japanese monsters

The Secret Stash!

My husband and I are big fans of the show Comic Book Men. We recently went to visit his family in New Jersey, and our destination was not terribly far from Red Bank, where the store that is the home of the show is located. So, last Saturday, we piled ourselves and the mother-in-law into the car for a trek to The Secret Stash, workplace of Walt,Bryan,Mike and Ming.

Mike Zapcic was the only one out of the group in attendance that day; we will know to inquire first next time, to see if more of the guys will be working. Mike also pointed out that if people are coming specifically to visit Ming, he will break speed and sound records from wherever he is to get to the store.

Red Bank turned out to be a very pretty place, and it was a gorgeous day. We had wanted to really enjoy the city, but I think we were pushing Steve’s mom’s endurance as it was, so we made the most out of our time in the store! My main mission was to ask the guys about “My First Comic Book”–specifially, what they would recommend to a person who has not grown up on comic books but was now interested in taking the plunge into them. Specific questions were dealt with–do I prefer Marvel or DC, and I am definitely a Marvel gal. I also like Spiderman, having watched the cartoon after school, and getting to meet Spidey at Six Flags in the 70’s.

Mike, who normally is the quieter personality on the show, was an absolute powerhouse of conversation and one-liners while we were there, and went straight to a comic he thought I would enjoy as a beginner–Spiderman: Death of the Stacys. Yes, rather morbid startup material, but I read it all while we were on vacation and I really enjoyed the writing style.

 

Thanks for making our visit so special, Mike, and we hope to see you and the rest of the guys again next year!

Kaiju of the Month: HEDORAH

From from the 1971 film Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Hedorah came from the Dark Gas Nebula and fed on  pollution, hence its alternate name of the Smog Monster. Falling to Earth as a cloud of spores, Hedorah hatched into millions of microscopic tadpole-like organisms which began to feed upon mankind’s pollution. As they increased in number and power, they began to merge into a giant monster of living sludge capable of reducing the entire planet to an uninhabitable wasteland.

hedorah1

Interesting about this kaiju is that is appears in three forms: a land form, a flying form, and a water form. All have the detailed, blood red eyes; the dark, unctuous body; and the glowing head for a truly disturbing look.

Kaiju of the Month: GAMERA!

I’m trying to remember to make a kaiju (Japanese Movie Monster) post in the second week of every month. This month I present one of the biggies: Gamera!

GAMERA

Gamera is a giant, flying turtle  starring in films produced by Daiei Motion Picture Company in Japan. Created in 1965 to rival the success of Toho Studios’ Godzilla series during the monster boom of the mid-to-late 1960s, Gamera has gained fame and notoriety as a Japanese icon in his own right.

Gamera is similar to other turtles, having a resilient and strong protective shell into which he can withdraw his body. However,the resemblance ends there, as Gamera can then fly, with rocket blasts shooting from the holes for his limbs. He also has a mouthful of teeth and huge tusks, he breathes fire,and he walks on two legs.

In his first series of films, Gamera appears as an ancient giant specis of tortoise reawakened by an accidental atomic blast in the Arctic during an aerial assault by US fighters on Soviet bombers caught crossing into North American airspace. In later movies, his background has been reassembled into that of a hero:a bio-engineered Guardian of the Universe,created by a company called Atlantis.

From Wikipedia: The giant turtle is found floating adrift in the Pacific, encased in rock and mistaken for an atoll. Within the rock, investigators discover a large monolith explaining Gamera’s purpose, as well as dozens of magatama, which allow a psychic link between Gamera and humans. In the third film of the series, an undersea graveyard is found with many other Gamera fossils, suggesting Gamera was not the only member of his kind created. One character in the film refers to these fossils as “beta versions” of Gamera, possible failures in Atlantis’ attempts to create the final version. Another scene provides Gamera with a link to Asian folklore, with a character relating a story in which a giant tortoise is considered the Guardian of the North, with separate, rival creatures defending the East, West and South.

A second regeneration of Gamera occured during the Millenium Era, with the story circulating around a young boy finding an egg and taking it home to hatch it. A turtle hatches from the egg but then grows at an alarming rate.The turtle then develops the classic Gamera powers and begins fighting off monsters, but cannot gain its full power until ingesting the strange glowing rock the boy had found with its egg. The rock seems to have come from the site where Gamera is seen in a flashback at the beginning of the movie,sacrificing himself to destroy several Gyaos in 1973.

When seriously injured, Gamera can enter a coma-like state to heal. His only real weakness is to cold.

Kaiju: Japanese Movie Monsters!

I learned a new word yesterday:Kaiju, which is a Japanese word that means “strange beast,” but often translated in English as “monster.” Essentially, they are the giant, city-stomping, roughly-humanoid monsters in Japanese special effects movie franchises such as Godzilla,Gamera,Mothra, Rodan, The Space Giants, Ultraman,etc.Since these are monsters, and are always brought to life with the help of costumes and some puppetry, I feel that they definitely belong in my blog.

I was inspired two times yesterday on kaiju.
First, an entry by my friend voodoochild9, in which she’s making some great little Beatles cartoon strips and one plot involves the boys turning into movie monsters Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and Gamera.I definitely want to stick around for that.

The second instance of kaiju yesterday features in the blog of Jorge Garcia(“Hurley” in the show Lost), as he explains a film term he’s never heard before.

I’ve always liked Godzilla, but I think I liked the array of monsters in the Gamera series the most. However, the show “The Space Giants” probably had more monsters whose names I can actually remember, and I watched it after school every day as a kid.

My favorite kaiju of all, however, comes from the Gamera series.He is from the fifth Gamera movie, and he’s called Guiron:

Guiron has all the basic traits of being a costumed-human-as-monster: legs and arms, human proportions, etc. Except for two things: he often travels on all fours, and above all, his most obvious feature—THAT HEAD. He has a gigantic blade that he sports on his head, which is nearly as long as his body.A really nifty fact is that due to the lack of distinction in Japanese between the “l” and “r” sounds, Guiron is actually named after the guillotine.
Hence, my lead into this great spoof artwork I found: