HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Tezuka Osamu Story: I Am Son Goku He owed it all to Monkey
Year: 1989
Director: Osamu Tezuka, Rin Taro, Masami Hata
Stars: Kunikazu Ishii, Mari Shimizu, Kosei Tomita, Fumi Koyama, Kiyoshi Kawakubo, Mayumi Tanaka, Kaneto Shiozawa, Toku Nishio, Hiroshi Masuoka, Toshiko Fujita, Kenji Uchiumi
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction, Fantasy, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Manga genius Osamu Tezuka drew one of his first hit comics at age sixteen with My Son Goku, his take on the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. Tezuka revisited the tale of the Monkey King several times over his illustrious career, including his first feature film Alakazam the Great (1960), the zany comedy Goku’s Great Adventures (1967) - which wound up getting banned on account of its foul language! - and this unusual, semi-autobiographical anime that was one of his last works before his untimely death from cancer in 1989.

Divided in two parts, the first recounts the author’s boyhood. Taunted by neighbourhood kids, young bookworm Osamu Tezuka (voiced by Kunikazu Ishii) escapes into flights of fancy, daydreaming he is surfing the skies atop Goku’s magic cloud. He grows up fascinated with insects (Tezuka’s first animation studio, Mushi Productions was named after his pet bug) and by the cinema, especially when his mother (Mari Shimizu) takes him to see Princess Iron Fan (1941), a groundbreaking Chinese animation made by the Wan brothers. Although not a faithful recreation of this vintage cartoon, these scenes capture the impact those lively images must have had on the young Tezuka’s imagination.

Tezuka also strikes up a Cinema Paradiso (1990) style friendship with projectionist Higeoyaji (Kosei Tomita) who encourages him to pursue his dreams. Thereafter the aspiring artist fills sketchbooks with hundreds upon hundreds of drawings, from whence Son Goku (Mayumi Tanaka) himself springs to offer encouraging words. The monkey king continues to reappear at crucial moments in Tezuka’s life.

The Second World War disrupts his youthful idyll. As bombs fall on Tokyo the now-teenaged Tezuka is conscripted as a junior cadet in the army, where he is brutally beaten by his cruel commanding officer for drawing while on duty. Beautiful aspiring actress Kyoko Okamoto (Fumi Koyama) retrieves his manga and offers further encouragement, becoming the young Tezuka’s first love.

Since Tezuka sadly passed away midway into production, the film boasts distinguished co-directors in the form of Rin Taro and Masami Hata. In their capable hands this is a charmingly told story. A treat for Tezuka fans, the film crams a handful of amusing anecdotes about the maestro’s early career but also highlights some tragic events that shaped the staunchly humanistic philosophy that shaped his entire manga and movie output. Excerpts from his breakthrough manga Treasure Island pass by all too quickly and keep a sharp eye out for a small cameo from the Phoenix, the subject of one of Tezuka’s most ambitious works and several movies including the part-live action The Phoenix (1978) and fully animated Phoenix 2772 (1980).

After the tragic events of WWII, the narrative jumps forward to 1959 where a returning Son Goku finds the driven, thirty-something Tezuka well into his prolific career - illustrated with vintage clips from Astro Boy (1962). While on a visit to China, Tezuka finally meets his idol Wan Dai Min, director of Princess Iron Fan and as they walk across the Great Wall of China he tells him about his own science fiction spin on the Monkey King legend.

Whereupon the second narrative begins as space-faring Buddhist monk Sanzo (Kaneto Shiozawa) and his cute monkey girl sidekick Rular (Fumi Koyama again, in a neat conceit alluding to Tezuka’s muse) visit the happy-go-lucky alien planet Sapphire. Its peaceful inhabitants are terrorised by naughty, all-powerful Son Goku who flies down with his friends Hakkai the pig (Toku Nishio) and Sagojo (Hiroshi Masuoka) and trashes the place. Sanzo teaches them a lesson with his challenge to crush a humble seed that grows into a super-strong plant. He then creates the high-tech of equivalent of the magic collar that traditionally keeps Monkey and co. in check.

Tezuka cleverly updates the Monkey King saga for a post-Star Wars audience, delving a little deeper into its Buddhist themes than Dragonball: Curse of the Blood Rubies (1986) though not quite as inventive. Encounters with evil aliens on distant worlds mimic episodes from Journey to the West as the animators craft a charming mix of traditional Chinese fairytales and space opera with ingenious alien flora and fauna, but the narrative does lapse into a series of straightforward battles. The explosive final face-off against the demon god Gyu-mao (Kenji Uchiumi) is notable in that for once Goku lies unconscious while other characters save the day. Tezuka typically includes a tragic self-sacrifice that may have traumatized a few children but was intended to teach a lesson on life, death and karma. Son Goku is much like Tezuka’s young audience, rowdy, undisciplined but bright, intelligent and full of potential.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4515 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: