Big Man Japan
|Big Man Japan|
Japanese poster art
|Directed by||Hitoshi Matsumoto|
|Produced by||Akihiro Okamoto|
|Written by||Hitoshi Matsumoto
|Music by||Tōwa Tei|
|Edited by||Soichi Ueno|
|Distributed by||Phantom Film
|Running time||113 minutes|
Big Man Japan (大日本人 Dai Nipponjin?) is a 2007 Japanese film written and directed by and starring Hitoshi Matsumoto. It was well received by critics in the U.S., after many months of showings at various festivals and film events.
The film takes the form of a mockumentary that follows Masaru Daisato. Daisato is an otherwise normal Japanese citizen except for an inherited ability to grow to a height of approximately 30 meters in response to the application of high voltage electricity. As both his father and grandfather before him, Daisato has accepted the duty to protect Japan against various giant monsters while working for a sub-division of the defence ministry called the Ministry of Monster Prevention. Despite his great powers, he increasingly finds himself mocked by his fellow citizens while struggling under the burden of living up to a heroic lineage that increasingly overshadows his own mediocre accomplishments as a monster fighter. To further complicate matters, he is deeply estranged from his own wife and child. By the film’s end, his failures and doubts reach a hallucinogenic apotheosis.
The movie targets many topics: Japanese pop culture, the monster-movie genre, capitalism's excesses and the contemporary entertainment industry, for example. Masaru has an agent who manages his PR and marketing. She scolds him for bungling a fight which causes poor ratings and leases advertising space on visible areas of his body (e.g., he is reminded to make sure that a corporate logo on his chest is visible during a fight, forcing him to release his opponent from a bear hug). Toward the end of the movie his agent is seen to have profited from his efforts and become wealthy while Masaru continues to live in a state of near poverty.
The unnamed documentarian following Big Man interviews fight witnesses, who discuss the battles as if they were the latest episode of their favorite TV show. The movie is free of collateral damage such as civilian casualties or property damage other than being used as a device to allow them to take pointed jabs at Big Man's heroic reputation.
The film's monsters, or daikaiju, are unusual in that they have distinctly human features and do not behave the way that traditional movie monsters are expected to. The female Stink Monster, for instance, challenges Big Man to battle but continues to shout insults at him while avoiding any actual physical contact. The climactic ending scenes are shot in the style of the original Ultraman series.
|Hitoshi Matsumoto||Masaru Daisatō/Big Man Japan|
|Riki Takeuchi||Leaping Monster|
|Ryūnosuke Kamiki||Child Monster|
|Haruka Unabara||Strangling Monster|
|Itsuji Itao||Female Stink Monster|
|Hiroyuki Miyasako||Super Justice's Mother|
|Takayuki Haranishi||Male Stink Monster|
|Daisuke Miyagawa||Super Justice|
|Taichi Yazaki||Masaru's Grandfather/the Fourth|
|Shion Machida||Masaru's Ex-Wife|
|Atsuko Nakamura||Bar Proprietress Azusa|
|Daisuke Nagakura||Masaru's Grandfather (young)|
|Motohiro Toriki||Masaru's Father/the Fifth|
|Keidai Yano||Young Masaru|
|Junshirō Hayama||Shintō Priest|
Because of its success in the film festival circuit, it finally received an American DVD release by Magnolia Home Entertainment on July 28, 2009. Big Man Japan was once available for streaming on Netflix, but is not currently.