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  • Author: Matthew Williams | Banner: Dao Zang Moua

    “Now tell me, my love,” Dr. Malik spoke to his wife, “Is this what you envisioned? You and I, relaxed as my creations do the work of what we have longed for?”

    “Yes, it’s all I ever wanted,” Lucretia replied. “But what’s more important is that I’m happy to see you get what you desired.”

    “And I bet McKenzie never knew what even hit him,” Malik chuckled as he sipped on his champagne, enjoying his time watching the screen that displayed the hidden underwater city, Latitude Zero.

    As for what Malik had dreamt of, the city was put into his hands the moment a happenstance meteorite collided with the barrier that protected it, shattering it with immense force. The force field, under normal conditions, would have prevented anything from entering Latitude Zero and was the only thing that kept Dr. Malik from entering the hidden paradise. In addition, the weather in the sanctuary went from the usual warm, sunny day to an unexpected snowy blizzard. Nobody was able to give an explanation on why it was happening. Not expecting that such a fortune would fall in his favor and not wanting to question it, the good doctor took this opportunity to attack. He deployed the Black Shark to invade the peaceful city that held the knowledge and wealth he yearned for. The submarine sailed through the water’s surface and fired its laser cannon, easily decimating the longstanding structures. While precautionary measures were taken from within Latitude Zero, Malik ensured that nobody would be safe. The Black Shark released a huge swarm of the mad scientist’s hideous creations.

    People were pounced and pinned to the concrete as they were horrifically gnawed on by oversized rats that were about as tall as the average person. Some of them were swooped into the air by Malik’s second most intelligent creation, the Bat People; heavily modified human hybrids with the fur, the muzzle, and the winged forelimbs of a bat. The deformed mammalian monstrosities carried anyone unfortunate enough to get caught in their talons, where they soon dropped them to their deaths. The mammalian horrors continued to follow Malik’s order: to kill anyone and anything that they saw in this paradise.

    Then there was Malik’s ultimate monster servant, a creation that cost the life of Kroiga, the previous captain of the Black Shark. But the doctor had little interest in her and had many other henchmen worthy for piloting the submarine. But it was mostly for the better for his love relationship with Lucretia, who despised Kroiga for having romantic feelings for the man she cared for. With her disposed, Malik had used Kroiga’s brain to create an intelligent creature. One that had the body of a lion and the wings and legs of the largest condors he could capture. Derived from the kanji of Kroiga’s name, Malik called his griffon creation Black Moth.

    A loud cry was heard from Black Moth as her wings glided her through the air. The chimera used her frontal talons when she slammed into a building, swiping at the structures as they crumbled away. The griffon glared at the civilians that cowered before her, pouncing on them as her forearms crushed them. She noticed some of the inhabitants in golden suits flying toward her with their jetpacks, where they bravely tried to fend her off by using their glove-mounted weapons that ranged from flamethrowers to lasers. Although she backed away at first, Black Moth swiped each one out of the sky, with several of the bat people swooping in to assist.

    As the horrible beings savagely slaughtered Black Moth’s attackers, the griffon growled in fury. Not because of her savage nature or the sudden snowstorm that was blowing. While she appeared to be a beast, the mind and heart of Kroiga still remained. She had done everything for Malik, even with the strongest urge to marry him. But after what he did, her love for the doctor turned into a vengeful hatred to him. She hated everything about him, but she loathed Lucretia even more. If she were standing there, Kroiga would have ensured her death would be slow and terrifying. But the good doctor figured she would try to revolt against them. During the operation, he surgically inserted a communication device that doubled as shock treatment should she ever try to defy her creator’s commands. Kroiga learned this the hard way when she tried to murder Lucretia, which almost cost her life after barely surviving the powerful shocks. With no way to have her vengeance without risking death, the reincarnated Kroiga was doomed to being an abused pet for the madman that turned her into a monster, a tool to crush those who stood in Malik’s way.

    Craig McKenzie was siding with Ken Tashiro and Jules Masson, where they too were in their golden suits to combat the invaders.

    “How many of these things did Malik create? And not even the snow is slowing them down!” Tashiro cried out, spraying flames out of his fingertips at the swarm of rats.

    Before either McKenzie or Jules could say anything, Black Moth landed on the ground near them with a heavy thud. They looked up at the tall griffon that stood over them, who gave the loudest roar of a lion that could have been heard. They all quickly activated their jetpack to fly straight up, just in the nick of time before Black Moth could crush the three with her talons.

    A loud growl, from a different source, was heard from afar that caught Black Moth’s attention. McKenzie look at the direction that she was looking at and saw the large facility breaking apart as another large creature emerged. It was one that he was most familiar with. A creature he had found abandoned and had built a large enclosure facility to raise him.

    “Daigoro! He’s escaped!” Jules shouted.

    Daigoro shivered up and sneezed. He too was feeling cold from this snowy weather. But unlike everyone else, sans Malik’s creations, he wasn’t bothered that much by the low temperatures. He marched his way toward Black Moth as he began to hop up and down in a childish manner to try to look tougher than the feral animal that he was facing against. Even as an adolescent, he tried to intimidate Black Moth. If this led to a fight, then he would be confident to do so. The winged lion gave another loud roar again, which made Daigoro whimper and cower a little. But that didn’t last long as the giant mammalian responded with a rumbling growl.

    “We have to go, it’s not gonna be safe if they’re gonna fight!” ordered McKenzie.

    “But what about Daigoro? He doesn’t even know how to fight!” Jules said concerned, worried about what was going to happen. But he had no other choice but to fly away with them when they noticed several bat people flying toward them.

    “That’s by far the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen,” said Lucretia in disgust by Daigoro’s appearance. It reminded her of hippos, her most hated animal.

    “Well by the looks of it, it doesn’t seem to have a clue of how to fight in properly,” said Malik, having another sip of his champagne. “Think we should give our pet a test to see how powerful she is, darling?”

    “I don’t see why we shouldn’t,” Lucretia answered, grinning along with her husband, who then gave his pet her next order.

    “Sick’em, Black Moth.”

    Black Moth roared again when she charged, running on all fours, then lashed out with her talons. Daigoro shrieked when he felt the sharp talons raking across his soft hide as he backed away. Kroiga snarled when she slashed again, but the hippopotamus-like beast struck back by punching her nostrils, having her back away. Daigoro growled as he began pummeling the lion with his fists, striking her as hard as he could. This only annoyed Black Moth as she quickly snapped at the adolescent’s right wrist. Daigoro squealed when he tried to unhinge the jaws with his other hand, but this made the chimera shake her head to tear the arm like a rabid dog. Daigoro’s remaining hand scooped up a pile of snow, grunting when he slammed it on the griffon’s eye, which did the trick as she released his wrist.

    Black Moth shook her head as she howled loudly, rubbing the snow off her eye. Daigoro’s bitten wrist bled out a little as he felt it numb ever so slightly, but thankfully it was in good condition. Pounding on his bloated belly, Daigoro moved closer to grab Kroiga’s neck and tugged on her mane. The wings of man-made griffon flapped as she slashed the leg of Latitude Zero’s only hope. Daigoro cried out when he let go, backing away as he fell on the snow, rubbing the bloody cut on his thigh. Black Moth lunged in for the attack, toppling on the mammalian as she cut into his soft hide.

    Daigoro whimpered as he tried to defend himself, but the only thing he could protect was his own neck and face. He felt the lion viciously cutting his arms and belly, only to then grab Kroiga’s left forelimb. Malik’s pawn used her other claw to slash at the bipedal hippo, but Daigoro opened his maw and chomped down the moment it went straight for his jugular. Agonizing cries came out of the winged feline, even though her enemy had little to no experience in combat, the bite he gave was just as painful as hers. Daigoro managed to push his enemy off of him, standing up as he held onto his toothy grip. Black Moth struck him with the only thing that was free, her wing. Daigoro flinched from the gust he felt on his head, but he pushed the feline with his might, forcing Kroiga to strike him several times with her feathered forelimbs. Finally, after striking his head for the fourth time, she felt her frontal legs become free. Daigoro cried out as his head ached from the blows he took from the wings, and then felt a powerful swipe across his face when Black Moth made her next move.

    Daigoro cried out when he staggered back. Not wanting to feel chicken, Daigoro cut his cowardice and slammed his foot down as he cried out a valorous growl. Kroiga used her wings to fly, making a beeline toward her prey. Daigoro’s bravery reverted back to cowardice when he saw the lion’s frightening expression. He accidentally tripped and fell flat on his bum, and could only watch as Black Moth flew by, passing over as her talons failed to reach him.

    As Daigoro recovered, Black Moth circled him from a distance and waited for an opening to strike. The hippopotamus beast watched her movement carefully. This time, he would try not to let his fears best him. As he eyed on her, his nostrils flared. Kroiga made her move and flew directly at the young monster. Daigoro jumped high in the air, prepared to body slam against the flying lion. Instead, he missed and crashed against a tall building that toppled on him.

    McKenzie, Tashiro, and Jules watched as the hungry kaiju cried out, pelted by falling debris that buried most of him. Only his head and limbs stuck out of the rubble.

    “Damnit, I knew this wouldn’t turn out well!” Jules shouted as he saw Daigoro weakly pull himself to his feet.

    “The poor thing has no experience in fighting…” Tashiro pitied, imagining how painful it was for the young kaiju.

    Daigoro patted and shook the snow and dirt off of his body. He looked around and noticed the Black Shark to his right, situated at a spot where he was closer to the sea. Suddenly, Kroiga flew in from behind and slammed her frontal claws on the child from the left. Daigoro fell on the snow-covered ground again, pinned by the winged feline.

    Malik and Lucretia watched the screen as Black Moth savagely slammed her frontal limbs on the pinned Daigoro. Neither of them felt any regret watching the child’s suffering, treating it as mere entertainment. With every successive strike, the infant’s thrashing slowed. Jules, watching from afar, covered his eyes; he couldn’t watch this sadistic violence any longer.

    Black Moth growled as she stared at the battered Daigoro, who whimpered painfully as he tried to get up. But his muscles ached from the pain, his blood painted the snow from beneath. Deciding that enough was enough, Black Moth readied her claws, to slit her prey’s throat.

    But she came to a halt when the freezing sea suddenly erupted. A silhouette burst out of it within seconds and flew in, catching Black Moth off guard. The figure collided with the beast, Black Moth barely getting the chance to get glimpse on whoever grabbed her. The two rolled across the pavement before they released her. The stranger was the first to recover on their feet in an instant. Kroiga shook her head as she slowly got up, growling at whoever her attacker was.

    McKenzie, Tashiro, and Jules were able to glimpse at Daigoro’s savior amidst their conflict with the bat people and the giant rats; they appeared as a humanoid giant with red and silver streaks uniform to their body.

    “Could it be…?” Jules uttered in disbelief. “That’s Ultraman!”

    “You mean… one of the heroes that saved humanity from above?” McKenzie asked. Jules nodded to him in response.

    “There’s something off about him. His head looks completely different, and I don’t remember those shoulder pads,” remarked Tashiro.

    “But the question is, how did he discover the entry way to this place?” McKenzie wondered.

    “That, I dunno how to answer. But what I do hope is that he’s here to save us all from Malik’s swarm,” Tashiro answered.

    “But still, what about Daigoro?!” Jules questioned, still worried about the young hapless monster, lying in the snow covering his wounds.

    “Unless this weather clears, he might freeze…” McKenzie replied.

    “Ultraseven…” Malik growled. The smug face that he held began to deteriorate into a frown. He had heard the stories from above that the humans had been saved by two giants that they called Ultraman and Ultraseven. “Why is he here? To foil my chance to accomplish my goal?!”

    “Take it easy there darling!” Lucretia worried. “Think about your blood pressure.”

    “You’re right, I shouldn’t go on an outburst in front of you,” Malik sighed, finishing his drink to ease the frustration.

    “And besides, is it me? Or does Ultraseven look like he’s hurt?” Lucretia asked as her husband took a further look on the monitor that viewed the drenched Ultraseven facing Black Moth. The tall alien shivered. It was a minute detail that only those with keen eyes could pick up on. Ultraseven promptly struck a pose, ready to fight.

    “He could be weakened from the cold. If that’s the case, then I still have a chance to beat him,” Malik smiled, reaching for his device to give his towering creation his next command. “Black Moth, kill Ultraseven!”

    The griffon took flight, crying out as she readied her sharp talons that were quenched in blood. Ultraseven acted quickly when his hands caught the winged chimera’s palms. The strength of Black Moth was enough to push the red and silver giant backward as his soles raked through the concrete surface, but he held his footing and pressed against Kroiga’s forelimbs. Ultraseven yanked the winged feline downward, the lion cried out when her underside slammed against the cold snow. Ultraseven proceeded to hop on Black Moth’s back as he karate chopped the fur-covered neck. The engineered animal howled loudly, shaking wildly to get the alien hero off of her. Ultraseven’s left hand clenched on the mane as his other hand kept striking at the head. The griffon forced herself to her feet, pushing the humanoid giant off her as he landed on his back.

    Ultraseven shuddered as he quickly pulled himself up. Before Black Moth had a chance to turn around, he grabbed and tugged on the lion’s tail. Kroiga felt the irritation run up her body, so she twisted around to swipe her claws at the red giant. Ultraseven yelled when he felt the talons of the lion rake his hide. Although no blood was drawn, he was not immune to the pain it delivered.

    He released and jumped back when Kroiga tried to grab him. The lion growled, but immediately stepped back in shock when the ground in front of her was erupted by the Shakehand Ray that Ultraseven threw. The warrior from the Land of Light repeatedly threw five more energy shots like a ninja throwing his shurikens, creating miniature explosions around Malik’s pet. Black Moth roared in a panic and began hastily taking flight. But one of the small bullets detonated her right wing, with a terrified yelp to accompany her as she landed on her avian feet.

    Black Moth screamed a frustrated roar as she dashed in on all fours, ignoring the energy bullets that pelted her. She slammed into Ultraseven, the hero staggered back for a moment before he countered by shoving Kroiga on her back. He then pinned the beast and continuously beat her head with his fists and karate chops, refusing to stop even if his muscles felt like they were stiffening from the harsh cold atmosphere. Malik kept telling his creation to fight back, even going as far as to activate the device’s tasers to enrage and urge her to fight. Black Moth cried out in agony as she lost her human side. Her uncontrollable rage had bested her, solely depending on her malicious instincts. She violently clawed the pavement and flapped her wings, but Ultraseven kept her down so that she wouldn’t have a chance.

    Malik, who would rather play dirty against those who oppose him, gave his orders to his other spawns to ceasefire and assist Black Moth. The remaining bat people stopped attacking McKenzie and his men as they flew off to swarm Ultraseven, with the infested giant rats following behind. The winged humanoid freaks latched onto and slashed Ultraseven’s silver head, while the oversized rodents crawled onto his legs and gnawed on the hero’s crimson spandex. Although neither could tear his hide, they had at least managed to get the giant off of Black Moth. Ultraseven swung his arm to swat the bat men while he slammed his hand to crush the giant rats that were latched onto him.

    With Ultraseven preoccupied with the hordes, the Black Shark took aim and fired its laser cannon at the crimson warrior’s back. Ultraseven yelled as the ray detonated against his spine, falling onto his knee as dozens of charred rats were blown away. He was struck again by another laser beam from Malik’s submarine, forcing him on his chest. Ultraseven groaned in pain when he moved his body to get back up. Black Moth’s snarl turned into another terrifying roar of a lion when she rose up to sprang forth, pouncing on Ultraseven to pin him on the cold ground.

    The rats that managed to survive quickly scampered off of the laying hero, while the remaining bat people watched from afar. Black Moth opened her jaws and let loose another roar as she brought it down to chomp Ultraseven’s throat. The warrior caught Black Moth’s jaws, desperately pressing her head away to keep her teeth from ripping into his jugular. Kroiga bellowed when she tried to make her resisting target let go by scratching his face with her claws. Ultraseven held on as long as he could, but this struggle was starting to wear on him. The combination of the freezing atmosphere and the sharp talons that raked his head and arms were only accelerating it, indicated as his Beam Lamp started to flash.

    “No! He’s losing!” Tashiro shouted as he was about to dash in to try and help Ultraseven. He was stopped dead in his tracks by McKenzie when he noticed the Black Shark’s cannon taking aim at the giant’s head.

    “Don’t! You’ll get—” McKenzie shouted at him. Suddenly, a flash of light caught his attention as he looked back at the stationary submarine. It was swaying back and forth while a jet of water shot out of the sea.

    The cannon fired, only to miss Ultraseven’s head when the meteorite, the one that destroyed the barrier, surfaced. The Black Shark was pushed aside when the space rock raked against its metallic hull. The meteor crumbled away, followed by a bellowing cry. A cold-looking monster emerged out of the tomb, resembling that of a blue lizard with a face akin to a rhinoceros with a unicorn spear and rows of teeth. It cried out again when he raised his gangly yet muscular arms as he reached out for the Black Shark. The crew tried to have its cannon aimed at the new monster, but the beast’s huge palms grabbed the vessel and hoisted it out of the ocean’s surface. Malik and Lucretia watched in disbelief as their beloved submarine was thrown from afar, where it made an explosive landing onto the snowy land, cutting off the video feed on the screen.

    The monster grunted in satisfaction by the Black Shark’s destruction. He trudged his way through the bone-chilling ocean to reach dry land. He looked up, the horn on his head lit up a brief flash of light with volts crackling. Although no energy was unleashed, the snowy clouds that darkened Latitude Zero swiftly cleared up. The light of the artificial sun shined on the damaged city as everyone felt the warmth on their skins. The changing weather helped Ultraseven recover from a freezing demise, with his shoulder protectors already absorbing the sunlight, giving him the strength that he needed to shove Black Moth off of him. Daigoro’s nostrils snorted. He looked up and saw Kroiga recovering. He screamed in surprise when he saw the new and intimidating monster.

    “Oh thank goodness, he’s still alive…” Jules sighed in relief.

    “I guess we could thank the blue monster for changing the weather for us,” said Tashiro. “Thinking of calling it Goliath.”

    “Impossible… everything was going according to my plan…” Malik growled, his mood turning from gleeful to frustration due to the loss of the Black Shark. He picked up the device. “Black Moth! Kill everything you see!”

    Kroiga roared when she rushed toward Daigoro. The hippo-like beast covered his eyes, but Ultraseven intervened by grabbing the chimera’s tail. The crimson hero tugged as he spun around, eventually releasing the tail as he flung Black Moth. The griffon extended her wings to glide, but she noticed that she was heading directly toward the behemoth, who delivered a powerful smack to the face. Kroiga landed on her underbelly, shrieking painfully as Goliath kicked her face. The mammalian hybrid growled when she immediately stood up on her hind legs and latched onto the space monster with her frontal talons. Goliath pulled Black Moth away effortlessly, groaning in annoyance when he hurled the giant cat to the side.

    With Goliath focusing his assaults on Kroiga, Ultraseven moved closer and offered Daigoro a hand. He wasn’t one to assist monsters on the spot, but much like his brothers, if he saw good intentions within a monster or an alien, he would gladly help or protect them. He saw that this bipedal hippopotamus was still a baby and hadn’t done anything wrong, so there was no questioning that he was completely innocent. Daigoro took Ultraseven’s hand and was pulled up. Being helped out twice by this red giant gave the young monster courage. Daigoro felt he could beat the invaders, since he and Ultraseven both have one goal in common: save Latitude Zero.

    Ultraseven took his stance; Daigoro slammed his foot and growled. Together, they both charged into fight, with Ultraseven leaping high up to perform a jump kick against Goliath while Daigoro slammed his belly against Black Moth.

    Goliath tumbled down on the melting snow, bellowing lowly as he tried to get up. Ultraseven grabbed him by the horn, which made the reptile shriek as electricity crackled out of the hardened outgrowth, forcing the warrior release it. Goliath clenched his large hands when he got up and swung one of them at Ultraseven, knocking him to the side. Ultraseven grunted as he shook his head. He turned and immediately ducked when the space demon tried to land another punch. In an instant, the Ultra Warrior struck back by turning around to kick Goliath’s chest. The muscled reptile shrieked when he staggered back, but cried out when voltages discharged from the curved horn, releasing a powerful lightning bolt. The crimson hero cried out when he was struck in the chest, blasted backward and landing on a building that became flattened debris. Goliath moved closer as he grabbed a hold of Seven and followed up by tossing him afar.

    As McKenzie, Tashiro, and Jules finished off the last row of mutant bats and rats, they all witnessed Ultraseven soaring over them and yelled as he crashed into the hard pavement. The warrior from the Land of Light shakily stood up, still holding the will to fight back. The behemoth marched ever closer as Seven’s rectangular eyes noticed McKenzie and company were close by. Goliath’s horn began to amplify, readying another bolt of lightning. But before he could fire it, Ultraseven crossed his fingers over the Beam Lamp and discharged an Emerium Ray. The laser and the volt collided to one another, setting off a powerful explosion. Thankfully, McKenzie and his men were unharmed, though their bones rattled in the wake of the explosion.

    Goliath cried out when he leapt forth, soaring through the air as if he was gliding. Ultraseven rolled over, just in time and barely avoiding being crushed by the reptile. This was his chance. Ultraseven quickly crossed his arm from his chest and fired the Emerium Ray again, going for Goliath’s horn. The behemoth raised his long arm to block the beam, shielding his horn as he shrieked from the blast that sparked off his arm. Ultraseven charged in and tackled the recovering Goliath, wrestling with him as the beast threw him aside, landing near the observing humans. He looked at the three and ushered them to get out of this battle zone. Seven returned to his feet and continued his battle with Goliath.

    “We better get out of here, he’ll take over this battle from here,” McKenzie issued. Tashiro and Jules nodded. They activated their jetpacks and flew away from the ensuing battle.

    Flapping her feathered appendages, Black Moth wailed on Daigoro with her wings and forearms. The chubby monster couldn’t get back up, but he was determined to fight back, punching the lion’s face repeatedly. Next, Daigoro’s right arm wrapped around Kroiga’s neck and held her tight, mustering the strength to flip the tables and pin her to the wet ground. Malik’s griffon cried out as she struggled as her clawed feet scraped the pavement. But it was impossible to do so when her prey sat on top of her. Daigoro kept wailing on Black Moth’s head with his fists, beating her as hard as he possibly could.

    But what caught Daigoro’s ears alerted him of the few bat people that survived. They swarmed the young monster and clung onto his head, sinking their teeth and claws into his tough hide. Daigoro cried out, swatting the fiendish humanoids off him, incidentally rolling off of Black Moth in the process.

    McKenzie, Tashiro, and Jules looped around as they saw Daigoro’s struggle came to his aid. They carefully fired lasers from their suit’s fingertips, shooting down the bat people by the dozen. The others, clearly startled by this, detached and flew off the giant mammal.

    Daigoro wouldn’t let them get away. He turned and faced them and what happened next was rather extraordinary. His nostrils flare as he felt burning heat build up from within, one he felt the urge to release. A huge stream of scorching fire burst out of the hippo’s wide maw as he let out an enraged scream. The bat people were engulfed in the flames, their scorched remains dropped down from the sky like flies.

    “Woah! Didn’t expect him to suddenly breathe fire like a dragon!” Tashiro shouted, shocked by this sudden occurrence.

    “Daigoro is something that I can call extraordinary, for I made the wisest choice of raising him,” McKenzie stated.

    The flames ceased as he scratched in confusion, unaware of his newfound power. Perhaps this would be the key to defeating Black Moth? Daigoro turned to face the rising chimera, narrowing his eyes as the opposing feline roared with aggression. The hippopotamus slammed his fists on his belly, inhaling the air as he ready his flame breath again…

    There was only a small poof of fire when he exhaled. He was even more confused as to why the flames didn’t come out this time. Black Moth leapt on him, ruthlessly slashing him with her claws.

    “Why didn’t he spew fire like last time?!” exclaimed Jules in confusion.

    “Maybe it takes too much energy to use it?” Tashiro pondered.

    Ultraseven detached his Eye Slugger, but Goliath twirled and whipped the warrior’s wrist with his tail, knocking the blade out of his grasp. Ultraseven tried to reach for his throwing blade, but Goliath rushed in to tackle him. The Ultra Warrior staggered to the side, maintaining his balance. Just as he was ready to cross his arms to use the Wide Shot, he heard Daigoro’s cry for help. The young monster was struggling to push Black Moth away. Ultraseven looked at Kroiga for a moment before looking back at the approaching Goliath. The crimson hero gestured a taunt to the behemoth, trying to get him to attack by either lunging or firing his lightning bolt attack. Snarling in frustration, the bulky reptile let out a shriek when he sprang forth to ram into Ultraseven. The blue behemoth was surprised when the giant disappeared all the sudden. Goliath crashed into Black Moth as she shrieked when she was knocked off of Daigoro. The young infant managed to stand up, noticing Ultraseven reappearing next to his Eye Slugger. The red and silver warrior picked up his weapon and attached it back to his head.

    Goliath groaned in exhaustion when he tried to get up, whereas Kroiga recovered and pounced on him, sinking her nails and teeth onto the reptile’s blue skin. Goliath reacted to the chimera’s assault by immediately discharging electric currents throughout his body. This gave Black Moth the worst shock treatment she had ever experienced.

    A cry of agony came out of Kroiga as she felt her body frying from the currents. The voltages that coursed through her overheated and fried the command device. She shivered from the sizzling smoke on her fur, but now she was free from her strings. She could now have a chance to kill the mad doctor for what he did to her. Black Moth crawled and tried to use her wings to make a clean get away, but the electrocution had charred her feathers, unable to get them to flap.

    Ultraseven shot off three Shakehand Rays that exploded in front of Kroiga, preventing her from getting away. The giant winged cat suddenly yowled when she felt a squeezing grip on her tail. Goliath raised her into the air, then violently slammed her down on the ground, churning dust and pavement. Black Moth cried in sheer agony as her back snapped under the immense pressure. Malik watched in disbelief as his creation became paralyzed, showing no signs of movement.

    Goliath felt a little drained after expending his energy, with drowsiness settling in. But there was still business to take care of first.

    Ultraseven nodded to Daigoro that it was about time that they finish this fight. Daigoro flailed his arms and dashed in, headbutting Goliath’s bumpy chest. The horned lizard clobbered the young hippo with his fists, but Daigoro didn’t back away as he shoved Goliath back. Ultraseven jumped and landed next to Goliath. He turned to deliver a roundhouse kick to the blue creature’s side, forcing him stumble uncontrollably as he collapsed onto his knee. Daigoro punched Goliath’s face several times until the behemoth retaliated with a sluggish punch on the bipedal mammal’s belly. The young monster yipped and backpedaled from the giant, trying to keep balance. Goliath’s horn released a ray of high voltage currents, aimed directly at Daigoro. But then, Ultraseven hastily stood in its path and swiftly activated his shield barrier, blocking the attack.

    Concentrating his aim, Daigoro hopped high into the air and passed over Ultraseven. Daigoro’s soles smashed on Goliath’s swishing tail, eliciting a shriek from the space titan. The young kaiju grabbed the squirming tail, proceeding to bite down on it. Goliath tried to reach for the child, but Seven swooped in and landed a powerful blow with his fist, striking the nasal horn. While it didn’t snap off, the reptile screamed from the sensitivity of his horn. Having had enough of this, Goliath’s large hands reached out to grab Seven. The Ultra Warrior performed several backflips to get away from him as Goliath tried to go after him. Daigoro bit and tugged harder, ensuring that he wouldn’t be going anywhere. The horned giant turned to face the hippo again as he clasped his shoulders.

    Realizing what would possible entail, Ultraseven crossed his arms in an L-style position and fired his Wide Shot. Goliath didn’t even have a chance to look behind as he felt the ray struck his brown, craggy back. A huge blast erupted; a painful shriek bellowed from the horned reptile as he released Daigoro. The blue behemoth toppled to the ground.

    Goliath tried to push himself up, but his injuries were too great for him to move. He slumped onto his chest where eventually he slipped into unconsciousness.

    “They did it…” McKenzie smiled. “Latitude Zero has been saved.”

    Ultraseven walked over to Daigoro, reaching out to shake the youngster’s hand. He was appreciative for his help in the battle. Daigoro thanked him back by accepting the handshake. As they finished, Ultraseven gave a shout and took flight, diving into the ocean from where he came. He would return to the surface world, take flight into the void of space, and head back to Nebula M78.

    “He must be heading back to his home, where I assume where other Ultramen live at,” Tashiro pointed out.

    “He saved us. Even though our paradise has taken some serious damage and Malik is still out there, Latitude Zero is safe for now,” said McKenzie.

    “And what about the two monsters that attacked us?” Jules questioned.

    “Will probably build new enclosure containments like Daigoro’s, just to give them a place they can call home.” McKenzie replied, as he looked up to see Daigoro closing in, whimpering in curiosity. “And for you my friend, there’s a large meal waiting for you if you keep an eye on those two.”

    Daigoro squealed in excitement and promptly did as McKenzie asked of him to do. Although he was injured, his wounds would heal in time. And it was thanks to him and Ultraseven that Latitude Zero would live to see another day. It would be rebuilt back to the paradise that held the technology and wealth that had been kept a secret from the world above.

    Malik sat on his lofty chair, his eyes glued to the floor in disappointment. His wife offered wine to life his spirits, to little avail. He was still depressed from the major losses and casualties from the invasion. Not only that, he worried about how he will deal with not just McKenzie, but Black Moth as well. The beast was no longer a puppet of his, and she would most certainly not rest until the day she killed him and Lucretia.

    “Don’t worry Malik, I know that you will come up with a new plan to exact revenge on McKenzie and those who foiled your plans,” said Lucretia, wanting to see her husband’s smile once more.

    “Lucretia, you always try to find a way to lift my mood,” Malik responded, feeling a little better after hearing her words. “But as for now, we’ll have to stand down and build a new Black Shark.”

    “And what about Kroiga and that hippo?” Lucretia questioned.

    “Hmm… There is one way to turn the tables,” Malik answered as he got up. “Follow me.”

    The mad doctor hasted to another facility that he kept highly secured, entering a complicated password on a keypad. Lucretia knew what he was thinking of the moment that he approached to the security door.

    Malik moved closer to a containment tube that held an enigmatic entity, one that gave off a ghostly blue glow. Much like Ultraseven, the lifeform was found roaming in the hideout, appearing from nowhere. It was easily contained when high pitch screeches from Malik’s bat-humanoid creations and it had been kept securely for further study. Malik was aware that this entity could do many things, but was unsure of the entity’s full capabilities. With the stakes placed against him, he was willing to take the risk. He faced to his left, where he grinned at several enclosures that kept two of several species of animals that his henchmen abducted.

    It would take a month or more to build a second Black Shark and create more horrific creations. This long wait could be made up since the mad doctor planned to study this entity when he wasn’t busy. It was best to see what this foreign creature was capable of.

    Winner: Ultraseven, Daigoro

     

    K.W.C. // December 21, 2019
  • Shin Godzilla: Battle at Nagaragawa White Water Manjuu vs. Black Steamed Chestnut Youkan

    Here is a Godzilla snack I can get behind. Like a good-natured fan-fiction, it imagines what would happen if the second form of Godzilla from Godzilla Resurgence (2016) faced off against the Mothra larva. I think of it as the Godzilla larva vs. the Mothra larva. How fun is that? The actual snacks, too, are traditional Japanese snacks, which, if alien to the Western palate, still seems appropriate for a Japanese monster themed snack.

    The image (which seems to be by the same artist who did the packaging art for the Takoyaki snack and the Shin Godzilla Crunch) shows a cheerful and very cute version of Kamata-Kun getting ambushed by the Mothra larva, who has latched onto the former’s long tail. Kamata-Kun looks shocked—actually, he looks like he has a little crown floating above his head, but I think that is actually supposed to be a symbolic representation of Kamata-Kun’s emotional response. The city nearby also seems to be celebrating the match with fireworks. Actually, Nagaragawa in Gifu (the place of origin of Coms) is the site of a huge famous fireworks festival each year in August with hundreds of thousands of attendees each year. In the background we can see the Gifu Castle, and in the foreground an overturned boat and several birds. A burning torch can also be seen in the water near the boat. I am pretty sure these must be cormorants from the cormorant fishing festival, which also takes place throughout summer in the same area, and which features fireworks and fire lanterns. There is some text in Japanese in the corner that states, “With a bite from the Mothra Larva, the curtain is opened on a decisive battle!” And, just like with the War of Takoyaki packaging, we also see in very small text that this battle is just fiction. Which again begs the question… would anyone think this was a true story?!

    How about the snacks? Well, Kamata-Kun gets a water manjuu with anko paste inside (the cute packaging showing his grinning maw), and Mothra gets a steamed chestnut shoukan. Now a manjuu, according to my dictionary, is a “steamed yeast bun with filling,” and a youkan is a “jellied dessert made from red bean paste, agar, and sugar.” The packaging says that the manjuu and the youkan taste better chilled in the refrigerator, so I dutifully did so before consuming. These Japanese snacks are a little trickier to consume than some of the previous snacks I ate. The manjuu is sticky and slimy and the youkan is also a bit squishy and gross-looking. However, neither tastes bad. The manjuu slides down the throat easily (sorry, gross imagery) and is mildly sweet with a little punch of red bean, and the youkan of course has a stronger red bean taste with a steamed chestnut inside which makes it quite pleasant. I like red beans, and I like chestnuts, so for me, the youkan (and thus Mothra) wins the fight.

    This monster snack doesn’t feature any extras in the box unfortunately, but at least in this case it doesn’t feel like there is an obnoxious ploy to get fans to buy multiple boxes. There is also just something nice here in that Coms is celebrating their home city, with art that references popular places and events that take place there. And, as I said before, it is just appropriate to see Japanese snacks this time, since many of the Kaiju Kuisine I have Konsumed tend to be Western snacks. Recommended for the adventurous kaiju gourmet.

    Love that box art!
    Love that box art!

    Cute, individually-wrapped goodness
    Cute, individually-wrapped goodness

    Kamata-Kun's slimy water manjuu
    Kamata-Kun’s slimy water manjuu

    Mothra's tasty youkan
    Mothra’s tasty youkan

    Kaiju Kuisine // December 14, 2019
  • Author: Thomas Eckert | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    The island of Okinawa was shaken by the intrusion of several giant crystals protruding from the soil. None of the island’s inhabitants knew where these massive crystals came from. All they did know was they had spawned a terrible monster. The crystalline terror known as Krystalak transformed this island into his new domain and the perfect breeding ground for the crystals that brought him to life. Since his creation, Krystalak rampaged across Okinawa like a disease, demolishing temples and slaying the locals. Unknown to Krystalak, there was another giant living on the island and it was about to break out of its slumber.

    Krystalak snarled while doing a survey of his new home. New batches of crystals were forming. No intruders were in sight. The power-hungry mutant gritted his teeth in satisfaction. His new territory was shaping up rather nicely. But for Krystalak, enough was never enough. He needed to expand his domain to the farthest reaches of this world. He would not rest until the entire Earth was littered with enough crystals to sustain his all-powerful status.

    Suddenly, he heard a sound. It sounded like singing and it came from the beach. Krystalak snarled in curiosity and went to investigate. On the beach sat a young maiden in a kimono singing toward a mountain range. She sang loudly to the guardian of her island home. When she finished her song, she waited for the beast to awaken from its sleep. She never took her eyes off the mountains. She didn’t even notice the giant, monstrous silhouette that loomed over her.

    She then gasped in agony as a giant purple claw impaled her in the chest. She coughed up blood which spilt onto her dress. Before she knew it, she was being lifted into the air. Despite this, she still continued looking at the mountains until the finger that stabbed into her turned her around. She stared silently as she was looking directly into the eyes of Krystalak, who brought her closer to his countenance. The mutant growled in irritation at the noise she was making.

    “K-King Caesar shall avenge my home and everyone you killed, including me,” she coughed and stammered to the monster before spitting blood into Krystalak’s face.

    Enraged by this action, Krystalak bellowed furiously. He closed his fist tightly. The maiden continued coughing up blood, much to Krystalak’s pleasure. Finally, she exploded from the crushing pressure. Having gotten his revenge on the maiden, Krystalak opened his hand and started licking it clean. The sound of boulders splashing into the bay caught the mutant’s attention. Krystalak turned his head to his left and saw one of the nearby mountains splitting open.

    The beast’s eyes widened in surprise as a pair of hands ripped out of the mountainside like paper. A thunderous roar erupted from the opening, revealing another kaiju. King Caesar sensed his homeland being attacked, but couldn’t be released until the young maiden finished her song. His eyes locked onto Krystalak’s own. With a mighty bellow, King Caesar leaped into the sea. Krystalak extended his claws out in defense. He waited for his foe to meet him on the island. King Caesar’s feet touched the beach of Okinawa; his ears extending backward as he roared toward Krystalak in rage.

    With a vicious bark, Krystalak charged toward his challenger on all fours. King Caesar charged forward with his claws facing forward. The two mineral-based beasts lashed out with their claws, striking each other in the sides. King Caesar landed gracefully while Krystalak stumbled into the sea. Krystalak spat out seawater before getting up. King Caesar looked at his foe curiously. The feline beast could attack his foe at this very moment. But a quick look at Krystalak’s body made him think before attacking. His opponent’s back was littered with dozens of crystals. Any attack to that region would be dangerous. King Caesar didn’t have long to form a strategy.

    Krystalak was back on his hind legs and bared his fearsome teeth at his enemy. King Caesar raised his arms before he took a step, unfazed by Krystalak’s expression. Krystalak crept toward his right, circling around King Caesar like a panther. King Caesar repeated the same action. Both monsters circled around each other; never moving their glaring eyes. When King Caesar made one step, Krystalak lunged forward. His claws carved into King Caesar’s chest, knocking the shrieking golem onto his back. Krystalak snarled before taking a leap, hoping to tear his foe apart with his claws. King Caesar’s eyes opened to catch his opponent jumping toward him with a ferocious snarl. Thinking quickly, King Caesar raised his legs up. Both limbs caught Krystalak in his chest and sent the monster sailing over King Caesar’s head. King Caesar rose in time to watch Krystalak smash into an already demolished temple.

    Krystalak brushed the debris off his body. When his head was clear, the first thing he saw was King Caesar’s foot striking him in his right cheek. Krystalak rolled over from the attack, crashing onto his chest. When he turned around, he noticed King Caesar charging toward him. Before King Caesar could land another hit, Krystalak swung his tail out. King Caesar shrieked in pain when the spiky tip of Krystalak’s tail smashed into his leg. The golem crashed onto his side and tried to recover, only to have Krystalak swipe his claws into his chin. The Okinawa guardian bellowed painfully with small pieces of rock cracking off his face. King Caesar fell onto his back while Krystalak stood back; wagging his tail in delight. King Caesar did his best to stand. He barked angrily from the cheap shot. Krystalak snorted in contempt. The two beasts snarled at each other for a moment. They were ready to attack when they heard something rising from the sea.

    Both combatants turned to notice a block of ice ascending from the deep. King Caesar and Krystalak titled their heads in puzzlement at the unusual object. When a bright light shined from inside it, two giant fists broke from inside the ice. A giant, orange horn emerged. Both monsters snarled as a giant, blue head rose to let loose a roar. Goliath punched his way free from his prison. He soon spotted Krystalak and King Caesar glaring at him. He waded through the water; smashing his fists against each other. King Caesar bellowed toward Goliath to stay away from his island. A warning Goliath chose to ignore. The moment Goliath’s feet touched the island sand, he cracked his knuckles. He couldn’t decide which one to attack first.

    Krystalak made the decision for him. The crystal-spawned monster leaped through the air and smashed his feet into Goliath’s chest. The space behemoth had no time to respond before crashing into the water. Krystalak snarled, daring his foe to attack him. Launching out of the water, Goliath slammed both fists into Krystalak’s face. The mutant stumbled back, surprised by his new enemy’s strength. Goliath then delivered another punch to Krystalak’s chest, knocking him onto his back. Krystalak snarled in annoyance as the shards on his back stabbed into the island soil, pinning him down. Goliath hammered his fists into Krystalak’s underbelly, each blow causing the beast to groan in pain while making his crystals sink deeper into the soil. Goliath brought his fists up to slam them down again. He yelped in surprise when Krystalak caught his fists with his own hands. Krystalak lifted his arms into the air and in one toss, sent Goliath crashing to the dirt. Goliath squealed while on his back, trying to right himself. Krystalak barked a vicious chuckle. After ripping himself free from the ground with all of his strength, he crept slowly toward his downed victim.

    King Caesar leapt onto Krystalak’s back path and planted his foot into his cheek. The blow struck Krystalak hard enough to send him toppling down onto the ground. Krystalak stood up; a few crystals on his chin were broken off from the attack. King Caesar landed near Krystalak’s side. The golem let loose an ear-splitting roar before bashing his fists onto his opponent. Krystalak tried to stand, but another sharp kick to his side sent him crashing backward. King Caesar roared at his rolling foe before moving closer. Suddenly, he shrieked painfully when a lightning bolt struck him in the back. Small patches of his fur were burnt to a crisp. He turned around to see what attacked him; only to receive another lightning bolt to his chest. The golem stumbled backward before taking a second look.

    Goliath laughed out loud from his foe’s agony. He took one more step before unleashing another lightning bolt. This time, the bolt was pointed toward King Caesar’s face. The blue-colored alien was in luck. His foe didn’t budge when his attack struck him in one of his eyes. But before Goliath could realize his mistake, his lightning bolt exited out King Caesar’s other eye and struck its owner directly in his chest. Goliath cried out loud before his own attack created an explosion of sparks strong enough to knock him on his hindquarters. Before he could stand, King Caesar took a giant leap and collided onto the fallen alien. King Caesar unleashed a blood-curling holler before hammering his fists onto Goliath. The space beast shrieked from the blows. One shot after another bruised his skin.

    King Caesar threw his fists down, but this time, Goliath caught them. A wicked smile appeared on the alien’s face as bolts of electricity traveled from Goliath’s body and into King Caesar’s. The golem’s ears extended backward as he shrieked in pain. The intense voltage burned small portions of his fur. A swift kick from King Caesar’s foot to Goliath’s chin stunned the electric-powered beast. Goliath surrendered his grip on King Caesar, allowing the feline-styled monster to stand back. King Caesar stood for a moment. His body still rattled by the electric shocks.

    Goliath started coming to. He stood up to glare at King Caesar. The two creatures glared at each other, daring one to attack again. Suddenly, a purple beam smashed into King Caesar’s back. The golem shrieked as the attack pushed him directly into Goliath. The two beasts smashed into one another before dropping to the ground. Both of them turned to see Krystalak was back. The bleach-skinned creature snarled before firing another blast at his two enemies. The ground exploded from the attack. Goliath and King Caesar cried out after being hit by the attack. King Caesar recovered and charged toward Krystalak. The mutated villain simply fired his Prism beam again. The blast hit King Caesar in his eyes. Instead of harming the golem, it simply redirected the Prism beam back at Krystalak. Krystalak snarled in agony and fury when his own method struck him in his chest and face. King Caesar stood by to watch Krystalak fall.

    Krystalak noticed King Caesar heading toward him. King Caesar never took his eyes off of Krystalak. After the horrific destruction this foul-natured beast caused to his homeland, King Caesar would not stop until the island became Krystalak’s graveyard. Goliath stood up to see King Caesar jump up and kick Krystalak down. Krystalak was still under the minor shock from having his own attack redirected at him, so he wasn’t as quick as before. King Caesar wasn’t planning on waiting for Krystalak to recover. Another kick to his cheek and Krystalak soared across the horizon. The crystal-coated beast snarled after landing with a booming thud. Krystalak slowly stood back up. King Caesar’s ferocious bark caught him off-guard. In one swipe, Okinawa’s protector carved into the crystalline’s neck with his claws. An eruption of purple blood sprayed onto King Caesar’s body from the wound. Krystalak lashed out with his claws, keeping his attacker away. The mighty shisa dodged one swipe and seized Krystalak’s throat with his hands. Krystalak kicked and squirmed while in his enemy’s clutches. King Caesar tightened his grip, making Krystalak gasp for breath. Krystalak grabbed hold of King Caesar’s arms, trying to break free from the embrace. King Caesar groaned from Krystalak’s claws digging into his arms. Nevertheless, he used that pain to further strengthen his grip. King Caesar held Krystalak’s face close to his own. He expected to see a look of agony. What he got was a sinister smile.

    King Caesar snorted. Why would his foe be smiling? King Caesar’s eyes widened in shock at what occurred next. A powerful shockwave erupted from Krystalak’s body, forcing King Caesar to open his hands. The freed Krystalak landed in time to watch King Caesar soar through the air from the blast. The screaming statue’s crash sounded like thunder. King Caesar groaned from the immense pain. His fur had been burned off. His body was shaken from the shockwave. Krystalak let loose another Prism beam. King Caesar cried out painfully as his chest and legs were struck by the blast. With a hurtful groan, King Caesar fell backward. He wasn’t dead, but was badly injured.

    Krystalak let loose a vicious roar at the downed King Caesar, signaling his end was near. Goliath stood by; his presence unknown to the other monsters for the moment. Just then, a large mass rammed into the blue behemoth from behind. Goliath screamed before landing onto his face. Krystalak looked up in response to the noise, only to see the sky after the same object smashed into his face and bashed him down. All three monsters looked up at what entered the fray. It was a massive flying saucer. The inanimate object circled around the three grounded behemoths before turning around.

    A mighty roar trembled across the battlefield. Goliath, King Caesar and Krystalak looked toward the beach. Their eyes widened at what was coming. A gray-colored behemoth marched its way from the sea. King Caesar couldn’t help, but felt disgusted by this new monster’s appearance. Its huge back and short legs made it slow and cumbersome. Its hands had three fingers like King Caesar, only much longer with sharper claws. Its head looked like a lizard’s with a stocky neck attached to its body.

    Orga waded onto the shore with his eyes scanning the island. Like Krystalak, the creature had an insatiable appetite for power and adding the crystals’ energy to his own was on his mind. Krystalak glared at Orga. He could tell the massive brute was here for his crystals by the look on Orga’s face. Something the spawn of the minerals would not tolerate. King Caesar slowly rose up. Despite the injuries he received from Krystalak, the mighty statue’s determination in protecting his island kept him going. Goliath watched as Krystalak and King Caesar were preparing to fight Orga. He still had plenty of power to keep him going. Perhaps his foes will destroy themselves and he’ll have the island to himself.

    Orga smashed his fists onto the ground, creating a minor earthquake. His strength rattled King Caesar and Goliath. It only enraged Krystalak more so. With a quick snarl, Krystalak performed a perfect backflip and flung his tail out in front. Orga’s brutish intelligence made the beast only stare curiously at his foe’s action. Curiosity soon turned into agony when a large chunk of crystal was fired out from Krystalak’s tail tip. The chunk struck the tremendous alien in his face, causing him to step backward with a painful scream. Krystalak seized the chance and dashed toward Orga. The alien shook his head. The first thing he saw was Krystalak’s clawed feet slashing into his face and neck. Krystalak then lashed out with an uppercut. Orga collapsed onto the ground from the attack. Krystalak watched over Orga with a growl. To his horror, the wounds that his claws gave his enemy were healing. Orga rose with a sharp bellow. Before Krystalak could move, Orga’s massive fist bashed into his side and sent him crashing back. Krystalak recovered and with a furious snarl, lunged forward with his claws. Orga’s fist was badly scratched by the attack. After emitting a painful wail, Orga’s jaws pressed forward. Krystalak couldn’t pull his arm away in time. He then screamed painfully when Orga’s fangs clamped down onto his limb. Krystalak tried to pull his arm free, but Orga’s jaw strength was too strong.

    Orga snarled before biting down harder. Krystalak screamed louder from the bite. He opened his eyes to witness a horrifying sight. King Caesar and Goliath who watched the battle dropped their jaws at what was happening. Orga’s jaws extracted tiny samples of Krystalak’s DNA through the bite. Orga’s skin changed from gray to pristine white. His back from his neck to his tail sprouted tiny, crystal-like features. Krystalak, enraged by his foe’s morphing, channeled his energy into another shockwave. The attack proved successfully in removing his arm from Orga’s maw. The gargantuan freak wailed before crashing onto his back. The DNA he absorbed from Krystalak wasn’t enough, causing the features he gained from his host to fade away. He moved around, but Krystalak wasn’t through yet.

    Krystalak’s mouth opened, shooting forth a Prism beam. Orga’s stomach was hit; pieces of flesh were violently blown off his body. Krystalak moved forward. Before he could advance on Orga, a lightning struck him in the side. He turned around in time to see Goliath swing his tail into his face. Krystalak toppled backward while Goliath advanced. In one leap, Goliath bashed his entire body into Krystalak and sent both beasts plummeting into the floor. Goliath grabbed hold a few of Krystalak’s back crystals and conducted his electric power. Krystalak thrashed around; the electricity coursing into every part of his body. He opened his mouth and spat a Prism beam. Goliath’s chin was hit hard enough for him to fall back. King Caesar rushed into the fray; round kicking Krystalak back. He then grabbed hold of Goliath by his tail and tossed him into Krystalak, flooring them. He roared out loud, only to shriek after being hit in the back by Orga’s saucer and nailing him down.

    Orga got back up and charged into the fray. King Caesar rose onto his feet, but Orga pounded him with his fist. King Caesar rolled along the ground and recovered. A lightning bolt struck Orga in his right eye, destroying it. Goliath nailed King Caesar to the dirt with his tail before advancing onto Orga. The blinded brute squealed after an electric punch hit him in his chin. Goliath leaped up and tackled Orga, but the beast countered with a punch of his own. Goliath fell to the ground on his stomach. Orga lunged forward; his eye having regenerated. A swift kick from King Caesar forced Orga backward. King Caesar then leaped into the air and bashed his foot onto Orga’s head, flooring the cosmic menace down. Goliath returned to his feet and spotted Krystalak coming. He swung around and shot Goliath with another crystal chunk from his tail in the face. Krystalak then turned to see Orga’s ship coming back. He snarled as he had a plan.

    Goliath was dazed from the blow. Krystalak grabbed Goliath by his orange horn and chunked him at the spaceship. Goliath grabbed hold of the saucer. His weight was too much for the spacecraft to carry. The two crashed back to the earth. Goliath survived, but the spaceship was now in pieces.

    King Caesar punched the downed Orga numerous times until Orga’s eyes opened up. The Okinawa guardian shrieked when Orga leaped into the air. King Caesar fell onto his side from the blow. He tried to roll away, but Orga’s fist wrapped around his ankle. Orga swung his arm forward, sending King Caesar into the ground. A chunk of crystals crashed into Orga’s face. Krystalak then turned his attention to King Caesar. He raised his tail up like a scorpion. King Caesar dodged it just in time.

    Krystalak fired another shot. King Caesar leaped up and kicked back it toward Krystalak’s chest. Krystalak couldn’t move until it was too late. The mutant groaned from having his own crystals impale his chest. Krystalak grabbed hold and tried to remove them, but another charge from King Caesar worsened his problem. He rammed his crown directly into the crystals, driving them deeper into Krystalak’s chest. Krystalak opened fire with his Prism beam, hoping to drive his foe back. King Caesar redirected the beam with his eyes back toward the shard. The object exploded into pieces from the blast.

    When the dust cleared, Krystalak stumbled around in pain. The area where the shard had impaled him was now a giant hole that exposed his ribs and organs. Dozens of crystal fragments dug deep into his organs and skeleton, causing massive bleeding. Krystalak grabbed his bleeding chest; the pain was too intense for his growls to say it. King Caesar had no sympathy for the sinful mutant. He watched Krystalak bleed to death before falling in a pool of purple blood. He touched the beast in his cheek. He didn’t stir.

    King Caesar roared victoriously at killing the ravager of his island home. An even louder roar broke him out of his victory cry. King Caesar turned around and snarled. Then shrieked after a yellow beam collided into his chest, knocking him backward. King Caesar glared at Orga with his shoulder cannon glowing. King Caesar returned onto his feet and charged. Orga defended himself by covering his face. King Caesar tried scratching his foe, but Orga’s hide was too thick. Orga opened his hands and bit into King Caesar’s shoulder. The golem growled painfully as he tried scratching his enemy away. Orga tried his best to absorb anything from his victim, but it was for naught. Unlike Krystalak who was flesh and crystal, King Caesar was made entirely of stone which harbored no genetic material to extract. Orga simply released King Caesar and batted him aside.

    Orga then screamed in pain as electricity traveled through his body. Goliath had grabbed hold of his tail and was now conducting his electric power into Orga’s body. Orga circled around, trying to swat at Goliath. But Goliath was too quick. The electricity continued burning through Orga’s frame, frying pieces of flesh off. Goliath then used all of his strength and chunked Orga aside like a rag doll. Orga’s body sizzled from the bolts frying his body. His healing properties kicked in yet the pain persisted.
    Having removed Orga from the picture, Goliath then roared toward King Caesar. The mammalian biped roared in response. Both monsters charged into each other. Goliath swung his tail, but King Caesar dodged it with ease. He landed down, striking Goliath with his claws. Goliath turned his head down; then fired a lightning bolt from his horn. King Caesar shrieked when his shoulder was hit by the bolt. Goliath moved in with his fists. King Caesar grabbed hold of the blue reptile’s hands and tossed him down. Goliath rolled along the floor before firing another bolt. King Caesar allowed the bolt to enter his eye and shot it back. The bolt struck Goliath in his back, emitting a hurtful cry from the creature. King Caesar ran closer and delivered a kick to Goliath’s side, making him roll further along the landscape.

    Goliath lashed out with his tail, striking King Caesar in his knee. King Caesar bent over with a groan. Goliath then socked him in the chin with an electric fist. King Caesar crashed onto his back. Goliath leaped onto King Caesar and when he hit Caesar’s chest, the two grappled with each other. Both monsters rolled against the ground. King Caesar used his legs and tossed Goliath off of him. King Caesar stood upright while Goliath crashed onto the ground. With an enraged growl, King Caesar raced toward the downed Goliath. His fists pounded into the monster’s blue warty skin. Goliath rammed his head forward and forced Caesar backward. Another bolt to the chest knocked him back further. Goliath leaped into the air, but King Caesar caught him. With a grunt, Caesar threw Goliath away.

    King Caesar took a moment to remain still. His energy was running low. He wasn’t sure how much longer he can keep fighting. Goliath was growing tired of being treated by like a beanbag. He rose to his feet to meet King Caesar. Both monsters charged into each other. King Caesar used his legs to strike, but Goliath grabbed them with his fists. With both legs in his grasp, Goliath slammed King Caesar down onto the ground. King Caesar tried to stand up. But Goliath bashed his tail onto his chest, pinning him. A second hit prompted a painful cry from King Caesar. A third hit silenced him after hitting him in the head. Goliath raised his tail up as high as he could.

    Before he could attack, a Prism beam collided into his side. The space monster cried out before crashing down. Goliath and King Caesar looked to see what was responsible for the attack. Both creatures dropped their jaws. Orga was back and ready for action. To both of his enemies’ shock, the creature had devoured Krystalak’s carcass. His once grey body became yellow and purple. It also slimmed down, allowing him to move more graceful. His back from his neck to his tail was decorated in razor-sharp crystals. His massive fists and feet had purple sharper claws. The hybrid of two powerful kaiju bellowed to the earth. The island itself fell silent from the frightening roar.

    King Caesar knew the danger this beast was. He had to defeat this creature or die trying. King Caesar rushed in blindly, lashing out with his feet. Orga simply ignored the hits. Orga snarled at his old foe. With no DNA to provide him, he’ll have to settle with destroying him. Orga swiped with his new claws, slashing into King Caesar’s legs. They were sharp enough to carve scars into King Caesar’s stone-like exterior. King Caesar shrieked from the pain. He stumbled back while touching his legs. King Caesar leaped into the air to kick Orga in the chest. The alien grunted as he backpedaled. King Caesar tried repeating the same routine. But a Prism beam to his chest knocked him down. He managed to use his hands to break his fall by flipping backward. When he landed, he had the displeasure of Goliath grabbing him by the neck. The merciless alien zapped him with electricity, singeing his ears and fur in the process. King Caesar stepped on his foot, prompting a scream from Goliath. He then knocked Goliath away with a kick.

    Suddenly, a large crystal shard collided into his back. King Caesar screamed in agony as the chunk buried itself into his back. There was no way for him to dig it out. He turned around to have Orga press both hands around his head. The beast’s massive hands sent him flying into the air. King Caesar crashed into the ground, forming a giant crater where he lied in. He righted himself, catching Orga advancing onto Goliath. The crocodile-like monster fired another lightning into the hulking abomination’s face. Despite pieces of flesh dropping, Orga’s advancement didn’t cease. Goliath pounded his fists together before swiping his tail into Orga’s cheek; the mutated invader wailed painfully with his head reeling to the side. Goliath then pounced forward with his horn out in front. Orga’s chest was pierced by the object. Goliath tried his best to push his horn deeper into Orga’s body. The hybrid squealed before grabbing hold of Goliath by his sides. Goliath tried to stay in place, but was no match before Orga’s own physical strength. The beast roared furiously as he tore Goliath from his chest, spilling some blood along the way.

    Goliath used his electric touch, forcing Orga to release him. Once freed, Goliath rammed both fists into Orga’s face, each bursting with electric might. Orga backpedaled from the shots with a shriek. Goliath then fired another lightning bolt; succeeding in only infuriating Orga. Without warning, Orga’s jaws opened and unleashed a Prism beam. It washed over Goliath’s chest, causing sparks to fly from the shrieking beast’s body. Orga then crouched down and fired his shoulder cannon. Goliath squealed when it hit his chest, knocking flat on his back. Goliath weakly squirmed along the ground. Taking both blasts at once took their toll on his body. Orga wandered toward the writhing monster, curious to feast upon him and gain his powers. Goliath tried to rise, but a smack from Orga’s fist forced him down. Orga then snarled before taking a bite into his throat.

    Goliath screamed in agony from his enemy’s fangs penetrating his scales. Orga snarled as his foe’s blood touched his lips. Even sweeter was the precious genetic material that coursed into his body. Goliath’s skin color mixed with the yellow skin Orga acquired from Krystalak, turning it bright green. On top of his head was a large orange horn that grew within the crystals. Goliath conducted more electric power, zapping Orga’s mouth. Orga’s huge jaws widened to moan, allowing Goliath to escape. Orga’s green skin changed back into yellow while his orange horn disappeared. Goliath crawled away to safety. His neck was severely bleeding from the attack.

    When Orga reopened his eyes, he watched Goliath scurrying away. The chimera slammed his fists on the ground before jumping in the air. Goliath squealed in terror when Orga landed in front of him. Orga’s mouth swirled with light purple energy. Goliath was too frightened to escape. The Prism beam spewed forward, striking Goliath in his neck wounds. The injuries allowed the energy beam to enter Goliath’s body. Every muscle and blood vessel in its path was cut to pieces. The beam didn’t stop until it completely destroyed Goliath’s neck vertebrate. With his enemy dead from decapitation, Orga started feasting on Goliath’s remains. His green skin returned. His tail grew longer while an orange horn grew out from his head. His snout became more crocodile-like. Orga was now a perfect hybrid of three kaiju known as Gorgalak.

    King Caesar bellowed toward the chimerical nightmare. Orga responded by firing a lightning bolt from his new horn. The bolt traveled into King Caesar’s eye before traveling out of the other one, striking Orga in his chest and showering it in sparks. King Caesar charged toward the shrieking alien with a kick, pushing him back. Orga lashed out with his claws, sending King Caesar down into the turmoil. He opened fire with his Prism beam, only to have King Caesar redirect with his eye and strike Orga’s chest, forcing him backward. King Caesar leaped into the air and kicked Orga in his cheek, breaking a few teeth. Orga responded by firing his shoulder cannon, nailing King Caesar in the chest. The golem crashed into a few destroyed buildings. Orga fired another lightning bolt which King Caesar countered again with his eye. The bolt lanced into Orga’s left arm, burning off body tissue. King Caesar rose and leaped into the air. But Orga lowered his body and raised his tail up. The Okinawa protector couldn’t dodge the shard that struck him in the chest.

    The rock-like lion smashed into the ground. Both sides of his body had crystal shards inside them. He did his best to rip the front one out. He chucked it at Orga’s face. The beast groaned as the shard shattered against his face. King Caesar swiped with his claws, scratching Orga in the face. Orga’s horn lit up and fired a bolt. King Caesar’s right ear was blown off, causing him to shriek while touching the injury. Then Orga’s two fists wrapped around his sides, conducting enormous amounts of electricity into the golem. King Caesar screamed from the electric currents coursing through his body. Orga was encouraged by his foe’s agony to apply more pressure to his fists. Tiny cracks formed inside his body. King Caesar couldn’t handle any more of this.

    Slipping his arms out, he stabbed his claws into Orga’s eye sockets. The creature wailed in agony from his eyes’ destruction. King Caesar backed away once he was freed from Orga’s restrain. His body had cracks of various sizes all over his body. The electricity burned away most of his fur. He had to finish this fight before any more damage could happen. King Caesar charged into Orga’s chest with his hands out. He grabbed hold of the beast’s neck and torso before tossing the alien over his head. When Orga stood back up, his eyes had fully healed. King Caesar planted his foot into Orga’s face, making the beast reel back. Another kick hit him in his cheek, breaking more teeth. King Caesar bellowed before kicking again. When the third kick occurred, Orga refused to budge. King Caesar on the ground perfectly and lashed out with his teeth. They bit into Orga’s left arm. The alien squealed before firing another lightning bolt, striking King Caesar in his forehead.

    When King Caesar reeled back with his head smoking, Orga’s body started to glow. King Caesar let loose a vicious bark and jumped up to kick Orga in the face. This time, Orga ignored the attack. When King Caesar landed, his remaining ear flopped in the air when a shockwave erupted from Orga’s body. He couldn’t escape in time and felt the whole effect. The shockwave’s energy traveled inside every crack on his body. Every piece of stone it touched shattered from the intense power. The golem shrieked as the shockwave ripped him apart. His left arm was blown off its socket. His feet exploded into dust. The remains of King Caesar crashed onto the ground and from the impact, his torso shattered to bits. His neck cracked easily, sending his head flying a few feet away. It cracked like an egg after hitting the ground.

    Orga unleashed a bellow so powerful, even the sea quivered in fear from his power. His enemies were vanquished. He had acquired new-found power. He was ready to further his mission as the universe’s most powerful creature.

    Winner: Orga

    K.W.C. // December 11, 2019
  • Have you ever wanted to experience firsthand what it would be like to try to escape from Godzilla? As fans, I think there are a lot of folks who would love to experience (safely!) an encounter with Godzilla beyond just another video game or even yet another VR experience. People wish they could feel the experience, not just get dizzy with a heavy electronic headset blocking your vision. And that experience was sort of what was promised by Tokyo Mystery Circus in 2018 in their Godzilla-themed escape room.

    Tokyo Mystery Circus is a sort of escape-room indoor theme park in Shinjuku, and opened just in 2017 by escape room pioneers SCRAP. They feature both English-language and Japanese-language escape rooms, as well as “stealth games” and projection map games. As of this writing, some of the escape rooms that are currently running include a Yu-Gi-Oh themed room, a Lupin the 3rd themed game, a Hunter X Hunter themed game, and many more… including an attraction with an English-language option called “Escape from the Toilet of Despair” (I think I have to sign up for that one… it just sounds too wonderfully stupid).

    The Tokyo Mystery Circus building
    The Tokyo Mystery Circus building

    Now I don’t have much experience with escape rooms, but I was always curious about them because growing up I loved solving what my family called “note trails” wherein first my mother would create elaborate puzzles that I had to solve, following a series of clues until I found a gift somewhere around the house or the nearby area. These puzzles were often ciphers or word puzzles and etc, and eventually I started making my own, trying to get more and more creative each time. The fact that folks are now creating their own puzzles on a grander scale within “escape room” puzzles makes me kind of excited. I love it when people use their creativity in such interesting ways to bring regular folks a new and exciting experience, and the fact that here in Japan we got an escape room experience about Godzilla was even better!

    The escape room, called “Shin Godzilla kara no Dashutsu” (Escape from Shin Godzilla), was available for anyone to experience from April of 2018 and continued for a just a few months unfortunately. It was also only available in Japanese, so most kaiju-loving tourists were kind of outta luck.

    The poster of the Godzilla escape room
    The poster of the Godzilla escape room

    I have some Japanese ability, though, and I wanted to give the experience a shot. So I wrangled a friend into going with me, and one weekend we wandered on over to Shinjuku to have the experience. I went with an American friend who, though his Japanese is far better than mine, still does not really possess native-level Japanese, and thus we were in for a pretty big challenge. We arrived and were ushered into a basement area with a series of tables and a décor predominated by red. We then were given booklets similar in shape and size to restaurant menus. These booklets sort of gave background details about the story—Godzilla appears and we have to stop him, basically. The staff were friendly, and they even said they would try to keep things simple so we could understand.

    They also paired us up with a Japanese player. I felt sorry for him immediately.

    Along with our “menu,” we received documents we weren’t allowed to open yet, as well as a big booklet of laminated cheat-sheets if we needed hints to overcome the puzzles, and a box attached to the table had some props inside. We dumb foreigners were not the only ones who got those cheatbooks—every table got them. I guess the idea is that they don’t want you to feel cheated in your experience. They don’t want you to just get stymied and miss out on the experience of half the game or something.

    The packets given to participants of the Godzilla escape room
    The packets given to participants of the Godzilla escape room

    And it’s quite an experience. The staff running the game basically double (or triple) as actors playing various parts in the drama to fight against Godzilla. One lady, for example, seemed to be the daughter of Dr. Serizawa and she was also the commander that we would later report to as we solved puzzles and learned things about Godzilla and his approach.

    That experience started with a narrative/lecture delivered by some of the actors, as well as footage of Godzilla approaching Tokyo. The Godzilla footage featured the Godzilla design from Godzilla Resurgence (2016), albeit I think some of the shots were original—I didn’t recognize some water shots of the fully-formed Godzilla wading towards the shore.

    And then we had to open our envelopes and start doing the puzzles. There were often multiple puzzles to complete at any one time, and so I can’t comment on all of them—I didn’t do all of them. I can’t even clearly remember all of the ones that I did—the process was chaotic as we struggled to blaze through each puzzle as fast as possible (our Japanese partner immediately referred to the cheat sheets over and over again). So I will just give a few highlights to the madness.

    One of the screens showing information about Godzilla's approach
    One of the screens showing information about Godzilla’s approach

    One of the early memorable puzzles was about tracking where Godzilla would be moving across the landscape—his predicted path. We had a big color map, and on separate paper we had images from the map minus key details (such as landmarks and building names) that we had to match to the actual map and then, after finding the matching images, paste transparent stickers with lines embedded in them to indicate the monster’s path, matching the lines together across the map. My explanation kind of sucks, but it was memorable, and after completing the puzzle and getting a check from the staff to make sure we didn’t bungle it, we went into another room to announce to the press (a bunch of staff with cameras and flashing lights) where Godzilla would be attacking.

    And there were a lot of great moments like that. Breaking a code about some part of the nature of Godzilla and reporting it to the female Serizawa (who graciously acted impressed every time), or delivering a bottle of water to a thirsty staff member (who graciously pretended to drink the water every time), or just receiving updates about the monster from the staff and from videos—it was a totally unique experience. The game included some fan-service such as a clue featuring the number “1954.” As I recall, at one point the lights flickered as Godzilla came close to the building. The realization of the situation was excellent and really, really fun… even though I was often really lost as to what was happening.

    Some of the inside of the booklets, plus I think some fake business cards given to us
    Some of the inside of the booklets, plus I think some fake business cards given to us

    But frankly I was pretty dang lost, and there is little chance I could have finished the puzzles without the hapless Japanese guy. The puzzles were sometimes just nigh impossible for my friend and I with our inferior Japanese. If we had been given ample time (that is to say, all day) to complete the puzzles, maybe we would have been fine… but with the tight time frame, it was really freaking hard. Some of the puzzles were language based, such as a kana chart with missing bits you had to put together to find some specific words, or a couple dozen copies of a report and we had to find the mistakes in each copy to spell out a clue (which sounds much harder than it was). There were a few times when, even with the help of our Japanese partner, we just took too long and the staff of Tokyo Mystery Circus dropped by to help us out. This particular game must be completed all the way through, and you don’t know if you lost until the very end.

    The conclusion of the game dealt with placing a bomb and chemicals to take out Godzilla around Shinjuku as a trap. We had to consider the best places to position the equipment to get the electricity where it needed and the bomb where it could do the most damage to Godzilla by placing overlays on a map of Shinjuku—kind of similar to the previous map activity. It was really tricky, though, working through all the vague hints and placing the equipment for the final trap. Only ONE of the tables actually guessed everything right, and I am not sure how they did. To actually win, not only did you have to put the overlays on the right places for the trap to go off, but the bomb had to be placed in an area not clearly marked on the map—as I recall it had to be placed in an elevator in the very room where we were playing the game.

    I would be lying if I said I knew why.

    I don’t know why.

    Neither do I know how the one team knew the answer. I wondered if they had played the game several times previously.

    Anyway, our team utterly failed. Personally, though I was really confused, I had a good time. And after the event was over, there was yet more to experience in the café and goods area. The café had several Godzilla-themed foods. I was tempted to try all of them, though it would be too much on my poor stomach probably and my friend wasn’t interested so I didn’t want to force him to stick around all afternoon. So I picked the most ridiculous Godzilla treat I could find at the café—a big flavored ice treat (chocolate) with big googly eyes that was apparently supposed to look kind of Godzilla-ish. It tasted pretty good, but I felt pressure to eat it quickly.

    My friend and I posing after we failed. The sign says "Escape Failed" in Japanese.
    My friend and I posing after we failed. The sign says “Escape Failed” in Japanese.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to avoid one of the most embarrassing incidents that has happened to me in Japan. To give context, you have to picture this café with lots of small tables and chairs jam-packed together. It was difficult to find a place to sit or stand because there were too many chairs and such, and they were too close together. Also, you have to understand in Japan very frequently Japanese people will reserve a chair or a table by putting something on those tables and chairs—even sometimes very valuable things, such as their bags. Then they go and purchase something and have a seat to return to.

    Some lady had reserved a seat at one of the tables with her purse. I was awkwardly standing nearby, trying to eat the Godzilla ice and feeling crammed in. Suddenly the ice of the Godzilla treat collapsed a bit and parts of the flavored ice splattered across the woman’s purse and on the table.

    And I just stood there mortified.

    I didn’t know what to do. Run? Clean up the table and purse? Just wait and apologize? I couldn’t just leave—my conscience wouldn’t allow it. And I didn’t want to clean up her purse for fear she might thing I was trying to steal from her. So I waited for her to return so I could apologize to her.

    Those few minutes were truly agonizing. I felt so bad. The woman was gracious, but my friend was convinced she was really ticked off. She didn’t stay at her table that she had reserved, if that is any evidence!

    Also while I was at Tokyo Mystery Circus, I also bought three sets of Godzilla puzzles which, together, apparently complete something, like maybe a secret message. I am not sure, I haven’t done the puzzles yet, but I am curious to play with them in the near future.

    The Godzilla escape room experience was very memorable and fun. I love the space was developed by people passionate about Godzilla and about customer service, and the puzzles were top notch and fun. The main downside was the cramped and uncomfortable café. And I wish the escape room was open year round! Definitely one of the more unique experiences I have had in Japan!

    The Godzilla snack... before it collapsed onto a stranger's purse.
    The Godzilla snack… before it collapsed onto a stranger’s purse.

    General // December 7, 2019
  • Author: Hayes A. Jones | Banner: Landon Soto

    Rural Greece bustled quietly with life.

    The landscape is dominated by rich, earthy colors. Lush grasses and shrubs blanket the steep, uneven ground, the occasional grove of trees dotting the rolling hills. Upon first glance, the area seemed to be empty and still. But a closer inspection revealed a plethora of movement. Insects zipped about in the air and crawled through the vegetation. Birds flittered to and fro among the trees or soared with energetic, almost frantic flapping. A few larger animals moved through the hills, like small herds of deer and tortoises. Taking a step back, there were also signs of human life. The remains of an ancient structure rose up from the soil, a collection of broken pillars and crumbled walls. A small, rough road cut through the hills, a single bus – certain to be filled with tourists – roaring toward the ruins. There was even a small marketplace nearby. There, sightseers struggled to find reasonable priced soft drinks or haggled with local venders for all sorts of antiques or novelty items.

    It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was… right.

    Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last.

    A shiver possessed the earth, gently rattling items in the market. The shuddering grew stronger, sellers now scrambling to protect their merchandise from the vibrations as they gained power. Whole shelves of objects were thrown to the ground, pots and other delicates shattering on the paved path. The shaking turned more and more violent, people, stands and tents alike toppled. The earth itself began to give way, cracks spiderwebbing across the ground. The cracks soon became deep crevasses and the crevasses became great furrows. Tons of rocks and soil were upturned as an enormous shape pushed forth from the bowls of the Earth – it was a drill, a massive, metallic drill. The drill continued to rise up, revealing that it was attached to two mighty arms. Soon, a living being, vast and terrible, steeped from the earth, leaving a seemingly endless tunnel behind it. Shaking dirt from itself, the creature flexed its arms. The drill split in two, separating into interlocking, spade-like claws. The gigantic monster was bipedal and insectoid. Its bulbous compact eyes were reflective and glowed dully in the bright sun. Pinchers guarded its mouth, twitching as the giant looked upon its new surroundings. A long horn rose from its forehead, crowned by an ornamental star shape. On its back, a pair of striped wing cases stretched out and repositioned themselves, showcasing its membranous wings for a moment. Rearing to its full size, the tremendous beat gave a horrible screech, shattering at the surviving glass items in the marketplace.

    It was Megalon, the champion of Seatopia.

    The tourist browsing the marketplace panicked, all rushing in the opposite direction with fearful cries. Most of the vendors chose to hide instead, huddling amongst their merchandise. None would be spared. The screaming and footfall attracted Megalon’s attention. The cockroach-like creature regarded the humans for a moment, with what appeared to be dim curiosity in its eyes. Then he grew bored. Shrieking, Megalon spat up a sticky blob of napalm from its gullet. The unstable lugi exploded when it hit the ground, flames flooding from the impact. The marketplace was instantly set ablaze, those who survived the explosion suffering the even worse fate of burning alive. Megalon cackled in amusement, clapping its spade-like forearms together. He was already having fun.

    And he wasn’t alone.

    A shaft of light split the heavens, streaking down toward the ground. The column of light engulfed a hilltop for a moment, transporting power surging through it. When the light faded, a second monster was left in its place. The new arrival was a savage sight. Its tough, artificial skin was pitch black. Tall, sharp spines rose from its back, a fine red webbing between them. Triangular, silver spikes ran up its neck and rose above its head, the same spines jutting from its long tail, which was tipped with a grasping claw. Instead of toes, it had a large claw curving up from each foot. Its arms ended in gleaming scythes, hooked and bright. Saw teeth were embedded in its abdomen, a working buzz saw built into its gut. Blade-like pincers curled out from either size of its beak-like jaws. It had a sole, electronic eye, glowing an evil red. Letting out a sharp shriek, the bizarre beast swung its claws together with a small shower of sparks.

    It was the Nebula N Space Hunter cyborg Gigan.

    Gigan called out to Megalon, stomping down from the top of the hill. Megalon immediately responded, jumping up and down like an excited child. The two were longtime partners in destruction and conquest. They were summoned here to give a warning to the people of Earth by demonstrating their prowess in chaos. Not that it was particularly needed. Gigan and Megalon were well known to Earth, having ravaged its cities many times in the past. Greeting each other with surprising affection, the two giant touched their forearms together with a metallic ring. Pulling away, the strange pair of creatures went to work. A wide, crimson beam burst from Gigan’s cyclopean eye. The thick ray broke off into smaller streak of energy, which exploded on contact with a patch of forest, setting it on fire. Megalon loosed a jagged streak of electricity from his horn, blowing apart the top off a hill. Gigan sliced and diced a mountain with his scythes, the razor-edged claws hacking through solid rock without too much trouble. Megalon joined him, bashing away at the mountain with his odd forearms. Between the two of them they easily leveled the mountain. As their violence triggered a small landslide that crushed what remained of the marketplace, Gigan and Megalon cackled together, enjoying the little exercise greatly. Separating yet again, the pair wrecked more havoc, Megalon’s beam raking the earth and Gigan’s claws cutting down small forests.

    Just as he was about to unleash his cluster ray again, Gigan felt the ground shift beneath his feet. The robotic beast turned in search of his partner, wondering if he was the cause of the trembling. But the Seatopian demigod was still on the surface, smashing away at another mountain. Gigan suddenly grew worried. Then what was the source of the fierce vibrations? Megalon himself paused and cocked his head in confusion, wondering how he could be above ground and create the tremors at the same time.

    The great beetle wasn’t the brightest of creatures.

    Gigan and Megalon slowly backed up to stand back to back, ready to fight together. The ground beneath the two exploded, throwing the cyborg and the insect to the ground with cries of shock. Jumping from the earth with an aroused fighting spirit, another giant bellowed a barking challenge to the downed monsters. The challenger was reptilian in nature, its hefty body held up on powerful legs. At the end of muscular arms, huge, clawed, human-like fists clenched in eager anticipation. The beast had a horny beak at the end of its snout and a small horn rising from between its nostrils. Two large bull horns sprouted from the sides of its head. A long, energetic tail whipped the air behind the challenger as it leaned back in a tremendous roar. This new beast was just as infamous as Gigan and Megalon. But it was also much more loved, for it was a defender, a savior, not a destroyer. Among all of Earth’s guardian, it stood out for its strength, will and endurance. Its name was known to all, the name of…

    Gomora!

    The prehistoric creature stomped the ground happily, overjoyed at the chance to fight. Gigan and Megalon puffed themselves up and feinted charges and attacks, trying to intimidate Gomora. The dinosaur would have none of it. Smashing his fists together, the Ancient Monster Prince warned Gigan and Megalon to prepare for battle with a sharp, forceful roar. The two living weapons hesitated, the idea of facing the famous Gomora more than a bit daunting. Perhaps they should… Too late. Gomora felt no remorse as he crashed into the two and sent them sprawling. After all, he had warned then. Not waiting for the two to get up, the dinosaur charged again. Ready or not, here he comes! Gigan quickly leapt to his feet and slashed at Gomora with his scythes, successfully fending off the spirited beast. Megalon soon joined his partner and fired a napalm bomb, trying to set fire to Gomora. But the wily beast simply sidestepped and avoided the sticky projectile. As it exploded behind him, Gomora lunged forward and socked Megalon across the face with a potent punch, cracking some of the beetle’s pincers. Megalon jumped back with a pained scream, waving his spade-like arms in a small fit. Gigan stepped forward and loosed a cluster beam. Small explosions billowed from Gomora’s torso, pushing him back. Swiftly recovering, the dinosaur wheeled around and slammed his tail into the side of Gigan’s head, bowling over the alien. Megalon rushed back in, swinging his arms wildly. The slow-witted giant managed to catch Gomora in the face, almost downing the dinosaur. Snorting, Gomora lashed out and drove back Megalon with a powerful blow to the beetle’s chest. As Gigan rose to stand next to Megalon, fiery rings of energy ripped from Gomora’s horn, searing both the giants. The ancient brawler’s Super Oscillatory Wave sent the partners in destruction crashing to the ground, both shrieking in distress. Beating his chest, Gomora shook the air with a screech, empowering himself. Slowly rising, Gigan and Megalon hardened themselves, ready for the dinosaur’s next attack.

    They didn’t notice the swell of violet energy rising from the earth behind them.

    Gomora stiffened in alarm. He recognized this creature! Seeing their foe’s shock, Gigan and Megalon turned to look as well. A hulking started to take shape, billions of microscopic organism amassing. Slowly, a creature of unmatched dread and fear formed. A heavy body, covered in an intricate pattern of grooves, ridges and spikes; rose, flexing powerfully. Clawed hands appeared at the end of stout arms, talons grasping as if at flesh. Its thick legs dug into the ground, rows of large spikes pointing down from its knees. A flexible, segmented tail flattened the vegetation behind the terror, its crescent tip clenching. Two pairs of wings – one huge for power, one small for navigation – unfurled, churning the air with their might. The thing’s robust shoulders tapered into great spikes, like titanic, bloody thorns. The horror finally showed its face, letting out a terrible scream. Serrated frills framed the beast’s fearsome head and a straight, cylindrical horn graced its forehead. Its short jaws were lined by small tusks and brimmed with sharp teeth. Its eyes were yellow and soulless and hateful. The air grew stagnant just from the creature’s mere presence. Gomora, Gigan and Megalon all found themselves growing meek at the mere sight of the monstrosity. Only one being could instill such fear and possess such destructive power.

    Destoroyah, the living Oxygen Destroyer, chaos incarnated, the Grim Reaper’s faithful companion… Death itself.

    Destoroyah casted its sinister gaze upon its newfound victims. Its eyes locked on Gomora especially. It had a bone to pick with the reptile. Long ago, during a great battle between the forces of light and darkness, Gomora had attacked it from behind, striking the Precambrian horror down. Destoroyah could never forgive something like that. Only death was forgiveness. But the other two beast… they were between Destoroyah and its prey. They’d just have to die as well. Eyes narrowing, Gomora forced himself not to shrink back and met Destoroyah’s eyes with his own. As the two rivals glared furiously, Gigan motioned to Megalon subtly. He silently signaled to his partner that he would take Destoroyah and that the monster-god should deal with Gomora. Understanding, Megalon wheeled around to face the dinosaur with a screech, metallic arms slamming together. Gigan did the same to Destoroyah, clanging his scythes together. Destoroyah and Gomora both looked startled for a second before striking battle stances, each determined to reach the other. Crying out at the same time in a chorus of unearthly screams, all four giants attacked.

    Gomora ducked under a spade-like claws as Megalon took a swipe at him. The spirited brawler thrust himself forward and rammed his shoulder into the insectoid beast. Megalon was pushed back, but quickly came back swinging. Jerking forward, the bipedal insect smashed Gomora’s head between his strange forearms. The prehistoric giant yelped in pain, dropping to a knee. Megalon squealed happily and slammed his bulk into Gomora, toppling the reptile. Gomora’s tail swung up and smacked the bug across the face. Megalon staggered, but countered by delivering a good kick to the dinosaur’s side, literally punting the beast. Gomora flew through the air, thrashing wildly, before striking a hill with a muffled crash, throwing up dirt and chunks of earth. Megalon hopped up and down, shrieking in glee. Gomora rose to his feet, eyes burning. One would think it was in anger, but it was really excitement. If their was anything that the ancient monster loved, it was a good fight! Giving a spirited roar, Gomora rushed forward. A volley of electrical bolts tore from Megalon’s horn, raking Gomora as he barreled toward the beetle-god. The dinosaur grimaced in pain, but kept coming. Megalon panicked and tried to nail the incoming beast with his napalm bombs. Stopping on a dime, Gomora loosed his Super Oscillatory Wave. The powerful energy pulses detonated the napalm bombs and washed over Megalon. Screaming, the dim-witted giant tried to escape the forceful vibrations, only to be thrown to the ground. The insectoid creature’s girth pancaked priceless ancient ruins with a bloom of dust. Grabbing Megalon’s horn, Gomora yanked the bug to his feet. Eyes bright and happy, the dinosaur landed a barrage of punches and kicks to the monster-god’s body, bruising and battering Megalon. The great beetle struggled, flailing his metallic arms. Judging that Megalon had taken enough of a beating, Gomora showcased his impressive muscle by hurling the Seatopian champion over his head. Megalon wailed, cartwheeling through the picturesque skyline. With one last screech, the titanic insect landed on his head, snapping off his horn.

    Clumsily dragging himself up, the bug was filled with rage. His horn! His horn, his horn, his horn! Megalon threw a tantrum, stomping and swinging his spade-like forearms blindly. Gomora paused, stunned by the immature display. This monster was more child than devil. Shrieking in fury, Megalon sprinted at the dinosaur, attacking rashly. He was immediately floored by a bone-jarring punch. As he laid eagle spread on his back and due for another pummeling, Megalon groaned in misery. He was having a bad day…

    Gigan’s day was even worse.

    Again, the cyborg was bowled over by a blow from Destoroyah’s claws. Gigan slammed into the ground, cratering it. Screeching, the chicken-like giant lashed out vengefully. His scythes, sharper than razors and stronger than steel, barely scratched Destoroyah’s thick carapace. Gigan gritted his metal teeth. Changing tactics, the partially mechanical weapon unleashed his cluster beam. Small explosion peppered Destoroyah’s carapace. It didn’t even tickle. Howling in dark delight, the demonic beast rose one taloned foot and brought in down hard into Gigan’s gut. The bladed alien doubled over in agony, spitting up a mix of pale blood and dark oil. Destoroyah grinned evilly and prepared to smash Gigan’s skull beneath its foot. Thinking fast, the cyborg took off, ripping from the ground in flight. Wailing in anger, Destoroyah spread its satanic wings and followed, ragged membranes beating against the air noisily. Gigan easily outran and outmaneuvered his heavier foe, zipping and speeding through the clouds. Destoroyah screamed its frustration to the world, aimlessly firing off micro-oxygen rays. The purple lances of power slashed across the sky, few even coming close to Gigan. Becoming confident – perhaps overly so – Gigan pulled a sharp turn, buzz saw whirling to life. Destoroyah shrieked in surprise as Gigan clipped it, saw hacking into its shoulder. Far below, a few drops of yellow blood were soaked into the parched soil. Gigan gave a cry of laughter and circled around again. Before Destoroyah could even make a turn, Gigan struck again, almost sheering one of its wings in half. With one wing practically useless, Destoroyah began to plummet. But, the Precambrian horror managed to snatch Gigan from the air with its gripping tail, the cyborg emitting a surprised gurgle. Together, the two dueling giants plunged, both helpless. As they fell, Destoroyah and Gigan took vicious swipe and swings at each other. The cyborg slashed Destoroyah’s armor with its claws and the hyper-colony of microscopic creatures bashed Gigan with its fantastic strength. All the while, the rolling landscape below rushed upward, gravity certain to be the victory in the three-way squabble.

    CRASH!

    Stunned by the powerful impact, the two monsters struggled to pull themselves from the tangle of limbs and various appendages they landed in. Destoroyah was up first, eyes glowing with hate and bloodlust. Gigan didn’t fare as well as the crimson tank, lacking its thick exoskeleton. Slowly and painfully, the alien beast tried to rise. Blood dripped from deep gashed and oil leaked from numerous cracks. The cyborgs fins were crushed and broken, hanging limply from his back. One of his scythes was cracked, threatening to shatter, and the other was chipped and dulled. Cackling, Destoroyah whipped around, its tail shooting out and wrapping around one of Gigan’s arms. Spinning around with a horrible scream, the collective lifeform threw Gigan. The wounded cyborg landed heavily, its cracked blade breaking into nothing but shards of metal. Destructive energies poured from Destoroyah’s jaws. The blast of micro-oxygen exploded against Gigan’s broken body, eating away at both flesh and metal. The bladed giant wailed in pain. Destoroyah advanced, wanting more. With a burst of adrenaline, Gigan leapt to his feet. He thrust one of arms forward and fired a pair of grappling hooks. The weighted wires wrapped around Destoroyah’s neck and tangled together. Buzz saw activating, Gigan gave the line a good tug. Destoroyah was unfazed, still standing strong. Grabbing the tether in its claws, the winged terror gave its own tug. Gigan was ripped from his feet and sent hurtling toward Destoroyah. As the cyborg tumbled toward it, the hyper-colony cackled wickedly, cutting energy arcing from its horn as it swung its head down…

    Gomora socked Megalon again, fist slamming into the beetle’s face. Shrieking, the monster-god decided enough was enough. Leaping back from Gomora, Megalon brought its spade-like arms together. Interlocking, the beast’s infamous drill was formed. Drill whirling with sudden energy, the insectoid leviathan lunged, intent on gutting Gomora. Mind working like lightning, Gomora waited until the last second and then sidestepped. Megalon’s drill stabbed into a mountainside, stopping dead. The great insect squawked, trying to pull his drill from the rock face. Grabbing Megalon’s arm and bracing them, Gomora brought his knee up with a barking bellow. Megalon wailed in agony as both his arms were broken at the elbows. Finally jerking his drill from the mountain, the crippled monster-god’s drill split apart and his arms fell limply to his sides. Megalon squealed and began to run, not willing to fight any longer.

    Then Gigan’s death scream rose to the heavens.

    Gomora and Megalon turned just in time to see Gigan’s corpse fall from Destoroyah’s grasps. The dead cyborg’s upper body was cleaved straight in two, a pool of blood and oil spreading out from the deceased giant. Gomora growled. Could he defeat Destoroyah without the element of surprise? Megalon screamed in horror. Forgetting his earlier plan to escape, the devastated beast ran to Gigan’s side. Murmuring pitifully, the Seatopian champion gently nudged his partner’s side with a foot, hoping for Gigan to response. He didn’t. Megalon stood, dumbstruck and miserable. His partner was gone. His friend was gone. Destoroyah stepped forward with a screech, warning Megalon that he would die next if he didn’t flee. The beetle refused to move, unwilling to leave Gigan. Gomora was saddened by the sight of the dumb bug mourning his partner’s death.

    Destoroyah found it delicious.

    The monstrosity lunged, knocking Megalon to the ground with a swing of its claws. Gomora found itself rushing in to try and help the bug, but Destoroyah tripped the dinosaur with its tail. Placing a heavy foot on Megalon’s chest, the hellish beast cackled darkly. Spewing a stream of micro-oxygen, the Precambrian demon blasted Megalon’s face. The beetle-god went into spasms as his face was eaten away, destructive energies liquifying his pincers and compound eyes. The pained insect tried to flee, but Destoroyah kept him pinned under its foot. Sprawled cross the ground, Gomora looked on in horror as Megalon’s exoskeleton melted away, revealing the soft flesh and slick innards beneath. Armor weakened, the cockroach-like monster’s chest caved in under Destoroyah’s talons, splattering his guts. Soon, there was nothing left of the beast but its spade-like claws and a few worn fragment of its outer shell. Destoroyah boasted of its victory with a terrible screech, shaking the air. Gomora rose to his feet, furious at the violent slaying of Megalon. Nothing, no matter how destructive, should be forced to suffer like that. Destoroyah turned to face the riled dinosaur, happy to clash with him. It would be a pleasure to kill him as well.

    With an emotional cry of anger and hate, Gomora charged, ready to fight Death itself.

    Gomora tackled Destoroyah, slamming all his weight into the crimson horror. The hyper-colony barely moved. Shrieking, Destoroyah retaliated. Gomora was thrown back by a blast of violet power. The micro-oxygen tried to eat away at him, but his think skin soon snuffed its destructive effect. Eyes glowing with all the foul feelings in the world, Destoroyah moved forward and swung at Gomora’s head. The ancient beast ducked and then made his own swipe, driving his fist straight up into the killer’s jaw. Destoroyah was pushed back by the uppercut, clawed feet gouging the ground. Encouraged, Gomora advanced, punching, kicking and headbutting. Destoroyah, unable to avoid the blows or land any of its own, was forced back, the giant locked in a dance of sorts. Under the great power of Gomora’s blow, even the tank-like Destoroyah was beginning to wear. Tiny flows of yellow blood ran down the Precambrian monster’s blood red armor. Destoroyah finally manged to launch a counterassault by snatching Gomora’s ankle with its gripping tail. Wheeling around with a scream of effort, the vengeful monstrosity tore Gomora off his feet and hurled him away. As the dinosaur soared – quite against his will – Destoroyah opened fire. Purple energy harpoons exploded against Gomora’s plunging body, blasting away bits of his flesh. The willful brawler yelped in pain. The cry was suddenly cut off as he hit the ground, leveling a hill. But Gomora was on his feet just as quickly, brushing off the impact and rushing Destoroyah again. Bellowing, the spirited giant grabbed the mutated predator’s horn in one hands and began whaling on it with the other. Destoroyah screeched as its carapace was cracked by blows that would cripple most other creatures. Clutching the killer’s horn in both hands now, Gomora wrenched it, trying to snap it off. Destoroyah lashed out, carving Gomora’s side with its savage claws. The dinosaur jumped back with a shriek of pain, blood gushing from the long, ugly wounds. Hissing, Destoroyah lunged, throwing Gomora to the ground by thundering into him. Pinning the prehistoric reptile under its much greater mass, Destoroyah viciously beat the smaller monster, claws ripping and tearing flesh with each blow. The winged terror cackled as its felt flesh give way under its clenched claws. Gomora cried out in outrage and pain, blood splashing across his face. Desperate, the dinosaur resorted to his Super Oscillatory Wave. Fiery pluses of power scalded Destoroyah’s face, peeling skin and burning its eyes. Even the Precambrian demon couldn’t take such an attack pointblank and swiftly rose, trying to escape. Hissing, Destoroyah flexed its claws, wanting to tear Gomora’s heart from his chest. Wailing, the crimson beast threw itself down to fulfill its wishes.

    Instead, Gomora stabbed his nasal horn into the monstrosity’s throat.

    Destoroyah gurgled pathetically, yellow blood pouring from its mouth and jugular. Gomora struggled to see through the blood dripping into his eyes. Summoning the last of his energy, the dinosaur called upon its Super Oscillatory Wave again. Only, this time, the fiery energy flowed directly into Destoroyah’s body. The predatory giant could feel the burning power run through it, scorching it from the inside. It would kill it, but it wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable. It did make Destoroyah extremely unstable however. And Gomora knew just how to use that to his advantage. With an enormous heave, the dinosaur lifted Destoroyah from the ground and hurled him over one shoulder. Ripping loosed from Gomora’s horn, Destoroyah tumbled through the air, blood still spewing from its throat. When the screaming beast hit the ground, it erupted into a massive fireball.

    BOOM!

    As bits of earth and boiled chunks of Destoroyah rained down upon the Greece countryside, Gomora nearly collapsed. He was exhausted. He had never been this bone tired in his entire life… At least the fight was over. He was victorious.

    Gomora froze in absolute horror as violet power crackled across the landscape.

    Every living thing around him perished instantly, plants wilting and animals dropping dead. Billions of microscopic predator feasted, multiplying and recovering. When their numbers were sufficient, they came together. Reappearing in a flash of purple, Destoroyah glared daggers at a Gomora. The usually bulky killer was now thin and scrawny. Its wings were ragged, mostly red shreds of skin. Many of its spikes and spines were missing. Its facial frills were only half formed. But it was no less terrifying than before. A shiver went down the dinosaur’s spine as cold fear engulfed him completely. It couldn’t be. A thousand questions ran through the ancient creature’s mind. How could the Precambrian horror have survived? Why wasn’t it dead? How could anything be so durable? Could he possible fight any longer?

    Was he going to die?

    Forcing himself to be bold, Gomora leapt forward and spun around, tail swinging out to strike Destoroyah. The wrathful demon hacked down, horn humming with deadly power. Gomora screamed in agony as his tail was sliced clean off at the base by Destoroyah’s horn katana, blood spurting from both stumps. Shock, blood loss, and pain all taking their toll, the once spirited warrior fell, unable to continue. Cackling darkly, Destoroyah advanced, eyes bright and hateful. It was going to kill this thing, it would make him suffer, it would make him pay!

    Before the crimson beast could strike down Gomora once and for all, a humanoid figure dropped down in front of it. Ultraman! The silver being, noble and strong, warned off Destoroyah by striking a pose that clearly meant business. He wouldn’t let this monstrosity slay Gomora. The dinosaur once saved him from the hellish creature, and now it was his turn to do the same. Destoroyah didn’t mind. It craved revenge on Ultraman as well, simply for surviving an encounter with it. The Precambrian demon grinned as it gazed at the alien hero and Gomora, still bleeding profusely on the ground.

    No one escapes Death!

    Winner – Destoroyah

     

    K.W.C. // December 2, 2019
  • Earlier this year I happened to go to the Shinjuku Godzilla Store near the time in which Godzilla King of the Monsters was in theaters, and I was thrilled to find—in addition to the Godzilla Store itself—a limited time special store had been put up specifically for the release of the aforementioned MonsterVerse film. While I was not wild about KOTM (much the opposite), it was still really fun to see the wide variety of goods that were for sale at the time—and I was able to pick up a wide variety of Godzilla-themed snacks. Oddly, at that time, the only snacks I found that were themed around the Godzilla King of the Monsters film at the store were these—the Godzilla King of the Monsters Choco in Sables, from Coms (again). Let’s take a look.

    The packaging this time I think is a bit less interesting than in the past—though maybe I am just a sucker for the cuter art on Coms other recent Godzilla goodies. Here we have cartoonish, but much more serious renditions of Godzilla (compared to the illustrations on the Coms snacks), King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan from the film. And while the art generally stays faithful to the film versions of those monsters, KG looks a bit different, being more obviously gold instead of the sort of boring brown from the movie. Rodan also looks a bit different, with more prominent claws and smaller wings. With each box, you also get one bromide of four randomly included in the box (of course). The one I got was of King Ghidorah. I actually like how he looks on the card more than how he turned out in the movie!

    What about the sables? And what is a sable, anyway? I had to look it up. Apparently it’s a kind of buttery shortbread cookie/biscuit from France. The Godzilla choco in sables reminded me of Nilla wafers with a bit of chocolate cream in them. I tried one, and it was alright—definitely buttery and sweet, but not too sweet. The chocolate didn’t add much, and the overall affair was a bit overly dry, though that may be because I munched mine after the best-if-eaten-by date had passed.

    And that’s about it. Only one kind of cookie inside, and you only get eight of them and a big picture of a random monster. A little underwhelming if you ask me, at least in comparison to some of the other recent Godzilla yummies I have tried. I’d give this one a pass.

    The front of the box!
    The front of the box!

    The back of the box! Or did I get it backwards?
    The back of the box! Or did I get it backwards?

    Snack packaging--hungry yet?
    Snack packaging–hungry yet?

    Mmm... dry and with cheap chocolate in the middle. Delish.
    Mmm… dry and with cheap chocolate in the middle. Delish.

    KG looks much better when he is all gold.
    KG looks much better when he is all gold.

    Kaiju Kuisine // December 1, 2019
  • Shin Godzilla Crunch: Black Crunch vs. White Crunch Snack Review

    Along with the amazingly named Shin Godzilla: War of the Takoyaki crackers, snack company Coms also released the Shin Godzilla Crunch: Black Crunch vs. White Crunch. With incredibly cute art of Kamata-Kun appearing in Osaka, and a snack not dissimilar to the excellent Godzilla Ole Crunch Collection, we have another winner on our hands here—plus, another cute Godzilla diorama is included with the box!

    Wait. Did I say a diorama was included WITH the box? I meant to say the diorama IS the box!

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As usual, let’s start with a brief description of the packaging. Kamata-Kun (or Godzilla Second Form if you must), the startling ugh-dorable proto-Godzilla that appears in Godzilla Resurgence (2016), here appears in Osaka, splashing and having a great time, as we can see from his huge happy face! In the background, replacing the famous Glico running man, we see Jet Jaguar standing tall (a clever visual that was also featured in the recent Godzilla vs. Evangelion movie over at Universal Studios Japan), as well as a huge picture showing Godzilla Fourth Form shooting a purple ray. Now I am not really sure where the white vs. black comes in on the cover image, or why the events are taking place in Osaka (the image on the War of the Takoyaki box also takes place in Osaka, right in front of the Osaka Castle). The Coms company is stationed in Gifu, so no connection there. These snacks were not Universal Studios Japan exclusives either, so I don’t know what the deal is.

    Anyway, if you open the box, you will find eight of the titular crunches inside—four whites, four blacks. Pretty stingy if you ask me. Still, the crunches themselves are quite delicious. They are basically the same sort of thing as the Godzilla Ole Collection, though perhaps a little bit larger, and without the connection to Mt. Mihara. They are very crunchy, with the chocolate tasting a bit like dark chocolate, and the white one tasting sweeter. They are both really good.

    As mentioned earlier, the box doubles as a diorama. The black box has the background of the image on the cover (of Kamata-Kun playing in the famous Osaka river) emblazoned inside. You can use the box as a diorama with plastic Kamata-Kun cut-out included with the box—again, much like with the War of the Takoyaki crackers set, which featured Godzilla Fourth Form instead (although with that diorama, the background was separate from the box and came with a stand). Since the box doubles as a stand, it’s much sturdier than the War of the Takoyaki one (which tends to fold over with the force of gravity over time if you display it, as I have, on my DVD shelf). One added bonus is that if you have both, you can switch the plastic monsters and their backgrounds… though since Kamata-Kun is splashing, it looks a little weird to have him in front of Osaka Castle like that. I guess you could say he is in the moat.

    At any rate, we have a first-rate Godzilla snack and a frivolous but fun diorama that comes with. Just eight pieces of candy seems like a paltry amount, but still, for Godzilla fans, this is a nice munch!

    Kaiju Kuisine // November 29, 2019
  • Apparently there was an entire line-up of Mt. Mihara sweets made this year. In addition to the Godzilla Honey Pie,  the Godzilla Crunch Ole Collection, and the Izu Oshima Godzilla Curry, we also have the Godzilla Bar Cheese Cookie from the same company, which takes some of the same design aspects of the previous two snacks and creates something new and frankly delicious.

    As always, let’s start with the packaging. The box is fairly unique, with a solid base which is actually basically a lid, and an upper section folded together that tapers a little towards the top. The entire shape is supposed to mimic the shape of a volcano (presumably Mt. Mihara), and illustrated red lava flows down across the box lid, matching up with an illustration of an erupting volcano on the side and top. In addition, we get two images of Godzilla—one of Godzilla emerging from Mt. Mihara (which was also featured on the Crunch Collection and curry boxes), and one close-up of his leering visage. Another side to the box feels like a tourism advertisement, featuring a beautiful shot of Mt. Mihara, a close-up of a camellia blossom common to the area, and a shot of hardened lava. One side also lays out the history of Godzilla films (praising the original film to high heaven) and recounting Godzilla’s fraught relationship with Mt. Mihara, before declaring that the cheese cookie was made to create an image of the scene of Godzilla’s resurrection from the mountain. Presumably what recreates the scene is the box, and since each of the cheese cookies bears Godzilla’s image, maybe they symbolize the Big G coming out of the mountain… before getting eaten by you.

    I love how the package also unfolds once you open it, spreading out neatly into a serving plate (and perhaps mimicking a really intense volcanic explosion).

    That face doesn’t enhance my appetite.
    That face doesn’t enhance my appetite.

    The treats (ten in each box) are individually wrapped, and the wrappers each feature the freaky face from the side of the box. This frankly rather creepy shot of Godzilla’s evil smile is honestly off-putting, but don’t let it dissuade you from opening the snack. The cheese cookies are quite delicious, with a wonderful sweet cheese flavor akin to cheesecake. Though I will say, they are a little bit dry, so a nice tall glass of water or milk is recommended to go with them.

    Honestly, I have been a fan of all the Izu Oshima Godzilla snacks so far. The Honey Pie was quite tasty, the Crunch Collection is among my favorite Godzilla sweets of all time, the curry was actually quite good, and I quite enjoyed the cheese cookies, too. As far as I am concerned, the Mt. Mihara series of Godzilla yummies is a real winner as far as licensed monster snacks go. A small hurdle to be sure, but the Mihara series clears it with aplomb.

    Box art, Godzilla sides. The kaiju King is pleased you bought his product.
    Box art, Godzilla sides. The kaiju King is pleased you bought his product.

    Box art, volcano side. Come visit a volcano!
    Box art, volcano side. Come visit a volcano!

    A cheese cookie, awaiting its doom in my stomach.
    A cheese cookie, awaiting its doom in my stomach.

    Kaiju Kuisine // November 24, 2019
  • It’s been a long time since I wrote a review for a Godzilla curry—the last one was way back in 2016 with my review of the Yokosuka Godzilla Curry. Well, time keeps right on marching along, and along with the Godzilla Crunch Ole Collection, we now have a new curry from Izu Oshima—the Izu Oshima Godzilla Curry! And I have to say, as far as it goes, this one is much better than the Yokosuka Godzilla Curry. I would totally eat this one again.

    Starting with the box art, we have what appears to be the same image used in the Godzilla Crunch Ole Collection of Godzilla rising from Mt. Mihara, smoke belching out behind him, fire punching out of his mouth (this time to cook the curry). Text on the side in yellow declares “Godzilla has resurrected from Izu’s Mt. Mihara in Tokyo!” And in red on the left side in a fireball we have “Limited Time Only!” and “Sweetness and spiciness punches you in the chest!” (I hope that doesn’t mean I am going to get heartburn…) The back also has some text boasting that their curry doesn’t use normal togarashi spice, but rather extra spicy island togarashi spice, and that the recipe also includes salt birthed from the seawater off the coast of the islands in the Oshima area (I think).

    And, I mean, it does taste good! I had my curry with some peanuts, but even alone the spiciness and flavor is pretty great. This is a delicious Godzilla curry with a really good balance of punchy spice and a touch of mild sweetness that had my tastebuds a-singing. On the other hand, the meat included in the pouch was of low quality (of course) and was a bit too fatty for my tastes, but I would still happily eat another batch of Izu Oshima Godzilla Curry… which is more than I can say for the Yokosuka one.

    If you like somewhat spicy curries with decent flavor, and you like Godzilla, this seems like an easy choice for fans. Of course most fans in the west are probably going to have a tough time finding curry packs like this, but if you do, I can recommend trying out this one. It won’t have you spitting fire, but for me that’s a good thing!

    The box art, featuring an angry Godzilla cooking up fresh curry goodness just for you!
    The box art, featuring an angry Godzilla cooking up fresh curry goodness just for you!

    Kaiju Kuisine // November 22, 2019
  • In 1947, a blossoming filmmaker at Toho named Senkichi Taniguchi started production on the crime thriller Snow Trail, his second directorial effort. Having previously helmed the star-studded musical Toho Show Boat (1946), he was ready to expand his creative spectrum, channeling his energy into a straight-forward caper about three criminals who rob a bank and then flee into the mountains with their loot. In what marked another significant difference from his first movie, Taniguchi was forced to fill his cast with lesser-known or even completely unknown actors—as the studio had recently lost most of its established “box office” talent during a labor union strike and, per the speculations of one actor, wasn’t keen on their remaining “big name” stars shooting on location in the rugged mountain wilderness*. Among the newcomers appearing in Taniguchi’s film was a vibrant young actress by the name of Setsuko Wakayama, whom the director married two years after the film’s release and divorced seven years after that.

    Around the time his marriage to Wakayama ended, Taniguchi took charge of the rousing period piece The Maiden Courtesan (1956), during which he collaborated with Kaoru Yachigusa, who had been appearing in films for half a decade and had recently been subject to an attempt on Toho’s part to be rendered into the next international film star. History seemed to repeat itself a year after The Maiden Courtesan’s release, when Taniguchi and Yachigusa married (the second time the former wed an actress from one of his movies). This union, however, would not end in divorce: the couple remained together for the rest of Taniguchi’s life, Yachigusa supporting her husband as his career disintegrated in the 1960s, dedicatedly looking after him when ill health plagued him some decades later. As for Yachigusa’s career: Toho’s ambition to make a globally recognized name out of her never exactly came to fruition, but she nonetheless continued to enjoy domestic popularity in film and television—all while remaining at her husband’s side until he passed away in 2007.

    Kaoru Yachigusa in The Human Vapour

    Kaoru Yachigusa in The Human Vapour

    In thinking back on the film career of Kaoru Yachigusa (who died on October 24th this year, age 88), the dominant image that again and again comes to mind is one not identical but somewhat akin to what one imagines through recalling her marriage to Taniguchi: one chiefly remembers the many times she played passionate—sometimes even self-sacrificing—women unrelentingly supportive and caring (or as film historian Stuart Galbraith IV once wrote, “willing to forfeit everything up to and including her own identity”) for the men they loved. This is not to say that Yachigusa’s acting and performances were confined to the parameters of such roles; her career, after all, lasted almost seven decades, proffering a variety of characters to play; and I have been told that, through her work in television in the 1970s and onward, she found a new screen image as an “ideal” housewife and mother (though I have not seen any such shows of hers and thus cannot comment on the matter). But again, what I remember first and foremost is her embodying romantic perseverance and how she played different variants of this sort of character—beginning with what is unquestionably her most famous role.

    Produced three years after Yachigusa’s screen debut in 1951, Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954) on the surface might’ve seemed to have been merely the latest of countless movies based on the life and lore of the samurai/author of the title (director Hiroshi Inagaki himself made a few films about Miyamoto prior to this one). But the 1954 Toho spectacle in question was concocted and presented as something much grander, featuring huge sets, hundreds of fully costumed actors and horsemen, and touting a budget of roughly $500,000, the second largest ever afforded to a Japanese film at that time**. Appearing in such an enterprise—and opposite a huge star like Toshiro Mifune, no less—granted Yachigusa more visibility than ever and arguably started establishing the persona still associated with her today. “It was my first adult role,” Yachigusa recalled decades later, “so I didn’t know what to expect. Musashi and Otsu are shy and awkward with each other, but I think there’s great love between them.”

    Toshiro Mifune and Kaoru Yachigusa in Samurai I

    Toshiro Mifune and Kaoru Yachigusa in Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto

    The film takes its foundation from part of Eiji Yoshikawa’s serialized novel about Miyamoto and places heavy emphasis on the relationship between the burgeoning samurai and the immaculately beautiful Otsu, whom Yachigusa portrays. And in contrast to the film’s two sequels—Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) and Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956), which generally charged Otsu with following Musashi around, to the point where another recurring character played by Mariko Okada became the more interesting love interest—Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto presents Otsu as a fully drawn person with contextualized struggles extending well beyond those in her romantic tenacity.

    Yachigusa portrays Otsu as a fragile person emotionally battered by those around her (betrayed by her fiancé; cornered and tormented by her betrothed’s family). She initially blames Musashi for pulling her fiancé toward the path of war—and thus away from her—but later comes to identify with him once society rears its ugly head; both of them have been betrayed by the people in their lives (Otsu realizes her fiancé was not worthy of devotion after he marries another woman; everyone in Musashi’s village compliantly joins forces with the warmongers seeking his death) and feel completely and utterly alone, with no one to seek consolation from besides each other. Otsu’s empathy culminates with an initiative to save Musashi after he’s captured, followed by a beautifully romantic scene of the two characters reconciling on the banks of a stream. And then there’s the heartbreaking finale in which Otsu’s left behind as the man she loves wanders off to begin his journey as a samurai, promising to return one day.

    Otsu and Musashi in Samurai III

    Otsu and Musashi in Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island

    Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto pivots on Mifune’s transformation from a glory-seeking ruffian into a cultured swordsman, but it is the relationship between him and Yachigusa that makes up the picture’s emotional core. And while I do take issue with how Otsu became a tad too sidelined as the trilogy went along, the character’s lasting commitment to Musashi nonetheless embodies Yachigusa’s screen image as self-sacrificing woman who only wants to be loved. Moreover, she did have some powerful moments emphasizing the pain her character was going through: watching Musashi change before her eyes, losing her strength (both physical and emotional), finally reaching the point where, at the end of Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island, she can barely go on. And even when at long last she is able to be with the man she loves, she cannot escape the realization that, due to their experiences, things will never be the same. As she laments, “I wish you were still the [man] I used to know.” I have many reservations with the finale of this trilogy, but there are jabs of touching melancholy stemming from Yachigusa’s character, and the actress delivers them faultlessly.

    To reiterate, Kaoru Yachigusa by no means only played quietly hurting women like Otsu, for she did at times break away from her screen image or, more interestingly, perform variants of it. During Toho’s trial run efforts to create a name for her overseas, Yachigusa was often cast in lavish international productions such as The Legend of the White Serpent (1956), co-financed by Hong Kong’s the Shaw Brothers and based on a popular Chinese legend, for which she acted as a voice of reason amid a doomed relationship between two others. Before that, she’d played the titular role in the 1954 Madame Butterfly (joint-produced between Toho, Rizzoli Films, and Gallone Productions), which came from a stage adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s opera—in essence allowing her to enact a western rendition, if you will, of her usual part of a Japanese woman suffering from heartbreak.

    Kaoru YachigusaOn Yachigusa’s home turf, the 1957 adaptation of Yasunari Kawabata’s novel Snow Country again placed the actress within the framework of a woman devoted to the man she loves, but this time she’s characterized as fiery and passionate, outspoken and protective, pouring her heart into caring for someone too ill to care for himself. (And let it be said her performance is by far the best thing about this production: she captures the exact image I had of the character when I read the novel.)

    On occasion, Yachigusa played objects of romantic obsession, as in Ishiro Honda’s science fiction thriller The Human Vapour (1960), itself, as many have described, something like a Japanese variant of The Phantom of the Opera. Another example was her appearance in the long-running Tora-san series, where she captured the interest of Kiyoshi Atsumi’s beloved ne’er-do-well.

    And for an example of Yachigusa enacting a spin on a different kind of superficially familiar material (in this case the role of a dutiful housewife), I would like to salute a film which I saw just a few months ago. In Yoshimitsu Morita’s family comedy Like Asura (2003), Yachigusa was once again paired up with Tatsuya Nakadai (they’d previously played husband and wife in the 1987 tearjerker Hachiko) in a story revolving around an extra-marital affair on the husband’s part which is found out by the married couple’s four adult daughters.

    Yachigusa plays the mother with what appears to be sweet naïveté, seemingly oblivious not only to her husband’s trysts but also to the true nature of the comedic scrambling that occurs when his “activities” are reported in a local paper. (There’s a great scene where Nakadai’s trimming his toenails and Yachigusa spreads out newsprint beneath his feet to catch the clippings, “coincidentally” opening it to the page broadcasting his secret. One of their daughters stops by to steal their copy of the morning edition—so that her mother doesn’t read it—and fearfully waits until both parents leave the room. She snatches the paper and, when Yachigusa re-enters, lamely pretends to swat a cockroach to explain her having crumpled it. Yachigusa remarks she hasn’t read the paper yet and reaches for it, resulting in a tug of war between the two women, the daughter sweating bullets, the mother perplexed.)

    In the picture’s finale (I am about to give away the ending, so read this last paragraph at your own discretion), the mother has succumbed to a sudden illness and the daughters discover that she in fact had been the one who leaked news of their father’s philandering to the press—to which they enjoy a tearful laugh. At this point, the audience is prompted to look back on Kaoru Yachigusa’s character and performance and put the dots together: now we realize she’d laid out the paper at her husband’s feet with the intention of him inadvertently reading the story in question; now we realize her sweet and out of it persona wasn’t so sweet and out of it after all; there were hints in her behavior the whole time, but they were hints one does not notice without the benefit of hindsight. A fine script enhanced by subtly comedic acting from a marvelous film actress whose range and natural grace will be missed.

    Kaoru Yachigusa in Like Asura

    Rest In Peace, Kaoru Yachigusa (image from Like Asura)

     


     

    * The actor who made this speculation was none other than Toshiro Mifune, who made his acting debut in Snow Trail, directed by Kaoru Yachigusa’s future husband, Senkichi Taniguchi. Mifune later recalled: “I think the reason I got the part was because of the physical risks involved. Because the big stars had left Toho from the strike, I was chosen to co-star in Snow Trail. […] It called for a great deal of mountain climbing, and I believe the studio felt an unknown actor was more expendable.”

    ** The budget of Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto was pretty close to that of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954), which was released earlier that same year and cost somewhere between $560,000-580,000.

    General // November 18, 2019