Nuigulumar Z (2014)

Directed by
Love is a teddy bear!
Reviewed by Simon on 2022-02-12

A young girl receives a teddy bear for her birthday, but before she can enjoy her cake the family are attacked by zombies. As she flees, clutching the bear, a Lolita-dressed woman appears and tells her the story of how the world came to be full of zombies, of an alien world that was destroyed and of a teddy bear who can merge with a Lolita-dressed woman to become a hero... Nuigulamar Z, the battle bear!

Noboru Iguchi brings another weird and wonderful tale of good vs evil to the screen, of innocence and heroism and the corrupting power of loneliness... and stuffed toys who transform into tokusatsu heroines, Gothic Lolita fashion, zombies and the invincible power of friendship. Nobody does cinema quite like Japan.

The contrast between the overpowering schmaltz and the deviant lunacy is what makes Iguchi's films in particular special, the sheer joy and love of cinema that he brings to the screen that transcends any budget limits... or absence of acting ability... and even turns them into strengths. It's a shame Yoshihiro Nishimura wasn't on hand to add his uniquely imaginative gore effects, but to be honest they would probably have been a distraction here. The effects budget was instead spent on the CGI and green screen work that turn the final act into a glorious action showdown with Rina Takeda in her pink Nuigulumar costume battling the evil villain in the skies of Tokyo, set to a rousing theme song.

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Rina Takeda actually plays two roles, Nuigulumar Z and the villain's psychic henchman, Kill Billy. This gives her more opportunities to flex her action muscles, whilst leaving Shoko Nakagawa to handle the cute ditziness required when Yumeko is not transformed - a role which she handles brilliantly. There is an in-world reason why Nuigulumar so strongly resembles one of the villains, indeed it becomes a plot point.

Sadly this seems to have been the last time Noboru Iguchi was able to drum up enough investment to make something this spectacular - even though it is a low budget film, the drop in quality to the following year's Raivu or Ghost Squad is substantial. As such it marks the end of an era, a brief period when creativity exploded and film festivals could be assured of something fun for the midnight movie slot every year.

Maybe one day, if we all believe, such a time might come again!

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Also known as

  • Nuigurumâ Z
  • Gothic Lolita Battle Bear
  • The Stuffed Avenger