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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.