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Old May 20 2011, 12:07 PM   #1
Sean Aaron
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Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

I've been wallowing in childhood nostalgia recently amassing a full run of the Godzilla films, Rodan, Mothra (including Rebirth), Ultraman and even Space Giants, so I thought it would be interesting to know if there are other fans of Japanese Giant Monster movies and TV shows here.

The most interesting part has been tracking down the Godzilla films and watching them in the original Japanese with subtitles and with an anamorphic TohoScope presentation. I was impressed with the quality of the acting and although many of the early films were definitely lacking in the story department I was quite surprised by the Heisei and Millennium films in many cases.

Of course the price for doing this is having DVDs from four regions because not all regions have the films in print or the versions that are have compromises like English dub-only or 4:3 presentation. I did have to make a couple of concessions to get what appeared to be the best options (given my lack of comprehension of spoken Japanese): King Kong Vs. Godzilla is the R2 version which is anamorphic widescreen, but the American cut of the film with the dub featuring the annoying pronunciation of Hokkaido as "hokey-eye-doh" or "hoh-kay-doh." The other is R1 release of Godzilla 2000, which I mistakenly thought contained the Japanese soundtrack; thankfully the dub is actually quite good I don't feel too hard done by. Godzilla Returns (1985) and Godzilla Vs. Biollante are R3 and the video isn't that great; neither is the DVD mastering which is difficult to navigate using the Apple DVD player. Again, very watchable even though you do have Chinese and English subs on at the same time.

Ultraman has also been an interesting experience. Some of the shots of people falling are hilarious given it's obviously a ragdoll dummy being thrown off a cliff, but I've been surprised by some of the more serious episodes and interesting cinematography that appears halfway through - especially given this is clearly a children's show.

Space Giants (nee Ambassador Magma) is in some kind of copyright limbo presently, so I had to pay a modest chunk of change for a set from an online retailer specialising in bootlegs. I'm looking foward to being able to see the complete run since I used to only see it on tv during my summers in Illinois and it does have a serialised quality so I missed a lot of it.

When I think of it now it seems a bit odd that my friends and I in a small town in rural Illinois would watch all these imported Japanese shows (including Speed Racer, Lost Cities of Gold an Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets) and run around playing Ultraman and Goldar without a second thought. I expect if I met a Japanese person my own age and relayed this shared pop-culture experience they'd be suprised and amused.

Hopefully other people have fond memories to share.
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Old May 20 2011, 03:51 PM   #2
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

I haven't seen very many non-Godzilla daikaiju eiga but I do enjoy what I've seen, and I've seen every Godzilla film. My favorite was the Heisei series. It actually had sort of a loose continuity that I liked.
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Old May 20 2011, 06:25 PM   #3
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

I grew up on the old Godzilla films and never missed them when they came on the teevee. I've seen a few of the more modern ones but haven't been as impressed (although I'm apparently the only person on Earth that liked the American Godzilla...).
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Old May 20 2011, 06:29 PM   #4
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

I'm only missing 5 Godzilla films on DVD. King Kong vs. Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla 1985, and Godzilla vs. Biollante. The last 3 are not available on DVD in America legally. I do however own all of them on VHS.

I can't wait for the 2012 Godzilla film, Edwards seems to really care about it unlike E&D.
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Old May 20 2011, 06:35 PM   #5
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

Yeah the Heisei series was quite good. I though the continuity was actually tighter than in the Showa series - though that was surprising as well. If you watch the Showa films in sequence Gojira actually appears in a similar setting to where he goes down in the previous film. The same is true in the Heisei ones. The most notable improvements between the three is the nuance in the suit's "acting" ability - especially in the Millennium ones. Suspension of disbelief wasn't a problem at all for me in the later movies the actors did such a great job of bringing those creatures to life. The Godzilla films are definitely special though; I don't think anything bar Gamera comes close, but I think Godzilla is more sophisticated than Gamera. Although again, I'd really need to see the newer films in that series as well.

Regarding the the American Godzilla, well, I liked the treatment it got in the balls-out-mental Final Wars - a fitting end to that series. I hear tell another Japanese and an American film are being worked on (rumour has it the latter will use a guy in a suit rather than a CGI iguana). Anyone know anything more about that?

@SG17: you can get 1985 an Godzilla vs. Biollante from Yesasia.com for a reasonable price. They are R3, but they're NTSC so if you have a region-free DVD player (or external DVD on your computer you don't mind changing to R3) you're good to go.
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Old May 20 2011, 06:51 PM   #6
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

Sean Aaron wrote: View Post
Yeah the Heisei series was quite good. I though the continuity was actually tighter than in the Showa series - though that was surprising as well. If you watch the Showa films in sequence Gojira actually appears in a similar setting to where he goes down in the previous film. The same is true in the Heisei ones. The most notable improvements between the three is the nuance in the suit's "acting" ability - especially in the Millennium ones. Suspension of disbelief wasn't a problem at all for me in the later movies the actors did such a great job of bringing those creatures to life. The Godzilla films are definitely special though; I don't think anything bar Gamera comes close, but I think Godzilla is more sophisticated than Gamera. Although again, I'd really need to see the newer films in that series as well.

Regarding the the American Godzilla, well, I liked the treatment it got in the balls-out-mental Final Wars - a fitting end to that series. I hear tell another Japanese and an American film are being worked on (rumour has it the latter will use a guy in a suit rather than a CGI iguana). Anyone know anything more about that?

@SG17: you can get 1985 an Godzilla vs. Biollante from Yesasia.com for a reasonable price. They are R3, but they're NTSC so if you have a region-free DVD player (or external DVD on your computer you don't mind changing to R3) you're good to go.
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe and Gamera: Attack of Legion are both available on (a single) blu-ray by Mill Creek publishing, in the US at least, but it is barebones. Gamera: Awakening of Iris is supposed to come out this year with a bunch of special features for all three films.

I'd rather not invest in a region free DVD player since I don't expect to buy anymore non-Region 1 titles. I did manage to find all 3 on a torrent site with DVD quality video and dual-language channels and subtitles, which I subsequently burned, but I would love for them to get a proper US release.
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Old May 20 2011, 06:57 PM   #7
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

Yeah I don't get what's up with those specific titles, though it's probably worldwide rights just like Godzilla vs. Megalon (I got the R4 version from Madman along with most of the Showa and the remaining Heisei films - they're excellent!). Godzilla Vs. Biollante was distributed on video in the US; I think that was the last one until the Millennium films wasn't it?

It would be a lot easier if the Japanese releases just included an English subtitle option, though they are pretty expensive.
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Old May 20 2011, 07:02 PM   #8
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

Paging Gojirob, Trek BBS' resident Godzilla encyclopedia, to the thread...
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Old May 20 2011, 07:29 PM   #9
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

I'm a big fan of the Godzilla movies, especially the Heisei and Millenium series. I haven't seen many of the Showas other than a few bits and pieces of some of them when Syfy used to show them years ago. But I do have some of them on my Netflix queue so I'll be rectifying that soon.
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Old May 20 2011, 07:52 PM   #10
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

Sean Aaron wrote: View Post
Yeah I don't get what's up with those specific titles, though it's probably worldwide rights just like Godzilla vs. Megalon (I got the R4 version from Madman along with most of the Showa and the remaining Heisei films - they're excellent!). Godzilla Vs. Biollante was distributed on video in the US; I think that was the last one until the Millennium films wasn't it?

It would be a lot easier if the Japanese releases just included an English subtitle option, though they are pretty expensive.
Godzilla vs. Biollante was the last Godzilla film to be released on VHS in the US until 1996 when Tristar started to release the rest of the Heisei series to build up hype for the E&D film. Afterwards the first 2 Millennium films were released on both DVD and VHS and the rest just on DVD. Around the 50th anniversary in 2004 is when Sony and Classic Media started to release the Showa films on DVD.

Godzilla vs. Megalon has been in licensing hell for several years. At first it was assumed to be public domain so several different companies released it on VHS and MST2K used it for an episode. It, however, has not been released on DVD officially licensed by Toho in the US. There is a faint ray of hope that Media Blasters will finally be able to get the rights and release it.
It only gets more convoluted from here. No one really knows what happened to the US rights to Godzilla 1985, supposedly they stuck with someone at New World Films after they fell apart and it hasn't changed hands yet. Godzilla vs. Biollante's right were inherited by Miramax, but they haven't done anything with it. Destroy All Monsters got an official release by ADV in 1999 but it was completely barebones, no menus, and it only had the US TV dub. It was released in 2004 but it was identical. ADV collapsed and one person (who I can't remember his name) left over form ADV has the rights to DAM but won't do anything with it.

Luckily distribution rights have to be renewed every once and a while, so hopefully Toho will reclaim them and sell them to someone who will something good with them, or perhaps publish the films themselves. The only exception is King Kong vs. Godzilla whose US distribution rights are permanently with Universal.
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Old May 20 2011, 10:30 PM   #11
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

SG-17 wrote: View Post
Godzilla vs. Megalon has been in licensing hell for several years. At first it was assumed to be public domain so several different companies released it on VHS and MST2K used it for an episode. It, however, has not been released on DVD officially licensed by Toho in the US. There is a faint ray of hope that Media Blasters will finally be able to get the rights and release it.
The R4 release is really good: anamorphic Japanese cut - awesome. Rhino even released a DVD of the MST3K version in volume 10, if you were lucky enough to order it upon release (like me) then you could have gotten it before a court order forced them to swap it out for Attack of the Giant Gila Monster (available separately for those who got the original volume 10).

After that I make sure to buy all my MST3K boxes right when they come out just in case that kind of thing happens again. Apropos of the thread the next MST3K box is going to be all five Gamera films and have a limited edition tin - woooooooo!
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Old May 21 2011, 12:23 AM   #12
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

I'm a huge fan of the genre. I started out with Godzilla movies when they were aired on TV back during the hype of 1998 (the one good thing to come of that Emmerich movie).
Later, I tried Gamera and found I liked him. Even later, I found out about Ultraman. That one is hard to come by here in Germany, as the only production of Ultraman to ever be released in Germany were two VHS tapes of the anime, and those came before I was even born. But once I got my first Ultraman DVD, I fell in love.

Today, I'm writing short fiction and articles for the biggest German monster movie fanzine PRANKE.
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Old May 21 2011, 03:50 AM   #13
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

love Godzilla movies. haven't seen some of the other related Toho films yet, like 'Atragon' or 'Latitude Zero'. just recently picked up the Rodan/War of the Gargantuas dvd. i do love some Ultraman and Iron King as well.
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Old May 21 2011, 04:30 AM   #14
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

You should really look into Toho's other science fiction/kaiju films. Frankenstein Conquers the World, Dogora, Battle in Outer Space, Mothra, Space Amoeba, King Kong Escapes, Matango, Atragon, and The Mysterians are fun films.
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Old May 21 2011, 06:58 AM   #15
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Re: Daikaiju Fans Declare Yourselves!

Would the Japanese Spider-Man be considered daikaiju? I watched the first episode on the Marvel website ages ago and enjoyed it. I never have gotten back to it yet, but I hope to eventually.
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