Tekkôki Mikazuki (TV Series 2000– ) Poster

(2000– )

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Imaginative live-action children's sci-fi fantasy from Japan
Brian Camp5 September 2004
MIKAZUKI (2000) is a live-action TV miniseries in six parts from the creative mind of Keita Amemiya, the Japanese writer-director responsible for MOON OVER TAO, HAKAIDER, ZEIRAM, KAMEN RIDER ZO, KAMEN RIDER J, and "Zyurangers" (the source of the action footage for the first season of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers"). It's a mesmerizing sci-fi fantasy set in contemporary Tokyo and involves a ten-year-old boy named Kazeo in a swirl of events involving ancient robots, giant monsters, a super-secret government agency and, to top it off, a giant slice of watermelon (with a "K" for Kazeo carved into it) hovering over Tokyo.

In Vol. 1, we learn that Kazeo's father was part of an archaeological/scientific team investigating the discovery of a giant statue when he became a victim of newly unleashed ancient forces and disappeared. Years later, Kazeo is bullied by other kids in his class and, through a set of circumstances too complicated to explain, winds up in Tokyo just as a special military unit is engaging the aforementioned giant watermelon slice in combat. Again, to make a long story short, Kazeo is endangered and a giant metallic robot emerges from Tokyo Bay to rescue the boy and vanquish the watermelon slice-turned-monster. It's determined that only Kazeo can control the giant robot, which is named Mikazuki, and the head of the secret agency wants Kazeo to work with them, despite his mother's opposition. When the giant watermelon monster returns and attacks Mikazuki, it can do nothing until Kazeo is summoned and gives it orders.

Now, this may all sound pretty ridiculous, but it's done at such a fast pace, with such imaginative (if frequently low-tech) effects and such overwhelming sincerity, that it grows on you pretty quickly. Something new and unpredictable happens every couple of minutes (just wait till you see what kind of monsters the watermelon pits become!), making the 70-minute first chapter (the only part available for review) packed with more clever and cool stuff than an average recent season of "Power Rangers."
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And the kitchen sink, too
Randy Byers21 August 2004
Giant tin robots, transformer robots, rubber suit monsters, power rangers, evil wizards, bare-breasted witches, aliens ... and maybe a ghost? This mini-series has it all. It's confusing enough -- and it's been long enough since I last saw it -- that I don't remember the whole story, but a young boy is able to summon a giant fighting robot (Mikazuki) to defend the city against a series of monsters (a different monster in each episode). The monsters seem to grow from the thoughts of various characters who may or may not be evil themselves. The first monster -- and the thing that made me realize I was going to love this bizarre show -- is a giant rubber suit wedge of watermelon full of fighting seeds.

The show seems to be aimed at kids or young adults, and along with the boy, there are a couple of spunky teen girls, including one who drives old-fashioned giant tin robots and another who is able to summon another giant robot like Mikazuki. One episode gets into fairly creepy territory with a psychotic man stalking one of the girls, and there are also crotch shots here and there that would be considered taboo (or at least pervy) in the US. There's an after-school-special aspect to the story of kids learning hard lessons.

But hey, what better way to learn hard lessons about responsibility than by fighting rubber suit monsters and sword-wielding evil aliens? Keita Amemiya is a master of production design, as he showed in ZEIRAM, MECHANICAL VIOLATOR HAKAIDER, and MOON OVER TAO, and these shows look fantastic. On top of that, the sheer audacity of imagination on display is entertaining just as spectacle. The baroque story encompasses just about every idea the creators must have had buzzing in their heads, and while each episode has the same basic structure (a confused person causes a giant monster to appear and start kicking buildings down, and Mikazuki fights it), the series builds to a grand revelation ... even if the mangled subtitles on the DVD make it hard to figure out just what the revelation is. And then that giant rubber suit kitchen sink attacks, with faucets blowing cars down the street...

Is this what TV is like in Japan? I'd say that the kids there have it rich!

(Although now I'm thinking Mikazuki vs. Sponge Bob ...)
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