Trip Down Memory Lane - tokyomonsters.com

Believe it or not, I took this screen cap today.

To many tokusatsu otaku out there, this was one of the best sites you could go to. For me, between Tohokingdom's DVD section, DigitalMonsterIsland, and this site, this was the best of them. This was a site which taught me and a lot of other fans bits and more about not only kaiju eiga but also the many DVDs that were out at the time of these films and shows that we love so much. This is James Ballard's Tokyo Monsters, the premeir site for DVD reviews of most regions.

This site was important for numerous reasons. First and foremost, informative reviews of the films' DVD releases were some of the most detailed, both in text and in pictures. Second, it helped teach me (and some other people for sure) about DVDs and the terminology that went along with them. Third, the site was most important in that for download were subtitles for most R2 kaiju DVDs as well as a good bit of the R1 DVDs. These subtitles are painstaking works by bilingual fans for films released in America with dubtitles (GMK anyone?).

The important thing is that the site is not at all gone. Though the site has been let go of and, under normal circumstances not accessible. However, it has been archived. Here is a link:

It is not easy internet surfing, let me assure you. There is some times in which you would have to actually change stuff in the url address yourself to get to things like the Region 2 and region 1 DVD reviews, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem. TokyoMonsters is still around thus I hope you will enjoy it.


Kiyotaka Taguchi: A Retrospect REDUX

What I have decided to do here with this one blog entry is post something I was going to submit to G-FAN about a year ago but didn’t since once after copying and pasting the text into an e-mail, the text got mixed up. What I tried to do here was resurrect the "film book", a feature early issues of G-FAN had which acted as a monetization for the film and had some history added on at the end. That is what I have done here.

ADDITION 6/4/11: Since learning about the print screen function, the article has had some additional editing along with added pictures (all making of pictures) - clear as possible from DVDs of GEHARHA and "G". What this article is trying to do is put Kiyotaka Taguchi's work into critical analytical context, such as what David Kalat did in his book, one which I look up to, A CRITICAL HISTORY AND FILMOGRAPHY OF TOHO'S GODZILLA SERIES. Enjoy.

FILMBOOK: "Geharha, The Long and Dark Haired Monster"
It was dark and murky that early morning, on the Japan Sea. Must have been around four or five in the morning. Most people were asleep without a care. Only a single, small fishing boat with two men were on the suspicious waters, taking a chance at being alone in the dark. One man was chugging a bottle of wine, already drunk for the most part. The other man was at the controls, monitoring the boat’s safety. We wait for something to happen, until the man steering (who we will assume is the captain) met the console in front of him with widened eyes of dark curiosity.

"Hmmmm…. That’s weird" said the captain.
"What is it" said the drunkard, bottle still close to the lips.
The captain exclaimed, "The engines aren’t working!"
The drunkard had put down the bottle. Resting his arm and head against the side window of the boat, he sighed, "Something must have stuck onto it." Outside, the water began to get more ferocious. Out of the left side of the ship, a big pile of hair started to submerge. The drunkard got serious. "What is that? Hey, come take a look!" The captain got up.

"What?" The captain made it over to his friend and looked out into the dark. The whole body of the hairy gargantuan arose out of the water. The drunkard started screaming with the Captain exclaiming with his final words, "Oh my God, it’s…. it’s…. HAIR!!!!!" The boat exploded, sending smoke into the sky. Over the crackling fire sounded a the ferocious call of a hairy daikaiju.
Later that morning, a female reporter donned the TV screen of Hideo, a married journalist who is also sharing a house with his grandmother in law. This matter intrigues him unlike any other. He watched anxiously, as he laid down in the kitchen area, dining cloth covering him like a blanket. The female reporter talked on. "Early this morning, a fishing boat exploded…" No sooner did the female reporter speak that Hideo’s one and only came in.
"Come on Hideo! Don’t be lazy and help me out!" She was carrying breakfast. Stepping over Hideo, she made the table ready for the most important meal of the day. Hideo wasn’t too content about this latest complaint about him.
"Shut up. It is really important for us journalists to check out news programs like this." Hideo finished his sentence as more interesting information came through. "Fisherman Mr. Tasaki is currently missing. The Coastal Guard has been making a rescue effort since this morning…" That last piece of news made Hideo think. Observing the hair left on the boat’s salvaged remains, Hideo made the assumption, "It looks like it was sunken by a hairy kaiju!"
"God, another "kaiju" story?" said the wife. However, joining in on the conversation was Hideo’s mother in law, who was also brining in food for breakfast. She sat down and helped set blue and white porcelain bowl while the wife buttered bread.
"There isn’t anything like that in today’s world" the mother proclaimed.
Hideo protected his claim, saying "Well, we are in the age of science. We have to uncover the truth." With that being said, he grabbed a piece a toast and put it in his mouth. After that, he got up and put on his coat and hat as he rushed out the door, trying to get the newest scoop on this monumental information. Hideo knew the first place he had to go: the government moderated hospital.
At the hospital, many a photo journalist there was. In a small bed, the drunkyard remained. Over and over again, the drunkard repeat the same word, "Hair… Hair… Hair…" The doctor finally came in, a voice of truth.
"His hair has strangely fallen out. He must have experienced something very terrifying." The nurse stood behind the good doctor with the IV being kept an eye on. Hideo watched as another journalist bent down to ask a question. "Mr. Murakami, what in the world did you experience?" The journalist looked up to see Mr. Murakami being just three feet away from him, peering down onto the victim.
"A sea-man could have done this. Or, we can assume that a Keukegen might have caused it. Anyways, go ahead and go through all the materials we have and conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause…" Murakami was going to finish his sentence. But he never got to. All of a sudden, the drunkard came up and started ripping at Mr. Murakami’s hair, screaming, "Hair!"
Later that day, Hideo walked up the tiring mountain path. He took a break to catch his breath. Upon looking up, he noticed a stone tori gate in front of him. By the side, a giant stone was erect, with the Japanese words engraved on it saying "Shrine of Geharha". Hideo started walking again. Louder and louder Shinto prayers were being prayed. Something had happened. Once there, Hideo opened up the door with a bang. Slowly, everyone turned around and looked at him. The onmyodo master had a malcontent look on his face.
"Who is this?"
Hideo took off his hat. What he was doing wasn’t looking for news directly. He was going to become the harbinger of bad news. "I heard you know about the Keukegen "Gehara", and there is something which you need to know." No sooner that when he told the tribe the news that he found out about the location of Geharha. Camera in hand, he raced through the village. The villagers were chasing him, claiming, "You must not go! You will be cursed by the great Geharha!" But the case didn’t last long. Hideo stopped at a cliff. The tribal members stopped also. Below and in front of them, the forest had been devastated.
"Oh, no… The seal has been broken! Nobody can stop the Great Gehara now." The village members look on as they lay witness to what could be the beginning of an apocalypse.


Meanwhile, the waves were crashing and the birds were chirping at the Yase Cliff, Noto Peninsula, where a young couple were trying to get their picture taken together. The boy friend asked the girl friend to get closer to the edge. However, the camera wouldn’t take pictures of the couple. Instead, something more monstrous would be having it’s photograph taken as it wiped the couple clean off of the face of the earth as the giant monster, the Keukegen Geharha came ashore.
In the days to come, reports of destroyed rail systems and national wild life reserves would come in, making countries such as India and the countries like Africa have to repeat the news of Geharha. Finally, the Japanese government made it official that it was a kaiju that was causing the melee. On the news, Mr. Murakami proclaimed, "We even thought it was done by the Gods, the old rulers of the earth. Considering all the evidence, it must be a monster. There is no question that this is all because of a kaiju.Japanese news stations then started making reports.

"According to the authorities, the monster - now named Gehara from ancient lore - has hit the shore of the Kanazawa region. The situation of the damage is still unknown, but it is confirmed that Gehara is now heading to an urban area. Local residents should stay calm."
The city of Kanazawa was now evacuating. In the large crowd of people, walking away from the city (with Geharha in the visible distance). Within the mass exodus was Hideo’s wife and her mother. The mother wasn’t all that pleased, especially with Hideo.
"Where is Hideo?" she said in the typical mother-in-law fashion.
The wife responded with a comment of peace, "I hope he’s safe."
At the same time, the Japanese Self Defence Force had set up base, dubbed the "MONSTER DISASTER HEADQUARTERS". In the main office lied a table with a with green lamps with politicians sitting at them. In the corner were three soldiers with equipment to monitor the situation. In the front were accouple of maps. Into the room walked Mr. Murakami and another soldier. It was quiet… to quiet. The soldier with Murakami whispered what he had to say…
"Will our weapons work on Gehara?"
"As long as he is a terrestrial being, his antibiotic must be the same as ours." Murakami said, keeping the same tone. Then the quiet was broken when a female soldier got off of the phone to report news.
"Gehara has reached Kanazawa!"
Back in Kanazawa, in front of a large dome/tori gate structure, foolish civilians who want a picture as well as a female news caster stood, waiting for the hairy leviathan’s appearance. The female reporter continued, "The Monster Gehara seems to be heading this way, demolishing building on the way. We can even hear his footsteps." Two teens ignorantly started dancing for the camera. All of a sudden, the great Keugen’s head reached above the building, roaring his roar of vengeance. People didn’t walk anymore, rather ran from the city. Geharha was on top of the dome now, peering directly onto the civilians. People started screaming, Geharha started stomping, making glass fly into the air.
The female reporter continued, "Gehara is now visible. It is extremely dangerous here!" Geharha was over the dome now. The male teen stopped dancing. "What, what? Going on? Oh, oh, oh hell, Damn it, run for your lives!" Geharha advanced, though due to his weight crushed the dome and turned over in a comedic manner. However, when he got up, he had part of a tower in his mouth. Geharha flung it into the air, ending the lives of the two teens and the news casters.
On the other side of things, tanks were being deployed. They were our last chance. Once in front of Geharha, they started firing. All the rounds had hit his abdomen, sending skin and hair flying. Back at the Monster Disaster Headquarters, Mr. Murakami looked on a television screen at the action.
"Yes, he’s gargantuan but his skin cannot be as hard as steel" he said.
More and more ammo was shot at Geharha. His hair flew and landed onto the ground. However, it wasn’t to last, the JSDF’s progress. The soldiers started to smell something… a fume given off my the severed follicles. The soldiers were in total disgust. "I cannot breath!" "He’s excreting gas!" "Retreat! Retreat!"
Mr. Murakami was in total bewilderment. The female soldier started giving more news. "Gehara is discharging gas from his fallen hair! Our personnel are incapacitated!" Another soldier butted in, "We can’t keep the defense line!"
"If we hit, he discharges gas. Plus, the long hair cushions the damage." said the soldier by Mr. Murakami. Mr. Murakami went to compare Geharha’s hair and the tank rounds to how… "A mud wall deads a cannon bullet." Everyone just shared at Murakami. Just in time though, came in an Americans scientist, terrible Japanese and all.
"I have a good idea! Why don’t we used the machine we developed?" Out on the table, the American scientist unrolled the blue prints to the new machine. In the meantime, Geharha continued to advance with a flock of birds fallowing him. All of the soldiers started evacuating.

However, Geharha turned his head. Down the street came another wave of planes and a strange weapon almost as tall as Geharha, the "Gas Vortical Device FUJIN". Over a radio, a female voice said, "Gas Vortical Device: Ready"
The American scientist back at the headquarters gave the orders. "Fujin, ignition!" The weapon, a giant fan, started blowing harder and harder, getting rid of the gas and moving the hair out of Geharha’s face. "Level Max!" said the American. Finally, the yellow patch of skin on Geharha’s forehead was exposed.
Mr. Murakami shouted out, "THERE IT IS!" The tanks started firing onto the spot. Everyone drew a sigh of relief, congratulating each other. Murakami broke the mood though.

"After all, humans are the scariest."

Explosives put on the Geharha Suit... damn that must sting.

Out of the debris came a pain-ridden Geharha, roaring with a steady stream of tears coming out of his eyes. Slowly, he made it out of the city and back towards the mountain area, through the vast forests. However, two F-15’s dropped bombs onto Geharha, making him fall to his death into a below lake where the tribe from earlier on was at. Everyone started getting a saddened feeling for the kaiju.
The soldier by Mr. Murakami broke the silence, "Is Gehara dead?"
Murakami responded, "More than likely, yes. Yet we have to remember that a second Gehara will appear soon unless we stop the environmental destruction."
Back at the village, the people lost something important to them. They lost what made their lives. They lost the magic and the mystery of their culture. The village onmyodo master cried out, "It’s not Gehara’s fault! It’s humans who are harmful!"
Hideo gave the final work, "Gehara is a victim as well." Dawn came, with the sun rising above the hills. Smoke was on the water and people just hoped that humanity had learned it’s lesson and that more pro-active activities would be ensued so that way they wouldn’t have to suffer another Geharha or another Geharha having to suffer the same painful, dreadful death as the one we just saw. This was the chance for humanity to be redeemed.

Shinji Higuchi is comming along for this ride ladies and gentlemen... and that's a good thing!

In the absence of Godzilla, Gamera, and Mothra from the Japanese cinematic scene (due to lack of interest in tokusatsu eiga in it’s native country), it seems that a lot of independent kaiju films have been made to fan the fire which is the want for new kaiju eiga not comming from Tsuburaya. Recently, one man has made two kaiju shorts in which got DVD releases and have become quite popular with the hard core fan base. The man is Kiyotaka Taguchi. Since 2008, he has made two kaiju short films, "G" (2008) and "Geharha: The Long And Dark Haired Monster" (2009).

Kiyotaka Taguchi is no stranger to working on Tokusatsu eiga. Kiyotaka became a Godzilla fan at the age of 4, first seeing "The Return of Godzilla" (1984, a film which involved a future partner in the business, Shinji Higuchi). His beginning on working in the genre was being an Assistant Special Effects director for the film "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack" (2001). At this time, he was a young 28 year old right out of the Nikkatsu Visual Arts Academy (who which everyone except two people involved with this production was involved with). Joining the Toho art department, Taguchi went on to help create many of the models and set up the stages for the last three Godzilla films. Since the end of the Godzilla series, Taguchi has gone on to work on other SFX films, including Battle Royale II: Requiem (2003), The Grudge 2 (2006), Norman England’s "The iDol" (2007), Monkey Magic (2008), and Shutter (2009). His work also includes the 20th Century Boys films, which include homage’s to kaiju and manga works.

Genesis starting with "G"
The first of his independent films was "G" (2008). The film was made over the course of seven years. "G" really was made with the least of resources, including that "G" was filmed using consumer grade camera equipment, non professionals as actors (save the theatrical actress Beniko). However, the film did have one aspect kept in quality – the special effects. Thanks to his work with Toho, Kiyotaka and his crew were able to make detailed models and suits which could be filmed and latter matted in with CGI work, done at Kiyotaka’s company computers after hours. For the suitamation filming though, Taguchi and his crew were allowed to use the Toho Built soundstage. The suit for the main kaiju, Garemon, was made using all store bought materials such as futon materials and the Robo suit was made by a friend of Kiyotaka’s from the Godzilla scene – Kakusei Fujiwara.

Review: "G" (2008)
One of the reasons why people love the Showa series is because of the amount of "variety" the series had, mostly from the fact that over seven kaiju had their premiers in the Showa series with their own film or television series. Even Toei did one with Dragons and such. Make it eight if one wants to remember "Agon, The Atomic Dragon". There’s even more than that, if you count the other non-Goji kaiju films Honda directed and Tsuburaya did the SFX for. Now, that trend was abandoned in the Heisei series. The only kaiju which got their own films are Godzilla, Gamera, and Mothra with Yamato-No-Orochi appearing once in 1994. Now with the Millennium series going underway, we got the variety trend going on again.

It’s mostly because of this digital age which makes making films a lot easier. With this, kaiju eiga is not filled with only Gamera/Godzilla/Ultraman films anymore. There is now a growing series of independent kaiju films being made. Not including "Gamera 4: Truth", "Negadon" was the first of this wave. Of recent times, films like "Gehara", "The Fog Horn", and "G" have continued the trend and the most successful of these is Shimpei Hayashida’s "Deep Sea Monster" series (which currently runs with "Deep Sea Monster Reigo" and it’s sequel, "Deep Sea Monster Raiga"). The plot reads like this:

The movie starts off with three military guys running around in a forest in a flash back. One of the soldiers is gunned down. Now in present times, one of the military guys is still beating himself up for letting one of his partners die. Meanwhile, a lab experiment goes wrong as a scientist injects himself with a special serum. It causes him to go out on a "Quarantine"-esque rampage on a fellow scientist before escaping. Accouple of minutes later, the ground opens up with the giant monster "G" running amok in his Iris-esque-ness. The military tires everything and though the weapons do have an effect on the monster, G just won’t quit and continues to attack. The aforementioned tormented army guy decides to redeem himself of the mistake years ago by saving Japan from G by piloting a giant robot. Together with a misfit female soldier, a business man, and a military general, the robot takes down G leaving the sky to be years latter filled with numerous giant robots.

"G" is going to be quite a hit or miss for many kaiju fans. In fact, I bet some wouldn’t hesitate comparing the film to the likes of "Guilala’s Counterattack" in that not all of the comedy comes from lampooning the genre, rather toilet humor (more later). This movie first of all beats "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" (1974) as being the bloodiest kaiju film to date (which is something not every kaiju film can do, with the only one coming close in my mind is "Godzilla vs. Destroyah" and "Godzilla vs. Biollante"). G - the kaiju - is shot at so much that most of his body is skinless by the end of the film and we just have big, red blotches.


The comedy content with the film is a lot something of a shock (in a positive or negative way is the viewer to decide, though I think of it as positive). First, when was the last time there was a kaiju nut shot (yes, nut shot)? Last time, it was Ghidorah blasting at Godzilla’s in 1964. Well, "G" takes that cake when a military guy takes a bazooka and gets under G and blasts his nuts. It even gets weirder when in an act of desperation decides to take two JR cards and connect them, using them as nunchaku. Very odd, but in a good way which will get some laughs. The SFX and directing style is a little off but it is ok none the less. Overall, the film is not for the faint of heart. Those looking for a wild ride of a kaiju film less than an hour long knows where to look.
Overall: 3/5

The Reign of "Geharha"

Being a kaiju suit actor is hard work, even if you have helpers (kakari)...

But when you have Godzilla (Kitagawa) to help you on set, it 's all good!


The next film which Kiyotaka Taguchi would venture out to do would be "Geharha, The Long And Dark Haired Monster". The beginning of this project didn’t start with Kiyotaka. It started with Jun Miura, an entertainer and famous artist in Japan who has been said to be someone of cult status, being so recognized that he was given a bit part in "Guilala’s Countterattack" in 2007. Fast foreward to October 22, 2008. On a game show, the reknown artist had up on a board a lot of different kaiju/Yokai drawings/depictions. Out of this, it was revealed that the producers at NHK chose Geharha for a short film adaptation out of the over 325 drawings. Geharha was revealed to be a kaiju who’s name is a fusion of the Japanese word for beard (hige) and "Ra" from the ever so famous Gojira. Along with that, Geharha has been seen to have originated from many traditional Japanese folk stories, including the likes of "The Black Hair" (Kurogami, a tale which has been told on film time and time again in films like "Kwaidan" and "Exte"). Jun Miura wrote the original screenplay for the film. The original plot differs somewhat compared to the final product. According to August Ragone’s blog,

"The mysterious creature Gehara comes ashore during a monstrous typhoon, and begins to wreck havoc upon Tokyo. Eventually, the hairy beast is seemingly stopped by the Self Defense Forces’ Operation: Tokyo Drain. As a result, the beast is sucked into the city’s sewer system, but it begins to clog the works with its long hair, and ends up in a culvert. Left for dead, Gehara begins to revive, absorbing massive amounts of water beneath the streets of Tokyo’s fashionable Shibuya Ward, and it's long hair begins to grow… In the film, the monster attacks the city of Kanezawa."

The final plot would be rather different from that, with it taking more away from kaiju films of the past than what the draft synopsis above took.

"Geharha" marked a first for Kiyotaka Taguchi. Though his second directorial attempt, this was his first decently budgeted and promoted effort. Jun was the one who hand picked Taguchi for the job after seeing the kind of material Kiyotaka was able to produce after seeing "G" (2008). The other main person in charge of the film was the one person people could call "the second Tsuburaya", Shinji Higuchi (who would come on as an executive producer, who would visit the sets every now and then). Also hand picked was stock music from kaiju eiga maestro extordinare, Akira Ifukube. All Ifukube material came from King Records’ "Artistry of Akira Ifukube" series. The rest of the film is filled with other major kaiju talent from all different areas of the genre.
Auditioning kaiju actors

In the crew was Kazuhiro Yoshida, the man who plays the titular role. Yoshida’s most notable works of siutmation would be acting as Hedorah and Gigan in "Godzilla: Final Wars" (2004). In the end though, Yoshida had to audition against another man and a female for the role. It was not an easy task, getting the job to be the suit actor for Geharha. Yoshida was against two other people for the role: another man and a woman. Yoshida was the first to audition, using five boxes as buildings. Yoshida did a somber, lumbering portrayal, moving slowly but using his arms to knock down the boxes. The woman was second to audition, doing a lumbering but more emotive portrayal, using her feet to knock down the boxes. The third man did a "Final Wars" like approach with the boxes. Yoshida was the one to get the part. Among the judges were Kiyotaka Taguchi and stunt coordinator for the film, Tsutomu Kitagawa. Kitagawa is most probably known as the suit actor for everyone one of the Millennium series’ Godzillas except for the one in "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack" (2001). Also among the crew is a cohort of Kiyotaka Taguchi’s from "G" (2008), Kakusei Fujiwara.

The cast also consisted of some better than average talent, some of it also having had some part in kaiju eiga in the past. The two most notable names are Shiro Sano (who played supporting roles in "Godzilla 2000: Millennium" (1999) and "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack" (2001) and would later have a cameo as a vigilante) who plays Mr. Murakami - the government official type of the film. The other role would go to Kanji Tsuda (the father from "Gamera: The Brave" (2006)), the sole survivor of the boat incident at the beginning of the film. Other noticeable names come in, such as the actor for the reporter Hideo Akihara - Ken Osawa ("Samurai Fiction" (1998)). Another noticeable name is that of the JSDF commander, Hiroyuki Watanabe ("Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack" (2001)).

"Geharha" (2009) would go on to take a little less than a year to make all together. With filming ending January 10th, 2009, the film would have it’s premier on the NKH channel and in an NKH theatre on February 24th, 2009 at 12:12 AM. The film would be subject to lots of acclaim from all sides of the kaiju fandom. The film would later make it’s way onto the internet unsettled for all to see on @nifty, a Japanese video hosting site (much like youtube)(http://roberthood.net/blog/index.php/2009/03/05/gehara-is-here/). The film’s response would be such that on September 30, 2009, "Geharha" would be released on DVD and Blu-Ray, being beaten by Toho just by twelve days as the first kaiju film to be released onto the Blu-Ray format.

What’s most interesting in Geharha’s (2009) case is it’s place historically in the kaiju and/or tokusatsu genre of films. Since "Godzilla: Final Wars" (2004) made the Godzilla series end, a lot of people who are fans of the genre have started branching out more to other properties such as "Ultra Q", "Ultraman" and other Tsuburaya Company productions as well as other henshin properties ("Kamen Rider", "Super Sentai", "Iron King", ect.).. This is a good thing. However, the more interesting thing about this time in kaiju eiga history is that since Godzilla and Gamera’s hiatus from power, lots of independent kaiju films can now be made without interference with the popularity and competition with a Godzilla or Gamera film.

It’s thanks to this time that Kiyotaka Taguchi could make "G" (2008), that Shinpei Hayashida can make his "Reigo/Raiga" (2005/2009) films, that Tomoo Hariguchi could make "Death Kappa" (2010), and Jun Awazu can make "Negadon: Monster from Mars" (2005), among other films. This has actually given the Millennium series a kind of mirror effect with the Showa series. This mirror effect, some could say, did start with the latter Millennium era Godzilla films, with connections to the Showa series, along with other "tips of the hat" (such as Godzilla’s breath not only making a tank blow up with his heat beam but also melting it, much like in the Showa films). This mirror effect not only draws on the omages to the Showa series, but also revolves around the newfound amount of variety of kaiju films that are being made now.

It is that connection which gives GEHARHA it’s biggest "identifier" (if you had to, without judging from the special effects or cinematography, guess during what period GEHARHA was made). Like "Negadon" (2005) or "G" (2008), GEHARHA serves as a big tribute or omage to tokusatsu eiga in general, which uses that as a source of humor. "Geharha" is most probably the one most littered with intentional omages to other kaiju eiga. However, among all of the omages to the old series which the film has, it does something which only "Negadon: Monster From Mars" (2005) had done in this new line of kaiju eiga – capture the feeling of a Showa film through way of similar occurrences with an underlying theme, but with being comedic like "Deep Sea Monster Reigo" (2005) and "Guilala’s Counterattack" (2008), putting it with the five main films of this new era of independent kaiju film making (though it should still be in the "Millennium" series, unless someone wants to claim that this series of independent ventures should be differentiated by using the long misused "Shinsei" moniker).

In terms of special effects, it is interesting in the way which Geharha (2009) is pointing. A very interesting this has happened in this period of kaiju eiga history (2005-2010), it is the CG evolution. "Mega Monster Battles: Ultra Galaxy Legends" (2009), "Always 2: Sunset on 34th Street" (2008), and Jun Awazu’s "Negadon: Monster From Mars" and "Planzet" along with other kaiju/yokai cross breed films like "The Great Yokai War" (2005) and "Big Man Japan" (2007) and even Shinpei Hayashida’s own "Deep Sea Monster Reigo" (2005) seem to show that computer graphic imagery is taking over the suitamation and models (albeit, slowly) which is a staple of kaiju eiga. Geharha (2008), instead (thanks mostly to the guidance of Shinji Higuchi as executive producer) does most of the same thing that went on with "Gamera 3: Incomplete Struggle" (1999): mixing CGI and suitamation while keeping a pretty even ratio of each SFX technique and theory evident in the film. Many of the shots which are CG in the film are actually just shots involving complex matting of the film, such as the aerial shot in the faux trailer for "Geharha: Monster Martial Law" with Geharha’s hair growing to the extent which it takes out whole city blocks.


"Geharha" is a pretty interesting film. Though a short film, it does mean a good deal at this stage of the history of kaiju eiga. Not only is it a film which carries a lot of the traits of the 2005-2010 independent kaiju eiga boom, but it shows the quality which the future of kaiju eiga and what it could be. Shusuke Kaneko has long been seen as the only person who - with his creative team which is usually picked with him, was the only person to direct non-Tsuburaya Company kaiju film (the Gamera trilogy and GMK). However, thanks to Kiyotaka Taguchi starting to build a name for himself, he can easily be the Jun Fukuda to Kaneko’s Ishiro Honda. While the future of kaiju eiga is uncertain - specially in the King’s case - if Japanese studios continue to make kaiju films, they know who they need to hire - either Kaneko to Taguchi…

Production Timeline
10-22-08 - Geharha choosing announced on Japanese game show
12-14-09 - filming of crow evacuating from beginning of ground zero scene - Shinji Higuchi doing some camera work, filming of soldiers being effected by gas (Higuchi at camera),
12-15-09 - filming of chance scene with tribe; JSDF headquarters filming; filming of tribe at village set
12-16-08 - filming of beginning breakfast scene; filming of Mother and Wife scene in MONSTER MARTIAL LAW trailer, filming of Ultraman-esque scene from trailer
12-17-08 - Filmed beginning scene in the evening on a ship (while docked); filming of hospital scene;
12-21-08 - Geharha having hair blown away (two versions - blue screen and on set)
12-22-08 - filming of Operation Perm tank - Kitagawa present; filming of trailer scene of Geharha twirling with hair taking out whole city blocks,
12-23-08 - filming of SFX forest scenes showing post-Geharha destruction (at beginning, spliced in with international news reports; Geharha trembling shot six times), filming of Geharha on top of station and falling (rehearsed using a Styrofoam rendition). Some of the scene was filmed with model head (was a long shot in final film). Also shot was Geharha being blasted by tanks
12-25-08 - model ship is exploded in front of blue screen for beginning scene; fixing of Geharha suit; filming scene of Geharha’s head being shot at along with him falling backwards into the building behind him, also filming Geharha crying (model head)
12-26-08 - filming of soldiers at ground zero along with some model tanks up against a blue screen
12-27-08 - filmed Geharha in air moving his legs for the beginning scene with his first appearance; filming of station heading post-being thrown by Geharha (it kills the young couple and the female reporter), shot of Geharha with tanks in his hair; filming of Geharha going through forest in second half of film
12-28-08 - filming of Xilian-esque alien scenes
1-4-09 - filming of beginning scene by placing camera in water and having camera go under and above camera several times
1-5-09 - filming of soldiers hiding from Geharha (to be matted in with shot of Geharha’s tail with tanks in his hair
1-6-09 - filming of tribal scenes of dancing. Also filming of killing of young couple
1-9-09 - filming of real station (people and kaiju SFX to be matted in later)
1-10-09 - final day of production, consisting of re-shoots and filming of female reporter at ground zero (who gets killed at the beginning of main kaiju attack), filming of complex camera angle of first soldier who, while fireing, inhales the gas that Geharha’s hair gives off; filming of other soldiers being effected by gas via green screen

For those who watch the faux trailer at the end and want to see the anatomy of the cool city-wide attack Geharha uses, there is is above! All they do is matte it togeather.


Toho takes over FearNet On Demand!


June is Godzilla fan’s month with FearNet on demand! No less than 10 films Sony owns are on FearNet for one’s viewing pleasure. These films include:

Win for not using the DVD cover art as an image.

-Battle In Outer Space - widescreen; US version
-Godzilla vs. Mothra: The Battle For Earth - full screen with redone beginning card
-Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla - international print, not VHS print. Still has dub
-Godzilla vs. Destroyer - international print, with original ending credits
-Godzilla 2000 - VHS print
-Godzilla vs. Megaguirus - Sci-Fi Channel Print
-Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack - SciFi Channel Print
-Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla - widescreen with dub right off DVD
-Godzilla: Tokyo SOS - widescreen with dub right off DVD
-Godzilla: Final Wars - widescreen with dub right off DVD

Fail in more ways than one.

Battle In Outer Space will be available till 6/21 and the rest last till 6/30. With FearNet being a free On Demand system, there are periodical commercials through out the film, though they are less in quanitity than Crackle.com.