Sunday, August 3, 2014

Pachimon Kaiju Showcase: Tobozu

Pachimon is the collective shorthand used for various Japanese postcards, playing cards, and trading cards, from late 1960's and early 1970's. Featuring original Kaiju (giant monsters), created through both drawn illustrations, and photo manipulations of more famous creatures from Japanese films and television.

Despite the wealth of fully original characters from these bromide cards, it was the 'rip-off photos' that gave Pachimon (Japanese for 'stolen monsters') its more infamous name and reputation. Terrible shame of inaccuracy and people's misconceptions, really.

And I'm no better either, by continuing my series of Pachimon Kaiju articles with said borrowed infamy.

Today, we have Tobozu (sometime called Tohboze), who seems to be some kind of sea monster, invading a ship filled harbor. And many of you will immediately notice that Tobozu is a thinly disguised Gamera, lacking his original turtle shell, given brown / orange-ish colored skin, head spikes, and an extended set of lower jaws.


But what really gets me is the small group of vacationers by Tobozu's hands / feet, who haven't noticed the monster, or simply just doesn't care. And if you think that tidbit is hilarious, I'll introduce you all to the London-based Danopura next time!

UPDATE: Found a slightly superior scan of the Tobozu card, as well as doing my own artistic interpretation of the monster and its full-body. Less of an educated guess on the latter, than me simply copying Japanese fan art of Tobozu - most notably the Mugen video game version.




Further Reading and Viewing Online:

Wikipedia Article on Gamera
Trailer for Gamera's 1965 Debut
More Pachimon Kaiju Images

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pachimon Kaiju Showcase: NOT Godzilla

Pachimon, or Pachimon Kaiju, is a term used for various Japanese bromide cards (or artistic postcards) that were published around the early 1970's. These bromide cards were known for featuring bizarre imitation monsters, directly and indirectly based on more famous, existing Kaiju characters.

Hence the term Pachimon; 'Pachi', as in stolen, and 'Mon', as in monster.

Of course, this being simple minded 'fan slang', the term Pachimon can be quite misleading. And unfairly so, as a good number of these bromide cards also featured fully illustrated, originally designed creations.

Hopefully a better terminology will make itself present in the near future. But for now, we'll just refer to these collectively as Pachimon Kaiju.

Pachimon are quite obscure as it is, so instead of doing what every other blog has done in the past (by uploading these visual oddities in bulk), I'm going to showcase these images a little at a time. As well as give my own personal insight towards the monster designs featured.

I'm going to start off with two Godzilla-based rip-offs, just for the greater exposure among the more fickle American-based Kaiju fans. And to show off just how extreme the 'borrowed likeness' side of these cards truly went.


Above, we have the mid-1960's Godzilla suit, slightly altered with huge ears and a slightly larger bird-like beak. And hails from a particular series published by the company Yokopro, which had giant monsters menacing landmarks and countries around the world.

Despite the Katakana on the bromide card itself (which simply translates as New York), this bird-beaked Godzilla has no real, proper Kaiju name (see the UPDATE posted below).

So I'm just going to refers to him / it / her as 'New York Pachimon', or 'Niyuyoku' (again, means New York) for you fans who insist on a more unique, but equally as inaccurate 'fan nickname'.

Not much to say on The New York Pachimon, other than that the poor Statue of Liberty was being assaulted by monsters way bigger then her, even back in the disco seventies!



UPDATE: This is what I freaking hate about such obscure characters - new facts always pop up long after you've written out the original article! But hey, I'm also a avid lover of accuracy, so I must stand by my duty as a Kaiju Historian!

Found the image above, where the original Pachimon piece is reused for a playing card edition. And thus New York Pachimon is given the actual name of Wadorisu.

Wadorisu seems to match perfectly with this guy's funny beak and ears.



The lower line of katakana on this second Godzilla rip-off, roughly translates as Yakobu, which sometimes means 'Jacob' in Japanese.

However, no idea if this is supposed to be the monster's name, or the airport location its menacing. Plus, always take my katakana translating abilities with a Kaiju-sized block of salt.

For now, we'll just refer to this Pachimon as Yakobu, whose design and overall card is a lot more appealing than previous New York Pachimon. Even if its just another Godzilla, altered slightly with a neck-frill and porcupine-style spines.

Actually, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibly that Yakobu is the Pachimon version of Jirass from "Ultraman", who itself was a refurbished Godzilla suit with an added neck-frill.

If that's the case, then this would be creature design equivalent of painting pure karat gold bars with gold hobby store paint. And then wrapping those golden abominations in shiny, gold colored foil, bought from a party supply shop.

Okay, so maybe its not THAT bad, but Yakobu still has the nicer looking bromide card between the two shown.

Further Reading Online:

All Monsters Blog's Profile of Jirass
More Pachimon Images

Thursday, July 3, 2014

G-G-G-G-Ghost Godzilla!!!

UPDATE: Here's another official piece of concept art, that I totally forgot to upload the first time around. This one features Ghost Godzilla's visible dorsal fins, amongst some city devastation.



I don't have much time for an extensive article, centered around otherwise trivial nonsense. So here's a brief article...also centered around otherwise trivial nonsense!

And surprise, surprise! It's yet another Kaiju (giant monster) related one!

We'll be discussing unproduced, or abandoned monster movies once again, and this time, with one of the more famous examples of such - "Godzilla vs Ghost Godzilla" (1994-1995).

Originally planned as the final film to close out the Heisei-cycle of the franchise (1984-to-1995), "Godzilla vs Ghost Godzilla" had its then-current incarnation of the title Monster King, go up against the supposedly more villainous ghost of his long deceased, 1954 counterpart.

More information on the unmade project can be found at Toho Kingdom.

The concept was dropped, largely due to the previous two entries also featuring 'Evil Godzilla Clones'. Those being 1993's "Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II", and 1994's "Godzilla vs Space Godzilla"And "Ghost Godzilla" was replaced with the more original (and ultimately filmed) swan song "Godzilla vs Destroyah" (1995).

In recent years, the one piece of conceptional artwork done for Ghost Godzilla himself, has surfaced on several fan forums. But has yet to be properly posted on actual web-sites and blogs.

So 'Why the Hell not?' I figured!

The rough scan that's being presented below, comes from a licensed Japanese Godzilla book. But I currently have no idea to which one, or to said book's title. Enjoy the obscure eye-candy regardless, everybody!




Probably to the disappointment of many fan artists, the 'REAL' Ghost Godzilla is a fairly simple creature design, as it's just the 1954 original, but given a supernatural blue glow and transparency.

Don't get ME wrong though, as it's highly effective for what it is, and most certainly works as a 'Ghost Godzilla'.

But again, this is merely concept art, from the earliest stages of what ultimately became an abandoned production. And no clue how far the filmmakers would have gone with the Ghost Godzilla character, as to wither-or-not he'd transform between multiple other body stages. Much like The Librarian and her secondary 'back-off' form, from the classic comedy "Ghostbusters".

We are talking about the Godzilla films of the 1990's, after all. It's here (with the arguable exception of Godzilla / Burning Godzilla) that almost every creature featured in these movies, had one-or-more different body upgrades.

Like some kind of nightmarish, jumbo-sized precursor, to ludicrous Pokemon Evolution!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Concerning The Sea Dragon

So this post is based around the lesser known 1987 Japanese fantasy film "Princess from the Moon" ("Taketori Monogatari").

Produced by both Toho Co. Ltd and Fuji Television, "Princess of the Moon" was a prestige picture, based on the famous Japanese folktale "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter", also known as "Princess Kaguya".

I'd go into further detail, especially the original story's proto-science fiction elements. But I'm not THAT good of a nonsense scholar, so I don't want to start spewing inaccuracies from the proverbial hinder, if you will. And besides, Wikipedia is NOT as useless as the so-called 'normal masses' will tell you otherwise, so here's their informative article on said folktale.

And instead, I'm going to focus on the 1987 adaptation's lone Kaiju named The Sea Dragon (or simply Dragon).

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Contrary to popular belief, mythology never remains constant, between all the various retellings and revisions done to them.

What Disney Animation did to the many Grimm Brothers fairy tales, and Ray Harryhausen nixing the sea monster Cetus, for an original character with the unoriginal name of The Kraken, are both examples of this.

Well, "Princess of the Moon" decided to put a giant monster into its own retelling, along with a newer sub-plot to get it there.

Basically, the half-human / half-lunar alien Kaya (Princess Kaguya herself), attracts the attention of several royal, and high ranking suitors. And Kaguya sends all of them on virtually impossible tasks, in order to sway their affections well away from her.

One such task sends the only real love interest of the lot, to sail to the ends of the Earth. And he, along with his crew, have a disastrous oceanic run in with The Sea Dragon, who promptly sinks the 'good' suitor's ship, with all hands on board.

I'd gleefully say 'Great job on that mess, Princess Kaguya!' But seeing how the somewhat aloof alien-human princess does indeed mourn this particular tragedy, by loosing her one decent would-be husband, that would just be mean spirited.

"Princess from the Moon" is one of those obscure Japanese fantasy films that the more mainstream Kaiju fans here in America MIGHT have heard of in passing (more on that later), but never really followed up on it.

Now there is a rather unfortunate bias these fans have towards all other forms of Japanese science fiction and fantasy. Mainly because Godzilla himself ins't in any of these non-Godzilla projects. And as such, they will openly dismiss and ignore even the exciting entries into the genre. Like last year's "Pacific Rim", and the better series within the Ultraman franchise.

But equally as problematic, is that most of these overlooked Tokusatsu productions are...well...just not that good, when finally seen. Or all that interesting, even by their own individual merits.

Now don't get me wrong, for "Princess of the Moon" is NOT at all a bad film!

It is a very well done, straight faced production, filled with a strong cast of equally prestige Japanese actors. Including world famous veteran Toshiro Mifune, as Taketori-no-Miyatsuko; the woodcutter-turned-wealthy adoptive father of Kaguya.

But like most big studio prestige films (prestige is a fun word to use), it's mostly pomp with very little circumstance. And as such, kind of monotonous to get through, viewing wise.

The film was directed by the acclaimed director Kon Ichikawa, whose work has often been noted by having 'a certain darkness and bleakness, punctuated with sparks of humanity'. However, "Princess of the Moon" is the only film of his I've seen, so I can't tell you for sure if his signature style also includes the aforementioned monotony.

Though with all that said, I'd really like to see his feature length documentary "Tokyo Olympiad" (1965) sometime soon.

Which finally brings us to freaking The Sea Dragon himself; he's barely in the blasted movie!

And no, I'm not being a bitter Kaiju fan here, but the monster's presence is so short, and virtually as pointless, that I honestly believe the movie would have benefited by NOT including the creature to begin with. And instead have Princess Kaguya's true love, be taken out by a regular sea storm. Just like the contractually obligated dead parents from Disney's "Frozen" (2013).

And what little screen time The Sea Dragon does have, we never really get a good look at the monster. Mainly the stiff puppet's back, being pulled through the water, of a smoke-covered model set.

With said, the only good images of The Sea Dragon have been from the few toys and promotional photos made. And so minor are these, that I was forced to make the following composite images through online theft (original web sources are self explanatory).



So how come A LOT of American Kaiju fans seem to be more aware of the minor creature, over the bigger film it originates from?

For a long while now (and still happening, apparently), a lot of people assumed that The Sea Dragon was a recovered, or refurbished monster prop from the failed Toho and Hammer Films co-production "Nessie" (1976-1979).

This of course have long since been disproved, as The Sea Dragon and The Loch Ness Monster from that unproduced effort, are two completely different, unrelated monsters. Both fictionally and actually.

But it's always worth mentioning, and to clarify the situation further, here's some really informative articles on the uncompleted making of "Nessie".

Cryptomundo's Article, by Mark Jaramillo.
A secondary article by Mark Jaramillo.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kaiju Images: The Stone Creatures

As previously stated, I'll be using my blog as a public service (limited and obscure as it is) for the Kaiju fan community online. And one such way to do so, is by posting random articles, featuring random images, of random Kaiju (giant monsters) from across random fiction!

I'll try my best to largely use images I've either scanned or taken myself - the latter of which, by using the age old method of a crummy digital camera, while sitting affront of a decent sized TV screen at night.

In other cases however, I will of course credit sources for images that I've 'borrowed' from other sites, and their related owners and contributors.

Especially since a lot of the most Obscure Kaiju characters have equally as few images floating about the Internet. And usually on web-pages that have an unreliable lifespan, like forum threads. Or the dreaded, diminished attention spanned beast dubbed Tumblr.

For this first outing, we're going to start off with some (crappy) screen-captures I made of The Stone Creatures; twin lion-like stone statues from third episode of Hanna-Barbera's "Godzillaseries, entitled "Attack of the Stone Creatures" (September 23rd, 1978).




'Crossfire! Crossfire!'
'Hey Godzuki! Check out my winter cool breath!'
'Huh...Not that impressive?'
'We're combing the desert, in search of Princess Vespa!'
'We ain't found S***!'



I'll have more Kaiju images to share on a near weekly basis from now on, so stay tuned. And if you'd like to assist me in this ongoing endeavor, with scans or screen-captures from your ends, please contact me through the comments below.

Friday, May 23, 2014

HELP ME Identify This Mystery Plesiosaur Film!

So yeah...It's been over a year since this blog has been updated, and there's been various reasons for it (some of which stated in the video below).

But I also realize that having a blog allows better exposure, than just relegating myself to DeviantART, and DeviantART alone.

And as an expert of Kaiju (Giant Monsters), my site here can serve a much needed, no-nonsense service. Especially to the overlooked, and lesser known characters, of the genre. Even if my site has little-to-no traffic (more the NON), the articles remain in the 'Internet-Ether' for future readers, seeking such information.

For now however, let me present this hastily done video blog, where my huge rectangular head rambles on for 24 minutes, on both my pleasant childhood memories of early days, of the now infamous Disney Channel. And more importantly, discuss a mystery program from my childhood, about a grandfather and his grandson, trying to save a Giant Plesiosaur from an enclosed lake, and its mechanical floodgate.



If anyone can identify my mystery film, please leave your comments below. Or contact me at the right side of the blog.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pacific Rim Watch - May 29th, 2013

Gypsy Danger fan-art by edcomics - Go see his DeviantART page here!

With the highly anticipated "Pacific Rim" coming in just over a month's time, I'll be doing articles like these, for both major and minor updates alike. And also, just to share my obviously bias opinions on the upcoming release - I am a giant monster fan after all!

Starting with today's recently released featurette, which explains the how the film's  'neuro-bridge', or The Drift works. Hopefully there will be more such shorts in the days to come, including ones focusing on the Kaiju antagonists themselves.


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Now I should mention my disappointment and related fears around the general public's rather flippant reactions towards this film. Along with Geek culture being more interested in the relatively minor casting of voice actress Ellen McLain (Glados from "Portal 2"), and the cheap accusations of this film being "Transformers 4".

Meanwhile, film critic and blogger (and fellow Kaiju fan) MovieBob own sentiments on "Pacific Rim" heavily mirrors my own, as seen in his own shout out towards the third trailer (also feature below).



Here's what MovieBob had to say on the matter, edited slightly for potty mouth tidbits:

I really, really hope that this (third trailer) marks the start of a much bigger push for this movie. Fairly or not, I feel like so much is riding on "Pacific Rim." An original (read: not a sequel, remake, reboot, adaptation, etc) big-budget genre movie? Guillermo Del Toro finally on the cusp of the blockbuster clout he should've had a decade ago? Giant monsters and robots up onscreen with no "apology" for their own existence or attempt to make them palatable to audiences that might turn their noses up otherwise?

If something like this doesn't "succeed," it validates all the worst chicken**** instincts of the current studio-system. "Joe Popcorn" (or whatever the current euphemism is) probably doesn't deserve this movie... but I hope "he" shows up anyway. There's more riding on this than just this.

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I personally doubt "Pacific Rim" will be one of the big bombs of the Summer 2013, though the possibility of it being a box office disappointment is still there, as mainstream American audiences really do turn their noises up at giant monster movies. The success of Michael Bay's "Transformers" films probably have to do more with everything surrounding the title robots, except for the title robots themselves. This being a situation not too dissimilar to "One Million Years B.C.", where one busty, red-headed cave girl was the box office draw, and not the (equally) fantastic dinosaur effects work.

Peter Jackson's "King Kong" remake from 2005 did well, but not well enough to really give the giant monster genre a shot in the proverbial arm. And the success behind  "Cloverfield" had more to do with its 'Mystery Box' marketing, over audiences even knowing, let alone wanting to see the movie for what it actually was about. For more on this nonsense, I refer you all back to MovieBob's video on the matter.



On the extremely bright side however; no matter how "Pacific Rim" performs, we can still rest assure that around this same time next year, Legendary Pictures has another Kaiju film in store for all of us. Isn't that right, Mister British Director Man?



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Than of course, there's the Japanese factor to consider.

Contrary to popular belief, Japan hasn't been that keen on giant monster movies for several years now, despite being the country that was once the most prolific in this sub-genre. And often for reasons very similar to American attitudes towards Kaiju films, as being 'old hat', 'outlandish', or met with just plain indifference.

And again, just like America, when these films do succeed, it's often for reasons outside the Kaiju themselves, like paring up some of the Millennium-era Godzilla films with more popular animated fair. Or the presence of some beloved actor or in-the-moment guest stars who simply happen to be in said monster movies.

With that said, I'd be interested in Japan's reaction towards "Pacific Rim", even if I have the sneaking suspicion that the hype around the film will be centered firmly upon child actress Mana Ashida, who's quite big there right now.

"What's this? Famed child star Mana Ashida, in an American attempt at weird Kaiju films? How can this be!?!?" is probably how most of the Japanese publicity might play out.

Regardless, director Guillermo del Toro hasn't forgotten the county that directly inspired his upcoming opus, and had this special trailer made for that particular distribution.




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Also worth mentioning (unfortunately), is that those infamous producers over at The Asylum are doing their thing again, with the 'mock-buster' "Atlantic Rim". In all fairness, this actually looks better than most of The Asylum's output. And the one (I repeat, one) giant monster in this does looks pretty neat, like a slender dragon-dinosaur-style hybrid.

But having seen my fair share of modern B-movies and Syfy Originals, I'm expecting we don't get any good fight sequences until the last 20-or-8 minutes, and the action and adventure will take a backseat to overused horror elements.

Oh and is that a token black man among the robot piloting trio? Surely nothing BAD will happen to him before film's end (sarcasms)!



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I know I'm coming off quite negative here, but I really am excited for "Pacific Rim". And will go see it either at a midnight screening, or first thing the following morning. And my comments here are only being realistic and level headed, at best. But please share all your opinions and speculation in the comments below. Out blabber mouth THIS blabber mouth!

And to further end this article on a high note, the site io9 has some concept art based on the film's monsters, along with newly released promotional photos here.