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  • On September 10th, 1937, an event took place that would change the world of cinema forever. Several of the Photo Chemical Laboratories as well as the P.C.L. Film Studio of Tokyo, Jenkins Osawa Studio (J.O.), and a distribution company called Toho Eiga merged into Toho Co. Ltd [1].

    But wait! What happened before September 10th, 1937? Were the histories of Toho’s predecessors doomed to vanish into relative obscurity? Fortunately, a tidy sum of films from the before time are still readily available to those willing to do a little digging. Several examples of Mikio Naruse’s work from his early P.C.L. days have actually proven somewhat of a breeze to locate, and even Sadao Yamanaka’s P.C.L. masterwork Humanity and Paper Balloons is within arms’ reach of Tohophiles, but here’s the problem…


    Ongaku Kigeki Horoyoi Jinsei,
    Toho’s very first film…
    or was it!?
    Dun dun dun…

    … Naruse began working for P.C.L. in ’35, and his name tends to overshadow those of his contemporaries. This makes for something of a 1935 barrier; that is to say (as of the publication of this article), it’s notoriously difficult to find anything from P.C.L. or J.O. prior to that year. To date, I’ve personally only been able to track down about 20 minutes of combined footage from these early years in the form of two animated shorts, although I do realise that I’m still very blessed to have been able to view said shorts.

    So which years are affected? All indications are that none of Toho’s predecessors produced anything, at least film-wise, prior to or during 1932; so that only leaves two unaccounted for: 1933 and 1934.

    These are Toho’s forgotten years, and they’ve proven quite the fascination to me as of recent. The Toho Studios Story by Stuart Galbraith IV [2] proved an excellent first step for researching this mysterious era. With the help of Galbraith’s book, JMDB, the Japanese Cinema DatabaseKinenoteJapanese Wikipedia, and some additional assistance from Toho’s websiteNikkatsu’s websiteKon Ichikawa by Yuki Mori [3], the Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema by Jasper Sharp [4], and Sessue Hayakawa by Daisuke Miyao [5], I’m very pleased to present a (hopefully) comprehensive list of classical works from Toho’s forgotten years.

    Please Note: All release dates are from JMDB unless otherwise noted. Films highlighted in yellow are emphasised due to the relative ease of tracking them down.

    1933

    Mr. Monkey’s Photographer
     猿くんのカメラマン
     Transliteration: Saru-kun no Kameraman  Also Rendered As: 猿君のカメラマン
     Directed by: N/A*  Release Date: N/A**
     Type: Animation  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 1 reel  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Animated by Takao Nakano, Yoshitsugu Tanaka, and Shunichi Funaki, production ran from January to April of 1933 [6] and was ostensibly completed prior to the release of any other J.O. Studio film.
    ** According to a 2009 research paper on J.O. Studio anime by Yukari Hagiwara, Saru-kun no Kameraman was never publicly released as it was simply a prototypic effort [6].

    The Scholar’s Child
     博士の子
     Transliteration: Hakase no Ko  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Tomiyasu Ikeda  Release Date: May 18th, 1933
     Type: Live Action  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 8 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Medium
    Kyoto Accent: The Loose Sash
     京訛り だらりの帯
     Transliteration: Kyo Namari: Darari no Obi  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Bansho Kanamori  Release Date: May 18th, 1933*
     Type: Live Action  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 4 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Medium

    * JMDB and the Japanese Cinema Database [7] both list the exact date as unknown; however, there’s an identical article for this film under the 太秦発声 (Uzumasa Hassei Eiga) company listing in the latter website that indicates a May 18th release date [8]Hakase no Kois similarly found in two separate articles, one for each company [9][10], and its release date under Uzumasa corresponds with JMDB’s. The J.O. Studio page for Kyo Namari: Darari no Obi lists the release date as November 30th, 1932 [7]; however, this appears to be a coding error. The search index displays 1933-00-00 in an apparent attempt to imply that an exact date is unknown [11]; however, the movie bio is likely parsing that data hyperliterally and subtracting one month and one day from January 1st, 1933.

    Kusunoki’s Father and Son*
     楠公父子
     Transliteration: Nanko Fushi  Also Known As: 楠正成 (Kusunoki Masashige)
     Directed by: Tomiyasu Ikeda  Release Date: June 1st, 1933
     Type: Live Action  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 8 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Medium

    *Alternately translated as Father and son of Honourable Kusunoki by Daisuke Miyao, its connection to J.O. appears to have been firmly established on Nikkatsu’s website [12].

    Musical Comedy: The Tipsy Life*
     音楽喜劇 ほろよひ人生
     Transliteration: Ongaku Kigeki Horoyoi Jinsei  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Sotoji Kimura  Release Date: August 10th, 1933
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 77 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Alternately translated Musical Comedy – Intoxicated Life by Stuart Galbraith IV, he declared this the very first Toho production [2].

    The Decisive Battle at Takada Downs
     決戦高田の馬場
     Transliteration: Kessen Takada no Baba  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Tomiyasu Ikeda  Release Date: September 14th, 1933
     Type: Live Action  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 10 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Medium
    Toy Box Series Episode 1: Express Fleet*
     特急艦隊
     Transliteration: Tokkyu Kantai  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: N/A**  Release Date: September 19th, 1933
     Type: Animation  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 6 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * According to a 2009 research paper on J.O. Studio anime by Yukari Hagiwara, Tokkyu Kantai was the very first of the Toy Box Seriesepisodes [6]. Although Tokkyu Kantai appears to translate simply to Express Fleet, “Toy Box Series Episode 1” has been added to our translation as a means of reducing ambiguity.
    ** Animated by Takao Nakano, Yoshitsugu Tanaka, Shunichi Funaki, and Hakuro Nagahisa, it would seem that this title was J.O.’s first commercially released anime.

    A Girlfriend’s Sex Appeal
     彼女のイット
     Transliteration: Kanojo no Itto  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Gentaro Tawara  Release Date: September 22nd, 1933
     Type: Live Action  Production: Uzumasa Hassei
     Length: 6 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Low
    The Romantic Ichimaru
     恋の市丸
     Transliteration: Koi no Ichimaru  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Masao Mizushima  Release Date: November 9th, 1933
     Type: Live Action  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 8 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Medium
    City of Purity
     純情の都
     Transliteration: Junjo no Miyako  Also Rendered As: 纯情之都
     Directed by: Sotoji Kimura  Release Date: November 23rd, 1933
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 61 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High
    Toy Box Series Episode 2: Black Cat Banzai*
     黒猫萬歳
     Transliteration: Kuroneko Banzai  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: N/A**  Release Date: December 22nd, 1933
     Type: Animation  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 8 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Although Kuroneko Banzai appears to translate simply to Black Cat Banzai, “Toy Box Series Episode 2” has been added to our translation as a means of reducing ambiguity.
    ** Animated by Takao Nakano, Yoshitsugu Tanaka, Shunichi Funaki, and Hakuro Nagahisa, Kuroneko Banzai is the second entry in the Toy Box Series.

    The Kitsune vs. the Tanukis*
     動絵狐狸達引
     Transliteration: Ugokie Kori no Tatehiki  Also Rendered As: 動絵狐狸の達引
     Directed by: Ikuo Oishi  Release Date: December 31st, 1933
     Type: Animation  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 12 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Often informally translated as The Fox Versus the Raccoon or some similar variant, the short film Ugokie Kori no Tatehiki is actuallyvery easy to locate, just so long as you aren’t too concerned about subtitles.

    1934

    Bonji Tadano: A Life Study*
     只野凡児 人生勉強
     Transliteration: Tadano Bonji – Jinsei Benkyo  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Sotoji Kimura  Release Date: January 5th, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 80 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Alternately translated Life Study by Stuart Galbraith IV [2].

    The Dancer’s Diary
     踊り子日記
     Transliteration: Odoriko Nikki  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Shigeo Yagura  Release Date: February 12th, 1934*
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 64 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * There is an apparent discrepancy as far as the release date is concerned. Although JMDB claims March 15th [13], Toho’s own website lists the release date as February 12th [14].

    The King’s Roaring Laughter Banzai
     爆笑王キング万歳
     Transliteration: Bakusho O Kingu Banzai  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Masao Mizushima  Release Date: February 15th, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: Uzumasa Hassei
     Length: 6 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Low
    Cherry Blossom Dance: Mother’s Tears*
     さくら音頭 涙の母
     Transliteration: Sakura Ondo – Namida no Haha  Also Known As: さくら音頭 (Sakura Ondo)
     Directed by: Sotoji Kimura  Release Date: March 8th, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 75 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Alternately translated The Crying Mother by Stuart Galbraith IV [2].

    Toy Box Series Episode 3: Picture Book 1936
     オモチャ箱シリーズ第3話 絵本1936年
     Transliteration: Omocha Bako Shirizu Dai San Wa: Ehon Senkyuhyakusanjuroku Nen  Also Rendered As: オモチャ箱シリーズ第3話 絵本一九三六年
     Directed by: N/A*  Release Date: April 13th, 1934
     Type: Animation  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 8 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Animated by Takao Nakano, Yoshitsugu Tanaka, Shunichi Funaki, Hakuro Nagahisa, and Kuma Nishiguchi, Omocha-Bako Series, Dai-3-Wa: Ehon 1936-nen (sans subtitles) is actually somewhat easy to locate in its entirety.

    Enoken’s Story of a Young, Drunk Tiger*
     エノケンの青春酔虎伝
     Transliteration: Enoken no Seishun Suikoden  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Kajiro Yamamoto  Release Date: May 3rd, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 84 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Alternately translated Enoken’s Story of a Young, Drunken Tiger by Stuart Galbraith IV [2], this film features the famous Japanese comedian Kenichi Enomoto (stage name: Enoken).

    Bombardment Squadron*
     爆撃飛行隊
     Transliteration: Bakugeki Hikotai  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Genjiro Saegusa and Shin Nezu  Release Date: May 3rd, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 10 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Medium

    * Alternately translated as Bomber Pilots by Jasper Sharp [4].

    Namiko’s Life
     浪子の一生
     Transliteration: Namiko no Issho  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Shigeo Yagura  Release Date: June 28th, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 64 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High
    Araki Mataemon: Iga Pass
     荒木又右衛門 天下の伊賀越
     Transliteration: Araki Mataemon – Tenka no Igagoe  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Yotaro Katsumi  Release Date: June 28th, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: Uzumasa Hassei
     Length: 21 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Low
    Bonji Tadano Part II*
     続・只野凡児
     Transliteration: Zoku ・ Tadano Bonji  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Sotoji Kimura  Release Date: July 12th, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 78 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Alternately translated as Sequel ・ Tadano Bonji by Stuart Galbraith IV [2].

    Ponsuke’s Spring
     ポン助の春
     Transliteration: Ponsuke no Haru  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: N/A*  Release Date: August 1st, 1934
     Type: Animation  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 11 min (estimation)**  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Animated by Ikuo Oishi.
    ** Run time estimation extrapolated from a 206-metre film length.

    Crackle Crackle Mountain
     かちかち山
     Transliteration: Kachi Kachi Yama  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: N/A*  Release Date: August 8th, 1934
     Type: Animation  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 14 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Animated by Ikuo Oishi and Shoji Ichino.

    Become Japanese!
     日本人なればこそ
     Transliteration: Nihon-jin Nareba Koso  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Genjiro Saegusa  Release Date: August 22nd, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: Uzumasa Hassei
     Length: 6 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Low
    Love Street
     恋の舗道
     Transliteration: Koi no Hodo  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Seichi Ina  Release Date: September 13th, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 8 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Medium
    Enoken’s Magician
     エノケンの魔術師
     Transliteration: Enoken no Majutsushi  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Sotoji Kimura  Release Date: October 25th, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 73 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High
    The Worthless Wife
     旅烏お妻やくざ
     Transliteration: Tabigarasu Otsuma Yakuza  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Takuji Furumi  Release Date: November 1st, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: Uzumasa Hassei
     Length: 8 reels  Toho Connection Likelihood: Low
    Boss of the Alps
     あるぷす大将
     Transliteration: Arupusu Taisho  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: Kajiro Yamamoto  Release Date: November 15th, 1934
     Type: Live Action  Production: P.C.L.
     Length: 90 min  Toho Connection Likelihood: High
    Pom Poko Saga
     ポンポコ武勇伝
     Transliteration: Pom Poko Buyu Den  Also Known As: N/A
     Directed by: N/A*  Release Date: December 27th, 1934
     Type: Animation  Production: J.O. Studio
     Length: 15 min (estimation)**  Toho Connection Likelihood: High

    * Animated by Takao Nakano, Yoshitsugu Tanaka, Kuma Nishiguchi, Akira Todo, and Giju Yamashita with music by Akio Hirayama, this film possesses a similar title to a far more famous 1994 anime.
    ** Run time estimation extrapolated from a 282-metre film length.


    Key
     キャプション
    High: The connection to Toho is well-established as the production company in question is either P.C.L. or J.O.
    Medium: Most likely a J.O. / Uzumasa Hassei coproduction. Per Yuki Mori’s Kon Ichikawa, Uzumasa Hassei (now defunct) produced a plethora of films using J.O. Studio.
    Low: The lack of evidence for a J.O. tie-in would suggest that Uzumasa’s parent company Nikkatsu probably has a far greater connection to the film in question than Toho.

     


    Sources:


    [1] J.O.スタヂオ (Japanese Wikipedia)
    [2] The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography by Stuart Galbraith IV
    [3] Kon Ichikawa by Yuki Mori
    [4] Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema by Jasper Sharp
    [5] Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom by Daisuke Miyao
    [6] 京都におけるアニメーション制作 ―J・O・スタジオ・トーキー漫画部の活動より― (PDF)
    [7] 京訛り だらりの帯 (J.O.スタヂオ) (Japanese Cinema Database)
    [8] 京訛り だらりの帯 (太秦発声) (Japanese Cinema Database)
    [9] 博士の子 (J.O.スタヂオ) (Japanese Cinema Database)
    [10] 博士の子 (太秦発声) (Japanese Cinema Database)
    [11] J.O.スタヂオ
     (Japanese Cinema Database)
    [12] 楠公父子
     (Nikkatsu)
    [13] 踊り子日記
     (JMDB)
    [14] 踊り子日記
     (Toho)

    General // August 9, 2014
  • I call it a healthy paranoia, though others might disagree… year after year, Anthony manages to either fill me in on an idea he and the other staff are cooking up for April Fools’ Day, or he asks me if I might have a suggestion. This year, there was a deafening amount of radio silence in regard to the subject. By the time March 29th rolled around, I was convinced he had an elaborate prank of some sort in the queue. The suspense was unbearable, so I finally sent him a text. A few moments later, I came to realize my suspicions were false. We were only a few days from zero hour, and Toho Kingdom was not prepared for one of its favourite holidays!

    At this point, Hitmontop’s legs are finally getting some much-needed blood…

    Fortunately, I had been kicking around a silly sort of idea for a few months. I know it’s probably been done to the point of ad nauseam, but an upside down main page seemed like an entertaining notion. All that was really required was some playful CSS (with special considerations made for Internet Explorer, as usual). Making it Toho-related proved to be a bit trickier…

    … then I remembered Hitmontop! An upside down Pokémon on a topsy turvy front page would be the icing on the cake, but there was a problem. Hitmontop had certainly appeared in the TV show, but Toho never touched that. They only distributed the movies. Was it possible that a clear connection couldn’t be made between the two?

    Frantically I searched for evidence of Hitmontop in a Pokémon movie, and much to my relief, I discovered that the 2000 animated short Pikachu & Pichu featured our twirly whirly gyroscopic friend…

    … and that, my friends, is the story of how Hitmontop used Seismic Toss on Toho Kingdom. I would say that it was super effective, but as you might know, that particular move doesn’t quite work that way.

    General // April 2, 2014
  • Several popular franchises highlight a certain numeric value that increases with the passage of time for the sake of drama. Dragon Ball Z emphasized the power level; the original Star Trek series, the warp factor; and our dear friend Godzilla has given us such a simple, yet important variable: sheer size! Now this article attempts to tackle that very topic of Godzilla’s legendary size, in particular in relation to the 2014 movie.

    History


    … and so Japan’s kaiju insurance industry
    was born…

    In the Tokyo of yesteryear, a 50 meter monster was nothing to sneeze at. The immense Mesozoic chimera dwarfed his surroundings as he unleashed atomic fire upon the hapless metropolis with little resistance. As years passed, Tokyo’s skyline crawled further into the blue, and by the time Godzilla was due for a reboot in the 1980s, it was probably only natural for the filmmakers to augment his stature by 60%. When Godzilla’s renaissance era ultimately came to a close, the beast’s final height topped the charts at a whopping 100 meters!

    Whatever your opinion about the 1998 American remake, it’s hard to dispute that for the very first time, a radioactive mutant named “Godzilla” was continuously dwarfed by its surroundings. In a city where your average building scrapes the sky at a higher altitude than Godzilla at his tallest [1], an unusual decision was made by the filmmakers to scale their radically altered interpretation to a height nearer Godzilla at his shortest. Despite the film’s tagline, size really didn’t seem to matter. The Manhattan skyline so engulfed the anomalous reptile that it simply accentuated the animal’s relative vulnerability. Therefore, the film’s dialogue hardly strained credulity when it implied that the creature in question had completely vanished into the depths of the labyrinthine metropolis.

    Though the 1998 remake fell famously flat with many fans, the subsequent Millennium Series (more often than not) made similar choices in regard to the kaiju’s stature. Godzilla was yet again closer to his original height, but it didn’t matter quite as much in a setting so far removed from the skyscraper capital of the world. Even still, modern Japanese cities contrasted sharply with a beast who was ever more incapable of peering over the rooftops of buildings he sought to raze.

    Then came Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), and it seemed as though all bets were off! The King of the Monsters had returned to his maximum height in an era where it clearly made sense to do so. Sadly, his lean build and relative lack of environmental interaction invariably made his triumphant return to 100 meters seem like an arbitrary grab at a former title as opposed to a genuine attempt to rekindle that oh-so-special characteristic that helped earn the Monster King his famous moniker.

    Godzilla 2014

    Fast forward ten years to the present. Now, I should probably preface by saying that it’s almost certainly a mistake to estimate official heights based on posters…


    Inadequacy now plagues the
    Transamerica Pyramid.


    After all, realize that the subject of this GODZILLA (1998) poster could be extrapolated to a height of over 200 meters…

    … and the subject of this GODZILLA(1998) poster to a mind-boggling height of over 250 meters!

    Even still, the general consensus based on available data is that Godzilla’s upcoming incarnation is going to be large and in charge once more, just topping his all-time record by perhaps a few meters [2]. Considering the fact that several fans (myself included) have been frequently miscalculating Legendary’s Godzilla in the 200+ meter range based on trailer stills and promotional material, there is clearly something unusual about this new version that gives us the delightful illusion that he’s far more massive than official stats would otherwise suggest. As such…


    If only they had gone to
    Candy Apple Island…

    … this new Goji is bound to give you the impression that it’s the end of the world as we know it… and here’s why I feel fine: One of the things that lifted Godzilla to the status of a worldwide cultural phenomenon was just how much he dwarfed his surroundings. Let’s compare and contrast cinema’s other favourite giant monster, King Kong. On Skull Island, Kong was king, but when he found himself transported to Manhattan, he was a veritable fish-out-of-water. Kong’s brief reign of destruction was far more personal; on the other hand, Godzilla’s reign of destruction was far more impersonal. On Odo Island, Godzilla was unmatched in size and power, but his destructive potential was ironically limited… like a natural disaster in a not-so-populated area. However, when Godzilla ventured into Tokyo, the congested metropolis didn’t stand a chance. Claustrophobic population density meant that the atomic archosaur could rain devastation on an almost unprecedented scale. The isolated tragedies of Odo Island were overshadowed by the heartbreaking statistics of a leveled Tokyo.

    If King Kong could have spoken, he would have only been able to call Skull Island his domain. Kong represents that primal, ancient fear of the lurking beast in the jungle; dangerous when roused, but fully capable of being subdued by the combined effort of the village (or in Kong’s case, the local airfield). Godzilla, on the other hand, could have easily called Odo Island and Tokyo his domain, and much of Planet Earth a conquest not yet ventured. Godzilla represents the daunting juggernaut that is atomic warfare. He’s a not-so-natural disaster far more ominous in threat, and hardly easy to vanquish even when at the so-called mercy of a coordinated strike. Only the serendipitous discovery of a weapon far more destructive than the terrible tyrant managed to bring him to his knees.

    This may all sound like a digression, but here’s the point. If there were any greater visual indicator to lend credence to the contrast between these two abominations of nature, it’s their size. On Skull Island, Kong’s line of sight ventured downward; in Manhattan, the monstrous ape gazed upward. On Odo Island, Godzilla peered downward; in the Tokyo of 1954, he still gazed downward…

    … and now it appears as though Legendary’s Godzilla will follow the same pattern. Perhaps it’s the contrast between an ever-so-slightly-taller-than-ever Godzilla against the backdrop of San Francisco; which boasts a much humbler skyline than Manhattan despite its 45+ buildings that still tower over the new G [3]Or, perhaps it’s because ~106 meters is really going to look like ~106 meters.Whatever the reason, it seems like Godzilla will once again find himself in a position where he makes much of his environment look thoroughly puny. He’ll almost certainly be able to “gaze downward” once more. Sure, the shorter Godzilla of the Millennium Series gave us a chance to watch his character interact more intimately with humans, but the breathtaking awe of that ever growing monstrosity is a spark rekindled anew with this upcoming Godzilla.

    Godzilla’s legendary size is almost like a distinct character of its own that has been reawakened. And to that, I say…


    … kudos, Mr. Edwards! Kudos.

    Sources:


    [1] http://www.skyscrapercity.com/archive/index.php/t-479273.html
    [2] http://www.411mania.com/movies/news/314798/%5BMovies%5D-Godzilla-Director-Lists-His-Height-As-350-Feet-Tall.htm
    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_buildings_in_San_Francisco

    General // March 2, 2014
  • In early 2009, Toho Kingdom’s very own Chris Mirjahangir coined the name of a rather unusual creature he was about to voice in a then upcoming toon. Often dismissed as a skeleton, a bizarre colorless sea turtle can be located in Ishiro Honda‘s classic Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). Although I gave it the rather uncatchy name “Kame no Gaikotsu” (Japanese for “Turtle’s Skeleton”), Chris suggested the moniker that stuck, “Skeleturtle“. Now for the 1,224,560 yen question: what is this thing? Is it really just a skeleton?


    Isn’t it just the cutest thing?!?

    Let’s dispense with the skeleton theory right off the bat. Just after the scene transitions to Infant Island’s beach, the creature in question can be seen moving quite organically; it even blinks! In fact, it really doesn’t look like a sea turtle skeleton at all. If it were, the front flipper would have likely decomposed, leaving the metacarpal and phalanx bones visible. Also, the animal’s ocular orbit would appear far more dramatic, indicating that the dark round facial feature we’re observing is actually its eye. Finally, the nasal cavity is nowhere to be found. All signs point to one glaring conclusion; it simply isn’t a skeleton. This raises a new question: is it just an ordinary sea turtle, or is it a bona fide kaiju?

    Although perspective is difficult to analyze on a bumpy terrain, the fact that Skeleturtle is located further away from the camera than Akira Takarada‘s character gives us the ability to determine a minimum value for its size. Comparing Skeleturtle to Takarada [1], the carapace has a minimum length of 1.19 meters. The biggest specimen of the largest known species of sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, had a carapace length of 2.2 meters [2]. This would seem to hinder the claim that Skeleturtle is a legitimate kaiju. However, we know full well that the 1 meter long Giant Lizard is considered one, despite the fact that the real life Komodo Dragon’s can reach a jaw-dropping 3.13 meters in length [3]. Perhaps being a kaiju isn’t all about size; maybe there’s a certain cryptozoological aspect to the term. This leads to yet another question…

    Does Skeleturtle match any of the seven currently known species of sea turtle? Its anomalous coloration could be explained away as leucism or albinism, but its physical proportions are stunningly neotenous compared to other species. The head is at least half a meter long, and its neck can comfortably support its weight even when elevated over a quarter meter above the ground! The shell most closely resembles Lepidochelys olivacea, but the carapace is disproportionately taller than any known Chelonioidean [4]. These physical properties would suggest that Skeleturtle is a yet unknown form of sea turtle, possibly even a juvenile! Since Infant Island has experienced the fiery sting of the Atomic Age, one could speculate that these unusual biological anomalies are the result of the Godzilla universe’s well-established rule that nuclear testing has the potential to lead to dramatic mutation.

    So, what’s the final verdict? If we are to classify Skeleturtle using the same rules that are apparently applied to such creatures as the Giant Lizard, we could very well dub the pallid, shelled beastie a “kaiju”. Even if you feel otherwise, I’m sure we can probably agree that it’s nowhere near big enough to fall into the “daikaiju” category.


    It’s reassuring to know I’m not the only
    one with a penchant for obscurity.

    UPDATE (10/26/13): It appears that our pale Chelonioidean friend has not gone unnoticed by other circles. If you’ll look to your right, you’ll see that it has been made into a toy as of 2012! Available in Japan, the package calls it Infanto-jima no kai kotsu (インファント島の怪骨). This roughly translates to “mystery bones of Infant Island”. Though it would appear that the party responsible for this wonderfully obscure item is under the impression that the filmmakers intended for the carapaced creature to be a skeleton, I still pose the evidence in the above article as a bit of respectful disagreement.

    I’d like to give a big shout out to Klen7 for providing the accompanying picture and confirming the translation.


    Sources:


    [1] http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0847361/bio
    [2] Eckert KL, Luginbuhl C (1988). “Death of a Giant”. Marine Turtle Newsletter 43: 2–3.
    [3] Ciofi, Claudio. “The Komodo Dragon”. Scientific American. Retrieved 2006-12-21.
    [4] http://www.seeturtles.org/1893/sea-turtle-identification.html

    This article was first published on June 8th, 2013.

    General // October 26, 2013
  • How strong is Godzilla? He’s tens of thousands of tons of archosaurian might capable of devastating a megalopolis in a single night. Surely there isn’t a another character in fiction capable of surpassing, let alone matching the raw strength of Earth’s most recognizable radiation-spewing reptile…

    … or is there? As you’re probably already aware, discussions like the one about to follow are not uncommon. It seems as though people have an innate desire to stack the abilities of well-known personalities from different works against one another, but the real question is whether or not it can be done mathematically. The estimated magnitude of energy required for the strongest incarnation of a fictional character to perform their greatest feat is one possible method. Let’s give it a try!

    For the sake of ease, we won’t take into consideration a character’s ability to travel near, at, or greater than the speed of light, since it inevitably causes our estimates to approach, reach, or even exceed infinity! It’s much easier to handwave these speed achievements by declaring them the result of yet unknown solutions to general relativity. That being said, let’s start with our own home team mascot, Godzilla!

    Why doesn’t he do this more often?

    Possessing incredible strength and a thermonuclear heat ray, Godzilla’s noteworthy feats are the stuff of legend, and there are a select few that stand out from the rest.

    First, there’s GMK Godzilla’s “Mini-Nuke” ray. Using the delay between the flash and the bang, one can calculate that the schoolgoers who witness the mushroom cloud are only about 440 meters away from ground zero. Based on similarities to the low-yield Davy Crockett nuclear device [1], the energy released by GMK Goji’s ray might be somewhere in the range of 42 GJ (4.2 x 1010 joules).

    For those of you who have yet to see Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971), please be warned. The contents of this paragraph contain spoilers. In this film, Showa Godzilla’s unique method of flight may be an entire three orders of magnitude greater than GMK Goji’s “Mini-Nuke” ray! The calculations took a while for this one and required not only careful observation of Godzilla’s flight footage, but also an assortment of physics formulae. Admittedly, the accuracy of these findings might be off, so if you think you have a better estimate, please feel free to send me an email (my address is located on the Site Staff page). With that disclaimer out of the way, one possible result that seems to fit the data available is 40 TJ (4.0 x 1013 joules) for the full 33 second flight [2][3][4][5][6].

    Would Wilhelm II approve?

    Finally, there’s GFW Godzilla’s Hyper Spiral Ray. Based on the curvature of the planet at the altitude to which Keizer Ghidorah is propelled, one possible estimate of the energy behind this attack is a whopping 315 TJ (3.15 x 1014 joules) [2]!

    Before we continue on to the competition, there are a few theoretical self-destruct scenarios worth exploring, as well. Taking into account Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) dialogue that implies an exploding Godzilla would be at least equal to the world’s combined nuclear arsenal, a conservative estimate of his explosive potential could hover around 21 EJ (2.1 x 1019 joules) [7]. Later on, the dialogue touches upon the possibility of a Godzilla meltdown, resulting in China Syndrome. Assuming the China Syndrome phenomenon is real in the Godzilla universe and that the reaction would terminate at the Earth’s core, we’re looking at a rough minimum of 393 YJ (3.93 x 1026 joules) [8].

    So, are there any fictional characters who can boast energies of an even greater magnitude? Let’s find out.

    Godzilla vs. Other Fiction Heavy Weights


    The joys of gastrointestinal regularity.

    The Hulk:

    Who knew gamma rays could unlock such an exceedingly deep well of strength? Although the Hulk has no known upper limit as of 2013 [9], we can still try to measure his greatest feat thus far. In Marvel Comics Presents #52, the Hulk destroys an “asteroid” approximately twice the size of Earth with a single punch [10]. Assuming a similar density to planet Earth and also assuming that “twice the size” means “twice the radius”, 1.8 billion YJ (1.8 x 1033 joules) seems to be the minimum amount of energy required [8].

    I'm just Saiyan, is all.

    I’m just Saiyan, is all.

    Goku:

    Despite possessing the ability to destroy planets, Goku has never actually directly taken one down. This makes an energy calculation a bit more difficult; nevertheless, we can get a little creative here by using Muten Roshi as a guide. The weakest character to wipe out a significant celestial body in the Dragon Ball universe, Roshi’s “power level” probably didn’t exceed 139 when he destroyed the (first) moon. Because the Kamehameha Wave uses latent ki energy, we can deduce that 139 is the minimum known “power level” required to blow up Earth’s natural satellite. Since 2.77 million YJ (2.77 x 1030 joules) of energy is enough to eliminate the moon [8]and since Goku’s highest confirmed “power level” is 150,000,000 according to Daizenshuu 7 [11], we can conclude with a fair amount of confidence that Goku is capable of unleashing at least 2.99 trillion YJ (2.99 x 1036 joules) of energy. This figure would only be valid as of the Frieza Saga, so it likely increased by leaps and bounds in subsequent story arcs.


    Perhaps the “S” should stand for “Sneezing”.
    Superman:

    Achoo! In Action Comics #273, it is heavily implied that Superman destroys an uninhabited stellar system… by sneezing. Assuming similar composition to our own solar system, we can roughly calculate that Superman is capable of unleashing 212 sextillion YJ (2.12 x 1047 joules) of energy in one astronomical expulsion of mucous [12]! It’s comforting to know that he’s conscientious enough to take it to an uninhabited realm of space, isn’t it?

    So Godzilla isn’t necessarily the strongest; so what? Big deal! Am I right? That doesn’t make a 50 meter tall archosaur with a thermonuclear heat ray any less awesome, does it?

    Didn’t think so.


    Sources:


    [1] Declassified US Nuclear Test Film #32
    [2] http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/potential-energy-d_1218.html
    [3] http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/kinetic-energy-d_944.html
    [4] http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/lift-drag-fluid-flow-d_1657.html
    [5] http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/accelaration-gravity-d_340.html
    [6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrust#Thrust_to_power

    [7] The Sydney Morning Herald – Feb 6, 1983
    [8] http://io9.com/5876473/how-much-energy-would-the-death-star-require-to-destroy-earth
    [9] http://www.incrediblehulkonline.com/powersabilities.html
    [10] http://www.incrediblehulkonline.com/asteroidstrength.html
    [11] Daizenshuu 7: Dragon Ball Encyclopedia – February 25, 1996
    [12] http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2001-11/1004909251.As.r.html 

    General // June 1, 2013
  • Every couple years or so around March, I’ve come to expect a text message from Anthony Romero. It normally says something along the following lines: “Any ideas for April Fools’ Day?” Needless to say, the gears start turning in my head. Normally, I receive the text during the light of day, when I still have my wits about me. This year, I awoke in the middle of the night to find the message. Because my brain was still in that foggy dusk between dreams and reality, half of my mind was trying to work out an interesting April 1st gag while the other half was seeking a return to slumberland.

    Anguirus takes advantage of the adjacent tub.

    It was in this midst of this twilight that a very bizarre idea came to me. What if there was a menu option on the left side of the front page that simply said “Jacuzzi”? Curious websurfers who dared to click on this mysterious link would be presented with an animated loop of Godzilla, enjoying a relaxing respite in an inviting hot tub.

    I must admit that I was on the fence about suggesting this bizarre idea. After all, it’s far more of a novelty than what people have come to anticipate. Toho Kingdom’s usual pranks are a bit more sophisticated. I ultimately decided to take the leap and submit the suggestion the following day. To my surprise, the plan was given the go! Anthony jested that this unusual idea had the potential to throw off April 1st speculators.

    The animation itself was rather easy to put together. For the foamy water, I recycled the roaring sea footage from The Return of Destoroyah The Pooh. The lava sound effect from The Birth of Jet Jaguar was sped up to provide the background noise. As for the star of the animation, I cropped the image of Godzilla (’91) in the Monster Bios. It was indeed an afternoon well spent.

    If you right click and zoom in on the thermometer during the animation, you’ll notice that the temperature is in the recommended range (in degrees Celsius), as suggested by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    In a bid to go for gold and attempt to convince some of our users that this was a legitimate new section, I asked Anthony if he would be willing to write the update on the front page. I figured it would be too obvious if I authored it, since veterans of Toho Kingdom’s previous April Fools’ Days would be quick to remember 2009’s flash intro prank. Anthony agreed, and his “we’re just getting our feet wet” wording was certainly the wrapping that this joke needed. A hilarious companion piece to the animation, his update even included the notorious March 32nd date in accordance with tradition.

    When all was said and done, we had a rather friendly joke that really didn’t leave people hanging.

    General // April 7, 2013
  • Outside of Toho Kingdom, I’m rather notorious among my coworkers for being the proverbial “wet blanket” when it comes to practical jokes. Perhaps it’s just my philosophy to always try to make a prank friendly or to always have it end with a sigh of relief; regardless, practical jokes are a rarity for me. Nevertheless, the internet provides a medium that allows for my style of humor, and there is one day in the year where there is a universal, unspoken law that gives me an outlet for my shenanigannery.

    TK Staff Trading Cards
    (Collect Them All!)

    The day in question is, of course, April Fools’ Day; and what better way to celebrate than by adding a completely unusable web store, posting an unnecessary flash intro without the benefit of a skip intro button (the 2009 joke), contributing to a self-indulgent blog (the 2007 joke), or even hiring on completely fictional staff members whilst plunging the forums into a sea of random, word-censored confusion (the 2006 joke)? But I digress, let’s concentrate on the most recent one.

    For 2010, I had two ideas for the April Fools’ Day prank. I submitted them both to Anthony for consideration, just on the off chance that he didn’t have a joke already planned. The first idea was a Toho Kingdom quiz, where members would have to answer trivia in order to gain access to the site. The second idea was a Toho Kingdom store, where users would be offered the chance to buy overpriced, overrated memorabilia.

    The blue kanji, which were superimposed onto several of the original images, roughly translate to “April Fools’ Day”.

    The second idea was agreed upon, and work began to make what I thought would be an instantly unbelievable store to showcase a variety of completely asinine items. The kiosque was posted on the index page, situated above an inactive checkout button.

    I personally thought that nobody would buy it (pardon the pun). Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited to pursue the idea, but I simply thought it would end up being a purely fun prank without anyone finding themselves “taken in”. I even posted the notorious March 32nd date in accordance with tradition. Nevertheless, an email from a concerned visitor warning that our prices might be a tad too high (and our quantities a bit skewed) toppled my preconceived notions about the potency of the practical joke.

    For those of you interested in just what we had to “offer”, please see below. Originally, photos accompanied these descriptions. Since the prank was only going to last a day, there wasn’t an immense need to worry about usage rights; so we are now quite incapable of posting many of the photos that were initially used:

    The Hat:
    A hat temporarily worn by Akira Kurosawa during his well-known 1989 visit to Miami, Florida. We think it was around this time that he wrote the scripts for both Dreams (1990) and Madadayo (1993). John McCartney, who currently resides just outside of Titusville, saved the hat and donated it to Toho Kingdom back in 2004. Today, we’re proud to sell it at an exorbitant (technically infinite) profit:
    Price: 899.99
    Qty. Remaining: 10
    Miki Saegusa Action Figure:
    Miki Saegusa, proud psychic defender of Japan and international face of the Heisei Timeline. Equipped with LED eyes, her powers are clearly superior to those of other psychics. She fought the nuclear leviathan with her mind powers in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), a feat only SpaceGodzilla has since been able to boast. Please buy her; her excellence speaks for itself:
    Price: 199.99
    Qty. Remaining: 30
    Female Godzilla:
    The King of the Monsters herself? Queen Hatshepsut, I presume? This is the rarest-of-rare of Godzilla action figures… Female Godzilla (only 200 were produced back in 2005). You can tell she’s female due to the biological idiosyncrasies of the upper tail region. After years of searching, we’ve managed to amass a pretty substantial collection of these rare dolls, thereby cornering the entire market:
    Price: 399.99
    Qty. Remaining: 210
    Goji Berries:
    The name speaks for itself. A three week supply of anti-oxidant rich Goji Berries, Godzilla’s berry of choice. Widely found in pretentious pseudo-hippie stores, these dried little joys will bring a much-needed infusion of radioactivity to your nuclear core:
    Price: 49.99
    Qty. Remaining: 80
    “Don’t Stomp on my City!”™:
    Rights to the phrase “Don’t Stomp on my City!”™ are available only here. What better way to show your girlfriend, wife, or Japanese Anime body pillow that you love her than by buying her the rights to this stomptastic bit of phraseology? From our hands to your hands and back to our pockets:
    Price: 1999.99
    Qty. Remaining: 1
    Signed Photograph:
    Would you like signed photographs of your favorite Toho actors, actresses, and/or rubber-suited beasties? Akira Kubo, Kumi MizunoToshiro Mifune, and Nancy Cartwright are among the few personalities available upon request, in autographed photo form! There are so many more:
    Price: 399.99
    Qty. Remaining: Unlimited
    Anguirus: The Board Game:
    Anguirus: The Board Game, produced in extremely limited quantities following the release of Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) in Japan. This is the ultimate for any Angy-Fan (or “Angy-Fangy”, if you so desire). Roll up in a spiky ball and make your way across 47 challenging spaces with 23 heart-pounding situation cards. Will you end up in Siberia, or will you find yourself massively pwned by Mechagodzilla? The possibilities are finite!
    Price: 743.26
    Qty. Remaining: 3
    Advertise on Toho Kingdom:
    Do you have a brand of soda that you would love to market to our nerdy demographics? Do you run an MMORPG that you feel our users would find “groovy”? Are you a representative from a financial institution that boasts a suspiciously ambiguous mission statement? It doesn’t matter; we want your money! And we’re willing to put advertising wherever you so choose. We have a simple formula for determining the costs of our advertising services; please have the Harvard graduate students that you’ve Shanghaied into indentured servitude explain to you the simple metrics behind our even simpler formula (n = the net worth of your business):
    April Fools Formula
    TK Staff Trading Cards:
    I’ll trade you two Chris Mirjahangir’s for three Steve Johnson’s. What can we say? Young minds are impressionable and trading cards are lucrative. There’s nothing better than having the full collection of anything, right? All TK Staff Trading cards are the same low price, with the exception of the ultra-rare Anthony Romero Holographic Starter Card (only triple the price of the other trendy cards):
    Price: 74.99
    Qty. Remaining: 100
    Uranium (Replica):
    Hey, Godzilla eats the stuff for breakfast; why shouldn’t you? This is uranium-235 that we’ve procured through mostly legal means, and we’re pleased to present to you this highly volatile, easily fissile material at a relatively low price. Please remember that uranium-235 canbe used to make atomic bombs, and therefore should NOT be used in this manner. All interested parties will be asked to sign a pledge stating their capitulation with our expectations. (Note: This is a replica, not the real stuff.)
    Price: Available Upon Request
    Qty. Remaining: Available Upon Request
    General // September 26, 2010