"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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Regular & Limited Vinyl Pressing Out June 21st


Cheung Chung Tat's jacket art featuring the 1990s-style Godzilla.

Back on March 12th, I broke the news that UK-based Death Waltz Recording Company had negotiated the rights to the full soundtrack of Akira Ifukube's score for GODZILLA (1954). Fully remastered from Toho's original audio materials, this release boasts the very first time the complete score has been pressed on vinyl, with exclusive art by Cheung Chung Tat. Interestingly, much like the Criterion Collection packaging, the cover art features a non-1954 Godzilla — here we have a Heisei-style Big G. You have to wonder what the process was in decided this, as I would've preferred a version of the king that actually appears in the film. Still, Tat's painting is admittedly spectacular (and the anachronistic Pacific War aircraft bare, not Rising Suns, but Death Waltz symbols — a nice touch).

Famed artist, Noriyoshi Ohrai captures the 1954 Godzilla perfectly.

All that minor art quibbling aside, Death Waltz is sparing no expense in creating this special presentation, which also features both deluxe and standard packaging for this historic soundtrack. Deluxe Gatefold Edition (limited to 400 units): 180g "Atomic Breath" (blue and white) vinyl, housed in a heavyweight tip-on, case-bound gatefold jacket printed on beautiful textured Galtex Prima card containing a full-color booklet (with liner notes by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp and "Film On Wax" Editor Charlie Bridgen), and wrapped in an Obi strip (MSRP: £22.00). Standard Edition (limited to 400 units): 180g green vinyl pressing, housed inside a 350gsm single pocket jacket with a poster (MSRP: £17.00).

Here are Death Waltz' track listings (English translations seem to duplicate those contained in the 50th Anniversary release from La-La Land Records in 2004):

Godzilla Approaches
Godzilla Main Title
Medley/ Ship Music / Sinking Of Eikou-Maru
Sinking Of Bingou Maru
Anxieties On Ootojima Island
Ootojima Temple Festival
Stormy Ootojima Island
Theme For Ootojima Island
Japanese Army March I
Horror Of The Water Tank
Godzilla Comes Ashore

Godzilla’s Rampage
Desperate Broadcast
Godzilla Comes To Tokyo Bay
Intercept Godzilla
Tragic Sight Of The Imperial Capital
Oxygen Destroyer
Prayer For Peace
Japanese Army March II
Godzilla At The Ocean Floor
Secret Hidden Track

While these are not for sale to the US, when has that ever stopped fans from getting what they want? Until then, you can listen to the LP in full (for a limited time) on Empire Magazine online — and it sounds amazing!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Details & Trailer for ARK OF THE STARS (2014)

白彗星帝国出現!新作劇場版『宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199 星巡る方舟』

Beautiful textless poster art for the rise of the Comet Empire!

"They lied to us!"* In a brilliant move, producers of the new SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 franchise, kept insisting that they were not going to attempt a remake of the 1978 film, FAREWELL YAMATO, and the television version, YAMATO 2, both telling the story of the White Comet Empire threatening the Earth (familiar to American fans as the second season of STAR BLAZERS). Most of these deflections did indeed have a kernel of truth behind them — director Yutaka Izubuchi was quoted that he wasn't interested in adapting the later YAMATO stories into the new universe they had created for YAMATO: 2199, and that the upcoming film would still be set within the year 2199 (the original Comet Empire stories were set in 2201).

First teaser trailer: Tagline, "The new enemy is... Gatlantis!"

Finally, after months of a veil of secrecy, the plot details of the new production has finally been broken: Entitled SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 ~ ARK OF THE STARS (bowing in Japanese cinemas on December 6th), the all-original theatrical motion picture will not be a full-blown remake of the Comet Empire story that fans around the world are most familiar with, but will instead focus on an incident with the Comet Empire that occurs during the Yamato's voyage home from Iscandar. Details, herein are based solely on just-posted announcements by the official websites (which may be subject to change) — here's my translation of the official story synopsis:

Starting out on their journey home, after retrieving the Cosmo Reverse System from the planet Iscandar, the Yamato encounters the vanguard of a mysterious space fleet on the outer rim of the Large Magellanic Cloud, which suddenly appears before them. Identifying themselves as "Gatlantis," they demand the Yamato to surrender. With time running out for the Earth, the Yamato attempts to avoid an engagement, but an unknown lifeform materializes to bar their retreat. By a hairbreadth, the Yamato warps — into an otherworldly, grey-and-white space, where a strange planet hovers before them...

Is this mysterious planet the artificial interstellar citadel of Emperor Zwordar: Gatlantis? And could this strange, "gray-and-white-space," be the center of the White Comet? Or is it the "Ark of the Stars"? Stay tuned to this blog and Our Star Blazers for future news and updates!

*Star Wars reference. If you don't get it, you suck. ;)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Run, Do Not Walk to See This King of Monsters!


The very striking Imax 3D poster for Gareth Edward's kaiju spectacle!

NO SPOILER ZONE: This past Monday, I attended a press/advance 3D screening of the highly-anticipated return of the King: Edwards' GODZILLA (2014), produced by Legendary Pictures. Until the film is released this coming weekend, I will be holding off on my full-blown review, which will discuss the film in far more detail. So, there will be no spoilers this time around — I will just state that GODZILLA is a must-see spectacle, which is light-years beyond the Roland Emmerich film, from the opening titles to the end credits. The crowd gasped, cheered, and pumped their fists into the air numerous times, and enthusiastic applause and thunderous hoots exploded as the screen faded to black.

Without giving away anything, Edwards' interpretation of the monster is also largely atypical of similar, braindead blockbuster Hollywood productions, and doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator in its execution. Fiercely character driven, GODZILLA's narrative and drama unfold in the tradition of the best of director Shusuke Kaneko's benchmark kaiju eiga, GAMERA 3 (1999) and GMK (2001). The visual effects are gorgeous and dynamic, and sometimes truly frightening — but it never veers into Michael Bay territory. The source of much pre-release debate, the pair of enemy monsters, designated "Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms" (MUTOs), are highly evocative of Japanese kaiju design, and are one of the film's many highlights.

With some minor — I repeat, minor — reservations, Gareth Edwards' GODZILLA is a certified champion of modern monster movies. In the words of the legendary "Creature Features" host, Bob Wilkins, "I think you're gonna like it."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Edwards & Honda Go Toe-to-Toe On Frisco Bay!


Fantastic traditional woodblock-style rendering of the Big G!

The week many have been waiting, while others have been dreading, is finally here. Tonight, I'll be attending the press screening of Gareth Edwards' highly-anticipated GODZILLA (already receiving some stellar reviews). On Tuesday & Wednesday evening, I'll be hosting screenings of the original GODZILLA (1954) and signing copies of my book, "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" at the Alameda Theater (where they keep the nuclear wessels).

Then, this Friday & Saturday evening, I'll be hosting the Famous Monsters of Filmland screenings of the new GODZILLA, featuring the Japanese guests of this year's Big Wow! ComicFest, and signing my book at the Camera 12 Cinema in San Jose! But, wait! There's more! Finally (?), I'll also be appearing as a guest at Big Wow! (taking place at the San Jose Convention Center), signing my book and moderating the panels with the Japanese guests!

Plus, we'll have the exclusive pre-release of our annual "All Kaiju" issue — FM #274 — with four variant covers by Bob Eggleton!

How much terror can you stand?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Giant 60th Anniversary Mural Nears Completion


The Big G now looms large over the front gates of Toho Studios...

Joining the ranks of large scale murals of Akira Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) and Ishiro Honda's MOTHRA (1961) emblazoned across the studio walls of Toho, Godzilla now reigns supreme as it's face — combing forces with his 6'+ counterpart statue holding guard at the gates (also a representation of the popular 1990s-style Big G). Thanks to special effects artist, Kakusei Fujiwara for the image.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Alameda Theater Signings for "Eiji Tsuburaya"

初代『ゴジラ』と私はアラメダ市に上陸 !

The Big G raids Alameda this week in search of nuclear wessels!

Come join me on Tuesday, May 13th and Wednesday, May 14th for screenings of the original GODZILLA (1954) at the historic Alameda Theatre in Alameda, California, as part of their "Classic Film Series." Prior to the each evening's screening, there will be a reception in the Lobby from 5:30-6:40 pm, offering the opportunity for attendees to obtain copies of the second edition of "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books), the lavishly-illustrated biography of the visual effects mastermind behind Godzilla and Ultraman.

At 6:50 pm, on both nights I will be introducing the film with a special presentation, with the film screening at 7:00 pm (running time 98 minutes). Afterwards, there will be a Q&A session, and an additional book signing (courtesy, Books Inc.). The Alameda Theatre offers Discount Ticket Packets for their Classic Film Series (Discount Packets of four are $25.00. Packets of eight are $40.00). Advance ticket packets are valid for any future Classic Films at the Alameda Theatre and never expire. General Admission only is $7.75.

Tickets are currently available, so order now!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Buy "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" Now!

X星人統制官の指令:「円谷英二 怪獣の使い」がを買う!


The Controller orders all mankind to surrender and buy my book, EIJI TSUBURAYA: MASTER OF MONSTERS (Chronicle Books), now on sale across the solar system — including Planet X — and throughout the intergalactic structure, as well. NOW!

Now available in a deluxe paperback edition, amended and updated!

Click here for Plan 2, Item 4, Schedule 5!