Released in 2016 (a full twelve years after Godzilla: Final Wars), Shin Godzilla marks the third reboot of the franchise as the eponymous lizard stomps his way across modern Japan with the Japanese government racing to stop him. It’s a well worn plot by this point, yet the film’s almost singular focus on the tumultuous bureaucratic response to the crisis — rather than, say, around a few core characters — makes for something that feels fresh and new, while also giving writer and director Hideaki Anno ample time to take aim at the bureaucratic morass that is Japanese government. As for Godzilla himself — courtesy of veteran VFX director Shinji Higuchi and a new design by Mahiro Maeda — probably not since his original outing in Gojira (1954)has the creature looked so terrifyingly monstrous.
We recently had the special privilege of talking with American cartoonist, and Eisner award winning comic author and artist, Zander Cannon about his wonderful series Kaijumax. A uniquely original prison drama about life on the inside, where the inmates just so happen to be giant monsters a.k.a. Kaiju, Kaijumax is an insanely hilarious comic mashup that’s absurd, gross, hilarious, heartfelt, and filled with enough parodies, homages, and references to please and amuse everyone from battle hardened fans of Kaiju and Tokusatsu to relative newbies alike.
Our conversation together covers Kaijumax, drawing and writing comics, favorite Kaiju films, and a whole heapin’ lot of Toku talk:
00:00 – KaijuMax
32:03 – On creating your own comic
37:52 – What’s next for KaijuMax
41:37 – Tokusatsu discussion
1:17:45 – Twitter questions
Two monsters, created by science gone awry, go head to head in the second Godzilla film of the Heisei era: Godzilla vs Biolante.This follow up to Return of Godzilla or Godzilla 1984, which we reviewed in episode 7, arrived five years after the release of the previous film had under-performed at the box office. Looking for fresh ideas to revitalize the somewhat moribund franchise, producers at Toho held a public contest in search of a script. The winning entry, written by a dentist named Shinichiro Kobayashi with a script that largely sidelined the franchise’s typical anti-nuclear bent in favor of a new focus on the emerging threat posed from bio-technology, was heavily rewritten by Director Kazuki Omori to include spies, assassins, and corporate espionage. The resulting film is a truly a bizarre mishmash of ideas: espionage, deadly assassins, fictional middle eastern countries, mad science, ESPers, military super weapons, and, of course, awesome Kaiju action — it’s a hell of a ride!
Tokusatsu is an enormous component of worldwide media fandom, and its visibility has increased drastically in recent years. Before I get into some more US-centric news in upcoming posts, I want to lay down a few key terms that run through tokusatsu so that everyone is on the same page.
Tokusatsu – A term that essentially means “special filming,” and roughly refers to anything that involves special effects and would be categorized in the west as science fiction/fantasy. For most people, tokusatsu is “live action things which are exciting and cool.” If you watch an eastern program that has live actors and some things that you want to own a toy or figure of, then it is probably tokusatsu.
Daikaiju – This basically translates to “great monster” or a rough equivalent. This is explicitly referring to film series like Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera, and other giant monster movies. In the west we often simply say kaiju, though in Japanese that term is broad enough to encompass any monster from a werewolf to King Ghidorah.
Sentai – This term means “task force,” and the is part of the title of Toei’s long-running series. This basically refers to the familiar teams of primary colored spandex superheroes.
Henshin – This can mean “transformation” or “metamorphosis” and refers to any hero switching from their normal form into a their hero mode. The ultimate example of this trope is Kamen Rider, who shouts henshin before changing into his heroic self.
With our vocabulary lesson finished, here is a ridiculous video to whet your appetite for more spandex, explosions, and monsters – the glorious train-themed Ressha Sentai ToQger.