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Zebraman
Intro:
       Many years ago, little green aliens (no joke) crash landed on Planet Earth, only to plot world domination. They were stopped, but their time of revenge has come. In 2010, strange things start happening to the people of Yokohama, Japan. People are being controlled by mysterious forces to commit random acts of crime. But amidst all the strange oddities, there is one man…dressing in a Zebra outfit?!
       Shinichi Ichikawa (played by Sho Aikawa) is one of the dorkiest Junior High School teachers around. Aside from being ridiculed by his students, his home life isn’t much better. But no matter how bad his day gets, there is one thing that makes it all better: his homemade Zebraman costume. For those unfamiliar to Zebraman, he was a short lived tokusatsu series in the 70s, before it was cancelled after only 7 aired episodes.
       One evening, as our “hero” is playing dress up, a scream is heard in the distance. Zebraman rushes off to save the day and this is the beginning of Ichikawa’s superhero career. Little by little, true courage is found within this once timid teacher. Along with an inspirational friend, Shinpei Asano (a handicapped student that was transferred to his class), military man Oikawa, and the power to believe in your dreams, the Black and White ecstasy Zebraman will be reborn once more. There’s no one that can keep him down!

Packaging:
       The movie comes on one DVD that is packed in a standard, black plastic case.

Front: The front shows a side view of Zebraman in one of his poses. There is some Japanese text running vertically along the top left hand side of the case. Below Zebraman are some more Japanese text and the movie title.

Outer Spine: The top of the spine has a miniature size picture of Zebraman’s face (that was on the front). Below him are the movie title and the same Japanese text that was accompanying the title on the front.

Back: The back has a summary of the movie and a lot of Japanese text placed all over. The downside is that it is all in Japanese, sans a few words in English. There are also shots of Zebraman, Crabman, Shinpei’s mother holding Shinpei, Oikawa, and of course Ichikawa. Below all of the fun stuff are the DVD specs.

Disc: The label on the disc shows a different side view of Zebraman and the movie title written in Japanese AND English.

Video:
       Zebraman has a running time of 01h54m28s. The film is presented in 16:9 letterbox widescreen ratio aspect. This means that you will see a black bar on the top and bottom of the screen while viewing the film. The quality appears to be taken from a DVD source, but there was a bit of graininess. Aside from that, there were no other problems to be found on the disc. Everything ran smoothly and without fail!

Audio:
       Who would have liked to listen to Zebraman in 5.1ch Dolby Digital? Me! That’s who! Unfortunately, all we are given is 2.0ch DD. There were a lot of great songs and I had to listen to them through two speakers only. What has the world come to when you can’t listen to a man running around in a zebra costume from all angles?!

Subtitles:
       Let us play the “yes” and “no” game, shall we? The “yes” side to the subtitles is that even though they were a little on the small side, the bold white with black border font was easy to read on the screen. The other plus is that the subtitles appeared to be professionally done, meaning that grammar, spelling, and timing were always 100%. The “no” side was that not everything was subtitled. This includes all signs, text (ex. on a piece of paper), closing theme song, and any extra material found in the bonus menu. But I’ll take a few things unsubbed over poor quality subtitles any day.

Chapter Breaks:
       How many breaks are in the movie? That’s a question many will be asking as they notice that the chapter menu is nonexistent on this DVD. But luckily, you’ve come to the right review. Below is a detailed list of the breaks and their times. Enjoy.

       1) 00m00s [start of movie]
       2) 03m10s
       3) 06m46s
       4) 11m19s
       5) 18m02s
       6) 24m48s
       7) 27m27s
       8) 33m41s
       9) 37m39s
       10) 43m00s
       11) 46m21s
       12) 51m55s
       13) 01h00m38s
       14) 01h06m20s
       15) 01h14m19s
       16) 01h17m46s
       17) 01h22m47s
       18) 01h27m09s
       19) 01h31m21s
       20) 01h36m45s
       21) 01h46m19s
       22) 01h50m16s [closing credits]

       Each of them was at good locations and with this many breaks, you should be able to find the scene you are looking for.

Content:
       Normally you’d be reading about the main menu right about now, but we’re going to take a little detour first. For those unfamiliar to Zebraman, I feel it is my responsibility to inform all that it deserves a strong PG-13 for a few scenes of graphic violence. There is no foul language or nudity, but the few times that disturbing images was used has caused me to rate the movie as such. Now that that is out of the way, on to the DVD!
       The first thing you will see is a 0:12s little intro (which you can bypass by pressing the skip button) that leads right into the main menu. On this menu, the title of the movie (in English and Japanese) is written at the bottom of the screen, while numerous clips from the film play in the background. There is also a catchy little theme playing and both this and the clips go for 01m09s.
       At the top of the screen are three tabs with Japanese text on them. But if you highlight one of the tabs, the English translation of the word appears before your very eyes! The three tabs are, from left-to-right:

1) BONUS MENU
       This menu has four still photos of Ichikawa, Shinpei’s mom, Oikawa, and Zebraman. There are five features on this page (written in Japanese, but when you scroll over them English text appear) and they are:

1) Teaser [running time 0:42s]
       This is just a teaser for the movie that shows a lot of text and very few scenes.

2) Trailer[running time 01m28s]
       This appears to be the official trailer for the movie, which showcases a lot of the quirkiness that makes Zebraman very unique.

3) TV Spots [running time 01m18s]
       Here we have 5 short TV spots that gave viewers a quick glimpse to an upcoming movie that is very much worth seeing!

4) Opening Day [running time 07m08s]
       On February 14, 2004, Zebraman premiered on the big screen for the first time. But before fans got to see the Black and White Ecstasy, they were treated to a pre-show involving a thank you from the cast and a live performance by legendary singer Ichirou Mizuki. Don’t know who he is? Well for a really quick biography, Ichirou sang the theme songs for a lot of the 70s-80s Kamen Rider shows.

5) Poster Gallery
       This screen shows you a small version of the official poster for the film. There is an option to enlarge, but that just shows you a close up of the poster (while the camera is moving over the poster from top to bottom), before it goes back to the original size.

2) PLAY MOVIE

3)PREVIEWS [running time 12m43s]
       There are 8 trailers of different movies. I apologize that I do not know the names of them. But one interesting thing I heard in the 5th trailer was the mention of the names: Sarutobi, Sasuke, and Naruto. If someone could help clarify that, it would be most appreciated.
       Who here likes a good Easter Egg on a DVD? Then today is your lucky day, for there is one to be found. I’ll explain what it contains, but it is up to you to find it!

BONUS: EASTER EGG
       There are two segments to this and both are R-Rated (to the extreme!!!). The first part is called, “The Scotty ::insert synonym for female dog:: Project”. This 08m18s short follows two guys with a camcorder, as they pester their bootleg selling DVD friend, Scotty. From the looks of it, they appear to be in Brooklyn, but that’s just my guess based on their surroundings. Scotty is one unhappy man, but he seems to be doing a lot of import DVD selling. This short is rated R because of the excess use of the “F” word, as well as some other derogatory name calling. Also, it is completely in English, which was a little odd, considering the DVD it was on.
       The other short had a running time of 02m53s and was unlike anything I’ve seen before. It basically was a live action hentai Sentai. The main character was a woman who was topless and fought with her breasts as well as down under (if you know what I mean). One of the bad guys was a baseball player swinging his….well you get the idea. I rate this NC-17 and I don’t know why it was included on this DVD. The short was all in Japanese.

       Wow….that was a lot of information. I personally liked the setup for the menus and the addition of the English text made navigating a breeze. Only two more sections to go!

Conclusion:
       While some may see Director Takashi Miike’s (Dead or Alive trilogies) Zebraman as a spoof to the Japanese superheroes of the 70s, what he really created was in fact an unforgettable character. Sure, Zebraman has his fancy-pants moves like Zebra Screw Punch, or Zebra Bomber, but the message he sent really made you feel good. Zebraman stood for believing in your dreams and that is exactly what Ichikawa was all about. And not to sound cliché, but as we see in the movie, when you put your mind to something anything is possible.
       Although the movie was close to 2 hours in length, it flowed at a steady pace that allowed positive progressive flow. The major character developments that were noteworthy were Ichikawa’s and Oikawa’s. Now throw in some widescreen, a rocking soundtrack including a Zebraman theme song, and you have got yourself an instant classic!
       Finally, even though there are quite a few humorous moments, especially when Zebraman is sneaking on the roof or learning how to fly, the real meat of the movie came from the actors who brought their characters to life and the message the movie was sending. Zebraman is a film for anyone who has ever had a lack of self-confidence and it shows that no matter who you are, all you have to do is dream. Then make yourself a costume and see where you end up!


Email me at jpolan@drew.edu if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.


Publisher: EZD
Discs: 1
Episodes: Movie
Price: $6.00

Reviewer: Polanator
Reviewed On: 10/11/2005

Click on Image for Full Size


Does the main menu hold the secrets to the Easter Egg? My lips are sealed!


By day, he is mild mannered Shinichi Ichikawa. But by night, he is...


...ZEBRAMAN!!!


There's also Zebranurse. Nope, just kidding!


Military man Oikawa has been assigned to find out about the alien sightings in Yokohoma. But everyone knows there are no such things as aliens.


Do you mind telling that to those green guys?


New transfer student, Shinpei Asano, will be a source of courage for Ichikawa. Teamwork conquers all!


Hey! Don't forget about Crabman and his scissor attacks.


No, not the children too! Will the aliens stop at no cost???


The scene between Ichikawa and his son was one of the most touching moments of the movie.


Zebraman "Back of the Head" Kick! It's a classic.

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