Latest Blog - News Articles

  • To celebrate Godzilla’s 65th birthday a celebration was held at HUMAX Cinemas in Ikebukuro Tokyo called “Godzilla Night” on November 2nd, from 7:30 pm to 5:00am the following day. The event consisted of a showing of Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Giant Monsters All Out Attack, Mothra 3, and Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Greatest Battle on Earth (the edited down Champion Film Festival Version of Ghidorah: the Three Headed Monster). In addition to the movies, many people involved in the franchise, such as Shusuke Kaneko made appearances and talked about their experiences and involvement with the series.

    As a long time Godzilla fan living in Japan, Godzilla Night felt like one of the most important nights of my life. It felt like an ultimate achievement as a Godzilla fan, seeing the films in theater, and getting to interact with the people that were directly involved. When I approached the ticket counter to the HUMAX Cinemas the cashier was a little taken aback, and surprised that someone such as myself had traveled all the way from Yamanashi (an area near Mt. Fuji) in order to see Godzilla films, especially because I was not fluent in Japanese. Most of the seats were sold out, impressive for an all-night endeavor. Taking my tickets and walking towards the elevator, the first thing I noticed was an older woman with a Shin-Godzilla plush in her bag, and a high quality jacket with Burning Godzilla embodied on the back. When the doors opened, I was greeted by the faces of more Godzilla fans, some donned in cosplay of obscure characters, such as a Digital Q reporter from GMK, and a man dressed as Terasawa from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. I realized that for once, I did not to feel weird, or ostracized for liking Godzilla so openly and publicly.

    Godzilla Night Event

    Next, we were all put into a long line, in a small cramped staircase. Everyone was sweating, and most people were decked out in Godzilla shirts and other Godzilla related swag. After about thirty minutes of waiting in anticipation, we were all ushered into a small lobby, filled with special Godzilla merchandise, such as a Gabara T-shirt, and highly sought after CAST figures. After a bit of spending, everyone rushed into the theater and sat down. A presenter came on and introduced the night’s schedule, Funnily enough, the man was my age, and had seen GMK casually as a small child. Evidently, like myself and others in the theater, Godzilla had had a profound impact on his life. Suddenly, the theater lights dimmed, and GMK began. I realized right then and there how special this occasion was.

    I saw all three films on a large screen without subtitles. As a result, my viewing experience radically changed. While many newer and modern Godzilla fans have seen films like Shin-Godzilla and Godzilla 2014 on big screens, it’s easy to forget the backlog of Toho films that are on Blu-ray and DVD were originally intended to see in a theater.

    I had seen GMK dozens of times, yet this time was special. Because I was not busy trying to follow along with subtitles for GMK, I realized how excellent the sound design of the film is. A lot of more subtle, and ominous music cues in the film, really popped. For example, the soft ominous music when Yuki is researching the Guardian Monsters was way more audible. The entire atmosphere of the film became more mystical.

    Monsters, on the other hand, became legitimately terrifying, especially any shot where monsters were presented side by side with humans. For example, in the scene where the business man falls into the cave where King Ghidorah is, the up-close shot of Ghidorah, even frozen in ice, became threatening. When looking at Ghidorah’s head, it is almost as though you the viewer were the man staring at this creature that could break out at any moment. More examples include shots where Baragon fights Godzilla in the background, with humans running around in the foreground. It established a great sense of scale; as if you were viewing the battle from a ground level. The monsters, projected on the screen, become gigantic.

    Shunsuke Kaneko and Ryudo Uzaki

    Mothra 3, surprisingly really benefited from being on a large screen. A lot of shots in the film, that look “fake” or “bad” on home viewing looked more realistic on a theater screen. A good example would be any shots of the Elias on Fairy flying above Japan. On a small screen, the contrast of the blurred background and the Elias looks like a really poor green-screen effect. However, on a large screen, the contrast between the blurry background, and the clear shots of the Elias, made the film look realistic, as a true sense of distance is established.

    Similar to GMK, the experience of seeing Mothra 3 on a big screen enhances the terror factor. Shots of Ghidorah’s feet, from the ground up, have an overwhelming sense of dread to them. As Ghidorah’s feet advance towards the screen, with the aid of some great stomping sound effects, the viewer is left with the feeling that they too should be fleeing. When Ghidorah dives foot first into Mothra Leo, there is now a tremendous amount of weight behind the action. But terror is not the only advantage the theater screen brings. Seeing Mothra Leo’s furry and colorful body up close, and the individual strands of hair that make up the monster’s suit was one of the most breath-taking experiences ever.

    Godzilla, Mothra, and Ghidorah; The Greatest Battle on Earth, was also a treat. I had never seen the “Champion Film Festival version” and it was exciting to see a new cut of the film. I realized that in a way, this event was a continuation of the old Toho Champion Film Festivals. All of the fans were gathered together for a marathon of Godzilla and Toho films.

    Additionally, seeing the films without subtitles was a new experience. While I speak Japanese, and had seen the films enough times to understand everything, I was surprised how much I gained for not having to stare at subs. Whether people want to admit it or not, following along subtitles in movies is really distracting, and a lot of the beautiful cinematography is altered by the placement of texts over the images. Due to the lack of subtitles, I was able to watch and notice many more details in each of the individual films.

    Between each of the three films were substantial breaks, supplemented by appearances by people who were involved with the Godzilla franchise. Similar to seeing the films on the big screen, seeing the actors and directors talking about the films they were in changed my perspective about the films.

    One of the biggest surprises, was that Ryudo Uzaki (Admiral Tachibana in GMK) was a comedic delight. He continually made jokes, and laughed. It was a big contrast to his character’s no-nonsense attitude in GMK. During one of the intermissions, him and Mr. Kaneko re-enacted the final scene of GMK, with Mr. Uzaki (and the crowd as well) looking out towards the projected oceans and saluting the valiant efforts of the Guardian/Yamamoto Monsters.

    Additionally, Akira Ohashi, the suit actor for the Heisei Gamera and GMK King Ghidorah, and Mizuho Yoshida, the suit actor for Godzilla in GMK, were both full of energy and excitement. The two went into lengthy detail about the difficulties and challenges of being a suit actor. Despite this they both overwhelmingly optimistic. At one point, Mr. Ohashi shared a story about how the Ghidorah suit took an incredible strain on his body, especially towards the end when Ghidorah slams into Godzilla from above. Maneuvering the three heads, and legs, all at once, with Ghidorah’s more slouched over body, was a monumental task. They also shared some details about the Baragon’s actress having difficulty walking at one point, due to how angled Baragon’s feet are. Yet, despite all this, the two were jovial, making jokes, monster noises and posing for the fans.

    The highlight of all this, was when “Godzilla vs. Gamera” happened. Given that Mr. Kaneko directed both the Heisei Gamera trilogy and GMK, as well as the fact that both Godzilla and Gamera’s suit actors were present, the inevitable occurred. At one point, Mr. Ohashi and Mr. Yoshida, stood up, and “fought” as Godzilla and Gamera respectively. While Mr. Kaneko stated that the creation of such a film was highly unlikely it was fun seeing the two suit actors do what they do and have fun.

    The surprise guest of the night, Robert Scott Field, the actor who played M-11 in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, stole the show. The announcer called him up from the crowd, and he quickly ran up and joined the likes of Shusuke Kaneko and the others. There was a sort of surrealism of seeing M-11 from the Heisei Series, stand next to Admiral Tachibana from the Millennium Series.

    Mr. Field was not only impressive because of his fluency in Japanese, but also his incredible energy. Even at 3am! As someone who has studied Japanese for years and is still only at an intermediate level, I could not help being taken aback by his grasp of the language. One of the more interesting segments, was when he gave “Godzilla English Lessons to the audience”. During which, Mr. Field read lines of dialogue from Godzilla movies throughout the ages, that were originally in English in their Japanese versions and doing impersonations. These ranged from impersonations of Dr. Shinigami from Godzilla vs. Biollante, to Joseph Brody from Godzilla 2014. Following that, he explained the meaning behind some of the Godzilla film’s English titles, such as Godzilla on Monster Island and Godzilla’s Revenge, both of which confused the audience.

    Between all these events, in the lobby, a bunch of special items were on sale. Through a lottery ticket system, I was able to secure a few rare CAST figures, including a small ANEB missile from Godzilla vs. Biollante and the broken statues from GMK. To my dismay, I was unable to get the Vampire Plant or the Millennian UO CAST figure. Thankfully, I felt better after Mr. Field walked out and said hello to me.

    While a lot of the other casts members seemed to be a bit apprehensive about taking many photos with fans (understandably so due to how many people there were), Mr. Field went out of his way to talk to many people and pose with them. I can’t stress how friendly he was, and he complemented me for coming all the way out. I was a bit dumbly star-struck and awkward, but it was still an awesome experience! On a personal note, he’s motivated me to keep studying Japanese and one day be fluent like him. As a high-school English teacher in Japan, I was also inspired by how animated and enthusiastic he was explaining things in English to a large crowd.

    Robert Scott Field

    But perhaps, the most important part of the night, was the actual celebration of Godzilla’s Birthday. A minute before midnight, we began a gigantic countdown. This was truly the greatest part of the night. While everyone had indeed come to see the films, and meet the cast, everyone was also here to celebrate Godzilla’s birthday, including the cast members and directors who had made the films. At that moment, it became abundantly clear, that people like Mr. Kaneko, were also huge Godzilla fans, and the entire moment of counting down was a large euphoric communal experience. The entire night made me understand how much fun people involved making Godzilla films had and how much they themselves loved Godzilla.

    I realized at this moment how much of an impact Godzilla had had on my life. I had originally seen GMK when I was 6 years old on American Television, and now here I was, living in Japan, watching GMK on a big screen and counting down Godzilla’s birthday. I had had one of the ultimate fan experiences, one that I will never forget.

    To anyone a bit envious, fear not, there will be another Godzilla Night next year. Because these events are centered on Godzilla’s birthday, they will always take place around the first week of November. Even if you can’t come all the way to Japan, should you ever have the opportunity to see a Godzilla film on a big screen, please do so. Watching the films on a big screen, like they were intended to be viewed, with other Godzilla fans, is such an important experience.

    General // November 17, 2019
  • Just in time for Halloween, the staff of Toho Kingdom sound off the scariest Godzilla series and Toho kaiju to ever grace the screen. We aren’t discriminating based on size, so any monster focused in a Toho film can count. Furthermore, the MonsterVerse is fair game here as well.

    For this article, several staff members were asked to list who they feel is the scariest among the plethora of Toho monsters. The criteria for each staff member is there own, so expect a wide range.

    Space Amoeba

    At first I wanted to just choose the recent Shin Godzilla because of his gruesome mutations, or Hedorah because of his ability to melt the flesh off of other characters. But upon circumspection, to me it seems like the scariest Toho kaiju is actually the Space Amoeba that produces Gezora, Kamoebas, and Ganimes in the often overlooked Space Amoeba (1970). The trio of monsters that appear in that movie are not very scary, I will admit. Their designs are more goofy than scary–especially the galumphing Gezora. But the idea behind the monster (aside from his ridiculous weakness) is pure nightmare fuel.

    While most giant monsters are scary along the lines of a natural disaster, Space Amoeba takes things a step further. For one thing, the creature can invade any living organism and make it into a monster–either growing it to an incredible size, or just remote-controlling it to attack you where you are, unawares. In other words, it could change your closest pets into bloodthirsty beasts. Fido eats your face, your hamster stuffs you into his furry cheek. Even worse, the Space Amoeba’s powers are not limited to transforming and manipulating mere beasts. The creature can also take over human hosts… and if you should become the host for this space demon, you remain conscious the whole time. Even while you cannot move your body, you are stuck watching the monster use your own hands and voice and body to carry out his devilish deeds. It’s scary to imagine losing one’s mind in the first place, but to hold on to your mind while a monstrous creature uses your body to commit crimes and take lives–maybe even strangling your best friend, or murdering your family–is absolutely horrific. That’s a real nightmare, and I can’t think of any other Toho kaiju that can compete for sheer terror.

    – Nicholas Driscoll

     

    Matango

    The greatest threats sometimes come in the smallest of packages. While there are plenty of giant monsters that would be terrifying to bear witness to, I still cannot shake the feeling of dread whenever I see the Matango. Eating one seemingly harmless mushroom has life-changing results, as it kick-starts your nonnegotiable initiation into becoming part of the fungi collective. Slowly losing everything that made you an individual – from your personality to eventually your physical form – and transforming into a grotesque, faceless puppet that obsesses over one goal: to add more members to your possessed mushroom family. There are no cures, and nothing to bargain for as you begin your transformation. All that will remain is the unceasing hunger for more Matango.

    –  Joshua Sudomerski

     

    Hedorah

    I loved Godzilla from a young age. Pretty much from the moment I saw Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) I was hooked. I then spent many a weekend going to rental stores and movie outlets trying to get as many of the films as I could. Godzilla Raids Again (1955), Rodan (1956), Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) and many others entered my collection. In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing how fast I saw many of them considering this was before online shopping was a thing. Throughout I enjoyed the movies to varying degrees, but never found them scary. Even the Shockirus scene in The Return of Godzilla (1984) didn’t phase my childhood self.

    Then came the day I rented Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) from the store. I was excited, as at this point it felt like it had been awhile since saw a new Godzilla film (in reality it was probably only three months, but time moves differently at a young age). As the movie progressed I was enjoying myself and had gotten to the point where Hedorah first came on land and was battling Godzilla. Then came the scene where Hedorah was tossed around and a piece of him flew through a window, instantly killing a group of Mahjong players. This scared me. The way they were killed so quickly in what appeared to be a gruesome fashion… but I was still holding strong. Then came the infamous scene with Hedorah’s flying form as he passed over a group of people trying to escape, their flesh then melting away on film. Now I was terrified and hit the point of no return. I stopped the movie and did not watch the rest of it before it was returned to the store.

    Hedorah

    Nightmare fuel in sulfuric acid mist form

    I remained scared of Hedorah for quite some time as a kid. For me, it was the idea of how effortlessly it killed people and how remote the chance of escape was. As an adult, you realize most of the kaiju are capable of the same thing. However, there is a degree of fantasy to it. Rarely do the films focus on the casualties when a building is destroyed, as it’s played more for spectacle than horror like a disaster film would do it. So as a child it’s easy to register this as just “cool”. Even when it does focus on the human level of these attacks, it rarely felt so absolute. Like when Rodan flew over cities in his debate film you saw soldiers being blown away. While many likely died, as a kid you could still see a route for escape, in fact earlier in the film they discovered that just by laying flat on the ground would avoid them from being lifted away.

    Hedorah though? If he flies over you that’s it. There is no escape and you were going to die in a horrific way. So the idea of suddenly seeing Hedorah flying toward you, appearing over a mountain that could obscure him, was a haunting concept as there was nothing you could do. As a kid, it took years for me to build up the courage to try and watch the film again. When I did I really enjoyed it, and ended up really liking the Hedorah character in the end, but I’ll still always recall vividly how much he scared me as a child.

    – Anthony Romero

     

    Dogora

    There are some very solid monsters in the kaiju eiga that compete for being most terrifying. Destoroyah, Hedorah, Matango, Godzilla and Anguirus in their early appearances… But of all of them, the more I think about it, I find myself most unnerved by Dogora. The rhythmic heartbeat indicating its presence, the idea of a gargantuan jellyfish floating in the air as if it was water, being incredibly unflinching even at death’s door, and vacuuming carbon minerals from off the ground and potentially being caught in its vortex… While the movie Dogora appears in is a far cry from anything horror-related, the titular creature has really strong horror potential. Feels like something out of Lovecraft, and something I hope is emphasized if Toho ever decides to bring the character back properly.

    –  Andrew Sudomerski

     

    Grand King Ghidorah

    From the ancient, voids of space derives my choice for most terrifying Kaiju in the Toho Library. While I must give the Matango a shout-out as my close second, the ideas behind Grand King Ghidorah I believe make him deserve the title, King of Terror, if only barely. Why? Well it’s honestly down to what is left unsaid in his film more so than his actual appearance.

    Grand King Ghidorah

    Grand King Ghidorah causing a wave of destruction

    Unlike previous forms of the character, this Ghidorah is spoken to be as old as the stars, routinely visiting planets, removing all life, and leaving with little trace of his arrival. This idea isn’t new for a Ghidorah, but his new mystic abilities, showcased by teleporting the youth of Japan into his acidic prison, grant a new, almost personal tool for the draconic terror. The idea of be having your family shattered and being utterly helpless against the cause is a great new angle for the Kaiju, who up to this point is known solely for his nigh, unstoppable power. From the perspective of the youth, being gripped by terror as you’re eventually exposed to an agonizing death that holds no escape, with your last thoughts the sight of your tormentor, is frightening to think about.

    While these concepts are great, the film Grand King Ghidorah stars in explores little or downplays much of this which is saddening upon realization of the potential at play. This is why I list Matango as the second choice, as while less spirit shattering in its terror, I do believe the execution was far superior. If a comic were to explore this character, and showcase the effects taken upon humanity as his draconic wrath was unleashed upon the Earth, with no guardian to miraculously stop his reign, I have no doubt that Grand King Ghidorah would be the most terrifying Kaiju in Toho’s library. An unequal King of Terror.

    – Tyler Trieschock


    Feel another kaiju should be highlighted, or agree with one that’s listed here? Sound off in the comments below to add your input.

    General // October 28, 2019
  • Weathering with You (2019)

    Superstar director Makoto Shinkai’s follow-up to the enormously popular Your Name from 2016 (which beat out Godzilla Resurgence as the highest-grossing film in Japan that year), Weathering With You has been finally released three years later to much hype and considerable financial success. Much like Your NameWeathering With You also has music by RADWIMPS, a band I have enjoyed for years—though they have far fewer singing tracks this time. The movie itself follows the story of a young man who has recently moved to the big city and is trying to figure out his life, working various jobs and ending up at a sort of tabloid magazine, reporting on weird phenomenon. He meets a mysterious young woman who turns out to be a “sunny girl”—a girl that can change the weather and make it sunny. This is really important since, in the world of the story, for some reason it is raining almost constantly. Various dramas unfold as our protagonists fall in love, a gun is involved, and other shenanigans. As with any Shinkai film, the movie is absolutely gorgeous. Except for a few scenes (a helicopter flying over the city looked cheesy to me), the movie is almost breathtakingly beautiful, with incredible use of color and composition. The story, though, I felt was far less engaging than the one in Your Name; so much is driven by sheer coincidence and “movie logic,” and I just didn’t care about the characters very much.

    Kaguya-Sama: Love is War (2019)

    Directed by Hayato Kawai (director of a number of live-action manga adaptations, including Nisekoi and Ore Monogatari) comes… another live-action manga adaptation, this time of the hilarious Kaguya-Sama: Love is War anime and manga franchise. My little brother introduced me to the anime some time ago, and I found it a real knee-slapper. Thus I was excited to see this live-action adaptation. The basic premise follows Miyuki and Kaguya, two elite and seemingly perfect students who are in a condition of mutual romantic affection, but both are too proud to actually express their feelings. The story follows their increasingly elaborate ploys to force the other to confess. And the story starts out strong with a really funny sequence in the beginning, with each student’s internal monologue being portrayed during their ludicrous love stand-off. However, for me at least, the joke works better in short-form and it’s hard to sustain over the course of an entire movie. Soon I just got tired of watching, and there is only so much I can watch the two young leads smirk and sneer on the big screen.

    Hit Me Anyone One More Time (2019)

    The newest comedy movie from acclaimed director Koki Mitani (who also did Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (1997), All About Our House (2001), Suite Dreams (2006), and Galaxy Turnpike (2015), all of which I have reviewed—though he has made many other films besides), Hit Me Anyone One More Time might just be the worst English title for a movie I have ever seen. The original Japanese title, Kioku ni Gozaimasen!, is much better, meaning “I don’t remember,” which is a reference to a common excuse politicians in Japan give when confronted with their corruption. The story follows a much-hated prime minister in Japan who, when giving a speech, is hit by a rock and loses his memories of his adult life, returning him to a more idealized, child-like state. This state of affairs leads to a huge change. He works with several close members of his staff to hide the fact that he has lost his memory, which leads to great hijinks (especially as he must host politicians from abroad, including a female President of the USA seemingly modeled after Hilary Clinton). But things turn ugly when his wife’s adulterous relations with his adviser are revealed, and his rivals are closing in. Hit Me Anyone One More Time was actually a relief to me. I am not the biggest fan of Mitani, but I enjoyed some of his older films, so when I suffered through the abysmal Galaxy Turnpike, I was gravely disappointed. While certainly not a perfect comedy, and many jokes still don’t quite land, Hit Me Anyone One More Time is so much better, and I hope for more quality comedies in the near future from this comedy powerhouse director.

    General // October 19, 2019
  • In terms of its reputation here in the United States, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000) is widely considered one of the weaker entries in the Godzilla franchise; and while I cannot bring myself to outright loathe the film, I don’t necessarily disagree with most of the points brought up by its detractors. On the surface, the movie seems to have all the right components for a colorful, lightweight piece of entertainment (futuristic world-building; imaginative new weapons and gadgets with which to combat Godzilla; a finale that doesn’t consist solely of the protagonists watching the monsters fight) but is ultimately undone by weak characters and largely inept direction courtesy of Masaaki Tezuka. Especially in its first hour, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus comes across as turgid and aimless, flat and unfocused, dragging its feet from one mediocre scene to the next as the audience exhaustedly waits for the monsters to show up. (What this film really needed, more than anything else, was a more experienced director: someone who could charge the narrative with real energy, bring out the best of his actors, stylize the visuals, and zero in on the script’s finer qualities for maximum entertainment value.)

    However—and this is why my stance on the film is not overly hostile—whenever the focus shifts to the monsters, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus comes to genuine life, thanks in great part to the efforts of special effects director Kenji Suzuki. A clever technician whose tenure on the Godzilla series ended much too soon, Suzuki took over as Toho’s go-to effects man after the retirement of his mentor, Koichi Kawakita, and from the start exhibited an uneven but undeniably ambitious style. His two preceding genre efforts, Rebirth of Mothra III (1998) and Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999), did away with his forerunner’s preference for dousing the screen with animated beams in favor of balancing projectile-based attacks with physical combat, all complemented by exciting camerawork and daring—if not always successful—moving composite shots. And while his work in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is certainly in need of further polish, it still conveys the same visual wit and resourcefulness which has made him one of the more interesting Toho effects directors since Eiji Tsuburaya’s time.

    Great shot of Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus

    Suzuki’s keen eye for perspective, composition, and lighting more than make up for lack of technical polish in the film’s riveting opening.

    The first major set piece vividly exhibits Suzuki’s strengths. Godzilla makes an entrance plowing through a large building, continuing his march forward as Suzuki’s camera cuts to a close-up of his face drenched in shadow, the sky behind him a deep, haunting red. The scene continues to build as a platoon of soldiers position to ambush the creature and we see their point of view down an alleyway: a thunderous footstep sends trashcans jumbling into the air; a car comes sailing down the street on fire and explodes; and then, after much beforehand tension, Godzilla’s foot wanders into frame and hits the pavement with a concrete-shattering thud.

    Despite the nonsensical premise of foot soldiers taking on Godzilla with bazookas, the scene prevails through imaginative visual storytelling, colorful monster action, and marvelous choice of camera angles (extreme low shots, vistas of Godzilla silhouetted against the earlier mentioned glowing sky, etc.). Tezuka’s direction here is more interesting than elsewhere in the film, and the editing of the human footage with the special effects no doubt benefits from Suzuki’s widely praised willingness to cooperate with his directors. “While I love effects and always want to see as many of them as I can, I think the most important thing is drama,” Suzuki explained to Norman England in a 2000 issue of Fangoria. “I constantly search for the smoothest integration between my work and that of the live-action crew.”*

    The robotic Godzilla from Godzilla vs. Megaguirus

    The robotic Godzilla used for water scenes.

    In Godzilla 2000: Millennium, the monster was portrayed as ponderous and majestic, a slow-moving object of wonder. When confronted by man’s arsenal, he casually walked through every shot, merely advancing even as the bombardment started to annoy him, waiting until he started suffering actual damage before preparing to use his atomic breath. By contrast, the Godzilla in the second Millennium film is quick to act and react, temperamental and easily angered, much like a wild animal. This Godzilla responds immediately and violently to even the slightest bit of offense, and he’s rather cunning. When the foot soldiers retreat into the alleys, he tears apart the buildings around them, crushing his enemies within their own hiding spots. When the Meganula swarm him, he crashes his body against a nearby cliff to flatten those clinging to his side (using his surroundings to his advantage) and employs his tail as a lure before swatting others away. When the Dimension Tide’s launched at him for the second and final time, he remembers his first encounter with the weapon and, rather than stand and wait for the impact to come, sends his atomic breath to explode it in midair.

    Suit actor Tsutomu Kitagawa, under Suzuki’s direction, enhances this personae by injecting various nuances into Godzilla’s movements: crouching as he bellows at Megaguirus; swinging his body this way and that in search of his opponent. Shinichi Wakasa, the suit maker, recalled, “Having made Godzilla once, rather than having to worry over a new look, I could concentrate on making the suit more flexible, lighter and easier for the actor inside to give a better and more polished performance.” His efforts paid off, as the touched up costume in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is capable of more expressive movement than its predecessor; and Kitagawa makes the most of it, delivering a far better performance than the stiff, robotic one he would give for Yuichi Kikuchi in Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla two years later.

    Megaguirus

    Megaguirus

    “There is nothing harder than dealing with airborne kaiju,” Suzuki said in regards to Godzilla’s aerial opponent. “Regular scenes of Megaguirus flying don’t pose too much of a problem, but putting it in a fight is demanding.” Alas, Megaguirus doesn’t fare nearly as well as Godzilla: the main prop for the monster is too stiff and repeats many of the same blunders Kawakita’s flying monsters were prone to—with more than a few shots of Megaguirus levitating in place, her wings flapping at a rate of (perhaps) once every three seconds.

    On the other hand, Suzuki must be commended for creating a menacing creature in spite of these limitations. Compared to, say, Battra from Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), who had six hulking appendages that never budged an inch on-screen, Megaguirus uses her massive claws in close-quarters combat against Godzilla, grappling and battering him (some shots utilize suitmation to achieve more violent motion). Most notably, though, she can swing her long, stinger-equipped abdomen under her body and impale Godzilla through the stomach, cutting off his atomic breath and absorbing the energy for use against him later. In what’s also a nice change of pace from the last few flying monsters in the series, Megaguirus is capable of sudden, darting motions, evading attacks, whisking out of sight and reappearing when—and where—least expected. “One thing I’m after is that quick, jarring motion dragonflies have,” Suzuki explained. “My idea is to make Megaguirus like a ninja.”

    Marvelous low-angle shot as the monsters charge at one another.

    The premise of the final battle in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is rather clever: Godzilla’s up against an enemy he can physically destroy with a single hit of his atomic breath, but due to Megaguirus’s great speed and agility (and her ability to deactivate his signature weapon), he cannot resort to spitting fire every three seconds—nor does he have a “surprise move” (say, a nuclear pulse, as in the Heisei series) to use at the last minute. This is where Suzuki’s real forte as an effects director comes into play: as was also evident in Godzilla 2000: Millennium, he knows how to dramatize a monster battle, how to give it its own narrative.

    Maintaining this movie’s depiction of a quick-thinking monster, Godzilla depends on strategy. He tricks the giant insect into flying closer and then uses his dorsal spines to slice off one of her pincers. He plunges her stinger into the ground to hold her in place. He allows Megaguirus to creep up behind him so he can coil his tail around her abdomen and slam her into terra firma. As the battle ensues, Godzilla occasionally attempts to charge his atomic breath but refuses to give in when Megaguirus again cuts it short, falling back on strength and intelligence in an effort to prevail. The result is a very engaging monster battle with more than enough switches to make up for the technical gaffes. And the unique setting of the artificial island Odaiba, combined with marvelous use of foreground objects (construction cranes, piles of rubble, skeletons of half-finished buildings), gives the sequence a tantalizing visual flair.

    In the last few minutes of the battle, Megaguirus pulls her surprise move: concentrating all of the energy she’s absorbed from Godzilla and propelling it at him in the form of a huge, crimson sphere. After Godzilla has collapsed, she dives in, striking him again and again, preventing the King of the Monsters from regaining his footing. This continues for a while until Megaguirus, having sufficiently exhausted her opponent, maintains distance. She permits Godzilla enough time to rise and then flies in for the kill, stinger lowered, aiming for the head. In what is easily the film’s very best moment, Suzuki positions his camera behind Godzilla and we see the stinger strike the latter’s head with a sickening wet crack. The image holds, the long pause amplifying the shock, before the camera swings around to reveal Godzilla has, in fact, caught Megaguirus’s stinger between his jaws. He bites, slowly at first, before tearing off the entire appendage. Another long moment of silence ensues before a stunned Megaguirus retreats skyward and Godzilla is at last able to deliver the coup de grâce.

    Godzilla destroys Megaguirus

    Spectacular composition for Godzilla’s moment of victory.

    The first blast of atomic fire sets Megaguirus’s fragile body aflame; Godzilla charges his atomic breath again as she falls. The second ray strikes her mid-descent, and—all presented in a breathtaking extreme wide shot—her obliterated carcass slowly finishes its journey to the ground. The camera toggles in on Godzilla as he lets out a much-justified victory roar, the audience relishing along with him in his moment of triumph. An immensely satisfying finale to one of the more interesting monster battles in the Millennium Godzilla series.

    I could go on about other scenes: the moment where Misato Tanaka rides on Godzilla’s back exemplifies Suzuki’s daring use of moving composites (not to mention the scene it’s in is genuinely fun to watch with great high and low angle shots that never betray the illusion of scale); the robotic Godzilla used for water scenes is an absolute success, far better than Teruyoshi Nakano’s wobbly Cybot from The Return of Godzilla (1984); the Meganula swarm scenes feature some of the less distracting CGI in the Millennium series. But to summarize: whenever I watch Godzilla vs. Megaguirus these days (which isn’t very often), my interest is almost solely in revisiting the effects scenes and admiring what Kenji Suzuki brought to them. He may not have been the series’ most consistent special effects director, but he was certainly one of the more interesting, capable of providing enjoyable monster action and bursts of succulent energy—even into an otherwise inconsequential movie such as this. That he was never again given charge of a Godzilla movie is, indeed, quite sad.

     


     

    * Suzuki’s mentor, Koichi Kawakita, had a reputation among studio personnel for being uncooperative and standoffish with his live-action directors. Takao Okawara, who’d worked with Kawakita on Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II (1993), Yamato Takeru (1994), and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995), described their relationship as tenuous. “We spent very little time in discussion even though we were working on the same films. We’d get together, go over storyboards and then go our separate ways. He was very much a ‘Don’t say a thing about my work’ kind of guy.”

    By contrast, Okawara had nothing but great things to say about Suzuki’s work ethic on Godzilla 2000: Millennium. “Suzuki impressed me greatly, because he understands the balance between the effects and human scenes. Suzuki also takes an active part in the story creation, which allowed me to introduce my own ideas into the [effects] process. Out of all my Godzilla films, this one had the best teamwork among the live-action and effects crews.”

    General // September 22, 2019
  • Wondering who the best allies are in the mobile game Godzilla: Defense Force? Looking for a Godzilla: Defense Force ally tier list? We break down the most formidable allies in the game, helping players decide where to spend their Moonstones.

    Introduced in version 2.1.1 of the game, the allies are supporters that can help the player hold off the defending monsters and Xilien forces. The allies themselves are a slice of Toho history, harking from work as diverse as The Mysterians (1957) to Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). Now the usefulness of allies is based on circumstance. Some allies will be more useful at other parts of the game than others. Furthermore, while only one ally can be equipped to an area at a time, there is nothing stopping the player from changing allies as needed. In fact, the player will likely use as many as 3-5 different allies during a run. Based on this, we have broken the 14 allies in the game into tiers. This is a total of six tiers in total, from S to F, with the first three tiers being the most important. Without further ado, the list.

    S Tier

    S Tier: Mysterian, Shobijin ’64 and Shobijin ’04

     

    Mysterian/Shobijin ’64

    Attack with DPS x0.5% for the number of cards owned (+0.5% for each additional level)
    Damage 1% of enemy HP every 16 seconds (+1% for each additional level)

    or
    Attack with DPS x2% for the number of artifacts owned (+2% for each additional level)
    Damage 1% of enemy HP every 16 seconds (+1% for each additional level)

    These two allies are similar enough that they are interchangeable. Of the two, the Mysterian is better as he deals more damage due to the current number of cards in the game versus number of artifacts. However, while they both pack a punch in their attacks, it’s their ability to take out a chunk of the target’s total health that allows them to stand out. This can be key in the late game, both for monster waves that would otherwise take too long or dealing with a strong boss. In the case of the latter, they an also help grind out upgrades when progress seems slow. Essentially if you ever find yourself in a place where you’re getting more money from a Weak Point hit than a relief package, this ally can have the same effect and generate a lot of cash from their ability and the flat % it deals.

    Pros

    • Best way to deal with late game monster waves
    • Great source of income on tough bosses
    • Good in all scenarios

    Cons

    • Require reaching level 5 and beyond before they become very useful

     

    Shobijin ’04

    Attack with 20% of DPS (+20% for each additional level)
    Max City G-Cell +1

    Adding an extra G-Cell, the Shobijin ’04 is the most efficient way to lay down three ★★★★ cards at a time. The end game is all about these combos as well due to the way damage stacks. Godzilla ’67 + Keizer Ghidorah + Godzilla ’03 is a favorite card combo of this ally. Through pausing the game, such as clicking city mission menu, the player can regenerate the nine G-Cells and fire again with more ★★★★ cards, such as Godzilla ’00 + Destoroyah (Perfect Type) + Godzilla ’01.

    Pros

    • Optimal method for laying down three ★★★★ cards at a time
    • Best option for the Kaiju Dungeon where you can’t pause the game to regenerate G-Cells
    • Good at level 1 as their ability is not level dependent

    Cons

    • Only useful in scenarios where you need to play a lot of cards
    A Tier

    A Tier: Shobijin ’61 and Shobijin ’66

    Shobijin ’61

    Attack with 20% of DPS (+20% for each additional level)
    City G-Cell Production Speed Increases 10% (+10% each additional level)

    What’s better: playing cards faster or having an extra G-Cell? Arguments could be made for both and there are times when the player will prefer one over the other. So why is there a tier difference between them? A couple of reasons for this. One is that the extra G-Cell is optimal for the Kaiju Dungeon. Second is that even though it’s much faster to use the Shobijin ’61, it’s safer to wait the extra time for Shobijin ’04 and being able to play three cards at once. This is because it avoids times where you accidentally fumble and have the cards run a few seconds without a full combo in play.

    Pros

    • The quickest method to play cards

    Cons

    • Only useful in scenarios where you need to play a lot of cards

     

    Shobijin ’66

    Attack with 20% of DPS (+20% for each additional level)
    Produce coins worth 100% of Shobijin DPS every 16 seconds (+100% each additional level)

    When you first get the Shobijin ’66 their ability to generate income to upgrade units feels minimal. 20% of the city DPS is really not much money at all. However, after investing Moonstones and leveling them up they start to really shine. 500% of city DPS as money? Nice. …but what about maxing them out and producing 2000% of the city DPS as money? This ally really shines for speeding up the early stages of a run, rushing through parts of the game you can easily beat and not only that but set you up to do the next location in the run faster with money stored up.

    Pros

    • Fastest way to speed through the early stages in a run

    Cons

    • Require reaching level 5 and beyond before they become very useful

     

    B Tier

    B Tier: Shobijin ’03 and Kilaaks

    Shobijin ’03/Kilaaks

    Attack with 20% of DPS (+20% for each additional level)
    Produce 1 Moonstone every 180 seconds (+1 Moonstone at level 5 and level 10)
    or
    Attack with 50% of DPS (+50% for each additional level)
    Produce 1 Moonstone every 180 seconds (+1 Moonstone at level 10)

    Allies max out at level 10. This takes 24,055 Moonstones to bring them from level 1 to level 10. For players wanting to speed this process up, the Shobijin ’03 and Kilaaks are there to help. Their ability produces 1-3 Moonstones every three minutes. As the player progresses during their runs, the best time to unleash these is during the return visit to a location after stalling out on the Moon. For example, using them for stages 80-300ish on Tokyo up until the enemies get tough, and you switch to a combo of the Mysterian and the G-cell ally of your choice to take out the waves and bosses.

    As for which Moonstone ally is better, it depends. From level 1-4, the Kilaaks are better. They generate the same amount of Moonstones and deal more damage. From level 5-10, the Shobijin ’03 pull ahead as they produce more Moonstones, which is more valuable than additional damage for how they are used.

    Pros

    • Good way to squeeze a few more Moonstones from your run
    • Can start mining Moonstones at level 1

    Cons

    • Since civilians carry over from time traveling now, the rarity of Moonstones has greatly decreased
    • Three minutes is a long time to wait… and many times you will have the meter at 70-80% full and need to switch allies

     

    C Tier

    C Tier: Minilla

    Minilla

    Attack with 50% of DPS (+50% for each additional level)
    Attack with 150% of DPS every 12 seconds (+50% for each additional level)

    When it comes to damage, Minilla is at the top of the allies. While if you have every card in the game the Elias and Mysterian can deal higher regular damage, the standard 50% level will generally deal more damage for most players. Every 12 seconds, he can also hit the opponents for 150%-600%. This places him above other allies that focus on damage. …however, it’s not nearly enough to overcome allies with more diverse abilities, like helping play more cards or knocking off a percentage of the total health. The real negative is in almost every scenario there is a better ally. Early stages of a run? Use an ally that generates more money to help not just on this location but the next. Up against a tough boss? Use an ally that helps play more cards. Trying to take on tough monster waves? Use an ally that knocks off a percentage of the total health. Sadly there just really isn’t a need for damage only allies.

    Pros

    • DPS king for allies

    Cons

    • Damage only allies aren’t very useful compared to alternatives

     

    D Tier

    T Tier: Elias ’96, Black Hole Planet 3 Alien and Empress of Mu

    Elias ’96/Black Hole Planet 3 Alien

    Attack with DPS x0.5% for the number of cards owned (+0.5% for each additional level)
    Attack with 120% of DPS every 12 seconds (+20% for each additional level)
    or
    Attack with DPS x2% for the number of artifacts owned (+2% for each additional level)
    Attack with 120% of DPS every 12 seconds (+20% for each additional level)

    …did I mention there wasn’t really a need for damage only allies? Given that statement, it’s probably not surprising to find the Elias and the Black Hole Planet 3 Alien in the D tier, since they can’t compare with Minilla’s damage output. Sadly, neither is a really appealing option, although of the two the Elias packs a greater punch.

    Pros

    • None

    Cons

    • Damage only allies aren’t very useful compared to alternatives

     

    Empress of Mu

    Attack with 50% of DPS (+50% for each additional level)
    Produce coins worth 5% of DPS every 16 seconds (+5% each additional level)

    Poor Empress of Mu. Design wise, she looks really cool, but she will forever live in the shadow of the Shobijin ’66. To put the two in perspective, with the relation between their damage and money output, at level one the Empress of Mu generates 2.5% of the city DPS as coins while at level ten the ally generates 250% of the city DPS as coins. In contrast, the Shobijin ’66 at level one generates 20% of the city DPS as coins while at level ten they generate 2,000% of the city DPS as coins. The two just don’t compare well. The damage boost of the Empress of Mu is not even close to offsetting the amazing money generation of the Shobijin ’66.

    Pros

    • None

    Cons

    • Generates way too little money, especially compared to the Shobijin ’66

     

    F Tier

    F Tier: Dorat, Emperor Antonio and Cosmos ’92

     

    Dorat/Emperor Antonio/Cosmos ’92

    Attack with 50% of DPS (+50% for each additional level)
    Reduce base Production Speed by 0.4 seconds every 12 seconds (+0.2 seconds each additional level)
    or
    Attack with 50% of DPS (+50% for each additional level)
    Reduce base Production Speed by 0.1 seconds every 12 seconds (+0.1 seconds each additional level)
    or
    Attack with 20% of DPS (+20% for each additional level)
    Reduce base Production Speed by 0.6 seconds every 12 seconds (+0.1 seconds each additional level)

    Rounding out the tier list are the three production speed allies. Reading the description of their ability, it sounds like every 12 seconds the production counters should by slashed or run out. While this gives the mental image of a parade of troops coming out every 12 seconds, the ability doesn’t seem to work this way in practice. Furthermore, when doing a test of the Cosmos at level 8, dropping the production speed by 1.3 seconds, their ability accounted for less than a 40% DPS difference versus other allies. What does this mean? This means they are directly inferior to the DPS focused allies in the C and D tiers.

    Pros

    • None

    Cons

    • The worst of the bunch, with the Cosmos at the very bottom

     

    General // September 16, 2019
  • It’s been a while since Toho Kingdom held a contest on the site and I thought that it not only might be nice to have another one but also our biggest yet! To do this, we worked with Warner Bros., Kidrobot, NECA, Bluefin Distribution, Tamashii Nations, Diamond Select Toys and artist Matt Frank. As a result, we have a rich collection of prizes for the contest this year. These range from a poster, figures, Blu-rays/DVDs and a print with many items signed as well.

    Godzilla 2019 Contest Prizes

    • Godzilla King of the Monsters poster signed by director Michael Doughtery, and actors O’Shea Jackson Jr., Millie Bobbie Brown, Thomas Middleditch, Kyle Chandler, Bradley Whitford and Ken Watanabe
    • Godzilla 2019 figure by S.H. MonsterArts
    • Rodan figure by NECA
    • Godzilla version 2 figure by NECA
    • Godzilla 1974 and Godzilla 1989 banks by Diamond Select Toys
    • Godzilla series one vinimates by Diamond Select Toys
    • HugMe Godzilla and Phunny plush Godzilla toys by Kid Robot
    • Signed Matt Frank Mothra 2019 print
    • Pacific Rim Uprising blu-ray/dvd signed by director Steven Deknight
    • Rampage blu-ray/dvd copy signed by motion capture artist Jason liles (who plays George in the film and is Ghidorah’s middle head in Godzilla King of the Monsters) and actor P.J. Byrne (who plays Nelson in the film)
    • Blu-ray/dvd copy of Ready Player One

    ***A small note about the poster: there are small creases on the sides and a small tear on the top of the poster. I don’t know how they got there but that’s how they were sent over. They Shouldn’t be noticeable if you frame the poster, however.***

    Entering the Contest

    As with other contests on the site in the past, to enter all you have to do is send an email with your name and address to: TKSummer2019@hotmail.com

    The contest ends September 19th! Enter today!

    Thanks goes to Warner Bros., Kidrobot, NECA, Bluefin Distribution, Tamashii Nations, Diamond Select Toys, and Matt Frank for being so gracious to donate prizes offered in this contest!

    Contest Rules

    ONE entry per person only. Due to shipping this contest is only for North America entrants. Winner will be randomly selected using an automated process by e-mails received. Date of entry has no bearing on probability of winning. No requests for bundles as winners will be chosen at random. The winner will be announced by September 24th, 2019. Contest ends September 19th, 2019. Toho Kingdom staff (forum and main site) are not eligible to compete. The site is not responsible for lost, late or misdirected mail when prizes are sent out. Toho Kingdom reserves the right to change these rules at any time.

    General // September 3, 2019
  • The Godzilla Certification Exam—Beginner AND Intermediate

    I have done a lot of really nerdy stuff for Toho Kingdom, and it’s kind of difficult to categorize what the “nerdiest” articles or projects might have been. Writing lots of book reviews is arguably really nerdy; writing about Godzilla’s love life is nerdy AND embarrassing; spending over a hundred bucks on Godzilla Valentine’s Day candy just to review them for the site is nerdy, embarrassing, and almost seems emblematic of the stereotype of an obsessed otaku who can’t get a date. I don’t just do embarrassing stuff for my fandom—I spend lots of money, then spend lots of time writing about it, and then post about it WITH MY REAL NAME on the Internet.

    But even I kept asking myself why I had spent 9500 yen to take a test on Godzilla knowledge. No, scratch that—two tests. Each an hour long, both on the same day. In Japanese, yet. I mean, who DOES this stuff?

    Actually, quite a few people, as I found out.

    So I took the first-ever Godzilla Kentei—the Godzilla Certification Exam. I spent the cash, got the papers, got the study book (and even studied it for about a half an hour or so), and went to the Tokyo site (fans in Osaka could go there instead) to see how much Godzilla knowledge I had up in my head. The Tokyo site was at the Takanawa campus of Tokai University. Having experience with the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect… The assigned seat, the assigned number, the rule that we have to put away our stuff during the test, the long explanations, etc. As anticipated, I was the only white guy there, at least that I saw. But there were a lot of things I didn’t really expect.

    For one thing… well, lots of people were there. Mostly men, but I saw a few women taking the test. (For once, during the break, the men’s rooms each had a long line, and the women had no wait at all.) I didn’t really think very many people would take the test, since the certification doesn’t really mean much, and people can take Godzilla quizzes online for free. I also expected more kids, but I saw fewer children than I saw women. For many test-takers, maybe it was the merch that lured them—the lines for merch were intense, but I just didn’t really care to buy another T-shirt and “clear file” and pin.

    I took both tests, but I thought there would be different crowds taking the beginner’s and the intermediate tests. However, in my room, the test-takers were virtually the same for both tests. I guess everybody else had the same idea as me—they figured this was their one big chance and they wanted to show how much they know. And it’s kind of fun, too.

    So how hard were the tests? Well, first of all, they were both in Japanese, obviously. Some questions had a little English (one question was about the acronym for MOGERA used in Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla), but the test was designed for native Japanese speakers. I had to fully rely on my Japanese, and usually I could figure out the questions. Even with my somewhat poor Japanese, I had little problem finishing the first test within the time limit, though I had just a few minutes to spare on the intermediate test.

    The test questions were all multiple choice—just fill in the correct oval. The questions were not broken up into different question types really—it’s not like the JLPT with its grammar section, listening section, reading section, and so on. The questions of the Godzilla Kentei are sort of mixed together. Some of the questions had pictures in the test booklet, and these questions were usually about putting particular monsters in the order in which they grew or evolved—like the Mothra caterpillar, cocoon, and imago (I know, that one is super easy). However, the exam items with pictures were just mixed at random with the other question types. There didn’t seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to the exam format.

    Many, many of the questions (with their exact wordings) were included in the study book, which I bought and studied briefly. I sort of wanted to see how far I could get with my own Godzilla knowledge, though, and was too lazy to study much. That choice would come back to bite me later.

    The questions pretty much exclusively focused on the movies—not the comics or shows. In both tests there was a heavy focus on Godzilla Resurgence and the original 1954 film, with Resurgence getting a lot of obnoxious (for me) questions such as where in Tokyo certain events took place (I just couldn’t remember). Nevertheless, both tests included questions about virtually all of the Japan-made Godzilla films… except for the recent anime trilogy. Not one question (out of two hundred) was about the anime films, nor the American films. Some questions in the study book were about the anime and American films, but the actual test did not feature them—the closest the test got to featuring a question about an American film was an image of Zilla from Final Wars in one of the picture items.

    A LOT of the questions were quite easy for me. Stuff like which specific monsters appeared in which movies, or the name of the evil organization in Ebirah, or how many films had Mechagodzilla in them, or even how many necks King Ghidorah has. Much more difficult for me were some of the questions about particular actors, many of which were from Resurgence again—and I just don’t know the names of most of the actors in that film. Some questions featured a lot of kanji, too, though usually the test included furigana above any kanji used.

    I liked the questions that tended to go a little more obscure, and was really pleased to see a question about Shukra and Mamagon from Godzilla vs. Gigan. The second test had a lot more of the somewhat obscure questions, or questions that just took longer to answer as I was trying to count movies (such as “what was the twentieth movie in the Japanese Godzilla films?”). One question that caught me off guard in the beginner’s test was about the year the original Godzilla was released in Japan—but calculated according to the Japanese calendar. I think I got it by calculating from my birth year (the Showa year for which I have memorized), but at first I was afraid I was a goner on that one. One strategy I used that proved especially helpful was to glance through my booklet at the intermediate level questions before starting the second test and quickly memorizing the right answer. Many of those questions I had quickly memorized were on the test, and so it helped me a lot… That decision probably actually enabled me to pass the test!

    And as much as I had second thoughts about paying for and taking the exams, it was kind of exciting to be able to sit down and take a test in Godzilla of all things. So often in school we have to take tests on subjects we aren’t especially excited about, and so it was quite a bit more fun to tackle something that I love—and doing it in Japanese, with a lot of real Japanese fans, and to STILL finish both exams with time to spare without much study prep was pretty satisfying. Hearing the fans chat with each other about questions they thought they got wrong, or lamenting that they just couldn’t remember during the test, was a lot of fun.

    I also met a guy at the test spot who was wearing a Godzilla hat made from balloons. He claimed he had made the balloon hat himself. I took a picture of him, and then he offered to let me wear the hat, and he took pictures of me. He was super nice!

    Some time later, I received the results. I passed the beginner test with an 87, and the intermediate (the certificate says “advance”) with just a 71. In other words, I almost failed the intermediate one, because the cut-off was at 70 points!

    So yes, the Godzilla Certification Exam was arguably a big waste of money really, and was… kind of pointless. The exam doesn’t really test Godzilla knowledge well, since it is so focused on the 2016 film and the test can be aced by just trying to remember the questions in the test prep book. But honestly I had fun, and the experience was quite unique. This year they had a beginner and intermediate test, but the book also had questions for an advanced test, though with the caveat that there may never be one. I kind of hope that there will be one—and that they will give some kind of a prize to those who get a perfect score!

    General // September 2, 2019
  • Back in 2017, I was excited for the Godzilla the Real 4-D ride featured in Universal Studios Japan that was being put together as part of their Cool Japan campaign. I really wanted to go and experience the ride myself, in addition to simply enjoying USJ for the first time as well. As is often the case with me, I hesitated and procrastinated and worried about the cost or just couldn’t muster up the gumption to buy my tickets for months. The ride was scheduled to end in June, close to my birthday, and so I decided finally to just get a hotel room and go at the last minute.

    I ended up going by myself to USJ, and at first I was worried that I might be bored. However, it was actually incredibly fun to just wander about, doing anything I wanted to do at my own pace, without worrying about what a friend or lover might prefer. I tried to go to Godzilla the Real right away, but found out that there was a schedule for the special theater in which the ride (really a film with fancy seats and added effects) took place. The first showing was an Attack on Titan show, which I tried out first to get a taste of what was to come.

    The idea of these shows is really similar to movie theaters that are enhanced with DBOX, 4D, or (I believe) MXD technology. DBOX theaters add lots of movement to the action on the screen, while 4D showings include the moving chairs as well as mists of water, puffs of air, flashing lights, and scents (at least the scent of dust/sand/dirt). The Cool Japan theater experiences also had the mobile seating, puffs of air, mist sprays, and so on. In the Attack on Titan show, the gushes of mist corresponded to arterial spray from the monsters or human characters—pretty gross! Still, it gave me a sense of what to expect from the upcoming Godzilla event. Another fun touch of the Attack on Titan ride was that they had the staff decked out in uniforms from the manga and anime.

    After wandering about and trying out some of USJ’s other attractions (which I found honestly really enjoyable—with the exception of the Flying Dinosaur, which gave me a crick in my neck), I came back to Godzilla the Real.

    Food Stand

    Before going in, I went over to a Godzilla Snack food stand, which apparently at some point offered Godzilla Footprint Buns for 550 yen. These buns, judging from the pic, apparently were filled with sweet beans. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived, the Godzilla Snack stand was sold out of buns. I just bought a Coca-Cola from them instead because I felt some compunction to purchase SOMETHING from the friendly purveyors of Godzilla foodstuffs.

    I then got in line for the Godzilla the Real 4-D ride. Given that the Attack on Titan ride came with staff in awesome cosplay, I was hoping for something similar when the Godzilla attraction was live. If I remember correctly, the staff was wearing faux military gear, but I didn’t take pictures of them so I am not sure. Also with the Godzilla the Real 4-D ride, fake newspapers were handed out that had an article about Godzilla attacking the Osaka area. The line for the ride was pretty long, and so I was thankful for the reading material. Some folks just used the newspapers as something to sit on while they were waiting—Philistines!

    Godzilla the Real 4-D

    Finally my group was ushered into a sort of antechamber area before the show proper commenced, in which we viewed a screen prepping us for the real deal. The Attack on Titan event had the same thing, presumably used to help with the transition from one group to the next. This time we were told that we would be flying a special aircraft to take on Godzilla, since he had just appeared in Osaka Bay. The plane was a pretty awesome VTOL craft, and we were supposed to shoot something into Godzilla’s mouth to stop him (if I recall correctly). Then we were ushered to our seats after the mission briefing, though the changeover was noticeably less smooth than the one for the Attack on Titan showing—maybe the staff were getting tired.

    I wasn’t a big fan of the Attack on Titan movie, but the Godzilla the Real 4-D show was much better in most respects. For one thing, while the Attack on Titan was a sort of awkward 3D animated conversion of the anime, the Godzilla movie was rendered realistically. And I thought it looked great!

    The movie was shown from a first-person perspective. As the main character, you jump into your VTOL and blast through the streets of Osaka. The sense of speed was incredible in the theater. Godzilla, too, looked really great—basically it appeared that they used the same computer model that was created for Godzilla Resurgence (2016). The encounters with Godzilla were thrilling, and once the glass on the cockpit gets blasted off, you get added gusts of air and, when the jet flew down low near the water, splashes of water. As the story unfolds, your VTOL is damaged irreparably and you have to make a perilous landing before jumping in another VTOL to finish the mission.

    At the climax, in what I felt was a pretty silly decision, Godzilla is actually in USJ and interacts with the USJ globe in gratuitous fashion—at one point the globe basically gets thrown towards the camera. However, you manage to complete your mission successfully and fire the goods used to incapacitate Godzilla right into his gaping maw. Unfortunately, your jet doesn’t come out well from the last encounter, and the conclusion is an ambiguous one. (I remember feeling a bit disappointed, but unsurprised.)

    Afterwards I went and picked up a few goodies, including a Godzilla the Real 4-D towel which I now make use at my local gym (though you might not know it from looking at my gut). When I purchased them, the fellow behind the register was wearing an Attack on Titan uniform, and I couldn’t help but make the salute and belt out “Shinzo wo sasageyo!” to him. I was hoping he would enthusiastically return my gesture, but he looked a bit weary, or perhaps wary of the weird foreigner.

    I always intended to write up my experiences long before now, but to be honest I sometimes just want to enjoy the various attractions and events without worrying about writing up my experiences later. I often feel like I HAVE to write about every little Toho and Godzilla-related event I go to, and it adds a weight of responsibility to the events that can drain some of the fun out of the proceedings. So for this and other Godzilla events I just never wrote about my experiences, even when I really enjoyed them—which was certainly the case with Godzilla the Real 4-D.

    However, with Godzilla’s return to USJ (in which everyone’s favorite irradiated beastie takes on Evangelion FOR REAL this time!), I thought the timing isn’t too bad for revisiting the 2017 ride and what the experience was really like! If you have a chance, I hope you can make the 2019 event for yourself! The Godzilla vs. Evangelion theater attraction will be featured at USJ from May 31st to August 25ththis year, along with Sailor Moon and Attack on Titan attractions—and I absolutely hope to make a return trip!

    USJ Merchandise

    General // August 18, 2019
  • Trailers for past films are surprisingly enjoyable. A window into yesteryear in how the movie was marketed, while sometimes having Easter Eggs with scenes that only appear in the trailer, as is the case for Son of Godzilla (1967) and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). Now the music found inside trailers is an aspect of their own. As is the case for Toho trailers, in particular those for the kaiju genre, many will recognize the music from past films, with Akira Ifukube‘s work being particularly prevalent for the Godzilla series. Sometimes Toho is a bit more unorthodox in their choices, such as an early advert for King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) that featured music from The Hidden Fortress (1958). However, sometimes the music is totally alien… feeling like it didn’t come from another Toho movie at all. In fact, this became a growing trend in the 1990’s and beyond, as the company leaned toward using library music from outside sources.

    This is the focus of the article: identifying outside music in Toho trailers. This can include content from production music libraries or other movie sources. Essentially the only criteria is that the music has to not appear in a Toho film. To best elaborate, trailers will be shown when possible along with linking to the library source material or failing that a place where one can listen or buy the piece of music. The trailers themselves will be coming from Toho’s source, for optimal compliance.

    The article is very much a work in progress, with credit due to Terasawa and G-Matt for their assistance. A thread on this topic can be found here on the forums.

    Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)

    Trailers: Main
    Composer: Modest Mussorgsky
    Source: A Night on Bare Mountain

    Many of the Showa era trailers from Toho utilize music from their own film library. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966) is an exception, though. The kaiju genre entry looks toward a classical source, selecting Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. The song, made famous by Walt Disney’s Fantasia, plays prominently at the start of the trailer. Now this particular composition appears to be the 1962 recording done by René Leibowitz as he conducts the The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which he titled “A Night on Bare Mountain”.

    This exact version was also used for the Conflagration (1975) trailer.

     

    Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)

    Trailers: Early teasers
    Composer: Frederic Talgorn
    Source: The Attack Begins

    From the De Wolfe Library, composer Frederic Talgorn’s became a centerpiece of the early adverts for the 2001 movie. This includes both the earliest teaser, which features stock footage, and also the second teaser, which uses very early special effects shots such as the source material for what would end up being Godzilla and King Ghidorah’s underwater battle.

    This theme was also used in a trailer for Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003).

     

    Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

    Trailers: Main
    Composer: “Immediate Music”
    Source: Redrum

    While it might not have been the first, 2004 marks a period where Toho seems to have turned their back on the De Wolfe Library they had utilized heavily in favor of the themes coming from the label Immediate Music, who is less forth coming on composer details. Solidifying that transition was the heavy use of the Redrum theme in the trailers for the 2004 Godzilla film, heard in the trailer above at the 39 second mark.

    General // August 15, 2019
  • During a long hike in the mountains, two friends come face-to-face with the most tenacious monster in the world…

    ANGUIRUS!

    They weren’t always friends

    When Godzilla and Anguirus first met, the rivalry between them was fierce. Ultimately, Godzilla emerged the victor after crunching poor Anguirus’s neck and setting his carcass on fire in front of Osaka Castle. Years later, Godzilla and Anguirus would rise to fight again but this time not as enemies but friends. What prompted this alliance? How did these two monsters go from being bloodthirsty rivals to forging a friendship that would last generations?

    Likely the same way Mark and I became friends.

    Recently, my best friend Mark Monson came up to visit, and we shot a short film together. I’ve been thinking about doing an Anguirus Sightings video for months. It was one of the most requested videos I received and I had the perfect location in mind. There’s just one small problem: It was at the top of a mountain and getting there wasn’t easy. Enter Mark. He wanted to climb up the mountain in question. Right then—unbeknownst to Mark at the time—the Anguirus Sightings video was greenlit.

    Doing an Anguirus Sightings video with Mark felt like it was meant to be given our colorful history. We weren’t always friends. We were once rivals, kind of like Godzilla and Anguirus (although I never tried biting him or setting him on fire). But that changed over time. Gradually, we learned to trust one another and accept the differences that defined us as human beings. We became close friends.

    Today he’s family.

    As a Godzilla fan, I couldn’t help but cast my friends and family in monster roles. Mark was the Anguirus to my Godzilla. The parallels keep getting better, don’t they? Like Anguirus, Mark is stubborn, relentless, loyal, and brave. I’d trust him with my life even if we were marching into battle against a giant three-headed space dragon.

    How did Godzilla and Anguirus become friends? I’d imagine they worked out their differences the same way humans do through communication, empathy, and mutual respect. By the late 1960s, Godzilla had changed; he was no longer the ruthless creature that Anguirus fought in 1955’s Godzilla Raids Again. Technically, neither was Anguirus; the one Godzilla befriended was a different specimen than the one he first fought and subsequently killed. But given how Godzilla and the new Anguirus are highly aggressive and territorial, I’d imagine their first encounter was uncivil. But make no mistake, Godzilla was a changed monster; he was smarter, empathetic, and humane. Aside from what he did to the first Anguirus and Mothra, Godzilla rarely killed other monsters. What ended up happening is he would encounter several monsters that started out as his enemies but then over time, like Anguirus, they became his friends. In many ways, the progressive themes of trust and friendship of the Showa Era films inspired me

    at a young age. It seems like they helped play a role in shaping my friendship with Mark and for that I’m grateful.

    I hope you enjoyed this Sightings video. We had so much fun making it. It was a rough hike and climb, but we came through like we always do.

    Monster Sightings: Anguirus Video

    Thomas Fairchild and Mark Monson

    General // August 5, 2019