Actual scenario: Three college students are sitting on a couch. One studies Anthropology, one studies Political Science, and one is in Women’s Studies. The Political Scientist slides Peelander-Z’s Peelander Is Fun into the DVD player and presses play.
As three Japanese guys in brightly colored superhero outfits dart about on screen, each student sees a different thing. The Anthropologist sees Peelander-Z as a constructed cultural identity all their own, and wonders how their environment has impacted the character development versus the intrinsic nature of the group. The Political Scientist takes note of the incentives that have probably come into play, taking punk rock to new audiences and pushing the boundaries vis-à-vis the mainstream punk rock public to corner a market left wide open. The Women’s Studies major observes the band sweating profusely on stage as they perform their antics and wonders if this causes them to get laid more or less than the average rock musician.
So what do we actually have here? While the opening sequence gives just a few clues to the unsuspecting viewer (Japanese guys in weird outfits loading gear into a van and driving from their NYC apartment to the Northsix in Brooklyn), the performance itself leaves little doubt.
Step one: Start playing a song, generally made up of a handful of words repeated over and over.
Step two: Find a good break in the song, and institute giant placards that clue in the audience to the antics that are either taking place or are about to take place. Said antics may include, but are not limited to, human bowling, girl-on-girl Karate sparring, and a percussion chorus of about 50 audience members invited on stage to bang on pots/pans/cowbells and shout "mad tiger, mad tiger" to a hypnotically catchy rhythm.
Step three: Finish the song by repeating the handful of words yet again.
There isn't enough space in this review to describe the hilarious shenanigans that occur throughout Peelander-Z’s performance. There are funny masks, a giant plastic mallet, and even one point where the band cedes their instruments to random audience members while they circulate through the venue wreaking havoc.
Outside the hour-and-a -half feature performance, the DVD is crammed with bonus features, from music videos to silly “Challenger-Z” skits, to insane performances from the Warsaw in Brooklyn (complete with Kaiju Big Battel wrestlers) to the celebrated South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
As the diverse crowds in each performance can testify, Peelander-Z is more than just punk rock for anime nerds (though there is video of them stirring up trouble at Anime Expo 2006). Anyone with a lust for creative ridiculousness and hilarious absurdity will enjoy Peelander-Z, who have brought an interesting Japanese/American/superhero hybrid to eager audiences, forged their niche putting a totally unique spin on punk rock, and probably gotten laid more than once in the process. Good luck finding a music DVD funnier and more entertaining than this until Peelander-Z releases another one.