Is there any activity as archetypically conceited and dreary as subjecting other people to one’s own vacation photos? That’s my general impression, yet folks keep asking for ours, so here’s a preliminary, über-focused post detailing a limited-time event from our recent jaunt over to Hiroshima: the Great Godzilla Tokusatsu Kingdom exhibit. The show, as far as we understand, was pretty much a duplicate of the Yokohama exhibit from earlier in the year, and opened in Hiroshima on the 23rd of December.
Much of the show did not allow photography, so what follows is a bit from memory and may be jumbled. The lobby (where you buy tickets, so everything here is free) opened up on a gift shop, featuring numerous recently-released items, ranging from T-shirts to posters to underpants, and naturally including MonsterArts, guide books, and DVD/BDs of all of the films (including the recent re-release of Zone Fighter and a few other Toho SFX titles). There was also some exclusive merch for the show, such as postcards, file folders, and notebooks featuring artwork done for the exhibit (more on that later). The crown jewel of the souvenirs was the human-sized Heisei Godzilla statue, available for the low price of about $40,000.
The free-to-view area also had some rubber monster stamps (something to mark up your new notebook with), the Little Godzilla costume from Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, a color reproduction of the Hibiya statue, and a shrine that really plays up the whole deification angle.
Once inside, visitors are welcomed by a video tape of Akira Takarada (he was apparently there in person the same day that we were, but we missed him. Our Japanese companion was stunned that we were blasé about it after seeing him at multiple G-Fests.), who gave a brief overview about the creation of the original movie, and got to play with his old pistol from Final Wars. From there was a series of cases with items such as the original screenplay and the Oxygen Destroyer prop (which I believe is normally on display in the Shinjuku Gracery’s Godzilla room, which currently has the Godzilla animatronic from Godzilla vs. Destroyah in its place).
The next room had a line of busts highlighting the changes to Godzilla’s design over the years, as well as a map with numbers on it according to films in which Godzilla’s appeared (e.g. a “2” over Osaka or an “18” over Tokyo, signifying Godzilla Raids Again and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah respectively. It took a lot of arithmetic to keep track of what was being mentioned where!). At this point we were allowed a photo, although it was just of a window.
Past that, a gaggle of props were on display, including maquettes for Kiryu and MOGERA, the animatronic Godzilla used for water scenes (which visitors were allowed to operate), and Baby Godzilla emerging from his egg. In the next room, however, was the bulk of the exhibit, and fortunately a free-for-all when it came to photography. Suits were mostly posed for dramatic effect (with the exceptions of King Caesar and Gigan, who were in oddly-obfuscated glass cases with a rock pattern in front, making it hard to get a good look at them), recreating scenes from their respective films. It was interesting to see just how small the Final Wars suit was compared to the others (the Godzilla 2000 suit dwarfs it, even with the same actor inside!), but it does make the Kaiser Ghidorah look that much more impressive by comparison.
After that was a gallery of artwork by various manga maestros associated with kaiju. Several were familiar, such as Shinji Nishikawa and Shigeru Mizuki, and our pals Matt Frank and Hiroshi Kanatani (awesome work, y’all!). I guess photos weren’t allowed here for copyright concerns with the various illustrators, or maybe it was so they could sell the aforementioned goods better. The same room also housed Kiryu, complete in its hangar.
After a gallery of storyboards (and a few maquettes) from Godzilla vs. Biollante, there was the Shin Godzilla room, with a statue about the size a suit would be, if there were a suit for the film. They had a video playing on loop demonstrating how the CGI was done (I’m sure most readers have encountered it or something similar on youtube by this point), as well as some signs explaining the movie’s multiple entendre. Of course, always looking forward, there was a poster for the 2017 movie with statements from the staff involved (all from when it was announced).
Near the exit was a set of murals intended for posing with, and many silly photos were had.
Finally, as we were on the way out, we ran into a certain rubber-suited monster in the lobby. There was no missing a photo op with him!
Overall a very satisfying visit, so if you find yourself in Hiroshima prior to January 9th, and missed the previous show in Yokohama, this is well worth checking out. Otherwise… well, they are selling Godzilla cakes at the train station.
If you did get to go to the Yokohama show, please, leave a comment and let us know what all was different. We may have a subsequent post talking about other, more permanent attractions (Kaiju Sakaba, Nakano Broadway, Ultraman Street, the International Manga Museum, the Shinjuku Gracery, Gundam Front, etc), if there’s demand; otherwise I’ll spare you too many more vainglorious unflattering selfies.