Travel log: Godzilla at the Museum (Nagoya)

Amanda wasn’t able to make it to G-Fest this year, so she did the next best thing: Went to check out the “Godzilla at the Museum” exhibit in Nagoya! Here’s her report:

It took me about an hour and a half to get through the entire exhibition.  It was a lot larger than the one in Hiroshima that Kevin and I went to last year.

The exhibit began with the Godzilla suit from Godzilla vs Destroyah, photos of storyboards from the original Godzilla film with drawings by Akira Watanabe, a production draft for the mysterious “G Sakuhin,” an oxygen destroyer, and a diving helmet from the original film.

Then, there were an incredible amount of original drawings for Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., including the designs for the scarred Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, and Mothra drawn by Shinji Nishikawa. There were also a lot of the original hand-drawn set plans for the film done by Toshio Miike.  Miike doesn’t even have an English Wikipedia page, which is a travesty, because he’s been working on tokusatsu and monster movies since the mid-eighties, most recently working as the special effects production designer for Shin Gojira. His set drawings for Tokyo S.O.S. included Mechagodzilla’s dock, the National Diet Building, Tokyo Tower, and the Mothra egg set at the crater, complete with hilarious hand puppets wielded by people standing under the set for the egg-hatching scene.

The Nagoya City Museum actually hosted Miike for a set-building workshop in August as part of the exhibit.  There was also a talk by Shinji Higuchi in July, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get tickets.

Next, there were a ton of gorgeous drawings by Yasuyuki Inoue.  Inoue was first recruited by Toho in 1954 to work on the original Godzilla and later became the head of Toho’s Special Effects Art Department. He was involved in over 160 different projects over 3 decades and was regarded as Eiji Tsuburaya’s right hand, although he doesn’t have quite the same name recognition.

Works by Inoue on display at the exhibit included drawings of the monsters in Gorath (1962) and Atragon (1963), Mothra’s island and King Ghidorah’s egg set in Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), the North Pole set and King Kong’s island in King Kong Escapes (1967), the jungle, Godzilla, and Kumonga in Son of Godzilla (1967), Monsterland and the heliport in Destroy All Monsters (1968), and color designs of Hedorah, as well as drawings from The Mysterians (1957), Battle in Outer Space (1959), Latitude Zero (1969), and the war film The Battle of the Japan Sea (1969).

Also on display nearby were Akira Watanabe’s designs of Magma and Baragon in Gorath and Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), a giant Godzilla leg apparently used in Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965), Return of Godzilla (1984), and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), models of the Type 90 Maser Cannon and Shirasagi (AC-3 White Heron) that appeared in Godzilla x Mechagodzilla (2002) and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003), a model of the Wadatsumi submarine from Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), and a model of the nuclear submarine in Return of Godzilla (1984), Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), and Rebirth of Mothra II (1997).  There were also photographs of the story boards for Godzilla Raids Again (1955), The Mysterians, Mothra (1961), and Rodan (1956).

Next up was a giant animatronic bust of Shin Godzilla and the model of the destroyed Tokyo Station used in the movie.  I got lots of pictures of the Tokyo Station model because it was labeled as ok for photography, but sadly I didn’t get any pictures of the animatronic bust.  I really wish in retrospect that I had ignored the guards and signs forbidding pictures and just gone for it, because it was pretty freaking cool.  I’ve heard from Kevin that there may be some pictures of that floating around on the internet, so I definitely recommend checking it out.

Other highlights of the exhibit included some neat Biollante illustrations by Shinji Nishikawa, a comically adorable Moguera maquette from Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, a wide array of sculptures by Yuji Sakai, and of course, the kaiju suits on display.  This exhibit featured the Gigan suit from Final Wars, the Ghidorah suit from All Out Attack, and the Godzilla suit from All Out Attack with its really cool dead-looking eyes.  There was also a large Mothra marionette hanging from the ceiling that was used in Rebirth of Mothra 1 and 2.

There were also a lot of really cool kaiju-themed paintings by Yoshiyuki Takani, Noriyoshi Orai, Yuji Kaida, and Yasushi Torisawa.  My favorite from Noriyoshi Orai was the original painting for the Godzilla vs. Biollante movie poster, and I also really enjoyed a Hedorah painting by Yashushi Torisawa called 融合し巨大化するへドラ(Hedorah fusing and becoming giant).

At the end of the exhibit, there was a spot to have your picture taken with Final Wars Godzilla attacking Nagoya castle, which I naturally did.  There was also a gift shop!  Unfortunately, they only accepted cash and I was running a bit short, so there was a limit to how much I could purchase.  For Kevin, I picked up the exhibit-exclusive book, which includes a lot of the set drawings and behind the scenes photographs from Tokyo SOS that were on display, and for myself I picked up a nifty Godzilla notebook and pen.

The exhibit was a lot of fun! I recommend checking things like this out even if you don’t speak or read Japanese, because there was some English signage and a lot of it can still be enjoyed regardless.

My only regret is that I didn’t manage to enter the ticket lottery to see Shinji Higuchi speak at the exhibit. I did visit on the same day that he was there, but wasn’t fortunate enough to run into him. Anyways, I hope you all enjoy this write-up! Happy holidays :)

–Amanda out

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News recap to ring in the new year!

Happy new year! As a send-off to 2017, here’s a recap of last week’s Japanese genre-fiction goings on:

  • Remember how one of the first posts on this blog was for the 50th anniversary of TV anime? Well, with 2017 being the 100th anniversary of any anime, the Association of Japanese Animations has posted a video going through the history. While some of the inclusions (or lack thereof) seem to be more licensing based than significant, it’s still a great retrospective. I also learned that I need to watch more stop-motion animation.

  • Kiyotaka Taguchi did a new short for a Saudi Arabian documentary on Izenborg. It’s the last 5 minutes or so of this video that has the new footage:

  • A new promo for Kaiju Girls season 2:

  • A teaser for Cutie Honey Universe. It’s hard to tell if they’re using a permutation on the classic theme song or not.

  • A trailer for Magical Girl Ore that gives away the gender-swapping twist:

  • The Infini-T Force movie, Farewell my Friend Gatchaman, is playing up the Gatchaman side of things pretty hard.

  • A new trailer for Yudai Yamaguchi and Keita Amemiya’s Rokuroku, which hits January 27th:

  • Speaking of Amemiya, there’s a new visual for the Sword Gai anime:

That’s a wrap for now. Happy 2018!

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Self-congratulatory 5th anniversary post

Wow, Maser Patrol has been running for five whole years as of today! Over the years things have branched from a simple news aggregate (meant to kill time during long grad school experiment runs) into several articles, reviews, translations, presentations, and podcasts. So, I want to take a moment to thank and acknowledge everyone for how things have gone so far.

In true Super Sentai fashion, here are the contributing MaserRangers, complete with profile pictures that I hastily scrawled onto post-it notes during my lunch break:

  • MaserRed: Kevin

Yours truly, I’m chief admin and compose the bulk of the posts. It feels weird thanking myself, so let’s move on.

  • MaserPink: Amanda

My lovely partner, anime enthusiast, and professional translator. You’ve likely seen her work on more high-profile places such as Anime News Network, but she’s instrumental to things running here, both by providing full translations (the most popular things ever posted here, btw) and reporting about neat events in Japan. She’s also on the podcast on occasion, though time zone differences make that difficult!

  • MaserBlue: Andy

A toy collector and ardent mecha fan, I had a feeling that Andy and I would get along when, on the first day we met he asked if I was “at all familiar with the Godzilla franchise” (I’m not sure that I ever technically answered that, but Amanda did break down laughing). A core contributor since day one, he’s on more of the podcasts than not.

  • MaserYellow: Josh

The other most familiar voice on the podcast (and, due to a history in radio, the best at it), Josh claims to be “Captain Casual”, despite an encyclopedic knowledge of video games, anime soundtracks, the works of Rumiko Takahashi, and a familiarity with Gainax’s filmography to the point of being described as “an Evangelion fan’s worst nightmare.” We first met when I was recruiting for our college’s anime club and wound up discussing Yu Yu Hakusho for two straight hours on the spot.

  • MaserBlack: Alan

An accomplished anime convention panelist and professional librarian, Alan has a knack for pulling up obscure bits of trivia for all things geeky. You can hear him on the Garo podcast episode, and he’s a frequent sounding board and news contributor. His wife Nissa also helped with the Star Wars article.

  • MaserGreen: Benji

The rare contributor that’s not from my college anime club, I met Benji through my work anime club. An enthusiast of obscure niche (weird) manga, trashy OVAs, and strange memes, I’ve been indoctrinating him to Japanese cinema. You can hear him on the Nobuhiko Obayashi podcast episode.

  • MaserGold: Justin

Justin Mullis has written for G-Fan, LovecrafteZine, The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Giant Creatures in Our World, The Retro-Futurism of Cuteness, Henshin Justice Unlimited, and more; he even taught a college class on King Kong! Despite being a proper professional geek scholar, he approached me wanting to contribute to this humble blog, and since has given us great articles on Kong and Shigeru Mizuki, and appeared on mic to discuss Jellfish Eyes, Shin Godzilla, Skull Island, and our maniacally eight-hour-long Lovecraft in Japan podcast episode. You can check out more from him at Man Creates Dinosaurs.

  • Special crossover: Kaiju Transmissions Podcast

If you’re not listening to the Kaiju Transmissions Podcast, you should be, since it broadens tokusatsu horizons from the traditional Godzilla-centric springboard. Matt and Byrd have been great supporters of Maser Patrol, with numerous on-air shoutouts, but what was especially cool was their gift of text interviews with Kiyotaka Taguchi, Michiru Oshima, and Kazuhiro Nakagawa from G-Fest, when their audio equipment wasn’t working. Kudos!(It was especially cool when Taguchi himself reposted the link!)

I’d also like to extend thanks to everyone who’s shared, commented, corrected, or dropped a kind word over the years. A few exceptional standouts (with apologies in advance to anyone I missed!) include: Aaltomies, Alex Rushdy, Astounding Beyond Belief, August Ragone, Ayame Chiba, Bombastic HeadgearEd Holland & Monster Attack Team, Eric Hurd, Felipe Onodera, G-Fest, Goro, Henning StraussHenshin Justice Unlimited, Jason Brown, John Lemay, John Summers, Kaijucast, Kevin Clark, Mark Jaramillo, Matt FerrettMatt Frank (I can always tell when he shares something, since traffic spikes tenfold), Nicholas Driscoll, Raf Enshohma, Ryan Clark, Scott Hamilton, Sentaison, Stan Hyde, Ted Johnson, and Tony Isabella. Y’all are awesome!

On top of that, I’m grateful to the panel programming folks at G-Fest, Anime Central, Anime Milwaukee, NatsuCon, and Kawa Kon, for platforms to babble at a live audience.

It’s been a blast of five years, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next five will bring!

…speaking of which…

Some may have noticed that there has been a decrease in posts in recent months. That’s partially due to Amanda and myself getting new jobs, but also due to a secret project that was seeded at G-Fest this year. A number of people said “you should write a book”, and, coupled with the frustration that there’s so much more commentary out there about Mothra and Godzilla than there is about, say, The Bermuda Depths and King of Snake, it was suggested that it be about off-the-beaten-path kaiju eiga.

Ever susceptible to peer pressure, I got started writing reviews of several non-Godzilla, non-Gamera, non-Kong flicks out there, for an indy print project I’m tentatively calling Kaiju for Hipsters: 101 “Alternative” Giant Monster Movies. The goal is to have something ready to bring to the next G-Fest, but I’m only about halfway there so far – if it’s not done by next year’s G-Fest, it should be by *some* year’s G-Fest.

Alright, with all that out of the way, I promise the next post will have real content in it. Here’s to another five exciting, anime/manga/tokusatsu-filled years!

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X-mas weekend news recap

Merry X-mas! Hopefully the Ultra Father left you a nice present, your concert wasn’t crashed by a giant turtle, and nobody’s blood turned blue. We’ve talked so much about various Japanese Christmas specials in previous years that I don’t think we need to go into them this time; let’s just recap the neat goings on of the week instead:

  • Kraken Releasing is putting out Garo: Red Requiem in April. I assume that the 3D version won’t be included, but it’s interesting that they are listing an English dub… I wonder if Zaruba will have the same voice actor as the Funimation dub?
    The obvious question at this point is “what’s the deal with Byakuya no Maju?” It was included in the Japanese season 1 Blu ray box sets, but not in the Kraken ones, and while they could release it separately, it’s strange that they’ve skipped it so far. The second season sort of depends on that TV special, so hopefully it didn’t fall through any sort of licensing cracks.

  • Along with the other 40th anniversary projects for Go Nagai properties, Cutie Honey Univserse was just announced for next year. It’s directed by Akitoshi Yokoyama (who did the Ultraman anime short for the Japan Animator Expo), with character designs by Syuichi Iseki (Me!Me!Me!) and series composition by Yatterman‘s Natsuko Takahashi.

  • A teaser for Shinsuke Sato’s Inuyashiki movie. Hopefully it turns out better than Gantz did.

  • Speaking of Matt, it was after he went onto Kaijucast that the Howl from Beyond the Fog Kickstarter campaign really took off. It’s funded now!

  • A body pillow is being offered for Yujiro from Baki the Grappler. For full authenticity, you should probably fill the pillow up with metal filings and shards of glass.

  • It’s been a while without a new release from the Kaiju Remix Series, but a Neronga figure is due out in February. It certainly looks top-heavy.

  • A trailer for Yatsurugi’s new local hero Shell Brave, starting January 6.

  • The Mob Psycho 100 manga just completed its run, rather well-timed with the TV drama coming soon.

That’s a wrap! I’ll be traveling next weekend, so the news may be a little late, but there are a couple of other things that may or may not get posted soon… stay tuned to find out! Until then, stay merry!

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Slow news week recap

There’s not a whole lot of interesting developments this week, but in lieu of that, I encourage kaiju fans to support the Howl from Beyond the Fog Kickstarter campaign; it’s still under 50 backers so far and I can’t fathom why more folks aren’t on board.

Anyway, onto the (less-kaijuish) news:

  • Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai of the Future looks in line with his other work:

  • Kentaro Yabuki is doing the manga adaptation of Trigger’s upcoming Darling in the FRANXX. Yabuki is an amazing artist, but the writing in his work has been lacking for quite a while, so this could be a good combo.

  • A trailer for the Video Girl Ai drama starting January 13th:

  • The upcoming 20th theatrical Dragonball anime movie will be about the origin of the Saiyans… considering previous attempts, I can’t imagine that will be good.
  • Legendary’s live-action Detective Pikachu, starring Ryan Reynolds, is now set for a May 2019 release date.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho is getting a new OVA included in the upcoming BD boxset… guess I’ll be buying that series for the fourth time.
  • Not really news, but somehow I missed that Kodoku: Meatball Machine came out on US Blu-ray back in September.

That’s all we got for this week; it was a slow one. As always, please leave a comment if we missed something!

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Another slightly late news recap

I took a bit of a road trip last weekend to go to Ed Godziszewski’s presentation on his new Ishiro Honda biography (and also caught The Shape of Water while I was in town), which ate into blogging time. However, I’m free now, so let’s kick things off with this awesome new short by Junya Okabe! (Watch it unspoiled, if possible.)

Onto the news of the week!

  • Starting with the highest-profile, toy scans are out revealing a first look for Kaito Sentai LupinRanger vs. Keisatsu Sentai PatRanger. It’s an interesting concept to have a season of competing teams of cops & robbers thieves; hopefully the execution lives up to the potential.

  • Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel looks like it’s following the story fairly beat-for-beat, but I don’t know about how brightly-lit it looks. Then there’s the unfortunate situation with the anime eyes…

  • The Ready Player One movie will not have Ultraman in it. There is still a Gundam in this trailer, but excitement for the film did take quite a hit with that reveal.

  • Here’s some Pacific Rim: Uprising promo stuff from Tokyo Comic Con.

  • Shinji Higuchi, Tomoo Haraguchi, and Katsuro Onoue all play themselves in this ad for Fussa City.

  • Here’s a trailer for the Yokai Watch movie with Kitaro in it.

  • Toshiki Hirano and Narumi Kakinouchi are back with new chapters of Vampire Princess Miyu on the Champion Cross website. I think this is the first new manga for the character since 2002?

  • Magical Girl Ore is getting a TV anime, but its first visual is deceptive… she turns into a buff dude.

Okay, I think that’s a wrap for now.

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Weekend News Recap: Tokyo Comic Con edition

Lots of neat stuff out of Tokyo Comic Con this weekend!

  • Daisuke Sato’s Howl from Beyond the Fog, a puppet movie inspired by Ray Bradbury’s The Foghorn but set in samurai times, is seeking a (quite modest) amount of support via Kickstarter. It’s neat that Keizo Murase is working on this, as a vet of the kaiju genre for over 60 years, and the rewards tiers on the campaign are quite reasonable… though as much as I’m tempted to splurge on getting a figure of the title kaiju Nebula (Nebra?), I don’t think that one’s quite justifiable.

  • The website for Hero’s Ultraman manga was counting down to a major announcement for the past week, leading to speculation that an anime was on the way. Sure enough, this was announced at Comic Con, for 2019. It’s CG anime, but the biggest names in that medium are attached: Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki. They had a suit constructed for the announcement, as well; it looks pretty good.

  • A teaser for the Ultraman Geed movie, with lots of Orb for good measure.

  • A first teaser for Trigger’s upcoming SSSS Gridman anime. It’s just footage from the original show and the Japan Animator Expo short, with a single new still image at the end. Still, it’s cool that they’re hyping it.

  • Speaking of Gridman, the original show premiers on Toku on December 18th.

  • A backpack that makes it look like you’re carrying Kamen Rider’s torso around:

  • A couple of new Pacific Rim: Uprising soft vinyls from Bandai: Shrikethorn and Hakuja! The merchandise push for the new movie is certainly a couple levels higher than it was for the original!

  • Shinji Higuchi is working on an anime titled Hisone & Masotan, about dragons tamed for use by the JSDF. Macross‘s Shoji Kawamori, Space Dandy‘s Yoshiyuki Ito, and Star Driver‘s Shigeto Koyama are also involved, so even with a very simple and cutesy preview image, I wonder if this might be something special.

  • Huh, it looks like Devilman Crybaby is using a cover of the original anime’s opening theme:

  • A trailer for Ninja Batman (I refuse to call is Batman Ninja).

  • This trailer for the anthology Junji Ito Collection goes out of its way to assure us that there will be Tomie. After countless live-action movies, she’s overdue for anime treatment, I suppose.

  • Finally, a trailer for the Cardcaptor Sakura sequel:

That’s a wrap for this weekend, but as always, please leave a comment if we missed something!

Oh, and I suppose, as has become a bit of a regular feature here, Amanda went to a movie and liked it quite a bit. This time, it was the new Code Geass movie, the first in a trilogy retelling the events of the TV show. Good for fans wanting to see things re-animated or for newbies to the franchise!

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