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To compliment the normal comic review, found here, I’m doing another review with added graphics. So this is a graphic review of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #3 to help give a more in-depth review of the publication. In terms of issue #3 of the series, it has a slightly better way of telling a story this time around. It’s not great, but it’s still a vast improvement over the past two issues. Hopefully the writing will get better as the series progresses if some of the small subplots for the nonsensical and meaningless characters who add nothing to the story can be weeded out.
Mysterious twin girls are introduced into a new school and one of them is promptly (and accidentally) hit with a soccer ball from a nearby game on the school yard. The girl’s solution is to use her special power to attack the offending player via an invisible monster. The child is left on the ground, freaked out and bleeding as the twins walk away. Meanwhile, Godzilla, Rodan, and Anguirus get their names pulled out of thin air by the series’ scientist as all three monsters continue to wreak havoc around the world. Well, except for Rodan. He’s only shown in one panel due to the writers not knowing how to spend their 22 pages per month. A Lady Gaga like character has a concert telling everyone that the monsters shouldn’t be harmed etc and in Texas, where Anguirus is rolling around, two lone Texans decide that since the military can’t do anything about him; it’s up to them, their rifle, and their pickup truck to take him out. Obviously, it doesn’t work.
At the end of the story, the mysterious twins make their way onto a beach and through their telepathic powers, kill all the soldiers that are guarding a mysterious egg. The girls, using their powers, communicate with the egg and as it hatches, they name the creature inside Battra. After this, there’s a small surprise at the end which you should read for yourself. It’s pretty good.
The Eric Powell cover here is nice and creepy yet it’s an odd pairing since the “Battra Twins ©” so far have nothing to do with Godzilla in this issue. Foreshadowing perhaps? The Jeff Zornow cover is rather perplexing seeing as how Rodan only appears in the comic in one panel and the monsters don’t even meet up to fight. The artwork here is rather “standard” and just gives me a “meh” reaction when I look it over. The most interesting cover is the Anguirus cover by Matt Frank. The monster has never been shown in such an epic shot before. The mix of yellow and brown combined with the excellent use of lighting really bring the character to life.
Monsters look great; the girls look creepy with their pupil less eyes and sometimes wearing Long Ranger style like masks. Some of the movements look at little weird. For example, look at how high this kid’s leg is. I’ve never seen anyone defy their bone structure that much to kick a ball.
Well, the writing is getting a little better and it wasn’t the fiasco it was in the first issue. However, too much in the way of page space is wasted with temporary characters being introduced to make a statement about how dumb the writers think Texans are or to demonstrate how much the writers just hate kids. Although Battra is the first monster introduced that didn’t kill a child straight away, one child still gets some sort of punishment. That’s par for the course in this series I guess. Show a kid, make sure the audience knows the kid is a jerk either by nefarious actions or having the kid expose themselves to be twisted by hateful dialog, and then hurt/kill them. It’s gotten pretty old by now but I guess the writers have some issues with children and are using the comic to vent their frustrations.
I would have liked to have known how the monsters got their names in this comic as they seem to have been pulled out of thin air. I know a lot of thought didn’t go into naming the monsters in the films, but this was the chance to tell the story of these monsters in a new light.
All in all, it was a better comic than the last two issues and if the ending is a sign of things to come, it’s going to get good and monsters are going to FINALLY fight, although the buildup would be better is the story had one clear narrative rather than jumping all over the place. Hopefully from here on out, the series will tighten up and the temporary characters will be excised and the comic will have a cohesive story. Get that done; lay off with the kid killing/hurting fetish, get the monsters fighting, and you’ll have a really cool comic.General // May 24, 2011
To compliment the normal comic review, found here, I’m doing a graphic review of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1 from IDW Publishing, written by Eric Powell and Tracy Marsh with art from Phil Hester. This is a totally new take, with images to provide better examples for those interested in the comic. Below is my review in full, along with images to accompany some of the mentioned scenes.
Story: THIS is the biggest problem with the book. It’s tough to talk about the story where there hardly is one. Nameless characters are introduced and never seen again.
The comic begins with trying to establish Godzilla as a “bad ass” but killing kids and stepping on old people doesn’t fit that description. A “bad ass” is someone who can stand up to a ton of punishment and keep on going. Killing the defenseless makes that character just a jerk. It would be one thing if it was just the kids or just the old person but two defenseless killings in a row made me feel a little uneasy.
Godzilla’s attack is followed by a VERY brief response from the Japanese military who attack him with missiles for two pages and then just disappear. On the next page, nameless Japanese military characters convince the Prime Minister that while Godzilla is out at sea and away from people, that they should fire a nuke at him in an attempt to kill the King of the Monsters. It doesn’t succeed and ends up being the origin of how Godzilla got his nuclear breath. The biggest fault of the comic is that nothing really happens out side of Godzilla showing up and causing death and destruction.
Artwork: Although Godzilla’s appearance changes quite a few times in the comic, the artwork is very clean and full of life. The full page shot of Godzilla being nuked is my favorite shot in the entire book. Very well done!
In the comic, Godzilla seems to be a mix of his appearance from Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) with the scales more prevalent on the body and his appearance in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) with the solid white eyes. The eyes, in closeups do show a pupil which in the way it is drawn comes across as creepy as opposed to menacing and Godzilla’s design changes a few times throughout the comic. Possibly this is the style of the artist himself but one thing that comes across in the design is that this Godzilla is quite a force to be reckoned with. The charcoal grey with blue backplates makes Godzilla streamlined looking yet, to me, oddly mysterious.
It was also a nice touch to see the “skreee-onk” (although this doesn’t happen much in the comic, as Godzilla doesn’t do a lot of roaring in this book) return for Godzilla’s roar, as it was previously used from the Dark Horse comics.
Cover(s): Wow. Talk about boring. Although cover # 1 by Alex Ross has Godzilla destroying a city and using his nuclear breath, it’s too much of a “standard” image. Cover #2, the close up on the eye, makes one think of King Kong rather than Godzilla with the lack of scales around the eye and forhead. This is Godzilla’s first time on the comic book shelf in years he’s introduced with two bland covers.
The third cover is a fold out with Godzilla on the front, King Ghidorah and Anguirus on the right page, and to the left, Mothra Larvae, Kumonga, and Rodan. Although Godzilla is the only monster in the book, it’s a beautiful piece of art with the exception of Godzilla’s odd worm-like tail and Anguirus’ mysteriously pained expression. Godzilla’s white eyes add ferocity for the character making him the clear standout in the piece and he seems to be modeled after the Trendmasters toy. The rest of the monsters seem to be the interpretations of artist Eric Powell.
Probably the coolest thing about the launch of the comic is the promotion for the custom covers for the book. If a comic book store orders 500 copies of issue #1, the store gets to have a custom made cover of the store being crushed underneath Godzilla’s foot. Approximately 100 stores signed on for the promotion and it was a resounding success. It’s a mystery why no one has ever thought of this before but I’m glad Godzilla did it first.
Conclusion: Godzilla’s first foray into comics in over 12 years could have and SHOULD have been a lot more impressive. There are quite a few missed opportunities to introduce characters and brand grandur to Godzilla. For example, rather than wasting an entire page of the book on the guy picking up the phone, Godzilla could have been shown making landfall in Tokyo with a dramatic buildup rather than just appearing.
In summary, if this comic is to succeed, and be more than just pretty pictures of Godzilla with little to no characters and story, the writing is going to have to get a hell of a lot better REAL QUICK.General // March 29, 2011
Taking a cue from the show of nearly the same name, this Toho Busters article looks to address and debunk widespread misconceptions regarding Toho’s work and characters. It will not look to cover every incorrect belief, but rather focus on ones that are well published or are still addressed as fact today.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) – Alternate Ending
A widely published misconception primarily found in sources outside of what would be considered “the fandom” in the years before the internet had gained such dominance. The idea was that there were two endings for the 1962 movie King Kong vs. Godzilla: one that played in America where King Kong emerges from the water at the end and one that played in Japan where Godzilla emerges from the water at the end. Although there are many changes between the US and Japanese versions of the film, King Kong is the monster that emerges from the water at the end of both versions.
Godzilla vs. the Devil (1978)
One of the most famous “lost projects” is sadly one rooted in misconception. The concept first came to light back in the late 1970’s following a report by Ed Godziszewski in Japanese Giants #5. The movie was said to be a joint venture between Toho and UPA Productions. The script was to be American and the concept was stated to be given a budget of $4 million and a running time of 110 minutes. It was also stated that Godzilla was to face off against a variety of monsters that included a giant spider, a giant fish and a giant bird. The movie’s climax was to feature a brawl with Godzilla against Satan. It sounds too crazy to be true, and sadly was. The following year, in 1979, Japanese Giants #6 ran an additional report about a trip to Toho studios where producer Tomoyuki Tanaka denied the existence of the project. As fate would have it, the denial ended up drifting to obscurity while the previous issue’s report of the idea spread and spread. Beyond the internet, publications began to talk about the project as well, including 1998’s Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of “The Big G”. Toho Kingdom itself is guilty of this as well, as the concept was listed on the site for years. Regardless, the project was not something that Toho had officially considered. As an aside, the pictures above were created by artist Matt Frank for use by Toho Kingdom.
Little Godzilla’s Underground Adventure (1995)
This was proposed as a movie idea centering around the Little Godzilla character. According to the concept, special effects director Koichi Kawakita had become such a fan of Little Godzilla that he pushed for the monster to get his own feature. This idea was picked up and reported on in several publications, such as David Kalat’s A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series which was re-published in 2007. According to author Kalat, the idea was meant to be a made for television production that would be aimed at a young audience. However, late in 1995, director Takao Okawara was asked about the concept during an interview and if it was more than just a rumor, to which he denied it being considered. In reality, the rumor probably originated from the fact that Kawakita wasn’t a fan of the Baby Godzilla design and had moved for the redesign as Little Godzilla, which is true, and then the rumor mill took that to another level.General // February 11, 2011
In September of 2004, Toho Music started their ambitious release of all of the Godzilla films in six soundtrack boxes for the 50th Anniversary of the King of the Monsters. Titled the Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection, these boxes came with 6-9 CDs and covered 4-6 Godzilla films each. The series was plagued with delays, to the point where the final box was released in 2010, six years after the touted “50th Anniversary” line that it came with.
To celebrate the conclusion of the Perfect Collection line this year, we at Toho Kingdom are putting together a round table to discuss, highlight and talk about various features of the six boxes. We will go over our favorite and least favorite aspects of the sets, to give an overview of what we each thought were the best and worst parts.
To conduct this Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection round table, we have three writers lined up. Our first guest writer is Robert Storch, a contributor to this site and also Godzilla and Other Monster Music, who is a veteran collector that had managed to secure the original 1990’s Futureland releases of the Godzilla soundtracks to CD. Our second guest writer is Matti Keskiivari, another contributor to Godzilla and Other Monster Music, who has already published critiques and reviews for the box sets. Finally, we also have the site’s owner, Anthony Romero, weighing in as well. So without further ado, below are four basic questions followed by the responses of the three writers, before each gives an overall conclusion at the end.
Favorite Two Aspects of the Perfect Collection
Packaging – The packaging for Toho Music’s 50th Anniversary Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection was obviously inspired by the company’s earlier Akira Kurosawa boxed set line, and this same style packaging was also utilized for all six Godzilla boxed sets. While I personally still prefer the front “poster artwork” found on the earlier Godzilla Toshiba-EMI Futureland 20-CD set, I have to admit that the Perfect Collection’s “overall” packaging does add a bit of “class” to these Godzilla soundtracks, unseen before. Everything from the carefully thought out front heads shots, to the nice back inserts, better booklets that contain a lot of text and a few photos, to the sturdy boxes themselves helps to make this all an attractive and dignified collection. What I also think contributes to this is seeing the “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” heading at the top of each booklet. It kind of gives each Godzilla soundtrack a new level of respectability. It should also be noted that each set comes with an oversized second insert, and a very large obi which wraps around one side of the box.
Extra Tracks – With the exception of a couple of soundtracks, most of these Godzilla Perfect CDs have been greatly expanded with a generous amount of previously unreleased tracks, and because of this aspect, probably makes the Godzilla Perfect Collection the one to own, even over the earlier 40th Anniversary Godzilla Toshiba-EMI Futureland set. As a matter of fact, the Perfect Collection contains many of my personal favorite tracks which are finally making their CD debut, such as the “Use of Handcuff’s” theme from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (G-005), the original rolling end title credits vocal song from The Return of Godzilla (G-016), two very obscure alternate vocal songs (by a different singer) from Godzilla vs. Hedorah (G-011) and the “Nichiei News” theme from Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (G-024), just to name a few. The point is if you really add up all of the extra music found throughout the six boxed sets, you will no doubt find a lot of it. Not only is all of this extra music probably the single best reason to buy the Godzilla Perfect Collection, but it also adds value to each box, even more-so than the bonus CDs end up accomplishing.
Never Before Released Music – I have to praise Toho Music for digging up a lot of rare stuff for these discs, and I don’t mean just the bonus tracks. Two great examples are the soundtracks of Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (G-025) and Godzilla: Final Wars (G-028) from the sixth box. For both of them, it’s the first time the (almost) complete scores have been released on CD. This is especially true for Godzilla: Final Wars, as the original release from Victor (VICP-62936) didn’t really have all the highlights, like “Keizer Ghidorah Appears” (M35-1) and “Ebirah vs. the Mutant Forces” (M9), which is my personal favorite arrangement of Keith Emerson’s Earth Defense Force theme (or “Kazama’s Sacrifice” as it’s most commonly known as, thanks to the Victor release). Although not quite unreleased, these boxes also presented many rarities together for the first time, such as the inclusion of the mono and stereo scores found in the two disc set King Kong vs. Godzilla (G-003) that were packaged alongside each other.
Sound Quality – In my opinion, the sound quality on the discs has been well remastered, for the most part. The soundtracks that received the best improvement are the original Godzilla (G-001) from the first box, All Monsters Attack (G-010) from the second box, Godzilla vs. Hedorah (G-011), Godzilla vs. Megalon (G-013) and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (G-014) from the third box, and The Return of Godzilla (G-016) from the fourth box. On these soundtracks, especially All Monsters Attack and The Return of Godzilla, you can hear the instruments more distinctly. The major disappointments, on the other hand, would have to be Invasion of Astro-Monster (G-006) and Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (G-007) from the second box and the Ostinato (GX-7) bonus disc from the fifth box. Aside from those, I’m generally pleased with the audio.
Extra Tracks – Looking over these releases, it’s easy to see that the people at Toho Music are fans of this music themselves. Because of that, one gets a lot of material that other companies probably would never have included. Original stock music used in the Showa films, demo material, and a boatload of outtakes all readily fill the CD releases here. They aren’t perfect, such as with the 1992-1995 Heisei series content, but generally all of these releases contain more music from their respective films than any previous CD release. A lot of never before released, at least to CD, material was also included, as one really gets a feeling that the archives were cracked open to try and add in a wealth of content to these releases. In a sense, we all probably benefited from the previous Toshiba releases in the 1990’s, as they convinced Toho Music to really try and pack some of these releases with a lot of extra content and go one step above.
Godzilla: Final Wars – When thinking of something that Toho Music did oh so right, their deluxe treatment for the 50th anniversary film comes directly to mind. The original release by Victor (VICP-62936) was more of a traditional album, having movie themes edited and created for the CD release rather than presenting the score as it was used in the movie. Toho Music, on the other hand, opted to include both and more! The movie score, the album score, unused material and demos are all present here. Some really fantastic, previously unreleased cues were also included with this three disc treatment, such as “Commander Namikawa’s Abnormality” (M12 Mix), “Gigan Awakens” (M16 Edit), “Monster X Appears” (M29 Add) and many others. I was never a huge fan of this score in particular, yet many of these themes from the expanded selection made their way onto my iPod, making this without a doubt one of the best things about the six boxes.
Least Favorite Two Aspects of the Perfect Collection
Audio Quality – Without a doubt, my least favorite aspect of the entire Godzilla Perfect Collection is the overall mixed sound quality. I am not sure what Toho Music’s remastering methods are, but it appears that their way of doing it has somehow “normalized” the sound quality on their CDs. In other words, these so-called “Perfect CDs” now sound noticeably flatter (or a little dull) compared with all of the past releases from Toshiba-EMI, VAP, King Records, Kitty Records, and all the rest. Now, this will be more apparent for buyers who own the earlier CDs, and perhaps not so detectible for people who are purchasing these soundtracks for the first time, but there is a difference for those curious. It’s almost as if the score tracks (and all of the stereo vocal songs for that matter) were put through a program or a filter of some kind? Bottom line – I cannot recall ever hearing “remasters” that sound quite like this from any other record company. Now, fortunately, there are a couple of exceptions throughout the boxed sets where the soundtracks do sound nicely “restored” and the normalizing isn’t as apparent, such as Godzilla (G-001), The Return of Godzilla (G-016) and the stereo Biollante CD, but overall, most of the Showa scores do not sound as clear as they should, especially Invasion of Astro-Monster (G-006) and Destroy All Monsters (G-009). The Heisei soundtracks aren’t as sharp as their earlier Futureland and Kitty Records CDs either. Concerning the Millennium scores, as mentioned in Anthony’s review of Box 6, all of those CDs don’t measure up audio-wise with their previous CD releases. Also, if I had to single out the worst (or most disappointing) sounding track from the whole collection, it would probably be Track 1 from the Invasion of Astro-Monster CD (the main title march), as it sounds extremely soft and flat compared with the rest of that CD. Now, as mentioned above, not even the stereo record songs which are scattered throughout the collection could escape getting dulled down either, as they have now lost their clarity. When directly compared with their Toshiba and Kitty Records releases, as well as the remastered Godzilla Song Book (VPCD-81381), it’s pretty obvious that the songs on the Perfect Collection simply don’t sound the same. One of the worst examples here would probably be “Echoes of Love” from Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (G-021), while some of the songs found on the Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II (G-020) soundtrack (as well as the GODZILLA 1998 David Arnold theme) sound much worse than their past CDs and CD singles. Unfortunately, the audio problems don’t stop there either, as the LP replica bonus discs also suffer from extremely disappointing sound quality.
LP Replica Bonus Discs – Where to begin? First, couldn’t Toho come up with some better choices for the bonus CDs in the first three boxed sets (the three Makoto Inoue Godzilla Legend LPs come to mind)? While I initially liked Toho’s idea of miniaturizing the original “LP artwork” for each bonus CD, as it turned out, it was the sound quality that ultimately left me disappointed with all of them. Not only did Toho Music replicate the original artwork, but they also made a questionable decision to duplicate and preserve the “original LP listening experience” as well. Now, on the one hand, Toho Music decided to release Godzilla soundtracks that have been remastered of course, but on the other hand, they chose to include bonus CDs that wouldn’t sound on par with them. To be honest, I doubt that better master tapes even exist for the LPs that were chosen, but even so, while I can appreciate the nostalgia of replicating the packaging, this doesn’t mean that I want my bonus CDs to sound inferior or like an old LP. While some of them do sound OK, such as Godzilla 3(GX-3) and the two bonus discs from the fourth box, others, such as Ostinato (GX-7) and An Evening of Special Effects Film Music(GX-6) from Box 5 do not. What makes this almost a travesty, is that these two particular albums had already been released on CD before in the 80’s and 90’s with terrific sound quality, but because these versions are replica’s of their original LPs (not the CD pressings), Toho Music deliberately tried to adjust the audio on both of them (or mastered them from an inferior LP source), and the result turned out to be a huge disappointment as far as I’m concerned, with each CD sounding a bit too flat, dull and equalized when compared to their original King Records CDs. I’d even guess that the original LPs themselves sound much better than what’s found here. In any case, while it is still nice and nostalgic to get some of these original 70’s LPs on the CD format for the first time, like Godzilla 2 (GX-2) and Godzilla 3 (GX-3), I do not think that it was a smart idea on Toho’s part to try and take that nostalgia and apply it to the sound quality. In hindsight, it would have been better if Toho Music scrapped this “LP replica” idea altogether and simply picked different bonus CDs which could have benefited from state-of-the-art remastering.
Akira Ifukube Recording Archives – I have to say, quite sadly, that the bonus DVD, which was given if you’d ordered all six box sets, left me a bit disappointed. To start off, the first segment, which was recorded at the first-ever performance of Symphonic Fantasia, isn’t exactly what you’d hope to see. Sure, it is fascinating to see old footage of the maestro himself, and Akihiko Hirata, Tomoyuki Tanakaand Ishiro Honda, but unfortunately the segment tends to focus on the speeches they give about Ifukube. That leaves us with very little of the actual music performance. In fact, only the first minute or so of the “No. 1” part is shown. It would’ve been nice to actually see more of the performance. Also, the video and audio quality on the segment leaves a lot to be desired. The fourth and last segment on the DVD, the recording session of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, is another letdown. It only runs for about two minutes, so basically it’s just one cue being conducted by Ifukube. Again, it would’ve been interesting to see more of the session. I also find it odd that Toho Music didn’t, for some reason, add more segments than the four we got. For example, I know that footage from the recording session of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) does exist and can be found on the older German DVD of the movie, released by Marketing Film.
Repeating Content – Like Anthony and Robert, I have some problems with the LP reissue discs. Now, generally I don’t mind their inclusion at all, even if they are compilations of tracks that are already on the soundtracks. For instance, it’s intriguing to hear sound effects being integrated into some of the cues, like the helicopter and the SOS signal on the “Sea Hawks S.O.S.” track of the first bonus disc, Godzilla (GX-1). The main problem I have with these discs concerns the “movie songs”, since I don’t care that much about most of them. For me, it’s enough that they’re included on their respective movie soundtracks, like “Godzilla and Jet Jaguar Punch-Punch-Punch” on Godzilla vs. Megalon (G-013), but do we really need to hear them again? The aforementioned song and a couple of others are heard on both Godzilla 3 (GX-3) of box 3 and King of the Monsters: Godzilla (GX-4) of box 4. It would really be a nuisance, if it weren’t for the extra songs on those discs.
“Movie Created Tracks” – These are the cues that were ripped directly from film sources, with the most glaring example being the mono score for the Godzilla vs. Biollante (G-017) release. When done well, they mixed in with okay results and added a bit of extra content. When done poorly, they either had awkward volume levels that dropped and raised while being played, such as with Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (G-025), or had faint dialogue that could be picked up if one listened to the track close enough, as is the case with Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (G-027). The worst example, though, was the Biollante material, which not only had the faint dialogue but also reduced a stereo score to mono. Overall, this felt like something I would see from a fan bootleg than a major record label, and Toho Music easily could have spent more time in editing the original source material themselves rather than going the quick and cheap route of ripping it from film sources with these problems.
LP Replicas – If someone has read any of my reviews, then my distaste for these LP replica bonus discs is probably well known. First off, the allure of LPs and traditional records is the format itself. Trying to repackage that for CD, if the content itself isn’t new, is largely a waste of time. Toho Music’s methods for doing so make this even worse. I’m not sure how they created these LP replicas exactly, but many of these seem to share the problems of the LP format… and the CD format. One gets the soft and muffled type of quality one associates with an LP to CD transfer, while at the same time its taking an analog format to digitial, meaning details are naturally lost. The lacking audio quality on these, along with all of the great stuff that could have been included instead like a complete score to Godzilla Island (1997) or any of the more recent video game soundtracks, make this a very large sore spot on the sets as a whole. I feel like I have tread this path a lot with my individual reviews, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but to reiterate: the idea of LP replicas that focus on compilations for material that is already present in these sets is worthless, especially given that the audio quality is notably worse on those compilations.
Favorite Box Set
Box 4 (GB4)
My favorite box would have to be Box 4, as I simply like almost everything about it. This was the first box to present color artwork for the CDs, while it also contained 9 discs. However, it was the overall sound quality and all of the previously unreleased music which really sold me on this box. The Return of Godzilla (G-016) and the Stereo CD for Godzilla vs. Biollante (G-017) in particular sound superior compared with their earlier Toshiba-EMI and King Records CDs. The real treat for me though, are a couple of rare tracks that are finally making their CD debut on Box 4, such as the original The Return of Godzilla ending credits vocal song (which is sung by The Star Sisters), and all of those unreleased songs and themes from The Return of Godzilla that can be found on disc 2 of the Godzilla vs. Mothra (G-019) CD. Of course, one of the biggest highlights from the fourth box is the inclusion of the Godzilla vs. Biollante double disc soundtrack, which instantly became my favorite Biollante CD. The stereo disc actually has a spatial ambience which is not found on either of the two earlier Futureland CDs, and it also contains a couple of treats, like the “Bio Wars” theme without the lead guitar and the three full-length Ostinato tracks. The 1993 Futureland CD only contained two Ostinato themes and one of them was even edited. Also, for those who happen to own Box 5, just listen to how great the Ostinato tracks sound on this Biollante CD, compared with those same tracks on the bonus CD…what a difference. Speaking of bonus CDs, the two that are found in Box 4 are pretty rare and interesting, making them nice to have, although there’s not a lot of music on them. My only real complaint with this set is the second CD from Biollante, the mono disc, but because the stereo disc sounds so amazing and includes a few rare tracks too, it’s not the problem one would think. Still, Toho Music does deserve some bashing for including a mono Biollante disc, which again proves just how “unpredictable” Toho can be when it comes to these boxed sets. Overall though, I can highly recommend Box 4…it’s a winner!
Box 3 (GB3)
For me, boxes 3 and 6 (GB6) rank as the highest, most well done releases in the Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection. However, if I had to choose one over the other, my number one favorite would probably be the third box in the series. Yes, it does have two of the worst Godzilla soundtracks, both by Riichiro Manabe, but one can’t deny the fact that Toho Music did a commendable job in remastering those two, and the rest of the box’s soundtracks also feature a better sound while adding a lot of extra content. Also, while I did complain about the Godzilla 3 (GX-3) disc a bit, I like many of the extra songs on it, like “Monster Christmas” and “Godzilla Folk Song”. However, the primary reason why this box is my favorite would be the soundtrack of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (G-014). The film has always been my favorite Godzilla movie, and I like Masaru Sato‘s music in it along with the stellar treatment it got for this line that added content and improved the audio quality through remastering it. So when I got the third Perfect Collection box, I was glad to finally own the soundtrack of that 1974 movie in its best form.
Box 4 (GB4)
The fourth box in this series was a clear favorite for me. It had a great selection of music, as it’s hard to go wrong with the 1980’s scores and Akira Ifukube, and felt like it was the most well rounded package. This was also the debut of the nine disc treatment, which is something that Toho Music should have started earlier. The music has also been nicely expanded for The Return of Godzilla (G-016), Godzilla vs. Biollante (G-017) and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (G-018). The Godzilla vs. Mothra(G-019) release loses out a bit when compared to the previous two disc set from Toshiba EMI (TYCY-5267/8) in terms of coverage of the movie’s score, but at the same time provides some unique content that make it a very worthwhile addition to any fan’s collection and a great companion piece to the Toshiba EMI set. What really draws me to to the fourth box, though, is that it’s great for both old and new collectors. I actually like the LP material in this set as well, as its unique and in some cases very rare. After a less than stellar sales performance of the first three sets, which were all limited to 1,954 units each and none were close to selling out, this box was delayed and Toho Music really stepped up their game to deliver something worth the asking price. Overall, this box gives the feeling that they really went the extra mile in collecting some of this material and makes this a set for both casuals and diehards alike.
Least Favorite Box Set
Box 5 (GB5)
After carefully considering everything, I would have to say that Box 5 is probably the set that I was most upset with. While I’m not crazy about Box 2 either, I believe that the disappointing audio quality is what really brings Box 5 down. Please remember that I am speaking from the viewpoint of someone who owns the original CDs (which sound better), but if someone doesn’t have them, they still shouldn’t hesitate to get this box, as it does contain a lot of great and essential music by Akira Ifukube and Takayuki Hattori, but just don’t expect superior sound quality. For example, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (G-021) in particular sounds a bit soft to me and the “Echoes of Love” vocal song just doesn’t sound good either. However, the biggest reason why this box probably deserves to be the worst one is simply because of the botched audio on the Ostinato (GX-7) and An Evening of Special Effects Film Music (GX-6) bonus CDs. I mean, we finally get two important bonus discs that a lot of people were hoping Toho Music would include in one of the boxes, but unfortunately, for those people who really care about audio quality, these are going to collect a lot of dust. Other issues are the fact that Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah sound much better and sharper on their original Toshiba-EMI Futureland 2-CD sets, while those earlier CDs also boast better presentations of their scores too. In addition, the Godzilla Singles Collection found on disc 2 of the Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II (G-020) set doesn’t sound as good as what was originally released on those Futureland, Sony or Polygram CD singles either, as almost every song suffers from being too “normalized” and a bit soft.
Box 2 (GB2)
If I had to choose between the six boxes within the 50th Anniversary Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection, my least favorite is definitely the second box that was released close after the first box in 2004. My main reason for this is that, out of all the sets, this one had overall the least improved sound. As I mentioned earlier with Invasion of Astro-Monster (G-006) and Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (G-007), some of these soundtracks lost out in terms of the audio quality that was already present on past CD releases. The only notable exception is All Monsters Attack (G-010), which has a great audio presentation, but that still doesn’t add a whole lot of value to this set.
Box 2 (GB2)
Of the six boxes released in this line, the second always struck me as Toho Music’s weakest effort. It’s marked with largely unimproved audio, with Invasion of Astro-Monster (G-006) being on the weak side and All Monsters Attack (G-010) being one of the few here that benefited from the remastering. Lacking audio quality aside, the discs are relatively light on new content, having very little to offer over their previous releases on CD in the 1990’s. The bonus disc from this box, Godzilla 2 (GX-2), is also another lackluster compilation LP replica, containing content already found in the first three boxes and with rather poor audio quality. This box, by over an hour, also has the least amount of music of the six boxes released. Overall, this one is simply the hardest to merit from a price perspective, both to new and old collectors.
Conclusion: The real question is, should you buy the 50th Anniversary Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection? Well, after a careful analysis I would have to say, yes, as these Godzilla soundtracks are probably the best ones we are going to get for some time, but this really isn’t a “Perfect” collection either, as was touted by the company. While Toho Music has proven that they can release CDs and boxed sets with exceptional packaging, they have not yet demonstrated that they can be reliable when it comes to remastering this music as, unfortunately, it has been “hit and miss” with them (their recent Battle in Outer Space CD was a definite “miss” in terms of sound quality as well). The problem is that Toho Music lacks the experience of a major record company, and is in all likelihood just a very small department. In many ways, they more closely resemble an “indie label”, which has both benefits and disadvantages for consumers. Some benefits: the generous amount of extra tracks and attention to detail regarding the artwork and packaging. Some disadvantages: audio quality is arguably not as state-of-the-art as it should be, and some of their questionable decision making has forever impacted these sets. In hindsight, should Toho Music have even sold these Godzilla soundtracks in six separate, very expensive boxed sets? While this boxed set format seems to have worked out well enough for the Akira Kurosawa soundtracks (which were only three boxes), I don’t think that coming up with a six boxed set format was necessarily the best way to reissue 28 Godzilla soundtracks, as in the end, it took Toho Music 6 years to release them all, as they kept falling further and further behind schedule. In closing, if you are someone who owns a few or all of the Godzilla Toshiba-EMI CDs from the 1990s, then I would still recommend holding on to those for their unique packaging and nice overall sound. However, if you can only afford one collection, then definitely go for the “Perfect” sets, simply because they are the most expanded Godzilla soundtracks currently on CD, and the price per disc is actually very low when you break it all down. As a side note, for people who have purchased all six boxed sets from Arksquare, they will also receive a free Toho Region 2 bonus DVD called Akira Ifukube Recording Archives.
Conclusion: I think it’s pretty ironic that back in 2004 Toho Music announced that the Godzilla soundtracks would be released in six box sets, and it took them six years to release them all. In the end, the boxes are great to own, even though there are flaws in each of them. Most of the Heisei soundtracks, for example, don’t have the score as it’s heard in the movie. The older two-disc releases from Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) up till Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) had the complete edited score, so those are still worth getting as companions to these boxes. Of course, these sets are pretty highly priced, so it’s up to every soundtrack enthusiast themselves to decide if they’re worth spending well over 100 dollars for each of them or not. I’d say yes to that question. And now that I finally have all the 50th Anniversary Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection boxes, I’ll be looking forward to the other science fiction soundtracks released by Toho Music.
Conclusion: The Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection has wowed me, disappointed me, and overall left me satisfied across the six releases. There are things that could have been done a lot better, and should have been for the high price tag. Still, some things Toho Music knocked out of the park across this very large 46 disc series. Although I’m not a huge fan of the “Godzilla face” CD covers, the set is very attractive looking while some of the added content goes beyond what many would expect from a normal soundtrack release and the attention to detail is very impressive. Now while I do wish some things had been handled with more professionalism, I still find the Perfect Collection to be a great entry point for new soundtrack collectors and a good way for “old timers” to pick up some scores they might have missed while also getting extra content for those they already have. If I had to give the entire series, from disc one to disc forty six, a grade… it would probably be a straight B. It falls very short of the “perfect” moniker the series touts, but is still very much worth owning for more dedicated soundtrack enthusiasts and I’m glad to have many of them in my own collection.General // December 31, 2010
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 (2010), posting an unnecessary flash intro without the benefit of a skip intro button (2009), contributing to a self-indulgent blog (2007), or even hiring on completely fictional staff members whilst plunging the forums into a sea of random, word-censored confusion (2006)? 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 Mizuno, Toshiro 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):
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 RequestBY: Miles ImhoffGeneral // September 26, 2010
When it comes to soundtracks, I’m a fanatic. Both collecting, listening… and then storing. My mode of operation is to take most of the music I collect and then dump it onto my computer and eventually move my favorite tracks to my iPod.
This leads to the Perfect Collection release of Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (G-021), which frankly speaking had one of the worst track title jobs Toho Music has done to date. In order to help people out in a similar situation, I have decided to create a better track listing for the two CDs. The basis for this is largely from the Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla Complete Tracks (KTCR-1301/2) release; consequently, this is nothing too creative and most anyone could have done it on there own… but consider this a way of cutting out “the middle man” for those who just want the list without having to create it themselves. As an added bonus, any track with a * means it was extended compared with what was found on the Complete Tracks CD or new.As a result of my habit, I’m very picky about track titles. I want them to be representative and unique. My favorite method of playing these tracks on my computer is to play them all from a giant play list, which is close to 400 hours of music, and just press shuffle. So if “M8” comes up as a track title, one can understand that it would be a little grating.
Anyway, let’s get this started. Below is a recreated track listing for Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (G-021):
- Prologue (M1 First Half)
- Main Title (M1 Second Half)
- Birth Island I (M3)
- Little Godzilla (M6)
- Birth Island II (M7)
- The Giant Claws of the Devil (M8)
- Yuki’s Theme (M11)
- SpaceGodzilla Approaches (M12)*
- Moguera Mobilized (54 Second Version)
- Miki and Little Godzilla (M15)
- Mischievous Little Godzilla (M16)*
- Suspense (Normal)*
- Miki and Godzilla I (M19)*
- Human Suspense*
- SpaceGodzilla’s Theme
- Miki and Godzilla II (M23)
- Miki and Shinjo (M24)*
- The Two on the Beach (M25)*
- Miki is Kidnapped (M25A)
- SpaceGodzilla (Tempo Up)*
- Miki’s Telekinesis (M28)*
- G-Force Theme (M31)*
- Godzilla’s Theme (Normal)*
- Suspense (Tempo Down)*
- Godzilla’s Theme (Slower Tempo)*
- SpaceGodzilla’s Frenzy
- Moguera Minor*
- Requiem (M51)*
- Epilogue (M52)*
By: Isao Shigeto
- Echoes of Love (M53)*
By: Date of Birth
General // September 2, 2010
- Godzilla’s Theme (10/28 Revision)*
- Godzilla’s Theme (Without Snare)
- SpaceGodzilla’s Theme (10/28 Revision)*
- SpaceGodzilla (Normal Brass Rising)*
- SpaceGodzilla (C-Start Brass Rising)*
- SpaceGodzilla (Horn in Front of C2)*
- M1 Second Half (10/28 Revision)*
- SpaceGodzilla Approaches (10/28 Revision)*
- SpaceGodzilla’s Psychokinesis
- Moguera Mobilized (42 Second Version)*
- Little Godzilla (Alternate)*
- Birth Island I (Without Shaker)*
- Birth Island I (Short Version)*
- Birth Island II (Long Fade)*
- Birth Island III*
- Crystal (M5)
- Crystal (M5 Without Horns)*
- The Giant Claws of the Devil (M8 Brass Rising)*
- Suspense (10/28 Revision)*
- Yuki’s Theme (Without Percussion)
- Epilogue (M52 Piano Raising Version)*
By: Isao Shigeto Music for Assemble Edit
- Prologue (M1 First Half)
- Main Title (M1 Second Half)
- Miki and Mothra (M2)
By: Sayaka Osawa and Keiko Imamura
- Radio Music*
- Miki and the Cosmos I (M9)
By: Akira Ifukube
- Moguera Mobilized (M14)
- Godzilla Appears (M17)
By: Akira Ifukube
- T-Project Initiated (M18)
- Space Warfare: Moguera vs. SpaceGodzilla (M20)*
- Miki and the Cosmos II
By: Akira Ifukube
- Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla I (M41A)*
- Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla II (M42)
- Land Moguera Burrows (M44)
- Moguera vs. SpaceGodzilla (M44A)
- Epilogue (M52 Alternate)
By: Isao Shigeto
- Echoes of Love (M53 Alternate)*
By: Date of Birth
Well, as you all have probably figured out by now, I’m a kaiju toy nut. I’ve been collecting for almost 15 years now, and as long as they keep making ’em, I’ll keep buying ’em.
….problem is, these past five years, new kaiju toys are getting as scarce as milkbones in Michael Vick’s house. So, just in case anyone at Bandai is paying attention to what I have to say (and why wouldn’t they?! I’m on the INTERNET, for crying out loud, my opinion HAS to be valid!), I’m going to debut a new feature that Anthony has graciously allowed me to expand the toy section for, my own personal opinion. This section will be home to various articles that don’t quite qualify as reviews, be they comparisons of many collectibles at once, wish lists, gripes, anything you can possibly imagine. Today we’re keeping it simple, as I list my top 10 most wanted Bandai figures in the classic 8 inch scale. Now any listing on here is unmade currently, although as this article ages that might change of course.
#10 – Varan
Why: Well, some people seem to like him. Not me. Never did like the overgrown gliding iguana, but I’m well aware of his following amongst the fandom. So, I’ll throw you guys a bone. Don’t ever say I never did anything for ya.
Why hasn’t one been made: Naturally, this is just my opinion, but Varan honestly contributed nothing to the Godzilla universe. Sure, he had the rare honor of starring in his own solo film, but unfortunately for Varan it’s not an especially well known movie outside of the fandom, and isn’t always that fondly remembered by those in the fandom. Most people seem to be more a fan of the creature itself than the movie. With that said, other, possibly less memorable, kaiju such as Moguera from The Mysterians (1957) have been immortalized in vinyl, why not Varan, who actually appeared (albeit ever so briefly) on screen with Godzilla in Destroy All Monsters (1968)? Maybe Bandai never liked him either…
#9 – Manda
Why: While like Varan, Manda isn’t especially important as far as Godzilla’s history is concerned, the creature is fairly unique for a Toho design. Be it the original, Chinese dragon inspired design (Which I suspect most fans would prefer), or the DAM version of Manda (Which I saw first and always thought Manda looked like Godzilla in snake form), I suspect many fans would be happy to add the serpent kaiju to their collections.
Why hasn’t one been made: Perhaps Bandai found Manda forgetable, like Varan, and not worthy of the vinyl. Perhaps the serpentine design of the creature isn’t desirable when it comes to shelf-space in Japanese stores, and he might’ve looked out of place standing next to the other, bi-pedal creatures. However, Bandai created a figure of an Ultra-Seven character named Narse, a robotic serpent dragon. In fact, I’ve seen several people trying to pass Narse off as a Manda figure on eBay over the years. As a word of warning, make sure Safe-Search is turned ON if you do a Google image search on the word “Narse”. Seriously. Some people need to have their internets surgically removed.
#8 – Ebirah
Why: Ebirah has the unfortunate dishonor of being one of very few Godzilla “villains” not to have a figure in either the eight or six inch Bandai lines. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), while not ranking high on most fans’ list of favorites, is a fairly well known G-film, having appeared on MST3K, and I remember it showing on TV several times over the years, on both Sci-Fi and, believe it or not, the Disney Channel.
Why hasn’t one been made: My guess is Ebirah wasn’t deemed interesting enough. Perhaps Bandai felt that a vinyl giant shrimp simply wouldn’t sell very well when compared to three headed dragons and killer cyborgs. Truth be told, Ebirah isn’t the most unique of designs, and that likely counts against him.
#7 – Titanosaurus
Why: Godzilla’s co-opponent from the final Showa film, Titanosaurus has always had a strong cult fan following. While Bandai did give us a six inch Titanosaurus, if they ever return to their roots and begin producing classic kaiju in the eight inch scale again, I’m sure many collectors could be persuaded to add the aquatic dinosaur to their collection a second time. Titanosaurus has an interesting design, and I was quite surprised it took as long for Bandai to release him in any size as it did.
Why hasn’t one been made: Really, I don’t know.
#5/6 – Sanda and Gaira
Why: Why not? The War of the Gargantuas (1966) is perhaps the most well known Toho film to feature kaiju that were never imported into the Godzilla franchise. The Gargantua brothers would’ve made unique additions to any collection, as they are one of few “humanoid” kaiju (along with only “Frankenstein”, King Kong and Jet Jaguar, off the top of my head) from the Toho universe. Furthermore, there have been VERY few Gargantua collectables made that I am aware of, with an even fewer number of “figures” amongst that number. Most Gargantua items I have seen are statues/model kits.
Why haven’t they been made: Perhaps there is not strength in numbers in this situation, and the fact that Sanda and Gaira are basically “palate swaps” of one another (The Mortal Kombat fans out there will know what I’m talking about) counted against them. Maybe Bandai didn’t think that furry brown and green men would appeal to non-fans/casual kaiju fans the way the other, more wondrous Toho creations would.
#4 – Gabara
Why: I fully expect to be shocked to death in a nightmare tonight by Gabara for not mentioning him in the “humanoid monsters” list I formed earlier. Fine, as long as I don’t have to put on those little Ichiro-shorts….ugh. Anyway. Love him or hate him, Gabara is quite the unique design for a Godzilla universe kaiju. From his appearance to his color scheme, there’s no one else quite like him. I’ll always remember Gabara best from a pre-show segment on “Super Scary Saturday” on TBS here in Atlanta in the 80’s, hosted by Grandpa Munster. They were showing All Monsters Attack (1969) and presented the Godzilla/Gabara fight as a wrestling match, highlighted by pre-match comments from the kaiju. While Godzilla pointed out the fact that even Minilla got his licks in against Gabara and ended with a “Nature Boy” Ric Flair-esque “woooo!”, Gabara chose to focus on how pretty he was, and was shown blow-drying his hair in a graphic behind Grandpa. Sorry, just thinking back to my childhood, when….well, almost everything was better.
Why hasn’t one been made: Although I must confess I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for this movie, All Monsters Attack (1969) is, with the possible exception of Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), considered to be hands down the worst Godzilla film of all time. Perhaps the hatred for this movie extends all the way to toymakers, as outside of the Marmits and the vintage Bullmark etc toys, a couple garage kits, and a recently released plush by Toy Vault, Gabara has almost no merchandise to his credit. With his only appearance being in All Monsters Attack (1969), will Gabara ever get HIS revenge? Don’t hold your breath, but, I’d buy it.
#3 – A Re-sculpted Gigan
Why: Those who’ve seen my review of the 8 inch Gigan Bandai gave us know my feelings on this toy. If you haven’t, well, whats wrong with you?! Go read. I’ll wait. Done? No, read it all. I’ll know if you’re lying. Alright, fine. Long story short, I consider Gigan to be the worst sculpted figure in the entire line. From the colors to the pose, Bandai pretty much screwed up everything they possibly could. Gigan deserves better. He’s usually ranked in the top three of Godzilla’s Showa foes, joined by such big names as King Ghidorah and Mechagodzilla. Just imagine the taunting poor Gigan suffers on the shelf next to those guys.
Why hasn’t one been made: Bandai usually doesn’t revisit their kaiju. Fortunately, they produced a vastly improved Gigan early on in the 6 inch line, but while its a nice gesture, Bandai, you must attone for your sins. There is no honor on that vinyl abortion you forced upon us in the mid ninties.
#2 – Kumonga (Showa)
Why: I don’t know. I hate spiders. They scare the hell out of me. Oddly enough, I’ve always been a fan of Kumonga. From the extremely competent wire-work, to the way he’d flip over on his back when hit hard, Kumonga was a memorable creature to be certain. Like Ebirah, he went toe to toe with Godzilla, but has nothing to show for it in the toy department. Kumonga, unlike most of the dinosaur/alien kaiju Toho preferred during this time, is rooted in a creature we’re all very familiar with, and manages to be realistic and scary, yet fantastic all at once. Give ’em a figure. Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, there’s a transexual Frankenstein’s monster (I’m not even kidding) on eBay that likes to sell plain plastic spiders with home-made tags and claim they are “exclusive Kumonga Bandais”. Please don’t fall for it.
Why hasn’t one been made: I gotta think that like Ebirah, being a “regular” creature counted against him here. Plus with the huge “leg-span”, Kumonga would’ve been wider than any other Bandai with the possible exception of Biollante, who required a box rather than a tag for display. I don’t think Bandai would’ve gone through all this trouble for Kumonga, who only has a fraction of Biollante’s “name value”.
#1 – Godzilla 1968 (Soshingeki-Goji)
Why: Again, I may be a bit biased here, but when I think “Godzilla”, this is the version I see. My favorite Showa suit of the King of the Monsters. Unfortunately, the only Showa versions of Godzilla released by Bandai at this size were the King-Goji and Mosu-Goji in 1983 and 1984 respectively, and these hard-to-find figures don’t match up well with later releases in the line. An 8 inch Soshingeki-Goji would go perfect with the Rodan, Hedorah, Anguirus, Mothra, Baragon, Gigan, Minilla, and King Ghidorah already in the line.
Why hasn’t one been made: I’m guessing Bandai was content to release the same Heisei Godzilla three years running. Fortunately, this kaiju is available in the six inch line and in the US Bandai Creation line.
Well, that does it for this time. If you liked what you read, great. If you didn’t, well, I’d like to hear what YOU’D rather read, jerkwad! No, seriously. Let me know what you’d like to hear in a future edition, and as always, thanks for reading and for visiting Toho Kingdom.BY: Steve JohnsonGeneral // June 10, 2009
Continuity within Godzilla films has been inconsistent, to say the least. The Showa series barely paid heed to it, while the Heisei series was very different from its predecessor. Each film during the 1980’s through the mid-1990’s worked off the previous entries for tight continuity in the series. When Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999) was first announced it was explained that the movie would be part of a whole new series. One that was not connected with the Heisei or Showa series, and the film would pioneer a new series of films radically different from the two previous ones. So was born the Millennium (or Mireniamu) series: a series of films in which each movie was not forced to work off the previous entries. So this article examines the Godzilla Millennium series continuity, including how it developed and what, sometimes, little continuity actually does exist in these movies.
- The Millennium Series and Continuity
- 1999 – Godzilla 2000: Millennium
- 2000 – Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
- 2001 – Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
- 2002 – Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
- 2003 – Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
- 2004 – Godzilla: Final Wars
The Millennium Series and Continuity
At first, producer Shogo Tomiyama was planning for three stand alone films. From these three movies Toho would decide which to dedicate a series about. This entire plan, however, was aborted after a meager box office showing by Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999) and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000) stumbled out of the gates, becoming a box office flop. It was then discussed that the 2001 Godzilla film might mark the closure of what would have been a short lived series.
Thankfully, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) was a box office success. This saved the franchise, and allowed for Masaaki Tezuka‘s “Kiryu Saga” and what is being called the last Godzilla film for a decade: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).
The Millennium films are not entirely stand alone, though. They often have a connection with at least one other Toho film. Below is a run down on the continuity seen in each of the six Godzilla films of the Millennium series.
1999 – Godzilla 2000: Millennium
The only true stand alone film, makes no reference to any Godzilla film before it.
2000 – Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
References an altered Godzilla (1954), in which Godzilla is not killed by the Oxygen Destroyer.
2001 – Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
Stresses the point that Godzilla has not attacked since 1954 and makes numerous references to Godzilla (1954), like the Oxygen Destroyer. The film also jokingly refers to GODZILLA (1998) in some suggestive dialogue. This occurs during a scene where it’s mentioned that a monster attacked New York a few years ago. In the scene, a solider asks a colleague if the monster was Godzilla. This sparks the famous line about being what America claims, but the Japanese scientists never confirmed it.
2002 – Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
Makes reference to a slightly altered Godzilla (1954), in which the bone fragments of Godzilla survive the Oxygen Destroyer. Also Mothra (1961), and The War of the Gargantuas (1966) are mentioned as well.
2003 – Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
Breaking the mold from the other Godzilla films in the Millennium series, is a direct sequel to the previous year’s Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. As expected, the film references its predecessor greatly, along with Godzilla (1954) and Mothra (1961). In fact, actor Hiroshi Koizumi returns to reprise his role from Mothra as Doctor Shin’ichi Chujo. The film also references Space Amoeba (1970) with Kamoebas, who is stated as being a mutated variety of snapping turtle. He is mentioned as first appearing on Selgio Island, the island that Space Amoeba takes place on, 34 years earlier and having attacked in the mid-1980’s.
In the 2002 book Godzilla X Mechagodzilla: Super Complete Works, there is a list of kaiju who are part of the same timeline as Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002). This part of the book is pictured to the left.
Another book, called Godzilla X Mothra X Mechagodzilla: Tokyo SOS Fantastic Collection, took it a step further by including a timeline of when the kaiju attacked. It also mentioned three monsters left off the material released in 2002: Frankenstein, the Giant Sea Snake and King Kong (whose absence in 2002 is understandable as books around this time avoided showing pictures of him or his mechanical double likely for murky copyright reasons).
The timeline of events leading up to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) is as follows:
1954 – Godzilla appears
1956 – Rodan and the Meganulon appear
1958 – Varan appears
1961 – Mothra appears
1962 – Maguma appears
1963 – Manda appears
1964 – The Dogora appear
1965 – Baragon, Frankenstein and the Giant Octopus appear
1966 – Sanda and Gaira appear
1967 – King Kong, Gorosaurus and the Giant Sea Snake appear
1970 – Gezora, Ganimes and Kamoebas appear
1987 – Kamoebas appears
Each year that a monster appears corresponds to a movie released that year which features the same kaiju, with the exception of Kamoebas’ attack in 1987. However, this doesn’t necessarily state that each of those films is part of the “Kiryu saga” continuity. An easily spotted example of this is the 1962 film Gorath, which featured Maguma, as the movie takes place in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The film also showcased the destruction of the Moon, which is clearly seen in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002).
If the list is taken literal, then Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965) might have occurred, except with the alternate ending in which Frankenstein battles the Giant Octopus. Also, the Giant Octopus is absent from 1966, meaning an altered The War of the Gargantuas (1966) might have taken place in which the opening bout between Gaira and the Giant Octopus didn’t occur. In 1967, King Kong, Gorosaurus and the Giant Sea Snake appear, three kaiju who starred in the 1967 film King Kong Escapes. However, Mechani-kong is absent from the list, meaning either he never appeared or that the list simply left off the mechanical kaiju, as Kiryu isn’t mentioned in 2002 or 2003 in the timeline.
So feasibly, the following films might be in the Kiryu saga continuity: Godzilla (1954), Rodan (1956), Varan (1958), Mothra (1961), Atragon (1963), Dogora (1964), Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965), The War of the Gargantuas (1966), King Kong Escapes (1967) and Space Amoeba (1970).
2004 – Godzilla: Final Wars
Celebrating Godzilla’s 50th anniversary, this production is a complete stand alone film in a continuity sense.
That said, the movie has a wealth of references to prior Toho films, including the collapsed star Gorath from the 1962 movie Gorath, the Xilien from the 1965 film Invasion of Astro-Monster and the Gotengo from the 1963 film Atragon.
The production also includes stock footage to represent past kaiju attacks. However, given that Godzilla is locked away in ice and some of these were Godzilla films, it’s assumed that none are in the same continuity. The movies used as stock footage are: Varan (1958), Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965), The War of the Gargantuas (1966), Space Amoeba (1970), Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000).
This article was first published on July 23rd, 2002.General // July 19, 2005
Once considered a chief rival of Toho, Daiei rode high in the middle of the 20th century before hitting hard times toward the end of the century. This blog covers the fall of Daiei Studios and how the company’s major properties, such as Zatoichi and Gamera, ended up at times on Toho’s doorstep.
The “Golden Age of Japanese Cinema,” a glorious period from the 1950’s through the 1960’s when Japanese studio output was substantial and attendance sizes were even larger. By 1953, roughly the start of the “Golden Age,” Japanese cinema was ruled big six film studios: Nikkatsu, Shochiku, Daiei, Toei, Shintoho, and Toho.
It’s from this period that numerous Japanese franchises were born, including Toho’s Godzilla and Daiei’s Zatoichi. Despite a good run in the early 1960’s for many of the film studios, the “Golden Age of Japanese Cinema” was already starting to show signs of weakening. Shintoho, a company comprised of ex-Toho employees in 1947 who literally called themselves “the New Toho,” filed for bankruptcy in 1961. The invasion of television in Japan was starting to show its effect on the top studios of the period.
During the 1960’s, half of Japan’s theaters closed as audience sizes started to dwindle. By the late 60’s even Toho’s flagship franchise, Godzilla, was showing signs of slowing down, and Toho themselves announced that the series would end after one final “hurrah” with Destroy All Monsters (1968), which ended up being a huge success and the series continued. By 1969, audience sizes at theaters were down to 1/3 what they were during their peak in 1958. The cause was home entertainment, as televisions found their way into nearly every home in the country.
Surviving in the 1970’s would prove a challenge to many of the large studios, as people were forgoing the theater experience in favor of the television programming of the time. Some of the studios were hit hard, such as Nikkatsu who went on to distribute “soft core” porn (pink eiga) in the 1970’s to stay afloat. However, arguably none were hit harder than Daiei. In 1971 Daiei filed for bankruptcy and several projects were shelved forever, including Gamera vs. Garasharp. The company eventually reorganized; however, Daiei would never reacquire its distribution wing.
This period would take its toll on two of Daiei’s leading franchises: Zatoichi and Gamera. Despite Daiei’s collapse in 1971, the Zatoichi series continued as Katsu Productions, Zatoichi actor Katsu Shintaro’s Production Company, joined with Toho to produce three Zatoichi films: Zatoichi at Large (1972), Zatoichi in Desperation (1972), and Zatoichi’s Conspiracy (1973). The alliance between Katsu Productions and Toho proved successful; as they went on to produce other series together include the Razor and Lone Wolf and Cub films. This new found friendship bore even more “fruit” for Toho though, as a deal with Katsu Productions landed them the distribution rights to the three previous Zatoichi films that they had produced with Daiei: Zatoichi the Outlaw(1967), Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970) and Zatoichi at the Fire Festival (1970). Despite Daiei’s reformation, Toho has managed to retain the ownership to these three films and continues to do so to this day. In 1989, Katsu Productions would go it alone with their next Zatoichi film, simply called Zatoichi. For this they found distribution from Shochiku and was the last Zatoichi film to feature Katsu Shintaro before his death in 1997.
The Gamera series, with the exception of an unsuccessful re-launch with Super Monster in the early 1980’s, was shelved after Daiei’s collapse in the early 1970’s, as Daiei’s output continued to shrink. In 1995, upcoming director Shusuke Kaneko would give the series a proper rebirth with Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995). The film was produced by Daiei, but distribution was handled by, the once rival company, Toho who had since become an entertainment giant and has managed a stranglehold on the theatrical market in the country, as Toho owns most of the theater houses in Japan. The film was a success and two sequels, again under director Shusuke Kaneko, would be created: Gamera 2: Advent of Legion (1996) and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999), both of which would be produced by Daiei and distributed by Toho.
Sale to Kadokawa
In July of 2002, Daiei would finally be bought out by the Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Company. Kadokawa stated that they will take over production and distribution of Daiei films under the name Kadokawa-Daiei Pictures. Kadokawa has worked with Toho in the past, with such efforts as Virus (1980) and the Ring (or Ringu) series which were produced by Kadokawa but distributed by Toho. The two media giants also had a joint production with the highly successful Onmyoji in 2001. Whether or not Kadokawa will handle the distribution of their films has yet to be seen, though, as their 2004 movie One Missed Call (2004) would go on to be distributed by Toho.
This article was first published on January 28th, 2000.General // April 5, 2004