Review: Guilala's Counterattack

WARNING: Spoilers Present. Don't like it - don't read it.
Rating: 7/10
Special thanks to Lee Merrit for making this review possible

While most kaiju filmmakers right now are either making short films with good SFX progress or helping to add to the action sourced epicness of the Ultra Galaxy film series, there was one who brought it upon himself to make something in just the other way: make the film seem late Showa-esque while trying to do what the old Showa films and some other films (every now and then) since have done - comment on the times (as all good SF does). Minoru Kawasaki does this - to an extent - with "Guilala’s Counterattack: Attack on the G8 Summit". How does the proclaimed "Tim Burton/Ed Wood of Japan" fair with kaiju?

This is not the first time that Kawasaki has done kaiju. In addition to his cameo in the Toru-San films, Guilala was featured in "Zettai Yaseru Den Ace Uchu Dai Kaiju Girara Tojo! / Space Kaiju Shoshingeki", which is a Henshin spoof from Kawasaki (a straight to video release - released 2 days after the initial press release regarding the production of "Guilala’s Counterattack"). With the film, Kawasaki tried to make the film political in the same sense of "Gojira" (1954). However, the road used to achieve such a task is not through dialogue and use of metaphor in a serious tone. Instead, he presents us with a living caricature.

This is something which could cause a debate with viewers. Many cannot decide on the extent on which the caricatures go, on weather it was meant or too exaggerated with some of the ridiculousness just naturally coming from the gaijin. In my opinion, the script’s dialogue for the politicians is 100% intentional satirical intentionally. It comes off as such. As for the gaijin, whether they played it in the same way or if they tried to take some of it seriously (which may have been funnier in some cases) is unknown to me. The acting is so flat I cannot make the distinction. However, some of the comments seem to come off as blatant political incorrectness instead of satirical elements. Even after that, some of the dialogue also seems to have borrowed some traits from the anime, "Hetalia: Axis Powers" - having character represent whole countries and yet instead of talking professionally say things which pretty much come from the general feeling coming from the country based on what the people want and what the country has done in the past.

With the screenplay commenting on matters regarding politics at the time and troupes within the kaiju genre (Burdenous adolescents and people not really singing to the chants on the soundtrack at times), but in a scene in which a television news show interviews some people, puts kaiju films in real life and we see Kawasaki’s commentary about them. The long haired man with sun glasses at the beginning of this scene is particularly interesting, having mentioned Baragon and Varan. He doesn’t care really about the damage Guilala is doing, in fact he thinks it is a cool way to die - the latter being a sentiment a good number of American fans deal with. This shows that kaiju films (in this case, the Toho variety) would dull our sense of danger if a real life kaiju attack was to take place. After "Godzilla vs. Megalon", who can take kaiju too seriously? GMK and Cloverfield is not enough to help reinstate the sense of dread the films once possessed.

With the lack of care, we see a kaiju’s effect on a real life economy. A bakery is selling Guilala hot cakes and Guilala candy. Their response when asked about it is, "I feel bad for the victims, but business is business". Capitalism, no matter how gratifying (those in the US know that. Sure, recessions and depressions are sucky but when inflation comes about it is awesome), is a source of moral evil - one which includes over use of resources. Though this may be typical tree hugger stuff, this is coming from a Shinto nation which did draft the Kyoto treaty.

In fact, the second person interviewed after the long haired sunglasses-wearing dude is a man who thinks that it is for the better of the world in general that humanity be quashed (though many do not like this sentiment since we as humans value the life of our brethren. But there are those like Harlan Ellison who believe that the race should "go to the cockroaches). Guilala has become a metaphor for anti-capitalism, much like Mothra in 1961 and again in 1964. Only, this is done in a much more believable manner. Imagine someone making merchandise for 9/11 made just for profit and no financial benefit of victims? More relatable than the incubation of a gargantuan egg. Now, some have critisized that though this point is made in the film, it sadly doesn't encompass the whole film therefore is wasted. Think again. The film starts from the mentionings of the naughtiness of merchandising off of disaster and that Guilala may be best for the planet as a whole to going back to something which Gvs.KG91 had going with it's capitolism message - there is nothing spiritual about it so it is in vein. Think about it, apart from the fact that the plans are absurd, the world leaders are their for either money or sex. Especialy money. Alot of people would love to go to the country that defeated Guilala (and I belive a similar line was in GINO). However, it took something spiritual to defeat the problem.

As for the Japanese cast, the acting is mediocre at best. Not as bad as the gaijin, but it isn’t any GMK or such. We have the usual Showa formula here - reporters, a scientist who isn’t necessarily there all of the time, and army personnel. In a very Mothra/Geharha-esque move though, we have religion have a play here. Ritual song and dance, with emphasis on hand movements about the pelvis which seem to symbolize the human phallus. It is this religious angle of the film though that brings out the most originality to the film.

While Take-majin is nothing new (woo, we see Beat Takeshi as Susa-No-O and a samurai along with actually acting in the Take-majin suit… well that last is a first. A big action star going all siutmation on us as far as I am aware), what happens with the cast of Japanese and the cast of the forest village is a first. Unlike "Mothra vs. Godzilla" or "Gamera 3: Incomplete Struggle", when religion takes a part - it takes non-believers to convert to help bring upon positive change.

Further more, when dealing with a kaiju film which deals with a real deity and not something which could be debated to be a deity (Gamera), we actually have a God intervening with a natural event. The Christian god doesn’t intervene with natural stuff till the rapture but Take-Majin intervenes with natural stuff - including aliens. Guilala seems to be a demon, but nothing really ties him to such routes (though the threat of him possibly multiplying could signal Legion and Armageddon). That is where the greatest thing about this film lies - the kaiju.

The new Guilala suit is without a doubt the best kaiju suit made in a very, very long time. Even without CG enhancements, the only negative about the suit is the visibility of the vision wholes in the neck which the suit actor would be able to see through. The suit is better proportioned, a tad bulkier (which works), and the detailing is great. The best aspect of the suit though is it’s range of emotion without the use of CG or, as it seems, multiple suits or separate prop electric heads. It is the best kaiju suit since the Sokogeki-Goji suit. Guilala snores/sleeps, laughs, eats, catches a missile (great hand/eye coordination for a kaiju), burps, shows surprise, and even gets high (and dances to a classical harpsichord piece). And happy high, not heavy depressing drunk like the Bio-Goji was in "Godzilla vs. Biollante" which needed a cold shower AKA some time in a bay to wake up. A good bit of credit must also go to Guilala’s suit actor, the Godzilla series’ Hurricane Ryu!

The best aspect of the film though is the score. Practices in the styles of other countries’ music mixed with variations of the main theme makes for an OK soundtrack which emulates the late Maestro Ifukube’s work and gets away with most of it.

Overall, the film is not a tremendous success and can get quite boring at times with the satire, and even with great CG when used, the use of the same set over and over again could be annoying for some who watch the film multiple time. But "Guilala’s Counterattack" does offer some interesting things to think about. It has some fun elements, a little educational (the increase of carbon emissions by 8% by Japan is an interesting point), cinematography which looks good (and looks similar to Gamera: The Brave’s), and they even talk about something not really talked about - the disposing of the kaiju corpse. The film gets a 7/10 from JG2KM. Not the best, but not the worse. Defiantly the best since Masaaki Tezuka’s "Godzilla X Mechagodzilla".

Special scene to mention
-Before Germany’s plan is put under way, nuclear weapons are discussed since the taboo of chemical warfare on Guilala was discussed. Like the kaiju eiga from the past, nuclear weapons are still a taboo (Even has creepy synth music. Funny thing is after the solemnest is over, we get some comedy with US president saying, "what the hell is he thinking).