Noboru IguchiKami HiraiwaShoko NakagawaJiji Bu
Gothic Lolita Battle Bear
Also known as: Nuigulumar Z
Medium: film
Year: 2014
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Original creator: Kenji Ohtsuki
Writer: Noboru Iguchi, Jun Tsugita
Keywords: SF, magical girl
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Shoko Nakagawa, Jiji Bu, Norman England, Kami Hiraiwa, Mao Ichikawa, Chieko Imaizumi, Honoka Kitahara, Hiroshi Neko, Takumi Saito, Mai Saito, Arisa Sakamoto, Nana Seino, Lisa Takada, Koto Takagi, Rina Takeda, Fumiya Toei, Ai Yahata
Format: 101 minutes
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2849348/
Website category: Japanese SF
Review date: 18 February 2018
I hadn't watched any Noboru Iguchi in a while, but this wasn't a good choice. It's silly, of course. That's what Iguchi does. However this is empty silliness with negligible sleaze, no real gore and characters who don't fill the story.
(They're lying with the English-language title, by the way. The heroine's wearing light pink rather than black, so that's not Gothic Lolita. That's more "ama-loli", or Sweet Loli. I think they just chose the words in the English title to sound good and because they didn't expect English-speakers to know the difference.)
Anyway, let's summarise the plot. I could do with a laugh.
It involves a samurai teddy bear from outer space. He's coloured a rather sinister cerise and in some shots he has false teeth. He becomes a little girl's birthday present, but then zombies gatecrash the party and eat her parents. (These zombies have obnoxiously cheap make-up, while all the gore in this film is CGI blood spray.)
What saves the little girl is an airhead (Shoko Nakagawa) dressed in frilly pink. She combines with the teddy bear to become Nuigulumar Z, a pink bear-themed parody of giant robot anime.
That was a flash-forward, though. The film now returns to Kami Hiraiwa making the original soft toy for her daughter, Mao Ichimichi (who also does lots of anime voice acting under the name M.A.O). Ichimichi is a brat. She's determined to be obnoxious to be Nakagawa and she stays that way almost throughout the film, no matter how hard Nakagawa tries to befriend her. Nakagawa might be short of common sense, but she's clearly a nice person and Ichimichi is just a pain in the arse. Unsurprisingly the film's going to be heading for a reconciliation between them, but it's hard to care.
The plot is mostly just random stuff. There's a Bad Teddy Bear who makes zombies and is connected with a human villain who wants to marry Ichimichi. The latter is so out of nowhere that it almost feels like a parody of storytelling, but more importantly it tells us that the villain has no taste. If you had a choice between Ichimichi and an octogenarian serial killer who's just been released from jail, you'd have to think about it. There's a gas attack scene that's played too silly for it to mean anything. There are DANCING ZOMBIES. (Seriously. They're choreographed and everything.) There are four shy girls who can shoot boob beams. There's a bear fart attack. There's a fight scene where the baddies are manga-reading men who move by rolling along the ground. (This might be the best thing in the film.)
That probably sounds awesome. This is admittedly a lot of nuttiness, but the film is less than the sum of its parts. It feels too long. The film used 109 zombie extras, but its zombies are dull and terrible except when they're dancing. It has Rina Takeda doing the fight scenes, but this just makes you wonder if that really is Nakagawa in the Nuigulumar Z suit. (It's not.) There's something that could have been comedy sleaze if they'd gone further with it. If you do a google image search for this film, you'll see a manga version of Nuigulumar Z who looks about 1000000000000 times more interesting than the live-action one. (I don't think there really is a manga, though. I think that was just part of the film's publicity.)
Not only does it have not dramatic weight, but it's not even achieving a camp approximation of it. Nakagawa's nice, but that's not enough to carry the film. This would have worked better in the pre-CGI era, with terrible practical effects. It has the odd inspired moment, e.g. a stuffed toy trying to slit its wrists, or spraying water from its eyes when it's crying, but basically it's managing to be long and kind of dull even when the material should have made that impossible.