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September 04, 2012

Karate-Robo Zaborgar

zaborgar 1.jpg

Denjin Zaboga
Noboru Iguchi - 2011
Well Go USA Entertainment Region 1 DVD

It's been months since the last Sushi Typhoon DVD came my way. And in comparison to previous releases, this is almost family friendly entertainment. The original inspiration, a Japanese television from 1974 must have captured the heart of five year old Noburu Iguchi. From what I could tell, Iguchi's movie was a loving, and comic, tribute to a childhood fantasy, updated with computer generated special effects, some mildly risque humor, and a few sprays of blood here and there. The original series is available on DVD and even has spawn some pricey dolls action figures, so there is a cult out there for this new version. Those in search of something more along the lines of Machine Girl or RoboGeisha might be disappointed.

For those like myself, unfamiliar with the series, the setup is that the young hero, Daimon, is the son of a top scientist, a specialist in robotics. The father was kidnapped and killed by a rival scientist who rules from his perpetually airborne lair called Sigma. Before he was killed, the father created a robot that could transform itself into a motorcycle. The robot, Zaborgar, was made in part with the DNA of Daimon's twin brother who dies in infancy. The villains of Sigma are a bunch of cyborgs with human DNA. The goal of the villains is to destroy humanity. Sent to earth is Miss Borg, who falls in love with Daimon, who in turn questions his own beliefs, especially in the face of the obvious corruption of the man slated to be the next Prime Minister of Japan. Daimon's conflicted interests cause him to be kicked out of the secret police.

zaborgar 2.jpg

In the manner of writers who take classic novels and create fanciful sequels or revisions, Iguchi forwards twenty-five years later. Daimon is in ill health, and has just been fired as the chauffeur for the Prime Minister. Sigma is still working on their plans for world domination. Two more cyborgs have been created, one of whom is the daughter of Daimon and Miss Borg.

There is a lot of silliness here, with a giant robots and weird science. Weaved into this is a satire about Japanese politics and protocol, as well as the concept of "righteousness". Iguchi also takes the basic framework from the television series, and pushes at several of the premises to comical conclusions. Even better than the movie is the series of very short episodes playing with the limits of Zaborgar's limited intelligence such as trying to put out a fire with water that continually slips through his fingers, or his inability to pick up a coin due to those very thick fingers which work best for punching out enemies.

The most notable actor here is Itsuji Itao as the older Daimon. A popular presence in genre movies, Itao probably was seen to best advantage as the sad sack bachelor in Air Doll. Itao looks like the kind of guy who's only known disappointment in life, and has no reason to expect it will ever get better. Mami Yamasaki appears with the kind of metal bra Madonna dreams of wearing, at one point leading a trio of babes clad in bikinis and football helmets.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at September 4, 2012 08:02 AM