Posts tagged "Isao Zushi"

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

aka Gojira Tai Mekagojira aka ゴジラ対メカゴジラ

1974
March of Godzilla 2012
Written by Jun Fukuda, Masami Fukushima, Shinichi Sekizawa, and Hiroyasu Yamamura
Directed by Jun Fukuda

Godzilla, if you take him out of his original package, he’s only going to be worth half as much!

It’s Godzilla time once again at TarsTarkas.NET, as March of Godzilla 2012 continues into April and stomps right up to the fabulous Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla! Yes, Godzilla fights his metal double, other monsters run around and help, and we find out what happens when damn dirty apes get their hand on robot parts!

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla was one of my favorite Godzilla flicks growing up. I vividly remember buying the VHS tape with my own money (as the film was never shown on TV in my area) and the tape box had an awesome painting of Godzilla fighting Mechagodzilla. King Caesar was nowhere to be found on the cover, which did sort of make me sad. But the film totally made up for that, and this tape spent many days grinding away in the vcr, almost as much as my copies of Godzilla’s Revenge and King Kong vs. Godzilla (both taped off of tv the way nature intended!)

There are some who call me…Tim!

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is a classic Godzilla film and helps trend the trajectory of Godzilla films upwards from the children’s level entertainment Big G had been stuck in. While there is still a largely kid-safe feel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, there are signs of the audience being treated as more mature. Sprays of arterial blood, torture, human characters being blown away onscreen…all things you would be hard-pressed to see with Jet Jaguar running around. Of course, the same year Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla was released, Godzilla was still running around with Zone Fighter violently murdering monsters to the delight of children across Japan. So maybe things aren’t so much mature as they are just bigger budgeted.

They had commercials for energy drinks in 1974 Japan?

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla succeeds partially because the villain is memorable. It is inevitable if a series goes on long enough that evil doubles will show up. Toho even had their King Kong fight his own mechanical double early on, and it is about time Godzilla got into the mix. It also helps that Mechagodzilla just looks cool. He bristles with weapons and is a danger to the good monsters of Earth. Mechagodzilla worked so well as an adversary to Godzilla, he was later reimagined as a weapon to fight Godzilla in both the Heisei and Millennium film series. But here he is pure evil, a killing machine first seen as a disguised Godzilla brutally injuring Anguirus, one of Godzilla’s best buds. We know things aren’t right, the roar is different, Godzilla is mean. Mechagodzilla is fooling no one except the dopes who actually live in this movie world.

There are some weird contradictions in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Most notably, Godzilla himself is an allegory about nuclear weapons and destruction, the hubris and violence. But now things get flipped and instead Godzilla is part of a prophecy of ancient Japan, to defend Japan against a technological monster bent on destruction, with the help of a monster that resembles classical Japanese artwork of a lion/dog. Godzilla is now part of the spiritual order of things, a protector spirit to help save Japan and the world. Just ignore all those films where he kill thousands. Godzilla does not escape his role as hero that has been cast upon him by the later films, and instead is integrated more as something that has always been meant to be a hero. His violent origin is hinted at in the film, when the characters sigh that “Of course Godzilla will be the monster to destroy the world…” but that is quickly thrown aside once the truth is revealed. This is probably the seed of how Godzilla would be treated later in the Heisei and Millennium series, as a force of nature and less of an evil or good monster. It is certainly an improvement over his prior films, where he’d be called in to go beat up the monster of the year.

Planet of the Herpes!

A change of direction was needed, as this was the 20th Anniversary film for the Godzilla franchise and something special should happen. It was also the last Godzilla film directed by Jun Fukuda, the man who helmed many of the films during Godzilla’s descent into children’s hero (and a few episodes of the Zone Fighter series!) Though he would still direct The War in Space and ESPy if you need some more Japanese scifi to track down.

By the time it showed up in the US in 1977, Cinema Shares International (who purchased the distribution rights) had renamed it Godzilla vs. Bionic Monster. That ticked off Universal, who said the title was too close to their TV show The Bionic Woman. Although laughable, Cinema Shares went the easy route and just retitled the film Godzilla vs. Cosmic Monster. By the time it showed up on VHS tape, the Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla name was reattached. And though I could drag out my old VHS copy from storage, instead take some remastered DVD action!

No matter how often they redesign the dollar coin, it will never catch on…

Keisuke Shimizu (Masaaki Daimon) – The elder Shimizu brother who helps defend Earth from those damn dirty space apes! Spends much of his time doubting that Saeko can do much of anything. Not afraid to fight aliens for long periods of time. Masaaki Daimon is also in 2009: Lost Memories and returns in Terror of Mechagodzilla as a different character.
Masahiko Shimizu (Kazuya Aoyama) – Zone Fighter??? What are you doing here? Okay, fine, I guess putting the actor in your monster TV series in your monster movie series makes sense. The younger Shimizu who spends time photographing things and finding space metal in caves.
Saeko Kanagusuku (Reiko Tajima) – A girl! She is not only a girl, but a woman who can translate archeological ruins (but not all the way!) and can’t be trusted to keep secrets. Because records of non-cult Japanese shows are dubious at best, Reiko Tajima seems to disappear after this film except for some anime voicework.
Professor Hideto Miyajima (Akihiko Hirata) – The actor who played Dr. Serizawa makes his required appearance in older Godzilla films. His pipe is partially made out of the fake metal astanopkaron (asutanopukaron if you’re Japanese!) because we needed to invent something weird to throw in that is barely used.
Professor Wagura (Hiroshi Koizumi) – Two brothers visit two different professors because that let’s us pack in many characters so we can shoot around their busy schedules! Professor Wagura can translate even better than Saeko, and that’s what he does. Hiroshi Koizumi also appears in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. The Thing, Mothra, and Godzilla Raids Again
Godzilla (Isao Zushi) – You may have heard of this Godzilla guy…
Mechagodzilla (Ise Mori) – A Space Ape controlled mechanical double for Godzilla, with many powers and weapons, except the power to not lose to Godzilla.
King Caesar (Momoru Kusumi) – King Caesar lives in a cave and comes out every thousand years to beat up a monster. He’s really lazy.
Anguirus (Momoru Kusumi) – Anguirus shows up to get beat up by the evil fake Godzilla, to show he’s mean! Anguirus’s defeat is a message that this film ain’t going to be like Godzilla vs. Gigan or Godzilla vs. Megalon. No, this film will be a bit more darker, a bit more dangerous. And if any of you peeps think that Baragon was originally going to be in this film because Anguirus was digging, I hope you enjoy being wrong, because you are.
Space Aliens (Various) – People say these guys Space Monkey around! At least space monkeys are an improvement over cockroach aliens, but neither hold a candle (or a banana) to the Xilians.
Now hold still and pretend there aren’t wires attached to you!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

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Zone Fighter (流星人間ゾーン)

Zone Fighter

aka 流星人間ゾーン aka Ryuusei Ningen Zoon

1973

This is the splash page for the Zone Fighter reviews, because we need a page with all the info so I don’t keep repeating it over and over and over again. Laziness breeds efficiency! Zone Fighter is Toho’s tokusatsu series that was broadcast in 1973 for a total of 26 episodes (two 13-episode blocks.) The peaceful Zone Family’s peaceful planet Peaceland is destroyed by the evil Garogas, so the Zones head to Earth to hide out under the name Sakimori. But you can’t run from evil alien goons, and soon the Garogas are hanging around Earth in a giant satellite in the sky trying their darnedest to get those nasty Zones. Zone Fighter and his family fought a variety of evil Terror-Beasts under the control of the Garogas. Godzilla, King Ghidorah, and even Gigan pop up in a few episodes, which is why people care about this show more than Robot Detective. Eventually, they all fall victim to the power of cancellation, and the story is never completed with the ultimate destruction of the Garogas (or the Zones, if you cheer on evil like we always do at TarsTarkas.NET!)

So who are the peaceful Zone Family of Peaceland, Land of Peace? (Now Land of Pieces!) Let’s Meet the Zones!

Hikaru Sakimori (Kazuya Aoyama) – Oldest of the three Zone siblings, usually working as a race car driver. He can transform into Zone Fighter, and also can transform into a bigger, stronger Zone Fighter.
Hotaru Sakimori (Kazumi Kitahara) – The middle Sakimori child, suffering from middle child syndrome. Maybe. If they bothered to give her any characterization. She doesn’t do much except be a girl. Heck, even during fight sequences she doesn’t even fight. Hotaru is still in high school, you pervs!
Akira Sakimori (Kenji Sato) – The youngest Sakimori is also the most annoying. But he is far less annoying than his weekly schoolmate friend who will be played by increasingly awful child actors. Turns into Zone Junior, which will be a horrible superhero name when you’re like 50 or so.
Yoichiro Sakimori (Shoji Nakayama) – Daddy Zone for some reason doesn’t turn into a super hero, he just invents toys, as he runs the Toy Research Institute.
Tsukiko Sakimori (Sachiko Kozuki) – Mommy Zone is just there. So far all she has done is look worried. Maybe she’s expressing post-traumatic stress trauma after the destruction of her homeworld and subsequent flight to Earth as refugees where they must hide their identities and be constantly hounded by their enemies. Or maybe the writers are too focused and action and selling toys to boys that they don’t care.
Raita Sakimori (Shiro Amakusa) – Grandpa Zone is also known as Zone Great. He’s not really that great. Sometimes he uses the Great Raideki Satellite, so at least he does more than Mom and Dad Zone.
Zone Fighter – Zone Fighter (song lyrics “Zone Fighto, Zone Fighto Zone Fighto!”) wears a costume similar to his siblings, until such time as he has to become giant.
Zone Fighter Big Mode – When Zone Fighter says “Zone Double Fight” he grows to giant size to fight the giant Garoga monsters. Special attacks include his Meteor Missiles, which he fires from his wrists like guns, the Meteor Proton Beam, which zaps from his head, making an energy door shield, and flying into TV’s. You read that last one right! In something totally different from Ultraman that isn’t a rip-off, he can only stay big a small amount of time and he has a power meter light that changes color as he gets weaker. It’s a very obvious power meter light, but luckily the evil Garoga monsters are pretty dumb.
Zone Angel – Zone Angel is the alter-ego of Hotaru Sakimori. Zone Angel and Zone Junior usually spend most of the giant monster battle watching, then getting in the flying car and reenergizing Zone Fighter.
Zone Junior – Zone Junior is the alter-ego of Akira Sakimori. He’s just as useless as you think he would be.
Garogas – Why so serious? These bug-eyed, antennaed, sharp-toothed (but unmoving mouthed) aliens are the Garogas, who are evil and live in a satellite orbiting Earth, where they randomly fire monsters to attack the planet. Their boss is all gold, the squad captains are gold, and the goons are silver. Garogas can disguise themselves as human, but are given away by their webbed fingers. Oddly enough, I don’t think the actual Garogas have webbed fingers. Maybe I should stop writing this and go back and check. Nah.

Recurring/Important Cast –

Takeru Jou (Hideaki Obara) – Takeru owns a model shop and gets involved in the wacky adventures of the Sakimori/Zone family, because we needed yet another character to clutter up the lineup of this short program. Learns the secret identities of the Zones. Is usually referred to as “Sensei” by the annoying kid of the week.
Baron Garoga – The boss Garoga of the region, who orders all the other Garogas around. Has a wand and a cape, and is FAB-ulous!
Red Garoga – Sometimes Baron Garoga is too busy eating ice cream or something to fight Zone Fighter, so this Red Garoga steps up to the task. He doesn’t fare any better…
Candy Cane Red Garoga – Of all the various Red Garoga to menace the Zone Family, the one with the candy cane striped antennas is the most distinct. He spends most of his time luring children into his clutches, which is totally not creepy at all. Seen in Episode 20
Long-Antennaed Garoga – When the Garoga kidnapped Hotaru and replaced her with an evil duplicate, that evil duplicate was this Long-antennaed Garoga, who has the longest antennas ever seen on the show. He used his antennas as whips and also seemed to be made of explosives, because he exploded after Zone Fighter threw him off a cliff. He failed because he was a failure. Is only seen in Episode 7
White Garoga – A White Garoga appears in Episode 21 to visit his colleague Baron Garoga. The two are contemporaries of the same rank, and after trading some gossip and work griping, White Garoga gives Baron Garoga the alien creature that will be turned into the terror-beast Jellar.
Garoga Scientist – The Garoga Scientist is responsible for several of the various gimmicks and monsters the Garoga use against the Zone Family. The Garoga Scientist makes notable appearances in Episodes 14 and 22.
Yuri the Garoga – A Garoga disguised as a lovely lady, who leads various members of the Zone Family into traps. She never returns to Garoga form, and hangs out with the Red Garoga group leader. So we don’t really know if she’s a human who works for the Garoga or a Garoga who’s gone Japanese and isn’t coming back. Her and the Red Garoga from that episode might have a thing going on, so here’s hoping they ran off to live together in the countryside. Seen in Episode 17
X Garoga – Elite squadron of Garoga who come to Earth to fight the Zones. Wear spiffy giant X’s on their uniforms, in case you forget who they are. Despite beign elite troops, they are easily defeated. Have visual tricks to help them fight. The X Garoga combine to form the monster Grotogauros. Seen in Episode 26
Bird Zone – The Zone Family Bird, whose only major appearance in Episode 14 involves him being used as a test subject for a mysterious compound, and thus being controlled by the Garoga in that he says “Garoga” over and over again until he’s cured.

Recurring Monsters –

Godzilla (Toru Kawai and Isao Zushi) – Godzilla is the king of monsters and for some reason answers calls from tiny robots to go kill monsters. Which he does. Godzilla kills more monsters in this series than he does in the films until Final Wars. Remember, this is goofy, defender of Earth Godzilla, who is only a shell on his back away from being friend of all children. Eventually Godzilla will decide that being full of meat is not his thing and he goes for bigger and better things. One can only assume that with old age, Godzilla began experiencing dementia and kept thinking Zone Fighter was his old buddy Jet Jaguar, thus his constant help despite not knowing Zone Fighter prior to getting called to battle. Godzilla even lives in a cave at this point, further supporting my dementia theory. While his roar is heard in the beginning of every episode, Godzilla appears in episodes 4, 11, 15, 21 and 25.

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 2, 2011 at 8:43 pm

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