Posts tagged "Toru Kawai"

Terror of Mechagodzilla (Review)

Terror of Mechagodzilla

aka Mekagojira no gyakushu aka メカゴジラの逆襲

1975
March of Godzilla 2012
Written by Yukiko Takayama
Directed by Ishiro Honda

Titanosaurus, DirectTV pioneer

Terror of Mechagodzilla is a direct followup to the previous film, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. It’s also the final film of the Showa era, one of the few films to show direct continuity that would be used more in the Heisei films, and the final Godzilla work of some G-legends, Ishiro Honda and Akihiko Hirata. It also bombed horribly, helping lead to a decade-long absence of Godzilla in film form. Overall, Terror of Mechagodzilla is a mixed bag. The action sequences are some of the most violent and explosive of the older films, but they’re obviously trying to compensate from the lower budget (many scenes suddenly end up in the countryside) and the hectic explosions loose their danger after the 1 millionth giant boom.

Being a little mermaid sure is boring…

Ishiro Honda doesn’t sleep on the job, making up for the lower filming budget with some neat visual stylizing. A flashback to Professor Mafune’s descent into madness is shown via sepia-toned photographs while narration explains. Katsura’s lament that Titanosaurus is to be used as a murderous weapon is juxtaposed with other alien-controlled kaiju from prior films played on a quad-screen shot. Godzilla’s first appearance is one of the better introduction scenes in his history.

The alien command center is in some Trekker guy’s basement?

While Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla showed a trend towards more serious, Terror of Mechagodzilla straddled the edge of serious and silly. The action sequences were more destructive, but the alien villains were more comic book. The cyborg daughter is played for tragedy, but it is obvious from the beginning that it will end in a downer and we’re just running through the steps until the final act. I am willing to accept that some of the sillier aspects are unintentional, such as the alien helmets or the complete lack of concern for hunting down the aliens by Interpol even after they’ve been spotted multiple times in the same area. But I can’t deny that I feel it is there, and it clouds Terror of Mechagodzilla in a way that the prior film did not have.

Titanosaurus was tragically hit by a meteor during the filming of this scene…

メカゴジラの逆襲 (translation: Counterattack of Mechagodzilla) was first released in the US in theaters in 1978 under the title The Terror of Godzilla. The US rights were held by Henry Saperstein, who sold Bob Conn Enterprises the film rights, but also released the movie itself on TV in 1978 as Terror of Mechagodzilla. This cut is credited to UPA Productions of America, and features an additional six minutes of scenes taken from other Godzilla films and narrated to serve as an introduction to Godzilla (this sequence is detailed below), the only think cut was a brief shot of Katsura’s fake breasts during a surgery scene. By the mid-1980s, there was a new cut on tv that featured many of the violent scenes cut down, as well as not having the opening narration. There are some that say this was the theatrical cut, though I don’t know why the theater cut would have removed the violence when that seems more of a tv cut thing to do. That cut was the most widely available for decades, including the original version I saw before I got a tape of the original cut. I have still not seen the restored DVD, hence the screenshots are either from the old VHS tape or the earlier DVD.

For some reason, the humans won’t take us serious!

And as March of Godzilla 2012 continues, let’s get us to the Roll Call!

Akira Ichinose (Katsuhiko Sasaki) – Marine Biologist at the Ocean Exploitation Institute, which somehow qualifies him to have equal police rights as the rest of Interpol when he works with them to track down the mysterious dinosaur. Falls in love with a cyborg despite her repeated attempts to brush him off.
Katsura Mafune (Tomoko Ai) – Daughter of the famous Professor Mafune, who went mad. She covers for her father, telling the world he is dead. In reality, he is in league with the space aliens and is using his discovery, Titanosaurus, and his ability to control animals, against mankind for spurning him and his ideas. Katsura was rebuilt as a cyborg after she was injured in an experiment, and becomes more robotic the more the aliens due to her. Tomoko Ai went on to do a string of Nikkuatsu films.
Dr. Shinzo Mafune (Akihiko Hirata) – Akikhiko Hirata plays yet another mad scientist, except this one doesn’t have an eyepatch, he’s got crazy old man hair, mustache, and eyebrows. He hates mankind because they made fun of him. Good thing he doesn’t read YouTube comments, Dr. Mafune would explode with rage. Explode, I tell you! He teams with the aliens.
Interpol Agent Jiro Murakoshi (Katsumasa Uchida) – The main cop who is sort of in the film, though often the film forgets he’s there as it focuses more on Ichinose. But he occasionally shows up to save the day and to save Ichinose.
Alien Leader Mugal (Goro Mutsumi) – The new leader of the space aliens from the previous film. Mugal sounds like a name for a Gremlin or something. The greatest tragedy of Terror of Mechagodzilla is that the aliens never revert back to gorilla form.
Godzilla (Toru Kawai) – The biggest G of them all!
Mechagodzilla (Ise Mori) – Picked up from the ocean floor and rebuilt with human slaves, Mechagodzilla is back to fight his fleshy foe. And now he’s controlled by a cyborg lady! And he has some sort of head under his head! It’s all weird, but not enough to keep him from being turned into scrap metal.
Titanosaurus (Katsumi Nimiamoto) – Titanosaurus is a peaceful dinosaur used by an arrogant made scientist and aliens to attack humans, and is then brutally murdered by Godzilla for his crime of being brainwashed. Some people are really into Titanosaurus! If you are Japanese, you call him Chitanosaurusu. Rumor has it that Titanosaurus was originally supposed to be two smaller creatures called the Titans that fuse together to create Titanosaurus. This idea seems to have been recycled into Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.
G is for Godzooky, that’s good enough for me!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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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