Review: "Gehara: The Long And Dark Haired Monster"

^The closest thing to "Gehara, Garemon, Giant Robot: Japan SOS" we will ever get.

The last of the kaiju films I have been meaning to review for a while is "Gehara" or as the legal title is, "Geharha" (though if that was the actual translation, then Godzilla would be Gojirha). Technically, I am re-reviewing it. The original review didn’t survive the blog transition so here we are. So, since most have already seen the film, I am going to skip to the review. Though I should mention, it is awesome finally seeing the film subtitled.

This film is one of two films Kiyotaka Taguchi directed in 2008/2009. The other is "G". Though this film is vastly more superior to "G" in every way. Now sure, Shinji Higuchi was on board for the SFX work here, but I am talking about other things. "G" was directed in a very erratic sense. "Gehara" isn’t and for good reason. With this we do not waste the talents of Shiro Sano, a Godzilla veteran. With this, we get a more traditional and well rounded kaiju film. Gone is the gore and nut shots of "G". Instead, this film is just one big tribute. From the Ifukube music to the "Ultraman", "War of the Gargantuas", and "Mysterians" and other reverences to the ending which is inspired - if not copied - from Takeshi Shimura’s final lines from the original "Gojira", this is a cool kaiju short that pulls out all of the stops, including bringing on destruction a single kaiju hasn’t brought on since "Gamera 2: Advent of Legion".

Now we can just hope that the faux trailer for "Gehara: Monster Martial Law" isn’t as faux as some think it is.
Score: 4.7/5

Review: "Deep Sea Monster Reigo vs. The Battleship Yamato"

Shinpei Hayashida. It is sad that not too many people in the fandom know his name by heart. Sure, they know about his most famous film - "Gamera 4: Truth" - but sadly, they do not know too much about him and his other works. Here is one thing about him: he is a major kaiju fan. He has made a fan film on Godzilla before he did one on Gamera. Another thing is that Shinpei: he is skilled in rakugo. These factors, put together, is some of the reasons why "Deep Sea Monster Reigo vs. The Battleship Yamato" works and even has an edge of originally against it’s amateur CGI work. Again, I saw this film un subtitled so I relied on SciFiJapan to help me out here.

The story is an untold chapter of the legendary Yamato battleship’s short story. Human wise, the story is set around Yukijiro Hotaru‘s character, a navy commander of some sort and the young Taiyo Sugiura’s character. Yukijiro is playing a character far from the Mr. Osako we know him of the Gamera trilogy. This character is crude and perverted while trying to deal with a creepy encounter with an old man who tells him the legend of Reigo. Taiyo Sugiura is the love interested of the story. A pretty boy, he is one of the young men sent out, leaving his mother and childhood sweet heart behind. The movie revolves around those two characters.

Now, time for the review. The SFX are something that need to be discussed first since many people have taken note of them. Now, the fact that this film is a collaboration of Tomoo Hariguchi (of Gamera 3 and Death Kappa fame) and Keita Amemiya (I have no idea what he has done) has been publicized as a big deal is not a factor here. I mean, even Shinichi Wasaka worked on the film (I am watching the making of segment when they are painting the Bonefish props and I have seen Wasaka on screen accouple of times along with the Finaro-Goji suit). But I bet due to it’s low budget, CGI was used. And those thinking that YONGGARY was bad needs to think again. Though I liked this film, I have no doubts that the CGI usage will drive some American tokusatsu otaku away from this production. Though the puppets and models are some of the most detailed I have seen, the CGI battleships and ocean scenery are a turn off. Watcher be aware.

I do not know who directed the SFX model-wise, but I got three guesses: Kazuaki Skiyama, Katsuo Kawazoe, or Hajime Matsumoto. Maybe all three did their own parts of the SFX shots. However, the direction with the SFX is very nice. Some moments are a little questionable, like why they chose to shoot the scene with the bonefish the way they did, but there are some awesome shots. Such is one of Reigo rising out of the water, does a turn in the air, and goes back down in the water. The little maneuver take a little off the Yamato’s top and causes a little explosion. It is like a Matrix-kaiju scene done right. Some explosion scenes are also done beautifully. Another beautiful shot is when Reigo first comes up out of the water full body. SciFiJapan actually has this scenes broken down frame by frame in their coverage of the film. I suggest you go see it.

The directorial style of the human scenes is good. But it is nothing too special. It is nice to see some black and white scenes through the film, but overall it is nothing too special. The plot is executed well though. The romantic side of the story is executed well, enough to touch a person emotionally. The comedy bits are good enough to make you laugh with it, even without subtitles. And Hayashida’s experience in rakugo shows, especially in the end with Hayashida showing his version of the Yamato’s downfall, which includes a cameo by famous Kabuki performer Ukon Ichikawa. The downfall of the Yamato battle ship is something which obviously is something very spiritual and that is captured completely.

Overall, unless you see it subtitled, I see a lot of kaiju fans not wanting to take the time to watch this film. And it is sad since it is a good film. There really is no reason why NOT to watch the film. It is one of the more original kaiju films that has NOT been made by anyone named Kaneko or Higuchi in a long time - in fact, it is one of the best since Biollante. But of course this film is not as good as GMK. But it is defiantly worth a watch.

Score: 4/5