Book Review: ‘Terror of the Lost Tokusatsu Films!’ by John LeMay

by Nathan Marchand

You may remember John LeMay from our interview with him several weeks ago. He’s the author of multiple books, most notably The Big Book of Japanese Giant Monster Movies (Vol. 1 and 2) and The Big Book of Japanese Giant Monster Movies: The Lost Films. His newest book, Terror of the Lost Tokusatsu Films! (props for the Terror of Mechagodzilla-style title), is a sequel to The Lost Films. This one details the many unmade, mostly non-kaiju films from Toho, Daiei, and Toei, among others.

The book is comprised of two parts—“unmade films” and “rare films”—and multiple appendices. The films in each section are listed in chronological order, making it easy to see where they fit into Japanese film history and how they often fed into each other. In part one, readers will learn about the strange crossover film Frankenstein vs. the Human Vapor that probably led to Frankenstein Conquers the World and a pseudo-sequel to Atragon called The Flying Battleship. Heck, there was even a planned sequel to Toho’s 1973 mega-hit Submersion of Japan called After Japan Sinks. (The author of the novel that inspired the film wrote two sequels, by the way).

As fascinating as it is to see what could’ve been, part two is a treasure trove of rare gems that will make tokusatsu film hunters say, “Challenge accepted!” You’ll learn about Kaijuvision Radio favorite screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa’s 1956 passion project Fearful Attack of the Flying Saucers, a film not unlike The Day the Earth Stood Still that Sekizawa wrote and directed(!). There’s also entries on the various Invisible Man films produced by Toho and other Japanese studios. I’d no idea that book (and film) was that popular in Japan.

Starting with part two, the book includes guest essays by several other authors. They’re connected in some way to whatever film LeMay just detailed. The best one, in my opinion, is Peter H. Brothers’ piece, “The Horror Films of Ishiro Honda,” where he analyzes The H-Man, The Human Vapor, and Matango. This is followed by a pair of essays pertaining to “A Voice in the Night,” the short story by William Hope Hodgson that inspired Matango.

Finally, the appendices are packed with even more information and great supplements. My favorite was the one that included synopses of several of the unmade films, including translations of the original story treatments. It was great reading text penned by Sekizawa and others.

The book is well-organized. Each entry flows into the next, making for quick and easy reading. There’s a bibliography and index for speedy referencing.

The biggest improvement over LeMay’s previous books is actually the presentation. In the forward by Colin McMahon, he talks about going to local video stores and discovering new Godzilla and kaiju movies and how that same sort of thrill now comes from learning about these lost films. To that end, the book is designed to resemble a video tape—complete with “VHS” printed on the spine and the sentence, “Superior Quality Video Tape Recorded in LP Mode” on the back cover. Each film entry is designed like the title of a VHS cassette, often sporting the FBI copyright warning or hyperbolic taglines. It adds some great nostalgic flavoring. I rarely see such a creatively designed book.

If you’re looking to continue a journey into lost film, read this. If you’re looking to expand your horizons, read this. Heck, if you’re a tokusatsu fan, you owe it to yourself to read this!

G-Fest XXV (2018): Daniel DiManna Interview

I must say this interview is an immensely impressive accomplishment of film appreciation!

At G-Fest XXV, Nate and Brian recorded an interview with Daniel DiManna of the Godzilla Novelization Project.  His goal is to complete novelizations of every Japanese Godzilla movie.  We discuss putting oneself in the minds of the many great characters in the movies, which films will be the most challenging to novelize, and what other challenges emerge when undertaking this long-term project.  We had an enjoyable time and you will too when you listen to this.

You can visit the Godzilla Novelization Project homepage here.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patron Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level. Thank you for your support! We really appreciate it.

Brian Scherschel (Left), Daniel DiManna (Center), Nathan Marchand (Right)

MP3:

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Nate Returns to Redeemed Otaku for Godzilla Anime

We won’t be covering the Godzilla anime films until all three of them are out, but Nate was once again invited onto the Redeemed Otaku podcast to discuss the second film in the trilogy, City on the Edge of Battle. He and his friend/co-author Eric Anderson join host (and avid KVR listener) Bex as they detail their initial reactions to the film, theorize over what the third entry may hold, and discuss its moral and theological facets.

The episode description reads as follows:

The dynamic duo, Nathan and Eric, are back! We talk about the second installment of the Netflix original Godzilla anime. Will Godzilla win? Will Haruo finally become more than a two-dimensional character? Will we ever pronounce the name of the Bilusaludo correctly?

Redeemed Otaku is a podcast that examines all things anime from a Christian worldview. It’s hosted by Bex and a rotating troupe of co-hosts.

You can listen to the new episode here.

G-Fest XXV (2018): John LeMay Interview

At G-Fest XXV, Brian and Nate interviewed kaiju author John LeMay.  His latest book is called “Terror of the Lost Tokusatsu Films!”.  We address a few lost Godzilla films, his research process, why some of these lost films didn’t get made, and how some elements of these films could still end up in newer movies.  Some titles we discuss include “Bride of Godzilla”, “Batman Meets Godzilla”, “Tokyo S.O.S.: Godzilla’s Suicide Strategy”, and “Godzilla: Legend of the Asuka Fortress.”  Check out all of John’s books on his Amazon site here.

Nathan Marchand (Left), John LeMay (Center), Brian Scherschel (Right)

MP3:

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

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!

 

 

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!

What the Podcast Taught Me about Japan

by Nathan Marchand

Image by geralt. Courtesy of www.Pixabay.com.

Many listeners have told Brian and I that the podcast has been educational for them. Not only did they learn things about Godzilla films they didn’t know, but they also learned much about Japan (which is just as important). It was a goal we set early in our planning process, and I’m happy to see that we’ve succeeded. It’s one of the things that sets us apart from other Godzilla/kaiju podcasts.

However, listeners weren’t the only ones who learned new things—I did as well.

That might seem like an unusual thing to admit. I’m podcasting about this, after all, which makes me something of an expert, right? In many regards, that’s true. I’ve been a Godzilla fan since I was a teen, and I’ve absorbed a lot of knowledge about the franchise over the years. But in researching for Kaijuvision Radio, I feel like I’ve more than doubled my knowledge about these films.

One of my favorite “discoveries” was learning about screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa. Being a writer myself, I normally pay attention to screenwriter credits in films, but I never bothered to look up anything about him. I wish there was more information on him because he’s easily the most underappreciated member of Toho’s Showa era creative team. That’s why we take every opportunity to mention Sekizawa and the huge contributions he made to the franchise. He really did help make Godzilla the kaiju the fandom knows and loves.

More importantly, though, I learned much about the country that created Godzilla: Japan. Before this podcast, much of what I knew about the country was part of “Cool Japan.” I grew up watching G-films and anime and playing Japanese video games, among the country’s other exports. I learned things about the “real” Japan, but I still only knew the country in a pedestrian sort of way.

Now thanks to Brian and my research, I’ve become acquainted with the Japanese national spirit, which is one of the trademark subjects of our podcast. I’d heard a few things related to Japanese history—the Meiji Restoration, WWII, the Occupation, etc.—but not in detail. Things like the Japanese Economic Miracle, the Lost Decade, and the Yasukuni Shrine I didn’t know. One of the most eye-opening shows for me was episode 19 (Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla) when I dove deep into the rabbit hole that is Okinawa. If I once knew the island had been returned to Japan in the early 1970s, I’d forgotten, so I didn’t realize Toho made that Godzilla film for a people with a long history of animosity toward the mainland. It gave greater significance to a movie that’d long been just a fun romp.

It wasn’t just that film, though. The entire franchise has been enhanced by my new knowledge. Kaijuvision Radio is a film appreciation podcast, and part of that is understanding the original context for a movie’s creation. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I, like most people, am separated by time and culture with these films. I needed to be educated in order to more fully appreciate them. Without that, I was missing part of the story. How was I to know that the Xiliens were an expression of how the Japanese felt about foreigners? (See episode 11 for all the details). To me it was just a cool alien invasion film. Now it’s much, much more. Even something as recent as Shin Godzilla (episode 37) I wouldn’t have understood nearly as much if not for everything I’d learned in planning the podcast.

So, listeners, what was the most educational episode of Kaijuvision Radio for you? What did you learn from us that you didn’t know before?

If you’d like to help us continue creating podcasts that are both entertaining and enlightening, please support us on Patreon. We just added a new membership level with some great rewards, so don’t miss out!

The Speed and Efficiency of Content Release in Season 1

By Brian Scherschel

Nate and I are creating wholly original content: Original structure, original thoughts, original opinions, original videos, original music, original art, and an original approach. We utilized our innate strengths and experiences, and after two years of planning, Kaijuvision Radio was born.

We’re fast and efficient.

We covered the entire Godzilla franchise in just 8½ months, releasing 37 weekly episodes in a row, each one with a scenic background video. The grand total came to over 50 hours of content. No one has ever done this. But it wasn’t exhausting – it was exhilarating!

Moreover, we paid attention to what we were doing the entire time.

After all, speed is nothing if you aren’t doing it right. We created our part one film descriptions in order to properly introduce the movies and compare them to each other. We structured our discussions to avoid rambling. Most importantly, we defined the goals of the podcast so clearly that they became second nature: Raise the bar of the conversation about the movies, analyze Japanese historical and cultural inputs, embrace how Godzilla changes over time, and track relevant Japanese issues as we progress. Through this unique approach, we were able to demonstrate that there’s so much more to Godzilla than meets the eye in an informative and entertaining way.

The kaiju fandom is a small yet very special group. We have met some amazing people, and our patrons have been superb. We are thankful for all of their assistance.

Our panel at G-Fest will be recorded as an episode to be released in July. Then we will continue our film journey in September, with one movie episode per month plus more interesting content in store. If you like what we’re doing, check out our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/kaijuvision.

We have a $1, $5, $10, and now a $25 tier introduced today. We have our official Kaijuvision Radio t-shirt, and our new official coffee mug.

Kaiju Lover ($1/month) gets you our undying thanks and access to exclusive behind-the-scenes content, including our G-Fest activities and progress reports on our work.

Kaiju Commander ($5/month) gets you the previous tier’s rewards plus a monthly shout-out in an episode and listing on our episode descriptions.

Kaiju Visionary ($10/month) gets you the previous tier’s rewards plus our official Kaijuvision Radio t-shirt after 4 straight months.

Our new reward tier introduced today is:

Kaiju Connoisseur ($25/month) gets you the t-shirt and our official Kaijuvision Radio mug after 3 straight months.

Donations go towards the merchandise, advertising, equipment, website, and data transfer fees that keep our podcast running.

To really see what we’re made of, we strongly recommend Episode 37, our Shin Godzilla episode. We hope it will change the way the fandom discusses this incredible movie.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patrons Kyoei Toshi and Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level. Thank you for your support! We really appreciate it.