From Song to Screen: Noboru Iguchi's Nuigulumar Z Crowned Queen of Cute at Fantasia
What do you get when a song inspires a novel, which in turn inspires a feature-length movie? That's simple. You get Nuigulumar Z-- a very kawaii, very eccentric and insane blast of a film by Dead Sushi director Noboru Iguchi. The original form of the film took shape in a song by artist Kenji Ohtsuki's rock band Tokusatsu titled "Nuiguruma", soon transforming into a novel by the same name. Iguchi loved this, lost himself in blissful imagination, and created the film we know today.
How many action films are inspired by a song...about a fighting teddy bear?
His second screening at this year's Fantasia International Film Festival, Nuigulumar Z , is the complete polar opposite of Live, the death-race flick presented at the festival Friday night. When zombies take over Japan, it is up to Yumeko the klutz Lolita girl to save the world and protect the princess Kyoko. She does so by combining with Busuke, a homemade pink teddy bear possessed by a remarkable fighting spirit, becoming the powerful avenger Nuigulumar (which is, by the way, played by Rina Takeda, who also plays villain Kill Billy).
Iguchi's lolita/zombie/magical girl visual piece has really left us all with brains leaking out of our ears, replaced with floral petals and heart-shaped cutouts. What exactly did we just witness? Between disturbing-looking teddy bears with even uglier smiles, a group of festival dancing zombies, and lolita angels clad in white shooting laser beams out of their breasts through the power of their combined embarrassment, we can honestly say Iguchi has done it again, doing what he does best: messing us up and poking fun at movie genres (in this case, tokusatsu and certain action flicks in general) and at various movie conventions (the overuse of special effects in action films).
While introducing Nuigulumar Z, Iguchi swore to us that Shoko Nakagawa, who plays Yumeko aka Lamey, did all her stunts, and in no way was CGI or any other means of computer techonology used to help her. Ha! Good one! Not only were they overused, but it was overwhelming how obvious their usage was. Iguchi, thanks for reminding us of the CGI abuse problem mainstream cinema currently has. I'm sure that was your intention. But ultimately, the whole tied well into the story, adding yet another layer of comic relief.
At the very least Nuigulumar Z reminds us we shouldn't take things too seriously, not even the film medium itself. While everyone is racing to create the most intricate piece of art, we're forgetting one of the very first rules of all art forms: have fun.
And go wild.
That's what Noboru Iguchi did. He found a song and ran with it.