Reviewed by Michelle Lee
Starring Tadanobu Asano, Sho Aikawa, Erika Okuda, Kazuo Umezu
Directed by Sakichi Satô (adapted from the manga by Yûsaku Hanakuma)
Although Tokyo Zombie doesn’t carry zombie fare in the traditional sense, the film does indeed boast an army of the undead, not to mention an impressive Miike flavored presence with alumni Tadanobu Asano, Sho Aikawa, and Sakichi Satô pulling star power and directing chops, respectively.
Based on popular characters from the amusingly illustrated manga of the same name, what we have here is a hilariously alternative buddy comedy that isn’t all horror all the time but is rather horrifically flavored through and through.
Tokyo Zombie follows the adventures of pals Mitsuo (Aikawa) and Fujio (Asano) amidst the sudden rise of Black Fuji and subsequent demise of Tokyo. Black Fuji, an ominous man-made mountain of garbage smack dab in the center of everyone’s favorite megalopolis, was born of refuse from traditional garbage to pedophilic schoolboy predators and accepts all offerings, alive or dead. It really was only a matter of time before something bizarre scaled its way down the garbage laden peaks, signaling a regurgitated end of times.
Testament to devotion, Mitsuo and Fujio persevere on their personal mission to endlessly hone their skills in jujitsu regardless of the apocalypse, and their relationship is nigh unbreakable, lending an even more unique and oddball quality to the story with several moments of pure sweetness. The acting chops of Asano and Aikawa are naturally polished, adding even more depth to this peculiar duo, and the balance between all the bizarrity and havoc is pretty steady.
Like creator Yusaku Hanakuma, Mitsuo and Fujio aren’t just playing around (Hanakuma is indeed a recognized jujitsu champion); they are action heroes, and it’s during an impromptu rescue mission that fate frowns upon the pair and Mitsuo is bitten by one of the undead. Can this sour turn of events work toward their undoing, and can true friendship really be thwarted?
Also notable among the notable players is the cameo casting of horror manga “grandmaster” Kazuo Umezu (creator of God’s Left Hand, Devil’s Right Hand, see also Dark Horse’s recent releases of Umezu’s work in the Scary Book series), who turns in a wicked funny performance as a TV kook whose sage-like zombie killing advice seems to have sent him all the way up the social ladder into the territory of royalty.
In terms of special features we get a fairly robust package thanks to Anchor Bay. Things kick off with the Making the Dead featurette which is pretty self explanatory, followed by interviews with the actors, Q&A sessions, footage from in-store appearances, and quite a few teasers and trailers. Considering most foreign releases barely have anything at all on their domestic releases, we’re looking pretty good here!
As previously stated, while not an out and out horror flick, Tokyo Zombie is certainly worth a look-see. I can’t imagine many of you will come away disappointed by the ongoing wacky hijinks during an undead apocalypse, and the sheer strangeness of the characters and the story itself is bound to please fans of Miike and his regulars (if it hasn’t already lured you in).
3 1/2 out of 5
31/2 out of 5
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