Autâman [Outer Man] (2015)

Minoru Kawasaki is one of the quirkiest and most original of Japanese Directors. His works often have an absurd and surreal edge to them. He gave us a world where anthropomorphic animals work unnoticed alongside human beings in otherwise normal business offices (Executive Koala) or where a giant squid becomes a wrestling star (The Calamari Wrestler).

Here we are in a more familiar version of Japan, where a series of earthquakes and a plume of gas heralds the arrival of the hero of the legendary Tokusatsu (that curious Japanese genre full of giant monsters and special effects) TV series, Outer Man.

Now, if you have any doubts about this, I would point out that Outer Man is a giant man in a red and silver rubber suit.

Sound Familiar?

Outer Man announces that he’s there to clean up the Earth and make everything perfect forever. Unfortunately he’s actually an evil alien, here to terraform the Earth for Two Billion of his friends.

Fortunately there is still hope: a few people are capable of joining with the giant alien, Silbee, to help him defeat the false Outer Man.

Unfortunately, they are the three actors who played Outer Man in the Heisei Era and they don’t want to do it.

After all, the stuntmen did all the fighting back in their television days…

Looking at Kawasaki’s filmography, it does seem that he’s specialized in Tokusatsu parodies in recent years, at least since his parodic sequel to Shochiku‘s The X from Outer Space: Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G9 Summit. It hardly seems a surprise that he would decide to take on the many versions of Ultraman. We should also note that the glimpses of Ultra fandom are very familiar and conjure up visions of Galaxy Quest. But let’s face it, I suspect that modern fandom is much the same no matter where you go.

Mind you, as in Galaxy Quest, the fans ultimately have to pitch in to save the day.

One aspect does amuse me: although the Heisei era stretches from the release of Godzilla 1985 to the beginning of the Millennium era in 2000 the three Outer Man’s from this era are all young — in the twenties or just possibly their thirties.

But not much older than that.

Well, maybe Outer Man was a teenager in his various incarnations. Or a child. That might almost work out.

Yeah, right.

What is far more believable, however, is that they are all so typecast they can’t get any other work.

This is a bright, colorful and cheerful movie. The Kaiju designs are excellent, the battles are appropriately unreal, and, despite being made in the digital era, are mostly done old school with costumed actors on (admittedly limited) sets.

We’re not talking a great film, nor Kawasaki’s best work, but it is entertaining and reasonably clever. I love the idea that the aliens deliberately influenced the creation of the show to ensure that our world would love Outer Man enough to allow them to take over.

For those of us who grew up with Ultraman, Godzilla, and other Tokusatsu creations, Outer Man is like comfort food. And I’m sure many of those who didn’t will enjoy it as well.

Just remember, however, that it takes place in a fantasy world, where a kids’ TV show could last for fifty years.

…Now wait a minute…

Watch on Amazon (paid link):


And check out our new Feature (Updated May 16, 2019):

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!

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