Manga: A Beautiful Day for a Godzilla Sandwich

 

A Beautiful Day for a Godzilla Sandwich


Japanese Comic Title

ゴジラサンド日和
[Gojira Sando Biyori]

Authors:

Natsuno Kiyohara

Pencils:
Inks:
Colors:
Language:
Release:
Publisher
:
Pages:

Natsuno Kiyohara
Natsuno Kiyohara
-
Japanese
1984
Ribon Mascot Comics/Shueisha
194

Covers:

Natsuno Kiyohara

Comic

Monsters

Sirenjaw
Godzilla



Review

By: Nicholas Driscoll

Have you ever wondered what a Godzilla comic made for girls would be like? Yeah, me neither, but we kinda sorta got one anyway with Gojira Sando Biyori, which roughly can be translated as "A Beautiful Day for a Godzilla Sandwich." No, seriously, that's what it means—I even double checked with my Japanese tutor. This may sound like a purely ridiculous name designed to grab attention without having much meaning, but such is not the case. There is actually a good reason for this title, despite the fact that no one actually eats a sandwich in the story, nor do sandwiches feature prominently in the story. But we can get to that a bit later—most important for Godzilla fans at this point is simply to note that, yes, this story actually DOES have something to do with Godzilla, unlike many of the awful "Godzilla" books I have reviewed over the past few years.

Have you ever wondered what a Godzilla comic made for girls would be like? Yeah, me neither, but we kinda sorta got one anyway with Gojira Sando Biyori, which roughly can be translated as "A Beautiful Day for a Godzilla Sandwich." No, seriously, that's what it means—Gamera-expert and super-nice-person Ayame Chiba helped me with this translation, and I double-checked with my Japanese tutor Ayako. This may sound like a purely ridiculous name designed to grab attention without having much meaning, but such is not the case. There is actually a good reason for this title, despite the fact that no one actually eats a sandwich in the story, nor do sandwiches feature prominently in the story. But we can get to that a bit later—most important for Godzilla fans at this point is simply to note that, yes, this story actually DOES have something to do with Godzilla, unlike many of the awful "Godzilla" books I have reviewed over the past few years.

Godzilla Sandwich Weather (referred to as Gojira Sando Biyori for the rest of this review), the collected volume, consists of four original one-shot comics published in Ribon, a Shojo comic periodical in Japan. Only one of the four, the titular Gojira Sando Biyori, published the year The Return of Godzilla (1984) was released in Japan, has anything to do with Godzilla. The other three—“Afternoon in the Rose Garden” (from the summer 1982 issue), “Memories of Tropical Paradise” (fall 1982), and “The Awata House Chestnut Jelly Murder Case” (winter 1983), are three melancholy tales completely unrelated to anything Toho. I’ll still cover them briefly, though, for kicks and giggles.

  Manga: A Beautiful Day for a Godzilla Sandwich  
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But first the Godzilla comic, such as it is. Look, I am just going to go ahead and spoil the entire plot because I highly doubt any of you are going to actually go out and buy this thing.

Gojira Sando Biyori is a story of a young girl named Kuriko who is moping alone at a park/zoo next to a giant sauropod statue. Suddenly a creepy old geezer shows up and starts chatting about how important it is to live your life well each day, and then cracks a joke about how his dentures immersed in their cleaning fluid look like the effects of the Oxygen Destroyer. That joke causes Kuriko to have a flashback to when she had gone to the original Godzilla (1954) with her boyfriend in 1983—some festival I guess. Well, Kuriko and the geezer gab about their love lives. It turns out the old guy also took his date to Godzilla many years past. Kuriko shares that she is upset because she lost her boyfriend and felt like a trained monkey when she was dating him. The geezer waxes nostalgic about losing his old flame, the daughter of one of his teachers. Then they talk some more.

Look, almost the entire comic is them just talking in the park.

Towards the end of the one-shot, the old guy convinces Kuriko to chase after some other young guy in the zoo, which she does, and they become a couple after she asks him what he would do with a chimpanzee and he says something romantic. Kuriko and her new beau then go to visit the geezer (named Mr. Kitami, we finally learn). Kuriko and the boy are visiting him because they heard he is bedridden, so they bring flowers. Well, it turns out a beautiful young woman is taking care of him—his daughter-in-law. And this daughter-in-law, it turns out, looks just like Mr. Kitami’s old flame! And the reason that he is bedridden is because he was channeling his lust for his son’s wife into doing sports and hurt himself in the process! Ho, ho, ha, ha! And Kuriko thinks this is great and we should all live our lives with passion, the end.

Okay, for me this story just didn't work. As mentioned above, for me, it's hard to believe that a young girl would just unload her heart to a random (and fairly sketchy) old guy at a zoo, and the ending mostly gives me a "yuck" for my buck, regardless of how Japanese may or may not view the message.

Still wondering about that title? "A Wonderful Day for a Godzilla Sandwich" may sound incredibly funny to Americans, but the underlying meaning of the title is referring to Mr. Kitami and Kuriko, who are themselves the "Godzilla sandwich," metaphorically speaking. Mr. Kitami and Kuriko are like two pieces of bread, with Godzilla is the filling that brings them together. When I first wrote my review of this book, I was utterly befuddled by the title, but my Japanese tutor explained the title basically as above, and I just think it's fascinating! What a creative name!

Godzilla fans will also find some amusing Godzilla art to enjoy. In addition to the dancing Godzilla on the cover, the fire breathing Godzilla on the back cover (pictured at the end of the review), and the frolicking sandwich Godzillas, there is also a weird piece of art that functions as a kind of preface image that features lots of little Godzillas, some Japanese folks, and a giant ape on a beach. In the story itself there are several shots of Godzilla smashing stuff, and even a shot of Dr. Serizawa. There is more Godzilla in this comic than in Kaiju Raban!

Let me cover the other stories, just really quick:

“Afternoon in the Rose Garden” is about a restaurant with roses during a war. The daughter of the owners (named Iina) is in love with the gardener (named Elf for some reason), but thinks he is in love with her mother until a dude with a time machine (Alex) takes her back in time to see the truth of their relationship. Then Iina and Elf work together to try to make blue roses until suddenly everyone is blown up by a nuclear bomb, and Alex the time traveler looks on sadly.

“Memories of Tropical Paradise” brings back Alex the time traveler, who is sad about how people often have tragic lives. He goes on a trip with a young girl named Roze to visit the dinosaur in the past. Roze does calisthenics with a velociraptor-type dinosaur and the two of them ride on sauropods, among other escapades. Roze convinces Alex to save the dinosaurs by destroying the asteroid that will kill them off, which he does, but because he drastically changes the past, apparently his mind and memories are transferred into an alternate reality version of himself, and the story ends with him wishing he could meet Roze again from his own reality.

  Manga: A Beautiful Day for a Godzilla Sandwich  
Back Cover

The last story, “The Awata House Chestnut Jelly Murder Case,” is about ancient Japan. The gist is that the main girl’s older sister gets betrothed to a dude, but her mom thinks the dude is closely related to the older sister and so she (the mom) poisons the older sister because I guess that’s the only way to stop the marriage. So the older sister dies, but the truth is they weren’t related, so the mother kills herself, too, and the younger sister (who didn’t tell her mom the truth about the lack of familial relations between the older sister and the dude) then tries to start up her own relationship with now-single dude, and he seems open to the idea. The end.

I thought the stories were pretty rotten overall. My favorite was definitely “Memories of Tropical Paradise” because there are a lot of silly scenes involving Roze, Alex, and lots of crudely-cute dinosaurs. But I didn’t find any of the stories satisfying, and they always ended incredibly poorly, at least in my view.

As for the art, I actually liked it quite a bit. Natsuo Kiyohara isn’t popular enough (I guess?) to have had her stuff translated into English yet so far as I know, but her character work is cute and energetic with adorable, sketchy facial expressions. Background stuff (by her assistants?) vary from being somewhat detailed to nearly nonexistent, or sometimes looks incredibly goofy, like quick doodles (see her tanks attacking Godzilla). Panel compositions are often dreamy and evocative. Overall, the art was a highlight for me, especially the characters expressions and energy.

Although we have had tons of Godzilla movies, comics, books, and more over the years, Godzilla literature for girls is pretty rare. The only other example I can think of is the unfortunate I Want to Marry Godzilla and Have His ChildrenGojira Sando Biyori is definitely better than that ultimately very frustrating book was, but even Kiyohara’s adorable art can’t save the often slipshod stories, and “Gojira Sando Biyori” itself just left me with a foul aftertaste by the end, although mileage will vary. Nevertheless, I can't honestly recommend this book to anyone but the most extreme completionists.

Side note:
Generally Japanese publications are mentioned here on Toho Kingdom with their titles translated into English. Rarely are Romaji titles used for anything unless it's clear this is the preferred English title, such as with Ikiru (1952). While there was consideration of keeping this title in Romaji, since the translation is so bizzare, it was eventually decided to feature it in English. Part of the reason is because the manga does make referenece to the Godzilla sandwiches, as seen below.

Manga: A Beautiful Day for a Godzilla Sandwich