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?

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Episode 20: Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

The Showa Series (and ‘70s month) comes to an end in this week’s episode, wherein Nate gushes over one of his favorite Godzilla films. This is a “dark™” melodrama with complex characters, lots of explosions, incredible kaiju action—and alien invaders who almost undermine the movie’s tone. Listen as Nate argues the film’s merits to Brian by connecting it to C.S. Lewis (you read that right!). Since this is the final entry in the Showa Series, our related topics are Emperor Showa’s first visit to the United States in 1971, his first press conference in 1975, and the Yasukuni Shrine.


Introduction: 0:00 – 2:13

Part 1 – Film Description: 2:13 – 7:57

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:57 – 1:05:47

Part 3 – Related Topic: 1:05:47 – 1:52:50

Closing: 1:52:50 – End


Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge (St. Mary’s River), Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

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

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved