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.