Film Review: The Great Yokai War: Guardians (2021) by Takashi Miike

It should be good entertaining to use a single personal&#8217s household name to develop the legend of a well-known samurai who fought demons 1000 years ago, with energy-bearing descendants to carry on with his heroic deeds in present instances. It is equally conspicuous that Yusuke Watanabe had a blast re-generating the globe of Yokai which aged effectively due to Takashi Miike’s earlier take on creatures from the Japanese folklore and mythology: “The Good Yokai War (2005)” is nonetheless as fascinating to watch as it was 15 years ago, and it stands out as a single of the most effective fantasy films ever created.

&#8220The Good Yokai War: Guardians&#8221 is screening at Toronto Japanese Film Festival

If there could be any speak of alter in high-quality in between the original film and its sequel, it can be frankly attributed to a single technical aspect only (though the good job was also accomplished back in 2005). The specific effects of currently are just a lot more sophisticated, bringing numerous new possibilities in depicting the pantheon of outwordly creatures in a a lot more striking way.

Watanabe did a magnificent job of imagining a entirely new adventure that doesn&#8217t have significantly to do with the original script written by Miike and Mitsuhiko Sawamura (primarily based on the novel by Hiroshi Aramata) for &#8220The Good Yokai War&#8221. With his vision of a troublesome chain of events taking place lengthy soon after the 1st large bloodshed, this a fantasy tale of a distinctive type. We are even prepared to forgive him moments of confusion relating to the identity of some of the characters, for the reason that the entire package functions. Just feel of an army of speedy-operating Tanuki (Japanese Racoon dogs) led by the human-hating Gyobu Inumagi yokai (Takao Osawa) who&#8217s riding a fire-spewing motorbike to the beats of heavy metal music. Encore!

Some of the craziest-seeking Yokai are back: Rokurokubi, the lady who can stretch her neck to intense lengths (Ikuko Mori), the azuki-beans washer Azukiarai&nbsp(Takashi Okamura delivers some of the greatest comedy moments in the film), the snow lady Yukionna (Yuko Oshima), Tenome&nbsp(ghostly blind man with his eyes on his palms), the giant head Okubi (Renji Ishibashi) and &#8216The Heavenly Dog&#8217 Tengu (Takahiro Miura). They are gathered to attempt to protect against the impatient Yokaiju (a collection of resentment of the ancient, enraged creatures buried inside the Fossa Magna) to attain the Pacific ocean by way of Tokyo.

Invisible to human eye, Yokaiju seems devoid of warning, crushing anything beneath its heavy physique with a force of a terrible earthquake. But that&#8217s significantly less of a concern for Yokai who worry some thing else far a lot more than humans dying in the course of action. It&#8217s the memory of an evil significantly larger than lost souls longing to return to the ocean and unwilling to negotiate their selected path. Proper beneath Tokyo, the most effective of all demons is trapped below the seal that blocks his super-powers. But the ghosts of the former sea creatures are just driven by the contact of &#8216heimat&#8217, stubbornly rolling more than the hills and villages devoid of an actual agenda of causing harm. Metaphorically speaking, they just adhere to a wrongly selected leader &#8211 a giant howling head that leads them in a single path. It&#8217s just yet another day in the life of sheepish voters so to speak, and reasoning with them doesn&#8217t truly function.

The criticism of leaders/ politicians who push their men and women into the abyss doesn&#8217t quit right here. We are invited to take a appear into YAMMIT: Planet Yokai Summit, extremely equivalent to anything we know from the reside transmitted parliamentary discussions globe-wide. Even though not human, the participants show precisely very same type of treats, which includes ignorance and negligence of fundamental &#8216creature&#8217s rights.

As in the &#8220The Good Yokai War&#8221, a youngster requires to be selected to lead the fight against the evil (no adult can see the yokai!) That youngster also has to come from &#8216a property devoid of a gable&#8217, which is a story that dates back to the instances when Watanabe no Tsuna (Kazuki Kitamura) chased the demon by way of the gable of his residence. As it occurs, the 6th-grader Kei (Kokoro Terada) is not only the boy who is selected to lead the subsequent good Yokai war, he is also his descendent. Watanabe, it is.

Miike shows but once more a good sensibilty in operating with youngsters. They are not meant to be &#8220natural born fighters&#8221, but 1st and foremost &#8211 just youngsters with their fears, weaknesses and goodness of the heart that have been not but spoiled by the adult way of considering. A good chunk of praise for this goes of course to Watanabe, but we&#8217ve currently witnessed a equivalent method to the lead (youngster) character in &#8220The Good Yokai War&#8221. Kei is a shy and sweet boy who nonetheless mourns the death of his father. He is not heroic devoid of a powerful motive which is the security of his younger brother Dai (Ray Inomata). Terada&#8217s acting is believable &#8211 he is carrying out what a kid would do in impossibly difficult conditions.

Also the rest of the cast is extremely effectively selected, from extras to leads. Seasoned Japanese actors aside, it won&#8217t come as a good surprise if Ray Inomata becomes large a single day. With his acting talent, all he requires is a superior agent to lead him into other fascinating film projects.

Miike teams once more with cinematographer Hideo Yamamoto accountable for the photography in 15 of his earlier films (Young Thugs: Innocent blood, Audition, Dead or Alive, Salaryman Kintaro, Tennen shojo Man subsequent: Yokohama hyaku-ya hen, The Guys from Paradise, Visitor G, Ichi the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris, Graveyard of Honor, Shangri-La, One particular Missed Get in touch with, The Good Yokai War, Yatterman and Terra Formars). This is a match created in heaven. Yamamoto is not only outstanding in boosting the suspense with his meticulous framing, he knows &#8216his Miike&#8217. The way he switches from scenes depicting the mundane life of Watanabe household painted with vibrant, content colours to the darkness of the life-threatening parallel universe is effortless.

We are barely thrown into the pits of an underground maze exactly where the image becomes a lot more unsettling, but the powerful comedy components take the gloom away. There is a skeletal dragon pissed off about getting awaken by intruders prior to becoming a version of Falkur, tamed by Onikiramaru – the sword a former female demon ‘Foxface’ (Hana Sugisaki) created for Kei from the umbrella he made use of to guard himself. There is also a demon hilariously clumsy for his vocation &#8211 Amanojaku, a Yokai that is supposed to instigate men and women into wickedness, but as well lonely to be bothered.

And let&#8217s not overlook Mrs Fox (Hana Sugisaki)! A former demon whose life was spared by no a single significantly less than Watanabe no Tsuna a century ago, is a considerable hyperlink in between the two worlds, and the protector of her former enemy&#8217s youngsters.

Miike is up to so numerous points at the moment (we are currently biting nails in excitement), that it tends to make you wonder how the heck he manages to place so significantly dedication into his filmmaking course of action. He’s but back once more to his three films a year productivity, which includes the final instalment of the &#8216Mole Agent&#8217. We are not complaining. The a lot more Miike the greater, thank you.

“The Good Yokai War: Guardians” is a film with a seal of approval by children and adults alike. It could possibly be two hours lengthy, but every single minute of it is justified.



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