Halloween Moviefest - Movie #2 - I Am Hero

Updated: Oct 23


Watched: 10/2/2020 Streaming platform: Shudder

I am Hero is a Japanese film based on a manga about a very average guy surviving the zombie apocalypse. I originally saw this film on YouTube when somebody uploaded the Indonesian version with English close captioning provided by a volunteer. It wasn’t available anywhere on the streaming services when I first saw it, so I was glad to find it for rent on Amazon Prime. I watched it subtitled and the closed captioning made a lot more sense this time around.


Hideo Suzuki is an artist with big dreams, but a shitty job. He works all day at a manga publisher creating images for someone else’s stories. He has a very vivid imagination and we often see him imagining scenarios that he doesn’t have the courage to actually do. He has a girlfriend, a tiny apartment, a trophy for being a promising newcomer to the manga industry (ten years ago), and a gun license and sporting shotgun. He is a stickler for the rules society has established and the rule of law. This sometimes makes it very hard for him to think outside the lines to advance himself in life. Worse yet, Hideo is such an average guy that it affects his personal manga project. The criticism of his work is that his hero is too average.


The film takes its time introducing us to Hideo’s life and the people that inhabit it before everything completely unravels when the zombie apocalypse seizes control of his city. We see hints of what’s to come in the background, but he never picks up the clues to what is about to happen. One thing I definitely liked about this movie is just how fast chaos envelops his life. The outbreak scene is spectacular.


Hideo becomes the unexpected hero to a young woman named Hiromi when they escape the city together. They form a sweet friendship based on the fact that she trusts him because he so average.


The film slows down a little as they venture through a forest toward Mount Fuji after they see on social media (before their phone dies) that at a higher elevation, the zombie virus dies. More time passes in this part of the film than I realized when watching it the first time. I initially had the impression it was only a day or two, but Hideo’s beard and some references to days and weeks passing are made.


By the time Hideo and Hiromi find other humans, society has pretty much broken down completely. What follows is the making of new friendships and the slow disintegration of the group they join.


Hideo is a very compelling lead in my viewpoint because he is not a traditional hero in any way shape or form when the film starts and it takes him time to overcome his fears to step up and become a true hero. His overly active imagination often works against him, preventing him to take action. It’s only through the bond he forms of others that he finally overcomes his reticence to stepping up to the plate.


The climax of the film is amazing, gory AF, and violent. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure when I first watched the film if anybody was going to make it out alive. Hideo’s shotgun is definitely used to great, glorious bloody effect in taking down the zombies.


The zombies in this film are truly gross. The virus not only makes them crave human flesh, but distorts their features, imbues them with great strength, and gives them truly freaky eyes. They also talk, saying one phrase usually over and over again. It appears that whatever meant most to them in life is what they murmur about in death.


I Am Hero is on my list of some of the best zombie films out there. Watching it again confirms my feelings that this is a solid entry into the genre. I enjoy watching zombie films from other countries because it’s a very good way to filter their culture through the lense of the genre. I love how Hideo is so protective of his gun license and shotgun since Japan has such strict gun laws. In fact, the epic climatic scene was filmed in South Korea because Japan would not allow them to film it there.


If you haven’t seen this film, watch it!


Spoiler section

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My only real criticism against the film is Hiromi’s role. She appears to become a hybrid after a baby bites her and has one really epic scene where she takes out a zombie. But after this point she is reduced to being Hideo’s reason to become a hero and plays a very passive role in their story. I kept hoping that she’d have another big scene of tapping into her zombie side to kill zombies, but sadly that never happens.


The other main female character, Tsugumi, has a pretty solid entrance into the story and has a pivotal role in what goes down. As a nurse, she abandoned the hospital where she worked when the outbreak started to save herself. It’s the guilt over abandoning her patients that compels her to help Hideo and Hiromi. I liked how she really stepped up in the end to fight against the zombie horde.


The dynamics of the survivors in the outlet mall follow zombie tradition. The men are in charge and in a power struggle while women play a much more subservient role. Because these roles are so firmly established, they don’t allow for building a unified community. If the women had been much more empowered to fight back and the men hadn’t spent so much time jockeying for power and control, they would’ve had a much better chance of survival.

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