2008 Directed by Minoru Kawasaki
Written by Minoru Kawasaki and Masakazu Migita
Minoru Kawasaki makes some of the weirdest films to come out of Japan since the last weird film to come out of Japan, which was like last week or something. Okay, Japan has a LOT of weird films, but at least Minoru Kawasaki’s are entertaining. And usually not insane enough that you can talk about them with strangers and they won’t think you are insane. If you disagree with this, try explaining the plot of Tokyo Gore Police to the person sitting next to you on the bus and see if they start looking disturbed. Minoru Kawasaki specializes in films where animals do people’s jobs. Usually, the animals are human sized, but in this film the cats are cat sized, even if they are played by puppets. Besides the animal films, Minoru Kawasaki also directed The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit.
Neko Ramen Taisho started life as a Flash anime series. Then it became a movie with puppets, thus being superior because puppets>anime any day of the week. The English subtitlers decided to call it Pussy Soup, which is clever, but as I learned all about it and eagerly awaited it as Neko Ramen Taisho, that’s what I call it and that means I will ignore the Pussy Soup jokes.
There are some famous Japanese cats in this film, so if you enjoy famous Japanese cats, this is a sure bet winner!
Jeff III (Toru Furuya) – William Thomas Jefferson III – will go by the name Master, aka Taisho, thus the title of the film. Amazing, huh? Jeff III was groomed to be a Cat Idol by his father, but Jeff III wanted none of it, and after being beaten around by his father runs off to find his lot in life. Eventually settling on running a ramen noodle shack, things change again when a rival cat ramen noodle shop opens down the street.
Jeff II (Seizo Kato) – William Thomas Jefferson II – will go by the name Shogun. He is a famous Supermodel Cat (aka Cat Idol) and demands his son follow his path. Is brutal in his disceplin to make his son a Cat Idol, so much that Jeff III runs away. Even when Jeff II is shamed and run out of the model industry, he follows his son to try to shame him further.
Tanaka (Kazuki Kato) – A regular customer in Jeff III’s ramen shop and probably Jeff III’s closest friend. Kazuki Kato is a J-pop star.
Mariko (Nao Nagasawa) – A woman who is friends with Tanaka and pseudogirlfriend. Not a big fan of ramen noodles, but supportive of her friend Tanaka even if she has completely different ideas. Nao Nagasawa is a singer and model that you can see more of in this gallery post as well as see her as a ninja in Geisha vs. Ninja.
Ramen chef (Toshio Kurosawa) – The Ramen chef who rehabilitates Jeff III from his depression, and infuses a love of crafting ramen noodles into Jeff III, giving him newfound purpose in life. Also helps his student during the challenge from his father.
Miki (???) – Miki is the girl with the cat who is the love interest for Jeff III.
aka Girara no gyakushû: Tôya-ko Samitto kikiippatsu aka Guilala’s Counterattack: Lake Toya Summit Crisis
2008 Directed by Minoru Kawasaki
Minoru Kawasaki has been given the nickname of late as the “Ed Wood of Japan.” I think this nickname is misleading, because Minoru Kawasaki’s films aren’t bad, they are just really weird. The kind of weird that plays well to international cult audiences but if you try to describe them to your coworkers they just look at you weird and then avoid talking movies with you in future conversations. He first burst in the international scene with Calamari Wrestler in 2004, about a squid that showed up at wrestling matches. His other films include Executive Koala – about a koala executive who may have murdered his wife, Crab Goalkeeper – about a crab that is a goalkeeper on a soccer team, The World Sinks Except Japan – a parody of The Sinking of Japan film (this was also Kawasaki’s first film filled with political satire), Kabuto-O Beetle – another wrestling film with a giant beetle, The Rug Cop – a parody of 1970’s Japanese cop tv shows involving a living toupee, and the upcoming Neko Râmen Taishô – about a cat who runs a Ramen stand. This resume makes him the perfect person to helm the return film for the giant monster Guilala. (He actually did work with giant monsters on Ultraman Tiga.)
Guilala first appeared in 1967’s The X from Outer Space (aka Uchi Daikaiju Girara, literally Giant Space Monster Guilala.) This was the first daikaiju film from Shochiku. After Guilala was brought to Earth as a spore it grew into a giant monster and rampaged until it was coated with Guilalalium, which returned it into a spore and it was shot back into space. The goofy monster design is probably what the film is best remembered for. There have been rumors for years of Guilala returning, most noticeably the long-standing rumor that he would fight Gappa, another Japanese monster who was a one-shot deal from the Nikkatsu studios. And now Guilala reappears years later in The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit (as well as a promotional exercise video released around the time of the movie’s release in theaters in 2008 that I have been unable to track down!) After the film was released in Japan, Guilala showed up again in the US in a commercial for Ladders, some job website.
The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit is not a daikaiju movie in so much as it is political satire set against the backdrop of a monster attack. The political caricatures are independent enough that you don’t need to know who they are to follow along, but if you are versed in foreign affairs than you get a whole new layer of jokes that others will miss.
The G8 Summit is a forum for governments of eight nations of the northern hemisphere. The leaders of the eight member nations each get represented here as exaggerated caricatures, though how exaggerated you are can vary. There is also a few changes from who actually attended the G8 Summitt due to political changes in power that happened after the script was already in production. The most noticeably is that Prime Minister Shinz? Abe hosts the summit here, while in reality the 2008 G8 Summit in Japan was actually hosted by former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who took over after Abe’s surprise resignation. The Russian president is also called Putin, though the Russian president at the time of the meeting was Dmitri Medvedev (and the actor resembles him more than Putin.) All other minor differences are listed below in the Social Studies 101 section. But first we need to introduce the non-political characters:
Sumire Sumidagawa (Natsuki Kato) – A reporter who stumbles across a village that worships the one thing that can save mankind from the evil Guilala.
Sanpei Toyama (Kazuki Kato) – A cameraman for Sumire who joins her in her discovery of Take-Majin and the prophecy.
Guilala (Hurricane Ryu) – Guilala returns 31 years after being sent back into space to strike again at mankind. The leaders of the free world are defeated by him one by one. But can a small village defeat Guilala?
Take-Majin (??? and Beat Takeshi (voice)) – Called The Legendary Savior. Fights Guilala after being awakened by the prayers of the Lake Toya villagers. 50 meters tall weighing 10,000 tons. Take-Majin is a takeoff of the Daimajin monster.