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Shortly after the turn of the century, Toho Music was on and off releasing CD soundtracks. From scores around director Akira Kurosawa to the expansive Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect line, a plethora of titles were issued. That is until 2013, when news and future releases stopped. A two disc set for The Last War (1961) would mark one of their final releases… but the torch would be passed.
In 2014, a label called Cinema-kan burst onto the scene. Their initial offering for Toho was small, with a trilogy of “Science Fiction Movie World” compilations. These were faithful releases to CD of older LP compilations. The company wasn’t done, though, and branched out in 2015 to the more obscure with their next Toho release: one for the Bloodthirsty trilogy. The CD compilation collected music from Toho’s three 1970’s vampire films, but was only a hint of what was to come. In 2016 the company released six full soundtracks for Toho films, moving away from compilations. These ranged from previously released scores like Half Human (1955) to unreleased material like Kill! (1968). As of the start of 2019, the company has issued 19 separate releases related to Toho. As a result, the company has thrust themselves on the radar of Japanese soundtrack collectors, proving to release from a variety of genres along with several titles that have never seen full releases before.
This article is a news roundup tracking these releases as they are announced, or as major details are made available. Much of this is announced over the company’s Twitter handle, which is frequently updated.
Today marks the day Cinema-kan issues their 20th release around Toho. That score is for the The Imperial Navy (1981). Created by composer Katsuhisa Hattori, father of Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994) composer Takayuki Hattori, themes from the score were most recently available in Toho Music’s ambitious Toho War Movies Soundtrack Collection. That, however, only included five tracks from the movie, leaving much of the score unreleased.
Cinema-kan, though, is issuing a two disc set for the early 1980’s film. Touting it as including 94 tracks, with everything from unused material to stereo sources, the set appears to include a wealth of material around the production.
The good news for Toho fans, though, is not just what’s coming out today but also what is on the horizon. To that point, Cinema-kan has also announced their next two Toho releases, both of which arrive on April 24th, 2019. One is for Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974), which promises to include not just the original mono score but also stereo material that was created for commercial releases.
The other announced soundtrack is for Gorath (1962). This is of particular note as Toho Music once hinted at releasing this themselves before they stopped doing soundtracks. Cinema-kan is carrying that torch, though. Similar to how Toho Music did earlier releases, this will be a two disc set for the 1962 movie. Included will be both the original stereo and mono scores, along with touted bonus material as well.News // February 20, 2019
Edits, additions and replacements. Toho’s large catalogue of films have sometimes been released untouched for the international markets, and other times have been hacked up almost beyond recognition. This article focuses on the rarely talked about musical component of this process, and looks to cite where music was inserted into a Toho film from an outside source when brought overseas.
- Godzilla Raids Again
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
- The War of the Gargantuas
- Godzilla vs. Hedorah
- The Return of Godzilla
- Godzilla 2000: Millennium
Note that entries are not complete. Meaning just because a film is listed doesn’t mean all overseas film music is represented in that entry at this time. This article is a work in progress. If you have information on a Toho film and the original music not listed here, please feel free to mention it in the comment section. The more details that you can provide, the better it will assist us in getting it added.
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
When Paul Schriebman re-edited Godzilla Raids Again as Gigantis the Fire Monster for its US release, much of Masaru Sato‘s score was replaced with music from various American B movies of the 1950’s. Many of these cues originated from the 1957 giant robot film Kronos, and were composed by Paul Sawtell and Ben Shefter. The theme song for the omonimous robot is frequently heard in Gigantis the Fire Monster, underscoring most of the battle between the creatures.
The score for Kronos was released in its entirety in 1984 as an LP (CLP-1001) by Cacophonic. The tracks as they appear in the film are:
#1 The “Main Title” serving this very same function in Gigantis the Fire Monster
#15 “Power Resources”, when Godzilla and Anguirus are first spotted on Iwato Island, and during Dr. Yamane’s lecture about the “Fire monsters”. The cue then fades to:
#16 “Attack on Kronos”, which pops up just as stock footage from Godzilla (1954) does
#19 “The Bomb Part 2”, when Godzilla makes his landing on Osaka
#21 “Kronos on Rampage”, as Godzilla and Anguirus finish their battle
#22 “Kronos Attacked”, for the prologue scenes and later when Kobayashi’s engine goes out of order
The soundtrack for Kronos was later re-released on CD in 2012, as a 2-CD set that also featured The Cosmic Man by Monstrous Movie Music. The set was called Kronos/The Cosmic Man (MMM-1963/1964).
The Kronos/The Cosmic Man set can be purchased here.
Additional information and clarification provided by Ethan
Prepping the movie for its US release under the title Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster, Continental did some fairly substantial editing to the film. This included removing scenes from the movie, about 8 minutes in total, and shifting around the order of events in the film. For example, King Ghidorah shows up fairly late in the American cut.
During this process, Continental also inserted some stock music in the movie. While several themes were inserted, two of the more notable are by composer Trevor Duncan. These tracks are both called “Smouldering Fury”, denoted as (a) and (b). In terms of their use in the US version:
- Smouldering Fury (a): replaces Akira Ifukube‘s “The Kurobe Valley” theme in the film while they are hiking toward the meteor
- Smouldering Fury (b): played when an injured Malmess attempts to assassinate the princess
The War of the Gargantuas (1966)
Readied for its 1970 release in the United States, several changes were made to The War of the Gargantuas. This included the addition of unused footage, filmed as part of the original production and often containing expanded scenes of destruction. The musical score was also altered, including the addition of some of Akira Ifukube‘s themes from Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965).
However, Ifukube’s famous “Operation L March” theme was also removed from the American version of the film, replaced with a combination of reusing Gaira’s theme and also a stock cue. This stock cue, from APM music, is composer Philip Green’s “Terror Hunt”, a popular track in several other monster movies released before and after the US version of The War of the Gargantuas. Other uses include the 1965 The Legend of Blood Mountain, the 1971 Zaat and the TV show SpongeBob SquarePants. One of the earliest uses of the theme was way back in 1957, for the movie The Incredible Petrified World.
Unfortunately, a retail version is unknown to be available at this time.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
When AIP picked up the rights to the 1971 movie Godzilla vs. Hedorah, they opted to produce their own version for the US market. Retitled Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster, this version of the movie was more or less faithful to the original with minor changes committed. One of the more glaring alterations, especially compared to the International version, is the addition of a new song: “Save the Earth”. Replacing Mari Keiko’s “Give Back the Sun!”, although using the same background music, the new piece was created by artist Adryan Russ with lyric writing help from Guy Hemric. Much like “Give Back the Sun!”, it is used three times in the film: the introduction, at the nightclub and after Hedorah is defeated. Unlike its Japanese counterpart, there is only one version and no male chorus alternate as was used at the end of the film.
In terms of release, the song can be found as an easter egg on the CD Everyone Has a Story: The Songs of Adryan Russ (LMLCD-133).
Everyone Has a Story: The Songs of Adryan Russ CD can be purchased here.
The Return of Godzilla (1984)
For Godzilla’s return to the big screen, New World Pictures opted to go create a version of the film that harked back to the Americanization of the original Godzilla (1954) as Godzilla King of the Monsters. This new version of The Return of Godzilla, titled Godzilla 1985, also underwent heavy editing. Scenes were added and removed, and to supplement this new music was also added.
For the task of fleshing out the musical score, New World Pictures turned to composer Christopher Young, who in his later years would score productions such as Spider-man 3. Rather than conducting new music, they opted to use Young’s haunting score for the Canadian movie Def-Con 4. This soundtrack was also made available in 1990 on CD by Intrada (MAF-7010D), although is rare to come by today.
In terms of execution, thankfully composer Reijiro Koroku‘s music was left mostly unscathed for the sequences that were left in the movie. The “new” music instead was used to replace the end song, fill in silence, and to accompany new scenes. Below is a complete rundown of these changes, which use the track titles from the CD release:
- During the scene where Steven Martin uncovers his eyes and a small dragon idol is seen the theme “Ghost Planet” is used
- “A Message from Home” is heard when reporter Goro Maki is looking through the Yahata Maru before finding the first victim of the Shockirus
- Leading up to Godzilla’s attack on the Soviet submarine, the “Armageddon” theme is heard
- “I Can’t Go On” is heard during the rigging of Mt. Mihara
- “The Juggernaut” is then used for the evacuation scenes before Godzilla arrives in Tokyo
- After the button is pressed for the nuclear missile, the theme “Defense Condition” is used
- As Hiroshi Okumura attempts to get into the rescue helicopter, a theme from Def-Con 4 is used when Howe runs into a camp of cannibals in the forest [unreleased theme]
- The end credits got a new musical sequence that edits together the High Rise Tension, Super-X and Self Defense Force themes from the film with Young’s “The Liberation of Fort Liswell”
The Def-Con 4 soundtrack can be purchased here.
Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)
When TriStar went to release Godzilla 2000 in theaters, they did a substantial edit to the original movie. This included a bit of trimming and enhancing the audio, giving a more robust surround sound. Beyond just simple dubbing, new sound effects were also utilized, with a lot of emphasis placed on the movie’s sound.
Probably not surprisingly, this extended toward work on the soundtrack as well. Some of composer Takayuki Hattori‘s themes were removed. This included in favor of inserting more of Akira Ifukube‘s music, used for the first appearance of Orga and also an encore performance of the Godzilla theme during the end credits.
The movie also featured original music, though, composed by J.Peter Robinson. This was inserted in numerous points including:
- While Yuji Sinoda is riding his motor bike on the beach
- As the tanks mobilize to attack Godzilla
- While the CCI rockets are lifted
- During the evacuation scenes after the Millennian UFO lands
- For part of the segment involving the Bomb Blasts
- When Yuki Ichinose turns the car around to go back for Sinoda
- Much of the battle music for Godzilla vs. Orga
- When Godzilla is blasting Tokyo before the credits, which features a synthesized version of the Godzilla theme
Some of the original tracks were released on a promotional CD in Europe, pictured above. They were bundled with tracks from GODZILLA (1998).
When Disney released Ponyo in the Western Market, they chose to capitalize on the successes of their pop stars Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers by casting their younger siblings, Noah Cyrus and Frankie Jonas, in the film. Due to the original version featuring a song sung by the leads, Disney translated the lyrics to English and had their leads sing the song using the same backing, not unlike Godzilla vs. Hedorah‘s “Save the Earth”. Disney also created a remix of the song with some different lyrics, which follows the dubbed version of the song in their version of the film’s end credits. Both Disney’s version and the remix are included in a single available for purchase on iTunes.
For the movie’s Italian release in 2009, this song was also redone by distributor Lucky Red. Like the US version, this song replaces the Japanese lyrics with ones in Italian by the leads for this dubbed version. Also like the one created by Disney, this song was uploaded to iTunes for resale.
The Noah Cyrus and Frankie Jonas versions of the songs can be purchased here.
Additional information and clarification provided by Daniel Short
This article was first published on September 23, 2010.General // January 4, 2019
The fandom is known to seek out the original versions of Toho’s films when at all possible, and for good reason. American distributors sometimes cut scenes, alter music and even add sequences to movies.
The Return of Godzilla (1984) faced a similar treatment when it was brought over to the US as Godzilla 1985 by New World Pictures. However, while fans are quick to turn their nose up at the version for its “young general, evil Soviets, Dr. Pepper vending machine” ways, the American version did a lot of things right. Now I’m not defending Godzilla 1985 as the better version, it’s not. The US version added some awfully pointless scenes, but I feel it should be recognized for the many positive changes that were done.
Many things were altered about the 1984 movie, some more respectful than others, and some did improve the film. Below is a list of some of the greatest alterations New World Pictures did when preparing The Return of Godzilla for the US market, in order of enjoyment.
Less “Foreigner” Dialogue
“This is no time to be discussing PRINCipals…”
Bad acting from non-Japanese actors is a norm for a lot of the Godzilla franchise. The Showa films used to address this by dubbing over most of them, even though the caliber of actors like Nick Adams and Russ Tamblyn was high and their performances great. The Return of Godzilla started a new trend of leaving the original actors’ dialogue in.
While the performances are better in this film than the ones that would follow, there is still cringe worthy moments. Oddly, the US version elects not to dub these over and keeps the original performances. Thankfully, though, Godzilla 1985 instead removes a lot of these lines. This does have a negative by-product though on a few of the scenes that employee them. The best example is the Soviet submarine sequence, which has a lot of the lines cut. This includes axing the cheesy nuclear “conflicto” line. However, the removal gets to the point where the scene feels very brisk, totally removing the tension the sequence was going for.
On the scale of changes, this one does some good along with the bad.
Making Tokyo Actually Seem Evacuated
This is a pet peeve of mine, but in The Return of Godzilla Tokyo never feels like it’s actually evacuated. The film makes an effort to show daytime evacuation scenes as notice is given that Godzilla is heading toward Tokyo… and then night falls and the city still seems packed with people. This includes footage of a bustling shopping district that reacts to Godzilla almost on top of them. In fact, it feels like most of Tokyo kind of ignored the evacuation notification.
New World Pictures addresses this by using the shopping district shot without the crowds below and two other major contributions to make it feel like Tokyo actually made more of an effort to evacuate.
The first is the removal of a crowd scene that happens after Godzilla collapses from fighting the Super-X. This occurs almost immediately after Godzilla falls over, making it feel like there were throngs of people, in running distance, of Godzilla while he was attacking Tokyo’s downtown area. I mean this isn’t just a handful of people who might have struggled to evacuate, this is a regular flash mob that shows up on cue and is held back by police in riot gear who are also immediately on the scene (Godzilla has quite the entourage). All of these scenes were wisely removed.
The next contribution is through the ordering of scenes. When the Japanese government announces that the Russian nuke has been launched at Tokyo, we get shots of them announcing this to crowds and footage of citizens rushing into subways. It gets a smirk: shouldn’t these people already be evacuated? New World instead takes this footage and places it just BEFORE Godzilla arrives. This is much better, making it feel like the final stages of the evacuation rather than a second attempt to evacuate the people who must not have listened the first time.
Cutting Bad Effects
While special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano was at the top of his game for the 1984 film, the production does exhibit the Japanese norm of being uneven in its effects. It’s rare for any Tokusatsu (Japanese special effects films) to not exhibit this, often having at least one below par or cringe worthy effect. This is largely due to the tight schedule that most Japanese productions are created under. The Return of Godzilla has a few, and thankfully these were cut from the US version.
First up is the Shockirus attack, which is much longer in the Japanese version. Godzilla 1985 cuts a little too much here, but it does remove the greatest offending point: the part where the prop jumps onto actor Ken Tanaka’s back. It’s totally unconvincing as it dangles part on the actor, part off, being held by the actor. This segment is not only better left forgotten, but also doesn’t make sense in the story, as Tanaka’s character Goro Maki turns around and the Shockirus that was on his back is suddenly across the room (!?) and then jumps on his chest.
The other offending special effects shots are numerous, but are all related to the “real size” Godzilla foot prop. Sadly, the prop is not only unconvincing but also just doesn’t match how the foot looks in other scenes. Given the budget probably spent on these scenes, one can sympathize with director Nakano wanting to keep them in, but they aren’t particularly exciting on their own and the film benefits from their removal.
Trimmed Super-X vs. Godzilla Battle
In the original version, Godzilla seems very lethargic at some points. The worst offender of this is during his initial battle with the Super-X.
For the battle, Godzilla stands around for long spans of time before and when he is first confronted by the Super-X. This includes standing in place as the ship approaches, before the ship starts to fire its flares, during the flares, and even after being injected by the cadmium missiles. Other than roaring, his only response is a belated atomic ray AFTER Godzilla is having issues breathing from the cadmium… and Godzilla continues to stand, off on a small monitor, while the prime minister and his staff go over the likely scenario of the nuke that the Soviets just launched. FINALLY the movie cuts back and Godzilla collapses into a building, as the cadmium begins to affect him. The editing structure is painful, and oddly de-emphasizes Godzilla during what should be a key sequence.
The US edit is much more concise, with faster pacing that doesn’t make it seem like Godzilla is just sitting there perplexed for what feels like an hour while the Super-X does it’s thing. The editing makes Godzilla feel more appropriately hostile, as his first response is to attempt to blast the craft with his ray, which has no impact thanks to the ship’s shielding. The Super-X then responds in turn with the flares and cadmium missiles, which cause Godzilla to topple over without the needless minutes of him standing in place. It’s an infinitely more engaging turn of events than what happens in the original cut.
The second battle after Godzilla awakes is good in both versions, although even here the US version makes a wise cut of a long scene as Godzilla waits for the Super-X to emerge from behind a building.
While most of the improvements to the film can be chalked up to editing choices, and most of the negatives associated with the added scenes, this alteration does buck that trend. As Godzilla ascends into the volcano, Raymond Burr’s Steve Martin gives a heartfelt speech about the monster:
Nature has a way sometimes of reminding man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up terrible offspring’s of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake, or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla, that strangely innocent and tragic monster, has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not, or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us… remain…
While much of the dialogue for the new film leaves some to be desired, the overly poetic closure feels on point. Burr’s delivery is also impeccable, giving some new closing meat to the film during a sequence that was otherwise dialogue-less.
The Return of Godzilla features two songs, both of which were removed when New World Pictures edited the film. The first is “Good-bye Sweetheart Godzilla” and the second is the “Godzilla: Theme of Love”. If those song titles sound out of place for the more gothic 1984 film, it’s because they are.
The first song is actually done by the main actress of the film, Yasuko Sawaguchi. It’s heard on the radio during the opening on the small leisure boat before it finds the Yahata Maru. It really cuts through the mood, being way too happy and poppy, as its placed between the fishing ship struggling the night before and the upcoming sequence of the Shockirus. If the original film crew placed the song there as a moment of humor, it missed the mark and feels more like Toho was looking for some place to just cram and promote Sawaguchi’s musical career.
The second song is better, but also unneeded. It’s located during the movie’s credits, as Godzilla is trapped in the volcano. Done by The Star Sisters, the song is actually in English and has the singers saying: “Good-bye now Godzilla, good-bye now Godzilla, until then… take care now Godzilla, take care now Godzilla my old friend… Sayonara ‘til we meet again.” Yes there was a saddened relief felt by the characters as Godzilla was falling into the volcano, but the lyrics of the song feel totally out of place. It would fit much better as a finisher on one of the 1970’s films, as opposed to one where Godzilla returned to his evil roots.
For the record, I don’t dislike either song, but feel neither fits with the 1984 Godzilla film.
Added Music by Christopher Young
*drum roll* …and the greatest achievement from Godzilla 1985 is the added music. Original composer Reijiro Koroku did a phenomenal job on the movie’s score. It’s one of the better in the franchise, and the dark, moody music fits the gothic motif of the production perfectly.
The fault of the music is not in the themes themselves, which are incredible, but rather than the sequences that lack them. Realizing this, New World Pictures tapped the musical work of composer Christopher Young to fill in the blank sequences. While Young is a very prolific composer now, having scored films like Spider-Man 3 and The Rum Diary, he was relatively new to the industry back in the mid-1980’s. The source of the music is actually the score for Def-Con 4, which was released in the US just five months prior.
Young’s score not only fits well with Koroku’s music, but was brilliant in its own right, and likely would have been very obscure if not for its use in the Godzilla film. The added themes from Young greatly improved certain, previously music-less sequences. The best examples include the eerie search through the Yahata Maru, the Soviet Submarine scenes before Godzilla attacks and the high rise evacuation by helicopter. The new end credits also utilized a new suite of music that nicely mixed Koroku’s music with Young’s to great effect.
As a side note, a lot of the musical score for Def-Con 4 can be found on an old 1990 Intrada CD release that we have reviewed on the site.
Agree or disagree with this list? Feel free to list your own things Godzilla 1985 did better than The Return of Godzilla in the comments below.General // November 30, 2018
Living proof that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, comes a collection of films, done outside of Japan, which were heavily influenced by Toho produced, and distributed, movies. As expected, Akira Kurosawa‘s movies are easily the most influential films to have come out of Toho, or Japan for that matter, and their impact is reflected below. However, in more recent years, there has been a outreach to pay homage to other films to have gone through Toho by different directors. As a general note, GODZILLA (1998) and Godzilla (2014) are not listed in this section due to the more direct involvement with Toho and the utilization of Toho copyrighted characters.
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
John Sturges’ western picture about seven gunfighters who are hired to protect a Mexican village from their bandit oppressors. The film is the first, of many, to take their own swing at Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) while moving the story to a western setting, which would become a popular trend in adapting Kurosawa’s work. The film does credit its source material, though, listing: “This picture is based on the Japanese film Seven Samurai, Toho Company, Ltd.” The Magnificent Seven starred Yul Brynner in Takashi Shimura‘s role, and has Horst Buchholz playing a hybrid of Toshiro Mifune‘s role and Isao Kimura’s role. The film was followed up in 1966 with Return of the Magnificent Seven.
Influence: Seven Samurai (1954)
Star Wars (1977)
Without question, the most famous film which was inspired from a Toho movie. George Lucas’ Star Wars follows the basic principles of The Hidden Fortress (1958). The movie is told from the perspective of two droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO who are obviously playing out the roles of the two thieves in The Hidden Fortress, with the first twenty minutes of Star Wars being remarkably similar to the same scenes in Kurosawa’s 1958 film. Star Wars shares numerous similar plot points with its inspiration as well, including Obi-Wan (playing Mifune’s role, more or less) attempting to escort the princess to safety. Star Wars is a rather large deviation from the source material, though, with numerous twists and characters added in. The film was followed up in 1980 with The Empire Strikes Back.
Influence: The Hidden Fortress (1958)
Last Man Standing (1996)
This mid 1990’s offering by Walter Hill is a different take on Kurosawa’s masterpiece Yojimbo (1961). The Bruce Willis vehicle moves the story to a western setting with a mercenary getting caught between the conflict of local Italian and Irish gangs. This film is a little more faithful to the source, Dashiell Hammett’s The Red Harvest, than Kurosawa was, but still borrows more from Kurosawa’s movie than anything else. The film has Bruce Willis in Mifune’s role and Christopher Walken in Tatsuya Nakadai‘s role.
Influence: Yojimbo (1961)
The Ring (2002)
Gore Verbinski’s remake of the 1998 film Ring. Like its Japanese counterpart, The Ring focuses on a cursed tape which will kill those who watch it seven days later. The film is, more or less, a direct remake with several scenes added in to explain the origin of the film’s antagonist, Samara (instead of Sadako) in this version, adding a lot of back story that wasn’t in the 1998 offering. The film was followed up in 2005 by The Ring Two, which is directed by Hideo Nakata, the director behind the original 1998 film.
Influence: Ring (1998)
Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
Quentin Tarantino’s largely different take on the 1973 film Lady Snowblood, which was released in a two volume series. It would be unfair to credit Lady Snowblood full heartily for Kill Bill, as the series is really a homage to so many different sources; however, it would not be unfair to credit the 1973 film as the prime inspiration. To put it bluntly, Kill Bill merges the role of Yuki Shurayuki and her mother into one, and adds one member to the roster of murderers. Kill Bill still keeps the chapter story approach, along with several shots (such as when the murders are peering down at the defeated Mother/Bride) and keeps the main title theme of Lady Snowblood (Flower of Carnage by Masaaki Hirao). The film was followed up in 2004 with Kill Bill: Volume 2.
Influence: Lady Snowblood (1973)
Shall We Dance? (2004)
A remake of the 1996 movie of the same name, Shall We Dance?. Produced by Miramax, the same company which had released the original Japanese production in the United States in 1997, the film took the overall story and made it a vehicle for stars Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon. Although with a similar plot, the new movie focuses more on the supporting cast than the original did.
Influence: Shall We Dance? (1996)
Dark Water (2005)
Staring Jennifer Connelly, the film is a reimagining of the original 2002 production Dark Water. The movie is one of the more faithful remakes of a Japanese production committed to a Toho film, although still adds and removes sequences that in turn separates it from the original.
Unlike other horror remakes, the movie keeps the grim ending of the original source with only minor changes.
Influence: Dark Water (2002)
Following the wave of Japanese horror remakes, this production adapts Pulse (2001) for the US market. Although with a similar plot, the movie is 30 minutes shorter than the original and takes a vastly different approach to the material wherein trying to elaborate on the strange occurrences rather than falling back on a sense of mystery that the 2001 feature did.
The film was followed up in 2008 by Pulse 2: Afterlife.
Influence: Pulse (2001)
One Missed Call (2008)
A remake of the 2003 film One Missed Call, which is faithful to the overall plot but adds new sequences and a totally different ending. This particular “influence” is an interesting scenario as the original 2003 movie was actually made with hopes that it would be remade in the United States, as there was a “remake me” fervor in the Japanese horror genre after The Ring‘s success. In the end, it took five years and the original production studio Kadokawa working with Warner Bros themselves to get the remake they wanted.
Influence: One Missed Call (2003)
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
A remake of a remake. The 2016 production took John Sturges’ original 1960 film, which transplanted Akira Kurosawa‘s Seven Samurai (1954) in a western setting, and updates the premise with more choreographed action and a more racially diverse cast.
While the Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt vehicle owes more to Sturges’ film than Kurosawa’s, the 2016 production does right by crediting the writing talent behind the 1954 samurai epic.
Influence: Seven Samurai (1954)
Uncredited or Unauthorized Influences
Not all films are forthcoming with their influence, or sometimes even source material. Below are entries that are influenced by Toho films but are not officially credited. Some of these are up for debate, others, like A Fistful of Dollars where lawsuits are involved, are more clear despite the lack of source citing.
A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
The most famous incident of an uncredited influence. Sergio Leone’s first entry in his “Dollars Trilogy” is an Italian remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961) starring Clint Eastwood in Toshiro Mifune‘s role. The film is set in the old west with the “Man With No Name”, the story’s mercenary protagonist, going up against two rival gangs, who he pits against each other. The film keeps the slightly humorist approach to the story, that was a trademark of Kurosawa’s film. Released just three years after the Mifune vehicle, the production caught the attention of Kurosawa who famously stated it was “a fine movie, but it was MY movie”. Toho intervened at this point with a lawsuit, and the filmmakers settled out of court.
The film was followed up in 1965 with For a Few Dollars More.
Influence: Yojimbo (1961)
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
Roger Corman, who will appear again on this list, set out to capitalize on the ongoing science fiction craze by crafting what was called “The Magnificent Seven in space”. While the movie, at least from the cast, cites influence from John Sturges’ 1960 production, Kurosawa’s original Seven Samurai (1954) is never given similar credit. The similarities to the 1960 Western are sometimes overt, especially with the casting of Robert Vaughn who appears in both.
In terms of plot, the story covers a young man attempting to search the galaxy for defenders to help him protect his planet from an invader called Sador the Malmori. Ultimately, a band of warriors is assembled, although much like the 1954 and 1960 productions they are met with heavy casualties and sacrifices in their quest.
Influence: Seven Samurai (1954)
The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)
Produced in the 1980’s, this production attempts to adapt the story of Yojimbo (1961) in a sword and sorcery setting. Although drastically more outlandish than its inspiration, the remake lifts numerous segments wholesale from the original besides the fact that the basic plots are virtually identical.
While the film never fairly credits itself as a remake, star David Carradine freely admits it. In fact, in his book Spirit of Shaolin he recounts a conversation with executive producer Roger Corman. The incident involves Carradine countering a claim that it was “like” Yojimbo (1961) with a response that “it’s not like Yojimbo… it is Yojimbo.” Humorously, Corman diffused the conversation citing that Kurosawa’s film was influenced by Dashiel Hammet’s Red Harvest and this prevented Toho from suing other films like A Fistful of Dollars… seemingly unaware that Toho had actually sued those filmmakers.
Influence: Yojimbo (1961)
A Bug’s Life (1998)
The Disney/Pixar production’s influence from Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai(1954) is almost something of an in-joke now, although no one on the production side has ever referenced the connection. The movie places ants in the role of the peasants, with a group of grasshoppers as the film’s bandit antagonists. This time around, a group of eight circus performers are hired to get rid of the colony of bandits.
The Seven Samurai (1954) influence on the film was picked up early, with release date reviews such as this one from the Chicago Tribune noting it. The in-joke part comes from director John Landis’ reaction to the film in respects to his own ¡Three Amigos! movie, bringing it up several times until he erupted in a 2011 interview: “They completely ripped it off! The first Pixar movie about the ants, A Bug’s Life, took the same plot.”. The irony being that the ¡Three Amigos! is a bit of a parody of The Magnificent Seven. Ultimately, A Bug’s Life owes more to the 1954 and 1960 films rather than Landis’ production, with the exception of the element of the circus performers not realizing the real danger they have signed up for.
Influence: Seven Samurai (1954)
This article was first published on August 19th, 2004.General // November 5, 2018
Wondering if there is an after the credits scene in Kong: Skull Island? Many blockbuster franchises, from the Marvel cinematic universe to entries in the Fast & Furious series, boast a sequence at the end of the film that often ties into future entries. That said, and anyone who recently watched Logan can attest, it can be frustrating to sit through the entire credits only to be greeted with no such scene. So does the latest Kong movie offer something after the credits?
The answer: yes
Not only is that answer a resounding yes, but it’s a scene that genre fans will have to see. This scene should not be confused with the home video footage of John C. Reilly’s Hank Marlow, which happens at the start of and during the credits. This sequence happens after the credits are completely finished.
Due to the magnitude of the scene, it’s recommended to not have it spoiled before watching it. That said, those looking for spoilers can find them further down the page.
So while Godzilla (2014) had no after credits stinger, Kong does in a major way. While fans can enjoy the music of Captain America: Civil War composer Henry Jackman, observant viewers can see a credit for Toho and the use of the Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah and Rodan characters. This citation does indeed link to the after credits sequence.
The scene starts with Tom Hiddleston’s James Conrad and Brie Larson’s Mason Weaver being integrated by unseen figures at a Monarch facility. The frustrated pair talk about Skull Island and possible revelations to the Russians. They are interrupted by the appearance of Monarch staff, as Corey Hawkins’ Houston Brooks and Tian Jing’s San arrive to inform them that Skull Island was not an anomaly.
They begin talking of other monster sightings, cueing both a stock image from the 2014 Godzilla film of the nuclear explosion before showing cave drawing pictures. These pictures depict, separately, Mothra, King Ghidorah and Rodan. An additional painting depicts Godzilla battling King Ghidorah.
Other monsters do exist, and as the movie fades to black the Godzilla roar is heard.
As a result of this sequence, the movie teases the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters film.
General // March 11, 2017
IDW Publishing had a long run releasing Godzilla comics. In fact, over the five year run, the Godzilla comics had one of the company’s largest success stories with the breakaway performance of Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #1. With the character selling well in the format and with a track record of data available, this report measures how the King of the Monsters has been faring in various issues on the market since IDW took the reigns.
To do this, data has been compiled from using sales estimates provided by Diamond Comics Distributors, the largest comic distributor in the United States. Estimates are given on a monthly basis, meaning that most of the data here reflects when a comic was initially ordered or if it saw a lot of orders and sales in a past month to merit a readjustment.
Best Sellers Data
This first series of data presents the sales in order of copies estimated to be sold. Please note the data reflects primarily issues sold to retailers, such as comic book shops.
While the ongoing series has generally sold better than its mini-series counterparts, the ongoing also has the lowest sellers on the list as well. Overall, the two have held up pretty well in contrast to each other. For reference, the top selling mini-series comic is Godzilla in Hell #1.
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #1 – 69,662
- Godzilla in Hell #1 – 15,388
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #4 – 14,890
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #3 – 14,588
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #2 – 14,492
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #5 – 14,232
- Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths #1 – 13,292
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #6 -12,525
- Godzilla in Hell #4 – 12,408
- Godzilla in Hell #3 – 12,332
- Godzilla in Hell #5 – 12,023
- Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths #2 – 12,018
- Godzilla #1 – 11,993
- Godzilla Cataclysm #1 – 11,868
- Godzilla in Hell #2 – 11,278
- Godzilla Oblivion #2 – 11,192
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #7 – 11,141
- Godzilla The Half-Century War #1 – 11,010
- Godzilla Oblivion #1 – 10,750
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #8 – 10,638
- Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths #3 – 10,526
- Godzilla Legends #1 – 10,330
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #9 – 9,879
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #1 – 9,813
- Godzilla #2 – 9,756
- Godzilla The Half-Century War #3 – 9,709
- Godzilla The Half-Century War #2 – 9,453
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #10 – 9,294
- Godzilla #3 – 9,282
- Godzilla Oblivion #3 – 9,208
- Godzilla The Half-Century War #4 – 9,090
- Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths #4 – 9,061
- Godzilla The Half-Century War #5 – 8,884
- Godzilla Rage Across Time #3 – 8,872
- Godzilla Rage Across Time #2 – 8,859
- Godzilla Cataclysm #2 – 8,859
- Godzilla #4 – 8,767
- Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths #5 – 8,725
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #11 – 8,677
- Godzilla Cataclysm #3 – 8,624
- Godzilla #5 – 8,596
- Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #12 – 8,508
- Godzilla Rage Across Time #4 – 8,500
- Godzilla Legends #2 – 8,465
- Godzilla Oblivion #5 – 8,407
- Godzilla #6 – 8,128
- Godzilla Legends #3 – 8,013
- Godzilla Cataclysm #4 – 7,981
- Godzilla Rage Across Time #5 – 7,950
- Godzilla Cataclysm #5 – 7,892
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #12 – 7,890
- Godzilla #7 – 7,689
- Godzilla #8 – 7,623
- Godzilla Legends #5 – 7,498
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #2 – 7,483
- Godzilla Legends #4 – 7,454
- Godzilla #9 – 7,194
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #16 – 7,181
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #17 – 7,167
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #15 – 7,156
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #14 – 7,144
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #3 – 7,080
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #18 – 7,065
- Godzilla #10 – 6,992
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #13 – 6,980
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #19 – 6,964
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #5 – 6,920
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #11 – 6,917
- Godzilla #11 – 6,905
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #4 – 6,820
- Godzilla #12 – 6,782
- Godzilla Rage Across Time #1 – 6,758
- Godzilla #13 – 6,741
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #25 – 6,707
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #21 – 6,694
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #10 – 6,677
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #6 – 6,653
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #20 – 6,588
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #7 – 6,587
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #9 – 6,531
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #8 – 6,530
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #22 – 6,447
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #23 – 6,407
- Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #24 – 6,384
Historical Sales Data
Below is sales data organized by its month. It gives an overall idea of trends. It should be noted that this list only shows sales for a particular month if the comic sold enough to place it among one of the top 300 selling issues for that period.
Due to the front loaded nature of comic sales, the Godzilla issues rarely trended more than one month, but there are a few exceptions.
Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #1 – 58,879
Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #3 – 14,588
Godzilla Legends #5 – 7,454
Godzilla #1 – 11,993
Godzilla #2 – 9,756
Godzilla #3 – 9,282
Godzilla #7 – 7,689
Godzilla The Half-Century War #4 – 9,090
Godzilla #10 – 6,992
Godzilla #12 – 6,782
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #1 – 9,813
Godzilla #13 – 6,741
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #4 – 6,820
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #5 – 6,920
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #6 – 6,653
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #7 – 6,587
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #8 – 6,530
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #9 – 6,531
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #10 – 6,677
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #11 – 6,917
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #12 – 7,890
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #13 – 6,980
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #14 – 7,144
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #20 – 6,588
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #23 – 6,407
Godzilla Rulers of the Earth #24 – 6,384
Godzilla in Hell #2 – 11,278
Godzilla in Hell #3 – 12,332
Godzilla in Hell #4 – 12,408
Godzilla in Hell #5 – 12,023
Godzilla Oblivion #1 – 10,750
Godzilla Oblivion #2 – 11,192
Godzilla Oblivion #3 – 9,208
Godzilla Oblivion #4 – 9,766
Godzilla Oblivion #5 – 8,407
Godzilla Rage Across Time #1 – 6,758
Surprised by any of the results? Sound off in the comments below about the IDW Publishing Godzilla comic sales data.
This article was first published on February 17. 2012.General // December 21, 2016
This year has brought a lot of change to the site, and that trend is continuing. I had planned to revamp the forums for a few weeks at this point, removing all of the old code and basically starting from scratch, although of course keeping the database intact (so all threads, users, and more was still there). It wasn’t an easy choice, there were a lot of modifications made to the code over 13 years and many I would not be able to reproduce myself.
However, it had been a frequent request and after some recent performance issues, I realized it was time to bite the bullet rather than keep it going. To update the forum required about 3 hours of downtime, which would be used to update the database for the forums (this doesn’t factor in the weekend prior I spent working on it in pre-production). While I originally figured this would just be a normal update, it kind of dawned on me that I had nothing planned for April Fools.
So I decided to merge the two. Throw together an April Fools’ Day 2016 prank that the forums were closing while using the downtime to update to the new forum architecture.Before getting into the prank, though, I would like to bid farewell to the old forums first. They had a lengthy run from 2003 to 2016, although the database was wiped during a site transition… the code on the forums itself remained.
In saying goodbye, I would like to take a look at the old forum styles, which I had quite an affection toward. These were one of many elements that we simply could not take with us toward the new forum architecture. As some know, I hate throwing things away when it comes to web properties, so below is a bit of an archive of what the old styles looked like, how many used them and my thoughts. I sadly don’t know the exact dates of when they came out, only that the last one was in 2010. Because of that, I will order them based on popularity as of March 29th, 2016. Images can be clicked to expand them.
Gotengo (Purple) ~ 1,371 users
This theme enjoyed a pretty healthy run as the default theme, which gives it a user base edge. Personally, though? This one was my favorite and the one I used. It shared the most with the original forum design, back before styles were introduced, but updated it for a slightly more modern take. The colors were a bit unique and your eyes gravitated to the orange, which was perfect since that’s where the board title or thread name would be found. The light purple was also the closest to the main site colors of the lot.
Mecha-King Ghidorah (Blue) ~ 626 users
The second most popular style, and with a devoted following. When the new boards were taken down, this was by far the most requested style to return. I do vividly recall struggling to design something around King Ghidorah, and ended up going for one on the mechanized form after realizing how perfectly he fit in the header area. The blue design was also pretty attractive, and I really don’t know why I gravitated toward multiple blue styles when the main site is more of a dark purple.
Godzilla Fire (Dark Black) ~ 510 users
In retrospect, it’s kind of surprising that the forums only had one true dark/black style. Consequently, it’s not too surprising to see this style rise through the ranks, being the only game in town. The inspiration for this style is actually based on the Kirin Fire (“Godzilla Coffee”). The ad campaign featured baseball player Hideki Matsui, who was nicknamed Godzilla and also appeared in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002), and Godzilla himself (circa the Kiryu era design). If you have never seen the commercial, take a watch here, you might be surprised how faithful the design for this style was for something so obscure.
Godzilla (Dark Blue) ~ 345 users
I was always shocked when this board, which used to be at the top, started to sink over the years. Even though my favorite was the Gotengo one, I tended to identify the board with this look the most. Because I was pretty pleased with the design, I also set it as the default board when someone wasn’t logged in. Visually, I loved the slow fade of the Heisei Godzilla head in the header. The radioactive icons haven’t aged that well, though, but otherwise an appealing design.
20th Century Boys (Classic) ~ 31 users
There was a small but vocal group that really wanted the original forum style to return, which was abandoned once more colorful styles were added. The group got their wish with a style that harked back to that 2003 design, even with the same Xilien UFO icons. The header image was retooled, though, and the theme based off a nostalgia angle harking to 20th Century Boys (2008). This was my least favorite style, but it did what it set out to do: replicate the original look.
Bloodthirsty (Black) ~ 30 users
God bless the 30 mavericks who choose this theme. I do recall this being the last of the themes I designed, and also being discouraged at the lack of use it got as it can be quite time consuming to create a style. A few switched it on for Halloween, but it never really got much use. The actual theme is based on the 1970’s vampire films in what is called the Bloodthirsty trilogy. The films are: Vampire Doll (1970), Lake of Dracula (1971) and Evil of Dracula (1974). I absolutely love Vampire Doll (1970), and the design had most in common with this film with both the house in the background and the title character with the blade. However, the roses were an element owed to Evil of Dracula (1974).
Pokémon (Orange) ~ 7 users
…And at the bottom of the heap we find the site’s only anime style, which was based on the Pokémon films. The actual Pokémon selection was based on the 3rd generation, Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire for the Game Boy Advance, which appeared in films such as Pokémon: Jirachi Wish Maker (2003). The actual design kind of reminded me of old school Macs. It was never really popular, although I do remember it for being Miles Imhoff’s style of choice for the forums.
April Fools’ Day 2016
So back to the topic at hand, as mentioned I did not plan an April Fools joke for this year. That’s not too shocking, as in years past I would lean on Miles or ask something to come from the K.W.C. crew to see if they could fill the void. However, felt that the K.W.C. angle was tried too recently, so racked my brain to come up with something as a gap filler.
The eventual resolution was to just say the forums were closing.
As previously mentioned, it was going to take a bit to update the database to the new architecture, and so the timing was right to take advantage of it. Now my normal mantra for April Fools jokes is that I want them to occur only within the period that falls on April Fools, I told some other members of the staff and they wanted to drum up a minor storm on the forums to sell the idea more. I gave it my okay, and one of the actions was Derzerb’s resignation, as seen below.
With that in place, I crafted a fairly long message to go up on the main site while the boards would be disabled, allowing for the database update to occur in the background. While there was no truth to the message in regards to the forums being closed, there was a degree of real reflection to it. Mostly that the forums are an area where the staff isn’t really given much kudos. However, as said in the message, it’s understandable as it’s user generated content, although it does hurt the ol’ motivation for it at times.
Anyway, for reference, below is the original message that was posted on the front of the site:
After a lot of thought, I have decided to close down the forums as sort of a “contingency plan”. This wasn’t an easy choice. The forums have been with us for a long time, since 2003. In many ways, it is part of what defines the website. However, it has been kind of a thankless component of the website as well, and you can’t really blame that mentality. By nature, it’s user generated content. When I updated the monster bios, Baragon’s in particular, I got a lot of praise for that. While I don’t seek praise, it does help drive my motivation around the website.
The forums have never really offered that. People expect it to work, and again I don’t blame others as I would have the same approach on other forums as well. However, the forums are old. It’s 13 years now and that’s 13 years of code. Code that has accumulated over time and with the departure of Miles Imhoff, it’s something that I’m not familiar enough with to “fix”. So the forums have lamented a bit. My free time is not what it once was and I will attest that nothing bums me out more than working a long day in the office only to check my phone afterwards to read emails calling me out for a lack of involvement in the forum or for current events there that I need to fix.
It’s hard. It’s draining. I don’t like to close things down, as the site’s blog section will show as that has become a catch all area for abandoned ideas in the past, but the forums are something that I have decided it’s finally time to close this chapter of the site’s history. A recent exodus there as well made this choice somewhat easier too.
I do deeply want to thank everyone who has participated there over the years and the admins and moderators who have helped as well. It’s all been much appreciated. I’m still deciding what to do with them, leaning toward archiving it all and linking toward it in the blog section, but right now I have just disabled it.General // April 5, 2016
Every year Toho is involved in numerous films, not to mention a large archive they have created during the “Golden Age” of Japanese cinema. This presents quite a catalog to review, and initially we at the Toho Kingdom opened our doors to user submitted reviews to help fill some of the void. That policy shifted with age, though, and it has been years since Toho Kingdom has accepted submissions from movie reviews. This blog will explain the policy change and also feature an archive of older user submitted reviews.
History of Movie Review Submissions
As some might know, at one time user submitted reviews were a big part of Toho Kingdom. It’s a process that actually led to the hiring of Miles Imhoff, who cut his teeth first on these reviews. Without realizing it, the user submitted reviews turned out to be a good way to vet talent.
Unfortunately, after years of use, this aspect started to get long in the tooth. The work involved was time consuming: editing reviews and asking for changes if it wasn’t deemed up to standard. This was especially true after a user was discovered plagiarizing reviews from other sources. This added a whole new layer where all submitted work needed to be checked against this.
Despite the labor involved, the real nail in the coffin was just a change in where I wanted the site to go. If you wanted a quick user review, IMDB has you covered. I wanted the reviews on Toho Kingdom to have a different pedigree. For readers to start to understand how a reviewer works and build a relationship with them. For example, maybe someone is closer in view point to Patrick Galvan’s analysis of films versus my own. Basically, I see value in starting to identify with the reviewer and for this to add a layer of importance to the review. …either that or the reader just might enjoy the humor that Nicholas Driscoll infuses in his work. To that point, the site has some really great reviewers right now as well, with Nicholas, Alexander Smith and, of course, Patrick. It’s a lineup where you have some great analysis of both popular and obscure material. It’s what I envisioned the reviews should be and with that strong backbone I no longer saw the need for the user reviews.
Archived Toho Kingdom Movie Review Submissions
This decision was made years ago, but just yesterday the user submitted reviews were finally removed from the review section. That said, I’m a fan of keeping everything. So even though we no longer accept submitted movie reviews, I’m not deleting any of the old ones. If you want to read any of them, that were submitted between 2005 and 2011, feel free to scroll below for a trip down memory lane:
Published Movie Reviewer Score10-23-2011 Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster [Continental]Destroyer4.009-24-2011 Godzilla: Final WarsDestroyer4.509-01-2011 Destroy All Monsters [International]Destroyer3.509-01-2011 Invasion of Astro-Monster [Maron Films]Destroyer4.008-21-2011 AkiraEvan Brehany4.006-27-2011 OnmyojiEvan Brehany4.002-07-2011 Godzilla vs. GiganKing Caesar2.512-27-2010 Godzilla vs. MothraGodzillawolf3.512-16-2010 Ebirah, Horror of the DeepPaul Sell4.010-26-2010 Godzilla vs. DestoroyahGodzillawolf4.509-19-2010 Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzillaGodzillawolf3.0 05-06-2010 Bye-Bye Jupiter (Sayonara Jupiter) DaikaijuSokogeki! 4.004-14-2010 Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah [Tristar]Godzillawolf3.502-14-2010 Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.Godzillawolf4.511-04-2009 Godzilla Against MechagodzillaGodzillawolf4.010-22-2009 Terror of MechagodzillaEthan Reed3.510-22-2009 Godzilla, Mothra, & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out AttackGodzillawolf4.508-13-2009 Godzilla vs. BiollanteGodzillawolf4.007-23-2009 Godzilla vs. MechagodzillaAdam Striker4.007-22-2009 Ghidorah, the Three-Headed MonsterEthan Reed3.011-29-2008 One Missed Call 2Pat Atwell3.007-03-2008 One Missed CallPat Atwell4.012-21-2007 Terror of MechagodzillaAnguirusGuy3.0 10-24-2006 Pulse (Kairo) Hank Xavier 4.5 09-18-2006 Rebirth of Mothra Donny Winter 3.5 08-28-2006 The Spiral (Rasen) Hank Xavier 2.0 08-25-2006 Ikiru Chaos 5.0 08-22-2006 Godzilla (Godzilla, King of the Monsters) Cow 4.0 08-10-2006 The Return of Godzilla (Godzilla 1985) Hank Xavier 4.5 08-09-2006 Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla Chaos 1.5 07-28-2006 Godzilla vs. Megalon Hank Xavier 2.5 07-16-2006 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II Hank Xavier 3.5 05-27-2006 Ring (Ringu) Hank Xavier 4.0 05-22-2006 Ikiru Athean 4.5 04-03-2006 Godzilla vs. Megaguirus Tim85 2.5 03-24-2006 Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack Tim85 4.5 03-17-2006 Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (Godzilla X Mechagodzilla) Tim85 3.5 03-04-2006 Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. Tim85 3.5 02-25-2006 Godzilla: Final Wars Tim85 3.0 02-18-2006 Gamera: Guardian of the Universe Tim85 4.5 02-11-2006 Rodan [DCA] Tim85 4.0 02-02-2006 Spirited Away DaikaijuSokogeki! 5.0 09-13-2005 Son of Godzilla Spinzilla 3.5 06-06-2005 Gamera 2: Advent of Legion (Gamera vs. Legion) THE GODZILLA 5.0 05-11-2005 Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris THE GODZILLA 5.0 05-07-2005 Godzilla Raids Again [Warner Bros.] THE GODZILLA 3.0 04-25-2005 Godzilla (Godzilla, King of the Monsters) gvsgdude89 4.5General // February 23, 2016
17 years… that feels like a millennia in “web years”. It’s also how old the site is turning this year. The year was 1999. It was an interesting time in the fandom. Websites on Godzilla were a dime a dozen, many using the same pictures over and over again. The same low-quality roars were also cycled everywhere. It was an age of spinning gifs and website counters. The time period was also a year after GODZILLA (1998) came out and just as Godzilla 2000: Millennium(1999) was almost on our doorstep. So the “GINO” hate was strong, and the interest in a relaunch in Godzilla high.
It was during this era that Toho Kingdom was born, created by a high school freshman version of myself. I could never picture myself today embarking for the first time on this journey, but my younger self was outgoing (and certainly with ample free time). While the site was maintained solely by myself for three years, it started to expand to a team of people. A project this big, this vast needed a team.
That team materialized, was shaped and evolved over a decade.
Now while present day me has been a manager for some years now, college-aged me was new to this whole concept. I was fortunate to be surrounded by a stellar team. Still, at the end of the day, I was a poor boss who never adequately praised efforts.
Today, I promote based on contributions. This led to Miles Imhoff being our vice president for many years and Chris Mirjahangir as our current executive director. Those types of promotions will continue and the site will also continue to single out at least someone each year to praise, as I have done in the past with Miles and did in 2015 for Tyler Trieschock.
Those are today’s practices, though, and nothing even remotely similar existed for much of the site’s long history. So today I want to make some amends. This is a longtime Toho Kingdom staff appreciation session to honor those who deserved it but might not have gotten proper kudos. This is both current staff and past staff members. I’m keeping this to just staff who joined before 2008 as well. So you won’t find, for example, Joshua Sudomerski or Patrick Galvan on this list even though they are examples of two rock stars who I admire and feel grateful to have on our team. I’m also skipping past our upper management. I could write essays on the contributions of Miles or Chris, but this piece is aimed toward those who likely never got their deserved praise.
So, without further ado:
(in order of start date)
James was one of the very first staff members the site ever had. Unlike many of the staff, James did not have one particular area of expertise. His contributions were diverse and widespread. From bios, to translating, to scanning images, to K.W.C. matches and even Video Games… James contributed a bit of everything.
While it’s easy to take for granted some aspects of the site, it was really early on that sections like the Video Games materialized. They have always been overly obsessive, dripping with detail that you just won’t find anywhere else on these games. That decision for this detail oriented approach was a collaboration between myself and James that let the section blossom.
At the time, James was very much a vice president-level role in his contributions to the site. He really helped to form a wealth of content in the early years that we started.
Thomas gets the honor of being our longest running staff member. Having joined back in 2003, this year will mark his 13th on the site staff.
While Thomas has contributed in several areas, his exemplary work was always due to his incredible writing talents. One doesn’t read the K.W.C. match Bagan vs. Everyone from beginning to end without realizing this is something special. Something epic and different.
Over the years I have come to depend on Thomas for turning in really memorable work. His skills as a writer are remarkable. One of the highest praises I can give is that Thomas never repeats himself. While you come to depend on a well written piece from him, you never feel like any of his work is repeating the same beats. He is a dynamic writer whose work is never short of compelling.
Next year will be Nicholas’ 10th on the site staff. Articulate and very well spoken, nothing less can be said other than Nicholas’ work is truly unique. How else could one describe the painstakingly researched, fascinatingly in-depth Many Loves of Godzilla article? While his movie reviews turn heads, from newer to older releases, the most praise I tend to hear and concur with is for his book reviews.
Now for most, book collecting is a rather obscure hobby for the fandom. Toy collectors? Countless. Movie collectors? Numerous. Comic collectors? A fair share. Soundtrack collectors? A passionate but small group. Book collectors? Now we have gone to a real small niche of the community. Regardless, Nicholas has taken a small sector of the fandom and made it interesting for all.
I’m not sure how many other children of the 1980’s might be reading this, but Nicholas’ open letter to Ian Thorne in his Godzillareview left me with a flood of emotions. I’m grateful that I’m not alone in my love of Nicholas’ book reviews either, as nothing made me happier then when we recently hired Marcus Gwin who shared similar feelings for Nicholas’ work.
Christian was the site’s second hire of 2007, a banner year for new employees.
I have known Christian for many, many years at this stage. At one time, Christian, myself, Thomas, “Z2K”, “Kedzuel” and Matt Frank (of Godzilla: Rulers of Earth fame now) would frequent MSN back in the day. So when Christian joined the site it was a natural fit.
While Christian had been envisioned to simply contribute to the K.W.C. section, he instead laid the foundation for a total rehaul to that portion of the site. The banners and the diverse pool of writers were something done directly under his leadership over that section. This required an incredible amount of work to coordinate and finalize, setting in place a structure that would not only add banners to new matches but also all previous ones as well.
While Thomas had already started to contribute to this section, it was Christian who transformed what was once an archaic portion of the site, using static images of the monsters, into something lively; something that has become a flagship portion of the site. Christian worked to create an intital network of writers and created the forums’ K.W.C. section to help best shape these efforts. Without this work, it’s likely the K.W.C. would have lamented as a hidden subsection, like the D20 area did at one point, rather than one of the pinnacles of the site as it is today.General // February 5, 2016
2003… This was the year the website underwent a major redesign. The new design introduced the now trademark purple hue and also had a, for the time, modern aesthetic. That layout included a banner area up top and a navigation menu to the left. A look that was fairly popular on major sites of the time.
It replaced an archaic design that was technically the second iteration of the site. That design lasted from, I want to say, 2000 to 2002. The look included a splash image of Godzilla followed by a layout that was heavy on frames. Yes frames, that web design element that was all the rage in the 1990’s and has since been deemed “obsolete” by some random Wikipedia editor, although I don’t argue with their verdict. It included a website counter as well, and really all it needed was spinning gifs and a guest book to be a website that would have made Strong Bad proud.
The 2003 Design
The web moved fast then, arguably faster than it does today, and designs evolved quickly. By the time the third design rolled out, it replaced something that was already looking ancient by web standards. The look of the 2003 website proved popular, far more popular than I had anticipated. While I was never proud of the previous designs, this one, seen below, had me very pleased with the final product.
While elements of the design continued to evolve, like I humorously amazed my younger self by learning rudimentary CSS and replacing the images in the navigation area with text, the general look and feel stayed static.
I wish I knew the exact date the design rolled out. According to the Wayback Machine, the layout was already present by January 30th of 2003. Since this is January 19th of 2016, I will assume that was an almost 13 year run for the design. You can chalk that up to either being impressive or lazy on my part, or both (impressively lazy?).
Eventually a desire started to burn to replace it, a desire for redesigning Toho Kingdom. I was admittedly stubborn at first. It wasn’t until I had to start giving personal contacts a disclaimer, that the site was designed quite a while ago, that it was impossible to ignore that the layout was long in the tooth. I became resigned to this fact for most of the current decade. This especially became hard when it got to the point where I designed web elements for a living, having worked in product marketing for some years… yet owning a website that looked out of touch.
A change was needed. I knew I wanted something different, but only had rough concepts.
Redesigning Toho Kingdom
In early 2015, I finally told myself it was time to design a new site. Even if I didn’t have all the skills needed to execute it everything I wanted, the only way it would ever get off the ground is by taking that first leap.
The official new look was finished and mocked up on February 6th, 2015. It included three separate designs based on the resolution viewing it. This included a 1662+ pixel resolution design, 1661-1340 pixel resolution design and a below 1340 pixel resolution design. While I had not intended for the site to be mobile friendly, something for another day, I did plan for this to be *more* mobile friendly than the previous design.
The 1662+ pixel resolution design is seen below.
It required a culling of a few sections, but not content. Anything removed in the design, like the box office or posters, would just be found in the movie bios instead. It also offered a built-in search feature, aiming to make using the gigantic site (11,949 pages and counting) easier for those looking to find that one piece of content.
Developing the New Design
At the time, I was in discussions with someone for whom it sounded like I could work with on the project to see it realized. This would have been someone outside of the site staff brought on to work on the project. I was excited, although in retrospect was asking too much of someone without realizing it.
Uncharacteristically optimistic, I felt the launch of the new design was around the corner. I was so confident, in fact, that I designed an ad around it. In 2015, I was approached by ACE (All Comics Evaluated) to be paid for an article on Godzilla comics. A late part of the agreement included that an ad for Toho Kingdom could be included. With the magazine that I was to be featured in hitting new stands in May of that year, it seemed like the timing was right for an early teasing of the new site.
Below is the ad I designed for this.
The ad never appeared in the final magazine, I assume because of a mishap with the ad copy deadline. I did not press the matters, though, as it was becoming apparent that the new site was nowhere near completion. I had over estimated the other person’s interest. so callously assuming they were on board for the long haul. Ignoring the burden this would have placed on them.
…and so the design lamented. Sitting on a hard drive while updates as normal continued on Toho Kingdom. In the back of my head I knew that someday this would become reality, although when I was not sure. I started to prepare things like it would be coming, removing the box office section and making other needed changes.
While I approached a few others with the proposal to work on this design with me, no one took me up on the offer. It was a lot to ask.
Finally I decided that if this was going to be done, then I needed to hire someone to work on a contract basis for this project. With a budget in mind, I began an interview process and eventually found my candidate. They did much of the leg work going from the designs, although feedback, testing and QA were my contributions at the early juncture.
Eventually we had a finished product and testing began on January 17th, 2016. There were problems… but nothing unexpected. The site is quite old and realizes a lot of different designs. The Monster Bios are totally different from DVD reviews, for example. Many clashes were created, and I was working as the lead with the person I hired as back up to offer advice. It was a collaborative environment that I was thankful for. Even if the process lasted a good 10 hours, the goal was realized.
So after years, I’m happy with the design again. There is a lot more work to be done… but I’m happy and glad that finally others are able to see the work that had been nothing more than concepts for so long.General // January 19, 2016
This is a lofty goal of compiling 34 of the top Toho soundtracks. Why 34? Because I’m feeling random. The rankings aren’t based on a particular CD or LP release, but rather the entire music that surrounds the film. To make the list I actually made a top 65 and then removed 31 of them to prevent any soundtracks from slipping in that might not be worthy.
Soundtracks are ranked based on their enjoyment as a standalone experience. Music, especially soundtracks when you start to build an association with the final product, can be hard to rate. Musical scores tend to mean different things for different people, especially when nostalgia seeps in. That said, even a bad film can have an incredible score, and this list does host movies that are so-so where the composers poured their soul into the soundtrack to earn it a rightful spot here.
The list includes soundtracks from Toho produced films, Toho owned movies, films based on Toho’s characters and also Japanese productions that Toho released. Basically the normal suspects of contents included on the site.
This 1973 entry in the Zatoichi series, the last to go through Toho, is a tour de force from maestro Akira Ifukube.
The soundtrack is surprisingly soothing, giving Ifukube a chance to hone in on a softer approach to his cues. The score still boasts a bit of the composer’s bombastic tendencies, though, such as with “Shinbei’s Final Moment”. Its strength, however, is found in those more peaceful melodies. Chief among them are the oddly beautiful themes centered around Zatoichi and Omiyo.
It’s a wonderful body of work and, sadly, often overlooked when discussions of the composer’s best material is brought up.
#32 Haunted School 3
Composer Kow Otani turns in one of his better performances for this 1997 children’s horror film.
The movie has a wide variety of themes to its claim, ranging from the uplifting and energetic “To Love Shakashaka” to the chorus powered and more serious “Main Title”.
The score is consistent in quality, and shows a nice mix of orchestration with only a little bit of synth work, unlike some of the composer’s later material which became very synth heavy. All the same, it does feature the composer’s trademark “whale-like sound” that was also heard in scores like Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999) and Pyrokinesis (2000).
You are going to see quite a few live action kaiju films on this list. Part of that is I believe the subject matter lends itself well to action motifs, which hold up well to stand alone experiences.
On that note, what better way to start off than with a controversial pick through David Arnold’s score for GODZILLA. Soundtracks are often judged unfairly based on their subject matter. Given the infamy of the first American Godzilla film, it’s not hard to imagine many fans who have turned their nose up at the score.
Thankfully, due to being finally released in commercial form in 2007 and a couple times there after as well, Arnold’s soundtrack is finally getting some of the positive recognition it deserves and missed out on back in the 1990’s. Simply put, while some themes match the more carefree tone of the production, others are great action pieces that stand wonderfully on their own. “Godzilla vs the Submarine” is one such example, and a stellar battle theme that really ramps up the energy.
Like above, this soundtrack tends to get unfairly overlooked. This is likely because the film isn’t known as a popular entry among fans, despite doing phenomenal business at the box office.
While the Godzilla theme certainly sounded better in both the film that proceeded and followed it, the musical work for Mothra set a new standard. “The Birth of Adult Mothra” is a great soothing interpretation of Mothra’s song, while the chorus led “Ending” is fantastic.
Thankfully the score is not a simple retread of Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), with Battra getting a very fearsome and commanding theme that does great to contrast with both Godzilla’s and Mothra’s in the movie.
Composer Joe Hisaishi, who will appear a number of times on this list, does a fantastic job with this score to the conflicting 2010 movie Villain.
Piano dominated, the soundtrack is both beautiful while evoking a sense of unease, matching well with the story that focuses on a murderer and the devotion received from his new girlfriend despite this. “Faith” and “Twilight” are wonderful themes, some of the better piano work I have heard on a soundtrack. Meanwhile, other themes like “Uneasiness” and “To Hate” bring an almost horror vibe to the proceedings.
As it is, the only real downfall of the score is that it’s a little on the short side, leaving the listener wanting more.
Michiru Oshima‘s final score in the Godzilla franchise, and this time utilizing the New Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo.
For this score, Oshima continues to show a wide range of theme diversity in her material. For example, the stellar “Main Title” theme is a wonderful cue that makes a solid impact as it’s not utilized again for the course of the film.
Mothra is also given a new theme for the movie, which is both soothing with a sense of regality behind it, fitting the character like a glove. Ultimately, though, the show stopper of the score is the great battle music, heard in tracks like “Tokyo Tower Collapses”.
Composer Masaru Sato hit a career high with this 1974 entry in the Godzilla franchise, and Sato’s last in the series. While the composer had a lot of high pedigree films among his resume, including many Akira Kurosawa movies, the 20th anniversary Godzilla film really allowed the composer to tap into his best talent: his love for big band music.
The soundtrack offers a surprising level of variety, although given the mix of both mythical and the robotic in the story perhaps this shouldn’t be so shocking. Still, the composer really brings the house down for themes like “Godzilla vs. Anguirus”, bringing a sense of energy and uniqueness that’s hard to top.
#23 The Gransazers
When selecting the composer for the 2003 show The Gransazers, the first entry in what would be a three year run for the “Star God” franchise, Naruto regular Yasuharu Takanashi was selected.
Takanashi ended up being an inspired choice, infusing the material with a delicious sense of contemporary style. His love for guitars really helped the production mask the smaller orchestrations, giving a great sense of energy to the TV show. Tracks like “The Gransazers Theme” are the variety that you can listen to over and over again.
The program also featured some solid songs from U-Ya Asaoka and Abe Asami, opening and closing out the show.
The highly memorable finale to director Shusuke Kaneko‘s Gamera series. Composed by Kow Otani, the score loses some of the more uplifting music heard earlier in the franchise in favor a darker approach which matches the subject matter.
The end result is a more serious and foreboding body of work. This is best symbolized in the motif for Iris, seen in tracks like “The Birth”, which walk a fine line between soothing with a slight sense of dread.
Due to the darker subject matter, the infrequent use of the heroic Gamera theme, heard in themes like ” Kyoto in Flames”, does wonders to contrast and makes Gamera feel even more alone in the film.
Akira Ifukube was on a roll in the 1960’s. As the kaiju craze in Japan hit a fever pitch, so did Ifukube’s ability to masterfully craft themes that encompassed both the action and also sense of might of the giant monsters.
The 1964 score to Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is one of thosee moments of the composer at his finest. The battle royale picture features a host of excellent action pieces. While the Godzilla theme was toned down from its amazing use in Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), it’s made up for by an incredible Rodan theme, which is adapted from the earlier theme created for Varan.
The show stopper here, though, is the music surrounding the title character: King Ghidorah. The “Main Title” is excellent as is “The Fury of the Gravity Beam” which encompass such a sense of power that is generally hard to capture in music.
In perhaps a controversial view point, I give credit to the best representation of a theme rather than its origins. For Akira Ifukube, who continued to evolve his themes over his career, that can create a hurdle for early scores.
Battle in Outer Space is a bit of an anomaly. While a lot of the themes got featured in off screen use, like his Symphonic Fantasia, they missed out on getting heavily reworked in other films. There’s a lot of amazing themes here too, like the wonderful “Starry Sky” or “The Magnificence of the Base”, that stand up pretty well to his later work. The fact that Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) utilized this score so heavily when picking stock music is also a pretty good testament to its staying power.
Who can forget that first time they heard the ‘new’ Godzilla theme. While previously utilized in both the original Godzilla (1954) and King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), it was this 1964 entry that really pioneered the lasting interpretation of it.
The soundtrack itself is an interesting mix of action pieces and soothing melodies, which lines up well with the differing nature of its title characters. Despite not being the original composer for the Mothra character, Akira Ifukube‘s work on themes like the beautiful “Sacred Springs” have forever been associated with the kaiju now. The action pieces offer a lot of enjoyment from this score as well. There are great themes for “Godzilla vs. the Tank Corps” and “Electrical Discharge Strike” which add a lot of energy to Godzilla’s conflicts with the military.
As alluded to, I firmly believe that the best of Akira Ifukube‘s work is toward the end of his career. Either due to a refinement of his skills, or more likely just being able to take a moment to breath rather than having to quickly move from one score to the next as he did during the Showa era, the composer’s later day scores are his most enjoyable.
This 1991 score, the first from Ifukube after coming out of self retirement, is a great return to form for the composer. It suffers a little from being largely based on his past themes, but succeeds in often adapting those pieces into more engaging cues thanks to a combination of stereo versus mono and larger orchestration.
While the score as a whole is pretty solid, the stand out work is the fast paced theme for the MOTHER ship, “UFO in Flight”, and the improved themes for Godzilla and King Ghidorah, the latter of which had some of the battle music from King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) woven in to extend it.
#16 Spirited Away
While the soundtrack is consistently strong from start to finish, it’s best done when it’s trying to be soothing. The main title, ” One Summer’s Day…”, is one such example playing to Hisaishi’s strength with piano composition. In fact, the piano work is really what elevates the material from a good soundtrack to a great one. The star player in that sense is the wonderful “The Sixth Station” theme, which really transports the listener to that unknowing feeling that the main character is experiencing while perfectly capturing a slightly morbid sense of the passing of time.
Composed by Koichi Sugiyama, best known at this time and today for his work on the Dragon Questvideo games, the soundtrack took a different approach to the character from his peers leading up to the 1989 film. The end result is a great mix of action, soothing pieces and even some exotic motifs such as those for “The Saradia Republic”.
What elevates the soundtrack, though, is some infusion of Akira Ifukube‘s music into the material. In particular, the themes created for Ostinato were added in. The end result nicely ramps up the sense of action in the film. The editing for the pieces is also creative, in particular the main title theme which is a wonderful mixture of Sugiyama’s Cell theme with Ifukube’s Godzilla theme.
I feel it should be noted that the score has its critics. In particular those who loathe “Bio Wars” with a fiery passion. If you are one those, you can take comfort in the fact that the film is my favorite of all time and bias might have been at play here.
#14 Spring Snow
The soundtrack for Spring Snow is one of those rare examples of a score that gets better with each listen. I feel it’s a great representation of why soundtracks are so enjoyable, as the lack of vocals lend to the material a surprising amount of staying power without feeling overwhelmed by the repetition of it all.
In this case, it’s hard for me to think of a more soothing body of work than composer Taro Iwashiro’s Spring Snow. It’s regal and majestic, creating a score that you just want to get lost in. I typically listen to music while I go to sleep, and generally mix things up frequently. Spring Snow must have broken some sort of record, though, for being locked in my CD player for 10 months straight. The full orchestrations lend themselves so effortlessly to a desire for dreams.
Scored by Steve Jablonsky, best known for his work on Michael Bay’s Transformers series, comes a earnest soundtrack for the 2004 animated film Steamboy.
The end result shows a good deal of range, offering a few whimsical themes to go with its steampunk settings. A lot of score does pack a sense of energy too, which helps on the stand alone side. Other tracks like “Ray’s Theme” sound much more majestic, and the closest this soundtrack gets toward the approach Jablonsky utilized on Transformers. All said and done, though, the movie’s best asset on the musical side is actually a track called “The Chase”, which is a very rousing action piece.
#12 Porco Rosso
Feel in the mode for a light-hearted adventure?
Joe Hisaishi has you covered with this almost whimsical score for the 1992 production of a human turned pig and his high flying escapades after World War I. The soundtrack is fun, striking a light tone from the composer. One can only assume that Hisaishi had a bit of fun with this score, as the feeling is contagious from the listener.
It does break the care-free course of the soundtrack for a couple of themes, though. One of them is “Crazy / Flight”, which is actually because it was originally created for another 1992 release that same year. The theme is wonderful, though, and makes for a perfect addition to the soundtrack.
‘Dat main title…
While this 1993 score does feature repetition, the Godzilla theme, the Rodan theme, the Baby Godzilla theme and the new Mechagodzilla theme are all incredible. The energy that three of those themes pack in each note is powerful, while the Baby Godzilla theme is a soothing melody that works well to counter balance the other material.
While Akira Ifukube is still going back to the well of his past scores for inspiration, the end results are far more diverse from their source material than the earlier 1990’s work. The blood pumping main title for example is a totally re-energized version of the Operation “One Million Volts” theme from King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and the Mechani-Kong theme from King Kong Escapes (1967). In fact, it’s quite impressive that the composer was able to take a previously “good to okay” theme and transform it into one of the best of his career.
When Toho rebooted the Godzilla franchise to its 1954 roots, they hired a new composer to craft a score that stood out from its peers. The result was not only a career high for Reijiro Koroku, but an incredibly unique soundtrack for the Godzilla series as it gave the 1984 production a Gothic overtone.
The soundtrack kicks off from the first theme, swelling for the Main Title before kicking up the underlining dread. While the soundtrack does include a few well done marches, like the Super-X theme and “The Search for the Enemy Begins”, it’s ultimately the more sinister music in the film that has endeared fans to the score for decades. It’s touching send off for the character in “Godzilla Falls into Mt. Mihara” also made for a good finale, as audiences would bid farewell to the King of the Monsters until his triumphant return five years later.
Super Atragon the movie? Not so hot. Super Atragon the soundtrack? Phenomenal.
This is one of those key instances where Masamichi Amano was able to craft a soundtrack which immensely surpassed the quality of the film it was attached to. While there are some nice soothing melodies, it’s the marches and action pieces that draw the most attention. Stuff like “Launch of the Water Dragon” and “Ra vs. Liberty” are great themes, and the latter is especially impressive as it’s a 6 minute piece that keeps a diverse approach through out.
The score is one of those instances where the actual orchestration happened outside of the Japan. For this production, the Poland National Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra was utilized. The robust orchestra adds a lot to the material, giving it a gravitas that far exceeds what one would expect from an OVA (direct to video animated film).
Akira Ifukube‘s final score, and the maestro goes out with a bang.
Offering way more variety than a normal soundtrack by Ifukube, the score hits a range of emotions. The composer is on point here as well, with even short themes like “Fear of the Oxygen Destroyer” being a show stopper.
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah borrows from past scores, as the composer had been for years, but really breaths new life into the material. The “End Title” feels like a perfect send off for the composer, being a rousing theme that adapts several past cues. Meanwhile, tracks like “Requiem” are simply perfection, to the point it’s hard not to think of a better death theme for the King of the Monsters or not to feel the swelling emotion behind the track.
That about sums up my first experience with the score for Princess Mononoke when I saw the film in theaters. Joe Hisaishi is a wonderfully diverse composer. Warm, playful and lighthearted can be used to sum up several scores in his long resume.
This 1997 score feels like a more adult-facing extension of his work, encompassing a sense of majesty in its opening title and at other times having action based themes with an underlining sense of dread. The soundtrack fires on all cylinders as well, boasting a range of unique themes while tying the material together with one reoccurring cue motif heard in the main title to make the score feel like it flows together.
↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A
Putting Godzilla vs. Gigan on a top soundtrack list is like entering a cheat code in a video game. Outside of a ho-hum final song, the score is all stock music of Akira Ifukube‘s earlier work. It feels like a compilation, grabbing music from 11 different productions ranging from 1959 to 1970 and slapping them into a new soundtrack.
…and the end result is incredible. One of the weaknesses of a lot of early Ifukube work is the lack of variety within the score. Due to the tight production schedules, many themes were used over and over again in soundtracks. By culling from 11 different scores, the monotony is removed. Themes from Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965), Destroy All Monsters (1968) and more benefit greatly from this. The themes are edited well too, with “Vicious Attack of the Space Monsters” being one example where it transitions into the “Fury of the Gravity Beams” at just the right moment to give it a boost of energy.
Joe Hisaishi‘s finest hour. The 2004 production boasts a playful and light hearted score at times. Others, it’s a soothing, waltz-like approach to the subject matter.
“Wandering Sophie”, a four minute long track, is a clear highlight from the score, evoking a range of emotions while maintaining a sense of continuity through the theme. The soundtrack is enjoyable from start to finish, and shows a nice range to the material that boasts a wealth of standout cues.
As a side note, this soundtrack also boasts the best image album (scoring round based on storyboards) of Hisaishi’s career. While the image album is very similar to the themes found in the final product, they are much more realized at this stage that other image albums and work as a nice extension to the movie’s soundtrack.
I have an odd relationship with Prophecies of Nostradamus. I first saw the US version, The Last Days of Planet Earth, as a kid and hated it. I considered it one of Toho’s worst. That view has certainly changed over the years, and now hold it up as one of Toho’s most memorable productions.
While my view of the film changed, my view of the soundtrack did not. Even from first viewing I fell for composer Isao Tomita‘s synthesized, experimental soundtrack. The haunting “Main Title”, a perfect melding of synth work with a full orchestra, is just one of those things you never forget. While Tomita’s career has both hits and misses, this 1974 soundtrack is indisputably a highlight and one of the most enjoyable and different scores to come from Toho.
Ranking at the top spot, Michiru Oshima pulls out all the breaks for the 2002 Godzilla film. Performed by the Moscow International Symphonic Orchestra, the score really comes alive, sounding more robust and matching the epic scale of the battles on the big screen.
While Godzilla’s and Kiryu’s themes are used frequently, the score is varied in its hits, branching out with fantastic themes like “Running Wild”, “Intense Fighting” and the beautifully done “Ominous Memories” that plays while footage of Mothra and Gaira is seen.
The score is a treat from start to finish, and a highlight of the Godzilla franchise.General // November 23, 2015
Located at 1800 Divisadero Street (San Francisco, CA 94115), a short drive away from San Francisco’s Japan Town, one can find “Godzila Sushi”.
I had driven past the location many times, but despite the name I never gave it a second thought. Godzilla named foods are not all that uncommon, High Tech Burrito has their Godzilla burrito for example. Furthermore, sushi restaurants are a dime a dozen in San Francisco. It wasn’t until I actually walked past the location that I had to do a full stop to stare inside in wonder. Godzilla was everywhere inside, and the restaurant clearly didn’t just pick a random name, but was themed around the concept.
I had to go.
While the food was nothing special, featuring two Godzilla items on the menu, the restaurant itself was quite memorable. I snapped all kinds of pictures of the Lower Pacific Heights location. From the mural to the posters and toys, while submitted art is also everywhere. The place is an homage to Godzilla, even down to the t-shirt they sell for the sushi location. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen (Toho’s lawyers would likely scoff at the missing “l” defense), but a pretty cool spot. Below are some of the many photos taken, to offer a visual tour of the place and show off the Godzilla themed items.
The mural on the back wall The open kitchen with posters above The menu, which serves a “Godzila” Salad Back of the menu, with a “Godzila” Roll and a King Kong Roll The sake menu The “Godzila” Salad The “Godzila” Roll The entrance which has a Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000) poster, the only Japanese one here Close-up of the open kitchen Some of the hand drawn art on display The bathroom decor More of the art on display Even more art, most of which uses “Godzila” although a few let Godzilla with the double Ls slip More of the art on display More of the art on display More of the art on display More of the art on display The Godzila Sushi shirt
As a side note, these photos were taken back in November of 2014.Kaiju Kuisine // January 2, 2015
Now the soundtrack page of the site is reserved for CDs. I’m not big on other music formats, save converting the music on said CDs to mp3s, but vinyl has earned a reputation for itself. It still gets releases and still has a hardcore following of enthusiasts.
On July 14th, 2014, Death Waltz Recording company issued a 180gm black vinyl version of the Godzilla (1954) score. The disc contains the full soundtrack by Akira Ifukube, plus one bonus track at the end. Given that there aren’t a whole lot of Godzilla vinyl albums that are produced in modern times, although Godzilla (2014) got one, I figured I would visit this release in a blog instead.
In terms of contents, the 1954 Godzilla black vinyl disc uses the same material that La-La Land created and used for their 2004 CD release (LLLCD-1022). I say created because this release features the altered “Tragic Sight of the Imperial Capital”. La-La Land meticulously changed this by using material from the “Godzilla at the Ocean Floor” to remove the crying sound effects that were recorded during the original orchestration. The result is better for it, even if its not authentic. This altered version is the one that appears on this set.
Naturally, due to space, this vinyl only contains the actual score and the extra “Film Version” tracks do not appear here. On the cool side, this vinyl does feature a bonus track that is unique to it. On the downside, the bonus track is the Godzilla Approaches stomping sound effect looped in quick recession. Pretty lame and an obvious bait and switch. They list this as a “Secret Hidden Track” on their site, giving the idea it might be something special but no luck.
For the quality, I’m not qualified to dissect the audio on this as I’m no vinyl expert. I know that vinyl will give a better audio output, although usually that’s from using an analog source. Since I imagine La-La Land created a digital source for their version, the quality should be pretty comparable to its CD counterparts. The only track that stood out to me, although for the wrong reasons, was “Prayer to Peace”, but this track has always sounded rough.
The greatest advantage that vinyls have over CDs is the packaging. CDs have small little booklets, while Vinyls were known for stunning artwork at large sizes. This release is no exception. The front cover is breath taking, showing Godzilla with red eyes against a back drop that shows older fighter planes. The exterior has a “head on” shot of Godzilla staring forward, which is a fold out. All of the artwork is fantastic, although purists might take issue with the versions depicted. The Godzilla design here is clearly modeled after the Heisei series one, while the fighter planes are circa World War II rather than the F86F Saber Jets seen in the film.
Now, bummer for vinyl enthusiasts, this release is not available for sale in the US. It retails for £14 from Death Waltz Recording company’s website. However, the same can be said for most of the Japanese soundtrack releases, and likewise this one is finding a home on resale channels like eBay. So it won’t be that hard to acquire, although it won’t be cheap either.
Overall, worth getting for vinyl enthusiasts, but not for the $100+ prices it is selling for in resale and not outside of the vinyl enthusiast crowd either.
A1 Godzilla Approaches
A2 Godzilla Main Theme
A3 Ship Music / Sinking of Eikou-Maru
A4 Sinking of Bingou-Maru
A5 Anxieties on Ootojima Island
A6 Ootojima Temple Festival
A7 Stormy Ootojima Island
A8 Theme For Ootojima Island
A9 Japanese Army March I
A10 Horror of the Water Tank
A11 Godzilla Comes Ashore
B1 Godzilla’s Rampage
B2 Desperate Broadcast
B3 Godzilla Comes to Tokyo Bay
B4 Intercept Godzilla
B5 Tragic Sight of the Imperial Capital
B6 Oxygen Destroyer
B7 Prayer For Peace
B8 Japanese Army March II
B9 Godzilla at the Ocean Floor
B11 Secret Hidden Track
Thanks goes out to Jessica Stan for sending in the vinyl to create this article.General // August 17, 2014
If anyone called me punctual or timely, I would have to call them a cheat and a liar. Case in point this expose. A few months ago, it was an exciting time. As a resident of San Francisco, the new Godzilla film, Godzilla (2014), taking place here seemed a little surreal. Given the location, and as a major metropolitan area, I was braced for some nice advertising for the new film in the Bay Area. With my smart phone at my side, I set out to take advantage of this rare opportunity.
Sadly, the ad campaign around San Francisco was, at heart, forgettable. It was almost all the same poster seen over and over again. It got major points for spread, as they were all over the city, but little points for creativity. I still snapped photos diligently, from running around downtown and marching up toward my work in North Beach.
Below are all the Godzilla 2014 San Francisco ads I snapped. Some have establishing shots to show where the location is. While I don’t find them terribly interesting in retrospect, save one alternate that I spotted, this at least shows how widespread the advertising blitz was.
April 22 – Outbound Muni at Powell Station April 28 – Taken at Montgomery and Bush Street April 28 – Taken at Kearny and Sutter Street (note this was a digital ad that the display was broken on, hence the green) April 28 – Taken at Filbert and Columbus Avenue April 29 – Taken at Bush and Stockton Street April 30 – Taken at Fremont and Mission Street May 1 – Taken at Montgomery and Pine Street May 1 – Inbound Muni at Montgomery Station May 2 – Taken at Columbus and Union Street May 2 – Taken at Bush and Kearny Street May 3 – Taken at Clement Street and 32nd Avenue May 5 – Taken at Powell and California Street May 5 – Taken at Powell and O’Farrell Street May 5 – Inbound Muni at Powell Station May 7 – Muni at Powell Station May 7 – Union Square May 7 – Taken at Stockton and O’Farrell Street May 7 – Taken at Market and 4th Street May 9 – Outbound Muni at Montgomery Station May 12 – Taken at Powell and Sutter Street May 12 – Inbound Muni at Civic Center Station May 12 – At Civic Center Station May 12 – Outbound Muni at Civic Center Station May 13 – Taken at Stockton and Pine Street
As a side note, these photos were all taken before the film opened on May 16th. Before the next weekend rolled around the posters had, sadly, all been replaced by Edge of Tomorrow adverts.General // July 21, 2014
Looking for Easter eggs in Godzilla 2014? For those not familiar with the term, an Easter egg is a hidden message or nod in a film. The term was actually coined first for video games, but has since taken on a new life in movies thanks to adaptations of long spanning work. The recent trend in comic book films is a great example of this. The King of the Monsters has a rich history of his own, though, that is ripe is reference. So what Easter eggs are there to be found in the film? Well the movie is pretty light on them, but here are a couple:
1. When Joe and Ford Brody return to their evacuated home in the quarantine zone, they stumble upon an aquarium briefly. Not much attention is paid to it, but if you look closely the side of the tank has masking tape on it. The letters written on the tape spell out Mothra.
The tape is broken in two pieces. While its possible the subject inside was named Mothra by one of the Brody family, its just as likely its a coincidence by the characters and a clever nod to the famous Toho monster by the film makers.
…and that’s really it for Easter eggs. There was a brief scene filmed with actor Akira Takarada who would have welcomed Joe Brody into Japan. Given the actor’s rich history with the franchise, this would have certainly counted. However, the scene ended up on the cutting room floor under pressure to shorten the film. Hopefully, and very likely, the scene turns up as an extra on the DVD and Blu-ray releases of the movie.
Hopefully later entries in the series provide a few more nods to the movies that came before them.General // May 26, 2014
After credits scenes have become common in blockbuster films. While Pirates of the Caribbean was an early example, the Marvel movies starting with Iron Man have really pioneered the concept. In fact, the 2008 film’s end credit sequence that teased the eventual Avengers film is probably one of the most famous post credits scenes in history.
So wondering if there is an after credits scene in Godzilla 2014?
The answer: no
This blog will avoid major spoilers, but once the screen cuts the black and the credits roll, that’s it.
There is no after credits or mid credits scene in Godzilla (2014).
Audiences get to enjoy some of Alexandre Desplat’s great music. Themes used include “Godzilla!” and “Back to the Ocean”. Also, Godzilla (1954) actor Akira Takarada is mentioned in the credits, even though his role was cut from the final film.
To sum up, is there a reason to stay until the lights come up in the theater? No, unless you like normal movie credits or are interested in seeing the name credits of thousands of people who did the many special effects sequences of Godzilla and MUTO in the film. There are no teases for future films, no Easter eggs at the end, and no hints at other established monsters coming in later Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. movies like King Ghidorah, Rodan or Mothra.
So feel free to exit when it fades to black and beat others to the ceremonial bathroom visit before leaving the theater.
Also, don’t assume this film sets a precedent, either. It’s very likely that future entries in this franchise may or may not offer after credits scenes of their own. This sequences are particularly effective at teasing sequels or events to come in later movies, primarily because those who stay to the end are the more hardcore members of the audience who would be more eager for some additional world building. So just because this film didn’t have an after credits scene, it’s possible the movie’s follow up will.General // May 16, 2014
Compiling a list of the top 10 Godzilla monsters to grace the big screen. The list excludes the King of the Monsters himself, focusing on co-stars to create this list of the top Godzilla kaiju. The top ten is a mixture of use in the movies, appearance, powers and personality. It is not necessarily one based on how powerful a character is unless this helped to make the monster stand out or become a more interesting opponent/ally for Godzilla. The top monsters are a mixture of all their appearances in deciding the criteria.
A lame name and a visual appearance that is sometimes summed up as “Godzilla with crystals on his shoulders”.
In reality, the design is a bit more creative as a twisted version of the King of the Monsters. His long list of powers, ranging from the standard beam weapon to his psychic based feats, make him stand out among Godzilla’s rogue gallery. His motives are also different. While often times monsters will fight by circumstance, SpaceGodzilla is driven by hatred for his terrestrial twin: seeking out Godzilla and his offspring to attack them. The conflict was more personal for the space monster, something that really hadn’t been seen since Biollante some years earlier.
While this list is mostly based on their film appearances, it does help that in recent years SpaceGodzilla has been a center piece in ancillary media. Featured as the big bad in two Godzilla video games (Godzilla: Save the Earth and Godzilla: Unleashed) and a key adversary in IDW Publishing’s “adjectiveless” Godzilla comic run, the character is able to fit in the mastermind roll the way other Godzilla monsters simply can’t.
Starting as Godzilla’s first opponent, Anguirus squared off against the King of the Monsters in Godzilla Raids Again (1955). Dispatched half way through the film, the quadruped would have ended up being one of Godzilla’s most forgettable monsters if that was the end of the story.
However, on a stroke of luck, Toho decided to revisit the kaiju with an all new suit for Destroy All Monsters (1968). This turn of events meant that Toho had a good condition Anguirus suit by the time the budget conscious 1970’s rolled around. Rather than craft new suits for Rodan or Varan, the company made Anguirus a starring player and ally for Godzilla. It was an odd twist for Godzilla’s first adversary, but the spiked monster really made a name in this roll.
With a more down to earth appearance, the kaiju faced off against lavish monsters like Gigan and Mechagodzilla. What made him endearing was his determination and loyalty to Godzilla, giving the franchise a needed underdog for Godzilla to work alongside.
Before the 1970’s, the Godzilla franchise had only two real menacing opponents for Godzilla: King Ghidorah and, oddly, Kumonga.
That all changed in 1971. Director Yoshimitsu Banno, looking to make a strong environmental message, helped to pen one of the more powerful Godzilla characters in the franchise. Touted for his power even in the initial trailer, Hedorah proved to be a difficult and brutal opponent for the Monster King. Stripping his hand to the bone and taking out one of his eyes, Godzilla had never been through a struggle with an opponent this lethal before.
Power is not why Hedorah is on this list, although it certainly helps. The Smog Monster is on this list for being one of Godzilla’s most threatening opponents. Not just for kaiju, but the human casualties in the film were gruesome and unlike anything the franchise had seen before. While the design is a little odd, and often criticized outside of his very creepy vagina inspired eyes (if only I was making that up), Banno succeeded in crafting a kaiju that was a true world threat and pushed Godzilla to his limits to overcome him.
In hindsight, when it came time to retire the Heisei Godzilla series it’s surprising that Toho didn’t whip up another “Ghidorah” for the task. This became their go to strategy for the years to follow, ending both the Rebirth of Mothra series and the Millennium Godzilla series with the introduction of a three-headed adversary.
Instead, Toho created a character with a tie into the original oxygen destroyer from Godzilla (1954). Sounds great on paper, but in the movie the connection is fairly weak and at times the film feels like its bringing up the legendary device to meet a quota rather than for story purposes.
What’s great, though, is that at the end of the day none of that matters. Destoroyah is a demonic, wicked looking opponent for the King of the Monsters. The red kaiju would have excelled even if he was just yet another alien monster. The fact that he ties into the device that killed the original Godzilla is interesting, but the design and actions of the monster elevate it to the point where the origin is unimportant. His multi-form evolution is a great dynamic, his powers interesting and powerful enough to give the supercharged Burning Godzilla trouble. His true claim to fame, though, is killing Godzilla Junior, making his battle very personal for the King of the Monsters.
One of the more outlandish monsters in Godzilla’s rogue gallery, Gigan battled the King of the Monsters more with wit than raw strength. Able to order around and instruct both King Ghidorah and Megalon, the cyborg kaiju acted as a general on the battlefield.
You don’t have to be powerful to be memorable. One of Gigan’s more endearing qualities is his personality. Celebrating when King Ghidorah hits Godzilla or the manner in which he is quick to flee when the odds turn against him, the alien monster showed more character than most of the Toho monsters.
The character’s design is also part of the charm. The original Showa concept is great, while he got a solid redesign for Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). As time grows on, both designs are standing on their own legs and have really raised the stock of the monster in terms of merchandise being created around everyone’s favorite cyborg.
For the first opponent of the Heisei era, Biollante shook things up with a radical design. Most of Godzilla’s enemies had been winged monsters or humanoid at this point. This plant monster was not only new ground, but its massive final form made an instant impression. Towering over the King of the Monsters, the creature had relatively small screen time in this form but every minute counted. Showing off a good range of powers, the genetic kaiju was one of the few to claim a win against Godzilla, even if it was thanks to the ANB coursing through his veins.
As a character, Biollante is also one of the very few female creatures in the franchise, with her human element bringing a new twist. Early drafts had the monster being more sinister, attacking soldiers and generally being more aggressive. The final draft had Biollante in an anti-hero roll, just attacking the military at Wakasa and otherwise focused on Godzilla’s defeat. That spiced things up from the normal rampaging monster theme that sums up much of Toho’s kaijus.
While her final form gets most of the credit, her initial form was visually interesting as well. Taking a silly design like a giant rose and making it credible is quite a feat.
Once considered one of the top four Toho monsters, Rodan has slipped a lot in popularity since his glory days where he was the first ally of Godzilla.
The third kaiju Toho created, the flying monster debuted in Rodan (1956) a couple years after Godzilla. It took eight years before he would square off with the King of the Monsters, proving to be an equal in strength to the nuclear menace. Their bout was interrupted, though, and an uneasy alliance formed between the two instead against a common foe: King Ghidorah. The two would team up again in Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) and Destroy All Monsters (1968) to tackle the space menace before Rodan was relegated to stock footage cameos for three of the six remaining Showa series films.
When the franchise was rebooted in the 1980’s, Rodan returned as a secondary character and never really recovered from the bump down in status. Regardless, the “samurai of the sky” is a simplistic design done right. Furthermore, his unlikely alliance with Godzilla proved an interesting dynamic compared to the partners the King of the Monsters has had since.
#3. King Ghidorah
One of the most iconic Godzilla characters, featuring a simple but great design.
King Ghidorah was the first big bad the franchise had, taking the combined might of Godzilla and Rodan to defeat him from an alliance forged by Mothra’s efforts. A cackling, chaotic space monster, King Ghidorah didn’t have a lot of personality, but was brutally efficient at leveling cities and proving a large foil to the hero and anti-hero monsters of the series.
After the Showa era, Toho was well aware of the character’s popularity and made him the first returning Godzilla adversary to the Heisei series. The creature also closed out the Rebirth of Mothra series with a powerful new incarnation, and turned hero to face a larger King of the Monsters in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001).
Although reinvented since his debut, the character’s shining portrayal still remains his first two films as the destroyer of worlds. He is in many ways seen as the chief rival of Godzilla, having never teamed up with the character in any medium.
The last Godzilla character to enter mainstream pop culture.
Mechagodzilla was introduced into the franchise late in the Showa series, but did so with a splash. Debuting with an interesting concept of impersonating Godzilla, the mech then proved to be one of the most difficult adversaries the King of the Monsters had faced. Giving both Godzilla and King Caesar trouble, Mechagodzilla made a huge stamp on the franchise and was an instant fan favorite.
Since his debut, Mechagodzilla has been given a bigger push by Toho than almost their entire character line up (save #1 on this list). When it came time to reintroduce the character, Toho gave the mech a radically new origin for Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993). Now an instrument of humanity, the character became a protagonist with only vaguely questionable morals raised. This idea continued and was explored again nine years later for Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) with Kiryu being another human based construct.
In the end, the Showa and Heisei/Millennium versions are interesting enough characters that either on their own would make this list. The varying concepts applied as one character makes Mechagodzilla an easy second showing in the top ten.
Toho’s second most popular character, and the only Toho monster outside of Godzilla with enough appeal to headline her own franchise.
Mothra has been the most reoccurring Godzilla character since the closure of the Showa era. Although she started off in her debut film as a slight antagonist due to circumstances, the sometimes enemy, sometimes ally to the nuclear menace has grown into a benevolent force. She has developed into a sense of good in a franchise dominated by rampaging monsters.
What makes the character number one on the list? At her best, she excels as a deity, a representative to a nation of people who can call upon her to intervene in kaiju affairs. It’s not just this status and story elements that she brings, though. Mothra is also the first and best underdog that the franchise has had. Many people scoff at the concept of Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) on the grounds that the insect god is out matched by Godzilla… and that’s really what makes her great. She is hopelessly underpowered against Godzilla, yet her determination and self sacrifice make the character endearing.
While the monster has been debatably overused after the immense box office success of Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), her character is still universally loved and appeals to causal moviegoers in a way the others simply don’t. The best and somewhat touching example of this was during promotion for Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). When the first full trailer of the movie made its debut on a morning show, one of the talk hosts uttered out in surprised excitement for only one monster. It wasn’t Godzilla. It wasn’t Rodan. It wasn’t the long awaited return of Anguirus, Gigan or any of the others. No, it was for Mothra, who had appeared just a year before in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003).
Honorable Mention: Gaira
More than any other monster since Godzilla in Japan, Gaira continues to inspire those who enter the film industry. His debut movie, The War of the Gargantuas (1966), was nightmare fodder for children in Japan, showing off a smaller kaiju that hunted and ate humans. His attack at the airport and assault on the fisherman from below their boat was enough to ingrain the monster in kids’ memories. As those kids grew, they began to shape the genre itself. The monster appeared, although briefly and through stock footage, in both Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). Outside of the series, he also most recently showed up in Go! Godman (2008).
It takes more than being terrifying to be remembered, though. His sibling struggle with Sanda in his debut film gave him that edge, being featured in a conflict that had a different angle to it.
So why did Gaira not making the list? Having appeared in two Godzilla films, not counting stock footage goofs, the character is a constant reference in the series… even though he has yet to leave his mark on Toho’s mainline franchise. It would be difficult to consider Gaira a Godzilla monster at this point in his career, although he continues to play his part in the franchise, having even battled the King of the Monsters in IDW’s Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #10 comic.General // May 2, 2014
Having worked in public relations myself, the saying goes: all publicity is good publicity.
Recently there has been word of a leaked script for the upcoming, 2014 Godzilla film. Details of which have come out on the Toho Kingdom Forums as one of the sources of the leak. Other sites have picked up on the story with quotes like:
“More entertainingly, however, Warners’ panicky response to the report, trying to intimidate sites like Toho Kingdom and The Outhouse into scrubbing all references to it, makes it seem more likely that the leaker is telling the truth.” – Jude Terror, The Outhousers
While its always flattering to get your name out and have other outlets talking about you, I do feel I have to clarify for the news going around: Warner Bros did not contact us, let alone intimidate us, to take down references to a script leak.
What did occur is that a board member, claiming to have the leaked script, began to post in a disruptive manner. This includes refusing to listen to moderators (insulting one by calling them an “ineffectual bitch”). Suffice to say, their actions merited a ban and posts were removed.
Apparently someone attempted to “connect the dots”. In doing so, they assumed we were acting by direction of the studio itself, which I can again reassure did not happen in this instance.
Although it rarely happens, Toho Kingdom is no stranger to talks with corporations about coverage on the site. The most famous of which is in 2003 when Toho Kingdom and Toho Company Limited went into long talks about the site which resulted to sweeping changes to copyright and how the site presents information, all of which is detailed in the site history. We also has a mildly tense talk with Atari about Godzilla: Unleashed at one point after the PAX report revealed Mechagodzilla 1974 and other yet unannounced fighters who made an unintended appearance at the event. Over the years, we have also had a variety of communication with toy companies as well about photos presented on the forums in regards to yet to be released figures.
That said, this isn’t one of those instances. The user in question was removed for conduct rather than at the request of another company in relation to Godzilla 2014 leaks.General // January 12, 2014
In the late 1960’s the Japanese film industry was in decline. The “Golden Age of Japanese Cinema” had now passed and Toho, like other studios, was struggling to produce a plan for success in the wake of many theaters in the country closing and the advent of television, an occurrence that bankrupt competitor Daiei a few years later.
Looking at other studios, Toho adopted a plan by copying Toei’s “Manga Festival”. Aimed at children, the “Manga Festival” was a 1-3 times a year occurrence that packaged a lot of cartoons together, giving the customer a lot of value with the opportunity for an almost all-day activity. Taking this model, Toho adapted it, replacing the cartoon focus and instead centering it on their most popular character: Godzilla and the kaiju genre.
Launching the Toho Champion Festival
In 1969, the Toho Champion Festival (東宝チャンピオンまつり, also known as the Toho Champion Matsuri) was born. The company had effectively upped the anti, including a new, full length Godzilla film with All Monsters Attack (1969) alongside a new comedy set in outer space, Konto 55: Grand Outer Space Adventure (1969), and topped it off with an Anime on the popular Star of the Giants series: Star of the Giants: Go Hyuma! (1969). The Champion Festival was an immediate hit and Toho adopted the three times a year approach of the “Manga Festival”, selecting Spring, Summer and Winter as their platforms to feature programming when children would be on break from school.
To fill up the schedule, since Toho couldn’t afford the resources to produce three headlining kaiju films a year, they started re-releasing their classic library. The first of these, and most controversial, was King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) in 1970. To appeal to children and fit better in the program, the longer films were edited down. The problem is, at least for their first attempt, Toho edited the original negative master to produce the “Champion Festival” version. Although the ramifications couldn’t have been known at the time, they created a dilemma decades later when the company went to release King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) on home video and lacked an unedited source to use, having to resort to prints in subpar quality to fill in the edited segments. This is a dilemma that has persisted even today, more than 40 years after the original editing was done.
Despite later day ramifications, the re-release strategy was a hit. During the “Champion Festival”, the company would release or re-release all of their Showa Godzilla films except Godzilla (1954) and Godzilla Raids Again (1955). All of them were edited down, and this went for the non-Godzilla films as well such as King Kong Escapes (1967). Some of the films were given new titles that emphasized the Godzilla connection, for example Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)’s Japanese title of Great Monster War became Great Monster War: King Ghidorah vs. Godzilla.
TV and the festival’s decline
Oddly enough, to help fill the schedule as the years went on, Toho started picking up the distribution rights for TV episodes. This added characters like Ultraman and Mirror Man to the mix, who had TV episodes given a theatrical release alongside Godzilla films. While this might seem like an odd strategy, given the point of the “Champion Festival” was to combat television programming from keeping people away from the theaters, it paid off as Toho created 35mm prints that showed the programs up on the big screen and in color, which when compared to the small, black and white screens that most people owned at the time made this appealing enough when coupled with a theatrical film to bring in fans of the original show.
Sadly, by 1974 the “Champion Festival” format had started to show signs of slowing down. That year the “Summer” session was cut and the “Winter” session tried something new, attempting to appeal to both children and adults with the triple feature Latitude Zero (1969), Mothra (1961) and the documentary Burning Glory: Shigeo Nagashima, Uniform Number 3 (1974). By 1975, the Festival was just run in the Spring.
In 1976, Toho shook things up by teaming with Disney to make Walt Disney’s Peter Pan the headlining movie of the “Champion Festival” that year alongside other Disney shorts. This marked the only time in the festival’s run that a kaiju film wasn’t played and also the only time that movies from outside of Japan were included. In 1977 Toho re-released King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) again, being the only film to be included twice in the festival, but attendance was down to almost half what it was back in 1970 when it was first featured. 1978 marked the final chapter in the “Champion Festival”, with a re-release of The Mysterians (1957).
With a nine year run, the “Champion Festival” became well remembered for an entire generation and is still capitalized upon today. The “Champion Festival” edits have all been re-released on Laserdisc and DVD in Japan, while VAP commemorated the festival with their Toho SFX Champion Festival soundtrack set in 2001.
Below is a list of all the films and shorts included in Champion Festival, grouped together as they were for their original release. The festivals would run for set periods of time. The duration of play would vary, for example Space Amoeba (1970) ran for August 1st through August 13th (although some theaters likely kept playing it after this period), and sometimes advertised start dates would conflict with the actual start date, such as the 1973 re-release of Son of Godzilla (1967) which started on August 1st but was marketed for July 28th.
Some films and shorts are missing and will be added at a later date.
Winter 1970 (December 19th)
Mothra vs. Godzilla (Edited Reissue)
Spring 1971 (March 17th)
Invasion of Astro-Monster (Edited Reissue as Great Monster War: King Ghidorah vs. Godzilla)
Summer 1971 (July 24th)
Godzilla vs. Hedorah
Winter 1971 (December 12th)
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Edited Reissue as Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Greatest Battle on Earth)
Return of Ultraman: The Terror of the Waterspout Monsters
Summer 1973 (August 1st)
Son of Godzilla (Edited Reissue)
Winter 1973 (December 20th)
King Kong Escapes (Edited Reissue)
Spring 1974 (March 21st)
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
1975 (March 15th)
Terror of Mechagodzilla
1976 (March 13th)
Walt Disney’s Peter Pan
Donald Duck: Lion Around
Donald Duck: Dragon Around
Donald and Goofy: No Sail
1977 (March 19th)
King Kong vs. Godzilla (Edited Reissue)
–General // December 15, 2013
Toho Kingdom has been around the block, make not mistake of that. It’s well over a decade old at this stage with several traditions and habits now well placed. One of the longest running, and most consistent, is an annual April Fools’ Day joke. These have ranged from planning to offer a Toho paid membership, under the guise that content could only be accessed this way, to last year’s very creative K.W.C. Match.
The joke for April Fools’ Day 2012 was a little bit of a retread, I will admit, although taken to a new level. The concept was simply: to deck Toho Kingdom out from top to bottom with ads. The site is ad free as sort of a mantra, so the joke was meant to play on that angle. This had actually been done before back in 2003, nine years ago, with ads being placed all over the site’s design. The 2003 version only placed them on the front, as the site was much less scalable in its design… and can’t stress that enough. To do something like this on the old framework would have required manually editing page by page. However, this is no longer a hurdle and so the 2012’s version had them placed all through out the website.
As in year’s past, though, the most fun from this year’s April Fools’ was to be found in the forums where reactions shifted from wondering where the joke was, to surprise, to finally a few saying they preferred the ad design. Sadly, due to a forum mishap, the thread is now gone. Thankfully, though, a Wayback Machine versions exists. Take a stroll down memory lane on what was said in the thread here.
For those who might have missed it, below is a more compelte screenshot of the site with the ad design in place.General // April 2, 2012