My response when hearing the question, “Who here hates Godzilla 1998?”
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
By Brian Scherschel
Some reviews so far about our revolutionary Shin Godzilla episode:
Kyoei Toshi (one of our Patrons) (via Twitter): “Not only the best examination of Shin in English, but the single best podcast episode dealing with Godzilla ever done. These guys have done an incredible amount of preparation and research for their series on the Godzilla films, and it shows in the finished product. Well done!”
Geek Devotions (via Facebook): “Check out Kaijuvision Radio’s review of ‘Shin Godzilla’. It’s probably the most comprehensive and informative discussion on the film that we’ve had the opportunity to listen to. These guys did a great job breaking down the film!”
Ben Avery (host of the podcasts Strangers and Alien & Welcome to Level Seven): “Great job with ‘Shin Godzilla’. I did find it interesting that you seemed to be arguing with invisible people who didn’t like it. I kept saying, ‘I know! I agree!’ I’m just not part of the online fandom. Whenever you talked about fan response I found it very interesting.”
We expect this episode to significantly change how Shin Godzilla is discussed in the American fandom.
In our incredible, groundbreaking season finale episode on this film, we challenge some of the conventional wisdom in the American fandom about the movie’s politics. We are of the opinion that this movie is not nationalist propaganda. Patriotic, yes. Nationalistic, no. Militaristic, no.
We wholeheartedly embrace a Godzilla that changes over time, just as it always has. Since Shin Godzilla is about the here and now, we explain the situation Japan is in right now, and the challenges they face. Because of marketing (“Cool Japan”) and the exaggerated power that nostalgia has, we say in plain English just why we’re seeing these political issues in the movie.
Shin Godzilla is not all that different from many other movies in the series. It fits into current events and stays relevant. It helps people work through trauma. It channels the public’s outrage. It expresses the Japanese national spirit. Using only the military fails. There are many more reasons.
If we had received a heavily edited version of Shin Godzilla in America and then had to wait 30+ years for it to be released, fans would have been furious. However, the result of this is that the politics came through completely unfiltered. If we had to wait decades until seeing the political elements of the movie, the political messages would be dulled by the passage of time. This time around, we get the full impact, so it’s natural that some Americans would have a reaction to what they see.
Since Hideki Anno made this movie, and since it deals with complex issues, we should not mistake meditating on issues the same thing as endorsing positions. We don’t endorse any positions either, but we do explain what’s going on in the film with all of these issues. There is also a lot of satire in this movie right up against a lot of realism. We sort all of that out. I explain all of the bureaucratic elements of the movie because it’s such an important part of the movie. We then comprehensively examine the events of 3/11/2011 and its aftermath better than anyone in the Godzilla podcasting community. We link the timeline of the disasters to the events in the film as they unfold.
Anyone who’s in the American Godzilla fandom needs to hear what we have to say in this episode. I have a background in comparative politics and international affairs, and our perspective on the movie from that angle is impressive. It’s totally worth listening to.
You can listen to this amazing episode here.
by Nathan Marchand
On May 20, Brian and I attended the Fort Wayne Cherry Blossom Festival, a local event that celebrates Japanese culture. It was held at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library. It’s essentially a free one-day convention. This was the event’s 11th year. As we’ve mentioned before, one of Fort Wayne’s sister cities is Takaoka, so it makes sense to hold a festival each year centered on Japan. It was my second time at the event and Brian’s first.
As the event’s website proclaims, “Five hours…so little time and so much to do!” That was definitely true. We had to choose our activities carefully.
First, we watched a performance by Fort Wayne Taiko. As explained on their website, “Taiko is a Japanese musical tradition that means ‘big drum.’ The large, hollow, skin-covered drums used in taiko are played vertically, horizontally or diagonally to create a range of vibrant rhythms. But taiko isn’t simply about sound. Its characteristic beat is achieved through choreographed arm movements, as drummers ‘dance’ their sticks from drum to drum.” They’re the only such group in Fort Wayne and one of the few in the Midwest, which makes them unique in our area. I love watching them. (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).
Next was the opening ceremony presided over by Fort Wayne’s mayor, Tom Henry, and Consul-General Naoki Ito. After a quick lunch from some local Japanese restaurants, we watched a performance from the Minyo Club of Indianapolis. Minyo is a style of Japanese folk music and dance originally practiced by people as they worked.
Next was one of the highlights of the day: the planting of a cherry blossom tree. Consul-General Ito brought five that were to be planted all over the city, including one in front of the library. Both he and Mayor Henry broke ground with shovels and Laura Stine of Laura Stine Gardens planted it. (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).
Afterward, we had the privilege of meeting Ito-san and telling him about our podcast. He seemed impressed with our work and told us to keep it up. It was also one of the few times I’ve seen Brian starstruck, and it was for a Japanese diplomat! (Which, honestly, isn’t surprising if you know Brian).
We next saw Heartland Sings, a local vocal group, perform acapella versions of several video game and J-pop songs. My favorite was their Super Mario Bros. medley. Interestingly, they went from the festival to a local church to perform liturgical songs. (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).
After mingling with the vendors, we attended an event Brian wanted to make sure we didn’t miss: the tea ceremony. This is a tradition that goes back centuries and involves the ceremonial preparation and presentation of a powdered green tea called matcha. We were able to watch a condensed version of the ceremony while a young woman, who was a student of tea master, explained everything. It was fascinating to watch.
Then we saw a martial arts demonstration by the Indianapolis Kendo Club. I’ve long been interested in martial arts, so I always make sure to watch demonstrations like this. I was surprised at how noisy kendo is, but even that has the purpose of releasing the practitioner’s energy. The most thought-provoking thing I learned was that a strike in kendo is only to illustrate that the practitioner has already won the fight. (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).
Brian left after that, but I stuck around for the cosplay contest. This featured a parade of anime and video characters. The top three consisted of two Pokemon characters and a female rendition of the dragon Shenron from DragonBall. (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).
Overall, it was a fun and educational experience. Not unlike our podcast!
At last, it is time. Fasten your seat belts, kaiju fans. It’s like this movie was made for our show. Just as we were planning a podcast emphasizing the connection between the Godzilla franchise and international affairs, this masterpiece was delivered to us on a silver platter. This episode is our masterpiece. After our film description, part two is our opinion on the big picture of this incredible movie. Part three is a detailed chronological rundown of the film, and we will tie it to the events of 3/11. Our related topics are the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdowns.
This episode is dedicated to the victims of the 3/11 disaster, Plant Manager Masao Yoshida, the Fukushima 50, the U.S. service members who participated in Operation Tomodachi, U.S. Forces Japan, and the JSDF.
We’d like to send a shout-out to our patron Kyoei Toshi and Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level. Thank you for your support! We really appreciate it.
Go to our website next Wednesday (June 6) to learn what we have planned for future episodes.
Introduction: 0:00 – 2:42
Part 1 – Film Description: 2:42 – 9:02
Part 2 – Opinion of the Big Picture: 9:02 – 1:04:45
Part 3 – Chronological Rundown: 1:04:45 – 3:10:52
Closing: 3:10:52 – End
Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand
Editor: Brian Scherschel
Video Location: Lincoln Tower and Allen County Courthouse, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Video: Brian Scherschel
Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)
Copyright Brian J. Scherschel
All Rights Reserved
In the penultimate episode of Road to Shin Godzilla Month, Nate and Brian discuss Godzilla’s return to America with Legendary Pictures’ 2014 reboot directed by Gareth Edwards. Your hosts channel Siskel & Ebert again, only in reverse: Nate loves this film but Brian thinks it’s a mixed bag. They also draw several literary and historical parallels—including Riki-Tiki-Tavi and Saigō Takamori, the real-life last samurai—to this movie, which launched the MonsterVerse. While this is an American film, our related topic is the 2014 reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution.
Here’s the episode of the Strangers and Aliens podcast where Nate reviewed this film in 2014 with Ben Avery: http://strangersandaliens.com/2014/05/godzilla-summer-movie-series-sa127/
Next week, our Godzilla Journey comes to a head with the most in-depth analysis of Shin Godzilla you’ll hear in English.
Introduction: 0:00 – 2:02
Part 1 – Film Description: 2:02 – 7:32
Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:32 – 1:18:42
Part 3 – Related Topics: 1:18:42 – 1:43:30
Closing: 1:42:30 – End
Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand
Editor: Nathan Marchand and Brian Scherschel
Video Location: Pisgah Marsh (Pisgah Lake), Pierceton, Indiana
Video: Brian Scherschel
Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)
Copyright Brian J. Scherschel
All Rights Reserved