"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

GIANT MAJIN STRIKES AGAIN!
New Teleseries to Premiere in Japan this Fall

新番組「大魔神カノン』秋に登場!


Returning to life this October... but will we recognize him?

Over the last two decades, there have been numerous revivals and re-inventions of popular Japanese characters and remakes of beloved film franchises. Numerous attempts have been made to resurrect the avenging stone deity, Daimajin, first stirred to life in Kimiyoshi Yasuda's unforgettable 1966 Daiei production of the same name (and quickly spawned a pair of also memorable and iconic sequels), but all have failed to see the light of day. Until now...

In 1991, there were rumblings in the pages of Kinema Junpo, Japan's most respected cinema magazine, that high on the international success of Steve Barron's TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1990), Golden Harvest had entered a deal with Daiei to produce a new DAIMAJIN film, starring Kevin Costner, who had just swept the Oscars with DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990). After the award-winning accolades garnered by GAMERA: THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (1995), Daiei announced that they would like to revive the hideous stone idol. There was nothing.

When Daiei changed hands and was sold to the giant Kadokawa Publishing empire in 2002, they also had future plans for Gamera and Daimajin. In 2005, eclectic fringe director, Takashi Miike, scored a hit with a re-imagining of Daiei's 1968 film, THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, and was summarily attached to a DAIMAJIN remake. Unfortunately, after the miserable box office receipts from Ryuta Tasaki's GAMERA: THE BRAVE (2006), Miike's DAIMAJIN project was cancelled by Kadokawa Pictures. Again nothing.

Then, on April 1, 2009*, the new issue of Kadokawa Publishing's Newtype: The Live, made an exclusive announcement—Daimajin would return in a new television series produced by Kadokawa Pictures: DAIMAJIN KANNON. Shigenori Takatera, a fan who became an Assistant Producer at Toei in 1986, is slated to produce. Takatera started his career with KAMEN RIDER BLACK (1987-88), worked his way up as the Chief Producer on RACING TASK FORCE: CARRANGER (1996-97) through STAR BEAST TASK FORCE: GINGAMAN (1998-99), and he then moved over to KAMEN RIDER KUUGA (2000-01) and KAMEN RIDER HIBIKI (2005-06).

While the Newtype: The Live article was very coy at divulging details, it does state that DAIMAJIN KANNON will be contemporary, instead of the feudal period-setting of the feature films, and will be aimed squarely at adult viewers, most likely guaranteeing a late-night broadcast (a network has not been announced). The article features an "image sketch" by To-ru Watanabe (Master of Epic), of a young girl, most likely the titular "Kannon" (or "Goddess of Mercy"), an avatar for Daimajin—following the template of the first film. Kadokawa describes the production as a "VFX Fantasy" remake of the original film.

Stay tuned to this blog for more details as they develop on this long-awaited return of Daimajin!

*April 1, known in the west as "April Fool's Day" is not observed in Japan. Therefore, this story is not a "prank," neither from here nor the source.

9 comments:

geki-burakku said...

Very cool! I love the old "Daimajin" movies and am interested in seeing how this is re-imagined for the modern era.

prof. grewbeard said...

hah! thanx for clarifying concerning April Fool's, but that never even occured to me. guess i would have been a prime target for a prank!

This Week on "Avenging God"- some Bad Guys get what they deserve! wackiness ensues!...

Timothy said...

Has any of the original Daimajin films ever been released on Region 1 DVD? I think the only time I have seen any of these films was during G-Fest, with the in-room G-Fest movie channel.

August Ragone said...

Timothy,
All three of the DAIMAJIN movies were issued on DVD, twice, by ADV Films, now out of print. You can still find them on various sites.

I recommend the individual releases from ADV, aside from the aspect ratio problem with the second film, because these are from remastered elements—the "Complete Daimajin" box is from inferior masters.

Also, stay away from Retromedia's "Giant Majin Collection", unless you are nostalgic for the English-dubbed, pan & scanned, American International Television editions, taken from 16mm prints.

Hope this helps!

Timothy said...

August,

Thanks for the info about the difference between the ADV releases. I would have, naturally, gone for the boxed set, but I will definitely go for the individual releases.

DaiKamonohashi said...

Here's the sketch August mentioned in the article:

http://img186.imageshack.us/img186/5643/majin03.jpg

This is wonderful news and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the production looks like!

Lone Wolf said...

I like the Idea of the series being aimed at an adult audience, not to hot on the idea of removing him from his Feudal Japan element though...we shall see, still looking forward to it nonetheless.

It Would have been cool to see what Takashi Miike would have came up with to, but no dice on that...

Patrick Galloway said...

I'm with you. Kinda ruins it if it's not a jidai-geki. But then I can't imagine this series it will hold a candle to the original Daiei trilogy. You can't replace Miwa Takada and Shiho Fujimura, and that incredible, green Kirk Douglas grimace -- if that's gone, I'm out.

Bunche said...

When I first saw DAIMAJIN as a kid during one of NYC's 4:30 Movie "monster weeks," I and all the other monster kids I knew though it sucked since nothing happened until the last twenty minutes, instead forcing us to sit through the most bloodless samurai melodrama we'd yet experienced. But with age comes wisdom (hopefully) and when I saw it again while in my early thirties I had a whole different perspective and now love it. I saw the sequels and only really liked number two, but I'm psyched to hear of Majin's return, but am curious to see how he'll work outside of a period piece setting...