Directors Hideaki ANNO and Shinji HIGUCHI’s multi-Japan Academy Prize-winning smash Shin Godzilla received its much-anticipated home video debut earlier this week, though not quite in the form fans might have been expecting.
As the special edition Blu-ray booklet notes, the original theatrical Shin Godzilla has received an upgrade. This is Shin Godzilla master ver, 2.0.
The booklet (the relevant section of which is copied above) notes a handful of changes which have been made to the film, visually, including one effects shot which has been replaced with a different angle, as well as adjustments to a half dozen of the film’s (many, many) captions and the end credits scroll. The booklet also mentions more general, albeit unspecified alterations to the audio mix.
In practice, I must confess to noticing no significant discrepancies at all between Shin Godzilla ver,2.0 and the theatrical release, which I saw twice in DCP last fall. The switched shot only caught my eye after I read through the booklet itself, which illustrates the switch explicitly. Otherwise I noted only the color and contrast, which seemed superior in their reproduction on the Blu-ray (and presumably the UHD disc as well, though I’ll need a significant home theater upgrade before I can comment on that) than in the DCP, though how much of that is down to actual adjustments versus my own arguably-dependable memory is debatable.
Ultimately I’m not entirely sure what to make of the alterations, excepting that they should come as no real surprise to anyone familiar with the people involved in the production. Co-director Anno’s Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone has been altered in each of its successive home video and theatrically re-released iterations (1.0 to 1.01 and eventually 1.11), to give just one example. That Shin Godzilla is now in ver,2.0 is par for the course, and perhaps even appropriate considering the themes of the film itself. One could lament, I suppose, the loss of the original theatrical experience, but maybe such experiences are best left to nostalgia anyway. Shin Godzilla remains Shin Godzilla, and though its aesthetic trappings have undergone an evolution the sum of its substance remains very much the same.
Shin Godzilla is out now in a variety of flavors from Toho Visual Entertainment, and is expected to receive an English-friendly North American home video edition through Funimation later this year.
German label Anolis Entertainment have announced the Blu-ray world premiere of Toho’s classic 1958 special effects thriller 「美女と液体人間」 The H-Man. The dual-format 2-disc set will present the film in three different versions; the original Japanese and American theatrical versions, as well as the German. Missing in action is the film’s original 3-channel stereo sound mix (available on the Region 2 Japanese DVD edition), but the specs seem impressive enough otherwise. The disc will be the sixth in the label’s latest iteration of its collector’s Galerie des Grauens series, and streets on March 17th 2017.
Dieser Kracher, souverän inszeniert von Kaiju-Ikone Ishiro Honda, wird von den Fans gerne mit dem Original-Blob verglichen. Und wer sich den Inhalt anschaut, wird nicht drum herum kommen, dem zuzustimmen:
Rätselhafte Ereignisse erschüttern die Millionenstadt Tokio. Menschen verschwinden spurlos, die Polizei steht ratlos vor einem scheinbar unlösbaren Fall und einer Vielzahl unerklärlicher Phänomene. Während eines Drogendeals wird ein Kleinkrimineller von einem Taxi überfahren. Niemand findet den Verletzten, nur seine Kleidung ist zurückgeblieben. Die überlebenden Mitglieder eines Fischkutters berichten eine unglaubliche Geschichte über ein Geisterschiff in den Gewässern eines nuklearen Testgebiets. Gibt es einen Zusammenhang zwischen den Atombombenversuchen und den unfassbaren Vorfällen in Tokio? Erst mit Hilfe der Wissenschaft findet die Polizei die schauerliche Wahrheit heraus – doch ist es vielleicht bereits zu spät für die Bevölkerung Japans?
Japans Meister des phantastischen Films, Inoshiro Honda, präsentiert mit diesem Film einen ganz besonderen Gruselschocker und fesselt die Zuschauer auch ohne die bewährten Riesenmonster. Er visualisiert das vielleicht schrecklichste Monster aller Zeiten: Einen dämonischen Albtraum, der durch den Menschen selbst erschaffen wurde. Ein packendes Schauerstück, das bis heute nichts von seiner Aktualität eingebüßt hat.
Und wie kommt das gute Stück daher? Auf jeden Fall auch schon wieder auf Blaustrahl:
Verpackung: Standard Amaray Hülle (mit Flügel für 2. Disc)
EAN-Code: 404 1036 31076 9
Extras: Japanische Langfassung und amerikanische bzw. deutsche Kinofassung wählbar / Audiokommentar von Dr. Rolf Giesen und Jörg M. Jedner / Audiokommentar mit Jörg Buttgereit, Bodo Traber und Alexander Iffländer / Deutscher Kinotrailer / Werberatschlag / Filmprogramm / Bildergalerie
16-seitiges Booklet geschrieben von Jörg M. Jedner
Als VÖ-Termin haben wir den 17. März 2017 festgelegt. Wie üblich gehen morgen die Infos an die Krämerseelen raus, somit sollte der Titel ab Dienstag/Mittwoch bei allen Shops vorbestellbar sein.
PS: Kurz noch was zu den Sprachen. Die Japanische Fassung weist deutschen und japanischen Ton auf, die amerikanische Version deutschen und englischen Ton. Die beiden Versionen haben also nicht 3 Sprachversionen zur Auswahl.
At this time I have no pre-order information to include, but will update as it becomes available.
Anolis’ dual format The H-Man Blu-ray / DVD can be preordered now through Amazon.de, and looks to run about $33 shipped at present exchange rates. It’s worth noting that, despite the inclusion of the American theatrical edition of the film, English subtitles are not included with this release.
For those region-locked customers, or those just looking to see the film in an English-friendly option, The H-Man is available in both its Japanese and American theatrical versions as part of Sony’s excellent (and value-priced) Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection DVD set.
Makoto SHINKAI’s award-winning block-busting animated feature, currently in special IMAX release in Japan, will arrive in domestic cinemas in both its original Japanese with English subtitles as well as dubbed English.
Separated By Distance Connected By Fate
Makoto Shinkai’s latest masterpiece, Your Name. has quickly risen as one of the top anime films in the world. Award winning and under consideration for an Oscar, this number-one film is finally coming to North American theaters on April 7th, presented in both Japanese with English subtitles and English dub.
This release will also include the newly dubbed English soundtrack recorded by the Japanese band, Radwimps—which has not been debuted in any previous theatrical release!
Tokusatsu Tuesdays is a regular feature relating to Japanese special effects entertainments and their associated whatsits, and a bridge, so to speak, between Eiga · Bouei and its sister site, Exploderbutton.com.
Just a short write-up for all of you this Tuesday. The artwork shared below comes courtesy of a trade ad Toho placed in the September 14th 1966 issue of the industry publication Motion Picture Herald, in which it serves as the back cover image (which is great, as it means I didn’t have to dismember the entire mag just to get a decent picture of it). The sharp two-tone design is a variation on the key poster image Toho produced to advertise the film to international buyers, and which served as the basis for the final theatrical poster art in territories like France and Spain.
The film itself should need little introduction. 1966’s 「フランケンシュタインの怪獣 サンダ対ガイラ」War of the Gargantuas, the kind-of sort-of sequel to the prior year’s 「フランケンシュタイン対地底怪獣バラゴン」Frankenstein Conquers the World, received significant distribution both in theaters and on television worldwide and remains one of the best-known and beloved of Toho’s special effects productions. Toho have a fine all-region Blu-ray available, albeit in Japanese only, and an inexpensive domestic DVD is available which features both the Japanese and American versions.
Toho’s international key art speaks well for the film’s charms – two monsters locked in a duel to the death, the military amassed against them and the fate of a city in the balance. The film’s opening attraction – a malevolent giant octopus – even makes an appearance. Perhaps my favorite thing about the piece, however, is how also-ran guest star Kipp Hamilton finagles a third-place credit, right behind genuine stars Russ Tamblyn and Kumi MIZUNO. Hamilton appears briefly to regale audiences with War of the Gargantuas‘ enduring anti-classic lounge tune “The Words Get Stuck in my Throat“, before running afoul of a not-so-jolly green giant. The lamentable number is shared, below the ad, in its DEVOlved version.
Toho’s megalithic animated hit Your Name. 「君の名は。」 will be expanding its influence to the IMAX screen for a limited 2-week engagement in select Toho Cinemas. A runaway smash since its release in late August, Your Name. is currently second only to 2001’s Spirited Away (director Hayao MIYAZAKI, Studio Ghibli) as the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time.
Stateside fans will have to wait a little longer to see Your Name., though a release through Funimation Films is expected later this year. Your Name. recently won in the Best Animation category at the 42nd LAFCA Awards, and is expected to be a strong Oscar contender.
A full listing of the film’s impending IMAX engagements is available from Toho. Your Name. is written and directed by Makoto SHINKAI (5 Centimeters per Second, Children who Chase Lost Voices).
I’m awaiting confirmation of this from more official sources(updated! see the note at the end of this article), but according to one Twitter user fans can expect a home video release of Shin Godzilla early in 2017 (in Japan, at least – due to licensing restrictions a US release is unlikely until considerably later). The tweet, which follows below, lists a release date of March 22nd for not only the anticipated DVD, Blu-ray, and special edition Blu-ray packages, but a 4k UHD Blu-ray release as well.
Ultra HD Blu-ray 8900(本体価格)
Blu-ray 特別版 6800
Again, I’m awaiting a more official announcement, but tentatively speaking, this is quite exciting. Godzilla in UHD is a tantalizing prospect, and one hopes that some of Toho’s classic series efforts will eventually make that leap as well. No specifics are yet known, of course, but I’ll update whenever they become available. My preliminary thoughts on the film itself are here.
Blessedly less ambiguous, as of earlier today, is the release date of the megalithic and oft-delayed The Art of Shin Godzilla 「ジ・アート・オブ・シン・ゴジラ」 hardcover tome, which will finally see the light of day on December 30th of this year. The 560-page record of the making of Japan’s most successful live-action film of 2016 is set to include a host of extras, including a complete screenplay and a deluxe slipcase, and retails for around $100. Full details and pre-order are available at Amazon.co.jp and the Evangelion Store.
Note (2016/12/2): Another tweet to share. Co-director Shinji HIGUCHI appears to have, himself, confirmed a release date for Shin Godzilla in March, which is more than enough for me.
It’s been three days now since I caught up to Toho Co.’s big-deal series reboot Shin Godzilla. While my thoughts on the film are still running ramshackle through my brain I felt it pertinent to put them to paper none the less, particularly since I’ll be attending a follow-up screening at Minneapolis’ Landmark Lagoon this Saturday. Readers should note that this is meant less as a proper critical assessment than a collection of preliminary observations – I hope to offer more concise and pointed discussion of the film once my mind has settled a bit more on it.
Also, spoilers mean different things to different people, but please be aware that, as this is an article discussing a film, there is a better than off chance that it may spoil something for you along the way. You have been warned.
From its very first frames, Shin Godzilla grounds itself in the greater tradition of Toho special effects cinema in a positively reverential sense. The brief (five, six shots?) opening titles not only echo the visual and auditory iconography of the first Godzilla (arguably Shin Godzilla‘s greatest historical influence), but honor the germinal influence of the King of the Monsters’ entire decades-long career as well. The effort was certainly not lost on the audience at my sold-out screening. When Toho’s modern production mark gave way to the older iteration, it was met with a round of applause.
This reverential sensibility is in evidence throughout the film, which makes plenty of visual and textual allusions to past series entries. The overall structure of the picture bares superficial resemblance to the 1954 original, presenting a series of monster appearances of increasing magnitude that culminates in a devastating attack on the Japanese capital. The emergence of Godzilla’s gargantuan fourth form is an effective distillation of the monster travelogues that marked Toho effects films almost from their very conception, and evokes nostalgia for the same while remaining fresh and viscerally effective in its own right. In a theatrical setting the sense of scale is awesome in the literal sense of the word. My own niggling fears as to whether a full-CGI Godzilla would resonate (I’m an unabashed practical effects apologist) were laid swiftly to rest. In its best moments Shinji HIGUCHI’s effects direction is the most tangibly believable of the entire franchise (essential for a film as grounded in the real present as this), and his Godzilla a terrifying manifestation of our existential fears.
There’s a delicate balancing act at work in Shin Godzilla, with writer and director Hideaki ANNO deftly navigating a cinematic netherworld between the nostalgic and the new, the fantastic and the tangible. The primary dramatic impetus of the film, the efforts of varying levels of the Japanese government to deal with their unprecedented monster crisis, grounds the film in real world process in a way the series hasn’t since its earliest days, though the intractable parliamentary bickering of the immediate Post-War era has been replaced by the lurching bureaucracy of the present. Anno’s screenplay feels like two parts West Wing to one part The Thick of It, a propulsive, fun, and funny procedural drama which offers plenty of pointed satirical criticism of the process itself, but rarely digs for laughs at the expense of its own characters.
The 3/11 disaster informs throughout, both in the raw visuals of Shin Godzilla‘s monster scenes and in its procedural narrative. Early scenes show career politicians faced with an unprecedented crisis, and their ineffectual efforts to contend with it. Deliberations on what should be done, if anything, lag behind the action on the streets with disastrous results, while official statements consistently downplay the disaster to an increasingly wary public. The first act is defined by the inability of top-level government to act with either decision or expedience, and it is through happenstance as opposed to countermeasure that Godzilla’s first appearance is brought to an end.
Counterbalancing the megalithic political establishment, however, is a younger generation of ambitious civil servants, lead among them Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary Rando YAGUCHI (Hiroki HASEGAWA, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?). Yaguchi assembles an ensemble team of outsider talent and ambitious up-and-comers who operate autonomously, seeking to understand and solve the Godzilla crisis as the brute-force efforts of the JSDF (and later, the US military) fail in an increasingly disastrous fashion. The odds are stacked against of course, with Yaguchi navigating not just the bullish threat of American nuclear intervention but a genuine domestic nightmare – the razing and irradiation of the heart of metropolitan Tokyo, and the decapitation of the Japanese government.
In the midst of such dreadful eventualities Anno remains surprisingly optimistic, and makes civil service look pretty cool in the process. The eventual solution hearkens to the golden age of Toho effects fantasy; think The Mysterians, Battle in Outer Space, or Gorath; not so much in its action as in its political sensibility. Godzilla is not brought to heel by sheer force alone, but through a coordinated international effort at civilian, municipal and military levels. As pure action its one of the more inventive finales in series history, and I’ll not spoil the details of it here.
There has been some criticism, at least in the West (I cannot profess to have read much Japanese coverage of the film), of Shin Godzilla‘s presumed nationalistic tendencies and anti-American sentiments. While I can see where some of these criticisms are coming from (sort of?), I found Anno’s film to be far more nuanced on both fronts than some reviews had led me to think it would be. There is a certain veneration of defense forces in evidence, as there is in almost any effects fantasy, Japanese or otherwise, though this seems largely in line with past franchise entries (Mothra vs. Godzilla; 1964, and the mecha-fixated ’90s installments jumped to mind as I was watching, as did non-franchise films like War of the Gargantuas and Gamera 2: Advent of Legion). Indeed, Shin Godzilla makes a good argument for not being over-confident in military force alone. The JSDF and US campaigns against the monster are dismal failures, the exponential increases in firepower only serving to anger the beast, with Tokyo and its citizens ultimately paying the price.
Shin Godzilla is not so cut and dry with regards to anti-Americanism either. One would be forgiven for finding the few English-language and mixed Japanese / English-language segments of the picture to be a little cumbersome – they are, in a way that such scenes throughout Japanese media can tend to be (it bares reminding that these are not entertainments which are primarily concerned with Western consumption, and that comparable matters in other productions are frequently handled in a similarly awkward fashion). The result is that Anno’s criticisms of American / Japanese relations can appear more ham-handed and one-sided than they ultimately are, by virtue of the presentation’s perceived dramatic limitations.
I was put in the mind of The Mysterians again while watching, not so much with regards to a direct relation of the material but in the sense that one seems to be complimentary of the other. The Mysterians (1957) concerns the formation of a cooperative World Defense Force with the purpose of repelling the foreign threat of an extraterrestrial invasion (the potential political implications of that are a discussion for another day). Though it does so in stark fantasy terms, that film presents an optimistic (if naive) view of international cooperation in a Post-War world, with representatives of both Japan and the United States taking to rocket-powered super-machines to solve the world’s challenges. It’s a trend that would continue through Battle in Outer Space, with its fleet of internationally-collected space fighter pilots doing battle with flying saucers, and find its ultimate expression in Gorath, in which the efforts of every nation on Earth are required to save the planet from a wayward celestial body.
Though its approach is different, focusing more on the process that steps us towards a The Mysterians-esque international coalition than on the coalition itself, the overall sensibility of Shin Godzilla remains the same. The film’s Godzilla could well be argued as a surrogate for any number of global challenges, from nuclear weapons proliferation and the risks of ubiquitous civilian nuclear power to climate change, regional conflicts, and on and on and on, but the course of action remains the same. That the military aspect of Shin Godzilla‘s final monster countermeasure serves as a distraction, and not a solution, is indicative. It is not by brute force that the world’s pressing issues can be resolved, but through the concerted efforts of its people. And though the sensibility may remain the same, Shin Godzilla is not so naive as its predecessors – the fumbling and frustrating realities of current world politics are lost on neither Anno nor his film. But the alternative is a stark and terrifying one, a grim future suggested by Shin Godzilla‘s ambiguous final image.
In case the above did not make such obvious, I found a lot to like in Shin Godzilla, which I would tentatively put towards the top of my list of most-loved genre films. I was evidently not alone. A full two thirds or more of the audience I saw it with remained in the theater for the credits, absorbing and discussing what they had seen to an eclectic selection from Akira IFUKUBE’s mountain of series soundtrack recordings. When Anno’s credit appeared there was a round of applause – a spontaneous moment of appreciation, and well-earned.
How Shin Godzilla will eventually be remembered, both on its own and in relation to the greater history of Toho tokusatsu cinema, is yet to be seen. For the moment it has proven that there is yet life in the character’s old bones, that more than just an internationally iconic trademark and merchandising boon, Godzilla can still have something to say. I’d say that for now that’s more than enough.
The limited North American theatrical engagement for ANNO Hideaki and HIGUCHI Shinji’s well-received reboot of Toho’s iconic Godzilla franchise is fast-approaching, and distributor Funimation Films have devised a slick new 15-second teaser to herald the King of the Monsters’ return.
Shin Godzilla has chewed up the Japanese box office for the last two months, turning more admissions than the series has seen since its heyday in the early 1960s, and in little more than two weeks the film will be stomping its way into more than four hundred North American cinemas. Shin Godzilla will be in theaters from October 11th, with three engagements at the Twin Cities’ own Lagoon Cinema. More details and a handy locator for the film’s scheduled showings are available at Funimation Films’ Shin Godzilla page.
The latest film from writer and director Hitoshi OHNE (Bakuman), a remake of Masato HARADA’s 1985 feature Out of Focus, is set for theatrical release in Japan on October 1st, and producer/distributor Toho have shared four new television spots for the production.
Scoop! stars Masaharu FUKUYAMA (Like Father, Like Son) as a news photographer turned paparazzi who, along with rookie reporter Fumi NIKAIDŌ (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?), finds himself involved in a major incident. Lily Franky co-stars.
Today Funimation Films published both a new trailer for their upcoming release of Shin Godzilla and a theater locator to help viewers find screenings in their home territories. Denizens of the downtown Minneapolis area will be thrilled to see Landmark’s Lagoon Cinema (a great venue, and a frequent Uptown haunt) among the three currently booked for the Twin Cities. The film will play three dates there – October 11th at 7pm, the 16th at 12pm, and the 17th at 7pm. Tickets should be available shortly through the Lagoon website.
Toho Company have shared two new television spots for the upcoming mystery drama Rage (Ikari), an adaptation of YAMADA Shuichi’s eponymous two-part novel from 2014 and the latest feature from writer – director Lee Sang-il (Hula Girls). The award-winning WATANABE Ken (Unforgiven) stars, with MORIYAMA Mirai (Penance), MATSUYAMA Kenichi (Usagi Drop), AYANO Gō (Helter Skelter) and HIROSE Suzu (Your Lie in April).
Rage is set for release in Japan on September 17th.
After decades in licensing limbo, Toho’s 1984 series reboot The Return of Godzilla (Gojira) will this month be making its belated premiere on Stateside DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of Kraken Releasing.
Directed by HASHIMOTO Kōji (a long-time assistant director of Tōhō tokusatsu productions) and featuring an ambitious effects production from NAKANO Teruyoshi (Submersion of Japan), The Return of Godzilla follows the efforts of public officials and a small group of civilians to avert disaster when the King of the Monsters reappears off the coast of Japan. The film starred TANAKA Ken (The Gate of Youth), SAWAGUCHI Yasuko (Princess From the Moon) and NATSUKI Yōsuke (Space Monster Dogora), and marked veteran suit actor SATSUMA Kenpachirō’s first turn in the title role (one he would reprise through 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destroyer).
The Return of Godzilla‘s dubbed US release version Godzilla 1985, which was produced by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures and featured a new framing narrative starring Raymond Burr, was a staple of the home video marketplace in the heyday of VHS, but has been largely unseen since. Due to ongoing licensing complications the Kraken edition will do little to change this. Working with the same transfer Toho used for their own Blu-ray release in Japan, Kraken will present the original 110′ version of The Return of Godzilla in both Japanese with English subtitles and in English dub (in this case the one produced by Toho for the film’s international distribution). Supplements are limited to trailers only, for both The Return of Godzilla as well as Kraken’s other Godzilla offerings, but the retail price is low – either $10 or $15, depending on the format.
Kraken Releasing’s The Return of Godzilla debuts September 13th on Blu-ray and DVD, and is available for pre-order now through Amazon.com (DVD and Blu-ray) and other retailers.
The all-star production is an adaptation of acclaimed author SHIGEMATSU Kiyoshi’s 2013 novel Fuamuresu (Family Restaurant), and marks the feature film directorial debut of long-time television drama specialist YUKAWA Kazuhiko (Great Teacher Onizuka). The film stars ABE Hiroshi (After the Storm) and AMAMI Yūki (The Queen’s Classroom) as the newly child-independent middle-aged couple Yohei and Miyoko Miyamoto, and the drama which ensues after Yohei discovers that his wife has been contemplating divorce.