By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Screening online at Fantasia 2021
Tickets available to purchase here
Please check local film festivals for additional screenings when geo-locked.
Stylistically, The Great Yōkai War (妖怪大戦争) is a movie that only Takashi Miike can imagine. This filmmaker is better known for his ultra violent movies, but for this franchise, he switches gears for a 90s style family friendly product where the spiritual entities aren’t all that terrifying. They’re either muppets or Farscape races. I want to hug the cute ones. Well, mostly the girl who allies with Tadashi, the hero, and the hamster named Sunekosuri. The latter is a “pet” for part of the film. This lad gets tagged during a local festival to become the guardian and the rest of the story becomes something like 3×3 Eyes–but minus the Sanjiyan.
The film is serviceable, and the franchise world is one I’d love to be taken a bit more seriously. Studio Ghibli’s Pon Poko got the struggle right. The spectacular yokai parade was a feast for the senses.
Sixteen years later, we may finally have it. The Great Yōkai War: Guardians (妖怪大戦争 ガーディアンズ). Instead of seeing the previous hero all grown up and dealing with this new threat, we have a new boy wonder, Kei Watanabe (Kokoro Terada). He might be back, but he’ll be tough to recognize due to age. Kadokawa Pictures’ press release describes this film as an all new adventure. This time, the plot is about humanity vs nature. We can’t see the spirit world and they’ll have to protect us from a dire threat!
This movie will close out Fantasia Festival 2021 and signal the height of Ghost Month. It debuted on Aug 13th in Japan. Had the date been the 22nd, there might have been more reports.
Anyone with a love of sentai/kaiju style films will be curious. Its early 90s production style is the same. Plus, we’ll see a few memorable yōkai from the last film return! This film also sets up a continuing manga series which will at the moment be available in Japan.
Plus, I can’t help but wonder if it’ll try to be like James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Based on the trailer, there are a few designs which take notes from Western animated cinema which includes Monsters vs Aliens, The Animated Series (with humanity being that opposite force) than Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice to make this movie accessible for a global audience. Those who’ve saw the trailer will get a chuckle at the lightsaber. It’ll be a fun ride, with plenty of global pop culture references this time ’round.