What about those old TV shows that suddenly have to be filmed if necessary? Nostalgia everywhere, but they rarely deliver a good product. In all its wackiness, “Yatterman” is probably best compared to “Scooby Doo”. A funny cartoon that turned out to be a shit from a live-action movie. (Worse, even two!) Now, “Yatterman” has to do without the nostalgia in the West, since the late 1970s series was never shown here. Whether that is a curse or a blessing is difficult to say. For now, let’s keep it to the latter.
“Yatterman” is typical Japanese madness, but spiced by cult director Takashi Miike. The story is pretty straight forward. Team Yatterman (consisting of a male number 1, Gan, and a female number two, Ai) is constantly at odds with team Doronbo, which consists of thief Doronjo and her two male sidekicks Boyacky and Tonzura. One has a rat snout and is handy with machines, the other has a pig’s head and is brutal force. Whatever the occasion may be, the teams are constantly facing each other. And time and time again, team Doronbo, usually because of a stupidity, gets the worst of it.
The film, which is basically a long episode of the series, does of course offer a purpose. The helpless daughter of a missing archaeologist enlists the help of the Yatterman team to find his dear father. At the same time, team Doronbo is visited by the God of the Thieves, who is after the same gem as the archaeologist: the Skull Stone, which has been broken into four pieces. Whoever brings the four pieces together will see his most cherished wish come true. But before that happens, the pieces of stone cause quite a stir: here and there important structures and appliances disappear.
The course of the film is completely clear. One by one, the pieces of Skull Stone must be found and each time Team Yatterman and Team Doronbo face each other. Yatterman is assisted in this by a large mechanical dog, Doronbo by each time a new find from mechanic Boyacky. In Power Rangers style there is fighting. Completely harmless, but with a lot of silly antics. And meanwhile, the sexual innuendos are not out of the blue. Which makes the film considerably less suitable for too young an audience.
Although “Yatterman” has some nice finds, the film is all in all just a bit too cheesy and sometimes even annoying. Miike has certainly opted for a cartoony style, which means that the special effects are pasted very clearly. That does not always work well. Nice are the snacks in which a wise drawn dog explains in detail how those weird machines all work. But all in all, the colorful violence between all one-dimensional characters lasts, with almost two hours, just way too long.