Masaru is the last of his line, Japan's lone remaining monster-fighter. The guy's a shlub, but then today's monsters aren't much anymore either. Back in the day, Masaru's forebears fought really titanic creatures: Godzilla, Rodan and Gamera; the three-headed Ghidora; the insidious Yog. Masaru has to make do with the dopey Leaping Monster, the risible Strangling Monster — a pencil-necked brute with a bad comb-over — and a nameless behemoth that wields a giant eyeball on a long, lariat-like stalk. It's pathetic. The job is low on glamour now, too — not to mention money. Although a sign over the front door of his dilapidated house proclaims it the "Department of Monster Prevention," Masaru travels around in taxis and commuter trains with little attention paid, apart from occasional graffiti addressing him as "Loser," among other rude things.
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The picture has many droll moments. Masaru's manager has grown wealthy publicizing her client's exploits, but she's worried about dwindling sponsor interest — maybe he should finally offer his beefy and previously off-limits hips for logo placement. When he shows up for a biannual visit with his little daughter (at a Big Boy burger joint, of course), his estranged wife — who left him before he could turn the girl into a monster-fighter herself — is happy to chirp away on camera about the superior virtues of her new lover. And while Masaru's grandfather, the revered Big Man Japan IV, is now confined to a nursing home, he still occasionally powers up — which, given his terminal senility, makes him a serious public menace.
When Masaru is attacked from behind by a sneaky red leviathan and has to flee to avoid a humiliating beat-down, the picture, already quite strange, grows even stranger, and then much, much stranger still. This is Matsumoto's first feature (he's a famously odd Japanese comedian), but it's a distinctively bizarre piece of work. Remember the name.
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