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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