Yatterman Night Review — Who Was This Show Meant For?

Well you knew this was coming.

There are all kind of reasons for Japan to reboot/remake an old classic from introducing the past to a new generation to celebrating a specific anniversary date, and Tatsunoko’s second Yatterman remake definitely belongs in the latter category with a bit of the former mixed into it. But even if that’s the intention, that doesn’t negate everything else a new iteration of an old children’s cartoon that no one outside of Japan really cares all that much about can bring. You can get new generations interested in the old property, you can update the material so that it’s not only enjoyed by nostalgia-blinded morons who still think any cartoon from the 80s holds up, or you can just be your own thing whilst giving some reason regarding why you’re using the franchise name to begin with. I generally support the last one because if I really wanted to watch the original, I’d just watch the original – provided it isn’t over 100 episodes long most old anime that made it big were back then, in which case I’d just need a movie summary that isn’t Escaflowne’s.

Now in all honesty, I’ve never seen the original show, the 2008 remake, or any of the Time Bokan OVAs. I saw Miike’s live-action adaptation which pretty much tells me nothing other than the villains are Team Rocket and the heroes are the Ice Climbers. So I was really hoping for the new Yatterman to belong to be its own thing, less it turned out like Sailor Moon Crystal – although to be fair, any anime with their production values would turn out as poorly received as Sailor Moon Crystal. Thankfully, that turned out to be the case. There’s just one little problem though, and that’s the fact that the new Yatterman is total shit. And if you’ve been reading my blog posts, forum posts, and Twitter posts for the entirety of its runtime, you’d know this post to end all posts in regards to the specific subject was coming with a vengeance far greater than a vindictive Korean Go player.

Yes unfortunately, Yatterman Night belongs to that bad side of the modern remake populated by those live-action Scooby-Doo films and movie-length Dr. Seuss adaptations in that in trying to aim towards those who have nostalgia for the original product whilst doing something new, they completely misfire by both missing the point of the original source and not even doing a good job with its new direction. And whilst I’m fully aware the original source actually had crude humor, unlike that atrocity we human beings call The Grinch, it’s really badly mishandled here due to the very premise of the show. Did you ever watch Now and Then, Here and There and think to yourself that it would have been better if it had been directed by Seiji Kishi? Hell, I’m surprised this thing wasn’t his baby, because it has pretty much all of his quirks from the terrible tonal shifts to the lame animation to the amount of “suspension of disbelief” I have to buy in general. If these characters are so poor, how can they build mecha and summon ’em out of nowhere? Where do they get the parts for ’em? You can’t seriously expect me to believe that they’re just lying around randomly like rocket launcher ammo in a Turkish knock-off?

Granted, I think Turkish Yatterman would be a much better watch than Yatterman Night. At least the former wouldn’t wallow in mediocrity with its lameness and more importantly, it’d be interesting to talk about. Because as much as I dislike this show, there’s not really a lot I can say apart from the fact that nothing works. Similar to Rolling Girls and Nobunaga the Fool, it feels like the creative team decided to put all these ideas into the show with absolutely no idea how to execute them, leading to an altogether empty experience. The plot and characters are so simplistic and treated with so little urgency and momentum it’s not even worth elaborating on them besides their basic traits, and I can’t even summon up enough energy to do that. Several episodes are just one-off comedic (being generous here, because they didn’t make me laugh once) interludes that add about as much flavor and substance to the product as Pitbull does in every single song I’ve heard of his. And considering this is Tatsunoko, be prepared for some tolerable animation that later on becomes as pleasing to watch as gorillas humping each other despite the fact that one of them is suffering from erectile dysfunction – particularly in the final episode which the creators flat-out admitted wasn’t finished shortly after airing and that it’d be fixed on the blu-ray. Because aren’t they all these days?

Being empty in terms of animation, plot, characters, and pretty much all the basics of entertainment is enough to doom anything in general, but despite that all being true for Yatterman Night’s case, that’s not my main issue with the show. I don’t care about how it threw away its role-reversal promise because I never believed it would follow through with it in the first place. No, the biggest problem I have with the show is something that’s been bothering me since the second episode and which I asked around the time the show was airing and folks could still say they liked it with a straight face: who is this show for? It delves into subject matter too adult for kids (dystopian societies and crucifixion for example) and it doesn’t treat the audience seriously enough to be for adults. So why does it exist? Was it simply made for the fans?

If that’s the case, I have two new questions. 1) Why did you air this anime on broadcast TV where a wider audience can easily watch it? 2) What was the point of this new direction in the first place? Why didn’t you just remake the show the same way you did in 2008? I mean I guess they technically did given the amount of childish gags and such littered throughout the show, but why a dystopian society that feels like it came from somebody’s bad fanfiction? And what is your fascination with nine-year old girl butt? Did you forget that the only reason that kind of humor was tolerable with the original Doronjo was because she was an adult? Every time one of my questions gets answered, two or more show up to take its place, and that’s not a good thing in this show’s case because I can’t even get interested enough to want to discover said answers for myself.

In fact, at the end of the day, I just can’t summon any energy for this show at all to the point that I probably shouldn’t have watched it in the first place. I mean yes, there’s a lot wrong with Yatterman Night for the reasons I described earlier; but when you get down to it, it’s mainly bad in a way that’s just substance-less and “nothing”, which is worse than being bad in an evil way in my eyes because I can at least work with that. It has no audience at all, there’s no creative spark in regards to anything, and thus it’s not worth giving this thing the same treatment I gave Rolling Girls – a show that at least had passion put into being banal. Let’s just finish this review by saying this show is worthless and move on. A lot of you already have by this point anyways – or at least I hope you have – so I might as well have spent the entire review copy-pasting my numerous shit-tweets on here if this was the best I could muster for the show.

2 responses to “Yatterman Night Review — Who Was This Show Meant For?

  1. I understand that this show just isn’t your cup of tea, but in answer to your question as to who it was made for, I can tell you it was for people like me who love the idea of an updated children’s story/fable with a simple and lovely message about growing up, discovering the difference between right and wrong, and learning your place in the world. It’s a show that’s not so much a deconstruction – which I think some folks wanted it to be – as simply a fresh spin on an old franchise.

    I fully understand that Yatterman Night is a seriously flawed show, but it is also something very rare in anime: it is distinctly and deeply heartfelt. It obviously bored and lost you and many others, but for me, it is the rare show that I’ll remember vividly many years from now.

    • simply a fresh spin on an old franchise.

      It isn’t fresh though. My main complaint throughout this entire review was that I couldn’t find anything to say about it because it was so bland and boring. If it was fresh, I could have at least complained about that.