Starring: Akiko Yajima, Keiji Fujiwara, Miki Narahashi
Director: Keiichi Hara
Running Time: 90 mins
Crayon Shin-chan: The Storm Called: The Adult Empire Strikes Back is a Japanese film and the ninth in the Crayon Shin-chan series. After a 20th Century museum is opened, all of the adults of the town become obsessed with the nostalgia of their childhood, to the point where they become brainwashed and leave their children, but Shinnosuke and his friends are ready to take the fight to the adult empire.
Maybe this is the sort of film which you need a little bit of prior knowledge about the TV series to fully get into, but apart from that, this movie is an absolute riot. With the distinctly bizarre and often even dark humour that mixes with purely juvenile toilet gags, Crayon Shin-chan: The Adult Empire Strikes Back is a laugh-a-minute watch from start to finish, and backs that up with an impressively engrossing (and even slightly scary) story throughout.
But let’s start with what this film really is. If you don’t know the original TV show, this film may come as a bit of a shock to you. It’s definitely not a kids’ movie, what with some of its humour and even themes. What it does do so well, however, is bring an hilariously irritating character from the TV show to life as a big-screen hero, and makes the movie an absolute joy to follow from start to finish.
When it comes to the comedy here, it’s all very strange, but all done so brilliantly. Above all, some of the film’s more out-there humour whose shock value works absolute wonders at a couple of highly memorable moments, but it’s also the combination of that with a lot of impressively dark and clever comedy throughout that makes the film’s story both a hilarious affair as well as something that you can actually become engrossed in.
Because unlike the short 7 minute bursts of each TV episode, this film takes the characters rooted in a very small setting and puts them in an enormous situation. As a result, the film’s even more hilarious as times than the TV shows, but having the room to play about with an even more ludicrous and bizarre story than you can possibly imagine makes everything ten times as fun.
Now, beneath the ridiculousness of the entire scenario, there is actually some interesting subtext here. Initially playing with fears of technology at the beginning of the 21st Century, as well as taking fickle nostalgia to extreme lengths, I was really impressed by how clever and satirical this film actually was alongside being a crazy action comedy.
Alongside the excellent screenplay, the directing here is fantastic. Blending the genres of darker comedy with pure juvenile nonsense, Keiichi Hara does a brilliant job throughout to make this a confident and consistently funny movie. What’s more is that Hara at times makes it a visually exhilarating watch.
We all know that TV animated shows can look a bit underwhelming when transferred to the big screen, but that’s not the case here. Right from the start, Hara mixes the small and humble setting of Shinnosuke’s hometown with the massive national conspiracy beginning just nearby, but he also makes the film a surprisingly tense affair, all building up to a dynamic, fast-paced and thrilling finale that I really didn’t see coming.
Overall, I absolutely loved this movie. Not only is it a purely hilarious comedy, but it’s a surprisingly interesting, exciting and even scary watch with its intelligent and satirical themes. It’s fantastically-directed from start to finish, and translates the small TV show to the big screen effortlessly, all the while having great fun with a crazy and endlessly enjoyable story, and that’s why I’m giving Crayon Shin-chan: The Adult Empire Strikes Back an 8.2.