G-Fest XXV (2018) Panel: Godzilla and the Japanese National Spirit

As promised, here’s the audio and video of our G-Fest Conference panel, which took place at 3:00pm (CDT) on July 13, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. We had a larger-than-expected turnout, including several attendees who were listeners and a university professor who was impressed with our presentation. If he was amazed, we know you’ll be, too!

In this, we discuss Godzilla (1954), The Return of Godzilla (1984), Shin Godzilla (2016), and Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), and the international relations issues that were surrounding them when they were made.

We introduce ourselves, the podcast, and its mission. Then Nate examines the 1954 and 1984 movies with respect to the JSDF, the US-Japan Alliance, and Japanese domestic issues. Brian then updates the audience on what has happened in Japan and the world between 1984 and 2016. Nate examines the 2016 movie across the same issues. Brian analyzes Godzilla vs. Gigan and all that the movie communicates to the audience about globalization. Brian finishes the panel by mentioning what all will happen to Japan in 2019 and 2020, and gives a spirited case for defending democracy.

MP3:

 

 

Kaijuvision Radio Published in Nippon Quarterly – Fort Wayne’s Japanese Language Newsletter

by Brian Scherschel

As you know, Kaijuvision is headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The local Japanese language newsletter in town is called the “Nippon Quarterly”, and they published Brian’s description of our podcast – AND they translated it into Japanese!

The Nippon Quarterly’s motto is “Everything Japanese in the Fort Wayne Area”, and is edited by Michele Yamanaka.  The newsletter is sponsored by the Japanese-American Association of Indiana, Inc. (JASI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 1988.  The JASI also sponsors the yearly Cherry Blossom Festival in Fort Wayne, which Nate and I visited this summer.

You can learn more about the JASI and their mission here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/japanindiana/about/?ref=page_internal

One of Kaijuvision’s goals is promoting cultural understanding between the United States and Japan, one of our most important allies in East Asia and the world.  Yes, our podcast is about kaiju and other Japanese movies, but as our listeners know, we do so much more than that.

And the newsletter page looks so nice!

 

 

Kaijuvision Radio at G-Fest XXV

Another G-Fest has come and gone.  I (Nate) am still recovering from the post-convention blues.  Reality has been slowly sinking back in as I go back to my jobs. One would think I’d be used to this by now, what with all the conventions I attend, but it’s never easy.  Regardless, the consensus is this was the biggest and best G-Fest yet.  For a convention its size, there’s lots to do.

If you were one of our patrons on Patreon, you got exclusive up-to-the-minute access during the weekend.  If you’d like to have that and other exclusive content, please consider supporting us on Patreon!

Panels

Brian and I upped the ante this year, signing up to be part of five panels between us—including our own!  In case you didn’t know, it was titled, “Godzilla and the Japanese National Spirit.”  At least several of the attendees were listeners, who we met beforehand and after the presentation.  It really humbled us upon learning how many fans we got to be able to meet.  Our presentation went well, and our audience asked some great (and fun) questions.  One attendee was a university professor from New York, who was impressed with us.

A special thank you to everyone who attended!  For those who couldn’t make it, we’ll be sharing the audio and video July 25.

I (Brian) was a member of the “GINO” Panel, which discussed Godzilla 1998 on its 20th anniversary.  It was my first panel ever, and I shared some of the wisdom from the episode on the movie.  My main points included how the ad campaign was better than the movie, that it should have ended at 90 minutes, how no one could say those lines and sound good, and how there are many far better movies out there if you just want a good popcorn movie.  Half of the audience said they hated the movie, so I felt like I represented them well.

Saturday was a busy day for me (Nate).  I was on three panels, with two of them in a row! The first was “Godzilla Stories,” an annual panel where people share their fanfictions and/or how Godzilla has impacted their lives.  There were several touching stories—including one from a mother who lives in Fort Wayne!—and I got to encourage some young writers with their fanfictions. The second was the similar “Art of Kaiju Writing.”  You may remember this as the panel I got myself on at the last minute last year.  This was a writing advice panel, and I was one of four “pros” answering questions.  This was immediately followed by the “Pacific Rim 2” panel.  I was one of four people who discussed the film.  By “discuss,” I mean, “utterly destroy.”  Nobody on it liked it much, and I was quite outspoken about it.

Celebrities

We were all saddened when the great Akira Takarada, the “Godfather of G-Fest,” was unable to visit us.  However, J.D. Lees and the organizers were able to book not one but two great replacements: Don Frye and Kenpachiro Satsuma. Brian and I made sure to meet them as well as Megumi Odaka and G-Fest staple Robert Scott Field.  I’m happy to say my Blu-ray of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah has been signed by three of its stars.

I (Brian) was really happy to meet Megumi Odaka for the first time.  Incidentally, Godzilla vs. Biollante was selected in another panel to be the “Greatest Godzilla Movie of All Time”, which seemed fitting, as this was her first of the six movies she appeared in.  It was fun meeting Don Frye and his panel was overwhelmingly entertaining and fun.

Here are some photos of our meetings:

We meet Don Frye.

Brian meets Megumi Odaka.

Interviews

For the first time, we interviewed guests for the podcast at this year’s G-Fest.  The first was John LeMay, author of 18 books, including The Big Book of Japanese Giant Monster Movies: The Lost Films and his newest book, Terror of the Lost Tokusatsu Films.  Our second interview was Danny DiManna (aka Danzilla93), a listener and, more importantly, the creator of the Godzilla Novelization Project.  His goal is to write a novelization of all 30+ Japanese Godzilla films.

Both of these interviews will be posted sometime in August.

Personal Anecdotes (Nate)

I’m glad I went to last year’s G-Fest because it helped me understand the convention’s unique personality.  That made it easier to “break in,” so to speak, this year.  It also helped that Brian and I stayed in the Crown Plaza Hotel, where the convention was held, which also allowed us to experience another part of G-Fest: the in-house TV station.  Starting Thursday and running until Monday morning, the hotel’s informational channel broadcast various tokusatsu films, TV series, and documentaries.  Brian and I were able to watch things like Super Inframan, Yokai Monsters, and Agon: Atomic Dragon.  It was fun.  As the G-Fest program put it, turn off sports and news for a few days.

I also attended many of the film screenings at the Pickwick Theatre.  The first double-feature on Thursday was The Valley of Gwangi and Dinsosaurus!  I’d not seen either one, so it was a treat to see them on the big screen.  Gwangi is a legitimately good film while Dinosaurus! is asking to be on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (it kinda has been already).  I haven’t laughed at or riffed a film so much at the theatre in my life as I did at the latter.  What made it better was my fellow theatre-goers were also riffing it, adding to the fun.  Friday night I went with Danny and his friends to see Rampage, which I hadn’t seen yet.  It wasn’t great, but it was better than it had any right to be.  Saturday I was joined by them again to see the main event: a screening of Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth, which was introduced by Satsuma.  While I’ve seen this film many times, I went primarily for the experience.  Did it help the Heisei film seeing on the big screen?  Not really.  It actually made the flaws more obvious.  However, I saw it with a crowd of fans, which made the screening exciting.

One of the things that makes G-Fest special is it feels like a family.  It’s a small and active con that is slowly growing.  Everyone knows everyone and is welcoming to newcomers.  Now that we’ve gotten more involved with the show, Brian and I feel even more like a part of that family.  We love it.

Here’s to another 25 G-Fests…and beyond!

Sneak Preview for Our G-Fest XXV Panel

by Nathan Marchand

Hello, G-Fans and kaiju lovers!

Are you a longtime listener who wants a refresher on what Brian and I will be discussing at our G-Fest XXV panel? Or are you visiting our website for the first time after attending our panel? (If so, welcome to our little corner of Monster Island!) This blog is for all of you!

Our panel, “Godzilla and the Japanese National Spirit,” will be in the Kennedy Room at the Grand Plaza Hotel Friday, July 13, at 3pm (CST). The Japanese national spirit is a hallmark topic of our show and one of the things that separates us from other kaiju podcasts. The panel will distill much of what we’ve discussed in several episodes into a 40-minute presentation. However, if you’d like to get more details on the subjects we cover, here are the episodes we recommend you binge-listen during your trip to and/or from G-Fest this year.

Episode 1: Introduction to the Godzilla Journey

A journey of 37 weekly episodes begins with one small step. In our first episode, we introduce ourselves and explain our philosophy for the podcast as we move ahead. The basic groundwork is laid here.

Episode 3: Gojira (1954)

There’s a lot to cover in the first film, so we had to split it into two episodes. In this one, we discuss the original masterpiece, focusing on the political and historical references and cultural significance. For the related topic, we explain the basics of the U.S. Occupation of Japan and how it changed the nation.

Episode 4: Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)

Appropriately, we discuss the negative aspects of the Occupation—such as the War Crimes Tribunal—and how it affected U.S.-Japan relations in our episode on the Americanized version of the original film. These aren’t easy things to talk about, but they are important to know to understand the context in which Godzilla was created.

Episode 17: Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

Not only is this one of Brian’s favorite G-films, it’s arguably one of the most underestimated entries in the franchise. While created at a time when the Godzilla series was in decline, it’s full of hidden meaning. Beneath the surface careful viewers will see screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa’s meta-commentary on Godzilla as a pop culture icon and, more importantly, a satirical examination of globalization as it related to early 1970s Japan.

Episode 21: The Return of Godzilla (1984)

For this modern classic, we show how Japan found itself in a much different place than in the mid-1950s. This film is entrenched in the Cold War era, depicting a Japan caught between U.S. and Soviet Union as they pressure Japan to allow one of them to nuke Godzilla. Now they must choose between their greatest ally and an immediate threat to the north.

Episode 37: Shin Godzilla (2016)

We can’t say this enough: This is our greatest episode. There’s so much to discuss in this film—especially the misperceptions the American Godzilla fandom has about it. And we still probably didn’t catch everything! The 3-11 Disasters. The JSDF. Japan’s place in the modern world. Americans are separated by time and culture with the previous films and saw them with the benefit of hindsight, but Shin Godzilla came to us quickly and unfiltered. We hope this episode changes how American fans view this film.

This is a great sampler of our podcast. We hope you’ll listen to all of our episodes and continue to listen when season two starts in September.  We’ll be covering classic Toho tokusatsu and new Godzilla films as they’re released.

See you at G-Fest!

Or if you’re reading/listening after the con, thanks for coming!

If you like what we’re doing, please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have some great rewards/benefits!

G-Fest XXV Preview

by Nathan Marchand

We’re just one week away from G-Fest XXV!  The show will be held July 13-15 (with some preliminary events July 12) at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois.

Brian and I will be part of several panels throughout the weekend, including a live episode we’ll be recording in the Kennedy Room Friday at 3pm (CST) titled, “Godzilla and the Japanese National Spirit.”  Besides that, here’s the rest of our panel schedule:

Brian: “Zilla’s 20th Birthday” – Friday 12pm (CST) Ballroom 1
Nate:   “Godzilla Stories” – Saturday 10am (CST) Kennedy Room
            “The Art of Kaiju Writing” – Saturday 1pm (CST) Kennedy Room
            “Pacific Rim 2” – Saturday 2pm (CST) Ballroom 1

We’ll have exclusive content for our Patreon supporters throughout the weekend, including pictures, videos, and other updates.  We’ll also give supporters exclusive early access to the recording of our panel either Friday night or Saturday morning.  If you’d like to be a part of that, become one of our patrons on Patreon!

If by some chance you don’t know what this is, here’s a brief description from the event’s website:

G-FEST is the largest regular gathering of Godzilla and Japanese monster fans in the world.  Held each summer, it typically attracts more than 1000 attendees, but has seen a gradual increase in attendance over the past few years.  G-FEST 2014 was the most successful convention to date, bringing in about 3000 Japanese science fiction and fantasy film fans!

 

G-FEST is a family-oriented convention which caters to a wide variety of interests within the kaiju genre.  G-FEST features presentations and Q & A sessions by actors and crew from the Japanese Godzilla films, fan presentations on topics of interest, contests and gaming, new and classic kaiju movies, the western world’s largest kaiju-oriented dealers room, and lots of fun and camaraderie.

The guests for this year include Megumi Odaka, who famously played psychic Miki Saegusa in the Heisei Godzilla films; suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma, who’s best-known for playing Godzilla himself in all seven Heisei films; actor/wrestler/mixed martial artist Don Frye, who played Capt. Gordon in Godzilla: Final Wars; and suit and model maker Keizo Murase.

Sadly, due to surgery, the great Akira Takarada, the “godfather of G-Fest,” will not be able to attend.  We here at Kaijuvision Radio wish him a speedy recovery and hope he will return to the convention soon.

The nearby Pickwick Theatre will be screening kaiju films starting Thursday with The Valley of Gwangi and Dinosaurus! in the afternoon and then Mighty Peking Man and Pacific Rim: Uprising that evening.  There will be a screening of Rampage, starring Dwayne Johnson, Friday night and a special screening of Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth Saturday night with an introduction by Megumi Odaka (and, I assume, Satsuma-san).

We can’t wait to spend an exciting weekend with our fellow G-fans and kaiju lovers!