 11/13/2005 12:00:00 AM By: simon_booth
Billed as Takashi Miike's "first family film" - by people who haven't seen Zebraman, presumably. YOKAI DAISENSO takes things even further in the direction of family-friendliness, diluting the darkness and cynicism to create a grand fantasy fairy tale. A young boy is chosen by fate to save the world from monsters and horrors of which they remain largely unaware. The film is evidently bigger budget than anything else Miike has done, with lots of CGI to create fantasy world populated by odd creatures (the YOKAI). Perhaps the lack of extreme content is a consequence of more nervous investors, but I think it's probably just that he wanted to do something different. He's really never been a one-trick pony, but often gets accused of it - perhaps YOKAI is designed to silence those critics. Regardless, it's a great project for Miike to channel his boundless imagination and invention into.

There's a very cartoonish feel to the production, evoking thoughts of Miyazaki in places. The Yokai are based on an old series of comics that were in turned based on Japanese folk tales, which certainly influenced Miyazaki as well (particularly SPIRITED AWAY). It must remembered that Miike has nothing like the budget of a Harry Potter film to work with, so the special effects aren't going to be seamless Hollywood style work - some blue-screening is especially obvious. Some of the special effects are great though, with some very well animated creatures (a mix of CG, stop-motion and puppetry). I think the little sock-puppet that follows the hero around for much of the film was *meant* to look really cheap, and is all the cuter for it :) The young lad who plays the hero of the film does a really good job - it's so hard to find a pre-teen who actually understands the concept of acting, but 9 year old Ryunosuke Kamiki is a genuine talent (I see he did voices in the last 2 Miyazaki films!). Chiaki Kuriyama is delicious as the villainess of the piece, though Mai Takahashi made an even greater impression as the pixie-eared River Princess - yum yum! Those looking for another violent, perverted gangster film aren't going to find what they're looking for in YOKAI, but if you're a fan of Miike because of his imagination and wit, there's plenty to satisfy here. And it has the added bonus that you can happily put it on whatever company you've got :)