Loose news round-up (plus random thoughts)

The recent Godzilla SP announcement proved to be the kick in the pants that I needed to get a new post together…however, WordPress had some other plans, changing up the interface something fierce, hence this being a bit delayed. At any rate, I’ll see if I can figure out the new layout enough to get a news recap post out, just to cover some of the most major highlights of the past few months, with a few opinions and a bit of conjecture sprinkled in.

For those who missed it, Godzilla: Singular Point will be an anime TV series debuting on Netflix next year. The first rumblings of it were October 6 when a newly-formed English-language Twitter account announced it as its third post , which was certainly met with healthy skepticism (especially since it self-described as “fake news” as a joke), but it actually panned out to be true, with an official announcement the following day.

At any rate, as the rare “anime person” in tokusatsu fandom, I’m obliged to provide two cents on the announcement. The obvious knee-jerk is to compare expectations to the anime movie trilogy, since that was also a Netflix joint, but there’s no overlap in staff between the productions, and this is television as opposed to feature films, so I can’t imagine they’ll be very comparable. I’m simultaneously more and less excited for this than I was for the trilogy (which I don’t hate, btw).

On the good front, Bones and Orange are two superb animation studios, as opposed to the bottom-of-the-barrel that one gets with Polygon Pictures. I’d advise those anxious about the use of CGI after getting burned by the movie trilogy to look into Orange’s work on Land of the Lustrous or Beastars; they do some of the best work out there with the medium. While I’m not a particular fan of Blue Exorcist, my gripes with that stem more from cliché plot points rather than the character designs, so having Kazue Kato on character designs seems like it may turn out well… there are an assortment of characters seen already, but I’m curious to know how they’ll look in animation. The folks we’ve seen in the preview image sure look pale!

Toh Enjoe isn’t as hot a commodity as Gen Urobuchi, but he’s been around the block a bit as a science fiction writer. I confess that all I’ve really encountered firsthand is Empire of Corpses (which I adore) and his couple of episodes of Space Dandy, but I’ve heard good things about Self-Reference Engine and his Ghost in the Shell short story. I get the impression that he’s a fairly literary type, so I’ve got to wonder if the people expecting this to be more smash-em-up than the previous anime will get what they want.

Atsushi Takahashi is a relatively unknown quantity as a director; he did the Blue Exorcist movie and one of the Doraemon flicks (which I never checked out), the TV series Rideback (on which I have no particular strong feelings), and individual episodes of several generally good titles like Monster, Space Dandy, and Abenobashi. Maybe he’ll really shine with this, though. A lot is being made from Takahashi being an assistant director on Spirited Away, as well as kaiju designer Eiji Yamamori’s background at Studio Ghibli, but I don’t expect much based on that, since Ghibli has a reputation of demanding that everyone do exactly as Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata say without a lot of room for staff to put in their own creative touches. I also never got into Yowamushi Pedal, so it’s hard to know what to expect from composer Kan Sawada. Hopefully they all have a big break with this and do something unique, but we shall see.

As for the decision to go forward with a TV series, it makes sense, given the apocalyptic atmosphere for cinema in general during the pandemic, and Toho and Legendary’s contract forbidding work on new movies at the same time. The countless delays on Godzilla vs Kong will make it harder for Toho to keep their momentum going if they restrict themselves to features. There were also rumors that Legendary was interested in a Godzilla TV series for HBO Max, but much like Godzilla SP, I’ll wait until there’s an official announcement to give it much credence.

In other Godzilla stuff:

  • While the movie itself was delayed until May 21 (for now), the Making of Godzilla vs Kong is still on track for a November 17th release. Of course, there was a lot in Godzilla King of the Monsters that never made it into that Making of book, so perhaps the movie will still have a surprise or two in store. The tie-in comics, Godzilla Dominion and Kingdom Kong are hitting in March.
  • Along with the much-lauded Godzilla ziplining attraction at Nijigen no Mori on Awaji Island, there’s also a museum, shooting gallery, and theatrical short directed by Kazuhiro Nakagawa (Day of the Kaiju). I don’t know about the ziplining, but a new short and display seems like it’d make it worth the trip! (Not to mention the weird food items…)

Ultraman items:

  • Ultraman Z has been going generally well, considering the pandemic and the most unfortunate passing of head writer Kota Fukihara. I get the feeling that the true scope of the chaos behind the scenes won’t be known for a while, but certainly things like the teased Olympic themes, the early advertisements of lots of Ultraman Geed involvement, and the total lack of set-up surrounding Jugglus Jugglar give us a taste of it. A few aspects do still feel like regressions after how well Ultraman Taiga was executed last year, but the action and creative miniature work has proven top-notch.
  • Marvel’s Rise of Ultraman is turning into be quite a ride. While the first issue had segments for Kaiju Step and Ultra Q, the second issues did not, so I have to wonder how much side-story content of that type they have planned. The story is certainly decompressed, since we’re 40% of the way through the miniseries as Hayata and Ultrman are still in the process of merging, I’m thinking we’re probably going to round things out with a single giant monster fight across five issues. Still, it seems like a solid gateway for people new to the franchise, and the writers appear to have done their homework on parts of the lore like the Ultra language.
  • Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Absolute Conspiracy starts November 22 on YouTube, and if nothing else, the presence of a pre-corruption Belial sparks some interest. Needless to say, speculation of where this fits into the already-fraught Ultraman timeline is running wild, along with people wondering if this could be a reincarnation, clone, Zarab-seijin, etc.
  • In the ultimate reversal on the Chaiyo rights debacle, Tsuburaya productions has now not only been granted excusive rights to their own properties, but also to their co-productions Jumborg Ace & Giant and The 6 Ultra Brothers vs. The Monster Army. These two would certainly make for an interesting double-feature in some sort of box set, especially if it came with a full break-down of the legal battles and weird Chaiyo attempts like Ultraman Millennium as extra features.
  • The first teaser for SSSS.Dynazenon isn’t all that exciting by itself, but the prior series was so excellent that we can all have solid confidence that this spinoff should at least turn out decent.
  • Redman: The Kaiju Hunter might be over, but Phase 6 has teased another TsuPro project upcoming, namely Izenborg. Matt Frank and Hiroshi Kanatani appear to be involved, going off of their Facebook posts.

Other kaiju stuff:

  • While Kaiju Ward Gyarasu (or “Gallas” as it’s better known in fansub circles) fizzled out on Toei’s streaming service after a single episode last year, the Kaiju Ward concept was recently announced as continuing in manga format. It’s being redone as an anthology, with the first two chapters available now on the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club. The first (the same as the tokusatsu) is Gyarasu, which was drawn by an artist known as Uzuki, while the second, Discargot (rhymes with “escargot” since it’s a snail monster) was done by Kaiju Retto Shojotai‘s Kotaro Yuki. It’s planned for five chapters, so hopefully the manga has a better fate than the live-action series did!
  • Nezura 1964 seems to be coming along. While The Great Buddha Arrival was certainly interesting, there are times when it felt a little “kitchen sink” in its approach; I’m hoping that the follow-up will be more focused. They have said that there will be a fair bit of CG involved here (no surprised given Hiroto Yokokawa’s background), but how it’ll all come together is still a bit mysterious.
  • Hot on the heels of our 15th anniversary of The Great Yokai War panel at Kaiju Con-line, Kadokawa announced a sequel, making our closing remarks immediately outdated. Nevertheless, it’s quite excellent that The Great Yokai War Guardians is happening. Takashi Miike is back in the director’s seat, with Yusuke Watanabe writing (his filmography is all over the place, from Robo Rock to Gantz to Gatchaman) and Hiroshi Aramata continuing in a producer role. Kokoro Terada (Damian from Tokusatsu Gagaga) is set to star, and it sounds like the yokai roster will be a bit international (perhaps playing on the original manga?)
  • Daisuke Sato and Keizo Murase are teaming up again, this time for Brush of the God. They’re collecting funding by Kickstarter now, and while they’re not offering a completed copy of the film as a reward, there is a digest version as an option. Howl from Beyond the Fog was really good, so I’m eager to see what they can achieve with a bigger budget.
  • Naoki Urasawa’s Asadora is getting a US release in January, part of what seems like a nice return for the artist who was ignored stateside during his Billy Bat years. Asadora is, as typical for Urasawa, a longform ongoing mystery drama, but in this case there’s some kaiju at the center of events.

Other heroes:

  • I completely missed everything leading up to Kamen Rider Saber, and now it’s an ongoing series. Haven’t really checked it out…uh…no comment, I guess.
  • Rafael Segnini’s Jaspion 3D fan trailer is complete, and getting some well-deserved attention. Also, look for a cameo from On the Rocks!
  • Seven Seas picked up the license for Superwomen in Love, coming out (no pun intended) next April. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this henshin-hero-yuri-romance, and it’s great to see them bringing more superhero content to English-speaking markets.

Video news:

  • Just in time for the franchise’s 25th anniversary, Gkids picked up North American home video rights to Evangelion. There was immediate speculation about what extras would be included, which is hard to guess since Gkids hasn’t really done much with TV series releases in the past. I would expect the dub to be the same as the version on Netflix, or at very least not the ADV dub, since only a handful of companies (i.e. Discotek) seem to go that far to preserve all the alternate versions, and Khara seems to dislike the original dub (hence Netflix getting the newer, and arguably worse, redub).
  • SRS got the rights to Howl from Beyond the Fog, which will definitely be the crowning achievement of their growing kaiju lineup for a while.
  • Media Blasters has been on a tear lately, with a ton of their classic titles getting reissued on Blu-ray. In addition to Zeiram 2 and Gappa, Zebraman and Devilman are up for preorder, and they’ve promised Hakaider. On the new movie front, they also teased Rise of the Machine Girls, which, considering that the original was one of their productions, seemed like an obvious get.
  • One of the staples of Media Blasters that they’re not issuing now is Versus, and that’s because Arrow is putting out a pretty deluxe edition of it. They also have Burst City on a recent Blu-ray release, so they’re hitting a lot of Japanese punk classics!
  • Discotek picked the rights to Symphogear G, so hopefully they can get through the whole five seasons. The first season has already started shipping!
  • Speaking of Discotek, they also have more Urusei Yatsura movies coming next summer, and Ninja Senshi Tobikage on the way.

A few western works as well:

  • A nice look at some of the creatures in the upcoming Monster Hunter movie:
  • Love and Monsters comes out next weekend, and appears to have some behemoth beastie action.

Miscellaneous:

  • Netflix is making a new Spriggan anime. I love their commitment to bringing back nostalgic titles like Devilman and Baki; at this point I wouldn’t be surprised by a new 3×3 Eyes or Ogre Slayer materialized.
  • Cinema Lab seems like a hot new label, having recruited the likes of Mamoru Oshii, Kazuya Konaka, One Cut of the Dead‘s Shinichiro Ueda, and Katsuyuki Motohiro (Ajin, Psycho-Pass). The label’s debut project, directed by Motohiro, is Beautiful Dreamer, which (at least seems to be) about a group of students making their own movie based on Oshii’s classic second Urusei Yatsura flick.

To leave things on a high note, here’s a bizarre little AIDroid music video that Koichi Sakamoto put together. It’s entirely likely that I missed something major, but as always, feel free to leave a comment if you notice a glaring omission. Take care!

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Quick update

Hi all, Kevin here. The blog has gone sadly neglected for the past few months, for which I apologize; the stressful current state of world events has certainly taken its toll.

However, I have not been completely off the radar! Here are a few activities you might have missed:

  • First of all, Alex of Control All Monsters and I sat down to recreate our G-Fest panel from last year on the Gamera trilogy, in time for the Arrow Gamera set.

  • Amanda and I were also on Kaiju Transmissions to talk about the Ultra Q movie and what a translation nightmare it posed to fansubbers for decades. I also joined them (along with Justin) to talk about Masaaki Yuasa’s new Netflix series Japan Sinks 2020. Again, if you’re not subscribed to them, I’d encourage doing so.

Ultra Q the Movie:

Download

Japan Sinks 2020:

Download

  • This weekend is Kaiju Masterclass, the year’s second online convention for giant monsters. The guest list is jaw-dropping for a first-time convention (or any convention), so I’m quite honored to have three panels over the course of the three days: a solo deal on Toho Tokusatsu on Television, one with Matt Parmley and Stan Hyde on the 1970 Osaka Expo, and a 25th anniversary panel on Godzilla vs Destoroyah with John LeMay and the Kaiju Transmissions crew. Full schedules are posted on their website, but keep an eye on their YouTube page in case you miss anything; all will be available after the livestreams. Hopefully you can attend this weekend, but if not, you should be able to check out the videos below:

  • I might start up a Maser Patrol Facebook feed to keep some bite-sized findings and fun-facts up-to-date between longer blog posts. I’ve been experimenting with the format on another page, so if you want an idea (or just want to read up on tokusatsu-related manga), give that a look.

On that note, I’ll wish everyone a safe continued existence during these unusual times. We’ll return to normalcy at some point, and Maser Patrol will get back into doing some proper write-ups again as well.

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Watch/Read/Buy: a recent media-merchandise roundup (US-focused)

Since I’ve been negligent for the past couple of months, I thought it might be good to do a quick rundown of some of developments regarding the recent and upcoming kaiju/henshin hero/J-horror releases that folks on this side of the Pacific can spend their time and money on. Some of this might be repeating things from previous posts, but hey, a reminder can’t hurt. So, let’s get to it!

Home video

Mill Creek

  • As a special for Ultraman day, Mill Creek made a little set titled “The Birth of Ultraman” exclusively available via Deep Discount. The set has seven episodes with their English dubs, based on what TsuPro had complete access to at the time, and the black-and-white Birth of Ultraman stage show that aired in Japan a week before the first episode. It’s hard to justify spending $20 for that unless you’re a hardcore fan, but many of us are; I just hope this doesn’t encourage future releases with a single 20 minute episode each like the Japanese sometimes have.

  • The Kaiju Con-line panel and subsequent Q&A with Keith Aiken helped to put a lot Ultraman-related speculation to rest. Of particular note:
    • Ultraman Taro will be coming around January, followed shortly by Ultraman Leo, which is the end of the mural sets. They might start a new mural for the 90s/2000s ones.
    • There’s no problem with Johnnys or 4Kids holding up Ultraman Tiga. They’re considering issuing the 4Kids dub separately.
    • The movies and direct-to-video specials would be included with the sets for Ultraman Tiga, Ultraman Dyna, and Ultraman Gaia.
    • They don’t have the rights to Ultra Q the Movie, Ultra Q Dark Fantasy, Ultraman Great, Ultraman Powered, Ultraman USA, ULTRAMAN, or Ultraman vs Kamen Rider due to co-production status. Or, obviously, anything Chaiyo.
    • The Ultraman Zero releases will (predictably) be messy. It sounds like Ultraman Zero the Movie and Ultraman Saga are each getting their own separate releases, but Killer the Beatstar will only be included with the Ultraman Zero the Chronicle clip show series. All the Ultra Galaxy stuff, movie included, will be in one set.
    • They don’t have the rights to the Heisei Ultraseven productions for some reason. Ultraseven X they have, though.
    • They don’t have Ultraman Story or any other Showa movies.
    • They do have Ultraman Zearth, The☆Ultraman, and amazingly, Ultraman Kids 3000.
    • They don’t have Andro Melos because the masters looked bad. Which is odd, since that DVD is available in Japan.
    • They don’t have Ultraman Nice, Super Fighter Legend, Ultraman Graffiti, M78 Love & Peace, Ultra Nyan, or Kaiju Girls. So, keep watching the Kaiju Girls series on Crunchyroll and the movie on HIDIVE.
    • They don’t have The Men Who Made Ultraman, Revive Ultraman, Ultraseven that I Loved, or similar specials.
    • They don’t have Ultraman Taiga or Ultraman Z yet, but want to get them as soon as they’re available for licensing.
    • They have Gridman, but no other TsuPro hero shows. So, keep watching Mirrorman on Toku. Gridman is probably a long way out for a Blu-ray release, so maybe it’ll coincide with SSSS.Dynazenon.
  • Mill Creek also recently put of a Blu-ray of The H-man and Battle in Outer Space, joining their Mothra steelbook to complete an upgrade the old Icons of Science Fiction DVD set content, audio commentary and all. Unfortunately, like that set, it has partial dubtitles on Battle in Outer Space.

Arrow

  • The already exciting Gamera: Complete Collection set continues to look better and better. There was a panel at Kaiju Con-Line that went over some of the features in great detail with a few surprises (Garasharp artwork, David Milner’s Noriaki Yuasa interview) that should whet the appetite, and based on a couple of other audio commentary clips I’ve been lucky enough to preview, it should be an impressive and informative assortment. Get it August 18th!

  • Further tokusatsu releases from Arrow have been teased, but plans for their future releases haven’t been elaborated on (it’s a bummer that they ran out of time during the Kaiju Con-line panel, since that would have been the perfect opportunity to clarify). What is known is that they recently picked up rights to Warning from Space, and about a year ago Kim Newman mentioned in a post (since deleted) that he’d been interviewed by them regarding The Invisible Man Appears and Invisible Man vs. the Human Fly. The Gamera set did balloon a lot in scope from the original conception, which likely would have moved any other tokusatsu plans back, but hopefully those are all still on the way, and hopefully won’t be exclusive to the UK if so. At any rate, it’s interesting how heavily they’ve been working with Kadokawa.
    (edit: Per the aforementioned Kaiju Con-line panel, they have also looked into the Yokai Monsters trilogy, but only one of the movies had HD elements available. If true, that’s quite unfortunate, since those movies are a lot of fun.)

  • On the audio commentary for Arrow’s release of  “Solid Metal Nightmares: The Films of Shinya Tsukamoto“, Tom Mes repeatedly teases the possibility of a second set including movies like Hiruko the Goblin, Gemini, and Tetsuo the Bullet Man, contingent on the first set selling well. It’s hard to tell how seriously to take these claims, as Mondo Macabro recently released Gemini on Blu-ray, so such a released might be prohibited in the US. Also, Phantom of Regular Size was excluded from the set due to music licensing rights, so we’ll have to continue to seek that one out via alternative means.

Media Blasters

  • Zeiram 2 is getting a Blu-ray release on September 22nd! There’s been a fair amount of confusion as to why they’re starting with the second film, and I have to assume that it’s a licensing restriction, the same as why they released it first back in the day. It is a shame that they aren’t able to get both films at the same time, to replicate the awesome Japanese Blu-ray double feature release, or that they never got to bundle Zeiram, Zeiram 2, and Iria back when they had the rights to all three. At any rate, this ought to be an upgrade from the 2001 DVD. (Edit: Carl Morano at Media Blasters confirmed that they are trying to get the rights to the first movie, but that it would need to be part of a package.)

  • The Blu-ray re-release of Death Kappa did not, in fact, have the Japanese ending included, contrary to what Media Blasters’ Facebook page had previously stated.

Shout Factory

  • Weathering with You is coming out on Blu-ray September 15, or, if you want to hold off for a fancy deluxe special edition with soundtrack and booklet, November 17.

  • Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna‘s US theatrical run got buried by coronavirus, but it’s getting a home video release October 6. Here’s hoping it’s more coherent than Tri ended up becoming.

  • The double-feature of The House Where Evil Dwells and Ghost Warrior is now officially out of print, so if you want a copy of a 1980s version of The Grudge or Hiroshi Fujioka as a slasher villain, get it soon…Amazon has two left as of this writing!

Other labels

  • The spoof Notzilla has found a distributor, Allied Vaughn. Per Avery Guerra, it should be available on demand and on disc on August 18th, but I haven’t seen it actually up for preorder at any retailers yet.

  • The Mighty Kong actually got a DVD release from Tricoast Entertainment way back in October, but I didn’t notice until Astounding Beyond Belief pointed it out more recently. It’s also streaming on Amazon Prime, and, apparently, cropped.

 

Streaming services

Shout Factory

  • Both the original Kamen Rider and Kamen Rider Kuuga are streaming on TokuSHOUTsu, as well as Tubi (original, Kuuga). As a collector and fan of physical media, it’s a little disheartening that three of the four Kamen Rider shows available legally in the states are exclusive to streaming services, but perhaps if they do decent numbers on the streaming front they’ll consider Blu-ray sets down the road.

  • Kamen Rider Heisei Generations Forever will be arriving on the service August 1. It may seem an odd move when you consider that only one Heisei series has actually been released here, but it’s wise to acknowledge that most of the potential audience is caught up via fansubs and wants to see the newer stuff rather than trying to release everything in order.

  • Shout Factory announced a deal with Mill Creek to stream their entire Ultraman catalog on TokuSHOUTsu. This is a good move for Shout, since the selection of titles on TokuSHOUTsu was pretty much limited to a dozen Super Sentai titles with two Kamen Riders and one Ultraman, but this shifts the balance with a lot more shows, including ones from this century (which they were definitely anemic on before).

YouTube

  • Ultraman Z is streaming weekly on Tsuburaya’s YouTube account, with each episode hitting Friday nights at 8:30 EST (basically a live Saturday morning broadcast in Japan) and remaining up for two weeks. The show is already fantastic, but I get a special kick out of the semi-broadcast experience, complete with commercials for Ultraman stuff during the breaks.

  • Speaking of director Kiyotaka Taguchi, his independent web series UNFIX continues to update with new episodes as well on a relatively monthly basis, with subtitles! Check it out to see the mature tokusatsu stories he can tackle without the constraints of Bandai product placement.

  • Not only has The Godzilla Channel been keeping a steady stream of new Godziban episodes coming (some of which have been *wild*), but they’ve also recently started a weekly Chibi Godzilla short, under the name Tadaima! Chibi Godzilla, to run for 12 segments until September 30.

  • Ever testing the bounds of what can reasonably be done in a movie, the One Cut of the Dead franchise has a new short filmed entirely during lockdown: One Cut of the Dead Mission:Remote. As the original film is picking up more and more recognition stateside, I’m really hoping that the second one (Operation Hollywood) gets translated to complete the trifecta.

Netflix

There’s always a stream of interesting new content coming to Netflix, including recent titles like BNA, Dorohedoro, Beastars, and the third seasons of Castlevania and Baki. Among other things, Studio Trigger has a tie-in to Cyberpunk 2077 (titled Cyberpunk: Edgerunners) coming in 2022 that should be great, as well as an eventual second season of Love, Death, & Robots. But of particular interest for tokusatsu fans:

  • Masaaki Yuasa’s Japan Sinks 2020, a remake/side story/reimagining of the classic Sakyo Komatsu novel, dropped earlier this month and has garnered a decent amount of attention from anime fans, tokusatsu fans, and the general entertainment-going public. I’ll be going onto Kaiju Transmissions for a review at some point in the near future to share broader thoughts about it.

  • Ju-On: Origins has been better-received than the most recent American reboot by a mile. I admit that I still need to finish it, more due to too much content fighting for time than anything else.

  • Season 2 of ULTRAMAN is “coming”, without a release date yet. It is interesting that this trailer seems to pass right over a couple of forms that Ultraman Taro had in the manga…hopefully not just because they were harder to animate.

  • Still no word on when Polygon Pictures’ Pacific Rim series will materialize.

Funimation

  • Deca-Dence has post-apocalyptic robot-vs-monster elements reminiscent of Attack on Titan, Macross, Pacific Rim, and The Dragon Dentist…at first, before some table-flipping revelations in the second episode. Strong Trigger-era Gainax vibes as well, so if that’s your thing, you can check it out streaming each week; it’s something else.

  • The fan-service-laden sentai spoof Super HxEros is streaming new episodes weekly. It seems to be ramping up the cheesecake factor from the already racy manga, which might be a selling point or a caveat depending on your viewer.

Others

  • The independent superhero flick Rise! Dharuriser is available now on Amazon Prime.

  • Toonami has updated their drop date for Uzumaki from “this year” to “2021”. This is surprising considering that the amount of press for it had picked up in the past couple of weeks; I was expecting it to be hitting within a month or two. Also coming in 2021 is Blade Runner: Black Lotus from the ULTRAMAN team of Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki.

  • Quibi’s adaptation of Tomie from Alexandre Aja has also been getting some more press, including casting Adeline Rudolph (Agatha from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) as the title character, but given Aja’s tragic history of adaptations (Cobra) and Quibi’s struggles to gain a foothold in the market, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s really happening.

 

Comics

  • Naoya Matsumoto’s Monster #8 recently began serialization in Japan, and despite not being available translated on the Shonen Jump app (as far as I can see), it is up free on Shueisha’s MangaPlus. Weirdly, the English release appears to be lagging behind, as it’s still on chapter 1, while the Spanish translation (under the title 8Kaijuu) is already up to chapter 4.

  • Marvel’s The Rise of Ultraman is hitting in September, but a preview  of the five-issue miniseries is already available. Still not sure what to make of this, but it’s kind of reminding me of Ultraman Powered so far.

  • Viz’s release of ULTRAMAN continues to plug along, with volume 14 coming October 20th.
  • In less fortunate news, there hasn’t been a new release for Seven Seas’ Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project since volume 4 hit in February, and no further volumes have been solicited. It’s a shame that we only got halfway through the story (which recently wrapped up in Japan), but it was always a hard sell, relying on a lot of gags that refer back to specific Ultraman episodes that hadn’t been released stateside yet. I’d like to think that if the timing had been a little different (after the Mill Creek releases), it would have been able to find an audience a bit better. As I’ve said before, it’s the most fun of any Ultra manga released here.

  • Redman: The Kaiju Hunter recently wrapped up its run with volume 3. It’s not up on Amazon (yet) but you can order directly from Night Shining. It was a heck of a revival!

  • Image has a new kaiju-versus-giant-hero series, Big Girls, starting in August. It’s from Jason Howard (The Astounding Wolf-man).

  • Sneeze: Naoki Urasawa Short Story Collection is hitting from Viz on October 20th. Particularly noteworthy here is that this anthology includes his kaiju story “Kingdom of Monsters”, which was a delight to read. On this very blog back in 2013, I said not to hold your breath on an English release; well, now you can breath easy.

  • Kaijumax has been getting slowed down by, well, everything, but issue 4 of season 5 is expected on August 26.

  • Unconventional (deconstructionist?) giant heroine series Gigant seems to be moving along at a good pace, with Seven Seas releasing volume 2 on August 4 and volume 3 on October 13. This is in contrast to Dark Horse’s re-releases of Gantz in omnibus editions, which appears to have stalled out after volume 5 in March.

  • There have been no solicitations from Yen Press yet for Kaiju Girl Caramelize after we got volume 3 in May, but it’s a little early to panic. The series only released volume 4 in Japan in March, so perhaps they’re spacing things out. At any rate, it wouldn’t hurt to go support the US release, since it’s an adorable little romcom.

  • Attack on Titan volume 31 is hitting August 25th. Very close to the end!

  • Sadako at the End of the World is getting its US release October 20th. Who wouldn’t want to read about Japan’s most iconic onryo taking care of orphans in a post-apocalypse?

  •  The 12th volume of the supernatural thriller (with superhero costumes) Platinum End is due January 5.
  • The villainess-protagonist comedy Precarious Woman Executive Miss Black General is getting its fifth volume released on November 17th, over a year after the previous volume.
  • The raunchy cross-dressing supervillain comedy Raw Hero will see its third volume released October 20th.
  • The second volume of Dororo & Hyakkimaru will be released just in time for Halloween on October 27th.
  • Mermaid Saga has its first omnibus edition hitting November 17th.

 

Books

  • JL Carrozza is working on a book tentatively titled SF: The Japanese Science Fiction Encyclopedia. If his work on Otaku USA isn’t enough to persuade you, he also managed to coax Patrick Galvan, John LeMay, and myself into doing a couple of guest essays.
  • Speaking of John LeMay, he also helped out Benjamin Chaffins in putting together a book of interviews, titled Discovering Tokusatsu. It should be an interesting read!

  • Still speaking of John, he recently authored a book all about lost projects for everyone’s favorite cinematic shark and its imitators, Jaws Unmade.
    John has also recently started the Lost Films Fanzine about all sorts of rare and unmade genre media. Connor Anderson (of Easter’s Kaiju Kompendium and our own Gridman review) contributed to the second issue!

  • Finally, on the note of something that John hasn’t got anything to do with, the Evangelion Anima novel series will get its third volume released August 25th and its fourth volume on November 24th.

 

Toys

  • Despite Godzilla vs. Kong being greatly delayed, Playmates’s line of action figures has started showing up on Walmart shelves as though the film were already incoming. I won’t go into some of the potential spoilers that are out there (you know where to look), but it seems that they’re taking a page from the Jurassic Park toys by having each monster feature removable chunks of flesh.


Also, Nozuki appears to have been renamed Warbat.

 

  • Rumors are swirling that Playmates’ hold on the Godzilla license for Godzilla vs. Kong has pushed Neca out of the Godzilla figure game for the time being, as they sent out notices that they will no longer sell Godzilla products at all after mid-August. They previously hinted back in March that they wouldn’t be making anything new after the latest wave (the 1989 and 2003 Godzillas), but this is still a bit of sad news for a fine line of figures; buy any you want now or forever hold your peace. On the plus side, they are giving us a sweet King Kong figure in September.

 

  • Mezco is doing a few Ultraman figures for their 5 points line. In other retro-styled figure news, Mego also has some Ultraman stuff in the works, if that’s more your speed. I’ll probably stick to Bandai imports, but depending on price/look, these could be intriguing.
    There’s also a lot of different Ultraman pins hitting the market, for the pin collectors out there.

I realize that I could probably have a whole section regarding upcoming video game releases, but I confess that those are somewhat harder to keep track of. With that, let’s call this roundup a wrap!

…apologies for what the above post may have done to any bank accounts.

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Kaiju Transmissions triple-shot

Also, because I forgot earlier, I did guest spots on three episodes of Kaiju Transmissions without posting about them here. I wholeheartedly suggest adding Kaiju Transmissions to your podcatcher feed to make sure you get every episode, but I was also on the show to discuss:

Shinpei Hayashiya’s Deep Sea Monster trilogy

Howl from Beyond the Fog

Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster

I won’t embed each one here unless someone really wants me to, since hopefully you’ve already heard the episodes!

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Podcast recap: Kaiju Con-Line double-feature

Hi all,

Apologies for the lack of blog posts during all the lockdown. A lot of steam was let out of the weekly news recaps due to all of the depressing coronavirus-related news, so they’ve basically fallen on hold. However, both myself and Amanda have been doing well, and I was able to participate in a number of virtual events to keep social during the pandemic (arguably more social than I was beforehand!). Last weekend was the stellar Kaiju Con-Line event from KaijuCast‘s Kyle Yount, and I had the good fortune to present two panels. But seriously, check out the whole playlist; there’s a lot of great content.

As for my panels:

Great Yokai War or Greatest Yokai War

Before Kadokawa rebooted Gamera to be more Brave or gave Daimajin a brand new Kanon, they revived their third most-popular monster franchise: Yokai Monsters. The resulting picture, The Great Yokai War, has an interesting history tying together Japanese mythology, manga, and popular culture in a way that hasn’t been replicated before or since. Join Kaiju Transmissions’ Kyle Byrd and Kaiju for Hipsters’ Kevin Derendorf as they unpack this maze of monsters, Miike, Mizuki, and Megolopolises.

…and

Non-Kaiju Movies! (…with Godzilla and company)

Controversial opinion: We should sometimes watch something other than kaiju movies. The world of cinema is vast, and there are many wonderful aspects to enjoy in other genres…including appearances by Godzilla, Gamera, Guilala, and Ultraman! This panel covers some to the less-discussed, often zany minor appearances by our favorite monsters outside of their usual kaiju eiga stomping grounds, and discusses why we might be more likely to see a Godzilla cameo in Hollywood than in Japan.

Thanks to everyone who watched live in the broadcast, and for those who have yet to see them, enjoy!

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Scanlation: Gamera vs Morphos (1999, Nenpei Moo)

Arrow’s Gamera: The Complete Collection is hitting on August 17, with an assortment of amazing special features hitherto unseen for the franchise. To celebrate this incredible boxset, we decided to plunge the darkest depths of Gamera apocrypha and dug up something that was not included: Gamera vs. Morphos, a short story by Nenpei Moo for Animage in January 1999 to promote the upcoming Gamera 3. This was a special bonus Animage issue, so it was very difficult to track down, and the story hasn’t been reprinted in the 21 years since. As usual, we encourage everyone to support official releases if possible, so please discontinue any circulation of this translation if an official one becomes available, and try to pick up a copy of the Japanese edition of this story if it’s ever reprinted.

Direct download

No translation notes on this one, since it’s pretty straightforward. Hopefully it whets the appetite for the Gamera goodies that Arrow has in store for this summer!

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News recap: RIP Nobuhiko Obayashi

Welcome back! Hopefully everyone is following good social distancing guidelines, but in case you need some help, our favorite kaiju heroes are here to help:

 

On to the news.

  • Starting things off on a bit of a bummer, Nobuhiko Obayashi passed away this past week. He was a real trooper, surviving three years and eight months on a three-month cancer diagnosis, but he was always the type to subvert expectations. Needless to say, we’re big fans of his work here.

We look forward to his final picture, Labyrinth of Cinema, being released in Japan later this year.

 

  • In happier news, Toei Tokusatsu World is now live. Things were looking a little dicey on the first day, when the studio accidentally did automated copyright strikes on their own videos until the whole channel channel got deleted. Thankfully, things were restored by the next day and ever since things have been running smoothly. So go check out the weird Fushigi Comedy shows and other stuff that otherwise would never stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting any attention internationally!

  • A YouTube screw-up was hardly the worst thing that happened to Toei tokusatsu in the past couple of weeks, as Kiramager‘s lead actor Rio Komiya was diagnosed with COVID-19. He’s since been released from the hospital, but the studio was shut down for decontamination, and this will surely throw a monkey wrench into the show’s filming schedule.
  • After nearly a decade, a second season of Tiger & Bunny (which arguably helped pave the way for other 2010s superhero hits like One Punch Man and My Hero Academia) has finally been announced for 2022. Why it took so long is anyone’s guess, but hopefully the quality will hold up after such a hiatus. (Double Decker was great, which is encouraging, though.)

  • After appearing in a few other Hasbro properties, Godzilla will be showing up in Magic the Gathering, specifically as part of the “Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths” expansion, in which regular cards are being reskinned with classic kaiju. Expect them to be a pain to collect.

Rarer still will be the initial-run Space Godzilla card titled “Death Corona”, which has predictably been renamed given the current world events.

  • We’ve got another look at the intriguing manga Sengoku Gridman, as well as Neon Genesis Middle Schooler’s Butler Cafe, which will both be running in Monthly Shonen Champion starting in May.

  • A short anime titled Kaiju World Conquest has debuted on Twitter. It’s based on a four-panel comic about four space monsters that intend to conquer the world, but wind up just kind of hang around an office lady’s apartment.

  • Discotek announced another batch of titles for Blu-ray. While there was no tokusatsu (*sheds a single tear*), they did reveal the the Crusher Joe movie, Ninja Scroll TV series, and, shockingly, Astroganger!  Who knew that would get a US release before the original Getter Robo?

  • The proof-of concept footage for the fan film Godzilla Heritage, which Toho brought the hammer down against like an angry god, was released to the film’s Kickstarter backers. It’s nice that the footage is out there, even if the project didn’t pan out.

  • In an unexpected turn of events, Gunhed is making an appearance in Super Robot Wars X-Omega. It’s got a pretty hyped trailer, demonstrating the movie’s lasting cult appeal.

  • Premium Bandai is selling figures of Kamen Rider 01‘s Izu. Always nice to see the non-masked characters getting some representation in the merchandise, but this character is getting quite a lot (see this plushie…or this one).

  • Finally, a new short debuted for an Ultraman/Uniqlo collaboration.

…is it any weirder than Evangelion selling Civics, really?

That’s a wrap for the time being, stay safe, all!

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April 4/5: Kaiju Quarantine live podcast festival

This weekend, an octet of kaiju-centric podcasts will be gathering on Discord to do one live commentary each on their favorite giant monster movies. The Maser Patrol podcast itself isn’t among them, but I did get invited to join the Kaiju Transmission crew for coverage of Invasion of Astro-Monster at 4:30 CST on Saturday. Drop by and ask us questions that we can answer live on-air; that way we won’t have to worry about talking about what’s going on in the movie the whole time!

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March news recap – plenty of new kaiju and hero media is a good reason to stay inside

In the overall scope of world events, this March has been one of the most impactful months in recent memory, as COVID has interrupted plans on all scales. On the Japanese pop culture end, events ranging from the Tokyo Olympics to Comiket to the premier of the Ultraman Taiga movie have been pushed back, and in terms of this blog specifically, Anime Central has been canceled (perhaps we will still record the panel we had planned for that as a podcast), and G-Fest, while not cancelled yet, has been getting lots of criticism for its attitude regarding the situation… at very least Japan has been issuing travel advisories which might impede guests flying over, but time will see how things develop. On a more personal note, both myself and my fiancee have fortunately managed to remain employed during this pandemic, and our hearts go out to all those who have had their livelihoods threatened both economically and health-wise. I hope everyone reading the blog has managed to stay safe!

The good news, in the likely event that you’re confined to your home right now, is that there’s no shortage of excellent entertainment to keep you busy. Personally, I went through the entire run of Return of Ultraman and Ultraman Orb: the Origin Saga thanks to their recent Blu-ray releases, along with anime Somali and the Forest Spirit, Beastars, and the new season of Castlevania (a fourth season of which has been announced, hurrah!), along with starting Brand New Animal (there’s a lot of furry-type stuff lately, huh?), Kiramager, and In/Spectre. On the manga front, there have been new volumes of Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project, Creature!, and Gigant released stateside lately, which is as good a batch as ever for kaiju fans, and there was also the finale to the very anime-inspired cartoon Steven Universe, complete with a giant monster.

If you’re more of a reader, I’d have to recommend my buddy John LeMay’s new book, Writing Japanese Monsters, for going through the script revision process of the most noteworthy kaiju and tokusatsu films. I’d say you should read it even if I wasn’t in the dedication, but hey, even more so now.

But that’s just the tip of the distribution iceberg! Let’s get started:

  • The motherload of streaming news this month is that Toei is launching the Toei Tokusatsu World Official Youtube channel next month with a whopping 70 classic Toei hero shows, all with English subtitles (for the first two episodes, at least; after that they’ll be crowdsourcing subs). While some of these have gotten US releases before (e.g. Message from Space, Juspion), the vast majority have not, and some, such as the Fushigi Comedy franchise, have barely ever been touched by fansubbers…it could be a great way to drum up interest. With new (admittedly raw) episodes every day after, there’ll be an overwhelming amount of content, so it’ll be interesting to see how long episodes remain online, if fansubbers step up to help out in the subtitles, and if they can sustain this model without moving to a subscription service.

  • Shout Factory has officially licensed the original Kamen Rider, and are now streaming it via Shout Factory TV and Tubi. They also have a dedicated Pluto channel, TokuSHOUTsu, for showing Kamen Rider, Ultraman Leo, and their handful of Super Sentai series. Speaking from experience, the streaming channel has already made a fun watch-together for tokusatsu fans wanting to hold a virtual movie night, though the episodes can get a little out of sync depending on what set of ads each viewer gets targeted with.

  • Bravestorm is finally getting a US release via GVN Releasing (an independent DVD label who haven’t done any other Japanese films, so far as I can tell). I’ve been an advocate for this film for a while, so it’s nice that more folks stateside will finally be able to check it out. There have been some grumbles that this is DVD-only, but keep in mind the Japanese Blu-ray release has English subtitles, so if you really want it in high quality, that is an option.

  • Speaking of Japanese releases with English subtitles, Garo: Under the Moonbow included subtitles on its Japanese Blu-ray. Since Kraken’s Garo releases seem to have halted lately, this seems like a good compromise for English-speaking fans who want to keep collecting the series.

  • Another Keita Amemiya flick, Rokuroku, has finally gotten a Japanese home video release. Not sure about whether subtitles are included on this one (since I just found out about it recently), but it’s been a long time coming to video…I missed a screening in Philadelphia two years ago and have been kicking myself about it ever since!

  • While Crunchyroll licensed the original Kaiju Girls TV series, they appear to have since cooled on their enthusiasm for Tsuburaya products lately (SSSS.Gridman aside), so it seemed that the theatrical film Kaiju Girls Black would have dismal prospects in the international streaming market. Thankfully, HIDIVE has stepped in and picked up the movie, so it can finally be seen in translation. Who knows, maybe if it does well in streaming, one of the Section 23 companies could print a few discs? (please?)

  • Media Blasters announced a new Blu-ray for Death Kappa. Since I’ve previously asked about getting the ending to the Japanese version included on a US re-release, I reached out again, and was quickly told that they will include it… but everything else is not listing that as a feature, and I’ve seen them tell others that this is identical to the previous release, so there is definitely some mixed messaging. Since the ends are significantly different, it’d be nice to see the Japanese version available here.

US ending

Japan ending

  • Since the Mothra steelbook did quite well, I guess it’s no surprise that The H-man and Battle in Outer Space are also getting put onto Blu-ray by Mill Creek. Despite claims that this is the Blu-ray debut for both, Battle in Outer Space had a lackluster release before from Sony (MOD), so hopefully this surpasses that one. No word on if it’ll retain the commentary from the DVD, but it seems possible.

  • Arrow had previously released the live-action The Guyver on Blu-ray in the UK, but they have now licensed it for Canada as well. The prior release was region-free, so this probably won’t make a huge difference.

  • Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century got a Blu-ray release recently via Dark Force Entertainment. So far it seems like it’s only been made available to subscribers to their home video plan, or on double-feature with Giant Spider Invasion, since their manufacturing plant was shut down due to COVID.

  • Like Yeti, another “giant monster, but not really kaiju” flick that I’ll mention just-because is Orca, since that’s getting a Blu-ray release as well thanks to Shout Factory. It did already have a Japanese BD release, for what it’s worth.

  • GKIDS announced that Lupin III the First will be getting a theatrical release in North America in 2020. I’d love to see Takashi Yamazaki get more of his stuff released here, so hopefully this gets him some credit as a director and not just for the Lupin franchise.

  • A short kaiju spoof titled Monster Challenge was published online. It stars Patton Oswald and was directed by Cloverfield composer Michael Giacchino (it’s got part of his Cloverfield music in it, to boot).

  • Manga Cross, who publish, among other things, Island of Giant Insects, has a new horrific giant monster survival series in their anthology: Umigui. It’s from the duo Yuki Fujisawa and Yasunari Toda, the latter of whom drew the excellent s.CRY.ed manga.

So, that’s some great licensing and recent release news, but what new content is in development or coming soon? I’m glad you asked.

  • Details have been revealed for Ultraman Z, starting in June. It seems they really want to play up the master-to-student legacy thing, with Zero stepping into the mentor role (like he did a little in Ginga S and more so in Geed). Zero is kind of an ideal character to plop into any series that Tsuburaya needs to, since, like Zoffy, he’s unburdened by a strong connection to any particular secret identity/actor, so you can understand them bringing him back around again.
    Also, since this is the first new show since the Mill Creek stuff took off, I wonder if the chances of a simulcast will go up?

  • The new Garo series, Versus Road, debuts April 2. It’ll be interesting to see how this VR setting thing plays into the franchise, and how it goes as a 15th anniversary project. Things have been a little quiet for Garo lately, but if the quality is good, I don’t mind.

  • Mamoru Oshii has a new anime titled Vladlove, and this is encouraging since it’s his first proper TV series in 30 years, is a comedy, has Kenji Kawai and Junji Nishimura on board, and is attracting comparisons to Urusei Yatsura. It won’t air until fall, but a promo video was briefly online…until someone realized it wasn’t finished and pulled it back down. Hopefully that’s not a bad sign.

  • Some more details have come out about Masaaki Yuasa’s upcoming adaptation of Japan Sinks for Netflix: it sounds like a lot more of a family drama than other versions have been, focusing on teenagers and their parents. I’m curious to see how this stacks up against the monstrous success of Yuasa’s previous outing with Devilman Crybaby;  it’d be nice if it caused a wave (no pun intended) that led to the live-action versions getting released as well… heck, or even a rescue of the Takao Saito manga.

  • Btooom mangaka Junya Inoue is launching a new manga titled Kaiju Jietai (Monster Self Defense Force) on  in Monthly Comic @Bunch on April 21. Not much info on this yet, so we’ll just have to keep an eye on it.

  • A trailer was released for Monster Seafood Wars, and it looks about what I’d expect from Minoru Kawasaki:

  • It looks like maquettes are coming along for the monster in Nezura 1964. Now to see the actual suit!

  • A look at the independent kaiju flick Savage Monster Barrigular, which I hope to see in full some day:

  • Some unfortunate news regarding Pili, as far as I can glean from here (Chinese is not one of our languages), as well as some 4chan chatter: it seems that one of the puppeteers referred to COVID as the “Wuhan virus” and had some Taiwanese-independence-leaning posts on Facebook, which has led to China flat-out banning their next production, What’s the Use for My Talent, Anyway?. Without the Chinese market, the show is dead in the water, which spells big trouble for Pili as a company. Thus, the next season of Thunderbolt Fantasy could be in jeopardy as a result, which is a damned shame. Hopefully the Japanese market (and heck, that sweet Netflix money for War of the Dragons) can keep them afloat for the foreseeable future, and the studio’s tensions with Chinese censors ameliorate.

  • A trailer is up for the TV adaptation of the ecchi Sentai parody Dokyuu Hentai HxEROS. As with a lot of these sex comedies, it may be funny or might be cringe-inducing, but we’ll see in July.

  • A trailer for Sayonara, Tirano…will it redeem Kobun Shizuno for dinosaur fans?

  • A wave of merchandise has appeared for Toei’s Spider-man. The chogokin is getting reissued, this time with a full-size Spider Bracelet rather than the vinyl figure that the original came with (I’ll stick with my original release, thanks), there’s going to be a Super Minipla of Leopardon, and Spidey himself is getting a Figuarts (with an unfortunate crotch sculpt). I continue to wonder how the increased exposure of the character is fitting into Marvel’s grand scheme, but here’s hoping for the Spider-verse sequel, and fingers crossed a home video release stateside someday.

  • SSSS.Gridman is continuing to Evangelionize their merchandise by featuring the heroines in outfits that have noting to do with the actual show. The latest is cheerleaders! For those keeping track at home, they’ve been brides, witches, musicians, Santas, kimono-clad, wearing swimsuits (not the ones from the actual swimsuit episode), Uchuusen mascots, and kaiju girls. Presumably nurse, mermaid, nun, catgirl, and apron-clad versions are on their way, because they’re going to check all the boxes eventually.

On a sad final note, RIP to Stuart Gordon, who directed a great many wonderful films, but most notably for readers here is Robot Jox, quite possibly the finest live-action mecha put to film. And, while he has not passed on, I also have to lament for Hiroshi Yamamoto, who suffered a cerebral infarction and has lost much of the cognitive function that made him such a wonderful science fiction writer (seriously, go read MM9 and Stories of Ibis!). Both of these men have made some amazing art, and it’s worth tracking down their work if you haven’t done so.

Hopefully the topics here give everyone cooped up at home an idea of how to pass the time during the coming months. Stay safe, stay indoors, and keep enjoying kaiju, scifi, and superheroes, everyone!

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Kaiju Transmissions podcast: Virus (1980)

While there hasn’t been a new Maser Patrol episode in a hot minute, Kevin (along with author John LeMay) had a chance to drop by the Kaiju Transmissions podcast this week to discuss Kinji Fukasaku’s 1980 disaster film Virus, AKA Day of Resurrection. If you want to get your mind off of current events…well, this might not be the movie for you right now.

Download here

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Kaiju-fied news recap

In a rare event, there was actually so much kaiju-adjacent news in the past week that rather than posting at the standard biweekly rate, I’m opting to do a recap today!

  • To start with, Minoru Kawasaki’s Monster Seafood Wars has a poster, giving us a first look at the actual kaiju in the movie, and a May 23 release date. If that is the Calamari Wrestler costume recycled, it’s been modified a little.

  • Toei and Shochiku have a new movie in the works titled Daikaiju no Atoshimatsu (“atoshimatsu” meaning remediation or cleanup), with a premise similar to Marvel’s Damage Control: the people who dispose of hazardous materials left by giant monster attacks. It’s from comedic director Satoshi Miki, so I assume that it’ll be another relatively low-budget spoof.

  • A little late since this trailer debuted in front of Sonic the Hedgehog, but Paramount’s animated kaiju wrestling movie Rumble debuts next year. It’s a very vague title, even if it’s arguably a multiple entendre.

  • Fukuoka’s local heroes will be crossing over for a new TV series Dogengers, starting in April. The series is handled by Fumie Arakawa (director of ToQger Returns and Zero: Dragon Blood), so it ought to be in reasonably good hands; unfortunately the appeal could be pretty limited for those not from the area.

  • I missed the announcement of GigaBash back in September, but apparently Passion Republic Games brought it to PAX for the public to try this past weekend. It looks like fun!

  • Platinum Games has a teaser for the the third installment of Hideki Kamiya’s “hero trilogy” (after the stellar Viewtiful Joe and Wonderful 101), and it looks heavily Ultraman-inspired. This ought to be excellent, given the pedigree.

  • Speaking of Ultraman and games, the official North American website for Ultraman launched, and it’s called Ultraman Galaxy, the same name as the 2013 puzzle game (not to mention potential confusions with Ultra Galaxy and Ultraman Ginga). Anyway, they announced another game there, one with another unfortunate name: Kaiju Kombat. Sounds like it will be a chess battler rather than ta fighting game, and forum members can try it out now….let’s see if Wizards of the Coast gets uppity this time, too.

  • Another Ultraman development was some new details from the Marvel comic series. It seems that they’re going for a straight remake of the original series, although there is at least one original character (“Kiki”) and the uniforms are different. Writer Kyle Higgins is beloved by Power Rangers fandom for his work on the Boom Studios comics in that line (for however much PR fans can be trusted) and writer Matt Groom’s Self/Made seems to have encouraging reviews, plus artist Francesco Manna is decent (NB: Marvel is promoting with Ed McGuiness Ultraman art, though).

  • Shifting to the toy collecting world, an unexpected piece of merchandise has been realized due to Redman’s meme-centered revival: A figure of the Redman version of Icarus-seijin. Now you can recreate your favorite slasher movie moments with our hero stalking the innocent alien through the bamboo forest!

  • Neca announced two new Godzilla figures at Toy Fair: 1989 and 2003. Since these are two of the most popular iterations of the character (especially of the ones not yet handled), it’s a bit of a no-brainer, but it is still a shame that Toho seems against them developing the more “off the beaten path” designs. Both will be hitting in June, so I imagine many will be seen at G-Fest.

  • I’ve been a little disappointed at the lack of decent figures for Zyuranger‘s space witch Bandra, but Hasbro has a decent one coming in August for the Power Rangers’ dub of that character, Rita. Of course, there’s a catch, or even several:
    • The figure comes in a two-pack with Saban-original character Lord Zedd. Since the Zedd figure has already been released, many PR fans are grumpy about this since it means rebuying the same figure, as well.
    • It’s a GameStop exclusive, and those can be notoriously sparse in terms of stock.
    • You’d be supporting Hasbro, who still haven’t gotten their Super Sentai DVD releases back up and running.

That’s a wrap for this week! Enjoy March!

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February news recap

Procrastination and distraction has gotten the better of me again, but the inundation of kaiju news items in the past couple of days has made it impossible to put off a recap any longer.

Production news:

  • A Godzilla vs. Kong image from Toyfair has been making the rounds online, giving a better look at how the Legendary Godzilla will be tweaked this time. The back spines seem to be reverting back towards the 2014 design, which is puzzling, though I suppose only the most diehard of fans would particularly care.

  • This student film Giganto Makhia looks quite promising:

  • A new Garo season has been announced, titled Versus Road. The premise, being set around some sort of VR headset, initially seems rather out-of-character for the franchise, though if they tie it into Vanishing Line‘s computer stuff it could work nicely.

  • Kobun Shizuno has an upcoming film, Sayonara Tyrano (sic). It’s adapted from the same book series as Heart and Yummie and You Are So Yummy – Happy to Be with You, but I don’t believe there’s any direct connection between the movies themselves.

  • A new Digimon series has been announced for April, and because they’re completely creatively bankrupt, it looks like a straight remake of the original Digimon Adventure (right after the alleged “last movie”). This doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, Toei.

  • The trailer has been posted for the last two installments in the Rurouni Kenshin film series, The Final/The Beginning. It’s fantastic that the entire manga’s story is finally getting adapted!

 

Home video news:

  • Arrow’s Gamera box set is up for preorder, and it’s a doozy. Audio commentary from Ed Godziszewski, Steve Ryfle, David Kalat, August Ragone, Kyle Yount, Matt Frank, and (apparently) the team behind Japan’s Green Monsters, the best possible transfers, and a reprint of the Dark Horse Gamera comics make this an easy shoo-in to buy, but it sounds like there are still more features left to be announced!

  • Speaking of Arrow, they have a Shinya Tsukamoto set on the way as well. I’ve lamented that Tetsuo the Iron Man and its sequel have been woefully out of print for far too long stateside, so this is a welcome upgrade, along with new copies of Tokyo Fist, Bullet Ballet, A Snake of June, Vital, Kotoko, Killing, The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo, and Haze. Audio commentary is by Tom Mes, who literally wrote the book on the man, so it’s a solid collection as well.

  • Raiga vs. Ohga (now titled God Raiga vs. King Ohga) is up for preorder from SRS. Make sure to preorder stuff from them to ensure they get properly pressed discs instead of BD-Rs; Attack of the Giant Teacher only did 60 copies in preorders and had to be burned instead of pressed.

  • SRS has also licensed Norman England’s The iDol. Previously the film was only available as a special feature on the German DVD release of New Neighbor, so hopefully some more Americans will be able to see it now. It’s quite a fun little picture, and the 13 years it took to get US distribution is far too long.
  • Keith Aiken confirmed on Facebook that Mill Creek is also working on a release of Gridman the Hyper Agent. Given the success of SSSS.Gridman, it’s a no-brainer, but still a pleasant surprise.

  • Disney+ will be adding Marvel Future Avengers on February 28. I’ve long been perplexed at the myriad Japanese Marvel projects not getting US releases, so here’s hoping this does well. We’d really like to see Disk Wars!

 

Video game news:

  • A Kickstarter campaign to port The Wonderful 101 to Switch was funded in no time. This is no great surprise, since it’s been one of the more conspicuous titles to so far have not been updated for the newer platform.

  • A Record of Lodoss War game is coming to Steam. It’s a platformer where you play as Deedlit (fun fact: MM9 author Hiroshi Yamamoto was the guy who played Deedlit in the original D&D campaign that Lodoss was based on!)

  • Symphogear XD is finally available internationally! Just in time for that, they got a collaborative crossover campaign with Attack on Titan. They’re hitting all the big kaiju franchises!

 

Print media news:

  • Viz just announced a ton of cool new licenses, including:
    • The insane shonen action manga Chainsaw Man
    • The Revolutionary Girl Utena sequel novel
    • A deluxe edition of The Mermaid Saga
    • Junji Ito’s killer planet story Remina
    • A short story collection from Naoki Urasawa

  • The ULTRAMAN anime is getting a novelization. I guess that’s what happens when you’re the most-watched anime on Netflix.

Other news:

  • Godzilla is getting his own Monopoly and Jenga games. I assume there’s a lot more demolition of the hotels than there is in traditional Monopoly?

  • It’s nice to see how even though Yasushi Nirasawa passed too soon, his redesigns of Ultraman monsters continue to be realized in merchandise. Acro has a Metron coming in April.

That’s quite a recap, but as always, if something fell through the cracks, please leave a comment! Until next time!

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New Year’s news recap

Happy new year (admittedly a couple weeks late)! I’ve been distracted from putting together news recaps for a while, but that just means a lot more things to cover this time around. Let’s break it down by category:

Godzilla news:

  • Kicking things off, there were some leaked images from the Godzilla vs Kong toy line. They may or may not constitute a spoiler for the film, but they sure are interesting…honestly I’ll say they make me more intrigued with the picture.
  • The first three minutes of the Shinkalion movie (The Mythically Fast ALFA-X That Came From Future) have been posted online, featuring a battle between Godzilla and Hatsune Miku. This has been a bit of a thorn in my side, since numerous outlets are reporting this as an “upcoming release” for 2020, when it came out in December. Also, people keep reporting it as “Ice Godzilla” instead of the actual “Snow Godzilla” name.

  • Godzilla manga artist Takayuki Sakai’s Godzilla Comicalize Magazine did a Batman vs. Godzilla doujinshi for this winter’s Comic Market, finally realizing the unmade project.

  • Speaking of Godzilla cameos and Comiket, Weathering With You got its theatrical release in the US this past week, and as a Toho movie, there was a little background cameo in that one, too.

Other kaiju news:

  • The Great Buddha Arrival director Hiroto Yokokawa has announced another kaiju film, and similarly to his previous work, it’ll be about the making of a lost picture: this time the unmade Daiei flick that led to Gamera’s creation: Nezura 1964.
    Much like Great Buddha Arrival, we’re getting promised a parade of industry cameos (including the returning Yukijiro Hotaru and Yoshiro Uchida), and I imagine publicity will be fairly mute until it debuts. I do like the giant-sized Nezura, which I believe is unique to this interpretation.

  • A whopping 22 years after their prior release of the film, Media Blasters is re-issuing Gappa the Triphibian Monster on Blu-ray. There’s been some grumbling since the (longer) international cut does not appear to be included, but this will almost certainly have better image and sound quality than the ancient DVD and VHS releases.

  • That Gamera box set from Arrow has been more officially announced. Still no word if it’ll be available in the US or UK-exclusive yet.

 

Ultraman news:

  • Ultraman Ace and Ultraman X now have preorders for BD: May 12 and April 21 respectively. Both are solid shows, and it’s exciting to add them to the collection.

  • ULTRAMAN was the most viewed anime on Netflix in Japan last year. As much as the outrage from Evangelion fanatics is a lot of fun, I do have to sort of ponder this, since the series honestly wasn’t all that great.
  • The Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project (which is secretly the best Ultraman manga available in English) just wrapped up its run in Japan. Hopefully the whole thing is able to make it to US shores!
  • RIP Shozo Uehara. His tokusatsu work was excellent, so if you have the recent Blu-rays of Ultra Q, Ultraman, Ultraseven, Return of Ultraman, or Juspion, or older ones like Inazuman and Red Baron, or even anime like Captain Harlock or Fist of the North Star, watch a few episodes in his honor.

SSSS.Gridman news:

  • A stage play featuring the Neon Genesis Middle Schoolers is due out in May.

  • Acro has new figures up for Nanashi A and B, while Good Smile is proceeding with a Devadadan. The roster of kaiju with vinyl figures is slowly filling in…

  • I appreciate how SSSS.Gridman takes deep cuts even in little stuff like magazine covers. A recent appearance in Uchuusen featured Akane and Rikka cosplaying characters from 1983 issues of the magazine.

Other hero news:

  • We’ve gotten our first look at this year’s Super Sentai, Mashin Sentai Kiramager. The costumes are fine (a female green is a neat shake-up), and the preview of the mech battle looks really exciting. We’ll have to see how well the “collecting shiny gems” motif works with the “machines” one, but with Naruhisa Arakawa writing, my expectations are pretty high.

  • Jushin Thunder Liger, the real-life pro-wrestler based off the Go Nagai hero character, has finally retired after 35 years in the industry.

 

  • A new Gantz spinoff has been announced, this one set in the Edo era: Gantz: E. I wonder how the inherent scifi of the premise, setting, and aesthetic will mesh with a jidai geki setting, but time will tell.

  • Here’s a trailer for the Mini Force movie, Deeno The King Of Dinosaurs. I still haven’t checked out Mini Force, despite it being on my Netflix queue for months, so perhaps I should get on that.

  • After years of no updates, it seems the English-language print edition of the Ambassador Magma manga has been cancelled. Not a great look for DMP.

Other news:

  • A trailer dropped for Voltes V Legacy, a live-action project out of the Philippines adapting the classic anime. A lot of people are concerned since this is from GMA, who previously did the lackluster Shaider tie-in Zaido, but, given that  Zaido was 13 years ago, I think it’s fair to give them another chance at this point.

  • The second Thunderbolt Fantasy movie, Bewitching Melody of the West, is now on Crunchyroll.

  • In “neat concept” stuff, the new Hentatsu TV series is apparently set in a post-apocalyptic Nakano Broadway.

That’s a wrap for now! I’ll try to get another article or something together in the next few weeks to make up for the lack of updates.

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Maser Patrol podcast episode 46: Lost Films and More with John LeMay

Looking for a last-minute Christmas present? Well, you’re in luck, because John LeMay has a varied bibliography on topics ranging from history, UFOlogy, horror films, cryptozoology, spaghetti westerns, and a whole smattering of kaiju/tokusatsu-related titles, with a special emphasis on lost and unmade movie projects. Since the new editions of The Big Book of Japanese Giant Monsters: The Lost Films and Terror of the Lost Tokusatsu Films are now on the market, it was a great time for John to stop by the podcast and talk about what he does.

Unfortunately we had some serious Skype lag during the call, but for the most part I was able to clean it up in post, so it only gets confusing on occasion.

Direct download

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The 2010s: A decade in review timeline

As December winds to a close, I find myself reflecting back…. back on how many podcasts, blogs, and YouTubers seem to have already done their decades in review, yet we haven’t gotten around to it here yet. But seriously, the past ten years has given rise to a lot of great content and interesting media trends, and yes, even this very blog. So, whether it be to reminisce, let lapsed fans know what they’ve missed, or simply to get some time travelers up-to-speed, I thought it’d be nice to recap a few of the major events and most noteworthy new titles that came about in the 2010s.

Uh…different sort of “Decade in Review”

There’s no rankings here, just a chronological walkthrough without much in the way of commentary (I’ll leave that to others). However, I will say that this was initially conceived as a “tokusatsu of the 2010s” timeline, but it quickly expanded to anime, manga, games, novels, and similarly-inspired non-Japanese media, while ignoring certain tokusatsu genres entirely (e.g. samurai and war films). In short, it turned into a list of the kind of stuff Maser Patrol focuses on.

Because of that, there will be some glaring omissions if you really want to hear about Japan’s classically “best” content: titles like Your Name or Erased or The Tale of Princess Kaguya are wonderful and technically science fiction, but they lack certain visual factors (like monsters and superheroes) that’d make them crossovers for the tokusatsu enthusiast, so they’re not listed, let alone compelling human dramas like Yuri on Ice, Kids on the Slope, and Keijo. (If you want to hear about the tons of great anime out there, you can check out Anime World Order‘s excellent year-by-year breakdown, so it need not dominate things here.)

With that out of the way, let’s start where the decade began!

9-Jan Higanjima: Escape from Vampire Island released
14-Feb Tensou Sentai Goseiger debuts on TV
2-Apr Daimajin Kanon debuts on TV
2-Apr Clash of the Titans remake starts Legendary Pictures down the path to focus on giant monsters
17-Apr Kaibutsu-kun drama debuts on TV
27-Apr Ratman manga begins publication
1-May King of Thorn anime movie released
5-May Shingo Honda’s Creature (AKA Hakaijuu) begins publication
22-May Tetsuo the Bullet Man released
22-May Mutant Girls Squad released
6-Jul Occult Academy debuts on TV
8-Jul Shiki vampire anime debuts on TV
17-Jul MM9 – Monster Magnitude drama debuts on TV
27-Jul Death Kappa released
4-Sep Gothic & Lolita Psycho released
5-Sep Kamen Rider OOO debuts on TV
17-Sep Sym-Bionic Titan debuts on TV
19-Oct Marika Seven manga begins publication
30-Oct Garo: Red Requiem released, reviving the Garo franchise. It’s also Japan’s first full movie filmed with 3D cameras.
27-Nov Mazinkaiser SKL OVA debuts
1-Dec live-action Space Battleship Yamato released
21-Dec Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus released
23-Dec Ultraman Zero the Movie released

7-Jan Puella Magi Madoka Magica magical girl anime debuts on TV, becoming a massive hit. The series takes some inspiration from Kamen Rider Ryuki.
29-Jan First live-action Gantz movie released
13-Feb Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger debuts on TV, kicking off an era of crossovers and revivals at Toei
11-Mar The Great Tohoku earthquake causes a tsunami and meltdown at Fukushima’s Daini nuclear power plant. This traumatic event forever changed Japan, and its impact continues to be felt in media, pop culture, and artwork.
3-Apr Tiger & Bunny superhero anime debuts on TV
8-Apr Ghastly Prince Enma: Burning Up debuts on TV
23-Apr Gantz: Perfect Answer released
April Studio Chizu founded
12-May Nobunagun manga begins publication
14-May Tomie Unlimited released
14-Jun Mappa studio founded
6-Jul Clip show Ultraman Retsuden brings Ultraman back to television
8-Jul Blood C anime debuts on TV
8-Jul The Hero Yoshihiko debuts on TV
23-Jul Alien vs. Ninja released
23-Jul Helldriver released
23-Jul Yakuza Weapon released
10-Aug King of Tokyo board game franchise begins
16-Aug Ready Player One novel published, featuring Ultraman, Kiryu, and Leopardon
22-Aug Studio Trigger founded
4-Sep Kamen Rider Fourze debuts on TV
17-Sep Henge released
24-Sep Garo: Makai Senki debuts on TV
1-Oct Monthly Hero’s manga anthology begins publication, including ULTRAMAN and Hero Company (hits Killing Bites, Majestic Prince, and Sword Gai are added shortly after)
15-Oct Noboru Iguchi’s Karate Robo Zaborger movie released
16-Oct Ultra Zone debuts on TV
4-Nov Bite Me if You Love Me released
26-Nov Earth Defence Girls P9 released
9-Dec Ranma 1/2 live-action movie released

6-Jan Symphogear magical girl anime franchise begins
12-Jan Confusingly-named Another horror anime debuts on TV
15-Feb Gyo anime movie released
25-Feb Zombie Ass released
26-Feb Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters debuts on TV
27-Feb Danger 5 debuts on TV; the spy pastiche contains many anime/tokusatsu aesthetic references
17-Mar Ultraman Sisters novel published
19-Mar Monster Musume manga begins publication, starting a boom of monster girl material
24-Mar Ultraman Saga released
2-Apr Zetman anime debuts on TV
6-Apr Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger debuts on TV
18-Apr One begins Mob Psycho 100 manga, which will go on to anime and tokusatsu adaptations
21-Apr A Letter to Momo yokai anime movie released
12-May Sadako 3D released
1-Jun Wit Studio founded
14-Jun Yusuke Murata begins redrawing One’s webcomic One Punch Man, to great acclaim
10-Jul Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo debuts as part of the Tokusatsu Special Effects Museum
15-Jul Impromptu G-Fest panel reveals footage from Wolf-man vs Godzilla, leading work on the fan film to resume after decades
21-Jul Iron Girl released, kicking off a DTV series
21-Jul Wolf Children released
2-Sep Kamen Rider Wizard debuts on TV
5-Oct Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure finally gets a TV anime adaptation
12-Oct Psycho-Pass cyberpunk anime franchise begins
20-Oct Space Sherriff Gavan the Movie revives the Metal Hero brand
15-Nov Jeremy Robinson’s Project Nemesis kicks off a series of “kaiju thriller” novels and comics
17-Nov Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo released to mixed response
15-Dec Humanoid Monster Bem movie released

12-Jan Neo Ultra Q debuts on TV
18-Jan Machi Action suit acting movie released
5-Apr Garo: Yami o Terasu Mono debuts on TV
7-Apr Attack on Titan anime debuts on TV, sparking a phenomenon
13-Apr HK: The Forbidden Superhero movie released
26-Apr Jellyfish Eyes released
1-Jun Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s movie Real released
4-Jul Seven Cube manga begins publication
4-Jul Earth Defense Force 2025 game released
7-Jul Kamen Teacher drama debuts on TV
9-Jul Atlantic Rim mockbuster released
10-Jul Ultraman Ginga kicks off the current era of Ultraman shows
11-Jul first Yo-kai Watch game released, leading to a franchise that would popularize yokai worldwide
12-Jul Pacific Rim released, cancelling the apocalypse
12-Jul Gatchaman Crowds debuts on TV
18-Jul Attack of the Friday Monsters game released
13-Aug Ultra Q finally gets a US release for the first time
23-Aug Wonderful 101 game released
24-Aug Gatchaman live-action movie released
7-Sep 009-1 live-action movie released
26-Sep Mega Monster Rush Ultra Frontier shorts debut
4-Oct Shougeki Gouraigan debuts on TV
4-Oct Kill La Kill debuts on TV. The series takes much inspiration from Sukeban Deka, the works of Go Nagai, and more.
5-Oct Kaiki Daisakusen Mystery File debuts on TV
6-Oct Kamen Rider Gaim debuts on TV
10-Oct Samurai Flamenco debuts on TV
13-Oct Ando Lloyd debuts on TV
9-Nov Tiger Mask live-action movie released

25-Jan Nuigulumar Z released
28-Jan Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark released
8-Feb Earth Defense Widow released
16-Feb Ressha Sentai ToQger debuts on TV
8-Mar Zero: Black Blood debuts on TV
14-Mar Kaiju Sakaba opens
29-Mar Heisei Rider vs Showa Rider: Kamen Rider Wars movie released
1-Apr Booska+ manga begins publication
2-Apr Marvel Disk Wars debuts on TV
4-Apr Garo: Makai no Hana debuts on TV
5-Apr The Next Generation Patlabor series debuts
7-Apr Kanpai Senshi After V debuts on TV
1-May Tatsuya Shihira’s manga Q begins publication
16-May Godzilla kicks off the MonsterVerse
24-May Kikaider Reboot released
6-Jun Edge of Tomorrow (based on All You Need is Kill) released
7-Jun Jossy’s released
5-Jul Ao Oni movie released
7-Jul My Hero Academia manga begins publication. It will go on to become the highest-circulated superhero comic in the world.
10-Jul Big Comic Original Godzilla special published
12-Jul Day of the Kaiju short debuts at G-Fest
12-Jul Zella: Monster Martial Law released
15-Jul Ultraman Ginga S debuts on TV
19-Jul Blue Blazes drama debuts on TV
11-Aug Colossal Kaiju Combat: Kaijuland Battles game is released
6-Sep In The Hero suit-acting movie released
27-Sep Shusuke Kaneko’s Danger Dolls released
3-Oct Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames debuts on TV, the first anime based on the franchise
5-Oct Kamen Rider Drive debuts on TV
5-Oct Cross Ange anime debuts on TV
7-Oct Robosan debuts on TV
7-Nov Japan Animator Expo shorts begin online streaming, including shorts for Ultraman, Gridman, Patlabor, and some other kaiju content
29-Nov First live-action Parasyte movie released
1-Dec Atom the Beginning manga begins publication
18-Dec Godzilla PS4 game released

11-Jan Yatterman Night debuts on TV
17-Feb Zyuranger marks first ever US release of an uncut Super Sentai series
22-Feb Shuriken Sentai Ninninger debuts on TV
18-Mar Kaijumax comic begins circulation
21-Mar First live-action Assassination Classroom movie released
28-Mar Garo: Gold Storm movie released, followed by TV series
1-Apr Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project manga begins publication
24-Apr Shinjuku Gracery rebrands as a Godzilla-themed hotel
25-Apr Second live-action Parasyte movie released
30-Apr Chroma Squad game released, forced to claim inspiration from Power Rangers
18-May First volume of Tokusatsu Hihou magazine published
20-Jun Ninja War Torakage released
20-Jun Yakuza Apocalypse released
27-Jun Love & Peace released
3-Jul Ushio & Tora yokai anime debuts on TV
5-Jul Live-action Death Note series debuts on TV
6-Jul Mysterious Ultraman n/a short debuts online
7-Jul Mega Shark vs Kolossus released, channeling Attack on Titan
11-Jul The Boy and the Beast anime movie released
14-Jul Ultraman X becomes the first Ultraman show to get international simulcast
1-Aug First live-action Attack on Titan movie released
19-Sep Attack on Titan: End of the World released
20-Sep Daimajin Adventure novel published
2-Oct Kagewani monster anime debuts on TV
3-Oct Live-action Bakuman movie (about aspiring mangaka) released
4-Oct Kamen Rider Ghost debuts on TV
4-Oct Concrete Revolutio debuts on TV
9-Oct Gamera proof-of-concept short released
9-Oct Garo: Crimson Moon debuts on TV
31-Oct Infini-T Force manga begins publication, reviving old Tatsunoko heroes
4-Nov Platinum End manga begins publication
7-Nov An Evangelion-themed bullet train begins running
11-Nov Cyborg 009 vs Devilman debuts
14-Nov Japan Local Hero Wars released
21-Nov Digimon Adventure Tri series debuts
5-Dec Outerman released
31-Dec Funimation Channel rebrands as Toku

13-Feb Lychee Light Club live-action movie released
5-Mar Chimagure Sukeban Chainsaw released
19-Mar Moribito live-action movie released
1-Apr Kamen Rider Amazons debuts on Prime
8-Apr Garo: Makai Retsuden debuts on TV
23-Apr I Am A Hero movie released
29-Apr Live-action Terra Formars movie released
14-May HK: Abnormal Crisis released
10-Jun Voltron: Legendary Defender debuts on Netflix
18-Jun Sadako vs. Kayako released
7-Jul Ultraman F novel published, future winner of the Seiun Award for fiction
8-Jul Thunderbolt Fantasy debuts on TV
9-Jul Ultraman Orb debuts on TV
16-Jul Kaiju Mono released
22-Jul Godzilla appears on Crayon Shin-chan
29-Jul Shin Godzilla released, mania ensues
20-Sep First volume of Ini Kai Suru Kotonaku, Juujitsu Shita Hibi published
27-Sep Kaiju Girls anime debuts online
1-Oct Cutie Honey Tears released
2-Oct Kamen Rider Exaid debuts on TV
14-Oct Gantz: O anime movie released
15-Oct Higanjima: The Last 47 Days movie released
29-Oct Death Note: Light up the New World released
5-Nov LEDX released
8-Nov Gemu released online
11-Nov Mech-X4 debuts on TV

6-Jan Zero: Dragon Blood debuts on TV
12-Feb Uchuu Sentai Kyuuranger debuts on TV
18-Feb The Dragon Dentist miniseries debuts on TV
10-Mar Noboru Iguchi’s Slavemen released
10-Mar Kong: Skull Island released
18-Mar Napping Princess anime movie released
24-Mar Power Rangers movie released
31-Mar Ghost in the Shell live-action movie released
1-Apr Ayakashi Banashi debuts on TV
2-Apr Takashi Miike’s Idol × Warrior Miracle Tunes debuts on TV
7-Apr Colossal released
14-Apr Mystery Science Theater 3000 begins a short-lived revival, covering several giant monster movies
5-May Tetsudon Kaiju Dream Match anthology released
13-May live-action Hurricane Polymar movie released
4-Jun Kaiju Club drama debuts on TV
8-Jul Ultraman Geed debuts on TV
20-Jul Netflix’s Death Note released
29-Jul first live-action Tokyo Ghoul movie released
4-Aug live-action Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Part 1 movie released (subsequent parts not announced)
6-Aug First Japan World Heroes convention held
19-Aug Kodoku Meatball Machine released
30-Sep live-action Ajin movie released
1-Oct Dragon Force: So Long Ultraman movie includes unauthorized Ultraman appearance
6-Oct Garo: Vanishing Line debuts on TV
19-Oct The City Shrouded in Shadow video game released, featuring creatures from Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman, Evangelion, and Patlabor
26-Oct Love Fighter Shuravan manga debuts
28-Oct Shusuke Kaneko’s Linking Love released
10-Nov Bravestorm released, reviving classic Senkosha characters Red Baron and Silver Mask
17-Nov Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters released
7-Dec Earth Defense Force 5 game released
8-Dec Gigant manga begins serialization
9-Dec Destiny: Kamakura Story released
15-Dec The Return of Izenborg documentary for Arabic television contains a new effects short

5-Jan Devilman Crybaby released
13-Jan Mazinger Z Infinity released
27-Jan Rokuroku released
4-Feb The Cloverfield Paradox hits Netflix out of nowhere
11-Feb Lupinranger vs Patranger debuts on TV
18-Feb Koujin TV movie released
27-Feb Kaiju Girl Caramelise begins publication
3-Mar Ghost Squad released
19-Mar Ziga manga begins publication
23-Mar Pacific Rim: Uprising released
29-Mar Ready Player One movie released, with no Leopardon or Ultraman
1-Apr 6th Gegege no Kitaro anime debuts on TV
13-Apr Rampage movie released
13-Apr Dragon Pilot debuts on TV
18-Apr Tsuburaya defeats UMC in United States district court for Ultraman rights
20-Apr Inuyashiki live-action movie released
24-Apr Ninja Batman released
18-May Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle released
30-May Matt Frank revives Redman in Redman: The Kaiju Hunter comic
23-Jun One Cut of the Dead released (and becomes a cult sensation)
30-Jun Punk Samurai Slashdown released
7-Jul Ultraman R/B debuts on TV
20-Jul Bleach live-action movie released
25-Jul Illang: The Wolf Brigade, a remake of Jin-roh, released
3-Aug My Hero Academia: The Two Heroes movie includes hero “Godzillo”
11-Aug Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion has an episode with the Evangelion train, as a semi-crossover
2-Sep Kamen Rider Zio debuts on TV
30-Sep Double Decker anime debtus on TV
4-Oct Jinga: Kami no Kiba debuts on TV
4-Oct Zombie Land Saga anime debuts on TV
7-Oct SSSS.Gridman debuts on TV
8-Oct Hero-san and Former General-san manga begins publication
25-Oct Do Your Best, Chibi Godzilla book published
9-Nov Godzilla: The Planet Eater released
23-Nov Hard Core released
15-Dec The Great Buddha Arrival released
18-Dec Amazing Spider-man #18 brings Toei’s Spider-man into the comics canon
28-Dec Kaijuretto Shojotai web manga begins publication

18-Jan Tokusatsu Gagaga drama debuts on TV
25-Jan live-action School Live movie released
31-Jan Alita: Battle Angel live-action movie finally, finally, finally released
2-Feb First episode of Kaiju Ward Gallas released; second episode still not announced
8-Feb City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes movie includes a Godzilla hotel scene
17-Mar Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger debuts on TV
22-Mar GEMSTONE Godzilla short film competition entries posted online. The winners went on to create Godziban.
1-Apr ULTRAMAN anime debuts on Netflix
1-May With the abdication of the Heisei emperor, the Reiwa era begins. Franchises like Godzilla and Kamen Rider quickly jump onto the new era for marketing purposes.
7-May Deep Sea Monster Raiga vs Volcano Beast Ohga released
10-May Detective Pikachu movie released
31-May Godzilla vs Evangelion ride opens for the summer at Universal Studios
31-May Godzilla : King of the Monsters released
1-Jun The Asylum’s Monster Island mockbuster released
6-Jul Ultraman Taiga debuts on TV
10-Jul Mill Creek acquires rights to sizable part of the Ultraman library for US distribution
13-Jul Attack of the Giant Teacher released at G-Fest
9-Aug Godziban series debuts on YouTube
27-Aug Juspion becomes first Metal Hero to get a US release
30-Aug Astral Chain game released
1-Sep Kamen Rider Zero One debuts on TV
29-Oct Criterion releases complete Showa Godzilla set, bringing the first subtitled home video of King Kong vs Godzilla to market
18-Nov Kaiju Step short anime debuts on TV
24-Nov Howl from Beyond the Fog released
14-Dec First TsubuCon held
27-Dec Godzilla appears in Shinkalion movie

…and that brings us up to the present day! It’s been a heck of a decade, and it’ll be interesting to see where it stacks up in the years down the line. There’s plenty of cool new stuff on the horizon for the 2020s, so let’s look forward to covering them as they materialize in the future!

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to leave a comment if there’s some major title that deserves special mention. Think Eko Eko Azarak: The First Episode of Misa Kuroi should have been listed? Believe the Gintama movie was snubbed? Feel upset at the exclusion of Lust of the Dead? Let me know! This was a fairly quickly-put-together list and by no means comprehensive, and there was a lot of content over the years. Hopefully you’ll remember something that you’ve been meaning to get around to by going through the list, so I’d be keen to learn what I might be missing on this end as well.

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News recap: First TsubuCon quite a success!!

This weekend was the first ever Tsuburaya Convention (TsubuCon), attached to Wonder Festival. As an inaugural outing, there were a number of fantastic announcements and reveals, including:

  • The first look at Shin Ultraman has been unveiled. A lot of folks are disappointed by how vanilla it looks, but honestly, I think the back-to-basics approach is what the “Shin” calling card has been about from the get-go. Shin Godzilla was inspired by concept art for the 1954 movie, so it makes sense that Shin Ultraman goes back to Tohl Narita’s concept…no color timer, no eye holes, no back fin.
    It’s wild that they’re being this upfront about a movie that’s not getting released until 2021, isn’t it? Usually we don’t hear about stuff like this until it’s a few months out.

  • A new anime titled SSSS.Dynazenon is coming as part of the “Gridman Universe”. All the key talent who worked on SSSS.Gridman are involved, so it should be great, but that show is a tough act to follow.

  • A trailer for the Ultraman Taiga movie, featuring the whole New Generation.

  • Netflix’s ULTRAMAN is airing on TV starting in April. A lot of folks are reporting this as the second season, but it looks like it’s only what’s on Netflix now, just broadcast on TV. However, it is getting a live-action short, which is pretty cool.
  • Kaiju Decode got a promo image, along with the reveal that Sei Nakashima (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) is doing the designs. The promo looks like it could be another monster girl thing.

  • For the most obsessive SSSS.Gridman fans, Figurex is making life-size figures of Akane and Rikka, for about $15,000 each.

  • The Kaiju no Sumika (“Monster Habitat”) VR exhibit that’s currently on display at Tokyo Dome City (due to close in January) will be opening in other locations starting in March… including a show in Los Angeles!

Non-TsubuCon stuff this week:

…and to promote the show, a really cuddly Gamera suit:

  • Two seconds of Godzilla vs. Kong footage got leaked. Presumably Shaggy and Scooby’s reaction isn’t part of the film, but we can dream.

  • John LeMay released an updated version of his Lost Films book, and it’s easily twice the size of the previous edition. Thus, it’s worth picking up, even if you have the earlier version.

  • Attack of the Giant Teacher presales start January 2, to ship in February.
  • No More Heroes 3 has a new extended trailer that’s basically a short film. There was a little controversy since there’s a little bit of effect animation at the end that appears to have been plagiarized, though that comes from a public data set that the animators used, rather than being taken directly.

  • A trailer for My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, continuing the trend of using the “rise” word in superhero franchise movie titles:

  • Coffee mugs based on the Toei Spider-man have started popping up at Disney stores. With such a glut of merchandise, I wonder if the show itself will get added to Disney+?

  • The new stage play Cutie Honey Emotional seems to be mixing up the formula for the classic magical girl by making her part of a magical girl team rather than just having her transform into multiple identities: Sweets Honey, Lovely Honey, Jumper Honey, Cyber Honey, and Black Honey are also present. I don’t know how to feel about that development, but the new costume is neat.

  • A red-band trailer for the reboot of The Grudge:

That’s a wrap for the news for this week, but expect another post before the end of the year.

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News recap for the end of November

It’s been a wild few weeks with Thanksgiving and year-end festivities, but this previous weekend I made it out to Anime NYC, where I learned that:

  • The English-dubbed episode of Godziban was very difficult for its Japanese voice actors, suggesting that future dubbed ones are unlikely, but the producers did seem happy that someone in the West is watching the show.
  • Strega is getting an English dub, which Garage Hero will eventually distribute. That whole panel was great.
  • Megalobox is going to be getting a sequel.

But, what else has been going on? Well, we can find out in this news recap:

  • First of all, Godzilla vs Kong was delayed until November 20. No surprise there, since it never really seemed right that another huge expensive Hollywood Godzilla flick would hit less than a year after the previous one, and we haven’t gotten so much as a poster yet.
  • While the delay was a little bit of a bummer, we can’t get too down, since the same day we got more information about the Godzilla collaboration in the Symphogear XD mobile game. As I’ve said many times, Symphogear is a superb, sublime, phenomenal, action-packed magical girl anime, and after the SSSS.Gridman collaboration that they did for the mobile game, a Godzilla one is quite exciting. Oh, and that game is getting an English-language release soon!

I love the character combinations here. Godzilla is paired with the scrappy, aggressive Kanade, rather than defaulting to the main character Hibiki. Hibiki, being the strongest character and gold in color, is paired with Ghidorah. The silver-armored Maria originally had a copy of Kanade’s armor, so Kiryu is a good fit. Shirabe is reincarnated from a very powerful ancient character, so the reincarnation-prone Mothra is a reasonable match for her, and since Shirabe is frequently paired with the scythe-wielding loser Kirika, Kirika is of course Gigan. This leaves questions of who Tsubasa and Chris could be….maybe Rodan and Showa Mechagodzilla? Space Godzilla and Moguera? Ebirah and Zone Fighter?

I demand action figures of all of these.

  • Marvel has announced that they’ll be doing some Ultraman comics. It’s exciting to see what they’ll involve, though the approach has been strange. The announcement included no new artwork, but old DVD art by Alex Ross, who has said on his YouTube page back in September of 2018 that he was “looking to do new artwork featuring the character” not for the Asian market. The image’s filename even suggests that Ross was hired to work on the book, but it’s not actually part of the press release. At any rate, more exposure and a new take is definitely a net positive, and even a lousy Marvel book can be entertaining.

  • Return of Ultraman and Ultraman Orb Origin Saga Blu-rays are up for preorder, so you know what to do.
  • In twelve days, we’ll get more information on Toei and Tsuburaya’s upcoming anime Kaiju Decode. Toei can be quite janky, especially on “sure things” (see Sailor Moon Crystal, Digimon Tri, the early parts of Dragon Ball Super), so hopefully they put good animators on this one.

  • The Redman: The Kaiju Hunter comic just announced a new antagonist Bemdora, who’s totally based on the original Bemular (as in the original concept for Ultraman) design. Kudos to Matt Frank for reviving that deep cut, and in a way more organic than the ULTRAMAN manga’s doing!
  • Chris of the Kaiju Kingdom Podcast was at DesignerCon, and noticed that Mondo has a line of Pulgasari toys upcoming! I really wonder how licensing works for that batch.

  • A poster for the four-part “Daikaiju Gomera vs Kamen Yaiba” storyline in Detective Conan next month:

  • The Evangelion train may be gone in real life now, but at least it’s still showing up in the Shinkalion movie:

  • An ad for the Kamen Rider Zero One movie:

  • The Island of Giant Insects got a live-action promo:

  • Viz is releasing Junji Ito’s short story collection Venus in the Blind Spot in August. It’s a little concerning that they’re advertising it as including “The Enigma of Amigara Fault”, since that was already included in their release of Gyo, and I hope we don’t get too much redundancy among the collections that they put out.
  • As a no-brainer cross-promotion, Zombie Land Saga is being used to promote Zombieland: Double Tap in Japan.

  • Finally, a new ad for next year’s Sorcerous Stabber Orphen remake. I hope it does well enough to see some other “vintage” light novels get pulled out for revivals, too.

That’s a wrap for the moment; until later! I promise that the next post will probably not be as delayed as Godzilla vs. Kong.

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Two-week news recap: Godzilla turns 65 in style

November 3rd was Godzilla’s 65th birthday, and it was a wild Godzilla Festival in Tokyo this year.

  • The Nijigen no Mori theme park, best known for ziplines and a replica of the village from Naruto, is adding a life-size Shin Godzilla attraction. This looks like a pretty fun day trip for folks staying in the Kansai area, but I don’t know if anything will top Universal’s Godzilla vs Evangelion ride.

  • Professional cosplayer Enako got to make gijinka an official part of Godzilla marketing with her “Enagodzilla” exhibit and merchandise.

  • I thought Symphogear XD Unlimited couldn’t get any more awesome after that SSSS.Gridman crossover…now it’s got Godzilla showing up in game!

  • Several directors got on stage and discussed the movies that they had wanted to make. Bagan never really goes away…

  • There’s…whatever this is:

  • A Godziban live show:

  • Also, Godziban got an English dub, for one episode, at least.

Other neat stuff:

  • Mandarake is opening up a Sofubi specialist store. If you have the funds, swing by and pick up one of their ugly original Megagorilla figures.

  • We now have a video for the Osomatsu brothers meeting Pennywise as promotion for It Chapter 2.

  • A trailer for Dino Girl Gauko:

  • Finally, a trailer for the upcoming remake of The Grudge. Or, re-re-remake?

That’s a wrap for this week, until next time!

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Maser Patrol podcast episode 45: We’ve got the seasonal Blus…

On this episode of the podcast, Kevin, Justin, and Byrd sit down to discuss some of the exciting recent tokusatsu home video releases from Criterion, Mill Creek, Discotek, Section23, SRS, Shout Factory, Arrow, Kino Lorber, and Synapse. We also go into the overall home video market landscape, distribution, why we still collect physical media, and the convoluted history that Godzilla has had on North American home video.

Direct download

Show notes:

There are other cool new titles out there, from Legend of the Demon Cat to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, but I think we hit the major tokusatsu releases. Hopefully this helps someone to make good decisions with their holiday shopping, add to their personal collection, or just feel more educated about the products for knowledge’s sake!

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Slow news week recap

Not a whole lot to report for the past couple of weeks, but here goes nevertheless.

  • Starting on a sad note, RIP Hiroshi Sagae. He had a lot of fantastic ideas, and was always an enthusiastic and friendly fellow, and it seems like he left far too soon. The silver lining is that his Gotouchi Kaiju project will continue without him, so his legacy will live on.

  • In happier news, SSSS.Gridman finally has a north American Blu-ray release incoming in January. There’s a standard edition and a deluxe one with an art book. It’s hard to say if that’ll justify the additional price for those who already have Japanese art books, but at least the deluxe one actually has Gridman on the cover.

  • Speaking of Gridman, the spinoff manga Hime & Samurai and Neon Genesis Junior High Student Diary just started. There are honestly too many spinoff manga for this franchise to keep track of them all!

  • Lupin III has threatened to steal Godzilla’s “treasure” in time for the kaiju’s 65th anniversary on November 3rd. I feel compelled to point out that the new Lupin movie, Lupin III the First, is directed by Takashi Yamazaki, a Godzilla fan who also included Godzilla in Always Sunset on Third Street part 2, though there’s also a new TV special with the legendary phantom thief.

  • Netflix has an upcoming children’s show titled Dino Girl Gauko, about a girl who can turn into a dinosaur when she gets upset. Seems like a fun enough premise…. I wonder if she’s related to the heroine of Kaiju Girl Caramelise?

  • Not sure about Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 based on this trailer, but it is interesting to see the franchise’s continuous evolution.

  • Speaking of other artist’s takes on Hyakkimaru, Rumiko Takahashi did a poster for Festival d’Angoulême that covers him and several other classics. It’s neat to think about how each of these titles may have inspired her work.

  • Yu Yu Hakusho‘s Yusuke is getting Nendoroid treatment. I wonder if they feasibly could do something like that with Toguro, seeing as how his head is so very small?

  • A promotional collaboration is underway for It with Mr. Osomatsu, because…yeah, I got nothing. This is way weirder than the Osomatsu/Ultraman collab.

That’s a wrap for this edition; until next time!

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Mid-month news recap

Time for a quick recap of some of the interesting happenings in tokusatsu and anime in the past couple of weeks:

  • Tsuburaya’s latest Ultra Fight series, Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes, is looking pretty interesting on a couple of fronts. First, it’s being streamed weekly on YouTube with both English subtitles and an English dub (it’s ironic that these seem much more available in dubbed format than any of the Ultraman TV series).
    Secondly, it features Ultraman Ribut, who previously has only appeared in animated form in a few episodes of the Malaysian cartoon Upin & Ipin. I love how the Ultraman franchise is so willing to incorporate its more seemingly apocryphal content into the main continuity; I can’t think of any other franchise that’s so integrated.

  • After a successful release of the first two Deep Sea Monster movies from Shinpei Hayashiya, SRS has announced that they also licensed the third, Deep Sea Monster Raiga vs Volcano Beast Ohga. This is quite exciting, as there’s no Japanese home video release yet, and this movie was directly inspired by US fandom (including cameos by Kaijucast’s Kyle Yount and Kaiju Gaiden’s Mark Jaramillo).
    I would encourage them to translate the credits and center the subtitles this time, though.

  • A new monster has been revealed for the upcoming (as of yet untitled) MonsterVerse comic that leads into Godzilla vs. Kong. They’re going with “Camazotz”, which, being a traditional deity name, suggests some stylistic continuity between this and King of the Monsters. So far the comics always seem to muddy the continuity more than clarify anything, so we’ll see if this continues the trend.

  • There’s a new Chinese giant monster movie announced called Spiders, which will be confusing, especially since there’s already giant monster movies titled Spiders (2000) and Spiders 3D (2013).

  • Hit science fiction/horror franchise The Promised Neverland is getting a live-action adaptation. The characters have been aged-up significantly from the source material (a 19 year-old actress for a character that’s 11?), which removes a lot of the impact, and I don’t think is a great idea.

  • Ultramechatron Team Go looks like another edgy Power Rangers parody, to go down with Mighty Moshin Emo Rangers, Gigabots, Mystic Cosmic Patrol, Meet the Putties, Power/Rangers, etc. (Not that Japan has any shortage of similar Sentai parodies…)

  • Gen Urobuchi has a new mecha series titled Obsolete for YouTube Premium starting in December.  Presumably this means that it won’t get a physical release, but I’m not particularly familiar with YouTube Premium’s business model.

  • Mappa’s Dorohedoro series has drawn my attention in a way that the manga never did, but since it was licensed by Netflix I assume we won’t see it stateside for at least a year.

  • Drifting Dragons is also a Netflix acquisition, for those who want to watch a dragon-themed cooking show.

  • Netflix is also producing a new Masaaki Yuasa series (Devilman Crybaby did make quite a splash), this one based on Sakyo Komatsu’s Japan Sinks. It’ll be interesting to see how Japan Sinks 2020 compares to the 1973 Submersion of Japan movie and Shinji Higuchi’s 2006 Japan Sinks adaptation. Maybe if it’s popular enough, someone will release the original movie in English?

That’s a wrap for the time being; we’ll see what the upcoming weeks bring.

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Halloween Hijinks: Kaiju Horror

I was racking my brain trying to think of what to do for this year’s Halloween Hijinks, since we’ve already discussed Japanese media depictions of most of the staples: vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, yokai, and Lovecraft creations, plus horror anime. Before I resigned myself to watching half a dozen Japanese invisible man flicks, Nick Driscoll made a wise suggestion, that so long as I have kaiju on the brain 99% of the time anyway, this might be a fine time to run through some of the spookiest daikaiju horror material on the market, so here we are.

Now, this is hardly new ground to cover, since there’s a sizable overlap in monster fans and horror fans. Most horror outlets cover kaiju on occasion, and there’s been a panel or two at G-Fest covering the subject of horror (I recall a particularly great one with Jörg Buttgereit), so I don’t think I need to cover the real basics… everyone already knows about the grotesque transformations in Shin Godzilla, the human bodies dissolving away to skeletons in Godzilla vs. Hedorah, the implacable undead Godzilla of Giant Monsters All-out Attack, the found-footage survival horror of Cloverfield, or the colossal, man-eating creatures of War of the Gargantuas, Attack on Titan, and the 90s Gamera trilogy.

Instead, let’s talk about a few examples a little more off the beaten path. These shouldn’t be huge revelations for long-time kaiju nuts, but for casual fans looking for something to scare up their Halloween season or horror junkies who’re looking to diversify their kaiju portfolios beyond the basics, there might be a title or two worth checking out.

Redman

This first example is cheating…kind of. See, Redman started off as a children’s show in 1972, basically as an extremely low-rent superhero program in the vein of Ultraman. It was super cheap, so instead of filming on sets with miniature cities, the show was filmed out in the wilderness. This is key to how Redman became a bit of a meme and saw a resurgence in recent years: because the monsters aren’t threatening anyone, and there’s no dialogue in the show, it appears to be a series just about a man in a mask showing up an slaughtering creatures that aren’t hurting anyone. Some of the shots are even framed like something out of Friday the 13th.

It probably doesn’t help that the “hero” also has a tendency to chase after the monsters that are running away from him, keep hitting monsters when they’re down, or that he essentially fights with a machete, either. Basically every shot in the show feels like you’re witnessing a murder.

Also by nature of being a cheap show, the monster suits are often in rough shape, adding to the sense that something is fundamentally wrong with what you’re watching. Seriously, what happened to Kanegon?!

Fandom latched onto the idea that Redman was basically a sociopathic slasher, and Tsuburaya is never one to let a merchandising opportunity pass. The character has since shown up in stage shows where Ultramen have to stop him from attacking peaceful monsters, on t-shirts with blood-stained logos, and most recently, in Matt Frank’s excellent ongoing comic series Redman: The Kaiju Hunter, which delves deeper into the unsettling world that the series never elaborates on.

Redman episode 1 on YouTube

Redman: The Kaiju Hunter volume 1 on Amazon

 

Creature! (AKA Hakaiju) by Shingo Honda

Shingo Honda’s brutal survivalist monster manga takes place in a town completely overrun by a wide variety of abominations, from the smaller human-sized threats, all the way up to well…bigger.

The creature designs alone are certainly nightmare-fuel, but the horror covered in the series is diverse, ranging from the graphically violent monster-eating-people action, to body horror as humans are infected with monster elements, to good old-fashion human-on-human inhumanity. The manga gets crazier as it goes along, with elements of government conspiracy and apocalyptic sequences reminiscent of Evangelion and Devilman.

The series ran for 21 volumes from 2010 to 2017 (only 19 volumes have been released to Kindle as of this writing, though you can read the first 13 as a self-contained story), and it also inspired a short live-action promotional prequel, which makes up the first two minutes of this video:

Creature! volume 1 at Amazon

 

Henge (2011, dir Hajime Ohata)

Since the promo for Creature! had an ad at the end for Henge, I figure that’s a good segue. I’ve written about this movie before, both in Kaiju for Hipsters and an error-filled blog post from when I first saw it, but this The Fly/Tetsuo-inspired body-horror piece is described by the director as a “love story between husband and wife”, since it’s about a wife who helps her husband eat people as he’s increasingly taken over by possibly-demonic (?) forces. He gets pretty gnarly towards the end:

It’s worth bringing up in the kaiju context due to the final sequence, where he grows enormous and goes through a rampage through Tokyo. The effects scenes were clearly done on a budget, but Kiyotaka Taguchi’s creative framing (and some nice blood splatter) make it fun enough to watch.

Henge streaming on Amazon

 

Kagewani

A moody paranormal investigation anime in the mold of The X-Files, each eight-minute episode is relatively crudely animated (basically one step up from Yamishibai), but has a great art style that lends itself to amping up the tension. The format is at first glance monster-of-the-week, with a professor who specializes in kaiju traveling the world while learning about a variety of creepy cryptids (ranging from dinosaurs to man-assimilating jellyfish to Tremors-ish land worms), but there is an underlying plot running throughout involving his backstory with the titular “shadow crocodile” and an organization that intends to weaponize the monsters. Since the episodes are short, each of the 13-episode seasons will go by briskly, and the stories never overstay their premise.

Watch Kagewani on Crunchyroll

 

7 Billion Needles by Nobuaki Tadano

Nominally based on Hal Clement’s 1950 science fiction novel Needle, this 2008 manga series has a lot in common with Ultraman the Next, in that a bad alien comes to earth and starts absorbing various lifeforms into a fleshy collective, while a good alien pursues it and fuses with our protagonist. Much like the amorphous blob that Tetsuo becomes in Akira, the amalgamated meat monster in this is probably not something you’ll be seeing in action figure form any time soon.

7 Billion Needles volume 1 on Amazon

 

Higanjima: Escape from Vampire Island

While the manga Higanjima by Koji Matsumoto is about people trying to survive an island full of vampires, there’s no shortage of other grotesque monstrosities that show up along the way, as the vampires tend to mutate into other nasty things.

The manga inspired a 2009 live-action movie, which is currently available in the US from Funimation, and not a bad watch.

For the most part, the movie sticks to mundane vampires, but the kaiju connection in this film is a big beast that shows up at the end for a climactic battle. It doesn’t go quite as wild as the manga, but it was still early in the story when the movie was made.

There’s also a 2013 Higanjima TV series, which led into a second theatrical movie, Higanjima Deluxe (Nirvana Island: The Last 47 Days). This one has a lot more monster action and some really grotesque looking creatures (think giant Street Sharks covered in eyeballs), but sadly neither that TV series or this film have been made available in English.

Buy Higanjima: Escape from Vampire Island at Amazon

 

Devilman Lady

Much like how the original 1972 Devilman anime only sort of took rough concepts from the concurrent manga, the 1998 gender-flipped Devilman Lady is only a loose translation of its own, from Go Nagai’s 1997 Devilman Lady manga. The anime is from excellent director (and noted kaiju fan) Toshiki Hirano (Iczer 1, Dangaioh, Godzilla 1990, Rayearth), so the first difference that’ll leap out at folks who did read the Devilman Lady manga (aside from the fact that there’s a fair deal less rape in the anime) is that our heroine has a tendency to turn Ultraman-sized to fight a lot of the monsters of the week.

It’s rather the same setup as the original Devilman at the end of the day: Rather than following schoolboy Akira Fudoh, who gets possessed by a demon and goes out hunting other demons with the help of his crazy quasi-boyfriend Ryo Asuka, this series follows model Jun Fudoh, who gets possessed by a demon and goes out hunting other demons with the help of her crazy quasi-girlfriend Lan Asuka. Lots of gore, tragedy, and crazy plot twists ensue (spoilers for an almost half-century-old comic?), so if you’re a fan of the original manga, or the Devilman Crybaby series on Netflix, I’d certainly suggest giving this anime a spin.

Watch Devilman Lady on Amazon Prime

 

Gyō by Kazuo Umezu

Gyō is a manga about a giant fish monster by Kazuo Umezz (Drifting Classroom, Cat Eyed Boy), not to be confused with Gyo, which is a giant fish monster manga by Junji Ito (we could talk about that one, but it’s gross). Umezz is a legend in the horror manga community, having inspired the likes of Ito and trained the likes of Rumiko Takahashi, and in the kaiju space he’s be known for his characteristically disturbing take on Ultraman. However, he also has a somewhat well-known short 1971 kaiju-centric manga, and that’s what we’ll talk about here. There are rumors that the manga may have been inspired by an unused concept from Ultra Q, as one of the unmade episodes was “Pagos vs. Gyo”, and a monster named Kaigyo (“strange fish”) did show up in one Ultra Q monster list in Shonen Magazine.

Anyway, the story itself is pretty simple, that of a bullied child who befriends a weird fish when he can’t make other pals. The kid gets sick, the parents blame the fish and throw it away. Decades later, it’s huge and comes back looking for his friend.

It also destroys the then-new Fukushima reactor, which might be awkward to view in a modern context, or might just play into the long-lasting relationship between that site and the kaiju genre.

Of course, the real sign that Gyō has a lasting kaiju legacy, several vinyl figures have been produced:

Unfortunately, Gyō is not available in English at the time of this writing.

 

Series Kaiju Ward: Gyaras

There was a lot of buzz for this exciting original series for Toei’s Tokusatsu Fan Club streaming platform, however, it’s not currently clear whether it’ll be a series at all: the first episode debuted back in February and there’s been no further news about it (there’s even a Twitter account tracking the days since it dropped). What it appears to be about (based on the episode that did air) is smug jerks getting their karmic comeuppance in monster form, as the pilot has a playboy jerk get stalked by a giant crow, all the doing of a mysterious traveling saleswoman. So far so good, but I wish they would make more of it.

There’s no North American release for Gyaras (or “Gallas”, as it’s better known), but MegaBeast Empire is fansubbing it.

 

Gantz by Hiroya Oku

Hiroya Oku’s brutal survival horror/sci-fi action series Gantz is an institution, with 37 volumes, a three volume spin-off, live action films, video games, an anime TV series, and more. The premise is that after death, certain individuals don’t go to the afterlife, but have a chance to win their lives back by battling various dangerous alien creatures using high-tech weaponry. The aesthetics are cool, the enemies are memorable, and the constantly rotating cast keeps the stakes high and will really lead you to cheer in the heroic moments and wallow in the crushing defeats.

I think that the best way to experience the series is to read the manga start to finish, but not everyone has time for that. As a compromise, there is a nicely done CGI movie that will give a flavor of the premise while also loosely adapting the popular Osaka arc from the manga: Gantz: O. It’s got both evil yokai and Pacific Rim-style giant robot battles (and a giant monster made of naked ladies)!

Oku’s latest manga Gigant also has some tense scenes of giant humanoids attacking Tokyo, but it’s more of an Ultraman pastiche-meets-romance (giant porn star!) than an action horror series.

Buy Gantz omnibus 1 on Amazon

Watch Gantz: O on Netflix

 

King of Thorn by Yuji Iwahara

Surprise, another manga about a group of people cut off from civilization struggling to survive and being hunted by monsters! Yeah, this seems to be a recurring motif in kaiju-related horror. King of Thorn sees survivors of a rare disease coming out of cryogenic freeze unexpectedly, only to find that the lab they were in is overgrown with vines and there are dinosaurs and other strange beasts roaming the area. I was already on board with that post-apocalyptic premise, but the plot keeps clever twists coming in a way such that you can never quite predict where it’s heading. The manga version does feature giant monsters arising all over the globe towards the end, but the movie adaptation concentrates that down into only the titular King of Thorn, a dragon made of vines:

The 2010 movie adaptation does condense a lot from the six volumes of source material, and loses a fair deal in the process (including many monsters), but it’s still a gorgeous picture (CGI aside) that restructures the plot in a way that will keep even fans of the manga guessing. Also, the soundtrack is fantastic.

Buy King of Thorn (manga) volume 1 on Amazon

Buy King of Thorn (movie) on Amazon

 

Honorable mentions:

  • Godzilla in Hell – does what it says in the title
  • Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds – Toei’s Jaws-inspired killer cryptid pic
  • Neo Ultra Q – probably the most off-putting of Ultra Q titles
  • Ki-gai – a four-episode monster show culminating in a kaiju climax
  • Giant Monster – a comic from 30 Days of Night‘s Steve Niles
  • Shibuya Goldfish – even more killer fish in this manga, this time attacking the heart of Tokyo
  • Island 731 – the Island of Doctor Moreau-inspired lead-in to the Project Nemesis “Kaiju Thriller” novel series
  • Koujin – the titular creature in this samurai flick is Shin Godzilla-level creepy looking
  • Hellstar Remina – I felt like I needed to mention something by Junji Ito, so can a killer planet count?

Caveat: Island of Giant Insects

Crunchyroll licensed Island of Giant Insects months ago, but still isn’t streaming it, and I can probably guess why: much like High School of the Dead, it pretty much pornographically fetishizes its gruesome kill sequences. Even hardened gorehounds cringe at this blend of violence and sex, so be prepared for that if you decide to check it out.

 

On that note, that’ll be a wrap. Hopefully this has been helpful in expanding your creepy kaiju horizons. Until next time, Happy Halloween!

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At long last, a news recap!

Long time, no post! It’s a busy time to be an otaku, as this last week saw the North American theatrical releases of Tokyo Ghoul S, Takashi Miike’s First Love, and Promare, which are all pretty fun (well, Promare was a tad cliche, but a lot of other folks really dig it). More broadly, since the last news recap, the solid Ultraman Taiga and Kamen Rider Zero One have started, the stellar Astral Chain dropped, and Discotek’s release of Juspion, not to mention the ridiculous hype that Symphogear XV has been dealing each week. But, bloggers gotta blog, so let’s take a look at some neat developments since last we recapped!

  • The coolest thing to happen while I was out was the premiere of the Gojiban series on YouTube. The result of that Gemstone competition from a few months ago, it’s a weekly puppet show in the style of GekiGoji, and it being easily available on YouTube is a blessing. (Aside from UNFIX it may be my favorite YouTube tokusatsu series.)

  • The most unexpected bit of news was that Toho’s Snow Man, banned from home video release for decades, is somehow getting an extremely limited Blu-ray release in Germany. It’s being put out by Marumi HighVision, who strangely don’t mention the controversy surrounding the movie in their post, but do call it a Gamera flick (?)

  • Unexpected in a completely different way: Hellboy taking part in Japanese pro wrestling, promoting the new movie’s Japanese release. There was also a crossover promotion between Hellboy and Devilman.

  • Mill Creek’s Ultraman releases are going to be coming fast and furious, according to this leaflet that’s circulating on social media. Reality looks just slightly off from it so far, with Geed and Orb coming in November, but Ultraseven in December. Walmart will have the Geed and Orb movies separately, if for some reason that’s all you want.

  • Toshiki Inoue is writing a Kamen Rider 555 spinoff manga about Kaixa, titled Kamen Rider 913. It’ll be interesting to see whether he’s as big a jerk in the manga as he is in the show; potentially entertaining if so.

  • SRS has licensed Attack of the Giant Teacher, doing the same thing that they did for Reigo and Raiga, releasing it on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. This is pretty fast, considering how the film premiered at G-Fest two months ago and only hit Japanese theaters last week; funny how low-budget independent movies get US releases so much more smoothly than bigger-budget Japanese effects films.

  • Minoru Kawasaki has a new kaiju flick on the horizon, whose English title is either Monster Seafood Wars (according to publicist Avery Guerra) or the more literal translation Three Monsters Gourmet (according to the crowdfunding campaign for the movie). The publicity linking the movie’s concept to Eiji Tsuburaya’s unused pre-Godzilla giant octopus movie pitch is a nice touch.
    The concept art looks like the movie might reuse suits from The Calamari Wrestler and Crab Goalkeeper, but we’ll see…also, it’s supposed to get a manga adaptation in Web Comic Gamma!

  • Another new ad for the Thunderbolt Fantasy movie:

  • By the way, if you’re craving something else along the lines of Thunderbolt Fantasy, another Pili show, War of Dragons, is on Netflix. If you watch just one puppet show on Netflix this year…well, make it The Dark Crystal, but if you watch another, you could do worse than War of Dragons.

  • Junji Ito’s Uzumaki is getting an anime miniseries adaptation for Adult Swim. The Junji Ito Collection got a lot of flak for adapting the hyper-detailed look of Ito’s manga to animation, so it’ll be interesting to see how this is received.

  • Detective Conan is getting a four-episode arc about a murder mystery taking place on a film set for “Daikaiju Gomera vs. Kamen Yaiba”. Both the kaiju spoof and the hero pastiche have featured in the anime before, but this is notably the longest arc to feature either…possibly worth lumping together and considering as a movie?

  • I was late to the party on Peter Tieryas’s Seiun Award-winning alternate-history dystopian scifi novel series United States of Japan, but they’re pretty interesting. The third part, Cyber Shogun Revolution, was announced for March.

  • Shudder added One Cut of the Dead, so if you haven’t checked out what the fuss is about, just watch it.

On that note, let’s call it a wrap for now. Hopefully the next news recap comes a little more quickly than this one did…otherwise I’ll have to start planning for Halloween. But, only time will tell what the world of Japanese-style genre fiction has in store for us in October.

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Maser Patrol podcast episode 44: Kevin and Amanda’s Bizarre Japan Adventure

On this episode of the podcast, Kevin’s in Japan, and with the help of local guide Amanda, we talk about all the neat pop-culturey stuff we got to see and do.

Direct download

Photos after the jump. Continue reading

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Quick news recap

I had a few spare minutes today, so here are some neat things that either came up in the previous week, or I simply neglected to mention last time.

  • The big news of the week is that Anno and Higuchi are teaming up with Tsuburaya and Toho for Shin Ultraman. The move makes sense given Anno’s obsession with the franchise and the phenomenal success of Shin Godzilla, but I’m surprised that they announced the film that’s this far out (2021), including the main cast already.
    It’s an interesting batch of dramatic actors who have just dabbled in effects pictures a little bit, including Takumi Saito (who was also in Shin Godzilla, but also Space Battleship Yamato and several Yoshihiro Nishimura projects), Masami Nasagawa (who played Mothra fairies in the Millennium series, and was in Pyrokinesis, Bleach, Gintama, I am a Hero, and Kingdom), and Hidetoshi Nishijima (who was in… Casshern, I guess. He was also the dub voice of Pikachu in the Japanese release of Detective Pikachu).
    It’ll be interesting to see how this movie develops!
  • Despite the prolonged dormancy of the Gamera franchise, the turtle recently popped up as a card in the Bahamut Greed mobile card game.

  •  Pacific Rim now has a theme park attraction coming in Indonesia, “Shatterdome Strike” at Trans Studio Cibubur. Jakarta is a long way away, so it’d be nice if they could replicate this at other parts as well.

  • Another trailer for the Blackfox tokusatsu tie-in. I assume we’ll be getting the anime stateside, but the tokusatsu is a harder sell. The official website is bilingual in English, though, which is a good sign.

…or the silly trailer:

  • Arrow is releasing a Ring boxset in October with Ring, Rasen, Ring 2, and Ring 0. Unfortunately, they’re going with the cringey “Ringu” title, despite the fact that they previously released this same set in the UK under the “Ring” title. David Kalat’s commentary alone may make this worth upgrading from the old DVD sets.
    Now if we can just get the entries of the franchise that haven’t been officially brought over….

  • The US trailer for Tokyo Ghoul S, hitting North American theaters in September.

Okay, that’s a wrap. Now to plan vacation for real!

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Last weekly news recap for a bit

I’ve got a couple of busy travel weeks ahead, so it’s possible that there won’t be a news recap for the month of August. Still, it’s a fine time to leave things, as there were a lot of exciting developments in the past week.

  • Starting with the thing that’s got everyone buzzing, details were announced for the Criterion spine #1000, Showa Godzilla collection box set. On the negative side, there’s a lot of fuss about the art (Katsuya Terada, Bill Sinkevich, Geof Darrow, and Art Adams are all beyond criticism, but the candy-colored pop art of the Criterion release throws some off), the use of Toho transfers (rather than Criterion going straight to film elements as they often do), the lack of dubs on many of the included movies, and very little new commentary (no new audio commentary). On the other hand, this is a steal compared to importing the Japanese releases, it does have some new special features (unused special effects reel!), and it’s probably the only time the Japanese version of King Kong vs. Godzilla will ever get a US release. Hardcore fans sometimes forget that not everyone already has all the previous releases of the movies, and having them together like this has been something on North American wishlists since the dawn of home video. (Including Criterion, who even tried to pull off something similar in the small scale back in the laserdisc days, so shut it, film snobs upset that this makes the first case of overlap between Criterion and MST3k!) So, even if it’s not the release to end all releases, it’s not a horrible package by a long shot. (Now, when are we gonna get a 100 Shot, 100 Killed box set?)

  • Discotek announced that they’ll be releasing the first season of Symphogear on Blu-ray next year! Ironically, the stream of the announcement on YouTube was immediately taken down due to a copyright strike from King Records, but that just goes to show how guarded the license can be for the musical magical girl battle series, and what a feat it was for them to finally get some US home video distribution. So, support the official release when it’s available, and watch it on Crunchyroll until then.

  • Also, reminder that Reigo: The Deep Sea Monster vs. the Battleship Yamato and The Deep Sea Monster Raiga are now available for preorder from SRS Cinema. Weirdly, the original titles are present, but only on the VHS (!) editions, while the Blu-rays have been updated to the more King of the Monsters-exploitation friendly Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters and Raiga: God of the Monsters. I’m digging this BD cover art, though.

  • The new Garo movie, Gekko no Tabibito also hits in October, and, in preparation for this, the Garo YouTube page has been uploading episodes of Makai no Hana for free viewing (in raw Japanese, no subtitles). The movie, no surprise, looks good, but the poster is particularly intriguing given some unexpected faces on it.

  • Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D, Crawl)  is apparently adapting Tomie for the streaming service Quibi. On one hand, this makes sense, as the last major Japanese horror franchise to never get adapted for Hollywood, but on the other, it was always a little weird (and misogynistic) for western sensibilities. The Quibi platform, however, sounds lame, with eight-minute episodes targeting short attention spans…not great for building suspense.
  • Speaking of short-form shows, the Ultraman YouTube channel will be adding Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes in English starting in September. These shows tend to be for Ultraman completists, but hey, it’s free.

  • Speaking of Ultraman dubbers, there’s a new William Winckler project with Takeshi Yagi. Wonder what they’re working on?
  • Zombieland Saga has been renewed for a second season, titled Zombieland Saga Revenge. It was a popular show that left things on several hanging plot threads, so this is no great surprise.

Well, that’s a wrap for this week, and possibly until the end of next month. We shall see!

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RIP Greg Shoemaker (1947-2019)

One of the best movies I stumbled across to cover when I was writing Kaiju for Hipsters was War of the Wizards. It’s not a difficult movie to find, by any stretch of the imagination, but generally speaking, you just don’t hear kaiju fans discussing it nowadays. So, sometimes people ask how it even got on my radar, and I have to say: I read about it in an issue of The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal, which was written before I was even born.

It’s amazing that even in this age of Wikipedia and Google, one can still find such fresh insights from a fanzine that ran between 1968 and 1984, yet the archives available still deliver coverage of under-discussed lost-to-time gems, along with  numerous hot takes on classics as they were coming out in real time. It’s wild to think about, but the little Ohio-based zine was quite a pioneer, inspiring the likes of G-Fan, Monster Attack Team, Markalite, Oriental Cinema, Japanese Giants, and a whole host of anime mags, not to mention the websites that followed…it even preceded Japanese genre magazines such as Kaiju Club, Uchuusen, and Hobby Japan!

A lot of the tentpole members of English-language Japanese genre fandom started with TJFFJ, either directly or indirectly, reading or writing for writer/editor Greg Shoemaker, so the news of his passing this week is hitting the community pretty hard. So, here’s to a trailblazer, father of organized Japanese fantastic film fandom and publisher of a magazine that set a high standard for all that was to follow.

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G Fest XXVI Panel: Nessie – The Kaiju that Hammer Loched Away

Here’s a video of one of the panels I was on at G-Fest this year. The camera is aimed more at the panelists than it is at the screen with our visual aids (including both concept art and newly-commissioned art that Greg had done for the panel), but you can still get most of the information from what we’re saying.

Otherwise, you can always just follow along in the slides here.

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Monstrous G-Fest summary and news recap

Back from a very busy G-Fest! It was wild with many panels to do, and several more to attend, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • The upcoming video game Dawn of the Monsters was announced. You can see a whole panel about it here (and also Alex’s excellent history of kaiju video games panel here), but the game looks like a lot of fun and I look forward to trying out the completed version.
    According to the press release:

    Dawn of the Monsters is a couch co-op, brawling action game that takes up to four players on a worldwide tour of destruction. Players take on roles from an all new cast of kaiju and are tasked with defeating the “Nephilim”, a horde of monsters that are destroying the planet. Conquer four unique worlds and unlock The Maw, an endless onslaught of kaiju brawls. Featuring beautiful 2.5D graphics inspired by the works of Mike Mignola, combat inspired by classics from the action and fighting game genres, and fully destructible environments, couch co-op in Dawn of the Monsters is bigger and badder than ever before.

Then there was the film festival:

  • Notzilla is a goofy parody film, rife with puns, fourth wall gags, and lampooning of the 1950s. Some of the jokes will make you groan, some will make you chuckle, but they come at a fast enough clip that you’ll be able to have a good time.  The movie has been in limbo since 2010, so it’s pretty cool that it finally got completed and had some sort of release. (Couldn’t find a trailer, so have a suit test.)

  • Howl from Beyond the Fog was supposedly 90% done last year, but the version screened this year was still a preliminary cut. Needless to say, what screened looked great. There was no voice acting, which does kind of work with the 1909 setting of the movie, but I think I’d be the minority that wouldn’t find it so off-putting (I watch too many puppet shows, I guess), especially since there’s already a theme of blindness running through the film. It sounds like they might be able to include The Fog Horn as a special feature when this gets released; fingers crossed!

  • Yagon the Water Monster is on YouTube in its entirety now, so you can watch it for yourself:

  • Attack of the Giant Teacher was off-putting to some of the audience, since there’s basically no tokusatsu in the first hour of the movie. However (perhaps because I saw the second half first) the story of a teacher at a closing school trying to make life better for his students and put on one last school festival was still fun, if more Linda Linda Linda than Ultraman. Fun fact: the monster in the movie was just salvaged from a props room at Toho, where it was laying around unused.

  • The Great Buddha Arrival was wild, best described by Kyle Byrd as “like David Lynch made an Asylum film.” Contrary to reports of it being a remake of the lost 1934 movie, it’s one of those meta works positing that the 1934 film was based on true events and the main character is a reporter searching for the “true story” behind it. There is a parade of celebrity cameos, and some laugh-out-loud gags, but also a trippy black-&-white sequence about suicide and lamentations of tragedy, with a lot of whiplash as you never know what to expect next. Just as the main character wonders “what does it all mean”, the audience is also pulled through a haunting phantasmagoria of weighty imagery, so I’d very much like to hear from the director about the creative process was for this movie. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were still pretty surprised.

Finally Kaneko brought his movie Linking Love, which was essentially Back to the Future with a genie instead of a DeLorean. It was a fun romcom with several callbacks to Kaneko’s career (including a Urusei Yatsura sequence), but the side effect was that it got several of my friends addicted to AKB48 music, so caveat emptor.

With all that said and done, let’s take a look at what all happened news-wise while we were away:

  • As great as the Ultraman news is, there’s also bad news: we’ve suspected for months that the Hasbro acquisition on Power Rangers would affect Shout Factory’s Super Sentai DVD releases, and it appears that is true. It was nice while it lasted, and hopefully they’re able to turn that around someday and get the remaining seasons released.
  • In other “bad for media” news, Harmony Gold somehow managed to renew their Macross license. Fans were literally counting down the days until that expired so someone else could get their hands on the IP, but I guess that’s not happening now.
  • Criterion’s 1000th numbered release is shaping up to be a box set of the Showa Godzilla features, if all is to be believed. There was an announcement at G-Fest to expect an official word on that soon, but some places already have it up for preoder.

  • Meanwhile, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is getting its home video release on August 27, with a nice assortment of special features including deleted scenes and director commentary (the digital release is August 6, which is a little awkward considering the movie’s pro-nuke message). Also, Detective Pikachu on August 6.

  • Publicity is ramping up for Kamen Rider 01, and wow, I have not liked a main rider design this much in a long, long while. Hopefully the show lives up to it.

  • Doraemon’s next movie will be Nobita’s New Dinosaur, a riff on the 1980 flick Nobita’s Dinosaur (the first Doraemon movie) and its 2006 remake.

  • Toei has a short movie titled Jurassic! coming next month.

  • It looks like the final rebuild movie for Evangelion is actually hitting next summer. Let’s see if they actually resolve anything this time….

Or maybe they’ll just have another collaboration with Battle Cats?

  • A trailer for Kaiju Step, which starts September 27. Being a short anime for children, I wouldn’t hold my breath on seeing any sort of release for it outside Japan.

  • Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution is coming next February. This is still a little soon after the disappointment of Digimon Adventure tri, but we’ll see if it’s truly the “last” one.

  • Human Lost is getting a global release in October/November. This means theaters, according to Funimation, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go to Netflix in a hurry after that.

  • Katsuhiro Otomo has a new movie in the works with Sunrise, titled Orbital Era. He’s also doing a new Akira animated series at some point, and that terribly-sounding Hollywood remake of Akira is back on hiatus again.

  • Sound & Fury does not appear to be based on the William Faulkner novel.

  • Takashi Yamazaki is doing a Lupin III movie, confusingly titled Lupin III the First.

  • The Russo brothers have the rights to adapt a movie version of Battle of the Planets, which really just makes me sad that the awesome-looking Imagi Gatchaman movie did not come to fruition.

Lastly, if you haven’t heard about the arson at Kyoto Animation, it was heinous. Even if they’re not a studio that you normally follow, consider doing something to contribute to relief efforts.

On that note, we’ll wrap things up until next time. There are still a few G-Fest panels left to post, so keep a look out on the feed!

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G-Fest XXVI panel: Bandai & Tsuburaya

Another panel from this past G-Fest, I joined RJ of BoatsCanFly and Matt of Kaiju Transmissions for a panel talking about how a certain toy company has been influencing the creative process behind the Ultraman franchise.

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G-Fest 2019: Godzilla Anime Trilogy Panel

We never did a proper podcast on the Godzilla anime trilogy, so I sat in on a panel discussing the subject this G-Fest. Not quite my usual format, but for a final panel of a long weekend where nobody knew each other and there was no preparation, I’ve certainly seen worse.

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Maser Patrol podcast episode 43: “Kaiju & Tokusatsu Fandom in Media” at G-Fest XXVI

Of the whopping six panels I did at G-Fest this year, this was the only solo effort. It was the last of three back-to-back presentations, so I was a little frazzled, but hopefully it’s entertaining nevertheless.

Also, Justin was correct about Rolling Bomber Special at the end.

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Quick news recap (no Godzilla this time edition)

With  G-Fest, NYAFF, and other exciting things right around the corner, this may be the last news recap for a while. I’ve already spoken about the numerous exciting movies playing at G-Fest (e.g. Attack of the Giant Teacher, Howl from Beyond the Fog, The Great Buddha Arrival), but NYAFF has some potential gems as well. For example, Hard-Core:

Anyway, on to the news:

  • As if The Asylum’s Monster Island wasn’t transparently riffing on Godzilla: King of Monsters already, the Japanese poster and title made it pretty explicit:

  • A teaser has leaked for the upcoming Monster Hunter movie, which is wild, since it’s over a year away. Anyway, I’ll be there opening day.

  • Netflix’s ULTRAMAN has been renewed for a second season, which will probably catch them all the way up to where the manga is at. Speaking of which, Bandai Premium has a pretty nifty HG figure set coming out with the main cast, though that 70 buck  price tag is a punisher.

  • Speaking of Ultraman, episode 0 of Ultraman Taiga has been posted online in anticipated of the new series.

  • No More Heroes 3 was announced at E3. I can appreciate any trailer with a henshin sequence.

  • George Takei is starring in season 2 of The Terror, which seems to be bringing the J-horror. It’s an anthology season show, so even without seeing the first season, one should be good to jump into season 2.

There are a handful of other little things, like a Golden Kamuy/Spider-man collaboration and a new Cyborg 009 manga, but I figure I’ll just leave it here for now. Happy convention season to all!

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Maser Patrol podcast episode 42: A Legendary Double Feature

In this episode, Kevin, Andy, Josh, Justin, and Matt sit down to chat about Legendary’s new monster movie, co-produced with Toho, that hit theaters last month. The one with the British bad guy, environmental themes, an absentee dad, and Ken Watanabe.

Oh, I guess we talk about two movies.

I recommend both, but if you only care about one movie or the other, we shift topics at the 57 minute mark. Also, the end music came in a little early due to technical difficulties, but you didn’t miss much.

Direct download

Links:

Matt’s Godzilla review on Kaiju Transmissions

Justin’s Godzilla review on Film Find

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Post-Godzilla news recap

Hope everyone enjoyed Godzilla:King of the Monsters! Now we’re in the lead-up to the next big event, G-Fest XXVI in Chicago July 11-14, which is now only a month away. The schedule is up on the website, so if you want to see my panels/presentations, I’m doing a ridiculous six of them this year!

  • Bandai and Tsuburaya (Friday, 2:00 PM, Kennedy) – Join your hosts as they discuss the history between Bandai and Tsuburaya Productions, and how this relationship has affected the Ultraman franchise in recent years.
  • Kaiju Transmissions Podcast Presents: 30 years of Godzilla Vs. Biollante (Friday, 3:00 PM, Ballroom 2) – An in-depth look at the making of the 1989 classic, including unused scripts, the manga adaptation, behind the scenes pictures, and more!
  • Kaiju Fans in Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Kenny (Friday, 4:00 PM, Kennedy) – Ever wonder how movies, TV, or comics would represent the G-FEST demographic? Wonder no more, because this panel covers portrayals of characters who are wild about kaiju and Japanese superheroes, as well as the rise of Japanese “otaku” culture.
  • Heisei Gamera: A Look Back (Saturday, 1:00 PM, Ballroom 1) – In the late 1990s, Shusuke Kaneko released a groundbreaking film trilogy featuring Gamera, the kaiju turtle. With intriguing scripts, interesting characters, and groundbreaking special effects and miniature work, these films became instant fan favorites. Our panelists will discuss all three films of the trilogy and the impact they had on the kaiju genre.
  • Nessie: The Kaiju that Hammer Loched Away (Saturday, 2:00 PM, Ballroom 1) – Much like the Loch Ness Monster, Toho’s late-1970s unmade Hammer-coproduced monster movie, Nessie is a mysterious subject of great speculation. Join our panel as they shine a light on the cryptid sci-fi film, discussing the canceled production and the relationship between Japanese kaiju and cryptozoology.
  • Godzilla Anime Trilogy (3:00 PM, Kennedy) – Planet of Monsters, City on the Edge of Battle, and The Planet Eater. These three animated films were released on Netflix, giving Western fans a chance to see a new and unusual take on their favorite giant monster. The films received mixed reviews; some fans loved them, others hated them. Come hear this panel of fans discuss the pros and cons of the latest Godzilla films to come out of Japan.

Anyway, onto the news! We’ll start Godzilla-focused and transition to some other topics:

  • That Boss Coffee commercial was a total tribute to Haruo Nakajima. It’s pretty great.

  • There’s going to be a new Godzilla card game in the Chrono Clash system. They’re making some interesting choices with the lineup, so hopefully they can expand it with a a wide variety of cards.

  • Mike Dougherty posted one of his early Godzilla fanfilms; he’s come a long way.

  • The Godzilla vs. Evangelion ride at Universal has opened, and it looks like a hoot.

  • A new Ghidorah was introduced for the ride, and amazingly, it got its own figure. Are there any other theme-park based Bandai kaiju figures (with original sculpts) out there? The Kiryu Unit 01 popcorn bucket is also pretty boss.

  • SSSS.Gridman is getting a whopping six manga tie-ins! First is a straight adaptation for Shonen Jump+ (hey, that’s where the Planet of the Monsters manga went, too) by Yuki Konno.

Next is Yuki Tamura’s Sengoku Gridman in Monthly Shonen Champion, literally a superhuman samurai.

Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project‘s Shun Kazakami appears to be keeping up the fanservice with this Akane-focused manga:

The Neon Genesis Middle Schoolers have three spinoffs themselves, with Neon Genesis Middle Schooler Diary (by Ariko), a manga about them becoming butlers (by Sako Misaki), and a Calibur-specific spinoff Hime & Samurai by Kei Toru.

Also, Yumi Mizusawa is writing a light novel titled SSSS.Gridman: Another God, which is certainly intriguing. Here’s hoping some of these get picked up stateside, since the anime series is amazing.

  • SSSS.Gridman is also getting a crossover with the Symphogear XD Unlimited mobile game. Man, I sort of feel sorry for the Gridman villains now.

  • Speaking of which, there was a trailer for Symphogear XV!

  • The latest ad for BEM:

  • In time for the new Sadako movie, the Sadako-san and Sadako-chan webcomic manga, about the vengeful ghost befriending a little girl, got a compiled edition.

That’s a wrap for now! Time to prepare for some G-Fest panels…

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Preliminary thoughts from last night’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters screening

Last night, ten AMC theaters did free advance screenings for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a full nine days ahead of its official US release date. This was nominally for the cinema chain’s Stubs Premier members and press, though at no point was I actually required to show membership credentials to get in. (There was a catch, however, in that tickets were only available on a first-come/first served basis at the cinema itself, meaning that to ensure a seat one had to drive to the theater first once tickets became available and days later to actually attend the screening.) I was lucky enough to be within reasonable striking distance of one such theater, and, somewhat serendipitously, wound up with a seat numbered G14 (right in the center, believe it or not).

Upon entering the cinema, I noticed a kiosk set up selling movie-related merchandise next to the concessions. This has long been a tradition in Japanese theaters, but it appears to be taking hold in the US as well, at least at high-traffic and ritzy locations. The Godzilla pickings were limited to some Funko products and nothing was theater-exclusive (not quite at the Toho Cinemas level yet), so I left them alone.

The audience in attendance seemed to skew heavily on the Godzilla fan demographic side, with only a few casual movie goers who probably go to anything free, and a smattering of callous individuals who lit up their phones during the screening, presumably because they wanted to get kicked in the head. Energy was boisterous in the theater, but thankfully it was kept to cheering and applause rather than riffing and talkbalk. Needless to say, Ifukube themes were like catnip in there.

Oddly enough, there was a promo for the very movie about to play before it played, in which Michael Dougherty and the cast gushed over the film we were all there to see anyway. Dougherty went on a tangent about how Toho had a cinematic universe going back into the 60s, but didn’t really explain who or what Toho is, and that was where I first began wondering: how much of this is going to make sense to the casual moviegoer? This wound up being a recurring theme throughout the rest of the show, actually.

So, hey, now it’s time to segue into talking about the movie itself. Not to worry, there will still be a podcast on this topic eventually, but dang it, I need to vent and it’ll be a while before the gang can all synchronize schedules for this (notice how we still don’t have a Detective Pikachu episode up yet?). I’ll start relatively spoiler-free, then get more specific.

Generally:

I liked the movie. This should shock nobody. There has not been a Godzilla movie that I don’t like. If I wanted to get quoted on all of Legendary’s publicity materials, I’d even go so far as to say “Best American Godzilla picture”, “Best Godzilla movie of the Reiwa era”, etc. I look forward to seeing it again, and there is enough content onscreen that it demands repeat viewings to absorb it all. But, I do have a few qualms and quibbles, and, based on first impressions, I don’t know if I’m going to revisit this quite as much as Kong: Skull Island or Krampus. There’s a lot to digest about it, still.

Dougherty is clearly a Godzilla fan, and King of the Monsters is a movie made for Godzilla fans. Much like Legendary’s previous movie, it hits the right notes to do the iconic monster characters justice, and that alone is a noteworthy accomplishment, considering how very wrong it all could have easily gone. It’s chocked full of allusions and Easter eggs, so hopefully it winds up being comprehensible for general audiences who aren’t quite so in the thick of it. However, it’s also very much a continuation of the 2014 movie and of Skull Island, and as such has to develop its own unique vision for the franchise, seeming to go with a more semi-apocalyptic slant to the world-building than we’ve seen in Godzilla previously.

The monsters look fantastic, though there’s always a layer of smoke, water, clouds, or something else obfuscating them. It’s very atmospheric that way (pun intended), it gives color palettes to associate with each monster, and I understand how that helps the special effects process, but a little more of monsters just out on a clear day would have been nice (Ghidorah can be scary enough if he’s not in a hurricane; it feels like it puts the whole natural disaster allegory a little too on the nose). One other factor that perhaps clouds my perception here is just how very much has already been given away by the various trailers, so there wasn’t a real “wow” moment, like when Godzilla first uses his breath in 2014. Despite this, the main four are gorgeous, and while I wasn’t really sold on the Mothra design from the toys, her execution in the picture itself was excellent. So, all four look good.

The music is excellent; my only complaint is sometimes all of the surrounding sound effects completely drown it out. Looking forward to picking up the soundtrack.

The human cast is okay, and has a better story function than in 2014, but their actual story is not as compelling as, say, Brian Cranston’s in that picture. Several of the characters border on irritating in the same way that much of the Jurassic World cast does, but hey, at least Ken Watanabe has more to do this time around. There’s a lot more humor than there was in the Gareth Edwards film, and unfortunately it didn’t really work for me most of the time, but perhaps I just had a migraine. (There’re some unnecessary shaky handheld shots early on that give it an independent film vibe, which doesn’t mesh well with IMAX.)

Oh, and there is a post-credits scene, and a nice tribute to both Haruo Nakajima and Yoshimitsu Banno, so stay through the credits. I didn’t even like the recent Serj Tankian cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla, but the way it’s used there is pretty excellent, too.

 

Potential spoilery stuff:

…you have been warned.

Oh, boy, where do I begin? Well, to start, the cast here, and the constant references to the cinematic universe concept, generally gave the impression that this is a remake of Ghidorah the Three-headed Monster. Well, it ain’t that. Ghidorah being alpha-predator instead means that all the other monsters do his bidding, which results in the odd position of Rodan as a sort of lackey, like we’d normally expect Gigan to take. This is, however, consistent with Toho’s longstanding tradition of nerfing all kaiju who are not Godzilla, so gone are the days when we could expect to see Ghidorah solo nine Earth monsters at once.

Ghidorah’s heads also fight each other sometimes, and like, I dunno if I like that. They made a big deal about how each has its own mocap actor and all, and it goes with the whole theme of pack animals, but it still rubs me the wrong way a little.

Mothra and Godzilla get along, though… do they ever. Like, in a way that we thought they were only joking about. Granted, Godzilla has had allies before in the movies, such as Rodan and Anguirus, but the human characters commenting never “shipped” it before. There are going to be some uncomfortable ramifications of that part of the movie in fan art from here on out. (We can also start the headcanon debates about Mothra’s relationship with Zhang Ziyi’s character.)

Then there are the original kaiju that we’ve heard teased… look, don’t expect too much there; we’ll have to go to artbooks to get most of their names, and they have total about the same screen time that Varan does in Destroy All Monsters. There was one that I sort of wondered if he was just Kong with big fangs, but I guess not. I imagine Cast will make figurines of a few of them someday, but not much else.

Oh, speaking of DAM, there’s a secret underground science base, like something out of Pacific Rim! I really dig the redirection towards over-the-top scifi that King of the Monsters takes compared to the other MonsterVerse installments, though I would’ve liked the new flying battleship to have some sort callback name like Super X or SY3…. I can acknowledge that asking for a giant drill on the front would perhaps be asking too much.

The story’s McGuffin is a sonic device used to control the monsters, as we’ve already seen in the Godzilla: Aftershock comic book, but it’s not a hilariously kitschy plastic toy here. It’s a nice callback on several levels, as sound in some form or another has a history of controlling everything from Godzilla to Titanosaurus to the Xiliens, and if we’re not going to have a proper musical number dedicated to Mothra (cowards!), it’s a nice touch that it’s introduced when communing with her. I’m a little disappointed that the device was never strapped to a robot named NIGEL and sent to its demise, however.

The movie continues 2014’s trend of kinda sorta being a Gamera movie, particularly opening on a family’s tragic backstory a la Gamera 3. The film’s environmental themes, paired with an ancient undersea civilization and a last line that was so close to Gamera 2 that I nearly threw something, really cemented this. The people involved keep claiming that they haven’t watched the Gamera trilogy, which is inexcusable (why not watch the best kaiju movies ever made if you’re making a kaiju movie?), but in this case sort of believable… I can’t imagine that they’d go this close on purpose!

While the 2014 movie was rather cavalier about its use of nuclear devices, this one continues the trend with the casual deployment of an oxygen destroyer. This is an example of what gives me pause about the film at times: the character awkwardly namedrops a doomsday device with significant baggage to the franchise, and there’s no real setup of what makes it a big deal. It looks pretty when it goes off, for sure, but it’s ultimately just a bomb, blowing up and not skeletonizing a lot of fish, and it doesn’t seem like anything horrible enough to never use again…presumably the military’s got them stockpiled. This all might have been a red herring, though, as there’s a weird sort of inverse oxygen destroyer moment near the picture’s climax, when Serizawa earns his freaking name.

The numerous casual nods to Skull Island and the brilliant end credits sequence (which almost reminded me of 2004’s Dawn of the Dead) do a good job of tying the almost mutually exclusive MonsterVerse worlds together (I love that they’re not letting go of hollow Earth theory), so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next, and I wouldn’t mind if Dougherty got another shot at it in the future. Even at over two hours, the movies is at the brim with lore, and there’s clearly a lot more that can be done with it.

And, on that delightful note, I’ll take a break. Don’t worry, there are things I didn’t spoil yet, but we’ll be back with a more full discussion after I get to see it again and the rest of the gang can chime in. You should see it too, obviously.

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Godzilla’s Eve news recap

As of this writing, the first wave of public screenings for Godzilla: King of the Monsters is impending quickly, so it’s about time to discuss some of the stuff that’s been going on to publicize the film. First, some attractions that we’ve had the fortune to witness firsthand, includes the light-up statues outside of Toho theaters, an amusing giant burger promotion (not to be confused with this one or this one!), and the rather underwhelming Godzilla Store display at American Kinokuniya stores.

Of course, there’s plenty else out there, such as a giant 8-meter statue in China, a huge Godzilla head at the Arclight Cinerama Theater, some oversized Screen X showings, and four types of Godzilla booze.

While not technically a Legendary promotion, the timing of the upcoming Boss Coffee commercial featuring the 1954 is rather suspicious:

…which is only one of a couple amusing Boss Coffee ads lately, considering the latest batch with Tommy Lee Jones and Hiroshi Fujioka:

Also, the Godzilla Defense Force mobile game:

…and Godzilla’s gone back to the baseball field recently:

…and so has Sadako. (Japanese baseball clearly rules.)

In other news:

  • A new trailer for Garo: Gekko no Tabibito. It’s been quite a wait on that movie!

  • Toei has filed a trademark for Kamen Rider Zero One. This somehow manages to be confusing with both the original Kamen Rider (mostly just known as Kamen Rider 1) and Kikaider 01.
  • Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju is finally up for preorder. We reported about it back in January 2017, and it’s finally hitting this October.

  • An ad for the new Samurai Shodown. The classic game series is heavily based on Makai Tensho, so fans of ninja magic should totally check it out.

  • The poster for the Macross Crossover concert shows a disturbing lack of Macross Plus. But, I’m okay with the lack of Macross Zero.

He’s a known DC fan going way back, though:

Finally, RIP Makoto Ogino. While his manga never got released stateside, the Peacock King anime and two live action movies are highly entertaining.

Anyway, calling that a news recap for now. Seeya after King of the Monsters!

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Podcast guest spot: Japan Station episode 12

Japan Station is Japankyo‘s official podcast, covering all facets of Japanese popular culture. I had the good fortune to be interviewed there earlier this month, so check out this episode, and the rest of the neat guests that Tony has amassed on a biweekly basis!

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News recap: Ultraman Taiga trailer, Meister Titano, and King of Monsters music!

What’s this? A news recap only one week since the last one? Perhaps we can make this a regular thing; at any rate, this week is heavy on monster-related tidbits.

  • We have our first Ultraman Taiga teaser trailer. So far, it looks like they’re keeping faithful to the prior lore.

  • Yukiko Takayama’s 2075: Meister Titano’s Counterattack, a sequel to Terror of Mechagodzilla, has been on my list of possible fan translation projects for a while (was waiting for the issue to be thoroughly out of circulation first), but it looks like Toho Kingdom saved us the trouble!

  • Kaiju stuff is pretty well-represented in the Seiun Award media category nominees this year. Among the nine nominees, we have SSSS.Gridman, Dragon Pilot, Planet With, Ready Player One, and Pacific Rim Uprising. I’m betting Penguin Highway actually wins, though. (It’s also worth noting that one of the nominations for short translated fiction is titled “Cybertank vs. Megazillus”. I dunno exactly what that is, but I might try to find out.)
  • Mill Creek is releasing Mothra on Blu-ray. Looks like it’s keeping the same commentary from the DVD, but that steelbook packaging is a delight.

  • A stop-motion horror series Kickstarter campaign from the maker of Rilakkuma and Kaoru, titled The depth of Yagen:

  • That Hollywood version of One Cut of the Dead? Well, it might have just been this spin-off.

  • Some music for King of the Monsters dropped, with a familiar motif.

There’s also a BOC “Godzilla” cover by people from System of a Down and Deathklok, but, I don’t think it adds anything over the original song.

I think that’s a wrap for now. Until next time!

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April news recap

Long time, no update, due to a relative shortage of stuff to talk about and general business. We’ll see how that holds up over the coming months; somehow I committed myself to a whopping six panels at this year’s G-Fest, so I could get pretty distracted! More details on that when the convention is closer, but in the meantime, what all did we miss? Well, I guess there was April Fool’s Day, with its Jet Jaguar teaser and new My Hero Academia movie poster…

The Netflix adaptation of ULTRAMAN also dropped, and surprisingly, people really seem to like it. Personally, I think it looks like a PlayStation game, but to each their own. I also got to catch a screening of The Legend of the Stardust Brothers, which is finally getting its cult-classic due, along with the sequel New Legend of the Stardust Brothers, in Philadelphia (the only screening ever outside of Japan for the latter).

Monkey Punch is one of many cameos in the film, so I should probably also mention that the Lupin III creator was one of two giants of the manga industry passed away this past week; the other being Kazuo Koike. Koike particularly hurts, since most of the articles on the subject talk about Lone Wolf & Cub, ignoring the fact that his manga school revolutionized the entire medium. Also, I wonder if his magical girl project he talked about back in 2011 will ever be realized?

*moment of silence*

But, what else is new?

  • Details have started to drop on Ultraman Taiga, the newest Ultra-series, debuting (as usual) July 6th. So far, I like what I see:

It’s still playing on nostalgia/legacy, but rather than the hero powering up using the powers of previous Ultramen, he’s got three Ultramen inhabiting his body, justifying form changes differently. The main one is Ultraman Taiga, son of Ultraman Taro (eh, whatever), but the other two aren’t even from M78: Ultraman Fuma is from O50 like Orb and R/B, while Ultraman Titus is from U40 (AKA the continuity of the oft-neglected 1979 The Ultraman anime)!

The human hero is part of an Earth defense team (EGIS), which is a nice return to form after the past three years as well. As team uniforms go, it’s on the boring side, but at least there is one.

Also, the evil Ultraman Treager, introduced in the R/B movie, is back as the villain. Recurring villains is another theme that’s been coming up in the shows lately, but so far successfully.

  • Deep Sea Monster Reigo and Deep Sea Monster Raiga have been licensed for distribution in the US. It’s my understanding that the company releasing them, SRS, tends to do very limited print runs, but anything has to beat the 20 copies of Raiga that director Shinpei Hayashiya brought to G-Fest once as the official method of distribution. Fingers crossed that they release the final film in the trilogy as well!

  • Gou Tanabe’s been working his way up to the big titles with his HP Lovecraft adaptations, and now he’s at the most iconic of all: Cthulhu! Everyone go buy his manga that’s been translated to increase the odds of this one coming over as well.

  • After years of waiting, we finally have a release date on the new Cencoroll! June 29th should be exciting….weird going back to Cencoroll after Digimon Adventure Tri, isn’t it?

  • One Cut of the Dead was picked up by Shudder, so one more reason to sign up. It’s apparently also getting an English-language remake, which seems like the most pointless exercise I’ve heard since the remake of Let the Right One In.

  • Here’s a trailer for the second Tokyo Ghoul movie, hitting July 19. They had to replace the lead actress, but other than that it seems to be going alright.

  • Another ad for Promare, and it continues to be the most Imaishi-looking thing that Imaishi’s made.

  • Two more live-action Rurouni Kenshin movies have been announced. Hopefully we’ll finally see the Enishi arc adapted into some other medium.
  • Discotek licensed City Hunter, as in 150 episodes and seven movies’ worth of anime. Really looking forward to Shinjuku Private Eyes, which played at Anime Boston this weekend.
  • Bt’X Neo is finally getting a US release. Amazingly, somehow Anime Midstream is continuing to operate.

  • The merchandise push for SSSS.Gridman continues to get stranger. For example, they’re doing figures of Akane and Rikka in swimsuits, but in *different* swimsuits from what they wore in the actual show:

  • Bandai is making a toy of the Shirimarudashi (“butt on full display”) figure from Crayon Shin-chan. As a big fan of the movie Legend of the Buri-buri Three Minutes Charge, I sort of really want it. Hey, only $24?

On that delightful note, we’ll wrap up the news recap. Until next time!

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Kaiju Transmissions podcast: Zone Fighter

Late on posting this, but I was on a guest Kaiju Transmissions again last month; this time to talk about the under-discussed Toho superhero series Zone Fighter! Every Godzilla fan should check out that show for its unique brand of insanity that even puts other 1970s henshin heroes to shame.

Direct download

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Kong Unmade: The Lost Films of Skull Island

I figured this could use its own news post: Kong Unmade: The Lost Films of Skull Island, the latest entry of John LeMay’s series on lost and unmade kaiju films is available on Amazon now! In addition to John’s usual stellar work on unearthing cinematic archaeology, this book features contributions from Kyle Byrd and Justin Mullis, so if you like Maser Patrol, well, that’s three familiar names right off the bat (Justin’s essay in the book was part of our own Kong Count series leading up to Skull Island). The legendary Don Glut and Colin McMahon also contribute, and Robert Lamb sheds some light on the little-known Kid Kong. So, go pick it up; it’s truly the eighth wonder of the unmade movie world.

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Weekly news update: Independent kaiju film extravaganza!

Actually on time for a news post for once, but there’s much to discuss! The main thing of interest this week is Gemstone’s amateur Godzilla video contest. With a 3 million yen prize and Shinji Higuchi himself as a judge, it’s no surprise that over 1000 people submitted their work, and some highlights are up on YouTube now… honestly it’s a bit daunting just to scroll through them all. Here are a few that caught my eye:

  • Gifu Godzilla looks like a movie I would watch.

  • Of course, with this many entries, there’s another Gifu-based one, too!

  • Lego Batman, eat your heart out, because Legodzilla is fantastic.

  • G vs. G is a solid bout between Godzilla and a lotta Gigans.

  • Blue Eyes reminds me of the unmade American movie, and the CGI work is lovely.

  • Remember Hironobu Nakashima’s Lequio vs. G fan film from February? It got taken down, but it’s back here!

  • The GekiGodzi puppets look like they’re in good shape after 15 years in Go-Go-Godzilla-kun.

  • Godzilla -demolition- is stylish as heck:

  • Record of the Arakamuna is quite atmospheric. Only a brief monster shot, but otherwise this could be like a legit modern Ultra Q episode.

  • This feels sort of like South Park.

Of course, there are fan projects on the Western front, too. Our pal Raf Enshohma is part of a new MST3K fan project, tackling a Gamera flick that the real show passed over:

And, some middle-school humor aside, one has to be impressed with this fan film about the island of unmade Godzilla projects.

On top of the fan films, though, independent kaiju cinema is booming:

  • Yoshikazu Ishii has a new project titled Attack of the Giant Teacher.

  • I was not anticipating a sequel to Giantess Attack, but Jeff Leroy surprises us all with Giantess Attack vs Mecha-Fembot.

  • The Great Buddha Arrival is getting an expanded cut with Akira Kubo in it.
  • The Asylum has a new movie in the works, now titled Monster Island… I’d complain about its ambiguity, but hey, it’s The Asylum.

Other news:

  • Minor King of the Monsters spoilers: a number of new kaiju names get dropped in this article and this one. They’re mostly named after stuff in middle Eastern mythology, with a single odd Australian one. Also, one of the names makes me envision a kaiju that just makes pro-Brexit YouTube videos.

  • Thunderbolt Fantasy has a new direct-to-video project (I think it’s a prequel?) in the works, presumably leading into season 3.

  • Polygon Pictures is adapting No Longer Human as Human Lost. Ten bucks says it shows up on Netflix someday.

  • Speaking of which, their trailer for Levius feels like someone saw Megalobox and went to the manga aisle looking for something similar to adapt.

  • The new One Punch Man promo looks exactly how one would expect when you hear that they replaced all the creative staff, yet people are still surprised…

  • Another peak at the new Humanoid Monster Bem looks snazzy as heck.

  • A trailer is also out for the Sorcerer Stabber Orphen remake. I’ve got mixed feelings about this one, but I guess the original wasn’t *perfect*…. (now, if there’s a Slayers remake, you’ll get a fight.)

  • The upcoming anime Machikado Mazoku seems like a fun premise, with the main character being a struggling demon who has to defeat a magical girl. Plus, it’s from the director of Cromartie High School, so even though it’s based on a four-panel manga, it might still feel coherent.

  • The upcoming ninja anime BlackFox is getting a tokusatsu prequel from Koichi Sakamoto. I have to admit, that’s an effective way of garnering my interest, if nobody else’s.

  • Good Smile confirmed their upcoming SSSS.Gridman kaiju sofubi again. Hopefully they’re not too pricey, ’cause I’m getting them all.

  • Speaking of Gridman merch, some of this stuff makes me seriously wonder if the folks making these products watched the same show….

  • Audio is actually being recorded on the fourth Evangelion rebuild movie. But, give it time, it could still out-delay Alita: Battle Angel if it tries hard enough.
  • This trailer for The Island of Giant Insects looks like they’re keeping it just as off-putting as the source material.

Finally, lots of season 2’s have been announced, and it’s pretty good news all around!

Also the website is up for Symphogear XV! That’s… the fifth season, not the fifteenth. It starts in July.

Wow, that’s a lot for just one week! Next week sees the start of the fiscal new year, so who knows what all that one may bring?

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Mid-March news recap

Apologies for the laziness in news recaps, lately. By the time I get around to posting, people have already said that Hideaki Anno is making an Ultraman, then that he’s not, then that he is, and then that he’s not again, but hey, maybe this can cut down on the rumor roller coaster. Rather than trying to sift through everything, I think this time I’ll just post a bunch of stuff that’s either very exciting, or that not enough people seem to be talking about.

  • Apparently there are alternate covers for Godzilla: Aftershock, one by Christopher Shy and one by Art Adams. That seems like an odd (somewhat confusing) move for a full graphic novel, so caveat emptor.

  • Nobody’s really been talking much about it, but I did notice that Emanga has a bunch of their previously Kickstater-exclusive Osamu Tezuka books up on digital with a physical release coming soon. So, Space Giants fans, take note

  • Garo: Moonbow Traveler has been pushed back to fall. I think this is the longest period between a series and its spin-off movie in the whole franchise.

  • The guy who leaked the information that Jetman was getting a DVD release from Shout Factory is teasing something that looks a heck of a lot like Fiveman. It’s a logical choice for Shout to alternate between pre- and post- Zyuranger series, especially since Hasbro is currently adapting GoBusters, to keep from getting too close to the current era too quickly. (On the other hand, Dekaranger is now tantalizingly close…)

  • David Productions is doing a new adaptation of Spriggan for Netflix, continuing a trend of completely unexpected retro manga adaptations. Maybe this will motivate Viz to finally release the rest of the series, like they eventually did with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure?

  • A trailer for the upcoming postmodern superhero flick Farewell Great Warrior Together V, which deals with the aftermath of the conclusion of a Showa-style henshin hero series:

  • A trailer for Rise – Dharuriser the Movie, a local hero which is going into wide release in Japan soon.

  • Psycho Pass is getting a third season in October. Neither of the main characters appear to have appeared in the series before, so I’m bracing for backlash.

  • Arrow is releasing In the Aftermath, a New World Pictures bastardized recut of Angel’s Egg, on Blu ray. For those playing along at home, that’s two different western releases of In the Aftermath on BD, while its source material languishes on a long out-of-print DVD release. Seriously, why? Society’s basically eradicated Godzilla 1985, Tidal Wave, and Warriors of the Wind from the cinematic landscape, yet In the Aftermath just keeps on trucking….
  • A new trailer for Sadako, whose title will never not bother me.

  • This trailer for When You Wish Upon a Star leaves the monster stuff to the very end, but it looks like the monster suit showed up at Yubari.

  • Drifting Dragons, the manga about cooking dragon meat, is getting an anime from Polygon Pictures. I’m not really a fan of the manga, but hey, more giant monster stuff.

  • The music video for Union will give some additional context for SSSS.Gridman. The full thing is out on March 20, but the making of is already up.

I think that’s a wrap for the time being. Hopefully it won’t be another month before doing this again!

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Hero’s Comics on your screen

By now, everyone is aware of the upcoming Ultraman anime series hitting Netflix at the start of next month. The show is based on Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi’s manga, also simply titled Ultraman (available in the US from Viz), following the adventures of Shin Hayata’s teenage son as he wears power armor and battles human-sized aliens that all resemble Showa-era Ultra characters. It’s an extremely different take, but bear in mind that this is the manga duo that gave us the Kamen Rider doujinshi Hybrid Insector, after all.

I’m a little trepidatious of what’s in that trailer. Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamiyama have certainly turned over some fine-looking CG anime in the past, but this doesn’t quite appear like it’s living up to the manga. But I’ll watch it, partially because I want to support the greater Ultraman franchise, but also out of brand loyalty to the manga’s source, Monthly Comic Magazine Hero’s (or, in Japanese: 月刊ヒーローズ, Gekkan Hero’s). This Ultraman series has been a mainstay of my favorite comic anthology since the very first issue in 2011:

It doesn’t take much to understand why Hero’s is so cool: it’s 100% dedicated to superheroes, monsters, mecha, and the similar purview that this very blog chooses to focus on. It’s certainly not the only title out there to meet such criteria, but it does have a diverse balance of titles and talent that have kept it around, with higher page counts and in a bigger circulation, than the likes of Tokusatsu Ace, and it probably filled a market sore from the cancellation of the seminal Magazine Z two years earlier. Also helping its case is that it’s sold at 7-11 rather than the niche bookstores of some of the other publications; heck, the fact that it’s a 7-11 exclusive is by itself enough to make that convenience store chain my favorite over Lawson or Family Mart (in fairness, I don’t eat the food there).

As a result, I find myself hoping that eventually the magazine will find that major breakthrough hit to put it on the international radar. Unfortunately, in the states at least, anime talks; rarely does a manga get licensed if its anime adaptation was a flop, and the adaptations of Hero’s titles have a sort of spotty track record, to put it mildly. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The most obvious point of comparison for Ultraman is Linebarrels of Iron, since it’s also from the creative duo of Shimizu and Shimoguchi. Linebarrels didn’t actually run in Hero’s (it was a Champion Red title for its 2004-2015, 25-volume run), but the series has been transferred over to the Hero’s imprint for later re-releases. While the super robot manga is fairly well-liked in the mecha community, it’s never been released in English, likely because the 2008 anime TV series is pretty widely reviled. Personally, I rather like it, but the most common criticisms are the CGI robots (par for the course, sadly), character designs by Hisashi Hirai (which probably triggered some Gundam Seed Destiny flashbacks), a discordant theme song by Ali Project (which is admittedly not for everyone), and an initially unlikable protagonist (which is what story arcs are there for, after all). Still, for a Gonzo show one could do a lot worse.

Linebarrels isn’t the brand’s only legacy title, though. They also picked up Toru Fujisawa’s cops-against-monsters horror manga Tokko (which ran in Monthly Afternoon and is available in the US from Tokyopop) for a prequel titled Tokko: Episode Zero, which somehow wound up with a longer run than the original did. American fans would likely know Tokko from its 2006 anime adaptation, which ran on Chiller and had constant advertisement in Rue Morgue magazines for like a year. The anime is a serviceable (if perhaps a bit too colorful) adaptation of the source material, but it’s probably not the best sign that the first thing I remember about it is cringing at its English dub.

On that subject, a funny thing is that Fujisawa actually had multiple concurrent manga running in Hero’s, since he was also doing Soul ReViver at the same time. The ghost detective manga looked like it had a promising life ahead of it, with Last Samurai/Shakespeare in Love producer Ed Zwick announcing a Hollywood adaptation back in 2014, but…so far the most it’s gotten is still a nine-minute Japanese live-action promo film. Compared to the numerous other Fujisawa properties that have gotten full TV dramas (Great Teacher Onizuka, Kamen Teacher, Shonan Junai Gumi), that’s a bit underwhelming.

Of course, Tokko isn’t the only known brand that the magazine banks on; it’s full of established characters that have been re-imagined for their new serials. In addition to Ultraman, there are two other Tsuburaya titles, Booska + (by Kyoko Tokutake and Tomoko Kanemaki, in which the titular friendly monster becomes a human transformer) and Meitei! Kaiju Sakaba (a web comic in the Hero’s imprint about the bar run by Ultraman villains) by Uhei Aoki. In a world where the US is somehow getting both manga Ultraman and The Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project, one has to wonder just how much of a longshot the Kaiju Sakaba manga could be…

On the Toei side, there’s a manga adaptation of Kamen Rider Kuuga (also including the Agito parts) written by franchise veteran Toshiki Inoue (with art by Hitotsu Yokoshima), along with the postmodern do-it-yourself superhero Tojima Tanzaburo Wants to be a Masked Rider from Air Master‘s Yokusaru Shibata. While there’s not much need to ever re-adapt Kuuga to another medium, I’d be all about watching a show with Tojima.

There are others as well. Yoko Kimitoshi’s World Heroes is based on the old SNK video game series, sure to delight old-school Neo Geo fans.  Takashi Morita’s Adventurier is an adaptation of the French phantom thief character Arsene Lupin, who might have inspired a certain other manga character or two. Heck, their serialization of the horror manga Ushiro, based on the unreleased 2008 Level 5 PSP game,  may have even helped getting it finally announced for the Switch.

…and frankly, considering how popular Gurren Lagann is in the US, I cannot fathom why nobody is yet distributing Kazuki Nakashima’s Gurren Lagann “Otoko series” manga, an alternate take featuring the characters as baseball players in high school, based on a series of drama CDs. There’s a surprising amount of merchandise out there for this alternate take on the franchise, and at almost every anime convention I go to I still stumble across something from it.

The most popular alternate takes on existing franchises, though, such as this Ultraman manga, also inspire adaptations of their own, as a few of Hero’s greatest hits demonstrate. Going to the very roots of manga and anime as a medium, we have Atom the Beginning, which is a prequel to Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy by Tetsuro Kasahara with input from Masaami Yuki (Patlabor, Birdy the Mighty) and Osamu’s son Macoto Tezka. The series deals with not-yet-doctors Tenma and Ochanomizu’s university days, working together in a robotics lab on their new project A-10-6 (which, in Japanese, one could pronounce “A-to-m”. Get it?), complete with tension and yaoi-baiting bromance.

While Atom the Beginning‘s  2017 anime adaptation has a decent pedigree behind it (Psycho Pass‘s Katsuyuki Motohiro, Nadesico‘s Tatsuo Sato), it was a bit on the slow, slice-of-life side for mecha fans (especially with an action-packed opening credits sequence teasing a robot fighting tournament that it took too long to get to), and readers of the manga were annoyed by some of the changes (for example, Ochanomizu’s younger sister Ran never speaks in the manga, but she was given dialogue for the anime version). There’s promise of better things beyond the show’s first season, but it took too long to pick up steam and probably won’t ever get more episodes to do anything with it. In the West in particular, it was hindered by a distribution via Amazon Prime, slipping under the radar of the rare anime otaku that it could have appealed to.

Of course, considering that this retrospective was kicked off by discussion of the Ultraman anime, it might be good to look at another adaptation where a classic super-team is reimagined with intricate mechanical armor: Infini-T Force. This manga by Ukyo Kodachi and Tatsuma Ejiri (available in English from Udon) sees a girl with ill-defined reality-bending powers summoning four classic 1970s Tatsunoko heroes to modern Tokyo: Gatchaman, Polymar, Casshern, and Tekkaman. The manga manages a nice mix of charm and action, but the anime version, which followed two years later, is awash with ugly CGI animation, and worse, it re-imagines the premise in a dour, joyless way. The upbeat protagonist of the manga makes sense when she’s summoning heroes with a comically-oversized magic pencil, and her genki “can do” attitude make her tragic backstory and struggles to overcome more sympathetic and poignant. Meanwhile, the anime’s heroine is constantly miserable, which results in a series that’s simply not as compelling to watch, which is a shame, given that it’s a crossover with four beloved franchises in the mix. (There was also a movie with Joe the Condor, but by that point I’d tuned out.)

For American fans, though, the most iconic armored-&-CG re-imagined version of a classic superhero is definitely going to be Ninja Batman (or, as the US release is named, likely for no reason other than alphabetization on store shelves, Batman Ninja). This was an American-initiated multimedia project, including the manga version by Masato Hisa (Nobunagun), with a movie produced in Japan by Junpei Mizusaki and character designs from Afro Samurai‘s Takashi Okazaki, transposing Batman characters back into feudal Japan. The manga is decent, from what I’ve read, ironing out a few of the kinks in the rather insane film version…I haven’t gotten far enough to see if there’s still a super robot battle or a giant Batman made out of bats. Unfortunately, the US release of the movie was quite a problem, since the English dub was essentially made up of guess work rather than an actual translation of the script, which probably doesn’t help matters.

Getting back to Linebarrels, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of Hero’s earliest hits, and the first title to really get an adaptation (as well as the first project for the newly-formed Toho Animation), was also a mecha series, but it’s funny that it also wound up being one with Hisashi Hirai character designs. Majestic Prince debuted in 2013 during a competitive season for big robot shows (up against Valvrave the Liberator from Sunrise and Gargantia on the Verderous Planet from Production IG) and did alright for itself, even scoring a new episode and a theatrical sequel in 2016. The anime’s got decent action and a strong cast (including several Super Sentai alumni), but there’s one problem: it doesn’t bear all that strong a resemblance to the original manga by Rando Ayamine (Getbackers) and Hikaru Arashima. The manga focuses more on pilot school antics while the anime leaps headlong into space warfare, and the characters are so different that the cast of the manga actually gets a brief cameo in the anime and vice versa! Thus, even if the anime were a lot more popular than it already is, interest in the manga may not have been raised along with it.

On the other end of the spectrum, the 2018 adaptation of Shinya Murata and Kazuasa Sumita’s Killing Bites is pitch perfect… it’s just the material in general that’s polarizing. If you know Murata’s Arachnid or Sumita’s Witchblade manga, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect: stupid, schlocky, hyperviolent, ubersexualized monster girls, and as such it’s a fine match for Liden Films (Terra Formars: The Revenge, Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka). If the idea of scantily-clad animal people brutalizing each other using ludicrous martial arts based on half-understood zoological trivia as part of a tournament with inscrutable rules sounds appealing to you, you’ll probably get a kick out of Killing Bites, and you’ll also form a lifelong respect and fear of honey badgers and pangolins. Otherwise, well, it’s not for everyone.

Another tentpole of the Hero’s lineup from day one has been Kazuhiko Shimamoto’s Hero Company. It’s a comedy about clock-punching corporate superheroes, centering around a desert-themed five-man sentai. Shimamoto’s  style of manic, hot-blooded spoof seems to have been on the popularity upswing lately, but evidently not enough to justify a proper anime series for Hero Company just yet. It did manage to get a half-hour OVA that was packaged with the manga’s eighth volume in 2015, which, needless to say, has yet to be released in the US or even fansubbed.

As a tie-in for Hero Company, Shimamoto also designed costumes for Yuichi Fukuda’s all-girl sentai spoof movie Jossy’s, which takes place in the same universe, so Hero’s naturally ran a short Jossy’s manga by Shimamoto as well when the film came out. While the movie isn’t the best collaboration between Fukuda and Shimamoto (that would be Blue Blazes), Jossy’s is pretty amusing, arguably on par with The Hero Yoshihiko, so hopefully it gets some sort of US distribution eventually.

Speaking of all-girl casts, another Hero’s manga was the AKB48 collaboration Sailor Zombie. It was another mixed-media project, with the manga, arcade game, and live-action TV series all developed in tandem, with the TV series being helmed by Isshin Inudo (who co-directed The Floating Castle with Shinji Higuchi). I’ve only seen the first couple of episodes, so no idea if it has the werewolves and other monsters from the game, but what was presented was pretty solid, dealing with a group of teenagers holding out at a school a few months after the zombie apocalypse. The hook: music can make the zombies dance! You won’t see that on The Walking Dead.

Finally, the last Hero’s title to get an adaptation, which was, like Ultraman, a Netflix original: Sword Gai. I’m a die-hard Keita Amemiya fan, so a comic with his character designs was a shoe-in for my favorite in the lineup, and while Toshiki Inoue gets some crap from tokusatsu fans, he’s done a lot of amazing scripts. Inoue handled writing both the manga and the 2018 anime adaptation and….well, frankly, it was one of the worst-received anime shows in quite a while. It’s strange, because it chose not to simply follow the manga, but instead jumbled events around to the point of near incoherence, introducing way too many characters only to seemingly forget them for long stretches; I don’t know if Inoue just got bored with his own material or what, but then again his Jetman novels have a bit of the same problem. It’s a darn shame, since Inoue has done plenty of successful anime adaptations before (e.g. Death Note), and I was hoping that this could have paved the way for the manga getting a US release rather than poisoning that well.

At least it did wind up looking a lot better than the original Sword Gai promo animation from 2013, which was all CGI…which brings us back to some of my issues with Ultraman again.

Speaking of that Sword Gai trailer, I do appreciate how many short promotional pieces the magazine does seem to be willing to try out, even if they’re not all great. The most fun is probably the tokusatsu ad for the giantess manga Onideka, but there were also some neat ones for the school superhero comic Hero Mask (no relation to the eponymous series on Netflix) and the mecha series Buddy Spirits… maybe they’ll have longer adaptations some day as well.

For English-speakers looking to check out their manga catalog, Hero’s does have an English web page with descriptions and some (crudely-translated) sample chapters for free browsing, likely to drum up interest from overseas licencors. However, as of 2019, they’re starting something else cool on the Japanese end: free chapters posted daily, with several web-exclusives not part of the magazine (including Ultraman Anthology). Plus, they do charity for real-world earthquake victims, since that’s what heroics are all about, so you can feel good about giving the imprint your support.

Hopefully the magazine can continue to thrive, with print being down across the board, and the price tag on the anthology, until recently a boldly-advertised “200 yen”, now sheepishly says “350 yen” in the smallest font possible. That’s exactly why these multimedia collaborations are important, and I hope Hero’s can get a major hit to gain some international exposure as well. I’d gleefully purchase the book every month, if it were to get distribution like Shonen Jump‘s had stateside, but until then, I’ll support the related media, even when it’s in the form of some dodgy anime. Fingers crossed Ultraman could be a winner, but even if it’s not, I’ll give it a solid chance. Maybe more manga of the manga that inspire these shows could get licensed…or perhaps there could even be a great Booska+ anime next, who knows?

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Maser Patrol podcast episode 41: Alita – Battle Angel

In this episode, Kevin, Benji, and Josh sit down for a spoiler-laden review of the long, long, long-awaited new Hollywood quasi-hit Alita: Battle Angel! We jump right into comparisons between the movie, OVA, and original manga, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend that you do that first…unless all you want from the podcast are passive-aggressive comments about Ghost in the Shell and the works of Mitsuru Adachi; in that case you’re golden. So, was the film able to please three grumpy old-school anime nerds? Listen to find out!

(Spoilers: The answer is yes. Go see the movie.)

Direct download

As mentioned:

  • First trailer for the movie in question:

  • I forgot to mention how ace the music is in the OVA:

  • Yukito Kishiro’s poster:

  • The cast meets Kizuna Ai:

  • Giving away actual cyborg arms seems like a pretty cool way to promote a film.

…and of course:

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Mid-February news recap

It’s been a busy few weeks for me, between work, conventions, and preparing to watch Alita: Battle Angel. Speaking of which, have you seen Yukito Kishiro’s new poster for it?

The movie’s pretty decent, too, but we’ll probably do a podcast to ramble about that at some point in the near future. Anyway, on to some of the Japanese genre fiction happenings in the interim:

  • Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel has started putting up dubbed episodes of Ultra Fight Victory. It’s a small step, but one in the right direction.

  • Ultraman R/B the Movie seems to be downplaying the crossover aspect that most Ultraman movies have been keen on a bit. Geed is in this trailer, for sure, but he’s not all over it.

  • This trailer for Super Boy Detectives Club Neo Beginning looks like a fine modernization of the Rampo Edogawa classic.

  • Sumire Sukeban Chainsaw totally looks like the sort of thing that Tokyo Shock would have put out ten years ago.

  • This May will see a new installment in the Ring movie series, directed by the great Hideo Nakata. It’s based on the novel Tide, and titled Sadako, which is a bit aggravating when you remember that the previous novel (S) was also adapted as a movie titled Sadako.

  • I’m hoping Ryusoulger will be good, but the trailer just sort of feels like Super Sentai on autopilot to me. We’ll see next month.

  • This teaser for Kamen Rider Build‘s V-Cinema spinoff Kamen Rider Grease gives us the absolute minimum content possible.

  • The latest remake of Yokai Ningen Bem (for the franchise’s 50th anniversary) looks pretty jazzy.

  • For its 20th anniversary, the comic series Giant Killer (which is sort of a kaiju version of Hellboy) is getting a deluxe hardcover edition. I’ve already bought this series three times, so what’s another going to hurt, right?
  • There’s going to be a Mazinger Z vs Transformers crossover anthology manga released next month. Transformers have already met Ghostbusters and Star Trek within the past year, so this isn’t all that surprising.

  • Viz picked up Junji Ito’s adaptation of No Longer Human. After Frankenstein, it makes sense.

Lastly, there was both Wonder Festival and Toy Fair.

  • On the SSSS.Gridman front, we got a Ghoulghilas, a few more Akanes, and like… five Rikkas. Meanwhile, I don’t think there’s been a single figure of Yuta, so they know what their fans are in it for.

  • Slayers‘ Naga is getting a Nendoroid. I can sort of understand why they went with her rather than Gourry, but hopefully they get to the real series cast eventually.

  • The shadowy monster from the Space Invaders cabinet art wasn’t something I’d expect to get a super-articulated figure, but here we are.

  • The Movie Monsters Series is doing Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as is Neca. Jakks also has some stuff, but I think the other lines will cover just about everything that they will.

  • Also, bag clips with a single human character:

  • Super 7 is doing a lot with the MUSCLE line, only without Kinnikuman. Instead they have Robotech and Transformers (for peak Americanization), Mega Man, AliensToxic Avenger, and even Universal Monsters under the more generic “keshi” title.

I think that’s a wrap, but as always, please leave a comment if something got overlooked. Until next time!

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Kaiju Transmissions podcast: Bye Bye Jupiter and Gunhed

Another guest spot on Kaiju Transmissions! This time I try to defend two very unpopular 1980s Koichi Kawakita special effects films from Toho, so it could be controversial!

Direct download

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Split-second news recap

There really wasn’t much to cross the feed this week, but here’s a rundown:

  • A new trailer for Promare looks about as Studio Trigger as it gets:

  • I guess those who backed The Great Buddha Arrival are getting their discs soon. I admit to having passed on it during crowdfunding, but am still keen to see it eventually.
  • A Detective Pikachu sequel is already in the works. That probably means good things for the first one, but time will tell.
  • A Resident Evil TV series is in development for Netflix. My money is on CGI-animated like the direct-to-video flicks, but they may surprise us.
  • A toy of Godzilla based on the original storyboards is getting sold at Wonder Festival. That’s an awesome concept, so hopefully someone can run with it for a wider release!

…and that’s all I wrote. Told you this was a short one!

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Slow news week recap

Between the Gridman podcast recording and the guest spot on Kaijucast, I didn’t have much time last weekend to do a news recap, but there also wasn’t a whole lot to go over. So, instead, this weekend is another two-fer. Welcome to any newcomers finding the blog after that Kaijucast episode, by the way!

  • A new kaiju comedy VR experience is coming to Sundance: Kaiju Confidential. It looks neat, though I imagine many fans don’t have a headset to experience it on.

  • Somehow I completely missed it until now, but Shingo Honda’s grim kaiju survival manga Hakaijuu actually has been getting a US release on the Kindle store, under the title Creature!

  • Seven Seas will be releasing the Evangelion Anima novels in English. This is fantastic news, especially since the fan translation efforts were shut down. Really, I’m surprised it’s taken as long as it has; we’ve all been waiting with eager anticipation. (Now for Ultraman Another Genesis…)

  • Blast’s Kickstarter for their new project Blader has a week to go. It looks great, so everyone make a pledge!

  • A new teaser for Psycho-Pass: Sinners of the System:

  • Speaking of Urobuchi stuff, Kamen Rider Gaim‘s Zangetsu is getting his own stage play. This poster looks pretty moody (for a melon-themed superhero), so I’ll assume it isn’t about the characters playing soccer.

  • In other Rider news, Kamen Rider Zi-O is getting a web spinoff in March called Rider Time Shinobi, about Shinobi, obviously. Between this and Kaiju District Gyaras, Toei really is going full force into this streaming service thing.

  • Also on the web will be a four-episode series as a prequel to the live-action School Live film. Given the nature of School Live, this seems unnecessary, but it does seem like more and more Japanese movies have the compulsion to do these sorts of tie-ins nowadays.
  • Also a web original: an upcoming anime based on Kagoshima’s local heroes, Kiirender.

That’s a wrap for now; as always, if there’s something I missed, please leave a comment!

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