Two-week news recap and initial Planet of the Monsters thoughts

Another two-week recap this time. Before we get to that, though, Amanda did go see Planet of the Monsters, so I’ll paraphrase a few of her thoughts:

The movie takes about 3/4 of its running time to really get going, with lots of planning, exposition, and technobabble before that, so so Shin Godzilla haters are probably going to have the same problems they did before. None of the characters are particularly standouts: the driven and vengeful hothead (Eren Jager), token sempai-worshiping female with a perky attitude and perkier ass, gruff military commander, science guy, etc. If this had been a TV series as originally intended, perhaps they would have been fleshed out better. Being an Urobuchi work, there is a almost pornographic fixation on society’s woes, and a lot of time is spent showing how awful life is for the survivors on the spaceship.

Facial animation has improved since Knights of Sidonia, but it’s still awkward, especially when characters walk. The battle with the Servum is so-so, but when Godzilla finally appears the action and and animation really picks up. The ending is a little abrupt, but after a major twist and teasing of story elements to come, it does leave you wanting more, and there is a post-credits scene. The score could have used the traditional Ifukube themes.

The theater was packed, and lottery items were already sold out even on opening day. Of course, the rest of us have to wait for Netflix, but that may be for the best, since subtitles will really help with a lot of the dense dialogue.

As you’ve likely seen, we now know that the next movie Godzilla 決戦機動増殖都市 (Kessen Kidou Zoushoku Toushi; let’s call it “Battle Mobile Propagating City” until we get an official English title) is due out in May. They’re not hiding the Mechagodzilla element of it:

Now, onto other happenings in the world of Japanese-ish genre fiction!

  • A trailer is out for the Rampage movie. It looks like it’s taking a page from the Transformers playbook, emphasizing the human action characters, and it doesn’t look like any monsters will into humans after being defeated. They do feel a little too much like oversized animals, rather than pure monsters, for my tastes, but we’ll see.

  • Viz has licensed Mazinger Z: Infinity. It’s a little outside of their typical wheelhouse for anime lately, but it’s cool that someone picked it up.

  • Also, Senkosha is celebrating Iron King‘s 45th anniversary with some unexpected merch. It’s for their annual TV concert (this year on the November 25th), and Light Speed Esper is also represented.

  • HIDIVE is streaming Space Runaway Ideon. It’s far overdue for a US release, but hopefully it comes to physical media as well.

  • Apparently the upcoming Video Girl Ai TV drama will be a sequel starring the nephew of the protagonist from the original (very Tenchi Muyo GXP of them). This is a wise move, considering the logistics of an all-out remake. All the more reason to revisit the original, to boot!

  • Speaking of Tenchi Muyo, the light novels that flesh out that universe have been licensed by Seven Seas! They also got the original Space Battleship Yamato manga (most likely not a coincidence with 2199 finally streaming), further solidifying their reign as the company most friendly to old-timer otaku. They also picked up a manga called Dragon Goes House-Hunting, which is a bonkers concept.

Alright, that’s a wrap for now (not a lot to discuss, which is why there was no post last weekend), but as always, please leave a comment if we missed something!

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Weekend news recap: Godzilla’s birthday edition

Halloween sort of ate up the last weekend, but that just means a kaiju-sized recap for today’s holiday: Godzilla’s birthday.

Yes, today is also the day that Blade of the Immortal (Takashi Miike’s 100th picture) hits US theaters, but screenings are so sporadic that we’re going to wait for it to hit VOD next week instead.

Anyway, onto news of the week! In honor of the big G, we shall begin with Godzilla news, and there are some doozies!

  • First of all, Criterion has acquired not only the Classic Media Toho archive, but Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla vs. Megalon from Media Blasters as well, and Son of Godzilla and Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla! Speculation is rampant that they’re planning a special box set, and it’s hard to dispel. They’re currently streaming through Starz, and folks have already noticed that this is the rare Toho dub of War of the Gargantuas… complete with all of the Frankenstein references cut by AIP!

  • In an interview with Mick Garris recently, Mike Dougherty teased more monsters that he had to design for the new movie. Well, that’s intriguing.


  • Shinji Nishikawa and Yuji Kaida have new art for Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters. Some of those Servum sure look like Ohm from Nausicaa.

  • Godzilla is also collaborating with Sengoku no Tora Z and Grand Summoners mobile games. I’ve already completely lost track of how many of these types of crossovers have happened, so hopefully someone’s taking notes!

  • Oh, and the new Planet of the Monsters trailer.

  • At long last, the Kaiju Gaiden trailer is up online! This is a slight improvement over the version shown at G-Fest, to boot!

  • Shimizu and Shimoguchi’s Ultraman manga has an “important announcement” next month. Fingers crossed for a TV series!
  • Matt Frank’s Redman comic (or manga? this is blurring some lines!) will be published in Japan by Phase 6, who also bring Godzilla: Rulers of Earth out there. Honestly, this may be the best thing to ever happen to Redman.

  • At 400 mm tall (stand excluded), this Ryujin Garo is going to be hard to fit on a shelf! The $200 price tag makes it a little tough, too, but not out of bounds for the series.

  • At last, a Killing Bites trailer!

  • Princess Resurrection is getting a new manga series. With the original finally all out in the US via Kindle, here’s hoping the sequel gets brought over too!
  • A trailer for the new Thunderbolt Fantasy:Path of Life or Death side-story movie:

  • J Novel Club licensed the Ao Oni novel. I continue to be amazed at the success of that franchise.

  • Junji Ito is doing a manga adaptation of Osamu Dazai’s novel No Longer Human.

  • Crow’s Blood is available on El Rey on demand now.

  • Video Girl Ai (which is pretty much The Ring as a rom com) is getting a new live-action TV series. This isn’t the first live-action version, since it was a movie previously, but enough time (and change in technology) has occurred that I’m wondering how this will work…maybe one of those 80s throwbacks that are so popular in the US?
    Also from Masakazu Katsura is I”s, likewise getting a live-action TV adaptation. That one isn’t SF/horror/fantasy, but it is my all-time favorite manga, so I’m keen to see how they inevitably ruin it.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes has a live-action trilogy in the works. Seems like a hard sell.
  • Funimation licensed Space Battleship Yamato 2199. For such a high-profile show, it’s been a pain to see legally until now, so it’s great to see it up streaming.

The latest trailer for the new Blazing Transfer Student Netflix show makes it look a lot better than the previous one did:

Whew! I *think* that’s a wrap. Enjoy what remains of Godzilla’s birthday… but for us, Godzilla day is every day, after all.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Weekly news recap: Heroes and Robots!

A smattering of henshin hero items, and a couple giant robot things to cover this week:

  • Kraken is moving along with Garo releases, with the Kiba movie coming out February 20. That’s straying a bit from production order, but makes sense to watch right after the first season… actually, even the cover art is a spoiler for the first season.

  • Shout Factory is doing a Megaranger marathon on October 28…a first for Shout, this is before the release of the DVD!

  • The Netflix version of Tiger & Bunny is a little different from the one Viz put out: like the US release of Code Geass, all the product placement has been removed. It feels weirdly lacking without it.

  • I usually hold Power Rangers in a high degree of contempt, but with the upcoming RPG Power Rangers Hyperforce not leaning on an existing Sentai to prop it up, it might not be such an adulteration.

  • Ultraman Geed star Tatsuomi Hamada and director Koichi Sakamoto will be doing a live-action version of Mob Psycho 100 on Netflix in January. Geed has been really good, so as long as the special effects on Mob hold up, this could be something special.
  • Another Pacific Rim comic has been announced to tie in with the new movie: Pacific Rim Aftermath. It starts in January and has writer Cavan Scott (Doctor Who comics) and artist Rich Elson (Sonic the Comic).

Huh, I suppose we need something spooky this close to Halloween, huh? Well, uh…. oh! Tsuburaya’s 1982 TV horror movie Pretty Devil, from director fave Nobuhiko Obayashi, is finally getting a DVD release in Japan this February, so you can trade in your VHS tapes, I guess.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Quick news recap

Not a lot to discuss this weekend. As a reminder, the Tokyo Ghoul movie hits US theaters next week. Amanda saw it and, as a fan of the source material, gives it an endorsement, so the rest of us are stoked to check it out.

Onto the relatively few happenings of the week:

  • Shout Factory’s release of Gingaman is up for preorder, with a release date of January 30. Their 7th Super Sentai release makes it a quarter of the way towards getting caught up!

Alright, I think that’s it for this week; told you it was a quick one. At least this leaves plenty of time for Voltron! Seeya next time!

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Weekly news recap: Apocalypse uncancelled

The big buzz lately is, of course, the Pacific Rim Uprising trailer that played at NYCC this weekend. I’ve seen lots of people posting various re-uploads (with ugly watermarks), but it makes sense to go straight to Legendary for the video:

It is certainly a lot brighter (less contrasty) than the prior film, and doesn’t quite capture the same aesthetic, but it’s got some interesting design work going on.
Anyway, there was plenty of tie-in stuff at NYCC, including a batch of figures that are now up on Big Bad Toystore, and at least one prototype still waiting for approval.

On top of that, there was also a prequel novel announced, the redundantly-titled Pacific Rim Uprising: Ascension, bridging the decade between the two settings. It comes out February 27, so we should have a whole month to finish it before the movie comes out.

That was only one of the prequel novels to upcoming kaiju flicks announced this week, though, the other being a prequel to Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters. Godzilla: Monster Apocalypse is written by Renji Ohki (who also wrote the Expelled from Paradise novelization), tells the story of humanity getting trashed and abandoning the earth, and hits on October 25.

Keeping on kaiju news for a little bit, BraveStorm has a new poster. It’s weird that fandom hasn’t been making a bigger deal about this movie.

A making-of thing got posted online, too:

The Blu Ray release for Digimon Tamers includes a brand new audio drama. Normally, I’d say that a supplement like that has no chance at ever getting translated, but seeing as the Digimon Tamers 1984 short story did, the popularity of the show might just push it.

Oh, and there’s a Biollante figure coming to the Bandai Movie Monsters series. Always nice to fill in the gaps there!

Moving on to superhero stuff, Kamen Rider Heisei Generations Final is bringing back some of the stars from earlier in the decade, and we’re pretty stoked. It’s not entirely clear how some of them will be restored to their default forms after their respective finales, but hey, worst comes to worst they just show up.

ANN has an interview about the upcoming OVA Batman Ninja, or, as the Japanese title calls it, Ninja Batman.

According to Tatunoko’s Twitter account, only Ken is named Gatchaman, the rest of the team isn’t. That reeks of revisionist history to me, trying to justify not putting the other science ninja team members into Infini T Force.

Finally, Garo: Vanishing Line has been picked up by Crunchyroll, and it’ll be getting a simul-dub from Funimation as well (no surprise there). In other streaming news, Ultraman Neos and Ultraseven X just got added to Verizon’s go90 streaming service… which makes it that much weirder that they’re still not on Crunchyroll yet.

That’s a wrap for this week, later!

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Weekly news recap for 9/30

Consider this your reminder that Ultraseven’s fiftieth anniversary is on Monday, so put on your best gray jumpsuit. In the meantime, let’s look over the recent goings-on in tokusatsu/anime/etc. It’s been a fairly quiet week, but let’s start with kaiju stuff:

  • There’s been a bunch of hullabaloo lately about the Godzilla Store location opening in a month. While it’s true that this is nominally the first permanent store that exclusively sells Godzilla merch, that’s not taking into account that this is in the Toho building in Shinjuku, where the hotel gift shop already pretty much just specialized in the same knickknacks. I’m sure this will be expanded and still worth checking out (like, say, the Ultraman shop and Evangelion store are), but there are many Mandarake outlets where one could take a deeper dive.

  • Oh hey, Haikasoru has a Humble Bundle this week. If you haven’t picked up MM9 yet, do so.

Hero news:

  • Viz picked up the rights to Infini-T Force. Glad we all won’t have to have Anime Strike for it.

  • One Punch Man is switching studios and director for the second season. This seems like a very bad move, but the source material is strong, so hopefully it doesn’t suffer too much under JC Staff.

  • Speaking of dodgy studios, LIDEN is doing the Killing Bites anime, which starts in January. I’ll still watch it, but after what they did to Terra Formars and Berserk, this could be a bad sign.

Other scifi:

  • JJ Abrams wants to do an American version of Your Name, which, honestly, could work pretty well given the recent devastation from the hurricanes. Abrams sort of has a bad record with follow-through, so hopefully he gets someone capable to handle it.

  • The producers of Friday Night Lights have been brought on board for the ill-advised US live-action TV version of Sword Art Online. We can all tell that this is going to be hated, right?

  • Houshin Engi has a new anime coming out in January. It’s not one I’d pick for a remake, but enough time has passed that it could be done well. (Looking at you, FMA and HxH!)

  • Armor Girls Project is doing the space battleship Yamato, because of course it is:


  • I’m not totally sold on Blazing Transfer Student Reborn based on this trailer, but I’ll give it a watch when it manifests on Netflix.

That’s a wrap for the time being! In the meantime, watch some Ultraseven!

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Halloween Hijinks: 31 Days’ Worth of Japanese Zombie Movies

Oh, hey, it’s almost October, and the month-long celebration of the spooky… granted, that’s really more around Obon in Japan, but American pop-culture is starting to give cosplayers an extra excuse around Halloween there as well. Anyway, we’ve already talked about Japanese vampire, witch, and werewolf media, but never touched on zombie stuff. There’s a single reason for this – there’s a lot of it! In fact, if you were to watch a Japanese zombie flick every day for a month, you wouldn’t come close to exhausting all your options.

Hey, that’s not a bad idea, actually. Let’s do a rundown of a few recommendations, and don’t worry, I’ll keep it to more or less standard zombies (even though this is Maser Patrol and every impulse is to include Giant Monsters All-out Attack‘s Godzilla and the titans from Attack on Titan). Due to the gory subject matter, consider a blanket NSFW across this whole list.

1. Shinsengumi of the Dead (2014): Samurai and zombies are natural enemies, but this is the only movie I know to focus on that exclusively.

2. NEET of the Living Dead/The Last Will (2015): These two played double-feature, so I’ll lump them together. The former has a hikkikomori get bitten, but his mom keeps taking care of him. The second is a similar premise (a wife caring for her zombie husband), but it’s a little more serious in tone.

3. Schoolgirl Apocalypse (2011): A gritty post-outbreak survival story featuring a high school girl. It’s less splattery than most on this list, but more brutal.

4. Z: Endless Hope (2014): Based on the manga Z, which is a pain to search for. I dig the uniform/eye-patch/naginata aesthetic.

5. Oh my Z! (2015): A quirky comedy about a neighborhood coping with a zombie that’s trapped in one of their nearby houses, in a post-zombie world.

6. Deadman Inferno (2015): Yakuza regular Sho Aikawa battles zombies on an island; a solid mix of action and comedy.

7. Reiko the Zombie Shop (2004) : There’s a whole trilogy based on this manga about schoolgirl necromancers. It’s a disturbing read, but the live-action takes the edge off a little.

8. Lust of the Dead (2011): Media Blasters managed to get a whopping five of these sex comedies onto the US market, so it’d be rude not to bring them up.

9. Attack Girls Swim Team vs the Undead (2007) : Exactly what it sounds like, bathing suits a plenty. Also, lesbians.

10. Battle Girl: Living Dead in Tokyo Bay (1991) : Daiei’s sort of combination of Land of the Dead with Escape from New York, only with a female protagonist sent beyond the zombie wall.

11. Resident Evil: Degengeration (2008): The first of a few CGI animated tie-ins to the games, followed by RE:Damnation and RE: Vendetta. If you don’t play the games these movies may be inscrutable.

12. Dead Rising (2010) Without Frank West, is it really Dead Rising? Maybe not, but the movie still has a very game-like aesthetic, and the ability to combine weapons ridiculously.

13. Down to Hell (1997): Ryuhei Kitamura’s debut picture, it lays the groundwork for Versus. It doesn’t have the polish or the style of the later film, but the same setting/premise, so the later movie’s arguably a sequel.

14. Zombie Self Defense Force (2006) – a military vs. undead flick that I prefer over the swim team one, but not as much as the zombie hunter one.

15. Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (2011) : Poop-covered zombies hides in the crapper, because this is a high-brow movie.

16. Samurai Zombie (2008) : Tak Sakaguchi directing a movie directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, it’s very much Versus-inspired. The armor that the zombies wear is a nice touch, though.

17. Miss Zombie (2013) : Sabu’s artsy flick about zombies as pets and servants, it’s less about surviving the outbreak and more about obeying the rules…”do not let her taste meat!”

18. Battlefield Baseball (2003) : Yudai Yamaguchi’s insane sports comedy has the rival team full of zombies for some reason. I guess a lot of the Versus crew was involved?

19. Junk (2000): A heist movie that gets interrupted by a zombie outbreak, Junk was one of the biggest Japanese zombie flicks back in the day, but never became quite the classic that some of its contemporaries did.

20. Onechanbara the Movie (2008): Adapting the video game with chicks in fetishistic attire swinging swords. The super moves looks pretty accurate, but may put people off if they’re not used to characters randomly glowing when jumping around. There’s also the sequel Onechanbara Vortex.

21. Helldriver (2010): A Yoshihiro Nishimura movie, with all of the silly splattery gore that that entails. Another femme fatale in this one, and she has to fight her evil zombie-master mom.

22. Happiness of the Katakuris (2001): Takashi Miike’s musical comedy about a family that accidentally racks up quite a body count. There’s a little undead goodness in it, too.

23. Tokyo Zombie (2005): A comedy based on a manga, dealing with a a duo of amoral slackers escaping the zombie outbreak caused by a huge landfill in the center of town. Some neat animated exposition bits.

24. Zombie Hunter Rika (2008): With action sequences handled by Versus‘s Tak Sakaguchi, this schoolgirl with an arm transplant from a famous zombie slayer kicks a lot of butt. The Japanese title translates to “Strongest Weapon High School Girl Rika: Zombie Hunter Vs. Most Evil Zombie Grorian”, which is a heckofa mouthful.

25. Big Tits Zombie 3D (2010) : Can’t you tell how classy this flick is based on the title? It’s strippers fighting the undead with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

26. Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell (2009): Apparently it took 15 years to complete (only a few of the shots really show it), but they nailed it as a throwback to the feel of the original Evil Dead.

27. Survive Style 5+ (2004): An anthology of five interlocking stories, one of which involves a dude repeatedly killing his wife, only to have her return and try to murder him each evening. It’s quite a ride.

28. I am a Hero (2015): Rather than the funny camp action of most of this list, I am a Hero is legit horror. A superb thing to throw back in the face of those folks who claim any movie based on a manga is bad, to boot.

29. Stacy (2001): Mostly about a society that has to deal with their schoolgirls turning into zombies. Apparently one of the cultural adaptations is special “Blues Campbell” brand chainsaws!

30. Versus (2000): Ryuhei Kitamura’s ultra-cool flick is style over substance (literally none of the characters even have names), but it’s two hours of gloriously amazing style. It’s about a gang of criminals killing each other in the woods, along with zombies (the zombies aren’t the real threat of the picture, though, it’s the martial arts badasses. The zombies are sort of there like the Italians in World War 2 that way.).

31. Wild Zero (1999):  Guitar Wolf’s rock-&-roll opus is not one to be missed. There’s aliens, pompadours, transvestites, leather jackets, motorcycles that shoot flames out the back, guitar swords, and many forms of love. It’s the quintessential crowd-pleasing exploitation movie, and the over-the-top characters are pretty much a goldmine for reaction images. How many DVDs include their own drinking game?

Whew! Well, that may be a lot, but it’s still just scratching the surface; there’re quite a few out there that didn’t make the cut.

While we’re at it, though, how about some Nihonbie television? There’s Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, High School of the Dead, Sailor Zombie, Sankarea, and, depending on if you want to avoid spoilers maybe watch School Live because it might or might not be about zombies. Then there’s individual episodes of Space Dandy, The Great Horror Family, Panty & Stocking…. even that one Urusei Yatsura episode. Yeah, I got an Urusei Yatsura nod into this. Bite me.

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment