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

    ANGUIRUS!

    They weren’t always friends

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

    Likely the same way Mark and I became friends.

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

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

    Today he’s family.

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

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

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

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

    Monster Sightings: Anguirus Video

    Thomas Fairchild and Mark Monson

    General // August 5, 2019
  • Author: Connor Clennell | Banner: Matthew Williams

    Mothra sat atop her rock pedestal, listening to the soothing songs of the Cosmos. In this world of constant war and bloodshed even a goddess needed time away from her fellow monsters. Perhaps this time she would be able to get some actual rest without interruption.

    Mothra’s head suddenly snapped up in attention. She could feel a disturbance on the normally peaceful shores of her island home. There was an intruder in her domain.

    The Cosmos watched as the lepidopteron deity screeched and took to the air, flying out of her temple and toward the beach. There was no sign of another monster when Mothra arrived, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. She was sure she had sensed something – perhaps she was mistaken? Mothra was just about to leave when the ground burst open below her. The giant moth was caught by surprise and quickly ascended, avoiding the boxy jaws of her attacker. Mothra circled around to identify who or what she was dealing with, and for the briefest of moments thought she was looking at Godzilla.

    Zilla looked up at Mothra, barring his teeth and directing a threatening hiss at the insect. He’d been wandering the waters of the Pacific for some time now, looking for new territory to claim as his own. Infant Island looked to be the perfect place to settle down on, but the mutant iguana hadn’t expected the island to already have an owner. Still, his opponent didn’t look that tough, and he wasn’t going to be intimidated so easily. He was also starving after his long voyage, and while insect wasn’t his preferred meal, Zilla wasn’t a fussy eater when it came to food.

    Mothra began the battle, firing golden energy beams from her antennae upon Zilla. The mutant screamed out in pain as they tore into his hide, unable to do anything to stop Mothra’s assault. Mercifully, the beams stopped coming, only for Mothra to ram into Zilla, knocking him to the floor and clawing him with her many legs. Amidst the pain, Zilla lashed out with his hand and struck Mothra on the chest. Now it was her turn to experience pain as the lizard’s sharp claws sliced through her armour-less skin. Green blood stained the ground and Zilla’s claws as the great moth ascended out of the mutant’s reach. Zilla was quickly back on his feet and leapt at the rapidly ascending Mothra. The lepidopteran’s wings began beating faster, not only increasing her rate of altitude but creating fierce gusts of winds that swept the iguana away.

    Zilla landed skilfully on all fours and quickly began digging away at the sand beneath him. Mothra quickly realized the lizard’s strategy and fired off another set of energy beams. Both beams struck the ground, just missing Zilla’s tail as he disappeared down a tunnel of his own making. Mothra fired beam after beam down the hole, illuminating the dark cavern with each blast. When the reptile refused to emerge, Mothra cautiously moved closer, inspecting the hole Zilla had made. A challenging chirp left her mandibles that echoed down the dark passage, hoping to gain some reaction from the Godzilla copycat. After a few moments, Zilla did not emerge, and Mothra decided that the beast had either retreated, was unconscious or dead. Content with her victory, Mothra began her ascent.

    The surface of the beach exploded beneath Mothra. Zilla leapt out of the forming dust cloud, jaws wide open. Taken by surprise, Mothra quickly slammed her wings against the mutant iguana’s skull, dazing him long enough for her to escape. A frustrated moan left Zilla’s maw as he turned around to enter his tunnel, but Mothra wasn’t prepared to let him go so easily. He had defiled her home and he would pay the price for his actions. Swooping in low, the moth deity grabbed hold of the retreating lizard’s tail, dragging him kicking and screaming out of his would-be escape route. Mothra continued to drag Zilla across the ground, away from the beach and further inland. Zilla clawed at the ground as he was carried along, desperately trying to gain grip on the ground, but the speed and strength of his captor made the task impossible. Switching tactics, Zilla twisted himself around and let loose a blast of highly pressurised flammable gas from his maw. The pressure of the wind blast knocked Mothra off-balance, forcing her to release Zilla as she tried to correct her flight path.

    Zilla looked up at Mothra, unsure of what to do next. Not possessing any ranged capabilities put him at a disadvantage and he knew it. Perhaps this fight wasn’t such a good idea after all. His fears were confirmed as Mothra began raining down antennae beams from above, blasting apart Zilla’s hide and the ground around him. Almost immediately, Zilla turned and fled, Mothra continuing to fire after him as she pursued. Now on the move, Zilla easily outran the great moth, outpacing the rail of destruction forming behind him. If the giant iguana wanted to have a chance of winning or retreating, he needed to find some cover, and fast. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted a large mountain in the distance. That would do.

    Zilla changed direction in an instant, sprinting toward the mountain before Mothra had a chance to follow. The irradiated iguana quickly dug into the mountainside, creating his own escape tunnel within mere seconds and burrowed deeper inside the mountain. Eventually, Zilla’s claws slashed through thin air as he broke his way into a large cavern. Zilla couldn’t hear Mothra anymore, but knew he was far from safe when he noticed the huge, gaping hole in the roof that allowed sunlight to illuminate the cave. With some time to formulate a new plan of attack, the mutation began looking around the cavern for potential hiding spots or escape routes in case the giant moth found her way in. Ancient man-made structures were carved out of and into the cavern walls, which were coated with paintings of Mothra. Zilla cocked his head in confusion, wondering what the nature of this place was. In the centre of the room was a large pedestal, carved out of rock like everything else in the cave. Zilla paid it no attention, instead focusing on the large, multi-colored sphere tucked to the side. Zilla cautiously crept closer, almost crushing the Cosmos underfoot as he approached the object. It looked like an egg, but Zilla was unsure. It looked too big to be one. The thing was almost as large as he was. Cautiously, he sniffed the sphere, immediately recognizing the scent of Mothra on it. Suddenly, the sphere moved, earning a shriek of surprise from the reptile. It was an egg. Mothra’s egg! Zilla had accidently dug his way into her temple. Panic filled the mutant’s mind as he envisioned all the possible deaths Mothra would provide if she discovered him in here. He quickly leapt atop Mothra’s pedestal and then jumped up toward the skylight.

    Mothra rapidly approached the entrance to her cave temple, infuriated that she had let Zilla slip away so easily. While she couldn’t see Zilla, she could still sense the lizard and right now she could sense him inside her temple. She wasn’t about to let the mutation defile her home in such a way, and could only hope Zilla hadn’t had a chance to harm the Cosmos or her unborn child just yet. Just as she was about to enter, Zilla leapt out of the shadows. Both made a surprised sound, not expecting to encounter one another. Zilla crashed into the great moth, sending both tumbling down the mountainside, and when they stopped at the bottom, Mothra found herself pinned underneath Zilla. The spawn of atomic tests quickly took advantage of the situation, slashing and biting at the pinned insect’s thorax and wings. Zilla clamped his jaws around one of Mothra’s legs, causing the goddess to cry out in pain as he tore the appendage from her body and spat it out. The reptile’s claws, perfectly designed to dig through rock with ease, cut through Mothra’s fragile wings like a knife through warm butter. Mothra began to panic as her life force began to fade.

    Zilla slashed at the deity’s chest once more, but was caught off-guard as Mothra’s two front legs grabbed his arm and began discharging energy into the limb. The mutant iguana roared in pain as Mothra’s holy energy scorched his arm, smoke rising off his skin as it burned. Pulling his arm free of her grasp, Zilla leapt off Mothra, nursing his injury. With a few strong flaps of her wings, Mothra took flight once more. Despite the damage Zilla had done to them, her tattered wings were still capable of providing lift. Mothra began to flap her wings faster, creating a small windstorm that knocked Zilla to the ground. Golden energy beams ravaged the mutant’s fallen form, drawing a pained moan with every strike. Mothra began to shed reflective scales and electricity from her wings, adding to the onslaught. By the time she ceased her barrage, Zilla’s body and the ground surrounding him was almost completely stained black. Chunks of skin had been vaporised, revealing patches of raw red flesh, and the stench of roasted flesh hung in the air. A weak groan escaped Zilla’s mouth as he weakly stood back up. Mothra had been more powerful than he’d anticipated, and now he’d not only lost his future home and meal, but almost lost his life as well. The mutant could only hope the lepidopteran deity would be merciful enough to let him leave.

    But Mothra wasn’t finished with him yet.

    Flying in closer, the mighty insect grasped Zilla by his head and began pumping energy into the mutant iguana’s skull. Exhausted from his ordeal, Zilla’s last reserves of energy were used to fuel his screams of agony as Mothra’s energy coursed through his brain. Mothra refused to let go even as the lizard fell to the ground, convulsing in agony. The irradiated reptile’s struggles quickly became weaker and weaker, until eventually they stopped altogether as Zilla went limp. Mothra released the lizard’s blackened head, observing the damage. The great lepidopteran’s attack had reduced Zilla brain to molten flesh, which was now oozing out of the mutation’s empty eye sockets, his eyes having been vaporised sometime during the discharge. The reptile looked dead, but Mothra fired a pair of energy beams that struck Zilla’s forehead just to be sure. The beast’s resemblance to Godzilla made her wary that it might share the same regenerative properties as the atomic saurian. Zilla didn’t respond, sending a wave of relief through the deity’s body. Her island and her egg were safe.

    As she turned to return to her temple, Mothra sensed another disturbance. Something much, much stronger than Zilla was approaching, and fast. The mighty moth spun around to face her challenger. The shimmering form of Mechagodzilla slowly descended, touching down not too far away. The alien war machine let out a high-pitched screech from its maw, rotating its missile-tipped hands as it awaited the command to attack. Jikiro landed alongside the mechanical duplicate of Godzilla, the ground cracking open upon its touchdown, announcing its arrival with its own mechanical roar. They were here to exterminate Mothra and her offspring with extreme prejudice and raise Infant Island to the ground. Mothra gazed at the two automatons with worry. She had spent a lot of energy during her battle with Zilla and had sustained heavy damage herself. She wasn’t sure if she had the strength left to fend off her attackers. But she knew she had to. Not just for her life, but for the life of the Cosmos and her unborn child. As long as she could fight, Mothra would never give up.

    With a challenging cry, Mothra charged Mechagodzilla and Jikiro as the two fired off their missiles and energy blasts, ready to defend her home and family to the last breath…

    Winner: Mothra (Heisei)

    K.W.C. // August 1, 2019
  • The massive crowd, many carrying massive bags sporting shiny attractive depictions of female cuteness promoting the very event to which all of us were going, moves in crushing waves, the policemen waving us through and directing the rivers of solid nerdery. I walked at my classic Midwestern stroll speed, and usually that is fast enough to match or even overtake my lollygagging students at school. Here, though, the spurs of anticipation—and perhaps the fear of missing out on favorite publications—stirred the assembly of enthusiasts to pick up speed. I was being passed on all sides by manga fans bedecked in pop-culture overload.

    I was at Comiket 2018, Winter 2018.

    There was a lot of excitement that New Year’s Eve at Comiket Winter 2018. Hundreds, thousands of fans had gathered together to browse and purchase comics, art books, and mountains of paraphernalia, or just to dress up in sometimes absurd, sometimes incredible, often phantasmagorical costumes and pose for endless pictures as the flow of fans flicked by, cameras flashing.

    Comiket is short for Comic Market and has been a regular event, now biannual, which was started by amateur manga artists to sell “doujinshi”—fan-made comics. These comics are often unofficial spin-off work from popular mainstream titles, most notoriously in which familiar characters like Naruto or Luffy are put into new erotic couplings—perhaps even with each other. I had often heard rumours about the event, and while I emphatically do not fancy sexy slash fiction (I didn’t like the Godzilla one sold on Amazon), the idea of amateur artists coming together to sell and share their work appeals to me enormously. This year I had a great excuse to go—I would be in Japan for the event for one thing, and for another, this time I knew some of the manga artists selling their wares due to the connections forged from the interview I had with manga legend Daiji Kazumine.

    For fans of Godzilla and kaiju more generally, Comiket definitely holds interest—and not just for folks looking for some monster smut (though there may be some of that available as well, for those who are so inclined). Along with new hero manga from Daiji Kazumine featuring his original character Denjin Arrow (who often fights giant robots or even dinosaurs), a number of Godzilla doujinshi have also been released in Comiket—perhaps most notably from Shinji Nishikawa (MASH), who was selling a Godzilla doujinshi this year as well.

    Comiket stretches out over three days of art and indulgence—the Winter 2018 event spanning December 29th to the 31st. Given that this was my first time going, though, unfortunately I made a few false assumptions going in.

    1. I just had this idea that all the participants would be there all three days.
    2. I thought I could easily read the catalog online, since the guides I read said you could do so for free.

    One, the participants are definitely not there for three days. I found this out from looking at the catalog online for free. But the process of looking at that catalog was far from easy. I kept running in circles on the website, downloaded an unintuitive app, and eventually made my way onto the actual catalog only to discover that users who have not paid can only click a few times before being electronically shunned for a set period of five minutes, after which you can have a few more precious clicks before being shunned once more.

    Given that each day of Comiket features hundreds of titles and goods, a pathetic few clicks barely nabs readers a taste of the wares available. And to get the catalog, you have to pay 2000 yen or so—which, on the website, was confusingly presented as a subscription service.

    I forwent purchasing the catalog, but I didn’t check the catalog early, and by the time I had browsed even with those paltry pokes of my mouse, the first day of the event was already over, and I had already missed several Godzilla doujinshi.

    But luckily I could still get Denjin Arrow and MASH’s latest Godzilla doujinshi on the 31st!

    Thus and so on the last day of 2018 I moseyed my way on down to Tokyo Big Sight and was indeed treated to a big sight of seething humanity.

    Tip: follow the crowds. If you slip out of the currents of humanity, you can end up unexpectedly walking into a storm of individuals going the opposite way and thus be forced into an increasingly difficult game of dodge-the-otaku (and by this time you, too, are a certified otaku as well).

    Jusssssst don’t expect to find piles and piles of kaiju and adventure manga everywhere you turn.

    DO expect to find UNENDING rows of manga and art books featuring an infinite number of cute girls, as well as retina-ripping pornography (often with minimally helpful tape over the nipples on the posters, but not in the comics themselves)—including, yes, what sure look like child porn comics with unapologetically graphic art. At first I was wondering if there was really anything but cute girl comics and porn, frankly—and the titles tended to look so generic. I couldn’t tell much about the stories except that they featured cute girls, sex, and/or cute girls and sex—and at first I was scared out of my ever-loving mind to even open up a sample comic, for fear that I would be assaulted by lovingly detailed sequences of debauchery—look, whatever your tastes may be, I just wasn’t there to look at that kind of work.

    But maybe the initial porn-fest functions as a gauntlet, weeding out the weak-willed so that they never reach the less erotic stuff. For eventually I did find quite the number of monster manga, humour comics, and more. I got my copy of Daiji Kazumine’s latest Denjin Arrow and snagged Shinji Nishikawa’s Godzilla doujinshi, but also quite a number of original kaiju stories, as well as some four-panel humor titles, some adventure comics, some art books, and a case of sensory overload. What was even more awesome was that I could meet some of the manga artists themselves. While Daiji Kazumine was not there, Shinji Nishikawa was, and so I had the opportunity to gush at him about how much I liked his work and pose for a photo. (I also told him I had contributed to the Toho Kingdom interview we did a while back, which I think really surprised him.) Daiji Kazumine’s assistant, Atsushi Sasaki, was also there, and I picked up his recent magical girl manga, Randoserun Zero-Based. Sasaki-sensei is a huge fan of tokusatsu, so it isn’t surprising that Randoserun Zero-Basedfeatures an enormous kaiju battling it out with the titular heroine! It’s pretty entertaining. Atsushi Sasaki also introduced me to another manga artist, Kouji Kiki, who did Metal K for Shonen Jumpback in the 1980s. He was selling some comics that furthered the adventures of Metal K, and I picked some up. I also got an Ultraman parody book called Loyalty Man, featuring a humorous Ultraman knock-off biding his time in a lousy salaryman position while he waits to fight real monsters (the story turns surprisingly serious by the end of the first volume), as well as a few other books of varying quality.

    Attendees can expect to find a huge variety of goods at the event, ranging from the aforementioned manga titles, to art books, clear files, and tons of other goods. Some folks actually give away some samples for free!

    Comiket was in some ways an amazing experience. I am not a big fan of erotic books, but in the end I found a lot more there than just the sexy stuff, and it was really fun getting to meet a number of manga artists there! Overwhelming, exciting, exhausting—that was Comiket. Maybe I’ll go again this year!

    With Shinji Nishikawa

    General // July 27, 2019
  • Since the dawn of DVDs, Criterion has been issuing films to disc with a number on the spine. Seven Samurai (1954), for example, was their second release and is #2. With the advent of Blu-rays, this tradition continued, with House (1977) being an example of around this time and carrying spine #539. The company is now about to break past #999 and is ready to celebrate the shift to four digits. To commemerate this, and in an unprecedented turn of events, Criterion has announced that a slew of Godzilla movies will be joining The Criterion Collection for a Blu-ray boxset. This is not just a few titles, but is in fact the entire Showa series: from Godzilla (1954) to Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975). This will be a landmark release, the first time the entire original series has been available from one set in the United States.

    Fans and casual collectors have for years lamented over the clustered approach to releases. Classic Media, Sony, Media Blasters, Universal… at any one given time, collecting the entire Showa series involved going across releases from a number of companies. That is if one was lucky, as there have been huge spans of time where certain titles have been out of print altogether. This 15 film set is historic for many reasons, involving working not just with Toho but also Universal as well, who owns the US rights to King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). Having navigated that, Criterion will also make history for being able to release in the US, for the first time, the original Japanese version of that 1962 film.

    The movies featured in the set are:

    In total, the 8 disc set which is found in a 14 in x 10 in case includes (information taken from the press release):

    Blu-ray set: Godzilla - The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975

    Blu-ray set and contents

    • High-definition digital transfers of all fifteen Godzilla films made between 1954 and 1975, released together for the first time, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
    • High-definition digital transfers of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, the 1956 U.S.-release version of Godzilla; and the 1962 Japanese-release version of King Kong vs. Godzilla
    • Audio commentaries from 2011 on Godzilla and Godzilla, King of the Monsters featuring film historian David Kalat
    • International English-language dub tracks for Invasion of Astro-Monster, Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and Terror of Mechagodzilla
    • Directors Guild of Japan interview with director Ishiro Honda, conducted by director Yoshimitsu Banno in 1990
    • Programs detailing the creation of Godzilla’s special effects and unused effects sequences from Toho releases including Destroy All Monsters

    Godzilla vs. Manda from a Destroy All Monsters Outtake – Image from Criterion

    • New interview with filmmaker Alex Cox about his admiration for the Showa-era Godzilla films
    • New and archival interviews with cast and crew members, including actors Bin Furuya, Tsugutoshi Komada, Haruo Nakajima, and Akira Takarada; composer Akira Ifukube; and effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai
    • Interview with critic Tadao Sato from 2011
    • Illustrated audio essay from 2011 about the real-life tragedy that inspired Godzilla
    • New English subtitle translations
    • Trailers
    • PLUS: A lavishly illustrated deluxe hardcover book featuring an essay by cinema historian Steve Ryfle, notes on the films by cinema historian Ed Godziszewski, and new illustrations by Arthur Adams, Sophie Campbell, Becky Cloonan, Jorge Coelho, Geof Darrow, Simon Gane, Robert Goodin, Benjamin Marra, Monarobot, Takashi Okazaki, Angela Rizza, Yuko Shimizu, Bill Sienkiewicz, Katsuya Terada, Ronald Wimberly, and Chris Wisnia
    Blu-ray set: Godzilla - The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975

    Hardcover book

    Despite all the positives, there are a few negative points from the information seen. First, the set will consist of 8 Blu-ray discs. This means movies will be sharing disc space with each other, reducing available space that could have been used for a higher bitrate video track. Second, the set is light on dubbed tracks. In fact, only 7 or 8, depending on how King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) is handled, dubbed versions are included in the set out of a total of 15 films. It’s also missing the, arguably, important Godzilla vs. the Thing version of Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), which contained additional footage for the frontier missile scene.

    Regardless, this will be a historic home video release for the US market. One that will mark the first time many of these movies will arrive on the Blu-ray format in the United Sates. In addition, the initial reaction has been very positive as well, with the title (at the time of writing this on July 26th) currently ranking #3 on Amazon’d best sellers list for Movies & TV.

    Destroy All Monsters

    All Monsters Attack / Godzilla vs. Hedorah / Godzilla vs. Gigan

    Godzilla vs. Megalon / Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla / Terror of Mechagodzilla

    Excited about the release or have thoughts on what has been announced? Sound off in the comments.

    News // July 26, 2019
  • An exclusive video interview with NECA Toys Production Manager Stefan Folkins. Conducted 7/19/2019 at San Diego Comic-Con.

    ***Note: My filming was not the best in this interview due to my gimbal acting weird. Also, there are a couple of spots where the audio sounds muffled. No real info was lost so no worries!***

    Interviews // July 21, 2019
  • Author: Landon Soto | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    Weeks had passed since the battle with King Ghidorah, the world blissfully unaware of the fact that it had been saved from the unknown threat. The unlikely duo that drove away the golden dragon had gone their own separate ways. They had unfinished business, after all.

    Goroshima Island; where it all began. The sun warmed the island as cool waves crashed against its shore. A familiar cream colored beast marched along the shore. Daigoro, the plush juvenile monster, stopped and stretched, feeling the warm sun rays on his soft skin.

    Daigoro listened to the waves as they crashed against the rocks. But the serenity was brought to an abrupt halt as he heard powerful footsteps slowly getting louder. The pudgy monster turned to face the source, not surprised by who was making them. In the distance, a bulky blue behemoth lumbered over the hills and onto the beach, growling in anticipation.

    Goliath, the blue star monster flexed his large hands. He had been waiting for this moment; no unnecessary distractions, or unwanted third wheels, just him and Daigoro, ready to settle the score once and for all.

    Daigoro trudged up to Goliath, nodding his head. He knew how much this meant to the blue giant and he didn’t want to disappoint. The bumpy hippo monster stretched out his paw for a friendly handshake, but Goliath snarled and swatted it away. A bit disheartened, Daigoro respected Goliath’s choice; the two didn’t waste another moment. Backing up, they stared each other down, waiting for the other to strike.

    Goliath, unable to contain himself, leapt forward, arms stretched out, wanting to pummel that irritating face of Daigoro’s. Daigoro easily sidestepped and rammed his left fist into Goliath’s gut, knocking the air out of the blue brute. The big blue space monster growled and elbowed Daigoro in the temple, staggering the plushy monster hero.

    The blue space monster swiftly turned and clubbed Daigoro’s head with his large fists, easily knocking over the younger fighter. Daigoro grunted and picked himself up, just in time to dodge two blue fists slamming into the sand, Goliath roared and turned again, swiping the beach with his tail, sand shooting into the air.

    Daigoro covered his eyes to try and block out the sand, which only left him open for another blue fist to strike his arms. The young hippo monster skid backward, putting down his arms, he charged at the blue rhino-like beast, jumping forward with his legs and landing a drop kick to Goliath’s head, toppling the horned monster.

    Seizing the opening, Daigoro leapt onto Goliath’s chest and began battering his face with clenched fists. Goliath roared in pain as each fist collided with his face, every strike felt like being pelted with boulders. Unknown to Daigoro, a blue tail smacked into his bumpy back, knocking him forward. Goliath immediately bit into Daigoro’s squishy stomach, forcing the hippo hero to squeal in pain. Feeling more pressure being applied by the second, Daigoro made his right hand look like scissors and poked Goliath in the eyes, receiving a howl of pain. The pained Goliath released his bite.

    Daigoro hopped off his blue foe, checking his stomach. Just a few teeth imprints, but the pain still radiated. Goliath snarled as he rolled onto his stomach and got up. His nasal horn crackled with energy as he turned to face Daigoro. The hippo monster knew what was coming.

    A bolt of lightning fired from the yellow nasal horn, striking the ground in front of Daigoro, forcing sand to shoot into the sky. Daigoro yelped in pain as another lightning bolt struck his toes, the plush hippo monster grunted and began rubbing his stomach, causing it to glow red.

    Goliath snarled, grabbing a seaside rock and hurling it at Daigoro. Unfazed, Daigoro closed his eyes and threw forth his right fist, causing the rock to shatter upon impact. Pieces of debris flew everywhere. Goliath grunted in shock but was instantly reminded of the fires dancing in Daigoro’s mouth as flames spewed forth. Goliath raised his chunky arms and tried to withstand the heat.

    The sand in the surrounding area slowly turned to glass as the flames raged on. Goliath roared as he was pushed back, his skin started to peel and blister. Daigoro stopped his assault and charged up to Goliath. The blue beast tried to swat Daigoro, but the smaller cream colored juvenile easily evaded each lazy swing. Daigoro rammed his shoulder into Goliath’s chest forcing the blue brute to stagger back. Daigoro reached for Goliath’s ankles and forcefully pulled on them, causing the star monster to shriek in surprise as his back slammed against the warm beach.

    Daigoro smirked and clutched Goliath’s tail; he slowly spun in place, dragging the blue behemoth around and slowly raised him up before finally letting go. Goliath groaned as he soared through the air, slamming into a rocky cliffside. The star monster spat out blood-soaked sand before propping himself up.

    Daigoro hopped up and down before jumping forward again, his fists outstretched. But before he could strike, he was hit head on with a lightning bolt, immediately dropping him to the ground. The chubby juvenile squirmed as he tried to fight back, clutching the sand as he struggled, but Goliath was already upon him. Stopping the lightning bolt, Goliath jumped into the air, laying himself out and letting gravity do the deed. The plush juvenile turned onto his back, eyes widening as he saw Goliath drop back down. The stellar monster body slammed Daigoro, easily knocking the wind out of him.

    Before Daigoro could get enough air, two blue meaty hands grasped his neck and began pumping him with electricity. Daigoro silently suffered as his body ached and twitched, foam spilled from his mouth as he choked on his spit.

    Goliath relished the sight of his opponent’s agony, unaware of the red glow beneath him.

    Sure enough, Goliath felt his hand get sweaty, making it easier for Daigoro to push them away. Goliath was surprised by the sudden resistance, but immediately understood what was happening as flames erupted from Daigoro’s maw. Boiling spit and searing foam flying everywhere forced Goliath off the tubby child monster, fumbling backward but still maintained some footing.

    Goliath stared in awe as Daigoro coughed and wheezed, struggling to stand. His neck was raw, tears ran down his face, but he put up his fists and groggily charged the stellar monster. Goliath roared and charged as well. Goliath spun around and tried to whip Daigoro, but the heroic monster grabbed yanked it again, but Goliath was ready. His horned crackled with energy before his body flashed a bright blue. Daigoro immediately let go as he felt electricity surge through him again. He dropped to one knee, but was determined to not fall.

    Goliath slowly turned and chuckled. His victory was almost at hand. However, Daigoro wasn’t out of the count yet. With all his remaining strength, Daigoro leapt forward again. Goliath raised his right arm in response to block the punch, but Daigoro wasn’t going for the punch. The whiskered juvenile put his power into one finger and swiped down on Goliath’s arm, the blue stellar monster suddenly howled in pain as he felt his bone crack, staggering backward as he tried to regain his composure.

    Goliath stared daggers into Daigoro. What kept him going? Surely, any other monster would crumble from his awesome power. Goliath grunted; he felt something different, a smidge of respect for his opponent. The blue brute shook his head and prepared his electrical horn again, ready to give Daigoro a swift end. But Daigoro clenched his fists as the air warped around him, flames escaping his mouth.

    Goliath snarled, he wasn’t about to make that same mistake twice. Goliath fired his lightning bolt, forcing the hippo monster to preemptively fire his heat ray. The two beams collided, struggling for dominance. Goliath poured every ounce of energy he could muster into the attack. Daigoro, although his legs were wobbly, remembered the cheers of the children. They gave him the confidence to defeat Goliath before, and he didn’t want to let them down this time. He remembered his father Mr. Saito, every other person who believed in him, and even his mother, who he vaguely remembered.

    The young monster squeezed every last ounce of fire power he had; Goliath poured every last drop of energy into his lightning bolt. Before either knew it, a flash of white light engulfed them both. As the light faded, two forms were left standing. Daigoro, the orphan turned hero; Goliath, the space monster, blinded by revenge. Both stood tall, before Goliath tipped over. His body met with the beaches warm embrace. Daigoro fell to one knee. It took minutes, though it felt like hours, before Daigoro tried to stand using a nearby rock as a crutch.

    Daigoro stood tall, raising his fist in air, like the wrestlers on the image box Mr. Saito showed him once. Slowly regaining his bearings, he knew he had won. He had made everyone proud, even if they weren’t here to see it.

    The plush juvenile was exhausted, hungry, and hurting. He looked over to Goliath, who was breathing heavily, barely conscious. Daigoro limped toward the blue brute, who groggily looked at him, before looking away. Daigoro cracked a smile and stretched out his hand again. Goliath stared back, and strained to lift his left arm, holding onto Daigoro’s hand. Daigoro grunted as Goliath fumbled to stand, but he managed. Once standing, the two stared each other down. Then Goliath turned and lumbered away, wanting to rest.

    He admitted defeat. He knew Daigoro could finish him off if he truly desired. The star monster hung his head in shame as he left the beach. The space monster was about to march over the hills, before feeling a pair of arms wrapped around him, stunned, the blue brute gazed down, seeing Daigoro give him a hug. He didn’t quite understand it, but he knew it was a sign of good sportsmanship.

    Goliath grunted and shooed the child away, barking at the cream colored hippo monster, not to get too chummy just because he bested him in battle. Daigoro nodded his head. He knew Goliath wouldn’t change in a day, but it was a start. Their rivalry was still ongoing, and they would continue to better themselves.

    As Goliath disappeared over the hills, Daigoro went back to his old resting spot, sitting down and appreciating the ocean view. Him and Goliath would clash again one day, but hopefully not for a long while. For now they would rest and enjoy the well earned peace and quiet.

    As Daigoro, prepared to lay back and relax, his stomach growled something fierce. That was definitely something he couldn’t defeat. Oh well, he could go for lunch right about now anyways.

    Winner: Daigoro

    K.W.C. // July 20, 2019
  • When I visited the Tokusatsu no DNA exhibit in Tokyo in January, I was happy to find a few more Godzilla snacks about which I could write reviews. The biggest package I picked up was the Godzilla Honey Pie. Let’s have our usual rundown!

    The package for this one, as with many Godzilla snacks, is pretty memorable. This time we have Godzilla from The Return of Godzilla (1984) prominently featured in the background, with the English text “Godzilla revives in Oshima Miharayama” (referring to the volcano into which the Big G plunged in that film), plus in romanized Japanese “makka ni utsukushiku sakihokoru izuoshima no Tsubaki ni miserarete godzilla ga miharayama kara fukkatsu!” If I am reading it right, the text roughly translates to something like “Godzilla, having been able to gaze upon the full beauty of the blossoming red camellias, revived from Mt. Mihara”—thus implying that the radioactive beastie was getting power from the flowers themselves. Given that the movie in which Godzilla is revived from Mihara was Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), the flower theme seems at least somewhat appropriate!

    Actually, upon inspecting the back of the box, I found out that the pies were apparently made from ingredients sourced from Oshima, where Mt. Mihara resides, so these are real Oshima Godzilla pies—maybe the monster was snacking on them while he rested in the volcano.

    What about those snacks and their flavor? Well, the box comes with 24 individually wrapped honey pies, all of them sporting the same glowering Godzilla visage. The word “pie” in this case refers to the same sort of “pie” that was sold in the Godzilla Pie box I reviewed a few years ago. This time, though, the pies are not black, but are rather white with honey flavoring. I actually really like them, as the flavor is pleasantly sweet, but the pie itself is not overly dry and tastes really nice with a flaky and enjoyable texture. The pies do fall apart easily, though, and are rather messy.

    Twenty-four pies is a bit much for me, so I shared the snacks with my friends on a recent visit to the USA, and they went over reasonably well. If you have a chance, I think these pies are worth a munch—much more so than some of the Godzilla-themed garbage I have eaten!

    Godzilla Honey Pie Review

    Kaiju Kuisine // July 19, 2019
  • “Everyone, deep in their hearts, is waiting for the end of the world to come.” – Haruko Murakami, 1Q84

    When the last dice has been cast, how will it all end? Humans have pondered this question since before we had words to speak. Will our doom be delivered to us in the form of a burning meteor? What if a terrible outbreak sentenced our collective species to an early grave? What if we destroyed ourselves in a nuclear holocaust? Some cultures believe Armageddon is preordained and the fate of destruction is the emergence of an eternal rebirth. Nobody knows for certain. Personally, I think the end will come on the golden wings of a three-headed space dragon.

    Monster Sightings: GHIDORAH is the third installment in a series of short films designed to make the viewer feel like they’re witnessing a kaiju attack firsthand. In this blog entry, I will be breaking down how key scenes were shot using a combination of stop motion, computer graphics, and compositing techniques. I have no compunction about keeping my techniques a secret; my goal is to help you make your dream monster movie a reality.

    If you’re just here to watch a fun little short, then please enjoy the show. If you’re an avid filmmaker or you’re curious about how I made this little flick, read on.

    Prep: Advice for Beginners

    Firstly, know your capabilities. Are you a beginner? If so, don’t sweat it. Start small. It’s nice dreaming about doing a ten-minute video or, Godzilla-willing, a dream feature length project. But every second of your idea will require considerable time and effort. So, I suggest you make your first project a ten-second video. Run a series of tests to make sure you have the basics down. Build up from there.

    To make your film, you need equipment. Chief among your tools of trade will be your camera. But not all cameras are equal. They vary in terms of quality and usefulness. To determine what camera is right for you, it’s good to do as much research on this subject as humanely possible. Most of us start on a shoestring budget, so you’ll need to choose your first camera wisely.

    Since the objective is to make a monster film, you’ll need to work with monsters. Don’t worry, they’re not as bad as you think. All the monsters I’ve worked with are humble and professional (except Rodan). Are you interested in doing stop motion? Great, consider investing in high-quality action figures with excellent articulation. S.H. MonsterArts, Revoltech, and NECA make superb figurines. If stop motion is not your thing, there are software programs that can help you design computer generated characters. Blender is a good place to start. Maybe you want to

    take things into your own hands by donning a rubber suit. I’ve done that and it’s fun/exhausting. Shop around. Touch base with any local costume shops. Consult local talent if you need help in designing a costume, or make your own monster suit. Doing the latter opens the doors to other possibilities. What if instead of designing your own Godzilla suit, you made a completely new monster.

    What about a film set? Find space. For my stop motion projects, I designed a green screen set. Other artists have more traditional sets full of miniatures and materials that are easily attainable. You can build a set yourself or buy one. Be prepared to improvise. If you want to add an element of ‘realism’ to your production, shoot on location. Find a city near you and make your day-off a filming day.

    Storyboard

    Storyboard

    Storyboarding is a godsend. Writing a script is essential, especially if you’re working with actors. But when it comes to planning VFX-heavy scenes? Storyboarding goes a long way in visualizing the story you want to tell. It not only shows you what your film could be, but what it might become.

    Now we get to one of the most underappreciated jobs in the film industry: editing. Once you have the right computer and video editing software, consider investing in Adobe After Effects (AAE). Adobe has a plan where for only $30 a month you have unlimited access to all their products. There are hundreds of tutorials that can help you master AAE and doing so would be in your best interests. It’s unimaginable how versatile AAE is. If you have money to spare, consider buying exclusive VFX content from Red Giant, ActionVFX, and Video Copilot.

    Stop Motion, VFX, and Ghidorah

    Green Screen Studio

    Green Screen Studio

    Composite shots are my forte. Incorporating stop motion characters into real world settings enhances the overall scope. If executed correctly, it can elevate any film regardless of its budget. Through trial and error, I’ve designed an effective green screen studio. Lighting the green screen and your subject is your top priority. For maximum efficiency, make sure you have overhead lighting. It does wonders. Speaking of lighting, fluorescent lights are the right way to

    go. Lighting equipment may not be cheap but they are a must-have for any and all green screen endeavors.

    Helpful tip: There is an app called Green Screener. If you don’t want to use a light meter, the Green Screener app makes for a fine replacement. I highly recommend it.

    Camera, Tripod, and Watch

    For video recordings, I use my iPhone X. Its camera capabilities are topnotch and the quality is easily comparable to camcorders that cost tens of thousands of dollars. I’ve used it to film weddings, tutorials, and interviews. For better results, I utilize the ProCamera app for maximum efficiency. When it comes to doing stop motion, it’s best to take photos in high-resolution. I’ll go into more detail on the nuts and bolts soon enough. One caveat about using your smartphone for video productions is how the focus might be offset by constant motion. Luckily, there are ways to counteract this.

    Tripod

    Tripod

    I cannot stress the importance of a good tripod. You want a multipurpose tripod that is simplistic, strong, flexible, and durable. Mine has a special little gadget designed to hold my iPhone X steady, with an adjustable top.

    If you’re doing stop motion, I’d strongly advise you to have a camera clicker. Pushing your recording device to take a still might shake or distort the camera, compromising your shot. This is why I use the ProCamera feature on my Apple Watch. With one push of the button, I have my shot, and I’m free to continue without missing a beat.

    Putty at Work

    Putty at Work

    Stop Motion and Working with Ghidorah

    Lights, camera, and—be patient. Hours of hard work and labor can result in only a few seconds of screen time. Commit to your vision and follow through with a can-do attitude, and you will create something stunning.

    My subject was S.H. MonsterArts’ King Ghidorah Special Color Version. Its attention to detail is magnificent and its articulation met my high expectations. During the pre-production phase, I researched different ways to utilize Ghidorah in the art of stop motion; however, I didn’t find anything useful. Fortunately, I developed techniques on my own that were effective and acquired the necessary materials that helped spur the process. I’m happy to share my findings with you.

    I used a Camera Tripod to hold Ghidorah up in a flight position. There are alternative ways to pull this off. Use your imagination. Ghidorah and the tripod were held in place by putty. It’s important to keep your subject as still as possible, so that when you move, say, their arms and legs, their entire body doesn’t shuffle out of place. During the editing phase, I keyed out the tripod using After Effects. When it comes to opening and closing mouths, I use a special little tool. ‘Slow and steady wins the race,’ is a very apt saying when it comes to creating art.

    Ghidorah has dozens of articulation positions to shape. I used anywhere between six-to-twelve points of articulation (e.g., heads, wings, tails, mouths, etc.), and it came out rather well. See for yourself.

    Stop Motion

    Stop Motion

    VFX

    Everything at this point hinges on the editing phase. First, I merge ALL the images into one comp. Inside that comp is where we take care of the green screen. If I can’t incorporate Ghidorah into my footage then my efforts will be in vain. To chroma key out the green screen, Red Giant’s Smooth Cleaner and Primatte Keyer are excellent assets. If you don’t use Red Giant, don’t fret; After Effects has its own chroma key plug-ins. After removing the green background, my next job is to trim the images down (to two-frames per second should suffice, but there are exceptions depending on what looks right). If everything checks out, I’ll go about adjusting the lighting, color scheme, and brightness level of the subject before working out its position, size, and motion. If everything is not ok, I’ll go back to the very beginning and reshoot. It’s not fun having to do everything all over again but the ends do justify the means.

    For me personally, this is where the fun begins. In the scene we’ll be analyzing, Ghidorah is flying over a devastated city. The following screen captures will show the gradual process of mixing together our stop motion subject with the original footage and interlacing visual effects. Here we go!

    Original footage

    Original footage

    Sky has changed in order to further sell the sense of dread. Burn marks, building damage, and a humongous impact crater have been added

    Sky has changed in order to further sell the sense of dread. Burn marks, building damage, and a humongous impact crater have been added.

    The insertion of the asteroid and its eerie glow was a necessity. Various fire effects and embers were added to sell the apocalyptic feel.

    The insertion of the asteroid and its eerie glow was a necessity. Various fire effects and embers were added to sell the apocalyptic feel.

    A flash of lightning and a complementing crater glow adds a further feeling of depth and dread.

    A flash of lightning and a complementing crater glow adds a further feeling of depth and dread.

    Our star joins the scene at last. I’m happy to say Ghidorah reported for filming on time. He’s a professional!

    Our star joins the scene at last. I’m happy to say Ghidorah reported for filming on time. He’s a professional!

    Billowing smoke and falling ash joins the fray. The falling ash further sells the widespread destruction.

    Billowing smoke and falling ash joins the fray. The falling ash further sells the widespread destruction.

    In order to help blend KG and the apocalyptic environment together, various layers of smoke are added in conjunction with color palette tweaks.

    In order to help blend KG and the apocalyptic environment together, various layers of smoke are added in conjunction with color palette tweaks.

    Using Red Giant’s Particular plug-in, I’m able to whip up a dark storm that swirls around Ghidorah. ProductionCrate lightning effects, fractural noise glow, and wiggling the opacity of KG shadow on and off enhances the scene.

    Using Red Giant’s Particular plug-in, I’m able to whip up a dark storm that swirls around Ghidorah. ProductionCrate lightning effects, fractural noise glow, and wiggling the opacity of KG shadow on and off enhances the scene.

     

    Final Touches: Sound Design, Score, and Cuts

    Congratulations on completing the VFX phase. All your hard work is close to paying off. But the time has come to do something many filmmakers hate doing, and that’s leaving footage on the cutting room floor. I recommend showing your film to a group of trusted confidants, people whose opinions you take seriously. Their feedback has worth so long as it’s honest and constructive. If all they’re doing is telling you what you want to hear (e.g., massaging your ego), find a more neutral group to listen to. I’ve worked thousands of hours on numerous VFX sequences. And despite the amount of pride I have for my accomplishments, I will trim a scene or cut it out completely if it doesn’t belong. Be prepared to do this. The time to be objective is nigh. When your sound design work is completed, don’t be afraid to cut out anything else that hinders the movie. Follow through on your instincts. If it’s a problem that is preventable,

    prevent it. Filmmakers will always see their movies as being incomplete works of art. But you can do your future self a solid favor by cutting out things you know you’ll regret to see again someday.

    To sell the visuals, you need to make your film as much of an immersive experience as possible, and this can only be achieved through sound design and, if your film needs it, a rhythmic score to add feeling to the story. Whether you’re experienced or inexperienced in doing sound design, the first thing that matters is approaching it with an open mind. Since the beginning you’ve likely been imagining what your film will sound like. If the sound effects are as good as you imagined, then bring your plan to fruition. There is more to sound design than adding to the eyepopping visuals. Visual effects and sound design make wonderful companions. But sound is crucial in many other sectors. If your film has actors with speaking roles, the dialogue needs to be crisp and discernable.

    My film didn’t need a score because King Ghidorah’s actions and sound effects moved the story forward. In my personal opinion, Ghidorah’s unique sound functions as a score in itself. Regardless, I’ve used original scores in my projects before. And as much as I’d love to throw in a track from one of Akira Ifukube’s many classics, the truth is I don’t want my film to be taken down due to copyright infringement. That’s why I use companies like PremiumBeat. For $49, I’m free to use original songs for as many projects as I want.

    Good sound design is invaluable not just for the reasons we can think of, but for the reasons we can’t think of. You’ll never know how important sound design is to your work until you hear it bring your motion picture to life for the first time.

    Final Thoughts

    There are a growing number of talented filmmakers in the online kaiju community. We’re seeing a resurgence in studio monster movies that will inspire generations of new artists. It is a good time to be a Godzilla fan. We are now, more than ever, in a prime position to share our passion for the movies and characters we love. I’m having the time of my life making Godzilla movies.

    All else I have to say is welcome constructive feedback. Vow to grow as a filmmaker and storyteller. Connect with your audience. Take pride in what you do and you will go a long way. Thank you.

    Be Seeing You

    Be Seeing You

    General // July 16, 2019
  • A note from staff

    Now, here’s something a little different. Below is a translation of pages 48-49 from Space Magazine Uchusen Quarterly Vol.66 (1993). I thought it would be fun to showcase some stories from Japanese G-fans… Needless to say, they have their own share of creative – and sometimes absurd – tales to tell! As usual, very special thanks to Noah Oskow for the following translation!

    ~ Joshua S.

    ———————————————————————————————–

    Our Big Forecast for Godzilla, NEXT in USA!

    GvsMG” design staff are illustrating stories thought up by our readers!!

    Our magazine has been continuing to recruit the “Big Forecast NEXT Godzilla Story.” As the whole story of “GvsMG” has become more clear, we were shocked at how spot-on your predictions were (those who caught on from the “Spaceship Library Collection G vs MG Corner” were especially amazing!). Now then, with G-stories having been requested from our foreign edition simultaneously, our readers have been sending us interesting things that only they could have come up with, one after another. And specially for this one and only time, we’ve gone ahead and had the Kawakita Group design staff illustrate four of them.

     

    GODZILLA THE DINOMASTER

    Kagawa Prefecture

    Koichi Kabashima

    An American private research group has been attacked by Godzilla while investigating offshore oil fields. A nuclear submarine that had been patrolling the waters nearby receives the SOS call and attacks, but standing no chance, retreats. Godzilla gives chase, heading towards the mainland USA. After a huge battle takes place in LA, the US forces bring down Godzilla using a satellite cannon. Godzilla, who has fallen into a state of false death, is carried by the US forces to a secret military facility to be made into a cyborg. They mean to make Godzilla, who can withstand nuclear strikes, into the US military’s trump card for localized battles. Five years later, Godzilla receives applause from the masses thanks to his new role as the watchman of world peace, and it’s been decided that there be a military review set up in the waters off New York for the president to observe the cyborg monster. However, during those five years Godzilla’s great brain, which had been completely cut off from his spinal cord, has seen its functions shift to the second brain he possesses in his lower body.

    During the very height of the military inspection, Godzilla destroys his nerve switch with the use of violent interior radiation, and having regained control of this body, bathes the president in his atomic breath, and then emerges from the ocean unto Manhattan. With Godzilla having been outfitted with high-tech weapons, America is completely at a loss.

    GODZILLA THE DINOMASTER

    Aoi Kunio (青井邦夫)

    Aoi Kunio (あおい・くにお) 〇 Works as a mechanical designer for “New Astro Boy.” “UWW,” which was serialized in “Hobby Japan,” became quite the hot topic, bringing new ideas to the Ultra Mecha genre. Designed “Mother” and “Kids” for “G vs. K” as well as Hummer for “Ultraman G.”  Also currently contributing to the covers for Tokuma Shoten’s “Eight Eight Fleet Series” (Koshu Tani).

     

    GODZILLA vs. RUSKA

    Tokyo Prefecture

    Naoya Sato

    The mysterious giant life form Ruska is said to inhabit the seas off Bermuda. The creature uses its massively long tentacles to pull passenger vessels to the ocean floor and eat the humans within. Receiving a passenger ship distress call, a rescue team moves to the scene. Somehow, at the site of the event a number of Ruskas rush in to attack Godzilla. And yet, Godzilla is able to repulse them with ease, and he moves on to invade the Gulf of Mexico. Hit by a two-pronged strategy on land and by sea by the American military, Godzilla momentarily disappears from view, but he once again comes up on land in Mexico, advancing on America. In the midst of the turmoil, Mexicans are smuggling themselves into America. Godzilla pulverizes Dallas, and although he attempts to return to the sea via the Florida Peninsula, just at that time a Ruska even larger than Godzilla appears out of the ocean. In the previous fight it had been changed bodily via sucking on Godzilla’s blood, making it even more gigantic, and even more brutally violent. It has come to suck Godzilla’s blood once again. The battle between the two gigantic beasts begins to unfurl, leading the US armed forces HQ to decide to make use of their newest weapon, the freeze bomb.

    GODZILLA VS. RUSKA

    Shinji Nishikawa (西川伸司)

    Shinji Nishikawa (にしかわ・しんじ) 〇 Has been writing Godzilla manga since his doujinshi self-published era under the pen-name MASH (appearing under that same name in Vol. 39 of this same magazine). Among other things, he managed the final manuscript image of the design of Biollante.  In addition to his usual work on the Rinpu Shobo Encyclopedia Series, he established his reputation via super-deformed illustrations.

     

    PLANET OF GODZILLA

    Hiroshima Prefecture

    Masaaki Shindo

    In the near future, the Spaceship Mayflower, having departed on mankind’s first outer-space expedition, arrives at Planet G. That planet, with its hot temperature and humidity, is controlled by 5-meter tall dinosaur-like life forms. The crew of the ship are killed one-by-one. The sole survivor, ethnically Japanese Jeff Goto, explodes the reserve fuel, burning up the dinosaurs’ planet as he makes his escape. However, one dinosaur, mutated by exposure to atomic rays, has boarded the Mayflower. At the end of the the life and death struggle, Jeff manages to drive back the monster. Jeff, having returned to earth, has become a worldwide hero overnight, but one day, he notices that changes are occurring in his own body, and he begins to hide himself from others. A piece of organic material from a monster that had clung to the partially salvaged Mayflower has begun cell division, and while it absorbs the body of an attacked NASA employee, taking on a gigantic form just like the Thing, it begins to wreck destruction upon the city. At that time, standing in the way of the monster appears Jeff, who has been turned into Godzilla as a result of being covered in the spurt of a monster’s blood.

    PLANET OF GODZILLA

    Minoru Yoshida (吉田 穣)

    Minoru Yoshida (よしだ・みのる) 〇 Thanks to his participation alongside Mr. Aoi and others in the HJ Magazine “UWW,” managed the monster design for “Ultraman G.” Within the Godzilla Series, his name appeared on the final manuscript images for Battra (adult and larva), among other works. In addition to “B-CLUB” cover illustrations, he’s also actively engaged in creating illustrations for science magazines and pictorial books.

     

    GODZILLA CONQUERS THE WORLD

    Saitama Prefecture

    Teruhiko Sato

    Once again, Godzilla has appeared in Tokyo. The Japanese people are in danger! The United States of America, wishing for world peace and the happiness of humanity, dispatches the genius Professor Maximilian and the young Jim. Professor Max hatches a plan to use an anti-gravity missile to launch Godzilla into space. Just as he believes his strategy is about to pay off, Mount Fuji suddenly explodes in a massive eruption. Godzilla is sucked in through a rift in space-time created by the eruption. At this rate the entire history of mankind will be thrown into chaos at the hands of Godzilla! Professor Max and young Jim give chase after Godzilla in the time-boat they have emergency shipped from America. Around that same time, Godzilla is crushing Napoleon’s forces at Waterloo. The Professor and his young charge rush on, but Godzilla’s form suddenly disappears from view. It would appear that somehow the anti-gravity missile that stuck into Godzilla’s tail is affecting space-time. Godzilla appears in different eras, one after another. The Professor finally manages to remove the missile in the world of Jurassic Period.

    GODZILLA CONQUERS THE WORLD

    “Hurricane” Ryu Hariken (破李拳竜)

    Ryu Hariken (はりけん・りゅう ) 〇 We don’t believe we really need to introduce him to the readers of this magazine, but he’s a fighting manga artist and first-class fool for stuffed animals. Having worked on Heisei Ghidorah as well as Battra Larva, he’s now in charge of Baby Godzilla. He provides a large amount of image boards previous to filming within the Kawakita group. He fulfills an important role in reviewing the materials used for the images that actually go to film.

     

    How did you feel about all these? Weren’t any and all of them quite interesting as works that minimize the sorts of stereotypes Americans (?) might have towards Godzilla? Now that we’re done with this part, let’s go ahead and introduce a few more of our readers’ works.

    ・TriStar Pictures, fed up with the strictness of Toho’s checking, assassinate their Japanese counterparts. The embodiment of that persistent grudge, G, attacks Hollywood. The American side attempts to oppose him, but Irwin Allen and Bert I. Gordon’s blundering monster had no chance at rivaling Godzilla…

    Aichi Prefecture Koichi Irizawa

    ・“Godzilla vs. the Superhuman Ant”  Godzilla makes landfall in LA based on the scheming of North Korea and Iraq. While Japan is involved in disputes over peacekeeping operations, G encroaches on the Detroit nuclear power plant. At that time, G’s body floats into midair. “It’s that atomic power! The Superhuman Ant!” With the death of Superman, America must turn to the atomic ant, Superhuman Ant. By the president’s request, the Ant carries G to North Korea, thinking to destroy the Pyonyang Nuclear Reactor and to protect world peace. However, being told to next take Godzilla to Iraq, the Ant’s friendly feelings towards humans are all used up, and he sets out into space with Godzilla.

    Osaka Prefecture Naoya Tatsugami

    ・ “Godzilla vs. The Führer”  Izumi, a Japanese traveler, loses her way in an alternate-dimension America that became controlled by the Nazis following the World War. The Nazis capture Izumi, use her power as the queen of an underground kingdom that was destroyed in an ancient nuclear war to revive Godzilla, and plan to attack Izumi’s people’s world. However, the revived G destroys his controller, and he begins to attack the Nazis. The Nazi’s Bio-Monster Führer moves to attack G!

    Kyoto Prefecture Masahiro Muroyama

    ・ “Godzilla, what is this with you attempting to get farther in the world than me, I won’t forgive you! Uuuooooohhhh!!” Enlarged to a tremendous height of 100m by the power of pure rage, Eisaku Yoshida, working on instinct, moves towards the foot of Mount Fuji and clashes with Godzilla!

    Chiba Prefecture Kan Hasui

    Thanks for all your entries, everyone.

    Translations // July 13, 2019
  • A few months ago I had the great honor of interviewing costume-design legend Keizo Murase in the actual studio at which many of the classic Toho monsters were created. We had an amazing two-hour conversation ranging over kaiju history and covering dozens of stories, and I am looking forward to getting the video translated and posted for fans in the West to enjoy. Chris Mirjanhangir set up the interview in conjunction with Daisuke Sato, who was also the mastermind behind Howl from Beyond the Fog, a Kickstarter-funded tokusatsu short film set in ancient Japan and featuring a cast of puppets—and a film which will soon premiere at G-Fest! After interviewing Mr. Murase, I got to talking with Mr. Sato (who we also interviewed here on TK in the past), and he casually mentioned that he was the one who assembled the Godzilla costume in Godzilla Final Wars, which was designed by Shinichi Wakasa. I was flabbergasted and asked if it would be possible to interview Mr. Sato personally as well, and he graciously agreed. That interview took place on June 22, 2019.

    For now, I just want to give the highlights of that interview, and also invite any G-Fest attendees to go check out Howl from Beyond the Fog. Daisuke Sato is a super nice guy (and he speaks English!), so I hope his film will get a lot of attention at this year’s G-Fest.

    I met Mr. Sato at Burger Mania, one of the best hamburger restaurants in Tokyo (my recommendation) before moving to a nearby café so that I could audio-record more easily, given that Burger Mania was a bit noisy (unfortunately recording in the café may not have been much better, as my mic picked up way too much background noise). Nevertheless, we still had a nice time over tea and/or coffee chatting about Sato’s history of making monster costumes.  Our conversation went this way and that way, but Sato was really patient with my multitude of questions.

    Here I want to especially focus on Daisuke Sato’s experiences making Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), and Gamera the Brave (2006), though he also worked on the sets for The Great Yokai War (2005), and worked on the TV show Gransazers (for which he made gloves for the human costumes, as well as cannons and legs for some of the robots), plus Ultraman Mebius & Ultraman Brothers (2006) and other monster-related projects, as well as Samurai Commando: Mission 1549 (2005), for which he made some of the prop firearms.

    Daisuke Sato got his start working on GMK while he was still a student at the now-defunct Tokyo Eizou Geijutsu Gakuin. His role on GMK was relatively small. He made a wall of life-size Godzilla scales which were used for a scene in which Godzilla emerges from the water and can briefly be glimpsed through the rush of liquid (Sato showed me the scene, but it was hard to catch his work). Sato was also the man behind the puppet in one shot in which Godzilla was under water. A puppet was utilized for that scene in particular shots, and Sato was the performer, turning Godzilla’s head threateningly!

    The other Godzilla film that Sato worked on was Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), on which he had a much larger role. Comparing the two films, Sato recalled that when shooting for GMK, the crew did about ten shots each day, but for GFW they did 16 shots every day (split into two shooting crews). However, according to Sato, GFW was the less stressful as they got off at six each day, but on GMK they might go much longer into the evening, which was exhausting.

    On Godzilla: Final Wars, Sato had an incredible opportunity: he was the man put in charge of assembling the suit designed by Shinichi Wakasa. This windfall did not just plop into his lap, though; Sato personally requested the duty from special make-up man Rikiya Soh, who granted his request. Sato was in charge of assembling three suits, which he did in three months. Those suits included the main suit, a heavier armored suit for scenes in which the monster was taking fire and explosions, and an action suit that was lighter and allowed the actor freer movement for active scenes.

    Sato also has memories of eating at the studio café with some of the actors and staff, and recalls that the actors playing the Xiliens would eat in full costume. (Unfortunately, apparently they did not stay in character while at lunch. Still, the image of Xiliens eating lunch together at a café is priceless.)

    Soon after GFW, Sato would then work on Gamera the Brave (2006), creating the front carapace of the main suit as well as a cheaper Zedus head created specifically to be destroyed in the climactic fight. The original Zedus head was quite expensive and detailed, and thus the second head was commissioned. Asked whether he felt any regret that his monster head had been destroyed, he said, no, since that was its purpose all along.

    Outside of creating parts of the costumes for Gamera and Zedus, Sato was also in charge of costume maintenance, fixing any wear and tear that the costumes might take in the course of filming. However, at least one time damage to one of the suits came not from on-screen monster action, but from an unexpected source: Sato himself! One day, Sato was exhausted after a long day and was trying to load up the costume of the older Gamera that appears in the flashback at the beginning of the movie. Due to his fatigue, Sato accidentally let the costume fall and smash against the floor, damaging the monster. This was before they had shot any of the scenes featuring the beast! Luckily, Sato was skilled enough to fix the costume himself, albeit perhaps with a bit of egg on his face.

    Sato also made performance suits of Ultraman for promotional events related to the 2005 film Ultraman in which he built up the musculature first and then added armor over the top. Sato disparaged these suits in our interview, though, claiming that due to his lack of talent they were heavier than they should have been. These would not be the only promotional suits Sato would make, however, as he would go on to create more hero suits for Gotochi Hero.

    Sato’s most recent project is the ambitious Howl from Beyond the Fog, which was successfully Kickstarted some time ago in November 2017, and on which he worked beside monster effects legend Keizo Murase, who created so many of the classic Toho monster costumes of old. Howl from Beyond the Fog was partially inspired by Ray Bradbury’s The Fog Horn (upon which Sato also created a fan film years ago, which was later tragically lost due to a hard drive crash). However, unlike The Fog HornHowl from Beyond the Fog takes place in ancient Japan. The main characters are a young boy named Izana and a beautiful blind woman named Takiri, who shares a bond with the monster of the film, an equally blind (and in this case, aged) monster called Nebula. (The monster was originally named Amenosagiri, after the Japanese myth, but a child asking about the monster’s name at a convention in France inspired Sato to change the name to something simpler. Nebula has the classic kaiju name aesthetic, ending in “la”, but also sports a double-meaning, since the word “nebula” comes from a Latin term for “fog.)

    Howl from Beyond the Fog is a story done completely in puppets so that Sato could have more control over the shoot and was influenced by a puppet TV dramatization of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms made in the early 1980s (when asked, Sato admitted he had never watched the more recent Thunderbolt Fantasy, and thus was not influenced by that series). According to Sato, almost all the shots are composite shots, and when asked what was most difficult in making the movie, he said “everything!” Still, despite all the hardships, it seemed obvious Sato was excited about the movie, and he said his favorite scene was when Nebula destroys the town.

    When I asked Sato if he has a message for fans of tokusatsu, he spoke about how while mainstream movies have moved on to CGI, independent films can still do the more traditional suitmation effects, and he hopes that both kinds of films can be made in the future (if I understood him correctly—my recording is hard to hear, with too much background noise).

    I was hoping there would be a chance to get my hands on the movie on DVD or Blu-Ray, but as of this time the DVD/Blu-Ray will only be available to Kickstarter backers. In the future there may be more opportunities to see the film, but for now fans will have to be content to watch the movie at conventions such as G-Fest and the Atami Kaiju Movie Festival in November, 2019.

    If you are attending either festival, please consider giving the movie a view. The story is a celebration of classic tokusatsu with a unique aesthetic and a fantastic pedigree. I am so envious because I wish I could go to G-Fest and see the film myself!

    Daisuke Sato Interview Photo

    Interviews // July 12, 2019