Monday, August 22, 2022

Voyage to the Bottom of the Promotional Paintings!

Nothing major for today but I wanted to share the promotional artwork (possibly concept art) done for the television version of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1964-1968), featuring four giant sea monsters that never made it into the series proper.

Like my previous post on Tabby-Imago, I'm using self-created nicknames for the following creatures to simplify the descriptions and because I just want to (if every other Godzilla and Power Ranger fan gets to name the unnamed, why not me?).

The first creature, which I'm nicknaming The Clawed Chimera, appears to be a combination of several sea animals, but the prominent claws give the initial impression that it's a simple giant crab before noticing the rest of the aforementioned bodily features. To my knowledge, there are at least two crustacean-based monsters in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: a giant aquatic spider-like creature in "The Monster's Web" (February 27, 1966), and the titular human-sized antagonist of "The Lobster Man" (January 21, 1968).

Confusingly, the main villain behind "The Deadly Dolls" (October 1, 1967) is mockingly dubbed 'The Hermit Crab' by the show's heroes, even though the being itself is a highly advanced, energy-like machine intelligence from the distant future seeking to possess The Seaview (the show's iconic submarine) for its new physical form.

As for the second monster featured: I've always had a preference for plesiosaur-like kaiju and characters, so you know which one I like between these two otherwise nifty critters. However, the lack of two-out-of-four pictorial fins gives me hesitation about nicknaming him The Abyssal Plesiosaur, with the vague alternative of Abyssal Sea Serpent matching the odd design better.

Beyond that, the art itself is very good, especially the luminous backlighting, but I will admit the serpent's eerily calm face might turn off most monster and horror fans.

My least favorite monster in these paintings, Pink-Tooth the Sea Beast (if you can think of something better, please share), is probably my least favorite of the four, but the mudskipper-like shape and long grasping arm-like front fins positively reminds me of the Ichthyosaurus Mercurius from The Outer Limits episode "Tourist Trap" (December 23, 1963).

Last but not least is The Black Devil Dragon, who is probably the coolest-looking monster of the promotional paintings and the one that I would loved to have seen in a completed episode, possibly as some ancient and terrifying menace that The Seaview accidently awakens from an undersea volcano. Or an aboveground volcano, seeing how that's The Flying Sub firing beams at the opposing giant.

I rediscovered these paintings in my personal archives and combined the small files into slightly larger and more presentable collages above. I tried to re-locate the old Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea site I collected (stole) these from but to no avail. If I rediscover said website or stumble upon the real official names of the featured monsters, I'll gladly update this article in the future.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Pachimon Kaiju Showcase: Tabby-Imago

The Pachimon Kaiju Showcase series returns with a vengeance! And this time, with kitties!

Pachimon is a modern slang term used to describe bootlegged and stolen versions of more famous kaiju, notably in regards to bromide cards and similar prints from the 1970s that reused and repurposed elements of pre-existing kaiju characters to create quote — unquote "NEW" monsters.

While the mainstream movie kaiju are the most recognizable examples (Godzilla, Gamera, Gappa, ect), the pachimon phenomenon is taken from multiple sources including-but-not-limited to: Ultraman and other tokusatsu characters, American movie and television creatures, vintage paleo-based artwork, real-life photography of animals and locations, science fiction illustrations, and lesser known manga and other foreign comic books.

Pachimon has garnered a cult following with modern Japanese otaku, toy collectors, independent filmmakers, and artists, often leading to limited edition and expensive vinyl figures based on these suspiciously familiar faces. FAR LESS so here in America, but obscure kaiju loving weirdos like myself try our best.

In the past, I've shared Pachimon who had an official name (as official as these illegal cons can muster), but there's also a larger number of these characters lacking such titles and it's about time I started highlighting them, starting with this adorable abomination.

Again, the monster lacks an official name (or a previous fan-made one), but I personally like to refer to this one as Tabby-Imago due to it being a young tabby cat spliced with colorful butterfly wings.

Sure, Tabbyra, like the moth monster Mothra, would have been the more obvious fan-moniker to adopt, BUT that would have been the obvious way out and Tabby-Imago has a better ring to it in my opinion.

According to the Japanese web-site Room103 and its Pachimon subsections (the site's very old, so beware its lack of security), today's feature was the first in the Iwata Pro Large Monster Edition, one of the latter-era series published and sold on the cheap (5 yen a piece, apparently).

As for the real-world location shown within the card image, that's the Nishinomaru-enokida gate of Nagoya Castle in Nagoya, Japan. The gate is probably most recognizable to American kaiju fans as one of Larva Battra's targets from Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for the Earth (1992), ripping its roof to shreds in a less-than-convincing composite shot.

I'll have another menace of Nagoya next week.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Barizogon: Hey! That's Not King Caesar!

I was originally going to add today’s entry into my Pachimon Kaiju Showcase series but, considering the long-after-the-fact-parody nature of this article's titular feature, I decided to keep it relatively separated.

Plus, there isn't much to say on the character beyond its origins and obvious appearance.

Amapro is a ridiculously small (seriously, there’s like two or three people running it) independent Japanese toy company that specializes in limited edition vinyl figures based on overlooked and obscure kaiju. In addition to those, Amapro also creates arguably weirder and sillier original characters.

Sitting between these two extremes are figures inspired by the aforementioned Pachimon, taking different elements from more famous movie and television kaiju,  haphazardly birthing supposedly new (rip-off) monsters in turn.

That said, Barizogon is basically King Caesar from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) but with condor-like wings and a third eye in place of Caesar's forehead jewel.

Based on what little I could find online (again, these guys are S-M-A-L-L), Amapro will often repurpose their toy molds to make variations by reincorporating different body parts from different figures like an interchangeable jigsaw. Barizogon seems to be their own King Caesar figure reworked with a pair of wings taken from their numerous other bird-based ones.

There's also the official Sailor Fight channel, based around the robotic heroine from a series of short films that also showcases these same oddball vinyl toys. This channel may-or-may-not have ties to Amapro, seeing how one of its two public faces hosts the aforementioned content.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Kaiju Videos for August 22nd 2021

We're back again (well, just me and me alone...F*****g typical) to present a huge listing of interesting giant monster-related and adjacent videos from YouTube.

Direct from Brandon Tenold Cult Movie Reviews:

Last time he took on King Kong, now Godzilla faces his toughest foe yet: An adorable butterfly monster.  It's the 1964 kaiju film "Mothra Vs. Godzilla", AKA "Godzilla Vs. The Thing"!

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TitanGoji takes a quick look at 10 unmade live action manga and anime adaptations.

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Direct from PBS's Monstrum:

Swooping down from the heavens on a fire ball, the Kasha drags the bodies of the dead to the underworld for a life of damnation. Most frequently depicted as a demonic, flaming cat, the kanji for ‘Kasha’ actually translates to “Fire Cart”—so why did this malevolent yōkai take on a feline appearance? Featuring the author of numerous yōkai books, Hiroko Yoda, this episode explores the religious and artistic history of the Kasha and takes a look at the significant role of cats in Japanese culture.

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Direct from Toy Galaxy:

Mobile Suit Gundam ( 機動戦士ガンダム, Hepburn: Kidō Senshi Gandamu, also known as First Gundam, Gundam 0079 or simply Gundam '79) was a ratings failure causing the episode count to be reduced and the story cut short. But it did introduce the world to RX-78-2. Then Bandai stepped in with their model kits and created what would eventually be known around the world as Gunpla. Mobile Suit Gundam was eventually imported to the US where it was again a ratings failure... twice!

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Direct from Kyoto Video:

So you think anime was better in the olden days back when we didn't have cute girls doing thing and just had manly men scream and shoot guns from their giant mecha? Not so fast, it turns that even in the days of VCRs did anime centered around cute girls exist. And out of all them, Twinkle Heart might just be the most cloyingly cute!

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In Japan Hero's latest video, they take a closer look at the history of Shiro Jishi Kamen ( 白獅子仮面 ). Shiro Jishi Kamen / White Lion Mask is an often overlooked TV series from the golden era of tokusatsu heroes.

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Good Bad Flicks takes a look at the history of the 1988 remake of The Blob. Directed by Chuck Russell.

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For a second-but-no-less-positive opinion on the Blob remake, here's Red Letter Media's take on the film.

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Direct from Vintage Henshin:

2021 marks the 55th anniversary of Ultraman, and yours truly actually had a hand in the festivities! On this episode of Vintage Henshin EXTRA, we'll take a look at what went into making TokuSHOUTsu's ULTRAMAN DAY ULTRATHON!

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Mercury Falcon does a retrospective on the often overlooked yokai and swords fantasy drama Dororo.

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Direct from MONSTROSITIES Tokusatsu Vlog:

Take a trip to Seibeun Amusement Park in Japan and jump on GODZILLA THE RIDE: GIANT MONSTERS ULTIMATE BATTLE! Filmmaker and author Norman England reviews the kaiju attraction which was overseen by film director Takashi Yamazaki (RETURNER, ALWAYS: SUNSET ON THIRD STREET).

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Monday, August 9, 2021

Kaiju Videos for August 9th 2021

Here's some intriguing kaiju and other giant monster-related videos to for me to share and for you all to enjoy. I will be keeping up this feature as-often-as-possible for the remainder of 2021.

Direct from MONSTROSITIES Tokusatsu Vlog:

The story of how a tokusatsu technique created for the original MOTHRA (1961) was passed on to the original Kamen Rider and continues to be practiced to this very day.

In Japan Hero's latest video, they take a closer look at the history of the Robot Detective TV series ( ロボット刑事 ) including a brief look at some abandoned giant robot concepts.

Linkara's History of Power Rangers returns with a relatively (relatively) short and coherent recap of POWER RANGERS BEAST MORPHERS, the first of the Hasbro-era of the franchise but produced with creative talents from the previous vanguard. The whole of Beast Morphers is available on Netflix and I might give it a watch as it's a far better alternative to the one-episode-every-rare-blue-moon-year scheduling Nickelodeon was and still is infamous for.

Direct from Toy Galaxy:

Ronin Warriors, known in Japan as Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers (鎧伝サムライトルーパー, Yoroiden Samurai Torūpā), is a Japanese anime series created by Hajime Yatate and animated by Sunrise somewhat riding the popularity of Saint Seiya. Ronin Warriors first aired on American television during the summer of 1995 and subsequently appeared through syndication, as well as the USA Network and later on Cartoon Network as part of Toonami. Besides being known as Ronin Warriors, Yoroiden Samurai Troopers and Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers in some parts of the world it was known as Samurai Warriors.

After almost a decade of waiting, the 25-year-old journey finally comes to an end. Here's Yoko Higuchi's review of Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time in anticipation for its international streaming release on Amazon Prime Video this Friday.

Direct from Ben G. Thomas:

Sometimes the fossil record preserves some truly extraordinary glimpses into the past life on our planet, including traces of prehistoric animal behavior. In this video we're exploring 5 examples of such remarkable fossil finds - moments forever frozen in time.

TitanGoji takes a look at the 2005 adult oriented Japanese superhero series GARO which went on to become a successful multimedia franchise.

And finally, TitanGoji looks at the legacy of SHIN GODZILLA five years after its debut:

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Kaiju Videos for July 29th 2021

Here's some intriguing kaiju and other giant monster-related videos to for me to share and for you all to enjoy. I will be keeping up this feature as-often-as-possible for the remainder of 2021.

Direct from Matt Draper:

A comprehensive look at The Millennium Era of Toho Godzilla, including a look at the history of Roland Emmerich's Godzilla '98, how Toho returned Godzilla ahead of schedule with Godzilla 2000, and the many reboots and evolutions found within The Millennium Era, covering 6 films made from 1999 through 2004. This is Part 3 of an ongoing Godzilla series.

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Direct from MONSTROSITIES Tokusatsu Vlog:

A look at GODZILLA SINGULAR POINT's beautiful yet briefly seen version of Mothra.

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In his latest video essay
"How Toei Changed Sunday Mornings", MercuryFalcon takes an extensive look at The Toei Fushigi Comedy Series: a loosely connected franchise of lighthearted fantasy adventures and mystery comedies that had major influences on the creation of SAILOR MOON and how it all came to an unlikely but satisfyingly end in a kaiju-filled crossover with the one and only ULTRAMAN.

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Direct from Supervoid Cinema:

After Sam Riami's 'Spider-Man 4' never happened the character was rebooted with 'The Amazing Spider-Man'. There were ambitious plans for a whole slew of movies set in that universe. Drew Goddard was at one point time attached to write and direct a 'Sinister Six' movie for Sony, as part of 'The Amazing Spider-man' and when that fell apart he would be offered a potential 'The Spectacular Spider-Man' reboot (Which later became Spider-Man: Homecoming). Here's the story of why complete with dinosaurs and giant monsters attacking New York.

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Pachimon Kaiju Showcase: Doilar

The Pachimon Kaiju Showcase returns with today's subject, Doilar!

Cleaned-up and enlarged version of Doilar's bromide by your truly

For the uninitiated, the so-called Pachimon phenomena were cheap bromides (collectible postcards) created by Yokopro in the 1970's, around the time when movie monsters and television superheroes were very popular among children within Japan, all apart of The Henshin Boom or The Second Kaiju Boom as some pop culture scholars have dubbed it.

These bromide cards consists of 'new monsters' created from altered or touched up images of pre-existing characters, ranging from icons like Godzilla, Gamera, or the many opponents of Ultraman, to unorthodox sources like illustrated dinosaur books, real-world animal photography, foreign comic books, and lesser-known television monsters.

"Pachimon" itself is an unofficial and relatively recent fan-made term meaning 'stolen monster' which gives you a clear sign how suspect if not shoddy Yokopro's otherwise successful attempt was.

Although still quite obscure, The Pachimon Kaiju have garnered something of a cult following among modern-day collectors and otaku, which have resulted in vinyl figures (both official products and custom-built independents), fan-made video games, artwork, direct-to-video films, comedy spoofs, and other inspired extrapolations.

Unaltered version of the original Doilar bromide

Originally presented in Yamapro Edition set, Doilar is a thinly disguised Gorosaurus, a fictional descendant of Allosaurus who first appeared in King Kong Escapes (1967) as one of the dangerous beasts who roamed the equally fictional Mondo island.

Gorosaurus was meant as a one-time only homage to The Meat-Eater from the original King Kong but, due to a fortunate stroke of luck via quality prop storage over at Toho Studios, Gorosaurs was re-used in the 1968 multiple-monster-romp Destroy All Monsters where the former antagonist joined the heroic Kaiju of Earth to battle against the evil space dragon King Ghidorah, delivering a memorably fearsome kangaroo kick to the three-headed villain's back.

Doilar vs. Gorosaurus: Compare and Contrast

The image source used for Doilar's creation isn't a publicity photo of the Toho dinosaur but a beautifully rendered illustration taken from Ultra Books: Destroy All Monsters, a tie-in book and record album combo based around said film.

Upon retrospect, I believe a lot of the Pachimon based on the more famous movie monsters used secondhand materials, perhaps in a half-hearted attempt to avoid lawsuits or copyright infringement. it obviously worked considering how many of these oddball cards that there was.

LIES! The freeways in downtown Los Angeles are never this nice or vacant!

Speaking of things that makes ones heart sinks: I couldn't find the background of an urban highway used in Doilar's card though I'm tempted to say it's downtown Los Angeles due to how it reminds me so much of the area, particularly the road bridges overhead, having driven through it myself many times before, trapped in way worse traffic than what's falsely presented above (Rainbows? Bull!).

In typical Pachimon fashion, not a single driver seems phased by the giant Doilar creeping towards them.

Doilar's Arctic Holiday (1967...NOT)

While I usually don't do corresponding artwork for my Pachimon Kaiju Showcase articles (cannot afford the time and related stress), I did manage to whip up this photo-manipulated mock-up, taking a publicity photo from Gorosaurus' debut and added some rhinoceros horns and stegosaurs back-plates, all to give you Doilar's Arctic Holiday: a not-at-all-real production where the monstrous reptile saves a struggling ski resort and science station from a nefarious land developer.

Again, in true Pachimon fashion, I threw in some indifferent, un-phased, non-reactive vacationers (familial in-jokes) into the picture, like the indifferent, un-phased, non-reactive Londoners surrounding Danopura.

Lastly, here's an alternate version with just Doilar all by himself.