There comes a point in every Koala’s life when he ventures out into the working world and faces life’s problems. That’s exactly what happens in Executive Koala, a film by Minoru Kawasaki (Ultraman Tiga, The Calamari Wrestler) also known as the “King of Monster Suits”. The film, released in 2005 was originally panned by critics in Japan but how exactly does it fare on our shores overseas? Executive Koala mixes Monster Suits or in this case Animal Suits with a contemporary theme and setting with a twist of comedic style that Kawasaki is known for.
Executive Koala is about a working class Koala named Keiichi Tamura who is working for Kimuchee Company and is working his way up the corporate ladder. Unfortunately for him, his human girlfriend is found murdered and all suspicion is pointed directly at him. What ultimately follows, is a quest for Keiichi to prove himself innocent by finding about his past and what happened to his dear Yukari. However Keiichi is tormented by flashbacks and amnesia from the past. From the opening you’d think that you’d expect a light hearted comedy but once you tear away the shell you start to find a serious plot line and that’s where the issues start. The problem is that what you expect and what you receive is not always the same thing and in this case where you’d expect a comedy all the way through, is broken up with a serious undertone. It’s basically a mixed bag. While the film delivers comedic episodes during a couple of scenes, the majority of the story is a mash up of different styles and genres ranging from thriller and horror from the “Psycho Koala” segments to the new age style of the fight scene near the end. Unfortunately what tries to create a emotional attachment to the audience with the character is ultimately poor with it’s execution. The problem is that some scenes has Keiichi emotionally distraught from his situation and from his love for his missing wife but because visually he’s in a Koala suit which, also limits facial expression and any deep connection to the audience, and in the end, you’ll be confused whether to feel sad or laugh. The ending is just short of abysmal. Basically the most cliche and abrupt ending. What we witness is a lazy conclusion to what could have been more thought out rather than taking the “easy way” out. While the comedic moments are enjoyable, the dream sequence is one that is the most memorable as the setup and delivery was spontaneous.
Visually, there’s really not much to say. While the film is noticeably more updated than the visuals in Monster X, any special effects required are reduced in use. The koala itself is a body suit and looks the part of a salary man. The audio presentation is very light where most of the time the setting is full ambiance to bring more focus to the dialogue. The film obviously isn’t meant to be on a large production scale and hence one shouldn’t have any high expectations of visual presentation.
Executive Koala is hard to judge. There’s alot of inconsistency and cut and paste segments. The ending is also one full of disappointment for a meaningful plot. Overall, it’s only a watch if you are bored and have nothing else to do otherwise there’s many other better Japanese movies out there.
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