Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 22nd, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Japan, 2005
Director: Takashi Miike
Cast: Etsushi Toyokawa, Chiaki Kuriyama, Takashi Okamura, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mai Takahashi, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Bunta Sugawara
DVD released: September 12th, 2006
Approximate running time: 126 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5,1 Japanese, Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: Tadashi is teased by his classmates and he comes from a broken home where his mother ignores him all the time and his grandfather is not always there mentally. During a parade in his hometown unbeknown to Tadashi he has been chosen as the next Kirin Rider. There once was an evil goblin that would lure and kill young children until one day when the Kirin Rider defeated the Goblin who would from that day forward swear his allegiance to the Kirin Rider. The Kirin Rider left the Goblin a magical sword and made him the guardian of what is now known as Goblin Mountain. Years later the one that is chosen as the new Kirin Rider now must go to Goblin Mountain and get back the magical sword from the goblin. Lord Kato is recycling all of the Yokai by turning them into his robot like killing machines. The only one who can stop Lord Kato diabolic genocide of the Yokai is Tadashi “The Kirin Rider. Tadashi looks deep within himself and finds the courage he needs to embark on the most amazing adventure of his life.
Having seen a wide variety of films directed by Takashi Miike it didn’t surprise me that he would be picked to helm the children adventure tale The Great Yokai War. Mikke as a director has grown through the years his knack for capture mood and developing unique characters has only gotten stronger with each. His trademark dark humor which is the thing that runs through all of his films is present in The Great Yokai War which in itself is a thinly veiled antiwar statement. We live in turbulent times where and like all great artists they inject what is going on around them into their work.
The Great Yokai War is a continuation of a series of films Yokai Monsters films that were made in the late 1960’s by the Daiei Motion Picture Company. The special effects in The Great Yokai War are without a doubt the best I have seen in any foreign film to date. There are literally hundreds of different looking Yokai’s in the film each one has a unique look that is solidified by excellent makeup and prosthetics.
The Great Yokai War is also a coming of age story and so much relies on Ryunosuke Kamiki the young boy who plays the films’ lead Tadashi. There is something genuine about his performance that never feels forced and his characters sense of wonder infectious. Chiaki Kuriyama once again plays a character that is filled with rage and hatred. In the films she is Agi who at one time was also a Yokai and now she only has one desire to please her new master Lord Kato. It is also her blind allegiance which ultimately burns her in the end. Lord Kato is played by Etsushi Toyokawa who in his performance rarely shows any emotion and he doesn’t have much to say. The acting all around is really good with even the smallest role giving a wonderful performance. Overall The Great Yokai War is a magical adventure that reminds of the things we used to cherish in our youth and have all but forgotten about in adulthood.
Tokyo Shock presents The Great Yokai War in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Colors are vivid and nicely saturated as they look faithfully reproduced throughout. Black levels and shadow detail look exceptional. Details look razor and remain stable in the background and foreground. There are no problems with print damage, compression or edge enhancement. Overall the source material used is nearly flawless and the ends results are outstanding as this is one of Tokyo Shock’s best transfers to date.
This release comes with four audio options two in Japanese a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a Dolby Digital stereo mix and two in English a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a Dolby Digital stereo mix. You can’t go wrong with any of these audio mixes which are free of any distortion or sound defects. Dialog is crystal clear and the music and effects sound evenly balanced and robust. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes sound fuller then the Dolby Digital stereo mixes. This release comes with removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow.
The extras for this release are spread over two DVD’s.
The extras for the first disc include two trailers for The Great Yokai War, a stills gallery and Yokai character profiles. The remaining extras on disc one include trailers for Death Trance, Horror Theatre and Space Ameoba.
The extras for the second disc include two short drama’s of the Yokai titled ‘Whose hotcakes are these?” and “Who is the most annoying”. Both of these shorts along with another short titled “Another Story of Kawatera” despite being based on characters from the film add nothing to this DVD outside of mindless filler. Also included with this release are two featurette’s one titled “Documentary of the Yokai World” and the other titled “Announcement of the film completion”. Both of these featurette’s offer brief looks into the preproduction and postproduction to the films. Other extras include two featurette’s based around the young actor who played Kirin rider in the film. They are titled “Documentary of Ryunosuke Kamiki” and “A Summer Vacation of Ryunosuke Kamiki”. Rounding out the extras are two documentary’s the first one runs bout forty one minutes and is titled “The Greta Yokai War and the other runs about fifty one minutes and it is titled “Interviews’ with the cast”. Between these documentaries just about everyone from Takashi Miike, Crew Members and the major cast member participate. Overall Tokyo Shock’s two disc set for The Great Yokai War comes with a first rate audio/video presentation and a wealth of extras. This is Tokyo Shock’s most impressive Takashi Miike release to date.