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!

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.

Regarding Our Groundbreaking Shin Godzilla Episode

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.

Episode 37: Shin Godzilla (2016)

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.

MP3:

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 and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved