Hey, it’s been a while, but even with SDCC, not a whole lot of Japanese SF/horror/fantasy-related stories have been cracking lately.
The biggest story this round involves a major corporation butting in and baselessly threatening legal action against a small studio for making a kickstarted video game, and the game studio being forced to fold because they can’t afford to fight them. No, I’m not talking about Wizards of the Coast going after Kaiju Combat over the use of the word “kaiju;” this time the victim was the sentai studio simulator Chroma Squad and the aggressor was Saban Brands.
You see, Saban claimed that Chroma Squad was infringing on their Power Rangers IP, which is dumb for several reasons:
- Chroma Squad is a parody, and should therefore be protected.
- Not all sentai-genre stuff is covered under Saban’s Super Sentai license, and many, many similar projects exist across Japan and the world. Heck, similar stuff (e.g. Gatchaman) predates Super Sentai entirely.
- Chroma Squad is made in Brazil, where Toei, not Saban, distributes Super Sentai.
Nevertheless, Saban demanded a share of the royalties or threatened to prevent the game’s release by lawsuit, and developer Behold Studios decided to give it to them. Needless to say, this did a number on Saban’s already crumbling image among the western tokusatsu fanbase. They’d need to do something radical to restore and semblance of goodwill-
At SDCC, it was announced that Shout Factory will be releasing Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger on American DVD. Okay, not so angry with then anymore.
After two decades of near monopoly on Toei’s hero shows, Saban is allowing the original Japanese version of the basis for Power Rangers to be legally seen in the US. Zyuranger is an obvious choice for the series to go with, since it was the source material for the first season of Power Rangers, and, being a sort of dull, kid-friendly show, probably won’t threaten the image of the Power Rangers franchise too much. That said, this is a rare instance where I actually support what Saban is doing. I sincerely hope that this succeeds, and, high-hopes to high-hopes, that other Super Sentai shows also get this treatment as well (seriously the internet *loves* Akibaranger, guys). This is major news: I don’t think a tokusatsu TV series has had a legitimate DVD release since Red Baron from BCI or Inazuman from Generation Kikaida. While Shout Factory will be working with Saban for this, it’s certainly preferable to the Chaiyo situation on Ultra Q and Ultraseven.
Oh, and speaking of official releases of shows from companies that normally prevent them, Harmony Gold will be including the original SDF Macross episodes in their next Robotech release. If you missed the other releases, this is a good chance to pick up the show, though it will be 9 episodes per disc.
On to other stuff:
- Thomas Tull confirmed at SDCC that Gareth Edwards will not only be directing the sequel to Godzilla ’14, but that Toho monsters Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah will be showing up in the upcoming films. This has me a little trepidatious: will Mothra’s mysticism be retained, her fairies and all? Will King Ghidorah present the threat that he did in the Showa period, or will he be simply one of the crowd as he was in Giant Monsters All-Out Attack and Kingdom of Monsters? Will Rodan… actually, it’s pretty hard to mess up Rodan, never mind. [via SciFi Japan]
- Legendary also has a King Kong movie in the works, under the title Skull Island. Man, they’re kaiju groupies! [via MTV]
- Trailers are out for the Space Sheriff Sharivan and Space Sheriff Shaider DTV movies, out October 10 and November 7, respectively:
- I totally missed the trailer for Eight Ranger 2 until the movie was in theaters. Since the original still hasn’t been subbed, it’s hard to comment on the sequel.
- A trailer for the HappinessCharge Precure movie, Ballerina of the Doll Kingdom, out on October 11:
- A teaser for yet another new Dragonball Z movie due next year, again with Akira Toriyama involved. (Man, Battle of Gods was weird! As a side note, it’s getting theatrical play in the US on August 5-6.)
- The trailer for the dubbed version of A Letter to Momo:
- Animesols added a whole bunch more titles recently. From Tezuka, there’s Son Goku no Daiboken (a 1967 adaptation of Journey to the West), while from Tatsunoko there’s Space Ace (Tatsunoko’s first anime from 1965), Time Bokan (the 1975 series that Yatterman spun-off from), Temple the Balloonist (from 1977, the Animesols rep’s exact words in the promo email were: ”Honestly even I’ve never heard of this one… It was popular in Europe I guess?“), and The Lil’bits (a 1980 show that I completely forgot used to run on Nickelodeon before they had original programming). Keep them coming, Animesols, and bravo for rescuing more titles from the clutches of obscurity!
- Pacific Rim won this year’s Seiun Award for best dramatic presentation, joining the esteemed ranks of sci-fi media classics like Zeiram 2, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, Gunbuster, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Blade Runner, Star Wars, and other cool stuff. Neat!
- Between May 5th and July 18th, Japanese fans voted on their favorite Godzilla movies in a poll for the Nihon Eiga Senmon Channel. The results were surprising: Godzilla vs. Biollante took the top spot, while the original film came in second place. The next two runners-up were Godzilla vs. Destroyer, then Mothra vs. Godzilla. Of Toho’s “big 5”, Rodan, King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla aren’t represented in those films at all!
Finally, toy news (there’s a lot this time):
- For those that want to stage elaborate dioramas with their Ultra Act figures, Bandai has just the product for you: the stage from Tsuburaya Productions! Retailing for 25,920 yen, this isn’t cheap but would certainly make an interesting display piece, especially if partnered with some mini camera operators.
- Mecha King Ghidorah is getting SH MonsterArts treatment, a no-brainer as one of the few major Heisei Godzilla monsters not yet represented.
- Blue Beet and Black Beet from B-Fighter are getting SH Figuarts treatment. I wonder if nostalgia for Big Bad Beetleborgs is strong enough to get Bluefin to release these in America? [via HJU]
- Mondo will be offering a figure of the title robot from the American animation The Iron Giant. [via tomopop]
- The Toynami Godzilla certainly looks better than the last attempt to do Godzilla in Shogun Warriors style. I assume this will also come with foot wheels and rocket punch. [via GForever]
- Neca has unveiled its 1984 Godzilla figure, more over at Toho Kingdom.
- Finally, Neca’s Pacific Rim line is back with a vengeance, with prototypes of Axehead, Tacit Ronin, Romeo Blue, and Otachi on display, as well as another battle-damaged Gypsy Danger. (No source on the Otachi figure photo from SDCC, but it’s been posted around a lot online! Thanks to whoever took it!)