Koji Hashimoto  Koji Hashimoto (橋本幸治)
  Director / Producer
  Date of birth:
  January 21st, 1936
  Ashikaga, Japan
  Date of death:
  January 9th, 2005
  Japan
Director Filmography - Assistant Director Filmography - Producer Filmography

Biography

Koji Hashimoto entered in the film industry in 1962, two years after graduating from the Russian Department at Waseda University. His first credit was as an assistant director on Ishiro Honda’s international hit King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), the dawn of an important association between the experienced director and the young assistant. Throughout the remainder of the 1960s, Hashimoto would work under Honda on five other films—including Ghidorah the Three-headed Monster (1964), Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965), and All Monsters Attack (1969)—all while Honda became increasingly disconcerted with the more kid-friendly direction kaiju eiga was heading. Little did anyone suspect their time together would eventually lead to a defining moment in Hashimoto’s career. But that day was still some years in the future.

Hashimoto remained an assistant director throughout the 1970s. In addition to working on Akira Kurosawa’s first color film, Dodes'kaden (1970), he assisted on Shiro Moritani’s Submersion of Japan (1973) and Toshio Masuda’s Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974). These last two titles were significant in that they were big-budget special effects productions (in an era where most Japanese films were made on the cheap due to a major economic decline) and both went on to become Toho’s number one box office champions in their respective years. With these impressive recent résumé items—not to mention his many times working on Honda’s kaiju pictures—Hashimoto was steadily gaining the experience necessary to handle a big special effects movie of his own. And, in the early 1980s, he finally received his chance.

Bye-Bye Jupiter (1984) was an immense, exorbitant space opera based on a novel by esteemed science fiction author Sakyo Komatsu, with whom Hashimoto shared his directing responsibilities. “We wanted to paint a picture of what sorts of problems and challenges [humankind] might face in the future,” Hashimoto described when explaining their vision for the film. And despite a great deal of stress during pre-production, actual shooting proved to be a very enjoyable time for the fledgling director. The reception to Bye-Bye Jupiter was anything but enthusiastic; however, completion of the film did demonstrate for the front office that Hashimoto was capable of handling a grand-scale project laden with special effects. And, meantime, on the set, he had developed a reputation as a cordial and patient director.

1984 was an important year for Hashimoto for another, more significant reason. Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, who had spearheaded the Godzilla franchise thirty years earlier, had recently received the go-ahead on his long-sought-after reboot of the series. Tanaka’s plan this time around was to eschew the campy, kid-friendly tone of the last few movies and return the series to its gritty, more somber and serious roots. Perhaps aware that Ishiro Honda had been uncomfortable anthropomorphizing Godzilla in the 1960s, Tanaka approached him with the prospect of directing Godzilla’s big-screen comeback—only to be met with a rejection. Honda, now an older man contentedly retired from the Toho system, was working alongside his friend Akira Kurosawa, collaborating with him on his last few movies from 1980-1993; he had moved on past Godzilla, feeling the monster no longer belonged to him, and thus bequeathed Godzilla to the next generation. However, after declining Tanaka’s offer, Honda did offer a recommendation: someone whom he thought could bring Godzilla into the next generation. The man he recommended was his former assistant, Koji Hashimoto.

In realizing his second directorial effort, Hashimoto understood his task was not merely to make Godzilla scary again but also to update the monster within the context of the Cold War. “I wanted to answer the question of why we were making another Godzilla movie, to connect it to the present day,” he explained. Emphasizing his belief that Japan should become more involved in the anti-nuclear weapons movement which was then on the rise around the globe, he sought input from military analysts and professional journalists—to create a film that captured the contemporary zeitgeist and modernized the message against nuclear technology that had made Godzilla relevant in the first place. “Japan rejects war. We have our non-nuclear principles, and no nuclear weapons, and that is how we can enjoy this kind of peace. That is what we hope people will think [when they see this film].”

The Return of Godzilla hit theaters on December 15, 1984; and despite intense seasonal competition from Hollywood movies (including Ghostbusters and Gremlins) it proved a modest box office success. Its opening day alone garnered more than 800,000 ticket sales, and the film ultimately became the second-highest grossing Japanese feature of the 1985 movie year.

However, not long after the film’s release, Hashimoto found himself forced to make a difficult decision. His career faced uncertainty. The Japanese film industry was still reeling from the previous decade’s economic slump; and stiff international competition meant fewer Japanese pictures would be made in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, even though The Return of Godzilla made money and managed to hold its own against Hollywood, the studio had hoped it would do even better, given the vast expenses that went into it. Understandably concerned the studio would one day fail to renew his contract, Hashimoto opted to become a producer, thus ensuring his future at Toho. He left the director’s chair with just two titles under his belt and spent the remainder of his career in the front office. On January 9th, 2005, mere weeks before his 69th birthday, Koji Hashimoto suffered a fall while mountain climbing. He died in the hospital on that same day, ischaemic heart disease having claimed his life.


Director Toho Filmography

Date      Title Type
1984 Bye-Bye Jupiter Produced
1984 The Return of Godzilla Produced

Assistant Director Toho Filmography

Date      Title Type
1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla Produced
1964 Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster Produced
1965 Frankenstein vs. Baragon Produced
1965 Invasion of Astro-Monster Produced
1968 Sun Above, Death Below Produced
1969 Latitude Zero Produced
1969 All Monsters Attack Produced
1969 Konto 55: Grand Outer Space Adventure Produced
1970 Dodes'ka-den Produced
1972 Unheard Swan Song Produced
1972 No Sunday for Youth Produced
1973 Submersion of Japan Produced
1974 Prophecies of Nostradamus Produced
1975 Gate of Youth Produced
1976 The Human Revolution Continues Produced
1977 Gate of Youth Part 2 Produced
1979 House of Hanging Produced
1979 Glowing Autumn Produced
1980 Magnitude 7.9 Produced
1981 The Imperial Navy Produced

 

Producer Toho Filmography

Date      Title Type
1989 Double Triangles Produced
1992 Godzilla vs. Mothra Produced
1995 Godzilla vs. Destoroyah Produced
1995 The Tower of Lilies Produced
1996 The 8-Tomb Village Produced
1996 Rebirth of Mothra Produced
1997 Rebirth of Mothra II Produced
1998 Rebirth of Mothra III Produced