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  • Released in 1958, Toho gives another shot at something topical for their science fiction inspiration. In this case, the subject is once more the March 1954 incident around the “Lucky Dragon” (Daigo Fukuryu Maru – 第五福龍丸). This is where the fishing vessel ended up being too close to a nuclear test site, despite being in a designated “safe” area. The radioactive fallout caused symptoms of radiation poisoning in the 23 crew-members, with one passing away as a result. The incident sparked news coverage and anger that led to the creation of an anti-nuclear movement in Japan. Famously, Toho tied aspects of the March incident to the original Godzilla (1954), with scenes that hit close to home for Japanese viewers of survivors later succumbing to the effects of radiation poisoning after encountering Godzilla at sea. For this 1958 movie, the company took things a step further, producing a film that’s much more overt in its topical inspiration. The end result by director Ishiro Honda is one of his better movies, something that works as a horror film mixed with a crime drama that takes the subject matter seriously while being aided by great special effects. It does falter though from especially weak characters in the narrative, which stop the movie from reaching its true potential.
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    Movie Reviews // July 3, 2020
  • Not long after the release of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai in 1954—during which it sold more tickets than any other Toho-produced film that year and ranked at #3 on Kinema Junpo’s annual “Best Ten” list1—Toho began searching for an international market for this extraordinary film about poor farmers hiring samurai to defend their village.

    Questioning whether a 207-minute subtitled film would sell in the Occident, the studio opted to cut the picture down to 155 minutes before submitting it to the Venice International Film Festival in September 1954. There it won the Silver Lion Prize but nonetheless went home without a distributor. Kurosawa wasn’t shocked, as he recalled the studio edits had done catastrophic damage to the movie’s first half, resulting in a confused narrative that didn’t pick up until the more action-heavy second half, which had only been slightly trimmed.2 The film eventually opened at New York’s Guild Theater in late 1956, after having been re-edited again (this time to 160 minutes), and was exhibited under a new title, The Magnificent Seven. And this was the title United Artists/The Mirsch Company decided to use when they remade the Japanese film as a two-hour western in 1960.

    Directed by John Sturges, colorful and entertaining, with one of the most memorable film scores in cinema history, The Magnificent Seven has rightly earned its place as a minor classic, spawning three sequels, a television series, and a remake of its own in 2016. Many of those involved in the 1960 film worked with sheer veneration for Kurosawa’s original. Supporting actor James Coburn recalled seeing Seven Samurai twelve times in twelve days, taking everyone he knew to see it in the process. Leading man Yul Brynner, who’d been one of many parties racing to get remake rights of Kurosawa’s film, stated: “I felt it was one of the great westerns of all time, only it was made by the Japanese in the Japanese idiom.”3 And director Sturges, while fully aware that he was copying another filmmaker’s story, at no point pretended he could surpass the majesty of the original. The immense popularity of both movies has only flourished in the years since, overshadowing the legal trouble that arose in their wake.

    Hashimoto, Kurosawa, Oguni

    The writers of Seven Samurai (1954)
    Left to right: Shinobu Hashimoto, Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni.

    In 1973, Kurosawa and his co-screenwriters on Seven Samurai—Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni—filed a lawsuit against Toho, arguing that the American remake (and its sequels) had been improperly authorized. Their complaint was based on the fact that they’d written the screenplay of Seven Samurai independent of Toho, and that the studio had merely produced the 1954 film; therefore the script was the writers’ intellectual property and Toho was not in a position to approve any third-party remakes without their consent. The Tokyo District Court agreed with the plaintiffs, determining in 1978 that Toho had signed a “one-picture license” with no remake/sequel rights included.4 For this, Kurosawa, Hashimoto, and Oguni were granted a sizable portion of the money Toho acquired through their deal with United Artists.

    This would not be the end of the legal scuffles. In 1991, a few years before moving ahead with the television series version of The Magnificent Seven, MGM (having taken over copyright ownership from United Artists) brought a lawsuit of their own against Toho and Kurosawa’s production company, arguing they still had the rights to produce remakes and sequels to Sturges’ 1960 film. Kurosawa countersued, and the dispute was eventually settled out of court in 1993. Toho ended up paying $50,000 to MGM, and new rules were set regarding ownership. Per the new agreement, Kurosawa and his fellow screenwriters retained ownership of their script; Toho retained ownership of Seven Samurai the 1954 movie; MGM retained ownership of The Magnificent Seven and its franchise; and the American studio also retained the right to continue producing remakes/sequels “but only in the Western genre.”5

    Any other Seven Samurai remakes would have to be cleared through Kurosawa and his screenwriters (and apparently nowadays through the heirs of Kurosawa Production, who’d authorized another remake to be produced by The Weinstein Company, with a director and a writer attached by 2011;6 that project, it would seem, has faded into oblivion).

    As for the Japanese screenwriters and their views on the 1960 The Magnificent Seven. Kurosawa called it “entertaining”7 and was by all accounts very amiable with John Sturges when they met;8 however, he disputed that Sturges’ western was a true version of his film. In 1980, speaking about all the times Occidental filmmakers remade his period films as westerns, he remarked, “Gunslingers are not samurai.”9 Shinobu Hashimoto claimed never to have watched The Magnificent Seven. And Hideo Oguni recalled only the time he met Yul Brynner on a return flight from Paris, during which Brynner gave him a bottle of Napoleon brandy as a souvenir.10

     


     

      1. Galbraith, Stuart, IV. The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. New York: Faber & Faber, 2002, p. 190. The magazine’s #1 and #2 spots were respectively occupied by The Twenty-Four Eyes and The Garden of Women, both directed by Keisuke Kinoshita.
      2. Kurosawa Akira. Translated by Donald Richie. Seven Samurai and Other Screenplays. New York: Faber & Faber, 1992, p. 67
      3. Guns for Hire: The Making of The Magnificent Seven. October Films, 2000.
      4. Cox, Dan. “MGM, Kurosawa Settle ‘Seven.’” Variety, 12 January 1994.
      5. Galbraith, p. 196
      6. “Helmer Rolls a Seven.” Variety, 4 May 2011.
      7. Cardullo, Bert (ed.) Akira Kurosawa Interviews. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008, p. 42
      8. A popular story goes that Kurosawa gave Sturges a samurai sword as a gift after seeing The Magnificent Seven. Sturges biographer Glenn Lovell repeats this story in his book, additionally claiming the American director’s present also included a kabuki doll. Source: Lovell, Glenn. Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2008. Kindle edition.
      9. Waggoner, Dianna. “In Homage to the Master, George Lucas and Francis Coppola Unleash Their Clout for Kurosawa.” People, 27 October 1980.
      10. Galbraith, p. 195
    General // June 27, 2020
  • Author: Matthew Freese | Banner: Landon Soto

    From the ground, it would likely just look like a red and blue streak sailing through a bleak night sky. If one were to get a closer look, they’d recoil in shock at supposedly seeing the dead in the realm of the living.

    The being soaring through the dark heavens looked exactly like the kaiju Iris, a mutated product of ancient science that terrorized the world in 1999. Fueled by the hatred of a misguided and vengeful girl, it had sought out the guardian Gamera and done battle with the terrapin.

    But the being now soaring through the skies couldn’t have been Iris, for Iris had been eviscerated by Gamera’s divine power.

    This wasn’t the Iris the world had witnessed before.

    Humans had discovered the ruins of Atlantis. And as with all things, humankind plundered it. They had discovered rusted, ruined technology. Found shattered streets and buildings littered with skeletons. Preserved text written in a language no one had spoken in eons. It seemed pointless, but still the humans carried on.

    And in one ruined scientific facility, they found an embryo frozen and preserved.

    An embryo that they managed to extract and cultivate, until it grew spear-tipped tentacles and had an all-too familiar skull shape.

    It was a miraculous discovery. Not only for the scientific ramifications of being able to study a kaiju as complex and strange as Iris, but also for the potential for a new guardian to directly protect humanity.

    The new Iris remembered hearing its founders discuss these things amongst themselves. About how most guardians only protected the Earth, with humanity often only being protected because Earth was their home as well.

    And when Iris looked to the night sky now, it was reminded of the reason why humankind had wanted a guardian to protect them rather than the Earth.

    The reddish-orange sphere in the sky drew the full attention of anything looking up. Just the sight of it was foreboding, as it harshly contrasted with the black backdrop. But the knowledge of what it was only made things worse. It was the end of the Earth in its totality, which not a single life form could stop.

    Gorath. It had probably been given a million names throughout its existence. Some civilizations had probably only seen it as a passing light, while others found themselves in much the same situation as Earth. Whatever the case, it was a dwarf star half the size of Earth, but with a far denser mass than any planet. It had entered the solar system humankind called home. It has wreaked havoc upon the orbits of several planets already, but Earth was directly in its path. It wouldn’t even have to touch the blue marble, the sheer gravitational force of Gorath would reduce the planet to nothing.

    Humankind was desperate for survival, so some of them were leaving the planet to search the stars for a new place to live. That was where Iris would have come into the equation, joining the escapees as a guard along with humanity’s mechs and whatever guardians could be convinced to come along.

    They had already left, but Iris still stayed behind due to a simple mistake the scientists tasked with raising it had made. A single action, which they had never even considered being a problem.

    When they selected someone to bond with the new Iris, they had chosen someone with a fearful mind. Someone who, as they gripped the small stone found alongside the mutated Gyaos to join their soul with the creature, couldn’t stop their mind from drifting. Drifting to knowledge of the first Iris, of what it had done and how it had fought Gamera. How this one could follow in those same steps.

    Iris, still in its larval state, was overwhelmed. With such a bitter feeling as fear being forced into its heart; with images, brief flashes that steadily grew longer as the scientist tried to avoid the thoughts, of itself slaughtering people en masse; with images of the first of its species battling a colossal, bipedal tortoise who wielded the power of fire.

    And with a single movement, Iris had sealed its fate by driving a spear-tipped tentacle forward and puncturing the person’s throat. But it didn’t stop there.

    Every scientist in that room were soon nothing but dried carcasses. As were so many other people and animals as Iris quickly grew into its adult stage.

    And now it flew toward Gamera, seeking to kill the terrapin, in some desperate attempt to find purpose in its brief life beyond seeking sustenance.

    Doubt festered and spread through Iris’ mind. Did it really believe that avenging the previous Iris would give its brief life reason, or that it was truly Gamera’s fault it was stranded on a doomed planet? It had no other option, so it forced the doubt down. It had to do this, for closure’s sake.

    This was Earth’s last night.

    Far away from the wandering, young soul was an ancient being, contemplating existence.

    Gamera stood atop a cliff, eyes locked onto his home’s approaching destroyer. The guardian’s mind and heart raced with conflicting emotions, none of them good.

    Doubt. All these years he had spent fighting off threats to this planet, were they meaningless? Every drop of blood spilled from his form, every life form he couldn’t save, and every sacrifice he had to make for the greater good. Did none of it truly matter? All because of an astronomically small probability coming true. Did any actions matter in this fragile existence?

    Anger. At those who had fled the planet, humanity’s last remnants. Not for having fled, it was more complex than that. He had considered leaving with humanity, like other guardians such as King Caesar had. But the Earth was always his top priority. And he refused to participate in what he knew would happen.

    The last vestiges had brought many sensible and kind minds along. Scientists, rulers who cared about their subjects, and the wealthy who used their power for good. But with them were horrid criminals who avoided rotting in prison thanks to their wealth, politicians that happily stamped upon the downtrodden to line their pockets, and businessmen that had been suffocating the Earth without a hint of guilt.

    Humankind would need a new planet to call home, and it wouldn’t fear getting its hands dirty with another civilization’s blood to do so. No matter what the sensible and kind had to say, those with shattered moral compasses always knew how to get what they wanted.

    Finally, sorrow. Not for himself, but for everyone else on the planet that could comprehend what was coming. Despite his belief in what humanity’s survivors would do, he couldn’t have brought himself to stop their escape. Despite humanity’s evil, they had too much good in them for him to doom the whole species.

    He felt sorry for all the people still on Earth. Those who had accepted their demise and chosen to take this time to be with loved ones. Those who chose to drown their sorrows in debauchery, with lives so hollow that physical pleasure was their only solace. Those who lashed out at everything in sight, hiding bitter agony with wrath until Gorath came to burn it all away.

    Then there were the kaiju still stuck on Earth, those that could comprehend their coming doom at least. He hadn’t stayed with any of them long, but he knew their pain. They reacted much like the humans were, divided between those choosing to spend their final moments in tranquility and those who uselessly thrashed against oblivion’s tightening grasp.

    Gamera sighed. The star light reflected off of tears flowing from his eyes, as he switched from contemplating the rest of the world to remembering his own life. He began to reflect upon all he had done.

    But this bitter tranquility was soon interrupted by the roar of blazing, distant, fire which quickly increased in volume.

    Iris held an arm back, ready to drive it forward once it closed the distance. It didn’t want to finish the battle before it started, but the Ryuseicho did want to assure victory from the beginning.

    Gamera turned, just in time to react to the incoming attack. The terrapin leaped to the side in a feat of athleticism that seemed shocking based off his appearance, leaving the mutated Gyaos to stab the space where Gamera had been less than a second ago.

    Iris landed and turned toward its target, as Gamera recoiled at his assailant’s identity. The Ryuseicho merely let out a droning bellow, tentacles rising.

    Had the dead been let loose to walk the Earth? Gamera knew that some human myths of the apocalypse had something along those lines happening, and in the face of this he wondered just how mythical those tales were. He almost couldn’t believe his eyes. He briefly considered if this was nothing more than an illusion born of grief.

    When the tips of Iris’ tentacles opened and filled with energy, the guardian’s doubt and confusion were smothered by his fighting instincts.

    Four sonic cutters pierced the air, directed toward Gamera. The terrapin shielded his face with his arms, then braced himself as four gashes were carved into him. Green blood spewed from the guardian’s arms and torso. But millennia of fighting had given Gamera a tolerance for pain that was unmatched. So, instead of writhing in agony, he charged forward.

    Iris recoiled at the sudden charge, having expected a more severe reaction to its opening attack. This allowed Gamera to close the distance quickly. The guardian raked a claw against Iris’ chest, only succeeding in spraying sparks from the point of impact. Gamera’s other hand went toward the mutant Gyaos’ throat, but was bashed aside as Iris finally started fighting back. The Ryuseicho sliced at Gamera’s stomach, spilling torrents of blood. With its other arm, Iris went to stab the wound it had just created. Gamera used one hand to catch the spear-like protrusion, then swung his free hand as a fist into Iris’ face.

    Before Gamera could attack further, he felt two tentacles wrap around his leg. They yanked back, staggering the terrapin forward. Iris lunged forward, striking the guardian’s forehead with the sharp end of its skull. This sharp pain made Gamera’s grip loosen, allowing Iris to free its arm and rear it backward. Gamera looked up, unleashing a fireball from his jaws straight into Iris’ face.

    A harsh, droning bellow filled the air as Iris recoiled. Its tentacles flailed blindly as it recovered, aimed vaguely in front of the Ryuseicho. Gamera fired two more fireballs at Iris’ chest, leaving black marks on its metallic armor. He waited for an opportunity to charge in, but Iris’ manic thrashing was a more than adequate defense.

    The tentacles stopped, then opened their points. Iris looked straight toward Gamera, then let loose with four sonic rays. Gamera could only shield his face once more, a wise decision he soon realized when all four rays tore into his arms. Iris kept feeding power to these rays, meaning the guardian knew he couldn’t just wait this out. Gamera stepped forward, only for one beam to divert and rake across the outstretched leg.

    Iris let out a hateful bellow when Gamera’s head sank into his shell, the terrapin’s arms and legs soon following. The colossal shell clattered to the ground, its rigid back doing a far better job of withstanding the assault than his flesh had. The yellow beams ceased, as their demonic wielder began aiming them toward the holes in the shell.

    Blue fire erupted from where Gamera’s limbs and head had been. Kicking up a storm of dust and dirt, the shell began spinning in place. Iris stepped back, unsure of how to proceed. The shell, now a blur of motion, lifted off the ground.

    The shell rushed toward the Ryuseicho in a flash, closing the distance in less than a second. Iris was forced back, fighting to stay standing against the assault. The air was filled with a harsh grinding sound, sparks spilling from the point of impact. A cry of surprise left Iris, but was drowned out by the whir of hard keratin on metal.

    The mutated Gyaos swung an arm at the shell, bashing it away. The shell, still spinning, flew away from Iris. The Ryuseicho looked down at its chest, seeing a shallow groove where Gamera’s attack had connected. As it processed this, its tentacles split in half down from the tips, forming blue membranes of flesh which resembled wings. Iris looked back toward the blue streak in the sky, before streams of fire erupted from its back to propel it into the air.

    Gamera’s mind raced as he tried to come up with a way to win. Whether or not this was the Iris he had fought before, it still had the immense durability and power he had struggled against before. Countless foes had been killed instantly or crippled by his spinning shell. But Iris didn’t even seem pained from having what was, in essence, an eighty thousand ton buzzsaw ram into its chest. But he still overcame the first Iris, as he would tonight!

    The retreating guardian’s arms and head came out of his shell. He turned back toward his approaching foe, and shot forth two fireballs in rapid succession. They slammed into Iris’ tentacle membranes, burning the blue flesh black. The mutant Gyaos stumbled through the air, groaning. But still it soared toward the terrapin, left arm-spear held before it.

    The mutated Gyaos slammed into the terrapin, its outstretched arm tearing a hole in Gamera’s side. If it hadn’t been destabilized in its flight, it would have pierced Gamera’s chest instead. The two colossi tumbled down through the air, madly striking at each other in a tangled frenzy of limbs. Blood flowing from Gamera’s wounds spilled all over both combatants, leaving splatters of bright green all over both. Iris’ tentacles closed, hiding the blue membranes once more and leaving the appendages ready for combat.

    Realizing they were near the ground, Gamera grabbed Iris’ skull and began shifting his weight. Iris was too engrossed in the battle to notice it was being put beneath its foe, nor that the ground was swiftly approaching. Gamera’s jets roared to life once more, propelling him off his foe. Before he could get far, two of Iris’ tentacles whipped into his side, knocking him off balance as the bladed tips tore into his flesh.

    The Ryuseicho crashed into the ground, Gamera doing the same a fair distance away. The earth shook at the twin impacts, plumes and walls of dirt forming and then falling just as quickly.

    Gamera stood up a moment later, breathing deeply. He was covered in his own blood, the stains now dark and muddy from the soil covering them. Fortunately, his present wounds were quickly healing and gushing less blood, his internal heat acting as a cauterizer. He searched the area, keeping an eye out for Iris.

    The momentary silence let Gamera reflect. This foe seemed to fight with more purpose than Iris had in 1999, which confused him as this foe also fought like it barely understood how Gamera fought. Was this truly a new Iris? But if so, why would it attack him like this? He didn’t sense anyone trapped inside its core, suggesting it didn’t have a connection to any humans. Or had something happened to Ayana in the time since that day? Had Iris killed her before seeking him out?

    Gamera felt his fists clench tighter at the thought. If Iris had killed Ayana, he would ensure Iris died by his hands this night! He would not let such an injustice go unpunished! Why did he care? The Earth was doomed, Ayana, along with every other human would be dead either way soon enough. But still, why did the thought of Iris killing her incite such anger within him…

    This inner turmoil and confusion was interrupted as Iris rose to its feet. Its head tilted to find Gamera, the glowing orb within meeting Gamera’s gaze. The mutant’s tentacles extended, traveling toward the guardian. The terrapin shot fireballs at the appendages, but they were deflected and left to harmlessly strike the ground. Gamera’s legs retracted into his shell, fire replacing them, only for the tentacles to grasp Gamera’s arms. The terrapin’s flight only made it easier for Iris to begin pulling him closer, leaving the guardian to uselessly fight against the grip of the appenadages.

    Iris walked forward, arm-blades extended. As the distance between it and its foe closed, Iris raised its arms toward the quickly approaching Gamera. Fireballs crashed against its form, but any damage they could have done was ignored by the Ryuseicho.

    Gamera slammed into the outstretched blades, driving them through his torso. Green blood poured from the guardian’s jaws, spilling onto Iris’ body. A look of agony and shock was etched onto his face, eyes and mouth as wide as possible.

    A luminous power flowed from the spears, traveling down Iris’ arms and into its body. The various orbs on the mutant’s body glowed brighter than usual as it took in Gamera’s energy.

    The thrill of combat had already filled Iris with exciting emotions it had never experienced before. All of the organisms it had slain to achieve this form hadn’t put up a fight, the most impressive specimens only managing a useless struggle. Truly battling an opponent worth time and effort was exhilarating to the young entity. But now, the feeling of such grand power becoming added to its own was a sensation that it could have never imagined. It more than made up for the fact that it now had to put an end to the pleasure of battle.

    Pulling Gamera free of its arm-spears, Iris roughly tossed the guardian to the ground. He made no attempt to get up, whether due to lack of hope or of strength Iris did not know. The ends of the mutant’s four tentacles opened, only instead of a yellow glow, they became filled with fire.

    Spheres of burning plasma crashed into Gamera’s still form, blasting apart flesh and keratin. Iris kept firing, intent on continuing until its foe was surely dead. Soon, Gamera’s body began glowing, causing Iris to tilt its head. What was happening now?

    Gamera smiled. So, this was a new Iris. If it had been the first one reborn, it would have known full well why turning the guardian’s fire against him was a terrible idea.

    Iris stopped firing when it saw Gamera’s wounds close, and began backing away when the terrapin got to his feet with an ease like he had just started the fight. With a body still glowing a brilliant gold, Gamera channeled power to his jaws.

    A colossal fireball was unleashed, soaring toward Iris. The Ryuseicho lashed a tentacle out to swat it away, only for the end of the appendage to be burnt to ash. Iris bellowed in pain a moment before the projectile crashed into its chest.

    The mutated Gyaos was knocked off its feet, crashing back first to the ground. Gamera charged forward, grabbing one of his enemy’s flailing tentacles. With one hand he held it as he raised his other arm high. A spike came from his elbow, which he drove into the restrained tentacle. The crimson flesh split against the strike, spilling ichor. The guardian raised his arm again, and drove it back down, severing the tentacle.

    Iris’ other three tentacles wrapped around Gamera’s throat, squeezing down hard.

    Fighting through the pain, Gamera pried the tendrils off of his neck, restraining them. Before he could do anything to them, Iris got to its feet. Though the mutant was incapable of facial expressions, the guardian could still sense hatred and anger boiling inside of it.

    It was so close! Gamera was at its feet, at death’s door! Had it done any other attack, it would have won. But instead, Iris had shifted the tide of battle considerably against itself. As well, this new power flowing through it was pointless! Using Gamera’s power against the guardian only empowered him.

    Iris thrust its right knee up, driving the spike into Gamera’s thigh. The terrapin released the mutant’s tentacles, allowing it to lash them across the guardian’s flesh. At this point, only two of them could do any meaningful damage thanks to their metallic tip. Gamera shoved Iris back, then shot a plasma ball to try and push Iris back further.

    The fireball detonated against the Ryuseicho’s chest, but it did nothing to force it back. Instead it lunged forward, slashing its left arm-spear against its foe’s stomach. It carved open a shallow wound, which only made Gamera fight harder. The terrapin swung a punch across Iris’ skull, knocking the head aside and making it stagger back. Both of the guardian’s hands grabbed the mutant’s skull, and began twisting it. Iris bashed its arms against Gamera’s sides, trying to get him to back away, but he would not release his grip. He continued twisting, trying to break his foe’s neck and end this now.

    The Ryuseicho’s tentacles scraped against the terrapin’s stomach, until one found the fresh wound Iris had made. The metallic point of the appendage was forced into the wound, then opened, separating the skin. A sonic cutter ray left it soon afterward.

    With a haunting shriek, Gamera relinquished his grip. He grabbed the appendage, pulled it free, and tossed it aside. Both combatants backed away, staring daggers at the other. It was like nothing existed except the other, and all that mattered was winning this fight.

    That is, until the ground began violently shaking. Both looked around in confusion, until their gazes fell upon the glowing orb in the sky, preparing to pull the planet apart like it was made of clay and scatter the remains through the void.

    Gamera’s jaw dropped. He had been so caught up in the battle that for a brief moment, he had forgotten about Gorath. How could he have been so foolish? Had it been affecting the Earth already, and only now grown intense enough to break his battle focus? Suddenly, he perceived a blade being thrust toward his side. Before it could sink in, he caught it. Turning his head, he saw Iris. The being was shaking, and not just from the intensifying quake.

    It had to kill him. It had to have a meaning in life, there was no other option.

    Iris brought its tentacles forward and shot their beams at Gamera’s neck. The terrapin brought his free hand up just in time to block them. The pain brought him back to his senses, and renewed his resolve.

    He would die with the rest of his planet, not by the blade of this foe!

    Still gripping one of the mutant’s arms, the guardian slammed his fist into its elbow. The strike failed to dislocate the joint, allowing Iris to pull its arm free. The other arm lunged forward as fast as the muscles behind it could push, leaving Gamera little time to react. His palm came up, stopping the spear from piercing something more vital. He cried out anyway, the spear digging itself in far enough to hit the insides of the wrist.

    The spear glowed as it drained blood, leaving the hand to grow pale. Even if Iris could not utilize its foe’s power, it could still strip that power away. The guardian’s other hand gripped the blade, attempting to rip it out. Iris’ other arm went for Gamera’s chest, forcing him to intercept that blade.

    The two struggled against each other, neither gaining ground for a time. Until the earth beneath their feet began splitting open, causing both to stagger. Gamera regained his bearings quicker, and freed his hand from its impalement by pulling it back.

    The hand was practically useless, unresponsive to any stimuli or commands. Not a drop fell from the gaping wound in the palm. Burning plasma began building in Gamera’s jaws, as he prepared to blast the useless hand off and unleash his second strongest technique.

    Iris slammed into him, leaving the prepared fireball to be sent sailing through the air. The mutant slammed its head into Gamera’s forehead several times, eventually causing a stream of blood to start flowing from it. The guardian began retracting his head and limbs into his shell, only for Iris’ remaining tentacles to grasp his arms. They held the limbs firm, keeping them from retreating.

    The guardian shot a fireball directly into his foe’s face, trying to get any kind of breathing room. The mutant wouldn’t allow it, choosing to ram one of its knees into Gamera’s thigh to keep itself from backing away unconsciously. Iris continued bashing its arm-spears against its foe, each blow further cracking and breaking Gamera’s shell. Occasionally a blow would land on actual flesh, breaking the skin and causing horrid bruises to surround the impact point.

    Gamera had seen this kind of thing before. A creature fighting without any kind of inhibition, without any care for anything except for the death of a singular target. Iris had nothing to lose. And he was quickly running out of options for how to deal with it.

    The Ryuseicho backed up slightly, to slice at Gamera’s chest. Ignoring the pain wracking his whole body, the terrapin retracted his legs and fired up his jet propulsion. He flew back, shooting a fireball to try and keep his rabid foe back. Iris opened up its tentacle membranes, what had once been four, now only two and three-quarters of a third. But it was still enough to let the mutant Gyaos fly, and so it did.

    Gamera looked down, the momentary break in battle letting him take in his surroundings. The ground was breaking apart beneath the two, shallow grooves in the ground quickly deepening and spreading. He wasn’t sure if life on Earth had even an hour left to live, but right now he didn’t have time to worry. Every second was life-threatening for him right now.

    Iris was quickly gaining on him, so he had to act quickly. Bringing up his ruined hand, Gamera severed it with a fireball. The hand had already gone numb, so no pain halted the guardian as his power flowed from his mouth to the stump.

    The mutant was not flying stably. It shook back and forth, rose and fell, but it still went forward all the same, and that was its only concern. There was no pause when its foe blasted his own hand off, that only helped it in its goal. No fear welled up when in the hand’s place a raging sphere of fire formed, fire had assailed the mutant so much during this battle. Its bloodlust only grew when Gamera stopped flying away from it, and instead flew straight toward it.

    Iris’ shaky flight was beneficial, for instead of driving the burning fist straight into the mutant’s chest as he had intended, Gamera instead sent his attack into the Ryuseicho’s side.

    There was a massive explosion as both kaiju collided into each other. Iris’ left arm, left set of tentacles, and massive chunks of its armor fell away from them. Despite the grave loss of body mass, Iris still retained the sense to ram its remaining arm into Gamera’s torso, keeping the two right next to each other as they fell.

    The ground beneath them was ripping asunder, as if the landscape was opening a grand pair of jaws. Gamera tried to use his remaining arm to strike Iris, only for the last tentacle it owned to come around and restrain the arm against the terrapin’s side. The guardian struggled against his binding, but he found his strength waning.

    Looking down into the pit as they moved past its opening, the guardian only saw darkness. It seemed bottomless, but to the terrapin’s relief, they weren’t falling straight in. The momentum behind the collision had sent them falling at an angle. All he could hope for was that smashing into the wall would let him free himself.

    The break in action let questions surface in his mind. Why was he feeling things like hope and despair at this point? Why did he care about winning a battle that had no consequence? Why had he cared about if Iris had killed Ayana?

    As a cavern in the rock wall came into view, which they were sailing directly toward, Gamera struggled to find the answer to his questions. He looked at Iris, who looked back at him.

    Did this matter? Would killing Gamera give it the meaning it sought out? Gamera hadn’t wronged it, the guardian hadn’t personally driven Iris to kill the scientists who had found it. It had done that itself. It could have done any number of things to try and find some meaning, and it chose murder. Was murder just an inextricable part of its nature?

    As they crashed into the cavern, becoming separated as Gamera rolled deeper into the cave than Iris did, they just stayed down for a brief time.

    Gamera began getting up, his mind putting together the pieces as he stared at Iris. Remembering the day he had fought the first Iris, which brought back memories of other battles in his life.

    He fought to save lives. The fact that those lives would end one day, no matter what he did, never stopped him. If this life had an overarching meaning behind it, the living would never know it. So, the meaning of one’s life had to be made by oneself. Gamera had brought hope to an often bleak world and given countless lives the chance to see another sunrise. He had lived a good life, and it had taken one last battle on his home’s last day to make him truly see this.

    So, when Iris got to its feet as well, and the jets in its back fired up, Gamera did not feel fear. When the Ryuseicho lunged forward, remaining arm-spear pulled back, and he found he could barely move, let alone fight back, he did not despair. When the blade tore into his chest, destroying his heart, his final moments were not in agony or sorrow.

    If there had been enough strength in his body, he would have smiled as his millennia long struggle against the shadows ended.

    Iris pulled its blade free, turned around, and stumbled to the mouth of the cave. Even as deep down as it was, it could still see the bringer of the end suspended in the sky.

    They both only existed to cause pain and destruction.

    It never broke sight with Gorath. This didn’t change as the ground beneath its feet collapsed, sending the mutant spilling into the darkness below. Iris’ gaze remained on the glowing sphere.

    Until all sensation was gone.

    Winner: Iris

    K.W.C. // June 27, 2020
  • Author: Michael Allen | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    Gamera growled deeply in his throat before he swiped. The head of the Titan on the receiving end of his blow did not so much get its head knocked off, rather that its head popped from the impact. Gore splashed the ground and the gray, malformed corpse swiftly began to dissipate into nothing. Gamera had learned since his re-awakening these creatures dissolved upon death once the head and neck were obliterated.

    He knew these poor, drooling, and seemingly mindless Titans had once been human. It was something instinctual, his connection to the Earth itself that told him this. And even more unfortunate was the fact that saving them was impossible. Death was their only release from the eternal hunger that gripped them in its deranged throes. He took comfort in the knowledge that they did not seem to possess any true awareness of their situation.

    Rubble of civilization long since dead trembled and was kicked about like pebbles as the remaining Titans scrambled toward him. Gamera roared back in fierce determination and charged them. A swipe from his wrist claw beheading a stupidly grinning Titan, grotesque gray skin pulled tautly over a tall lanky frame. It fell past him, dissolving. He crushed a small one underfoot, unaffected for the crunching of bone and fresh blood that exploded out beneath him as a result.

    A glow built up in his tusked mouth, heralding the unleashing of his plasma fireball point blank in the face of the last Titan.

    His green eyes scanned the surroundings of the ruined city. Architecturally, he could deduce a familiarity in the modernity of the structures, what remained at least. It must’ve only been a few decades after his final battle with the Gyaos that these Titans had risen to drive humanity to the brink of extinction. And he had been fighting them for a very long time. Gamera’s perception of time was not like a mortal beings’ conceptualization of it. He understood the cycle of change and repetition, the fact that as long as there was life certain things had the possibility of occurring again. No matter the era.

    He breathed out deeply, smoke billowing from his mouth. He did not know the full story of how these monsters had risen, but he could piece together the fact that humans were certainly in part responsible for it. Toying foolishly with powers beyond their comprehension as they had eons ago.

    But as always, he would fight. Fight for the Earth. Fight for those who had the power and hope to change the world for a better tomorrow.

    The guardian’s head shifted, a sudden wind stirring dust and trees and their summer leaves. He felt a call to the north.

    Go there. He was needed desperately.

    Taking flight, he would answer the call.

    —-

    Shikishima strode through the wastes of Monzen in his Armored Titan form. Beneath his left arm he hefted the last bomb comfortably. He found it humorous how humans of old would decorate their weapons of death with pictures, ranging from grim to silly. This one had the picture of a blonde woman and the sea. Amusing. A behavioral quirk one would be hard pressed to find in the subservient wastes that called themselves human in today’s hollow mess of a world. His armored face formed a hard scowl at the thought of these beaten down masses as he continued his lone trek toward his destination: the second wall. He would breach it and allow the Titans to swarm the dull eyed masses. Happy to live in slavery as long as it meant “peace.”

    Shikishima felt no pity. Apathy was as punishable as the wanton malice and greed those in power demonstrated. Orchestrating terror and tragedy to further their control.

    Without thought he passed through the remains of destroyed homes, businesses, and public gathering places. Dust swirled through the air and the sky was perpetually gray. Had it really only been two years since this wretched little place had been annihilated? Two years was indistinguishable from two hundred.

    He growled when a strange sound unlike anything he had before reached his ears and for once, he turned his eyes to the sky.

    A figure broke through the gray clouds; azure plasma fire carrying him through the air as he rapidly descended toward the Armored Titan.

    It couldn’t be…

    Shikishima was a knowledgeable man, especially when contrasted to others. He knew much of the world’s long history. Both the conventional nonsense they were taught and the secret history that swam beneath it like blood in the veins of an organism.

    He had seen the footage from the latter half of the 1990s. The time period humanity lived in was not the first time the human race had almost been brought to extinction. He’d seen what footage remained from the very being who approached him now, and his final battle with the beasts known as the Gyaos. In fact, the idea that the human race had come so close to destruction that year had been what prompted hundreds of illegal human experimentation that had spawned the Titans.

    The irony was not lost on Shikishima, who always appreciated a good joke, even if it was black as pitch. The humans of the past had repeated the errors of an even older past. The Atlanteans had created the Gyaos and that had been their undoing. Humans created the Titans. A poetic eternal recurrence.

    Gamera landed, the ground cracking and trembling thunderously beneath him. Green eyes bore into milky white as the two opposing giants stared each other down. To Shikishima’s surprise Gamera was taller than him by a good fifteen meters. The Armored Titan was hulking and powerful, but even he was dwarfed by Gamera. Last he had read, Gamera was eighty meters. Many speculated Gamera’s body evolved and perfected itself and evidently that was true. His gradual change in appearance and increase in power throughout the 90s had demonstrated that.

    “Gamera?” Shikishima spoke; though his tone was amplified by his great size in Titan form he addressed the guardian as one might speak to a new friend. He knew exactly who he was but he wanted to see confirmation for himself.

    A subtle nod from the tusked face. Barely noticeable, but within the nape of his armored body’s neck he grinned.

    “Come to stop me?”

    No response.

    He set the bomb that would assure a new future aside, tall grass whipped against its unfeeling metal form.

    Gamera growled, sensing the evil emanating from this unusual Titan. An evil that was conscious in nature rather than mindless beings simply devouring in primordial need. His clawed fingers tensed.

    “Then let’s see if you live up to the legends, Guardian of the Universe!”

    The two charged at one another, fully prepared to die for what each individually fought for.

    Gamera’s powerful legs carried him forward until they collided in a grapple. A boom reverberated the air around them, rippling like a lake’s surface. Steam billowed hellishly from the Armored Titan and the skin visible between the plates of armor pulsed from red to purple.

    The Armored Titan yelled as he found himself being driven backward by his foe’s superior strength. Growling, he threw his elbow into the side of Gamera’s jaw, stunning him. Pressing his attack, the Titan delivered several rapid fire punches to Gamera’s plated chest, but this only succeeded in making him stumble. Gamera roared, swiping with a wrist claw, but the long haired humanoid merely ducked with an exclamation that sounded similar to a laugh.

    “Too slow!” Shikishima jeered.

    An uppercut jerked Gamera’s head back and he allowed himself to take a few steps away in a feigning act of being overwhelmed. The Armored Titan was fast and skilled, but overconfident. And his following actions were easily anticipated.

    The humanoid swung his right leg at Gamera’s skull in a kick…and in a blur the guardian’s jaws locked onto the limb. Rumbling in his throat Gamera heaved, lifting the Armored Titan into the air and spinning him about and flinging him like a mere toy. The Titan’s plated armor glinted in the sunlight that peeked through the dreary clouds, his skin pulsating in mounting rage. He adjusted his massive frame quickly, acting on reflex. Tucking and rolling and popping up back on his feet gracefully. The remains of buildings trembled and rattled apart pitifully from the greatness of their struggle.

    Gamera pressed the advantage and closed the distance with a frightening speed. Though he would never openly admit, in that exact moment, Shikishima doubted his chances against the shelled warrior, unstoppably determined. Green eyes held the fire of battle, a battle he would never stop fighting as long as he could breathe.

    The Armored Titan blocked the impending swipe with his strong forearms, grunting in the strain against his opponent’s unambiguous superiority in might. But that was an easy way to predict an attack, and Gamera had not won countless battles by being predictable. Another swipe followed and claws tore deep, steaming gouges in the Titan’s nightmarish visage. Bellowing and half blinded he leapt back, wiping blood from his eyes. Gamera snarled, taking notice that this Titan could heal like the lesser of its brethren.

    He rushed the Armored Titan, slamming into him and lifting him off his feet and into the hollow remains of a building. Their roars rising to the sky, dust and rubble flying about in a great cloud. Like apparitions in the shadows, they fought on.

    Exploiting Gamera’s momentum, the Armored Titan seized Gamera’s left arm and, in a heave that required more strength than he knew he possessed, he flipped Gamera over his head.

    Hunks of earth shot skyward and the ground shook from the massive shell that now smashed hard into it. Wasting not a second, he began ruthlessly slamming Gamera’s head into the ground, wanting nothing more than to crack it into a million pieces. The Armored Titan’s head snapped to the geysers of hot exhaust that erupted from where Gamera’s legs had once been. The exhaust became plasma fire in the blink of an eye and he roared in rage, as with no alternative, he released Gamera.

    The Guardian of the Universe flew by and up neatly before landing a distance away, flattening the remains of a public market square, untouched for two years.

    Gamera roared in defiance and again met the Armored Titan head on. Glaring into his opponent’s eyes, he gripped his left shoulder, unharmed by the Titan’s high body temperature. His other hand grabbed hold of Shikishima’s left arm. One decisive yank was all it took to tear it completely out of its socket. Strands of flesh dangled and bone jutted from the injury.

    The Armored Titan bellowed in both pain and rage. Despite the power this white, armored form gave him, Shikishima could still feel pain. It seared his human body’s side down to his bones and his teeth gritted as he waited for his body regenerate. Hot blood spurted in gouts, dousing the earth as he hurriedly stumbled back snarling his hatred at Gamera. Without sparing it a glance, Gamera tossed the arm aside and pressed on. The Armored Titan’s body rapidly began generating a new arm, but not fast enough. Gamera effortlessly blocked the punch and jabbed the Titan’s gut. A wheeze. A hard left swing battered the Titan’s head and blood spurted from the dented face. Another punch cracked his chest armor and a harsh shoulder sent him sprawling.

    —-

    Eren, Mikasa and Armin watched the duel, slack jawed. They had pursued the Armored Titan through the remains of their dead home. Where they had spent their childhoods, where their loved ones had met horrific deaths at forces beyond their control. They had seen the figure descend from the sky and oppose Shikishima.

    Mikasa most of all.

    “Gamera,” she whispered. In her heart she felt a strange swelling. An emotion that could only be called relief. She remembered all the stories her grandmother had told her before bed when she had been just a small child. Stories of a great guardian god: Gamera. She had been told that one of her forefathers had been saved by Gamera when he had been but a little boy. The concrete name of the place eluded her somewhat, but she could have sworn she’d heard the name “Shibuya,” a place in a Japan that no longer existed. She remembered hoping and praying that Gamera was real. That he would deliver them from the Titan’s and the cold, unfeeling walls that penetrated even in her dreams.

    After all this time…were those childhood prayers being answered?

    “Mikasa?” Eren gripped her cloaked shoulder, looking at her questioningly.

    “It’s nothing,” she composed herself, “we need to get that bomb.”

    —-

    The Armored Titan coughed blood, Gamera’s wrist claw slashing his throat wide open. In spite of this he swung, his punch finding purchase to the side of Gamera’s jaw and he promptly followed up with a hard kick to the side of his left leg. Gamera grunted, moderately unbalanced, and Shikishima saw an opportunity.

    Stooping down, he took hold of Gamera’s ankle and jerked the leg, and with a roar gave an enormous twist of the limb in hopes of breaking it.

    Gamera shrieked and toppled over, the abused joint now throbbing. But he had suffered far, far worse than that. He loosed a plasma fireball and the Armored Titan only narrowly avoided its full wrath. Plates on the side of his body melted into disgusting sludge from where it had grazed him. The Armored Titan glowered in a deep rage that was beginning to encroach on something existential.

    Gamera stood upright once more, undaunted.

    “Why are you fighting to save these people?” Shikishima at last spoke again. “Certainly you must be aware they caused all of this?” The sneer on the giant’s face mirroring the one he gave in the confines of its body.

    No answer. Gamera stood as a shelled monolith, bathed in sunlight that seemed divine in radiance.

    “Time and time again, humans cause tragedy and perpetuate these horrors for their own gain! Apathy breeds this and only those with the will to tear it all down have a chance at changing anything!” Shikishima was genuinely frustrated at, in his own views, his inability to reason with someone who had every reason and more to hate them. To want to destroy them.

    “Is what you’re doing any different?”

    The thought entered Shikishima’s head in a voice that was not his own. Deep, ancient, and reverberant.

    The Armored Titan howled, body steaming.

    “I am nothing like them, I’m going to save the world!”

    To the trio that had at last found the bomb knelt by it and watched on. Unable to look away, Eren thought Shikishima insane at his attempts to communicate with the being that he battled so fiercely with.

    “Die with the rest of them.” The Armored Titan snatched up a large, blade-like object from the remains of a destroyed building.

    Gamera understood now. Shikishima was evil at the present time, but he found there was little that separated him from Ayana Hirasaka all those years ago. Angry, misguided. Hate born from a world where she felt she had lost everything to something outside of her control. Grief contorting her heart. This man was much the same.

    He ducked beneath the swing aimed for his neck, grunting when a ferocious kick nailed his abdomen.

    Gamera swiped and the Armored Titan pivoted his weapon, thrusting it forward with a yowl. Gamera caterwauled as the blade pierced into his right hand and pushed through the palm with venomous spite. Green blood trickled down his wrist and arm, staining the metal.

    The Armored Titan’s nearly lipless mouth pulled into a smile, satisfied at finally drawing blood. But that was far from what it would take to stop Gamera.

    The guardian lashed with his free hand and the Armored Titan felt the breath leave his body, coughing and choking on a flood of crimson that bubbled up in his throat and dribbled from his mouth. Gamera’s left hand broke through the plates protecting his gut and pierced through, bursting out the back. Without hesitation the guardian headbutted him squarely in the face, practically destroying the head entirely. The mutilated body stumbled weakly, desperately repairing the damage. Bony plates clattered to the ground and entrails wetly plopped to join them, sizzling in the increasing sunlight. From a distance, the two appeared to be bathed in the light of a supernova, and somehow the ruins of Monzen seemed alive once more.

    Gamera growled in suppressed pain as he pulled the weapon out of his hand. Momentarily he inspected it, his fingers tensing. The irony of the injuries mutually inflicted not lost upon him.

    Again, the battle was rejoined, the Armored Titan aiming another kick to his side. Angling his side, the kick harmlessly bounced off the serrated edge of his shell. The plates on the Titan’s belly absent, evidently the more heavily armored parts of his body took longer to restore themselves. Gamera grunted, eyes narrowing as a plan formulated.

    He caught the right arm that swung at him and squeezed, plates rubbing together audibly until the limb splintered under his vice grip. The Armored Titan roared in agony, that roar becoming a gurgle as claws ripped open his belly once more. Entrails dangling and Shikishima’s strength began to fade, his face twisting in an odd concoction of anger and despair.

    Gamera’s hands plunged into the fresh wound and his arms began to work. Muscle and bone fought hard to stay together as Shikishima realized with horror that Gamera was ripping him in two, tearing faster than he could heal. With a titanic roar, Gamera pulled up and an explosion of blood and gore followed. The upper body of the Armored Titan flew and twisted limply, the legs lifelessly toppling at Gamera’s feet.

    The upper body landed in a heap, groaning and gurgling feebly. Futilely clawing at the earth and gouging into the soil and grass, dragging himself away, slowly leaving a shining red trail in his wake, chunks of his own body rending from him. Was this all his ambition led to? A bestial struggle for his own life that ended with him pathetically dragging himself across the ground?

    Powerful footsteps followed him and he registered the gore smeared claws plunging into his nape. His world became black when Gamera tore him free of his maimed Titan body.

    The guardian looked at the vestigial mass that held within it a man. Unconscious and vulnerable. Angry and misguided, but with aspirations of changing the world. Turning his gaze to the three humans that still watched them, he slowly marched his way toward them.

    —-

    “He’s coming this way!” Armin gestured frantically at the approaching giant. He clutched at Eren and Mikasa, tugging at them fearfully, wanting nothing more than to run.

    “Wait,” Mikasa murmured, softly gesturing for them to wait and release their fear. Something about Gamera’s intent resonated with her. At the moment, she was not entirely certain if it was something metaphysical in his attempt at communication and stemming from the stories of him that had given her hope years ago or simple projection. She doubted the latter interpretation.

    Gamera stood before them and they were engulfed in his shadow, it spilled across the land like a wave. Sunlight hung behind him and burned like a halo. A gentle, hissing growl rumbled from him and slowly he knelt down to them, extending his blood caked hand carefully. Eren kept a brave face, not entirely certain of the giant’s intent. Mikasa unflinchingly looked him in the eye as he laid Shikishima before them. Alive. Unconscious, but alive.

    Mikasa looked at the captain who had trained her, and then she looked up at Gamera. He unmistakably nodded toward her.

    “I understand,” she spoke clearly to him and her voice felt small in his presence but she knew he comprehended.

    A beat of silence and Gamera set off once more, she still watched him.

    Once he was a considerable distance away, he took flight into the sky. He still had work to do. It would be a long road ahead but he knew with certainty humanity would have a future, in no small part due to those four.

    “Mikasa?” Eren spoke, awed, but confused.

    “He’ll come back when the last of the Titans are exterminated,” she doubted that likely would not be in her lifetime, but she understood the chance he had given them all. And the chance he had given Shikishima. Mercy was a rare thing, even rarer in the world they knew.

    They had work to do and like Gamera’s own mission, it was monumental. But in that moment of clarity, the three of them had a distinct knowledge that they would succeed.

    A roar of triumph and battle sang through the sky, ushering in a new era.

    This time, they would make sure it was not wasted.

    Winner: Gamera (Heisei)

    K.W.C. // June 20, 2020
  • For this Toho Kingdom interview, I am speaking with Norman England, the director of the documentary Bringing Godzilla Down to Size and a writer/photographer with twenty-two years’ experience working on Japanese film sets. He reported on a number of kaiju movies for Fangoria magazine in the late ‘90s/early 2000s, many of his articles documenting set visits—including several for Shusuke Kaneko’s Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999). His time on this particular film will be the main subject of our conversation today.

    Norman’s Fangoria articles on Kaneko’s Gamera trilogy will be reprinted in the upcoming Gamera Blu-ray collection by Arrow Video, so now is an ideal time to delve into what he saw on the Gamera 3 set and learn more about the production. We will also be discussing a science fiction film Norman himself directed, called The iDol (co-starring an actor from Gamera 3), available for preorder from SRS Cinema, LLC.

     

    Patrick Galvan: In starting off, please tell us about the first time you met Shusuke Kaneko, and how you got onto the set of his third Gamera film.

    Norman England: I met Kaneko in December 1997, when I interviewed him for Fangoria. At the time, he was at Nikkatsu, in the midst of post-production on F, a film he shot in-between Gamera 2: Advent of Legion (1996) and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999). To be honest, the interview didn’t start out particularly well. For example, when I asked why he became a director, he said something to the effect of: “I like movies.” The interview wouldn’t turn out very good if we kept this up. I’d learned beforehand that Kaneko had gone to school to be a history teacher—his backup plan in case he couldn’t get a job in movies—so I changed tactics and asked him about the history of filmmaking in Japan. That got him out of his shell, and we ended up talking for hours.

    Fangoria really liked the Kaneko piece. They also really liked my second article, in which I spoke with Haruo Nakajima and Kenpachiro Satsuma. Since I’d now interviewed people who’d worked in kaiju films, the next thing Fangoria wanted was for me to get onto the set of a kaiju film. And because I had a healthy relationship with Kaneko and I knew a Daiei public relations man from the first interview, I was able to visit the production of Gamera 3 in summer 1998.

     

    (more…)

    Interviews // June 13, 2020
  • Author: Thomas Fairchild | Banner: Thomas Fairchild

    They closed their eyes to see the white canvas turn black.

    The distant sun exposed the Earth, a world flirting with innovation and annihilation. A loud, high-pitched scream rocked the planet to its core, stirring it to action. Waves of golden energy emanated from all corners of the globe, surging through wild blue oceans, lush green fields, puffy white clouds, and silent gray mountains, ultimately converging on the nation of Japan. It was neither a natural phenomenon nor a human-made experiment gone awry; it was the planet’s last desperate plan to repel the most insidious of infections. (more…)

    K.W.C. // June 13, 2020
  • As Legendary Pictures moves past Kong: Skull Island (2017) and looks toward the future of the MonsterVerse, naturally news is starting to build for the next appearance of Kong, as the character is set to tangle with Godzilla in 2021. This article is a news roundup for everything known related to the rematch between the two characters. It is ordered by date, with the latest news appearing first and oldest news at the bottom. (more…)

    News // June 12, 2020
  • CrunchyRoll has launched their exclusive Godzilla Streetwear collection. These clothes are largely inspired by the work of artists Simon Gane, Dave Watcher, Zach Howard and Ronda Pattison for the artistry done on the IDW Publishing comics around the King of the Monsters. These clothes are extremely limited. Pre-orders start today, June 11th, and run until June 22nd. After that date the clothes will not be available for purchase, but are expected to ship sometime in August, 2020. This leaves only 11 days to buy the clothes. (more…)

    News // June 11, 2020
  • Creator: Thomas FairchildBanner: Thomas Fairchild

    An otherworldly threat descends upon the Earth. Coated in an alien arsenal, the cybernetic invader threatens all life on Earth. Only a demon of legend possesses the power to stop it. Rising to the challenge, Iris humors the aggressor and engages in aerial combat. Who will win in this clash of titans: the False God or the Cybernetic Assassin? (more…)

    K.W.C. // June 6, 2020
  • Author: Landon Soto | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    In 2019, the world had witnessed the epic clash of two legendary titans; Godzilla and Ghidorah. The two fought for alpha supremacy, and during their fight, they awakened an army of monsters that rampaged across the Earth, before eventually converging to a single point: Boston. There these new titans saw the mighty Godzilla stand tall above a defeated Ghidorah. Among these titans were the fire demon, Rodan; the mountain titan, Methuselah; the giant crustacean-like Scylla; and finally, the earth titan, Behemoth. (more…)

    K.W.C. // May 31, 2020