KaijuERA |OT| Let Them Fight

passepied joe

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What is a "kaiju"?


The term “kaiju” roughly translates to “strange beast”. Kaiju are giant monsters that can be either protagonists, antagonists, or more neutral forces of nature in film. Generally these creatures are portrayed as being near invulnerable to modern human weaponry, or at the very least quite resilient to human offensives. From there these monsters can either fight against humanity, or fight against each other.


Origins of the Genre

The 1954 film Gojira (Godzilla) is considered the first Kaiju film. The origins of the genre can be traced back to Tomoyuki Tanaka, a producer for Toho Studios who had become an admirer of American monster movies dating back to the 1933 King Kong. Tanaka was inspired by the recent monster movie hit The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and the Lucky Dragon No. 5 incident, in which a Japanese fishing boat and it’s crew members were exposed to hydrogen bomb testing. Tanaka, alongside drama director Ishirō Honda, and special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya, worked to make the very first Godzilla movie and started an entire genre.

Notable Kaiju

Godzilla

Widely considered the most famous kaiju in film. Godzilla first appeared in 1954 and the monster’s film franchise continues on to this day spanning 60+ years and 31 films (29 Japanese productions and 2 American productions, with 3 anime films and 2 American films in production). Godzilla is a giant bipedal dinosaur with giant dorsal fins and has the ability to shoot atomic breath from his mouth. Over the course of the franchise, Godzilla has been portrayed as an villain, a hero who protects the Earth, and a neutral force of nature. Godzilla is a walking metaphor for nuclear weapons and nearly every origin story given to the creature originates with him being created from the radioactive fallout of nuclear testing.


King Kong

Not originally considered a kaiju, King Kong was brought into the proper kaiju genre when he first crossed paths with Godzilla in the 1962 film King Kong vs. Godzilla. Since then King Kong has made numerous film appearances both in Japanese kaiju genre productions as well as American film productions. The latest version of King Kong seen in Kong: Skull Island exists in a shared cinematic universe with Godzilla.


Gamera

Made by the competing Daiei Studios, this creature is one of the most famous kaiju that was not produced by Toho Studios in Japan and is a franchise rival to Godzilla. Gamera is a giant turtle who is capable of walking on two legs and has the ability to fly. While there are a few iterations of Gamera he’s generally portrayed as a protector of Earth and, like Godzilla, frequently combats other kaiju in his films. Gamera made his debut in 1965 and has 12 movies to his name, the most recent being released in 2006.


Mothra

Mothra is a colossal caterpillar or moth, depending on the creature’s life cycle stage. The creature is traditionally female and is a protector of Earth. Mothra made her debut in 1961 as the title character. Following this movie, she fought against Godzilla in the 1964 movie Mothra vs. Godzilla and became a recurring character in the Godzilla franchise. She would later return to having solo films in the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy from 1996 through 1998.


Where Should I Begin?



Gojira / Godzilla

Release Year: 1954

Director: Ishirō Honda

Reason to Watch: It’s the movie that started the genre. Godzilla is widely renowned to be one of the best Japanese films of all time. Director Ishirō Honda was staunchly against the spread and usage of nuclear weapons. References to the atomic bombings and other real life situations are all over the film, and Godzilla himself represents the destruction of war. The main cast of characters face a dilemma due to Godzilla’s appearance and are forced to deal with him. Although the effects are primitive by today’s standards, the results still came out to be engaging through sheer hard work and great photography. With it’s fantastic direction, harrowing score, and memorable effects scenes, Godzilla is perhaps the best starting point there is.



Mothra vs. Godzilla / Godzilla vs. The Thing

Release Year: 1964

Director: Ishirō Honda

Reason to Watch: Mothra vs. Godzilla is considered by many to be the best Godzilla film after the original. The plot goes through at a great pace and contains some memorable performances. Godzilla has a fittingly villainous design, and the colorful Mothra prop absolutely dwarfs him. The drama sections are intertwined effortlessly with the set pieces, making it one of the best films in the entire genre and a great movie for newcomers to enjoy.



Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla

Release Year: 1974

Director: Jun Fukuda

Reason to Watch: Want to see a heroic Godzilla fight a robotic duplicate of himself sent from outer space? This movie is one of the better examples of the “Godzilla versus” movies and contains a lot of the (delicious) cheese that came from the early era Godzilla movies.



The Return of Godzilla / Godzilla 1985

Release Year: 1984

Director: Koji Hashimoto

Reason to Watch: It’s the first proper reboot of the Godzilla franchise so no previous knowledge of the monster is needed aside from the original 1954 movie. Godzilla in this movie is not portrayed as a hero and is reverted back into his terrifying “force of nature” self.



Gamera: Guardian of the Universe

Release Year: 1995

Director: Shusuke Kaneko

Reasons to Watch: It’s a reboot of Gamera franchise, making it a solid jumping in point. The 90’s Gamera movies are also highly regarded by fans of the genre elevating it into the realm of the “must see” if you’re interested in the genre.

Shusuke Kaneko makes his debut into the genre with the first entry of the 90’s Gamera trilogy. Kaneko delivers a solid action film that both fans and newcomers can enjoy. Despite the low budget, effects director Shinji Higuchi still managed to deliver some great effects scenes with imaginative camerawork. Definitely a great starting point in the genre that encapsulates everything people love about it.



Pacific Rim

Release Year: 2013

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Reasons to Watch: The movie is a fun love letter to the kaiju genre and captures the fun of watching giant robots fight giant monsters. Pacific Rim is one of the more solid American contributions to the kaiju genre.

del Toro’s film is one of the easiest to get into, and a treat to anyone who appreciates raw, colorful spectacle. Taking elements from both anime and the kaiju genre, Pacific Rim is one of the best action movies of the decade.



Shin Godzilla

Release Year: 2016

Directors: Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi

Reasons to Watch: This movie is one of the better handled reboots in a long time. It updates Godzilla’s origin to be a metaphor to the Fukushima disaster rather than the fears of World War 2 atomic weapons, and returns Godzilla to his terrifying roots.

Directed by Evangelion veterans Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, Shin Godzilla is easily among the best Godzilla films after the first. With snappy dialogue and editing, chief director Anno makes some of the best non-monster scenes in the genre. Filled with allusions to the 2011 Japanese earthquake and ensuing disasters, Shin Godzilla criticizes the Japanese government response to it. Shin Godzilla is one of the best monster films of all time and must watch for anyone even remotely interested in Japanese cinema.



Kong: Skull Island

Release Year: 2017

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Reason to Watch: It’s a fun modern film take on King Kong that doesn’t retread the same plot points previous Kong remakes.

Information / Resources

Toho Kingdom
Sci-Fi Japan
r/Godzilla on Reddit
Wikizilla
G-Fan.com
G-Fest - A yearly Godzilla convention held in Chicago, Illionois, USA in the month of July
Japanese Giants
Hulu.com (has the Godzilla films released between 1991 and 2004 on demand with Hulu plus)
Amazon.com (has plenty of Godzilla films available to purchase)

Special Thanks

Sephzilla - Wrote a huge portion of this and provided a great set up. Wrote some of the reasons to watch for some movies.
Retro - Provided helpful feedback and support.


 
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toku

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Oct 25, 2017
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In. At least once a week I pull up the shin godzilla atomic breathe scene. What a dope moment. Grew up watching the SciFi channel Godzilla marathons as a kid.

Kong really surprised me as far as not only modern but western kaiju films go. Surprisingly well done, and brutal in a way that took me by surprise. Likeable characters actually dying in a western monster movie? shocker.
 

HammerFace

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Oct 25, 2017
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Yesss. Ever since I was a little kid I've loved Godzilla and other giant monsters.The Heisei era Godzilla design will always my favorite, thick thighs and all lol
 

Remapped88

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I love Kaiju films! Sucks that the Gamera trailer from awhile back never became a real movie :(. Needa do a rewatch of Gamera's 90's trilogy and also Shin Godzilla soon!
 

Sephzilla

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Kaiju movies rock! Glad to see this OT finally rise from the ocean :)
 

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I just hope the kaiju resurgence gets all the Godzilla films on bluray. It's completely stupid how an entry like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is expensively out of print on DVD.
 

Retro

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Yesss. Ever since I was a little kid I've loved Godzilla and other giant monsters.The Heisei era Godzilla design will always my favorite, thick thighs and all lol
It'll always be Showa for me since those are the ones I grew up with. I have a problem with the Heisei movies in that I always feel like I haven't seen one or two of them, but when I sit down and think it through I have, I just don't have the kind of deeply ingrained memory of them. I also think part of it is that Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla puts me to sleep faster than a bottle of nyquil with a nyquil chaser, so I forget (or subconsciously block out) lots of scenes from it.

Some solid Godzilla suit designs in that era though.

I just hope the kaiju resurgence gets all the Godzilla films on bluray. It's completely stupid how an entry like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is expensively out of print on DVD.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is my favorite from when I was a kid, but I haven't seen it in so long because my VHS copy is getting to the point that I'm worried it will just disintegrate if I try to watch it. So yes, absolutely, somebody needs to just dig in and start getting these movies preserved properly and available outside of third-hand bootlegs on ebay. I don't even need the super quality job done by the Criterion release of Gojira (though that'd be great), just give me something like the original Japanese release with new subs since I'm sure the western releases are in super muddy territory as to who owns what. There's probably some guy who owns the distribution rights to a bunch of Godzilla films and doesn't know it because his grand-uncle's paperwork is locked in a storage unit in Encino.
 

Sephzilla

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I just hope the kaiju resurgence gets all the Godzilla films on bluray. It's completely stupid how an entry like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is expensively out of print on DVD.
Yep, I'm shocked that a good chunk of the Showa Era movies haven't gotten bluray releases, yet the Heisei era is all on one format even though 1984 and Vs Biollante had minor rights issues
 

HammerFace

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It'll always be Showa for me since those are the ones I grew up with. I have a problem with the Heisei movies in that I always feel like I haven't seen one or two of them, but when I sit down and think it through I have, I just don't have the kind of deeply ingrained memory of them. I also think part of it is that Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla puts me to sleep faster than a bottle of nyquil with a nyquil chaser, so I forget (or subconsciously block out) lots of scenes from it.

Some solid Godzilla suit designs in that era though.
My older brother was actually the main way I got into Godzilla since he was also a fan. So by the time I was old enough to remember movies we already had basically all of the films from the Showa era to the end of the Heisei era. There were some good suits then but also some ehh looking suits as well. I think I was mostly just a fan of the design staying basically the same.

Also I agree. Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla is super boring. I think Godzilla vs Biollante will always be one of my favorites.
 

Sephzilla

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Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla is the low point of the Heisei era and I think even Toho knew it since the ended the Heisei era one movie later.

What sucks is that Vs SpaceGodzilla could have been pretty epic had they stuck to one or two of the original script ideas. Like MOGERA was supposed to be a rebuilt MechaGodzilla.
 

Tizoc

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OG 1954 Godzilla/Gojira is a masterpiece
The 90s Gamera trilogy are great. SUPER COMPUTER DREAMCAST, WHAT WHAT!

I cannot wait for KWF's Summerslam cage match of Godzilla vs. everyone X3
 

HyperFerret

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Godzilla vs King Ghidorah was my first film, but I didn't fall in love with the genre until my second film: Godzilla vs Detoroyah. I got very emotional at the end of the film. :'(
 

HammerFace

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Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla is the low point of the Heisei era and I think even Toho knew it since the ended the Heisei era one movie later.

What sucks is that Vs SpaceGodzilla could have been pretty epic had they stuck to one or two of the original script ideas. Like MOGERA was supposed to be a rebuilt MechaGodzilla.
I just always assumed the next movie was always bound to be the natural conclusion with Jr. taking up the mantle.
Also wasn't MOGERA made from MechaGodzilla parts?
 

Sephzilla

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I just always assumed the next movie was always bound to be the natural conclusion with Jr. taking up the mantle.
Also wasn't MOGERA made from MechaGodzilla parts?
Yeah I think MOGERA in that movie was made from the remnants of Super MechaGodzilla. But in the original script it was supposed to be a rebuilt MechaGodzilla and the final battle was going to be Godzilla and MG tag teaming against Space Godzilla.

Half Century War comic spoilers
Half Century War cashes in on this idea
 

HammerFace

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Yeah I think MOGERA in that movie was made from the remnants of Super MechaGodzilla. But in the original script it was supposed to be a rebuilt MechaGodzilla and the final battle was going to be Godzilla and MG tag teaming against Space Godzilla.

Half Century War comic spoilers
Half Century War cashes in on this idea
Now I need to go back and re-read Half Century War because I don't remember that at all. But yeah I would have much preferred the Godzilla/MechaG team up.
 
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passepied joe

passepied joe

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It's a shame IDW lost the license to the Godzilla franchise, they didn't make the most out of it to be honest.
 

Sephzilla

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Best movie: Shin Godzilla
Best design: Godzilla vs Biollante
Best music: Return of Godzilla
Worst movie: Godzilla's Revenge
Craziest movie: Final Wars
 

Redcrayon

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Can't wait to see Shin Godzilla. I've asked my wife for a copy for Christmas, no more Boxing Day repeats for me this year!
 

Sgt. Demblant

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Gamera forever!

Very happy to see this thread, well done.
And we're lucky to be living in a golden era for the genre in both the East and the West.
I'm not super sold on the Pacific Rim 2 trailer but the future Godzilla films all sound super exciting, including the cg one for Netflix.

Best Godzi per era for me:
Showa: Gojira
Heisei: Godzilla vs Biollante
Millenium: GMK

Plus, of course, I adore the Gamera trilogy by Kaneko (including the awesome PS1 game) and the very charming and underrated Gamera the Brave.

And everyone should read the James Stokoe comics.
 

Zombine

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Wow! What an awesome thread. Can’t wait to set up shop here. I can also confirm that James Stokoe’s Half Century War is an incredible Godzilla tale. His issue of Godzilla in Hell is icrdible as well (I even own one of the pages from this.)
 
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passepied joe

passepied joe

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Best movie: Godzilla
Best design: 1964 Godzilla
Best music: Mothra vs. Godzilla
Worst Movie: Any of the post 1991 Heisei Godzilla films. They're all bland and rehash (much better) films. Final Wars and Tezuka's films are pretty boring too.
 
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Sephzilla

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I'll defend Final Wars until my last breath. That movie is the pinnacle of B-movie cheese
 

Sephzilla

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Oh yeah, I love it. Kitamura is insane.
Godzilla shoots a comet out of mother fucking space while Japanese Neo stops laser bullets Matrix-style before turning to a Super Saiyan to fight Not-Vegeta on board the Epcot Center after aliens abduct the United Nations leader who dresses like futuristic Colonel Sanders. I fucking love how crazy this movie is.
 

Sgt. Demblant

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Godzilla shoots a comet out of mother fucking space while Japanese Neo stops laser bullets Matrix-style before turning to a Super Saiyan to fight Not-Vegeta on board the Epcot Center after aliens abduct the United Nations leader who dresses like futuristic Colonel Sanders. I fucking love how crazy this movie is.
Meanwhile:

Plus the wrestler guy who speaks to everyone in english for some reason. Walks around with a sword and a sentient mustache.
And that weird-ass soundtrack. Yeah, it's great.
 

SG-17

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Best movie: Shin Godzilla
Best design: Godzilla vs Biollante
Best music: Return of Godzilla
Worst movie: Godzilla's Revenge
Craziest movie: Final Wars
Best Movie: Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974)
Best Design: Godzilla vs King Ghidorah
Best Music: Godzilla 1985
Worst Movie: All Monsters Attack
Craziest Movie: Godzilla Final Wars

I have to be honest, I hate Shin. I really really hate it. It's not Godzilla to me like the 98 film. Legendary Godzilla on the right hand is genuine Godzilla to me, almost like a post-G3HM Showa film.
 

Vinegar Joe

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Oct 26, 2017
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This thread is relevant to my interests. Good work, OP.

Also, being a kaiju fan in the UK sucks balls. Apart from the big US releases they are largely ignored.

It was hard enough getting the Gamera Heisei trilogy on DVD (especially the first one - awesome UK dub included), and the millennium Godzilla films have never been released at all.
 

Sephzilla

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Best Movie: Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974)
Best Design: Godzilla vs King Ghidorah
Best Music: Godzilla 1985
Worst Movie: All Monsters Attack
Craziest Movie: Godzilla Final Wars

I have to be honest, I hate Shin. I really really hate it. It's not Godzilla to me like the 98 film. Legendary Godzilla on the right hand is genuine Godzilla to me, almost like a post-G3HM Showa film.
I feel like we've had this discussion regarding Shin in the past.

I'm glad we agree that Return/1985 has great music though. That music gives the whole movie a level of atmosphere that you don't really see in any other movies.
 
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passepied joe

passepied joe

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Shin is the closest Toho has gotten to Honda's vision since 1954. I don't think the 98 comparison is valid by any means. Anno and Higuchi love the original line of films and constantly reference them, Emmerich distanced himself the franchise and made his dislike towards it loud and clear.

It's a shame the UK doesn't get decent Godzilla home video releases because Germany gets some awesome DVDs and Blu-Rays. Supposedly much better than the American releases when it comes to accurate subtitles.
 

Sgt. Demblant

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This thread is relevant to my interests. Good work, OP.

Also, being a kaiju fan in the UK sucks balls. Apart from the big US releases they are largely ignored.

It was hard enough getting the Gamera Heisei trilogy on DVD (especially the first one - awesome UK dub included), and the millennium Godzilla films have never been released at all.
I think it's the same everywhere in Europe*.
I imported most of the Godzilla films from China back in the early 00s. It would take two or three months every time before they would show up. And those dvds weren't the best but that's still how I rewatch those films, haha, I only have a handful of them on blu-ray.

Edit
*: okay so based on the post above I guess I should brush up on my German.
 

SG-17

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Shin is the closest Toho has gotten to Honda's vision since 1954. I don't think the 98 comparison is valid by any means. Anno and Higuchi love the original line of films and constantly reference them, Emmerich distanced himself the franchise and made his dislike towards it loud and clear.

It's a shame the UK doesn't get decent Godzilla home video releases because Germany gets some awesome DVDs and Blu-Rays. Supposedly much better than the American releases when it comes to accurate subtitles.
Making Godzilla vulnerable to conventional human weapons is a cardinal sin. Plus I absolutely hate the design of Shin.
 

Sephzilla

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Making Godzilla vulnerable to conventional human weapons is a cardinal sin.
I can totally understand that complaint. But, like, he wasn't exactly vulnerable for long. The only time we see him vulnerable in Shin Godzilla results in the biggest moment of destruction in a Godzilla movie
 
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passepied joe

passepied joe

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Making Godzilla vulnerable to conventional human weapons is a cardinal sin. Plus I absolutely hate the design of Shin.
Godzilla has never faced conventional weaponry like the bunker busters in Shin. The closest thing any Godzilla has come to a bunker buster would probably be Mechagodzilla 2's revolving missiles. I really don't get how Godzilla getting hurt would impact your enjoyment of a great film.
 

Vinegar Joe

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Oct 26, 2017
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I think it's the same everywhere in Europe*.
I imported most of the Godzilla films from China back in the early 00s. It would take two or three months every time before they would show up. And those dvds weren't the best but that's still how I rewatch those films, haha, I only have a handful of them on blu-ray.

Edit
*: okay so based on the post above I guess I should brush up on my German.
Yeah, I had to resort to buying Chinese copies too, and just had to hope and pray the English subtitles weren't an illegible mess. Varying degrees of success on that front.

No regrets though. If we're going to be continually ignored in Europe we've got to get our kaiju kicks any way we can :)
 

Ginta

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They just ignored the DVD versions, had almost all Godzilla VHS, dozens I tell you!^^

Sadly had give them all up, and new TVs don't have SCART connections anymore too...
 

Namiks

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Shin Godzilla was incredible.

I loved how it wasn't just about cool Kaiju, but about Japan's attempts to remain independent when big issues arise.
 
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passepied joe

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I don't want to excite kaiju fans too much in case it's nothing in the end, but these popped up on Starz's streaming site...





And this is coming after director pages for Motoyoshi Oda and Jun Fukuda were made at Criterion's website.
 

CommodoreKong

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It's a shame IDW lost the license to the Godzilla franchise, they didn't make the most out of it to be honest.
I was wondering why no new Godzilla comics have come out lately.

That's too bad, it took a little while for the IDW series to find its footing but once they did the series was a lot of fun.
 
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passepied joe

passepied joe

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I was wondering why no new Godzilla comics have come out lately.

That's too bad, it took a little while for the IDW series to find its footing but once they did the series was a lot of fun.
Yeah, from what I've heard IDW gave up on dealing with Toho's notorious licensing process.

With that in mind, I'm pretty excited for the seemingly confirmed Criterion releases of Godzilla films past the original. It's about time some of these films got recognition in the west. This decade has been pretty good for genre fans.
 

TEEPO

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it's also one of the better godzilla movies with some of the most striking visual designs and cinematography in the series

i'm glad it's finally getting the love it deserves. i admit, i wasn't as impressed with it when i watched it on vhs years back. it was still one of the better films then but now it's easily in my top 5



also, i'll drop so much money for a showa godzilla criterion boxset