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

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

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

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

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

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

    General // April 2, 2014
  • Today I received a very nice surprise on my front doorstep (along with my sample of the Jakk’s Pacific Godzilla, which arrived a day early) from Warner Bros to promote the upcoming film Godzilla (2014).

    Opening up the red box, I found the “Godzilla Survival Kit”. I must say, it’s a pretty cool promotional piece which is being sent out to press outlets. Really love the artwork on the box itself too and the mix of black and red is just beautiful. It’s somewhat unique as well as I haven’t seen this image in other promotional material for the movie.

    Upon opening the box I found a wealth of content. This includes:
    – A product sheet

    – Godzilla T-shirt

    – Godzilla Survival Kit tin

    – Godzilla flashlight (with battery)

    – Godzilla 2 pack chibi set from Bandai

    – Godzilla Smash Strike figure from Bandai

    – Snickers bar (the one thing I can’t preserve in the box)

    All in all, it’s a nice gesture from Warner Bros and it’s very much appreciated! The t-shirt in particular is great, a $43 value so I’ll never wear it for fear something might happen to it. Thank you again Warner Bros!

    More images are seen below. Part of that kit was a few pieces of paper as well showing off some of the licensed products. These range from toys to shirts and even costumes as well. This includes the chibi two pack as well, which is also featured inside the survival kit. This two pack both has Godzilla and one of his opponents as well, a MUTO. Most of the licensed items on these pages have been seen before with the exception of the Rubie’s adult and child size Halloween costume sets.

    Stay tuned as we track the movie more and more leading up to its May release in the US in a few months.

    General // March 28, 2014
  • Several popular franchises highlight a certain numeric value that increases with the passage of time for the sake of drama. Dragon Ball Z emphasized the power level; the original Star Trek series, the warp factor; and our dear friend Godzilla has given us such a simple, yet important variable: sheer size! Now this article attempts to tackle that very topic of Godzilla’s legendary size, in particular in relation to the 2014 movie.

    History


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

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

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

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

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

    Godzilla 2014

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


    Inadequacy now plagues the
    Transamerica Pyramid.


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

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

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


    If only they had gone to
    Candy Apple Island…

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

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

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

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

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


    … kudos, Mr. Edwards! Kudos.

    Sources:


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

    General // March 2, 2014
  • Having worked in public relations myself, the saying goes: all publicity is good publicity.

    Recently there has been word of a leaked script for the upcoming, 2014 Godzilla film. Details of which have come out on the Toho Kingdom Forums as one of the sources of the leak. Other sites have picked up on the story with quotes like:

    “More entertainingly, however, Warners’ panicky response to the report, trying to intimidate sites like Toho Kingdom and The Outhouse into scrubbing all references to it, makes it seem more likely that the leaker is telling the truth.” – Jude Terror, The Outhousers

    While its always flattering to get your name out and have other outlets talking about you, I do feel I have to clarify for the news going around: Warner Bros did not contact us, let alone intimidate us, to take down references to a script leak.

    What did occur is that a board member, claiming to have the leaked script, began to post in a disruptive manner. This includes refusing to listen to moderators (insulting one by calling them an “ineffectual bitch”). Suffice to say, their actions merited a ban and posts were removed.

    Apparently someone attempted to “connect the dots”. In doing so, they assumed we were acting by direction of the studio itself, which I can again reassure did not happen in this instance.

    Although it rarely happens, Toho Kingdom is no stranger to talks with corporations about coverage on the site. The most famous of which is in 2003 when Toho Kingdom and Toho Company Limited went into long talks about the site which resulted to sweeping changes to copyright and how the site presents information, all of which is detailed in the site history. We also has a mildly tense talk with Atari about Godzilla: Unleashed at one point after the PAX report revealed Mechagodzilla 1974 and other yet unannounced fighters who made an unintended appearance at the event. Over the years, we have also had a variety of communication with toy companies as well about photos presented on the forums in regards to yet to be released figures.

    That said, this isn’t one of those instances. The user in question was removed for conduct rather than at the request of another company in relation to Godzilla 2014 leaks.

    General // January 12, 2014
  • The first film I have a memory of watching is King Kong vs. Godzilla(1962) when I was three years old. I had no idea who either of these characters were, why they were fighting or why I decided to keep watching the two duke it out on top of Mt. Fuji.

    There was that initial spark that got me interested. Something that drew me in that I couldn’t explain, like a moth drawn to a flame.

    One thing I knew for sure was that it was Godzilla that captivated most of my attention. If three year old me were to describe why, he’d probably say, “Godzilla is cooler.”

    I have watched 27 other Godzilla films countless times (not counting the terrible 1998 American remake). I’m proud to call myself a fan of the Godzilla series and that the franchise is my favorite film series. In fact, it is because of the King of the Monsters that I have such an interest in film.

    For as long as I could remember, I was never able to effectively explain why I had an interest in this creature. I vividly remember my second grade teacher asking me why I loved Godzilla so much. I drew a blank and said, “Godzilla is cool.”

    Perhaps that’s why I pursued cinema as much as I did. That by studying the inner-workings of film and realizing why certain movies worked and others didn’t, I’d have a better understanding of why I liked Godzilla as I do.

    One thing it certainly did was make me realize which of the 28 Godzilla films were good movies, rather than just good entertainment. Any movie can be enjoyable for a multitude of reasons, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it works as a flowing narrative with characters, atmosphere, pacing and all that fun stuff.

    Of course, when you have the biggest film franchise by sheer numbers, you are going to have a few stinkers. That is only natural.

    Occasionally, the right filmmakers can meet the right story and actors and create an unforgettable piece that can continue to entertain audiences for years after its release. I feel there are at least seven Godzilla movies that meet these qualifications.

    Yet, even with all this knowledge and appreciation for cinema, I still could not explain why I found Godzilla so appealing. What is it about a giant dinosaur with spikes growing out of his back who breathes radioactive fire that keeps me so intrigued? What sets him apart from other giant monsters? Why did I like Godzilla more than King Kong, Gamera or Ultraman?

    The answer to these questions has always eluded me, until today. In the most unlikely way.

    Recently, a friend of mine watched a video review of Man of Steel. We initially saw the film together and had opposite feelings about it. He loved the film, whereas I hated it. We’ve been bickering about the finer points of the film since.

    In this review, done by one of my favorite reviewers, the Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker), he ends up giving the film an overall negative opinion by pointing out the cliched writing, bland acting and over the top symbolism of relating Superman to Jesus.

    What stood out to me more than anything else was near the end of the video, when the Critic came to a sudden realization: That even though he may not care for Man of Steel that doesn’t mean he can’t understand why someone else would enjoy the film.

    He makes the point that, in this movie, Superman, this all powerful and unstoppable force, faces his toughest challenge ever. So tough that he must resort to breaking his own rules and losing that which he cares about the most to win. In a sense, it is the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.

    This resonated with both me and my friend so much that we both came to different realizations. Mine was that I could now understand why others liked Man of Steel in a way I hadn’t thought about, even if I didn’t agree with it. My friend’s realization was that he loves to see his heroes struggle to achieve their goals (which explains why he enjoys the video game Dark Souls so much).

    His realization triggered a thought process in me. If he can explain so easily why Man of Steel worked for him, then why can’t I do the same with Godzilla?

    For a while, this had me thinking about Superman and Godzilla at the same time.

    Then, I had a revelation.

    As a kid, no matter what the scenario, I would always see Godzilla winning any fight. Even against someone far more powerful than him, such as Superman. Why?

    Because Godzilla is the definition of power.

    Godzilla 1954

    In the first Godzilla movie, Godzilla (1954), the Japanese military does everything in their power to stop the behemoth from destroying everything. They launch depth charges while he’s in the bay, they set up an enormous electrical blockade around the perimeter of Tokyo and surround that with tanks and missiles that could level an entire city street and have a seemingly endless supply of planes and military vehicles.

    Yet Godzilla brushes off every attack like we were ants. We are insects compared to such a massive creature.

    We try everything at our disposal, come up with the greatest tactical strategy ever invented and use all the brilliant minds the world has seen. Yet it still wouldn’t be enough to stop Godzilla.

    The example which always stuck out to me comes from King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). The King has just awoken from his icy slumber and has already destroyed a Russian military base, like setting a flamethrower loose on a dry forest, and is heading for Japan. A government leader is answering questions from the media, and leaves the session by giving a nonspecific answer on whether they’ve considered using atomic bombs to stop Godzilla.

    He is hesitant to answer and is most likely unsure if it has to come to that. To endanger thousands of innocent lives and the health of Japan just to stop Godzilla is a large risk.

    I’ve always seen it a different way. It is not that he is afraid of the consequences of the atomic bomb, but whether the atomic bomb would kill Godzilla. There is no guarantee that a bomb of any kind can hurt Godzilla, let alone kill him. Not to mention, Godzilla was created by atomic fallout, so more of the same just might make him stronger.

    So one of the strongest weapons ever conceived by man is inconsequential in the face of such a monster.

    Even the forces of nature and the far off future can do nothing to bring him down. In The Return of Godzilla (1984), scientists are able to trap the beast in an active volcano. I say trap Godzilla and not kill him, because five years later, in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), Godzilla escapes from his fiery hell hole and moves on like nothing happened.

    In the following film, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), the climax of the movie consists of Godzilla facing one of his most powerful foes, upgraded by 23rd century technology and armor. Yet Godzilla blasts enormous holes in his wings and nearly kills the pilot inside the fortified command center. The best that can be done is wrapping Godzilla in cables and flying him out to the middle of the ocean, while also sacrificing this advanced and futuristic weapon.

    Just to incapacitate Godzilla.

    I feel that monsters work best when they are abominations of life. Things that just should not exist, yet somehow are able to go on anyway. Creatures that break the laws of physics, nature and the universe, but go on their merry way like anyone else. Godzilla takes those elements to the nth degree.

    Unlike monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man or King Kong, Godzilla doesn’t have any known motives. He has no noticeable set pattern which renders plans to stop him all but impossible. There is no gapping weakness, nor any hint of humanity or sympathy. He cannot be reasoned with, nor is he interested in obtaining anything.

    Worst of all, Godzilla is unstoppable. People have tried to stop him, even resorting to sending his own atomic fire back at him with the Super-X2’s diamond reflector in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989). Yet it never works, Godzilla just melts the diamonds and takes his own blasts without showing any sign of stopping.

    Godzilla 1989

    What makes this notion work so effectively is that the human characters must think strategically and outside the box just to get Godzilla to retreat. In Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), the military uses a trail of fire to get the monster away from populated areas and then shocks him with millions of volts of electricity, using nets to halt his movements.

    Going back to King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), the Japanese fleet lures Godzilla into one area by filling the surrounding rivers and streams with gasoline and setting it ablaze. This causes Godzilla to fall right into their trap. Literally. He steps into a gigantic hole the forces had dug and filled with dynamite.

    These types of plans have always intrigued me, not because they’re outside the box and unexpected, but because they show the human will to survive and to stop that which can bring danger and destruction. If one plan has proven to fail, then we learn from our mistakes and start again. We don’t give up, nor do we try the same plan again. It’s just good writing and being able to understand what we’d do in difficult situations.

    Yet, even those intriguing and far-fetched plans fail in the face of such a creature. In Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), he merely walks right through the electrical generators and melts the tanks. As for King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), the dynamite does as much as you’d expect and Godzilla just crawls out of the hole.

    This is not used to undermine the ingenuity of the human characters or to show the hopelessness of our situation, but to bring us back to the strength and power of Godzilla.

    We’re dealing with something that we can never hope to comprehend. A creature that feels like he belongs among the Gods (hehe) or comes from a far off planet. It is why he is so deserving of the title “King Of The Monsters.”

    What makes him all the more interesting, and somewhat scary, is that we created him. Its our fault that this unbelievable and unstoppable disaster exists. It was through our continued use of atomic bombs and a failure to understand their true power that we got Godzilla.

    We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

    In some ways, Godzilla is the ultimate achievement of nuclear superiority and shows just powerful it can be. In other ways, he is the ultimate screw-up and lets us know that we’re not as strong as we like to think we are. That we don’t have all the answers and that some threats are beyond us.

    The sinister part is that Godzilla is essentially doing exactly what nuclear weapons were created to do: Mutually Assured Destruction. He’s not just a walking representation of the atomic bomb, but to show that we pride ourselves in military superiority and the consequences which come from that.

    If there’s one thing I have learned while writing this, it is that I seem to enjoy Godzilla, not as a character, but as a force of nature. He is more akin to a tornado or hurricane than he is to people, merely a constant presence that will never go away and can never be fully dealt with.

    Is this the case for every film in the franchise? No. There are a few examples where Godzilla is given more than just his unstoppable persona and becomes a relatable character.

    One example that comes to mind is Son of Godzilla (1967). After rescuing a helpless infant of supposedly the same species as him, Godzilla takes it upon himself to train the baby to its full potential. He has no interest in the child other than that.

    Yet over time, as the young Godzilla Minilla grows up and wants to do more than just learn to survive, Godzilla seems to realize there is more to existing than just destruction. This comes to a head during the climax and the two are caught in a gigantic snowstorm. Minilla isn’t strong enough to make it out of the storm and collapses, now moments away from entering a deep hibernation.

    Godzilla, who could easily make it out of the snow before it effects him, now sees Minilla as helpless as when he met him but can’t bring himself to abandon his adopted son. Minilla has not only let Godzilla continue his legacy, but has also taught him how to care for other living creatures. Thus, Godzilla returns to Minilla’s side, embraces the baby with his last bit of warmth and they enter hibernation together.

    For a long time, Son of Godzilla (1967) was lost on me and I felt that it made Godzilla look pathetic. Now I understand that it keeps the core idea of Godzilla’s strength and power, but also adds an element of character to him. A flawed character who only sees destruction and chaos in his life, but can now see more than that.

    Perhaps it is this element of character that gives Godzilla more depth and breath. That it is the reason someone like me cares about him. For without it, Godzilla is so far removed from reality and ourselves that he seems alien to us. When he is shown to have emotions and needs other than to destroy.

    You get a character alongside that ultimate force of nature.

    So to bring it back to the question that started all of this, why do I enjoy Godzilla so much?

    I feel that it is because of many things, but it ultimately revolves around the unmatched power of Godzilla. It seems like he redefines what it means to have strength. To be able to brush off the strongest forces we can muster and walk through us like we’re nothing more than an insignificant gust of wind shows there is power out there far beyond our comprehension. Yet, that strength also makes us shine through our ingenuity and courage to stand up to such forces. Even if we brought this monstrosity upon ourselves through our greed and ignorance, we won’t rest until the mistakes of the past have been fixed.

    I have never witnessed anything quite like Godzilla. No other character or monster works in the same way and now I understand why. It is not because of how many movies he’s been in or his unique design, but because he left me in awe with his amazing feats while still being relatable and fleshed-out. Godzilla is a monster among monsters.

    For that, I am eternally grateful to Godzilla and the filmmakers who created him. Without Godzilla, I would not have found my passion for cinema, which brings me so much bliss and happiness in life. This is my revelation on Godzilla. His many films have helped to shape my imagination and thought process, making me think big and without regret.

    Now that I’ve come to this revelation that had eluded me for so long, I feel as if my mind has cleared. Not only have I gained a new perspective on this icon of mine, but now anything seems possible.

    Nothing is unexplainable and to understand why your passion burns so bright can bring so much clarity and joy.

    In a way, I was right when I said, “Godzilla is cool.” I just didn’t understand what “cool” meant.

    Guest editorial by Paul Sell, a longtime Godzilla fan and often times contributor on various Godzilla and Toho message boards. Overseen by Chris Mirjahangir.

    General // January 9, 2014
  • It’s been a few years since I gave the Godzilla fandom an exclusive Christmas present on behalf of myself and Toho Kingdom (the last one being the soundtrack to Godzilla Unleashed!). This time I’m back with a piece of Showa history: a Nick Adams letter.

    That’s right: what we have here is a handwritten letter by Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) actor Nick Adams. To those who grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the actor is well remembered in the States for his role as Johnny Yuma in the Rebel and being close friends with James Dean and Elvis Presley. Dated June 11, 1965, Adams talks in the letter about Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965) that he was filming at the time in Japan. It should be noted that in the letter he calls the movie “Frankenstein Meets the Giant Devil Fish”. This was the pre-release US title of the movie before the name “Frankenstein Conquers the World” was used instead.

    I took these photos myself back on Oct 12, 2013 and the letter is a part of the Brad Thompson collection. He has been kind enough to allow me to share the photos with Godzilla fans worldwide! Merry Christmas everyone!

       

     

    Nick Adams and Toho

    The actor starred in a trio of Toho films, joining the company as they were looking to increase the box office clout of their films overseas. His first was the Frankenstein starer, which is the subject of the letter above. His second happened that same year, as he headlined the 1965 Godzilla movie, sometimes referred to as Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. The final Toho film to star the actor happened a few years later, for 1967’s The Killing Bottle. This movie is part of the International Secret Police series, of which the most famous, or infamous, is Key of Keys (1965). The reason for its infamy comes from Woody Allen’s adapting it as What’s Up, Tiger Lily? in 1966. Despite this, Toho wasn’t shy about crafting another entry in the series, as Nick Adams was able to round out his tenure at Toho on the 1967 film.

    General // December 23, 2013
  • In the late 1960’s the Japanese film industry was in decline. The “Golden Age of Japanese Cinema” had now passed and Toho, like other studios, was struggling to produce a plan for success in the wake of many theaters in the country closing and the advent of television, an occurrence that bankrupt competitor Daiei a few years later.

    Looking at other studios, Toho adopted a plan by copying Toei’s “Manga Festival”. Aimed at children, the “Manga Festival” was a 1-3 times a year occurrence that packaged a lot of cartoons together, giving the customer a lot of value with the opportunity for an almost all-day activity. Taking this model, Toho adapted it, replacing the cartoon focus and instead centering it on their most popular character: Godzilla and the kaiju genre.

    Launching the Toho Champion Festival

    In 1969, the Toho Champion Festival (東宝チャンピオンまつり, also known as the Toho Champion Matsuri) was born. The company had effectively upped the anti, including a new, full length Godzilla film with All Monsters Attack (1969) alongside a new comedy set in outer space, Konto 55: Grand Outer Space Adventure (1969), and topped it off with an Anime on the popular Star of the Giants series: Star of the Giants: Go Hyuma! (1969). The Champion Festival was an immediate hit and Toho adopted the three times a year approach of the “Manga Festival”, selecting Spring, Summer and Winter as their platforms to feature programming when children would be on break from school.

    To fill up the schedule, since Toho couldn’t afford the resources to produce three headlining kaiju films a year, they started re-releasing their classic library. The first of these, and most controversial, was King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) in 1970. To appeal to children and fit better in the program, the longer films were edited down. The problem is, at least for their first attempt, Toho edited the original negative master to produce the “Champion Festival” version. Although the ramifications couldn’t have been known at the time, they created a dilemma decades later when the company went to release King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) on home video and lacked an unedited source to use, having to resort to prints in subpar quality to fill in the edited segments. This is a dilemma that has persisted even today, more than 40 years after the original editing was done.

    Despite later day ramifications, the re-release strategy was a hit. During the “Champion Festival”, the company would release or re-release all of their Showa Godzilla films except Godzilla (1954) and Godzilla Raids Again (1955). All of them were edited down, and this went for the non-Godzilla films as well such as King Kong Escapes (1967). Some of the films were given new titles that emphasized the Godzilla connection, for example Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)’s Japanese title of Great Monster War became Great Monster War: King Ghidorah vs. Godzilla.

     

    TV and the festival’s decline

    Oddly enough, to help fill the schedule as the years went on, Toho started picking up the distribution rights for TV episodes. This added characters like Ultraman and Mirror Man to the mix, who had TV episodes given a theatrical release alongside Godzilla films. While this might seem like an odd strategy, given the point of the “Champion Festival” was to combat television programming from keeping people away from the theaters, it paid off as Toho created 35mm prints that showed the programs up on the big screen and in color, which when compared to the small, black and white screens that most people owned at the time made this appealing enough when coupled with a theatrical film to bring in fans of the original show.

    Sadly, by 1974 the “Champion Festival” format had started to show signs of slowing down. That year the “Summer” session was cut and the “Winter” session tried something new, attempting to appeal to both children and adults with the triple feature Latitude Zero (1969), Mothra (1961) and the documentary Burning Glory: Shigeo Nagashima, Uniform Number 3 (1974). By 1975, the Festival was just run in the Spring.

    In 1976, Toho shook things up by teaming with Disney to make Walt Disney’s Peter Pan the headlining movie of the “Champion Festival” that year alongside other Disney shorts. This marked the only time in the festival’s run that a kaiju film wasn’t played and also the only time that movies from outside of Japan were included. In 1977 Toho re-released King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) again, being the only film to be included twice in the festival, but attendance was down to almost half what it was back in 1970 when it was first featured. 1978 marked the final chapter in the “Champion Festival”, with a re-release of The Mysterians (1957).

    With a nine year run, the “Champion Festival” became well remembered for an entire generation and is still capitalized upon today. The “Champion Festival” edits have all been re-released on Laserdisc and DVD in Japan, while VAP commemorated the festival with their Toho SFX Champion Festival soundtrack set in 2001.

     

    Festival programming

    Below is a list of all the films and shorts included in Champion Festival, grouped together as they were for their original release. The festivals would run for set periods of time. The duration of play would vary, for example Space Amoeba (1970) ran for August 1st through August 13th (although some theaters likely kept playing it after this period), and sometimes advertised start dates would conflict with the actual start date, such as the 1973 re-release of Son of Godzilla (1967) which started on August 1st but was marketed for July 28th.

    Some films and shorts are missing and will be added at a later date.

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

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

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

    Winter 1970 (December 19th)
    Mothra vs. Godzilla (Edited Reissue)


    Spring 1971 (March 17th)
    Invasion of Astro-Monster (Edited Reissue as Great Monster War: King Ghidorah vs. Godzilla)


    – 

    Summer 1971 (July 24th)
    Godzilla vs. Hedorah



    Winter 1971 (December 12th)
    Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Edited Reissue as Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Greatest Battle on Earth)
    Return of Ultraman: The Terror of the Waterspout Monsters


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


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

    Mirror Man: Dinosaur Aroza Reanimated

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

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

    Summer 1973 (August 1st)
    Son of Godzilla (Edited Reissue)




    Winter 1973 (December 20th)
    King Kong Escapes (Edited Reissue)




    Spring 1974 (March 21st)
    Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

    – 



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

    1975 (March 15th)
    Terror of Mechagodzilla

    – 



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

    Mickey’s Circus
    Donald and Goofy: No Sail 


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

    – 


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

    Lupin the 3rd: The Venice Super Express



    General // December 15, 2013
  • For years, fans have used their Godzilla series figures expand their imagination using home video cameras still cameras to create brilliant pieces of art in the form of short films and photography. These forms of expression have been spread across the internet for a long time… until now.

    This fan Godzilla videos and photos 2013 editorial will be the home to YOUR photos/short films that you have created using your Godzilla series figures this year. YOUR work, on the world’s biggest Godzilla website for all to see and enjoy!

    Rules

    • Nothing dirty/racist/homophobic/violent (gory stuff with blood etc) etc.
    • All submissions subject to approval
    • No Toho licensed music in the videos
    • Only ONE photo/video embed code per person so choose your BEST OF THE BEST photo/video
    • Submission by embed code ONLY. If you have a link to more of your work, please provide it
    • Each submission will receive name credit so please include that in your email
    • MUST be Toho/Godzilla related

    This is NOT a contest. This is for you to show off your creativity!

    Email me your submissions at: chris_55_tk@hotmail.com

    Submissions

    Now onto the photos and videos submissions. Each of these will have a time stamp for when they were initially submitted. Note that these are not correlated to when they were published on the site, though.

    July 1, 2013: Sean O’Leary

    “Moguera Family Reunion”

    July 2, 2013: “asb”

    “There goes that pagoda again.”

    July 2, 2013: Alexandre Sousa

    Stop motion video:

    July 9, 2013: Hesperia Productions

    Godzilla vs. Knifehead video:

    July 9, 2013: CMDM Studios

    Godzilla rampaging downtown:

    July 29, 2013: Sean Whighan

    Sean has submitted some cool shots of Godzilla figures in various poses from the films, taking particular attention to detail for The Return of Godzilla (1984). His complete Flicker album of the various photos can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maulfan/sets/

    Fan Godzilla Videos and Photos 2013: Sean Whighan

    Fan Godzilla Videos and Photos 2013: Sean Whighan

    Note that the cover photo for this article uses an image by Sean Whigham as well.

    September 5, 2013: Hesperia Productions

    Here it is, Godzilla vs. Pacific Rim

    October 24, 2013: ‘leventa24’

    “It’s not much, but I thought I’d give a shot to submitting a picture.”

    November 17, 2013: Steven, ‘GreenAiden555’

    Here is a diorama I made.

    Article first posted September 5th, 2013.

    General // November 17, 2013
  • In early 2009, Toho Kingdom’s very own Chris Mirjahangir coined the name of a rather unusual creature he was about to voice in a then upcoming toon. Often dismissed as a skeleton, a bizarre colorless sea turtle can be located in Ishiro Honda‘s classic Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). Although I gave it the rather uncatchy name “Kame no Gaikotsu” (Japanese for “Turtle’s Skeleton”), Chris suggested the moniker that stuck, “Skeleturtle“. Now for the 1,224,560 yen question: what is this thing? Is it really just a skeleton?


    Isn’t it just the cutest thing?!?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


    Sources:


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

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

    General // October 26, 2013
  • G-Fest: an annual convention all about Godzilla and really all Japanese kaiju. With merchants, theater movie screenings, art displays, costume contests, Godzilla video game tournaments and celebrities, its a bit of a kaiju fan wonderland. Although it has, many years ago, been held in Los Angeles, it is typically located in the Chicago area.

    Godzilla fan and friend John Drooney was gracious enough to record this wonderful G-Fest XIX video tour. Now I have never had the pleasure of experiencing G-Fest for myself. Sadly, that’s not going to change this year either, as I am unable to attend. So this video is all the more special to me in particular.

    After watching the video, I was able to, perhaps through the mystical vibe that was captured, feel the pride and joy of the fandom that is dedicated to Godzilla. Thank you John for this wonderful gift. Also, may my brothers and sisters in the Godzilla fandom enjoy their time this year at G-Fest.

     

    About G-Fest

    Founded by J. D. Lees and John Rocco Roberto, G-Fest is an annual convention for kaiju, with an emphasis on Japanese monsters. It’s an offshoot, of sorts, of the fanzine G-Fan. The very first G-Fest happened way back in 1994 in Illinois, although it became much more organized the following year. It continued to take place in Illinois up until G-Fest ’99, when it moved to California. The convention’s stint there was short lived, though. By 2001 it had moved back to Illinois, which is where it continues to reside. From 2001 through 2004, it was also well known for hosting the American theatrical premieres of the Millennium Godzilla films. This tradition stopped with Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), which actually had its worldwide premiere in Los Angeles, California at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

    For more information on G-Fest, including details on how to attend yourself, visit G-Fan.com.

    General // June 6, 2013