"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 1, 2015

"I'll Give You the Greatest Worst Nightmare!"


These men are planning to destroy Japan next summer. Again.

Yesterday, when Toho released their announcement to the press that Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi were teaming together to co-direct the next domestic Godzilla film to be produced in Japan, jaws could be heard dropping across the Pacific. Yes, the man who pushed the state of miniature visual effects to the next level, and the man who revolutionized storytelling in anime, were to be bringing the Big G back home — in tandem with Legendary's trilogy directed by Gareth Edwards.

I don't think anyone on this side of the Pacific, after more that two decades of whatever Toho threw at fans, realize the gravity of this paring. Visually, they may have a better idea once the first of Higuchi's pair of live action ATTACK ON TITAN films hit Japanese screens this summer. As for Anno, who is also penning the screenplay, all you have to do is look at his body of work to see there's a big change coming. A very big change. Something that we might never thought we'd see.

As the press release related, the film will be shooting this fall and will be released "Summer 2016." More information has been gleaned from the Extras Casting Call that has already gone out from the CineBazar casting agency, which has opened applications for potential extras needed between September and November. This indicates the film's Principal Photography will be completed before December, giving Higuchi and Anno several months to shoot and render the visual effects.

Personally, while I've always looked towards the new productions with a sense of cautious optimism, notably, the Gareth Edwards film, I'm very excited for the potential of this new incarnation, especially as we get closer to production time this fall. Until then, perhaps we can get a sense of what these two hardcore fans of the Showa Godzilla (1954-1975) have in mind, from their two written statements issued by Toho:


December 2012. After the production of EVANGELION: 3.0 YOU CAN (NOT) REDO, I was broken. A so-called depression set in. It was the comeuppance for six years that drained my soul. 2013 came and went. That was a year in which negative memories rumbled back, over and over. While I could represent myself, it became impossible for me to even physically go near the studio, even once, because of the burden of the next film [EVAGELION 4]. Early 2014. I was finally able to return to the studio. Then, I gradually got back into working, because of that year of self-rehabilitation.

So, it’s 2015. After 20 years after the premiere of the old EVA; and you've been waiting more than two years since you last bought your tickets, so I’m working towards realizing the completion of the new EVANGELION theatrical features (why am I promoting it, already?). To those who follow me, and all the anime fans, it’s only through your continued support that gives me the motivation to move forward, again, towards the finale. Sincerely, I thank you.

And, now, at the same time, I’m also starting work putting together a visual effects fantasy film. This all started at the end of January, 2013. A representative from Toho contacted me directly, saying, “We’d like to direct a new Godzilla film.” At the time, I was still recovering from EVA 3.0, and right on the spot, flatly refused the offer, “It’s impossible. Even to begin work on the next EVA is impossible.” 

Eventually, it was Toho’s sincerity and the enthusiasm of my ally, Director Shinji Higuchi, and I decided to take the job as Director that March. My prayer is that this will not be just a repeat of science fiction visuals of the past, and the wish we put into the Tokusatsu Museum Exhibit, was to embody the idea of giving back to the creators and artists who came before us, which was our intention and our responsibility. And when that epiphany occurred to me, my resolution was to undertake this task.

Now, one does because they can, not because they cannot. I made my decision because this is a new, once-in-a-lifetime chance. This is not EVA. This is not an original creation of my own, and is something I’ve never done before — this is why I decided to do it.

That May, I began my work with pen to paper. And I decided on how I was going to depict the principal subject. And in the following month, June, I submitted my G-Project Memos and Story Proposals to Toho, and then began working on the Plot Outline, etc. 

Godzilla exists in a world of science fiction, not only of dreams and hopes, but he's a caricature of reality, a satire, a mirror image. Recently, Japan has also been careless in the way it has attempted to depict him. In all honesty, Japanese production budgets and schedules are so tight, compared to the world’s capitol [Hollywood], not to mention the constraints imposed on filmmakers in terms of content. Frankly, I’m not sure how far outside the lines we can go.

However, movies have pride, even trifling little films; therefore, just as in the case of the new EVAs, I’m going in full force. When I think about what I’ve accomplished, the twists and turns befitting a screenplay, everything has led to this point. I write this with the hope that the reader might understand at least to some degree that no matter what a creator says, it’s just an excuse, but I’m under pressure to make a visual effects fantasy film representative of modern Japan, with the full awareness of our current situation, which will be subjected to intentions both good and bad.

Finally, to all those of you who have given me support, to all the fans who’ve purchased tickets to my films, to everyone who has given me the will to continue with my works, I’m eternally grateful. Thank you.


The thought of this resurrection has my chest pounding. Almost three decades have passed since I snuck into this film industry, and had no idea what would transpire before me, because I was so idealistic. The difference between my first, carefree world of amateur filmmaking, compared to the reality of the ups and downs of the industry, I feel as though I’ve been a hero running for 30 years. But, at last, the time has come! 

I’ve come to see those reckless heroes of my high school and college days hit mid-life. It all seems like a dream, but now I must come back to reality. There’s no more room for idle talk. “What you really want to do, what you really need to do, what you should never do, what you may not be able to do,” are the thoughts that’ve fought in my head, and held me back.

It’s a veritable championship over one’s own mind. What now, then? Playtime is over. Nevertheless, with my best friend standing beside me, we will triumph over the pressure that would otherwise make me run far away. I was born in this country which gave life to this great divinity [Godzilla], which destined me to work in visual effects, up until this very moment. I give unending thanks to Fate for this opportunity; so next year, I’ll give you the greatest worst nightmare.

Stay tuned to this blog for more news and updates on production of "Godzilla 2016"!

(Special thanks to the redoubtable Marc Miyake for pinch hitting!)


Galvy said...

This news is so good, my arm is sore from all the fist pumping...

If this turns out to be an April Fool's joke, Ragone, there is no force on earth that will keep me from visiting unfathomable horrors upon everyone involved.

August Ragone said...

This is NOT a joke. The news was announced on March 31st (Japan Time). Hardly an April Fools joke, since the announcement is all over the news and has already been reported by America's leading motion picture journal, Variety.

Can't wait until next summer!


Keith Marsh said...

This is such kool news! I cant wait to see it when it comes out.... so excited!