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.