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  • 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

    7 Things Godzilla 1985 Did Better: 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

    7 Things Godzilla 1985: 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

    7 Things Godzilla 1985: 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

    Things Godzilla 1985 Did Better: 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.

    Epilogue

    7 Things Godzilla 1985: Epilogue

    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.

    Removed Songs

    7 Things Godzilla 1985: Removed Songs

    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

    7 Things Godzilla 1985: 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)

    Magnificent Seven

    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.

    InfluenceSeven Samurai (1954)

    Star Wars (1977)

    Star Wars

    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.

    InfluenceThe Hidden Fortress (1958)

    Last Man Standing (1996)

    Last Man Standing

    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.

    InfluenceYojimbo (1961)

    The Ring (2002)

    The Ring

    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.

    InfluenceRing (1998)

    Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

    Kill Bill: Volume 1

    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.

    InfluenceLady Snowblood (1973)

    Shall We Dance? (2004)

    Shall We Dance?

    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.

    InfluenceShall We Dance? (1996)

    Dark Water (2005)

    Dark Water

    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.

    InfluenceDark Water (2002)

    Pulse (2006)

    Pulse

    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.

    InfluencePulse (2001)

    One Missed Call (2008)

    One Missed Call

    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.

    InfluenceOne Missed Call (2003)

    The Magnificent Seven (2016)

    The Magnificent Seven

    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.

    InfluenceSeven 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)

    A Fistful of Dollars

    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.

    InfluenceYojimbo (1961)

    Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

    Battle Beyond the Stars

    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.

    InfluenceSeven Samurai (1954)

    The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)

    The Warrior and the Sorceress

    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.

    InfluenceYojimbo (1961)

    A Bug’s Life (1998)

    A Bug's Life

    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.

    InfluenceSeven Samurai (1954)

    This article was first published on August 19th, 2004.

    General // November 5, 2018
  • 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.

    Forums Farewell

    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

    Lost Toho Kingdom Styles

    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

    Lost Toho Kingdom Styles

    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

    Lost Toho Kingdom Styles

    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

    Lost Toho Kingdom Styles

    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

    Lost Toho Kingdom Styles

    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

    Lost Toho Kingdom Styles

    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

    Lost Toho Kingdom Styles

    …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.

    April Fools' Day 2016: Resignation

    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.

    The Closure of Movie Review Submissions

    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 Score
    10-23-2011
     Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster [Continental]
    Destroyer
    4.0
    09-24-2011
     Godzilla: Final Wars
    Destroyer
    4.5
    09-01-2011
     Destroy All Monsters [International]
    Destroyer
    3.5
    09-01-2011
     Invasion of Astro-Monster [Maron Films]
    Destroyer
    4.0
    08-21-2011
     Akira
    Evan Brehany
    4.0
    06-27-2011
     Onmyoji
    Evan Brehany
    4.0
    02-07-2011
     Godzilla vs. Gigan
    King Caesar
    2.5
    12-27-2010
     Godzilla vs. Mothra
    Godzillawolf
    3.5
    12-16-2010
     Ebirah, Horror of the Deep
    Paul Sell
    4.0
    10-26-2010
     Godzilla vs. Destoroyah
    Godzillawolf
    4.5
    09-19-2010
     Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla
    Godzillawolf
    3.0
    05-06-2010  Bye-Bye Jupiter (Sayonara Jupiter) DaikaijuSokogeki! 4.0
    04-14-2010
     Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah [Tristar]
    Godzillawolf
    3.5
    02-14-2010
     Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
    Godzillawolf
    4.5
    11-04-2009
     Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
    Godzillawolf
    4.0
    10-22-2009
     Terror of Mechagodzilla
    Ethan Reed
    3.5
    10-22-2009
     Godzilla, Mothra, & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack
    Godzillawolf
    4.5
    08-13-2009
     Godzilla vs. Biollante
    Godzillawolf
    4.0
    07-23-2009
     Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
    Adam Striker
    4.0
    07-22-2009
     Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
    Ethan Reed
    3.0
    11-29-2008
     One Missed Call 2
    Pat Atwell
    3.0
    07-03-2008
     One Missed Call
    Pat Atwell
    4.0
    12-21-2007
     Terror of Mechagodzilla
    AnguirusGuy
    3.0
    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 4.5

     

    General // 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:

    Longtime Staff Appreciation
    (in order of start date)

    James Webster

    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 Fairchild

    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.

    Nicholas Driscoll

    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 Salabert

    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.

    Redesigning Toho Kingdom 2003

    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.

    Redesigning Toho Kingdom 2016
    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.

    Redesigning Toho Kingdom Unused Promo
    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.

    Launch

    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.

    Redesigning Toho Kingdom Mobile

    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.

     

    #34 Zatoichi’s Conspiracy

    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.

     

    #33 Ultraman: The Adventure Begins

    This 1989 score by Shinsuke Kazato is slightly dated and often over the top… and utterly enjoyable as a stand alone experience because of it.

    The soundtrack to the animated film boasts several themes just over flowing with energy, such as the big band style “The Flying Angels” and “Ultra Force: The Choosen Three”. The score is unabashed at times, and all the better for it, offering up an infectious level of energy from its themes.

    While the score is at its best when it’s offering up a big band style or dated tunes, the soundtrack does boast some range and that includes some nice vocal work (although not from the opening song…) to add some variety.

     

    #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).

    Haunted School 3

     

    #31 GODZILLA

    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.

     

    #30 Godzilla vs. Mothra

    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.

    Godzilla vs. Mothra

     

    #29 Villain

    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.

    Villain

     

    #28 The Samurai I Loved

    Taro Iwashiro’s sweeping score for The Samurai I Loved is a joy to listen to.

    When it comes to soothing melodies, it’s hard to best Iwashiro. The composer has mastered string instruments, allowing him to invoke both an epic sense while never being overzealous in his execution.

    While this soundtrack is fairly one note, with only the “Deadly Blade” infusing a bit of energy into the score, the other themes are just so relaxing that the soundtrack is definitely an enjoyable body of work from start to finish.

     

    #27 Rebirth of Mothra II

    While Rebirth of Mothra II was the weakest of the three films in that series, it also had the best soundtrack.

    Unlike the scores before and after it, composer Toshiyuki Watanabe showed a surprising level of variety in his themes for this 1997 film. The new monster, Dagahra, has a nice sinister theme to go with him, and stands out from the rest of the score because of this, having one of the more reoccurring themes here. The rest of the score, though, does a good job of balancing both a sense of adventure and wonderment to match the plot surrounding the kids.

    The score makes for an overall engaging, sometimes whimsical listening experience.

     

    #26 Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

    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”.

     

    #25 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

    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.

    Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

     

    #24 Hell’s Gate Island

    Toho’s Kosuke Kindaichi series has been pretty prolific on both LP and CD. While the musical quality of the franchise as a whole varies, this 1977 entry is a highlight.

    The first film in the series composed by Shinichi Tanabe, who would score the next two movies as well, adds a distinctively 1970’s vibe to the proceedings. The end result is an odd mix of whimsical and soothing, given the subject matter is the investigation of a series of murders. As far as dated 1970’s music goes, though, this entry is nirvana and it’s easy to see why it has been released on CD so many times.

    As a side note, this movie features both a movie edit and an album. I will attest to this score getting inflated thanks to the album version, which is phenomenal in contrast to the merely “good” movie edit.

    Hell's Gate Island

     

    #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 Gransazers

     

    #22 Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris

    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.

     

    #21 Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

    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.

     

    #20 Battle in Outer Space

    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.

     

    #19 Mothra vs. Godzilla

    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.

     

    #18 K-20: Legend of the Mask

    Naoki Sato crafted a wonderful, energetic score for this period adventure piece.

    The main title piece, “K-20”, wonderfully encompasses a sense of heroism through a very upbeat melody. Other themes, like “1949”, give off a sense of a 19th century Batman, capturing the bygone era that the film takes place in. In terms of pure energy, though, it’s hard to best the short “Trick” track, which definitely builds the action sentiments of the production.

    The score is generally solid from start to finish. It does have a few over the top themes, similar to the composer’s work on the “Always” series, but the cues work here.

     

    #17 Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah

    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

    Joe Hisaishi‘s score to this 2001 box office phenomenon is immensely satisfying, although overshadowed a bit by the other amazing scores he conducted for Hayao Miyazaki.

    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.

     

    #15 Godzilla vs. Biollante

    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.

    Godzilla vs. Biollante

     

    #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.

     

    #13 Steamboy

    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.

     

    #11 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II

    ‘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.

     

    #10 The Return of Godzilla

    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.

    The Return of Godzilla

     

    #9 Super Atragon

    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).

     

    #8 Godzilla vs. Destoroyah

    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.

     

    #7 Princess Mononoke

    “Whoa…”

    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.

     

    #6 Always: Sunset on Third Street 2

    Three films in the “Always” series, three soundtracks. Of the trilogy, Naoki Sato’s score for the second is far and away the best.

    It reuses a number of themes from the first film, and works to refine them. The orchestration is tighter and generally more majestic, to the point it’s hard to go back to the score for the first movie as this just does the material so much better. While the score is still over the top at times, as is the film it’s based on, it’s a bit more refrained in its appraoch than the other soundtracks in the series. Meanwhile, themes like the “Opening Title” and “Dancer” are simply beautiful. Truly breathtaking and some of the best themes to appear in Toho’s large library of movies.

    …of course, it also helps that the score opens with the Godzilla theme, giving a great bit of diversity to an already A+ soundtrack.

     

    #5 Godzilla vs. Gigan

    ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → 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.

     

    #4 Howl’s Moving Castle

    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.

     

    #3 Prophecies of Nostradamus

    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.

     

    #2 Space Battleship Yamato

    Composer Naoki Sato gives it his all for the live action take of Space Battleship Yamato, and ends up with a body of work that is far better than the film that utilizes it.

    The soundtrack is heart pumping, featuring solid action themes that occur during the space battles seen in the movie. Tracks like the drum heavy “Fire the Wave Motion Gun” and the march-like “Faith” are wonderfully engaging. The score also boasts some light chorus work to give it just the right amount of diversity and really bring out a sense of pedigree to the whole production.

     

    #1 Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla

    Ranking at the top spot, Michiru Oshima pulls out all the breaks for the 2002 Godzilla film. With the orchestration done 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.

    The Music

    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 Packaging

    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.

    Thoughts

    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.

    1954 Godzilla Black Vinyl: Death Waltz Recording

    Tracklist

    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
    B10 Ending
    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.

    2. Ken Watanabe‘s character in the film, Ichiro Serizawa, is an obvious nod to Doctor Daisuke Serizawa from Godzilla (1954).

    …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.

    #10. SpaceGodzilla

    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.

     

    #9. Anguirus

    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.

     

    #8. Hedorah

    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.

    #7. Destoroyah

    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.

     

    #6. Gigan

    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.

     

    #5. Biollante

    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.

    #4. Rodan

    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.

     

    #2. Mechagodzilla

    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.

    #1. Mothra

    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.

     

    Festival programming

    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 1969 (December 10th)
    All Monsters Attack
    Konto 55: Grand Outer Space Adventure
    Star of the Giants: Go Hyuma!

    Spring 1970 (March 21st)
    King Kong vs. Godzilla (Edited Reissue)
    Star of the Giants: Major League Ball
    Attack No. 1
    The Kindly Lion

    Summer 1970 (August 1st)
    Space Amoeba
    Star of the Giants: Fateful Showdown

    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


    Spring 1972 (March 12th)
    Godzilla vs. Gigan
    Mirror Man
    Return of Ultraman: Jiro Rides a Monster
    – 


    Summer 1972 (July 22nd)
    Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (Edited Reissue)

    Mirror Man: Dinosaur Aroza Reanimated

    Winter 1972 (December 17th)
    Destroy All Monsters (Edited Reissue as Godzilla: The Grand Blitz Operation)
    Daigoro vs. Goliath
    Panda! Go Panda!

    Spring 1973 (March 17th)
    Godzilla vs. Megalon
    Prominent Youth!
    Panda! Go Panda!: The Rainy Day Circus

    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

    – 



    Winter 1974 (December 14th)
    Latitude Zero (Edited Reissue)
    Mothra (Edited Reissue)
    Burning Glory: Shigeo Nagashima, Uniform Number 3

    1975 (March 15th)
    Terror of Mechagodzilla

    – 



    1976 (March 13th)
    Walt Disney’s Peter Pan
    Donald Duck: Lion Around
    Donald Duck: Dragon Around

    Mickey’s Circus
    Donald and Goofy: No Sail 


    1977 (March 19th)
    King Kong vs. Godzilla (Edited Reissue)

    – 


    1978 (March 18th)
    The Mysterians (Edited Reissue)

    Lupin the 3rd: The Venice Super Express



    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
  • Taking a cue from the show of nearly the same name, this Toho Busters article looks to address and debunk widespread misconceptions regarding Toho’s work and characters. It will not look to cover every incorrect belief, but rather focus on ones that are well published or are still addressed as fact today.

    King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) – Alternate Ending

    A widely published misconception primarily found in sources outside of what would be considered “the fandom” in the years before the internet had gained such dominance. The idea was that there were two endings for the 1962 movie King Kong vs. Godzilla: one that played in America where King Kong emerges from the water at the end and one that played in Japan where Godzilla emerges from the water at the end. Although there are many changes between the US and Japanese versions of the film, King Kong is the monster that emerges from the water at the end of both versions.

    Godzilla vs. the Devil (1978)

    One of the most famous “lost projects” is sadly one rooted in misconception. The concept first came to light back in the late 1970’s following a report by Ed Godziszewski in Japanese Giants #5. The movie was said to be a joint venture between Toho and UPA Productions. The script was to be American and the concept was stated to be given a budget of $4 million and a running time of 110 minutes. It was also stated that Godzilla was to face off against a variety of monsters that included a giant spider, a giant fish and a giant bird. The movie’s climax was to feature a brawl with Godzilla against Satan. It sounds too crazy to be true, and sadly was. The following year, in 1979, Japanese Giants #6 ran an additional report about a trip to Toho studios where producer Tomoyuki Tanaka denied the existence of the project. As fate would have it, the denial ended up drifting to obscurity while the previous issue’s report of the idea spread and spread. Beyond the internet, publications began to talk about the project as well, including 1998’s Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of “The Big G”. Toho Kingdom itself is guilty of this as well, as the concept was listed on the site for years. Regardless, the project was not something that Toho had officially considered. As an aside, the pictures above were created by artist Matt Frank for use by Toho Kingdom.

    Little Godzilla’s Underground Adventure (1995)

    This was proposed as a movie idea centering around the Little Godzilla character. According to the concept, special effects director Koichi Kawakita had become such a fan of Little Godzilla that he pushed for the monster to get his own feature. This idea was picked up and reported on in several publications, such as David Kalat’s A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series which was re-published in 2007. According to author Kalat, the idea was meant to be a made for television production that would be aimed at a young audience. However, late in 1995, director Takao Okawara was asked about the concept during an interview and if it was more than just a rumor, to which he denied it being considered. In reality, the rumor probably originated from the fact that Kawakita wasn’t a fan of the Baby Godzilla design and had moved for the redesign as Little Godzilla, which is true, and then the rumor mill took that to another level.

    General // February 11, 2011
  • In September of 2004, Toho Music started their ambitious release of all of the Godzilla films in six soundtrack boxes for the 50th Anniversary of the King of the Monsters. Titled the Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection, these boxes came with 6-9 CDs and covered 4-6 Godzilla films each. The series was plagued with delays, to the point where the final box was released in 2010, six years after the touted “50th Anniversary” line that it came with.

    To celebrate the conclusion of the Perfect Collection line this year, we at Toho Kingdom are putting together a round table to discuss, highlight and talk about various features of the six boxes. We will go over our favorite and least favorite aspects of the sets, to give an overview of what we each thought were the best and worst parts.

    To conduct this Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection round table, we have three writers lined up. Our first guest writer is Robert Storch, a contributor to this site and also Godzilla and Other Monster Music, who is a veteran collector that had managed to secure the original 1990’s Futureland releases of the Godzilla soundtracks to CD. Our second guest writer is Matti Keskiivari, another contributor to Godzilla and Other Monster Music, who has already published critiques and reviews for the box sets. Finally, we also have the site’s owner, Anthony Romero, weighing in as well. So without further ado, below are four basic questions followed by the responses of the three writers, before each gives an overall conclusion at the end.

    Favorite Two Aspects of the Perfect Collection

    Robert Storch
    Packaging – The packaging for Toho Music’s 50th Anniversary Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection was obviously inspired by the company’s earlier Akira Kurosawa boxed set line, and this same style packaging was also utilized for all six Godzilla boxed sets. While I personally still prefer the front “poster artwork” found on the earlier Godzilla Toshiba-EMI Futureland 20-CD set, I have to admit that the Perfect Collection’s “overall” packaging does add a bit of “class” to these Godzilla soundtracks, unseen before. Everything from the carefully thought out front heads shots, to the nice back inserts, better booklets that contain a lot of text and a few photos, to the sturdy boxes themselves helps to make this all an attractive and dignified collection. What I also think contributes to this is seeing the “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” heading at the top of each booklet. It kind of gives each Godzilla soundtrack a new level of respectability. It should also be noted that each set comes with an oversized second insert, and a very large obi which wraps around one side of the box.

    Extra Tracks – With the exception of a couple of soundtracks, most of these Godzilla Perfect CDs have been greatly expanded with a generous amount of previously unreleased tracks, and because of this aspect, probably makes the Godzilla Perfect Collection the one to own, even over the earlier 40th Anniversary Godzilla Toshiba-EMI Futureland set. As a matter of fact, the Perfect Collection contains many of my personal favorite tracks which are finally making their CD debut, such as the “Use of Handcuff’s” theme from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (G-005), the original rolling end title credits vocal song from The Return of Godzilla (G-016), two very obscure alternate vocal songs (by a different singer) from Godzilla vs. Hedorah (G-011) and the “Nichiei News” theme from Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (G-024), just to name a few. The point is if you really add up all of the extra music found throughout the six boxed sets, you will no doubt find a lot of it. Not only is all of this extra music probably the single best reason to buy the Godzilla Perfect Collection, but it also adds value to each box, even more-so than the bonus CDs end up accomplishing.

    Matti Keskiivari 
    Never Before Released Music – I have to praise Toho Music for digging up a lot of rare stuff for these discs, and I don’t mean just the bonus tracks. Two great examples are the soundtracks of Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (G-025) and Godzilla: Final Wars (G-028) from the sixth box. For both of them, it’s the first time the (almost) complete scores have been released on CD. This is especially true for Godzilla: Final Wars, as the original release from Victor (VICP-62936) didn’t really have all the highlights, like “Keizer Ghidorah Appears” (M35-1) and “Ebirah vs. the Mutant Forces” (M9), which is my personal favorite arrangement of Keith Emerson’s Earth Defense Force theme (or “Kazama’s Sacrifice” as it’s most commonly known as, thanks to the Victor release). Although not quite unreleased, these boxes also presented many rarities together for the first time, such as the inclusion of the mono and stereo scores found in the two disc set King Kong vs. Godzilla (G-003) that were packaged alongside each other.

    Sound Quality – In my opinion, the sound quality on the discs has been well remastered, for the most part. The soundtracks that received the best improvement are the original Godzilla (G-001) from the first box, All Monsters Attack (G-010) from the second box, Godzilla vs. Hedorah (G-011), Godzilla vs. Megalon (G-013) and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (G-014) from the third box, and The Return of Godzilla (G-016) from the fourth box. On these soundtracks, especially All Monsters Attack and The Return of Godzilla, you can hear the instruments more distinctly. The major disappointments, on the other hand, would have to be Invasion of Astro-Monster (G-006) and Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (G-007) from the second box and the Ostinato (GX-7) bonus disc from the fifth box. Aside from those, I’m generally pleased with the audio.

    Anthony Romero
    Extra Tracks – Looking over these releases, it’s easy to see that the people at Toho Music are fans of this music themselves. Because of that, one gets a lot of material that other companies probably would never have included. Original stock music used in the Showa films, demo material, and a boatload of outtakes all readily fill the CD releases here. They aren’t perfect, such as with the 1992-1995 Heisei series content, but generally all of these releases contain more music from their respective films than any previous CD release. A lot of never before released, at least to CD, material was also included, as one really gets a feeling that the archives were cracked open to try and add in a wealth of content to these releases. In a sense, we all probably benefited from the previous Toshiba releases in the 1990’s, as they convinced Toho Music to really try and pack some of these releases with a lot of extra content and go one step above.

    Godzilla: Final Wars – When thinking of something that Toho Music did oh so right, their deluxe treatment for the 50th anniversary film comes directly to mind. The original release by Victor (VICP-62936) was more of a traditional album, having movie themes edited and created for the CD release rather than presenting the score as it was used in the movie. Toho Music, on the other hand, opted to include both and more! The movie score, the album score, unused material and demos are all present here. Some really fantastic, previously unreleased cues were also included with this three disc treatment, such as “Commander Namikawa’s Abnormality” (M12 Mix), “Gigan Awakens” (M16 Edit), “Monster X Appears” (M29 Add) and many others. I was never a huge fan of this score in particular, yet many of these themes from the expanded selection made their way onto my iPod, making this without a doubt one of the best things about the six boxes.

    Least Favorite Two Aspects of the Perfect Collection

    Robert Storch
    Audio Quality – Without a doubt, my least favorite aspect of the entire Godzilla Perfect Collection is the overall mixed sound quality. I am not sure what Toho Music’s remastering methods are, but it appears that their way of doing it has somehow “normalized” the sound quality on their CDs. In other words, these so-called “Perfect CDs” now sound noticeably flatter (or a little dull) compared with all of the past releases from Toshiba-EMI, VAP, King Records, Kitty Records, and all the rest. Now, this will be more apparent for buyers who own the earlier CDs, and perhaps not so detectible for people who are purchasing these soundtracks for the first time, but there is a difference for those curious. It’s almost as if the score tracks (and all of the stereo vocal songs for that matter) were put through a program or a filter of some kind? Bottom line – I cannot recall ever hearing “remasters” that sound quite like this from any other record company. Now, fortunately, there are a couple of exceptions throughout the boxed sets where the soundtracks do sound nicely “restored” and the normalizing isn’t as apparent, such as Godzilla (G-001), The Return of Godzilla (G-016) and the stereo Biollante CD, but overall, most of the Showa scores do not sound as clear as they should, especially Invasion of Astro-Monster (G-006) and Destroy All Monsters (G-009). The Heisei soundtracks aren’t as sharp as their earlier Futureland and Kitty Records CDs either. Concerning the Millennium scores, as mentioned in Anthony’s review of Box 6, all of those CDs don’t measure up audio-wise with their previous CD releases. Also, if I had to single out the worst (or most disappointing) sounding track from the whole collection, it would probably be Track 1 from the Invasion of Astro-Monster CD (the main title march), as it sounds extremely soft and flat compared with the rest of that CD. Now, as mentioned above, not even the stereo record songs which are scattered throughout the collection could escape getting dulled down either, as they have now lost their clarity. When directly compared with their Toshiba and Kitty Records releases, as well as the remastered Godzilla Song Book (VPCD-81381), it’s pretty obvious that the songs on the Perfect Collection simply don’t sound the same. One of the worst examples here would probably be “Echoes of Love” from Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (G-021), while some of the songs found on the Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II (G-020) soundtrack (as well as the GODZILLA 1998 David Arnold theme) sound much worse than their past CDs and CD singles. Unfortunately, the audio problems don’t stop there either, as the LP replica bonus discs also suffer from extremely disappointing sound quality.

    LP Replica Bonus Discs – Where to begin? First, couldn’t Toho come up with some better choices for the bonus CDs in the first three boxed sets (the three Makoto Inoue Godzilla Legend LPs come to mind)? While I initially liked Toho’s idea of miniaturizing the original “LP artwork” for each bonus CD, as it turned out, it was the sound quality that ultimately left me disappointed with all of them. Not only did Toho Music replicate the original artwork, but they also made a questionable decision to duplicate and preserve the “original LP listening experience” as well. Now, on the one hand, Toho Music decided to release Godzilla soundtracks that have been remastered of course, but on the other hand, they chose to include bonus CDs that wouldn’t sound on par with them. To be honest, I doubt that better master tapes even exist for the LPs that were chosen, but even so, while I can appreciate the nostalgia of replicating the packaging, this doesn’t mean that I want my bonus CDs to sound inferior or like an old LP. While some of them do sound OK, such as Godzilla 3(GX-3) and the two bonus discs from the fourth box, others, such as Ostinato (GX-7) and An Evening of Special Effects Film Music(GX-6) from Box 5 do not. What makes this almost a travesty, is that these two particular albums had already been released on CD before in the 80’s and 90’s with terrific sound quality, but because these versions are replica’s of their original LPs (not the CD pressings), Toho Music deliberately tried to adjust the audio on both of them (or mastered them from an inferior LP source), and the result turned out to be a huge disappointment as far as I’m concerned, with each CD sounding a bit too flat, dull and equalized when compared to their original King Records CDs. I’d even guess that the original LPs themselves sound much better than what’s found here. In any case, while it is still nice and nostalgic to get some of these original 70’s LPs on the CD format for the first time, like Godzilla 2 (GX-2) and Godzilla 3 (GX-3), I do not think that it was a smart idea on Toho’s part to try and take that nostalgia and apply it to the sound quality. In hindsight, it would have been better if Toho Music scrapped this “LP replica” idea altogether and simply picked different bonus CDs which could have benefited from state-of-the-art remastering.

    Matti Keskiivari 
    Akira Ifukube Recording Archives – I have to say, quite sadly, that the bonus DVD, which was given if you’d ordered all six box sets, left me a bit disappointed. To start off, the first segment, which was recorded at the first-ever performance of Symphonic Fantasia, isn’t exactly what you’d hope to see. Sure, it is fascinating to see old footage of the maestro himself, and Akihiko Hirata, Tomoyuki Tanakaand Ishiro Honda, but unfortunately the segment tends to focus on the speeches they give about Ifukube. That leaves us with very little of the actual music performance. In fact, only the first minute or so of the “No. 1” part is shown. It would’ve been nice to actually see more of the performance. Also, the video and audio quality on the segment leaves a lot to be desired. The fourth and last segment on the DVD, the recording session of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, is another letdown. It only runs for about two minutes, so basically it’s just one cue being conducted by Ifukube. Again, it would’ve been interesting to see more of the session. I also find it odd that Toho Music didn’t, for some reason, add more segments than the four we got. For example, I know that footage from the recording session of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) does exist and can be found on the older German DVD of the movie, released by Marketing Film.

    Repeating Content – Like Anthony and Robert, I have some problems with the LP reissue discs. Now, generally I don’t mind their inclusion at all, even if they are compilations of tracks that are already on the soundtracks. For instance, it’s intriguing to hear sound effects being integrated into some of the cues, like the helicopter and the SOS signal on the “Sea Hawks S.O.S.” track of the first bonus disc, Godzilla (GX-1). The main problem I have with these discs concerns the “movie songs”, since I don’t care that much about most of them. For me, it’s enough that they’re included on their respective movie soundtracks, like “Godzilla and Jet Jaguar Punch-Punch-Punch” on Godzilla vs. Megalon (G-013), but do we really need to hear them again? The aforementioned song and a couple of others are heard on both Godzilla 3 (GX-3) of box 3 and King of the Monsters: Godzilla (GX-4) of box 4. It would really be a nuisance, if it weren’t for the extra songs on those discs.

    Anthony Romero
    “Movie Created Tracks” – These are the cues that were ripped directly from film sources, with the most glaring example being the mono score for the Godzilla vs. Biollante (G-017) release. When done well, they mixed in with okay results and added a bit of extra content. When done poorly, they either had awkward volume levels that dropped and raised while being played, such as with Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (G-025), or had faint dialogue that could be picked up if one listened to the track close enough, as is the case with Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (G-027). The worst example, though, was the Biollante material, which not only had the faint dialogue but also reduced a stereo score to mono. Overall, this felt like something I would see from a fan bootleg than a major record label, and Toho Music easily could have spent more time in editing the original source material themselves rather than going the quick and cheap route of ripping it from film sources with these problems.

    LP Replicas – If someone has read any of my reviews, then my distaste for these LP replica bonus discs is probably well known. First off, the allure of LPs and traditional records is the format itself. Trying to repackage that for CD, if the content itself isn’t new, is largely a waste of time. Toho Music’s methods for doing so make this even worse. I’m not sure how they created these LP replicas exactly, but many of these seem to share the problems of the LP format… and the CD format. One gets the soft and muffled type of quality one associates with an LP to CD transfer, while at the same time its taking an analog format to digitial, meaning details are naturally lost. The lacking audio quality on these, along with all of the great stuff that could have been included instead like a complete score to Godzilla Island (1997) or any of the more recent video game soundtracks, make this a very large sore spot on the sets as a whole. I feel like I have tread this path a lot with my individual reviews, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but to reiterate: the idea of LP replicas that focus on compilations for material that is already present in these sets is worthless, especially given that the audio quality is notably worse on those compilations.

    Favorite Box Set

    Robert Storch
    Box 4 (GB4)
    My favorite box would have to be Box 4, as I simply like almost everything about it. This was the first box to present color artwork for the CDs, while it also contained 9 discs. However, it was the overall sound quality and all of the previously unreleased music which really sold me on this box. The Return of Godzilla (G-016) and the Stereo CD for Godzilla vs. Biollante (G-017) in particular sound superior compared with their earlier Toshiba-EMI and King Records CDs. The real treat for me though, are a couple of rare tracks that are finally making their CD debut on Box 4, such as the original The Return of Godzilla ending credits vocal song (which is sung by The Star Sisters), and all of those unreleased songs and themes from The Return of Godzilla that can be found on disc 2 of the Godzilla vs. Mothra (G-019) CD. Of course, one of the biggest highlights from the fourth box is the inclusion of the Godzilla vs. Biollante double disc soundtrack, which instantly became my favorite Biollante CD. The stereo disc actually has a spatial ambience which is not found on either of the two earlier Futureland CDs, and it also contains a couple of treats, like the “Bio Wars” theme without the lead guitar and the three full-length Ostinato tracks. The 1993 Futureland CD only contained two Ostinato themes and one of them was even edited. Also, for those who happen to own Box 5, just listen to how great the Ostinato tracks sound on this Biollante CD, compared with those same tracks on the bonus CD…what a difference. Speaking of bonus CDs, the two that are found in Box 4 are pretty rare and interesting, making them nice to have, although there’s not a lot of music on them. My only real complaint with this set is the second CD from Biollante, the mono disc, but because the stereo disc sounds so amazing and includes a few rare tracks too, it’s not the problem one would think. Still, Toho Music does deserve some bashing for including a mono Biollante disc, which again proves just how “unpredictable” Toho can be when it comes to these boxed sets. Overall though, I can highly recommend Box 4…it’s a winner!

    Matti Keskiivari 
    Box 3 (GB3)
    For me, boxes 3 and 6 (GB6) rank as the highest, most well done releases in the Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection. However, if I had to choose one over the other, my number one favorite would probably be the third box in the series. Yes, it does have two of the worst Godzilla soundtracks, both by Riichiro Manabe, but one can’t deny the fact that Toho Music did a commendable job in remastering those two, and the rest of the box’s soundtracks also feature a better sound while adding a lot of extra content. Also, while I did complain about the Godzilla 3 (GX-3) disc a bit, I like many of the extra songs on it, like “Monster Christmas” and “Godzilla Folk Song”. However, the primary reason why this box is my favorite would be the soundtrack of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (G-014). The film has always been my favorite Godzilla movie, and I like Masaru Sato‘s music in it along with the stellar treatment it got for this line that added content and improved the audio quality through remastering it. So when I got the third Perfect Collection box, I was glad to finally own the soundtrack of that 1974 movie in its best form.

    Anthony Romero
    Box 4 (GB4)
    The fourth box in this series was a clear favorite for me. It had a great selection of music, as it’s hard to go wrong with the 1980’s scores and Akira Ifukube, and felt like it was the most well rounded package. This was also the debut of the nine disc treatment, which is something that Toho Music should have started earlier. The music has also been nicely expanded for The Return of Godzilla (G-016), Godzilla vs. Biollante (G-017) and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (G-018). The Godzilla vs. Mothra(G-019) release loses out a bit when compared to the previous two disc set from Toshiba EMI (TYCY-5267/8) in terms of coverage of the movie’s score, but at the same time provides some unique content that make it a very worthwhile addition to any fan’s collection and a great companion piece to the Toshiba EMI set. What really draws me to to the fourth box, though, is that it’s great for both old and new collectors. I actually like the LP material in this set as well, as its unique and in some cases very rare. After a less than stellar sales performance of the first three sets, which were all limited to 1,954 units each and none were close to selling out, this box was delayed and Toho Music really stepped up their game to deliver something worth the asking price. Overall, this box gives the feeling that they really went the extra mile in collecting some of this material and makes this a set for both casuals and diehards alike.

    Least Favorite Box Set

    Robert Storch
    Box 5 (GB5)
    After carefully considering everything, I would have to say that Box 5 is probably the set that I was most upset with. While I’m not crazy about Box 2 either, I believe that the disappointing audio quality is what really brings Box 5 down. Please remember that I am speaking from the viewpoint of someone who owns the original CDs (which sound better), but if someone doesn’t have them, they still shouldn’t hesitate to get this box, as it does contain a lot of great and essential music by Akira Ifukube and Takayuki Hattori, but just don’t expect superior sound quality. For example, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (G-021) in particular sounds a bit soft to me and the “Echoes of Love” vocal song just doesn’t sound good either. However, the biggest reason why this box probably deserves to be the worst one is simply because of the botched audio on the Ostinato (GX-7) and An Evening of Special Effects Film Music (GX-6) bonus CDs. I mean, we finally get two important bonus discs that a lot of people were hoping Toho Music would include in one of the boxes, but unfortunately, for those people who really care about audio quality, these are going to collect a lot of dust. Other issues are the fact that Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah sound much better and sharper on their original Toshiba-EMI Futureland 2-CD sets, while those earlier CDs also boast better presentations of their scores too. In addition, the Godzilla Singles Collection found on disc 2 of the Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II (G-020) set doesn’t sound as good as what was originally released on those Futureland, Sony or Polygram CD singles either, as almost every song suffers from being too “normalized” and a bit soft.

    Matti Keskiivari 
    Box 2 (GB2)
    If I had to choose between the six boxes within the 50th Anniversary Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection, my least favorite is definitely the second box that was released close after the first box in 2004. My main reason for this is that, out of all the sets, this one had overall the least improved sound. As I mentioned earlier with Invasion of Astro-Monster (G-006) and Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (G-007), some of these soundtracks lost out in terms of the audio quality that was already present on past CD releases. The only notable exception is All Monsters Attack (G-010), which has a great audio presentation, but that still doesn’t add a whole lot of value to this set.

    Anthony Romero
    Box 2 (GB2)
    Of the six boxes released in this line, the second always struck me as Toho Music’s weakest effort. It’s marked with largely unimproved audio, with Invasion of Astro-Monster (G-006) being on the weak side and All Monsters Attack (G-010) being one of the few here that benefited from the remastering. Lacking audio quality aside, the discs are relatively light on new content, having very little to offer over their previous releases on CD in the 1990’s. The bonus disc from this box, Godzilla 2 (GX-2), is also another lackluster compilation LP replica, containing content already found in the first three boxes and with rather poor audio quality. This box, by over an hour, also has the least amount of music of the six boxes released. Overall, this one is simply the hardest to merit from a price perspective, both to new and old collectors.

    Overall Thoughts

    Robert Storch
    Conclusion: The real question is, should you buy the 50th Anniversary Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection? Well, after a careful analysis I would have to say, yes, as these Godzilla soundtracks are probably the best ones we are going to get for some time, but this really isn’t a “Perfect” collection either, as was touted by the company. While Toho Music has proven that they can release CDs and boxed sets with exceptional packaging, they have not yet demonstrated that they can be reliable when it comes to remastering this music as, unfortunately, it has been “hit and miss” with them (their recent Battle in Outer Space CD was a definite “miss” in terms of sound quality as well). The problem is that Toho Music lacks the experience of a major record company, and is in all likelihood just a very small department. In many ways, they more closely resemble an “indie label”, which has both benefits and disadvantages for consumers. Some benefits: the generous amount of extra tracks and attention to detail regarding the artwork and packaging. Some disadvantages: audio quality is arguably not as state-of-the-art as it should be, and some of their questionable decision making has forever impacted these sets. In hindsight, should Toho Music have even sold these Godzilla soundtracks in six separate, very expensive boxed sets? While this boxed set format seems to have worked out well enough for the Akira Kurosawa soundtracks (which were only three boxes), I don’t think that coming up with a six boxed set format was necessarily the best way to reissue 28 Godzilla soundtracks, as in the end, it took Toho Music 6 years to release them all, as they kept falling further and further behind schedule. In closing, if you are someone who owns a few or all of the Godzilla Toshiba-EMI CDs from the 1990s, then I would still recommend holding on to those for their unique packaging and nice overall sound. However, if you can only afford one collection, then definitely go for the “Perfect” sets, simply because they are the most expanded Godzilla soundtracks currently on CD, and the price per disc is actually very low when you break it all down. As a side note, for people who have purchased all six boxed sets from Arksquare, they will also receive a free Toho Region 2 bonus DVD called Akira Ifukube Recording Archives.

    Matti Keskiivari
    Conclusion:
     I think it’s pretty ironic that back in 2004 Toho Music announced that the Godzilla soundtracks would be released in six box sets, and it took them six years to release them all. In the end, the boxes are great to own, even though there are flaws in each of them. Most of the Heisei soundtracks, for example, don’t have the score as it’s heard in the movie. The older two-disc releases from Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) up till Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) had the complete edited score, so those are still worth getting as companions to these boxes. Of course, these sets are pretty highly priced, so it’s up to every soundtrack enthusiast themselves to decide if they’re worth spending well over 100 dollars for each of them or not. I’d say yes to that question. And now that I finally have all the 50th Anniversary Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection boxes, I’ll be looking forward to the other science fiction soundtracks released by Toho Music.

    Anthony Romero
    Conclusion: The Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection has wowed me, disappointed me, and overall left me satisfied across the six releases. There are things that could have been done a lot better, and should have been for the high price tag. Still, some things Toho Music knocked out of the park across this very large 46 disc series. Although I’m not a huge fan of the “Godzilla face” CD covers, the set is very attractive looking while some of the added content goes beyond what many would expect from a normal soundtrack release and the attention to detail is very impressive. Now while I do wish some things had been handled with more professionalism, I still find the Perfect Collection to be a great entry point for new soundtrack collectors and a good way for “old timers” to pick up some scores they might have missed while also getting extra content for those they already have. If I had to give the entire series, from disc one to disc forty six, a grade… it would probably be a straight B. It falls very short of the “perfect” moniker the series touts, but is still very much worth owning for more dedicated soundtrack enthusiasts and I’m glad to have many of them in my own collection.

    General // December 31, 2010
  • When it comes to soundtracks, I’m a fanatic. Both collecting, listening… and then storing. My mode of operation is to take most of the music I collect and then dump it onto my computer and eventually move my favorite tracks to my iPod.

    This leads to the Perfect Collection release of Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (G-021), which frankly speaking had one of the worst track title jobs Toho Music has done to date. In order to help people out in a similar situation, I have decided to create a better track listing for the two CDs. The basis for this is largely from the Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla Complete Tracks (KTCR-1301/2) release; consequently, this is nothing too creative and most anyone could have done it on there own… but consider this a way of cutting out “the middle man” for those who just want the list without having to create it themselves. As an added bonus, any track with a * means it was extended compared with what was found on the Complete Tracks CD or new.As a result of my habit, I’m very picky about track titles. I want them to be representative and unique. My favorite method of playing these tracks on my computer is to play them all from a giant play list, which is close to 400 hours of music, and just press shuffle. So if “M8” comes up as a track title, one can understand that it would be a little grating.

    Anyway, let’s get this started. Below is a recreated track listing for Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (G-021):

    Disc 1Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla

    1. Prologue (M1 First Half)
    2. Main Title (M1 Second Half)
    3. Birth Island I (M3)
    4. Little Godzilla (M6)
    5. Birth Island II (M7)
    6. The Giant Claws of the Devil (M8)
    7. Yuki’s Theme (M11)
    8. SpaceGodzilla Approaches (M12)*
    9. Moguera Mobilized (54 Second Version)
    10. Miki and Little Godzilla (M15)
    11. Mischievous Little Godzilla (M16)*
    12. Suspense (Normal)*
    13. Miki and Godzilla I (M19)*
    14. Human Suspense*
    15. SpaceGodzilla’s Theme
    16. Miki and Godzilla II (M23)
    17. Miki and Shinjo (M24)*
    18. The Two on the Beach (M25)*
    19. Miki is Kidnapped (M25A)
    20. SpaceGodzilla (Tempo Up)*
    21. Miki’s Telekinesis (M28)*
    22. G-Force Theme (M31)*
    23. Godzilla’s Theme (Normal)*
    24. Suspense (Tempo Down)*
    25. Godzilla’s Theme (Slower Tempo)*
    26. SpaceGodzilla’s Frenzy
    27. Moguera Minor*
    28. Requiem (M51)*
    29. Epilogue (M52)*
      By: Isao Shigeto
    30. Echoes of Love (M53)*
      By: Date of Birth

    Disc 2

    1. Godzilla’s Theme (10/28 Revision)*
    2. Godzilla’s Theme (Without Snare)
    3. SpaceGodzilla’s Theme (10/28 Revision)*
    4. SpaceGodzilla (Normal Brass Rising)*
    5. SpaceGodzilla (C-Start Brass Rising)*
    6. SpaceGodzilla (Horn in Front of C2)*
    7. M1 Second Half (10/28 Revision)*
    8. SpaceGodzilla Approaches (10/28 Revision)*
    9. SpaceGodzilla’s Psychokinesis
    10. Moguera Mobilized (42 Second Version)*
    11. Little Godzilla (Alternate)*
    12. Birth Island I (Without Shaker)*
    13. Birth Island I (Short Version)*
    14. Birth Island II (Long Fade)*
    15. Birth Island III*
    16. Crystal (M5)
    17. Crystal (M5 Without Horns)*
    18. The Giant Claws of the Devil (M8 Brass Rising)*
    19. Suspense (10/28 Revision)*
    20. Yuki’s Theme (Without Percussion)
    21. Epilogue (M52 Piano Raising Version)*
      By: Isao Shigeto Music for Assemble Edit
    22. Prologue (M1 First Half)
    23. Main Title (M1 Second Half)
    24. Miki and Mothra (M2)
      By: Sayaka Osawa and Keiko Imamura
    25. Radio Music*
      By: Katsu
    26. Miki and the Cosmos I (M9)
      By: Akira Ifukube
    27. Moguera Mobilized (M14)
    28. Godzilla Appears (M17)
      By: Akira Ifukube
    29. T-Project Initiated (M18)
    30. Space Warfare: Moguera vs. SpaceGodzilla (M20)*
    31. Miki and the Cosmos II
      By: Akira Ifukube
    32. Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla I (M41A)*
    33. Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla II (M42)
    34. Land Moguera Burrows (M44)
    35. Moguera vs. SpaceGodzilla (M44A)
    36. Epilogue (M52 Alternate)
      By: Isao Shigeto
    37. Echoes of Love (M53 Alternate)*
      By: Date of Birth
    General // September 2, 2010
  • Continuity within Godzilla films has been inconsistent, to say the least. The Showa series barely paid heed to it, while the Heisei series was very different from its predecessor. Each film during the 1980’s through the mid-1990’s worked off the previous entries for tight continuity in the series. When Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999) was first announced it was explained that the movie would be part of a whole new series. One that was not connected with the Heisei or Showa series, and the film would pioneer a new series of films radically different from the two previous ones. So was born the Millennium (or Mireniamu) series: a series of films in which each movie was not forced to work off the previous entries. So this article examines the Godzilla Millennium series continuity, including how it developed and what, sometimes, little continuity actually does exist in these movies.

    The Millennium Series and Continuity

    At first, producer Shogo Tomiyama was planning for three stand alone films. From these three movies Toho would decide which to dedicate a series about. This entire plan, however, was aborted after a meager box office showing by Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999) and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000) stumbled out of the gates, becoming a box office flop. It was then discussed that the 2001 Godzilla film might mark the closure of what would have been a short lived series.

    Thankfully, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) was a box office success. This saved the franchise, and allowed for Masaaki Tezuka‘s “Kiryu Saga” and what is being called the last Godzilla film for a decade: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).

    The Millennium films are not entirely stand alone, though. They often have a connection with at least one other Toho film. Below is a run down on the continuity seen in each of the six Godzilla films of the Millennium series.

     

    1999 – Godzilla 2000: Millennium

    The only true stand alone film, makes no reference to any Godzilla film before it.

     

    2000 – Godzilla vs. Megaguirus

    References an altered Godzilla (1954), in which Godzilla is not killed by the Oxygen Destroyer.

     

    2001 – Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack

    Stresses the point that Godzilla has not attacked since 1954 and makes numerous references to Godzilla (1954), like the Oxygen Destroyer. The film also jokingly refers to GODZILLA (1998) in some suggestive dialogue. This occurs during a scene where it’s mentioned that a monster attacked New York a few years ago. In the scene, a solider asks a colleague if the monster was Godzilla. This sparks the famous line about being what America claims, but the Japanese scientists never confirmed it.

     

    2002 – Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla

    Makes reference to a slightly altered Godzilla (1954), in which the bone fragments of Godzilla survive the Oxygen Destroyer. Also Mothra (1961), and The War of the Gargantuas (1966) are mentioned as well.

     

    2003 – Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

    Breaking the mold from the other Godzilla films in the Millennium series, is a direct sequel to the previous year’s Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. As expected, the film references its predecessor greatly, along with Godzilla (1954) and Mothra (1961). In fact, actor Hiroshi Koizumi returns to reprise his role from Mothra as Doctor Shin’ichi Chujo. The film also references Space Amoeba (1970) with Kamoebas, who is stated as being a mutated variety of snapping turtle. He is mentioned as first appearing on Selgio Island, the island that Space Amoeba takes place on, 34 years earlier and having attacked in the mid-1980’s.

    Books have been released, however, which state that the “Kiryu saga” actually extends far beyond what is hinted at in the two movies…

    In the 2002 book Godzilla X Mechagodzilla: Super Complete Works, there is a list of kaiju who are part of the same timeline as Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002). This part of the book is pictured to the left.

    Another book, called Godzilla X Mothra X Mechagodzilla: Tokyo SOS Fantastic Collection, took it a step further by including a timeline of when the kaiju attacked. It also mentioned three monsters left off the material released in 2002: Frankenstein, the Giant Sea Snake and King Kong (whose absence in 2002 is understandable as books around this time avoided showing pictures of him or his mechanical double likely for murky copyright reasons).

    The timeline of events leading up to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) is as follows:

    1954 – Godzilla appears
    1956 – Rodan and the Meganulon appear
    1958 – Varan appears
    1961 – Mothra appears
    1962 – Maguma appears
    1963 – Manda appears
    1964 – The Dogora appear
    1965 – Baragon, Frankenstein and the Giant Octopus appear
    1966 – Sanda and Gaira appear
    1967 – King Kong, Gorosaurus and the Giant Sea Snake appear
    1970 – Gezora, Ganimes and Kamoebas appear
    1987 – Kamoebas appears

    Each year that a monster appears corresponds to a movie released that year which features the same kaiju, with the exception of Kamoebas’ attack in 1987. However, this doesn’t necessarily state that each of those films is part of the “Kiryu saga” continuity. An easily spotted example of this is the 1962 film Gorath, which featured Maguma, as the movie takes place in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The film also showcased the destruction of the Moon, which is clearly seen in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002).

    If the list is taken literal, then Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965) might have occurred, except with the alternate ending in which Frankenstein battles the Giant Octopus. Also, the Giant Octopus is absent from 1966, meaning an altered The War of the Gargantuas (1966) might have taken place in which the opening bout between Gaira and the Giant Octopus didn’t occur. In 1967, King Kong, Gorosaurus and the Giant Sea Snake appear, three kaiju who starred in the 1967 film King Kong Escapes. However, Mechani-kong is absent from the list, meaning either he never appeared or that the list simply left off the mechanical kaiju, as Kiryu isn’t mentioned in 2002 or 2003 in the timeline.

    So feasibly, the following films might be in the Kiryu saga continuity: Godzilla (1954), Rodan (1956), Varan (1958), Mothra (1961), Atragon (1963), Dogora (1964), Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965), The War of the Gargantuas (1966), King Kong Escapes (1967) and Space Amoeba (1970).

     

    2004 – Godzilla: Final Wars

    Celebrating Godzilla’s 50th anniversary, this production is a complete stand alone film in a continuity sense.

    That said, the movie has a wealth of references to prior Toho films, including the collapsed star Gorath from the 1962 movie Gorath, the Xilien from the 1965 film Invasion of Astro-Monster and the Gotengo from the 1963 film Atragon.

    The production also includes stock footage to represent past kaiju attacks. However, given that Godzilla is locked away in ice and some of these were Godzilla films, it’s assumed that none are in the same continuity. The movies used as stock footage are: Varan (1958), Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965), The War of the Gargantuas (1966), Space Amoeba (1970), Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000).

    This article was first published on July 23rd, 2002.

    General // July 19, 2005