Kaiju

ultra_mom

I not making a claim that this vacuum advertisement doesn’t cling to ancient stereotypes. Out of all the mothers I have known in my life I don’t think there is a single one who would say “Gee, if I had the evil fighting powers of a giant robot it would just be dandy if that came with a vacuum hand”. Yet, I still find this weirdly adorable.  You can judge for yourself.

Video lovingly submitted by drmomentum

GameraNEB

 

One of the communal benefits of being a geek culture enthusiast is enjoying conventions.  In a room filled with other obsessives it almost feels like home.  I love seeing celebrities and love seeing the gaming and pop culture shops that collect at these types of events.  

 

The best part of a convention isn’t the big names, it is walking around the convention at the edges finding the person who is not famous but is working their darndest because they love what they do.  Frankie Washington (Facebook) exemplifies this, he loves giant robots, he loves giant monsters and has dedicated his art to them.

 

I talk about things I love, but they are often somewhat frivolous or obscure. If I can do any good in these articles it will be highlighting the hard working local creator and give as much exposure as this medium allows.

 

Above you see his work for the upcoming art book Gamera vs. Zine-Ra, a celebration of one of our greatest kaiju heroes and Creature Double Feature star.  

 

Frankie’s work reminds me of classic manga, gonzo trading cards like Mars Attacks and Dinosaurs Attack! and a healthy measure of Mike Ploog.  

 

Here are a few other examples, I hope you enjoy:

 

CKCTradingCards

 

Colossal Kaiju Combat trading card game.  Washington does the artwork based on feedback from the community forum.

 

LDOL_2ndEditionCover

 

The Last Daughter of Lilith cover design, book by J.L. Metcalf

 

TheLivesOfSuperVillians

 

The Secret Lives of Villains webcomic, written by Matthew Blair and lettered by Rebecca Currell

 

KidSwitchPinUp

 

Reckless Sidekick Productions’ Kid Switch Comic anthology

 

MechAgeOfSteel

 

Mech: Age of Steel anthology by Ragnarok Publishing

 

Godzilla_vs_Gigan_1972

Fabulous 1972

Godzilla vs. Gigan may be working out to be one of my favorites of the Godzilla canon.  It’s definitely one of the trippier movies right up there with All Monsters Attack, but a bit more coherent and not pandering to children as much.  Premiering in the early seventies it even has a lazy hippy stereotype as a minor character.

Japanese Zeitgeist

I’ve been attempting to work through some of the themes of these movies as I go through them for the umpteenth time and figure out the differences between the Japanese, International and American versions. Hulu was good enough to stream a Japanese language version of the film, but I think it is the American version as it features some weird editing and lacks a feature I will mention in a minute.

The seventies are clearly a theme here and a deliberate attempt to play to a young, hip audience. The protagonist is a manga artist (Japanese comic books) for no other obvious reason I would guess except to pull a manga obsessed fan in. Once again the aliens are using a children’s focused shell corporation under the guise of peace, “World Children’s Land”, to forward their ends.

One of the themes I see in movies in the late sixties and seventies is this deep mistrust of the concept of peace, that any organization or group that advocates for peace (especially when it involves youth) must has some insidious ulterior motive. It is amusing to see this sentiment that I thought was just an American response to the Summer of Love make it all the way over into a mainstream Japanese film. At the very least the hippy isn’t a villain even though he is always hungry and lazy like Shaggy was in Scooby Doo. I find it amusing that a lot of the girly mags and pulp novels consumed mainly by the ‘grown ups’ criticizing this culture focused heavily on these stereotypes. Essentially older adults hated and feared youth culture, but they also fetishized it secretly. To be honest things haven’t changed much.

Kaiju for Dollars

We are absolutely getting our bang for our buck with monsters here.  Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Anguirus and the brand new Gigan all make appearances. Gigan would appear in the sequel in 1973, do a small bit on Japanese television and then would not appear on film again until 2004.

Gigan is a pretty nifty villain with cybernetic implants, retro futuristic night rider eye wear and curved blades for hands. Apparently giant monsters don’t need to perform any actions that would require opposable thumbs.

Godzilla vs. Gigan also has an ecological message, but many Godzilla films do and it is essentially a watered down version of the original film Gojira’s message of American nuclear apocalypse.

Bonus Round

I had heard that in the original Japanese cut of the film before American distribution that in the scenes were Godzilla ‘talks’ to Anguirus that they put in speech bubbles that were cut for the American version.  Since this movie is manga themed I have no reason to doubt it.  I found this odd clip that may be real, but having them speak in English is a little dubious, if true it would be fantastic, you can judge for yourself.  If there are any Japanese readers out there you can let me know if the dialogue even remotely matches the bubbles.

godzilla-poster-imax

Yesterday a bunch of geek related news came down the wire.  Some wonderful news, some horrible news.  Apparently it is a good time to be a geek when we have so much news in a single day that we can experience multiple emotions.  In high school we would be lucky to get a nugget of fantasy media news and be able to stew on it at the lunch table for a week.

SPOILERS BELOW, BEWARE

Tucked in all the other drama was the new Asian version of the Godzilla trailer.  Giant monster/kaiju fans have been attempting to dissect the original trailers frame by frame for weeks and there has been a lot of speculation.  The Asian market trailer lays a bit of that speculation to rest and reveals a good deal of the plot structure.  Check it out below or click on the link for our online newspaper readers.

It is getting more difficult to be wary of this new Godzilla film.  Anything could happen, this could be terrible, but the more I see the more I lose any sense of critical thinking when it comes to this movie.  There is a giant monster, he fights other giant monsters it is probably our fault that they exist and they will probably destroy us all.

Godzilla passes my goosebump test.  It seems like the director is taking the source material seriously.  We hear references to the events of the 1954 film, which apparently this is a sequel of.  If you look carefully you will see a glimpse of what may be Rodan and if I dare to hope later on we see an leg of what may be Kamacuras.

This should be something that fans of summer movies and Kaiju geeks should get on board with.  This is what happens when fans of Creature Double Feature grow up and direct movies.

I say ‘good job, movie peoples!’.  So far this is exactly what I want.

all_monsters_attack

 

All by itself “All Monsters Attack” (Godzilla’s Revenge in the US) is a weird film even by Godzilla standards.  It is directly targeted towards children, so there is a good deal of comic relief and it is goofier than most other films, a huge contrast to the anti-American, anti-nuclear sentiment of the first film.

Taking place almost entirely in the protagonists imagination there is decent amount of kaiju action going on.  In the first few minutes a shaggy version of Godzilla with the late sixties trademark googly eyes fights some European football playing grasshoppers and then a giant chicken.  After a 100 ft fall down a sinkhole where he is lightly bruised he is pulled up by Manilla (named Minya in the US version) who for some reason is the same height as the child and talks a bit like Goofy.  There is a eccentric toymaker, some robbers and piles of weirdness including a groovy take on the original Godzilla theme.  The protagonist’s bully and an ogre share the name of Gabara which feels a lot like a poke at Gamera to me.

When the film crossed over to the US in 1971 two years after its Japanese release is when things started to get really odd.  All the Japanese cast is dubbed over by Americans and someone made the decision to have all the adults speak in stereotypical comedic (and offensive) Japanese accents.

The child plays in ruins throughout the film which makes me realize these are probably destroyed factories and buildings from the war, which makes this a little more melancholy than probably intended.  This was probably a reality for the children in cities at the time, so I doubt it struck any of the intended audience as anything but natural.

The sheer weirdness of it all, mixed with nostalgia from seeing it when I was six makes for an amusing time.  It isn’t a good movie by any means, but it is keeping me entertained.

 

godzilla_poster

 

This shot taken at an Expo in Brazil is probably our first decent look at Godzilla for the upcoming 2014 film.  This confirms our expectations that they are gunning for a traditional look as all the teasers have suggested.