Pink teddy bear melts with Lolita and the zombie battle can start
One of the things I love about Lost in Translation is how well it conveys the feeling of being lost meeting an alien culture. It’s not just that you don’t understand the language; you don’t understand the context either, what is going on, what the cultural references are, why people are behaving the way they do. You’re just… completely lost.
I sensed a bit of this as I watched Nugulumar Z when it played at Stockholm Film Festival. It was so strange and so alien that I sensed how I sometimes fell into a nervous laughter that must have come out of a weird defence mechanism.
“Bizarre” is the first word that pops into my mind as I’m trying to come up with a way to describe what this manga inspired action comedy is like. The next word that comes up is “Pink”.
I’ve never seen a movie this pink before. The teddy bear is pink and the Lolita girl is pink and the superhero is pink and the swooshing and swirling when she transforms is also pink. And there are pink petals flying around everywhere. It’s just the blood flies in the air every time the zombies attack that is red. Just like the tomato juice it probably is.
A planet somewhere in the universe has been destroyed in a disaster. Its cotton looking inhabitants have fled towards Earth. A few of them have by accident flown into the filling of teddy bears, which by some magic gives them a way to survive. They’re empowered by the love from the kids who own the toys, I think. Two of those refugees are former military companions. The end up in different teddy bears, one pink, one black, where the pink obviously is the good one and the black… well you can figure.
Then there’s this girl – or young woman, I can’t tell how old she is – who dresses like a cosplay Lolita girl. She and the teddy bear sometimes melt together into a third creature, the superhero Nuigulumar, who looks kind of teddy bearish but girlish too. Her mission is to fight her equivalence on the dark side, the black teddy bear villain, who otherwise will assemble myriads of zombies and then conquer the world.
In this world there are also encounters with other interesting creatures, such as an evil giant baby (a reference to Spirited Away?) and “lazy manga readers”, which are a bunch of grown-up men who attack the heroes rolling around the floor aggressively while reading manga. There’s also a boy (who later on turns out to be a girl), who fights by throwing spoons all over the plays. Oh, and I have to mention the girls who suddenly say that they’re too embarrassed now, so they tear off their clothes an start to levitate wile laser beams are shooting out from their nipples.
At times the acting is so bad that the school plays we did at school when I was ten seem like masterpieces. The film makers must have brought all their friends and friends of friends, rubbed some blueberry jam into their faces, telling them to “act like a zombie” without waiting for a confirmation that they knew what a zombie was. And let’s not get started about some of the special effects.
On the other hand: I must admit that I laughed quite a bit, at least for the first hour, after which it started to feel overly long and I couldn’t absorb more strangeness. (The fart jokes never got me laughing though. It boggles my mind why the Japanese apparently find them funny at all.)
All in all I ended up liking this movie pretty much. Or rather: I liked the experience I had watching it. It’s unlikely I’ll ever watch it again. On a second watch, I suspect that it would have lost that fresh, crispy feeling you only get when you’re far outside of your comfort zone.
Now I understand better what the food nerds strive for when they eat all sorts of weird things that I wouldn’t even consider putting into my mouth. They don’t eat it because they expect it to be delicious. They do it to broaden their horizons, adding yet another food memory to their collection. That was also what I did s I watched this film. I expanded my film universe.
A film can be so many different things. This is one of them.
Nuigulumar Z (Noboro Iguchi, JA 2013) My rating: 3/5
I watched the movie in company with a few other Swedish film bloggers. Here’s what they made of it: