Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Enshohma's Q&A Vlog for July 2015

Although I have a pretty awesome digital camera, I currently do not own the proper editing software to make more professional short films, and video reviews.

Until that hopeful day arrives, enjoy this rather decent rudimentary effort; a V-Log (video log) where I answer some questions asked by some of my DeviantART viewers.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Random Thoughts for June 2015

Hello everyone! Life has NOT been good towards me of late, so here's an article based on questions and random musings from both my Facebook and DeviantART pages. Enjoy!

Yours truly, in deep, terrified thought.

King Kong 2005? OR Godzilla 2014?

Both films are good, and I've come to appreciate both on their own respective merits, upon revisiting. BUT man do they have flaws that almost turn me off from either!

"Godzilla" (2014) tries way too damn hard with the 'Hide the Shark' method (inspired by the 1975 classic "Jaws"), that every director or screenwriter in Hollywood is hopelessly in love, these days. Even when it's a terribly ill fit with the source material, like the appalling dumb-ing down of 2011's "Green Lantern" (There's space aliens? What space aliens?).

And "King Kong" (2005), while having way better, imaginative monster designs and action sequences...Spends way too much time on THAT GOD DAMN BOAT! It's almost a tie for me here, between these two, but I'd have to pick "Godzilla" for NOT having the hour-long boat ride.

Which isn't really saying much for either, I might add.

Although hated by most fans, Gabara from "All Monsters Attack" (1969) is totally alright in my book!

The Lamest Giant Monsters of Them All?

Somebody recently asked me Who (or What) is the Lamest Kaiju Ever Made? Well...

Almost all Kaiju / Giant Monsters are awesome in my opinion. But the ones I really can't stand, is from an obscure sub-category that you never really see in films or television - Giant monsters created by people who clearly don't take the material seriously, done as a pretty lazy joke, AND is somehow still treated was pure brilliance by said creators.

Like when you ask an unimaginative jackass to create a worthy foe for Godzilla. And instead, they come up (without any real thought) something akin to 'Nazi-Dinosaur-Hitler-Rex', or 'Satan Possessed Mega Cow', or 'Giant Super Jesus', or 'Killer Blob Made of Toilet S***' and so-on-and-so-forth.

For me, these are the lamest monsters of them all.

What sucks is that there's a VERY thin line between this 'normal people' laziness and flippancy towards monster concepts. And the comical or silly monsters that are actually GOOD in their own offbeat right. Such as the more charming and equally creative 'guest villains' from "Power Rangers". Or comical monsters that can still pose a threat and can hold their own in battle - 1970's Gigan comes to mind.

My Thoughts on the Female "Ghostbusters" Reboot?

I'm getting sick of remakes and 'late sequels' as much as the next person...Which isn't saying much, seeing how the two biggest hits this summer was "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Jurassic World". And yet, I have nothing against the upcoming female reboot / remake / re-imagining / re-branding / redo / re-whatever of "Ghostbusters".

Me and my two brothers grew up with both the films, and the animated series. And even though I'm not a video game guy, the 2009 entry was a satisfying alternative to third film with the original cast. But I too was wary at yet another film, and one so late in the game. And the unfortunate passing of Harold Ramis, pretty much sealed the deal.

If you were to revisit "Ghostbusters", take it to new direction, or give it one Hell of a twist. Even if an original story (OR not doing it at all), would have been preferred. So yeah...I'm more than okay with an all female Ghostbusters team!

BUT my true concern is how the ghosts and monsters will be handled in the new film. The two previous films (and 2009 video game) had a great variety of otherworldly creatures, ranging from humanoid specters, to Lovecraftian monstrosities. And although many were played for offbeat giggles, they were all still terrifying and menacing beings. Including The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man himself - that evil 'I'm gonna get you' stare, that he gives our four heroes, is priceless!

Sadly, considering modern movie trends, the ghosts will likely be portrayed as too comical, or as way too serious. And with no excellent middle ground in-between, minus a lucky accident or two.

But at least the new Ghostbuster suits look classy! I'm less thrilled with the literally homemade Proton Packs. But not bad either!

The new GB suits and Proton Pack.

Your Thoughts on the Film Version of "Rampage"?

A live action movie based on the 1986 arcade game "Rampage" has been in Development Hell since 2011.

So the recent announcement of the film moving forward with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, is being met with a large block of salt from my end, as it could still get cancelled at the last minute. Especially if the decision to finally make this film is less based on the recent successes of "Jurassic World" and "Godzilla" (2014). And more on the 'insider projections' of the upcoming film "Pixels".

Plus, knowing Hollywood trends, and how the monster characters always take a backseat to the more marketable (often bland) human stars, I agree with this particular article that the classic "Rampage" monsters George the Gorilla, Lizzie the Lizard, and Ralph the Werewolf, will be the distant co-stars to The Rock, like the title robots of the "Transformers" films. Or at best, the aforementioned "Godzilla" (2014).

On the OTHER hand...The Rock could ultimately become one of the three giant monsters, which is also likely. Personally though, I hope they get someone like Elizabeth Banks in the Lizzie the Lizard role.

Your Biggest Inspirations for Your Original Characters?

The colorful, humanoid creatures from most tokusatsu shows, most notably Super Sentai / Power Rangers. And the criminally underrated series "Metalder".

Lesser, but related influences come from 1960's fantasy cinema and television (Kaiju Eiga for sure), classic Anime, American cartoons of the past (Tex Avery, Disney, Chuck Jones, etc.), and documentaries focused on biological life, mainly obscure animal based ones.

Your Favorite Color?

Blue - It's majestic, calm, and dignified, but also looks great on almost anything you put on it. Though I must admit, that I'm also an Aquarius. So I might be a tad bias in choosing the universal color of deep, massive amounts of water there.

How I love Blue, and it's many shades and variants.

Favorite Underrated Anime?

There's a lot of overlooked anime shows and movies, but my top choices include "Robot Carnival" - fantastic film, even when some of the segments fall short. "Dai-Guard" - giant robot anime meets charming office comedy, while doing it with a totally straight faced. And to a slightly controversial extent, "Space Dandy" - a lot of people abandoned that series quite early on, but as a fun and funny love letter to all things space fantasy, it's great!

Favorite Underrated Character in Any Media?

Gamera, the flying giant fire-breathing super turtle. 2015 was supposed to be his 50th anniversary, and NOTHING is being done for the poor monster. And the outcome of the Godzilla vs. Gamera "Death Battle" hasn't helped his street credit much either.

All that aside, Gamera really is an fantastic 'hero monster' who deserves a lot better.

Beautiful promotional image, from 1996's "Gamera 2: Attack of Legion"

Favorite Movie You Like BUT EVERYONE Hates?

Wow...Pretty much opened my whole DVD collection right there.

But as far as films that have no fans outside myself, that honor goes to "Space Invaders", "Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century", "Coneheads", and possibly "Overdrawn At The Memory Bank". Though granted, that last one I've only seen as it's "Mystery Science Theater 3000" version.

Words of Advice for Artist and Writers Out There?

That's a REALLY tough one, as often almost any kind of advice given to artists will end up bruising their confidence, based off on my own unfortunate experiences.

And in some environments, artists are only there to stroke their individual egos, and often take any advice, let alone basic questions about their works, as a negative attack. Not because it is, but because their individual 'pissing contest' is being endangered by an 'outsider'.

Or the opposite side of the same problem, when 'alpha jerk artists and writers' give bad or hurtful advice, as a deliberate attempt to undermine your own talents. Again, based on my own experiences (various creator meetings at the local comic shops).

The only stern advice I can give is JUST DO YOUR OWN THING, and see how it's received AFTERWARDS.

So many times an artist or a writer will double guess their own works, to such a point that's it's never finished, or in a constant cycle of re-working. And it doesn't help when other artists will tell you your idea sucks, based on the basic plot description alone (again, creator meetings at the local comic shops).

It's totally okay to get second opinions on your work-in-progress, and filter out the aforementioned saboteurs from actual constructive criticisms out there (though that can be freaking difficult).

But at the end of the day, you got to just finish it, post it, and see the reaction, good or bad. Often times a story that sounds horrible in the pitch meeting, will entrances a large audience when completed as its final whole (SEE "Star Wars").

Somewhat cynical (and long) answer, but I hope you keep this cautious advice for yourselves in the future.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bruceploitation Double Feature

As you probably all know by now, I do title card art for movie reviewer and content creator Brandon Tenold, and his video series Brandon's Cult Movie Reviews.

Redundantly worded sentences? Welcome to Enshohma's Corner!

Back in February of 2015, I did a 'pilot' for my own series, Illustration Commentary, which as the title suggests, is where I talk about my artwork, both in-and-out of my commissions for Brandon.

I'll be doing a second, and possibly third episode before the week's end. Until then, here's the far-from-perfect pilot, entitled Bruceploitation Double Feature, based on two title cards done for the films "Challenge of the Tiger" and "The Dragon Lives Again".

Here's the title cards and original "Brandon's Cult Movie Review" episodes they both hail from. Starting with "Challenge of the Tiger" (1980).

And here's the same deal, for the far weirder "The Dragon Lives Again" (1977):

As you can see, "The Dragon Lives Again" is a martial arts fantasy-comedy, which has a Bruce Lee type stand-in fighting a supernatural mafia, within the literal Chinese Underworld. Think of the NON-Hellish versions of Hades (the place, not the old world god), from Greek Mythology...Only Chinese in origin.

And several famous characters (stolen without copyright consent) are among this 'Underworld's Underworld', including blatant steals of Dracula, James Bond, The Man With No Name, and infamous erotica heroine Emmanuelle

I'll end this article with some screen-captures that Brandon sent my way, used as references for the final card art. Starting with 'Notcula, Substitute Sovereign of the Damned':

Friday, April 10, 2015

BEHOLD! The Giant Buddha Statue Comes Alive!

The thing about obscure or lesser known Kaiju (the now popular shorthand for 'Godzilla-style Giant Monsters') is their obvious lack of exposure. Although the internet has been an amazing help in bringing many of these obscurities into light, it still pays to repeat, re-post, and re-share such information whenever possible.

I might not be a 'Kaiju Historian' or 'Tokusatsu Scholar' on the same level of the likes of Steve Ryfle, August Ragone, Stuart Galbraith IV, Keith Aiken, David Kalat, or Alien Geekokon the Lonely Super Brain, but, in my own small way, I can still contribute to the genre and its fan following: giving unloved and overlooked Kaiju little extra exposure even if they've been featured elsewhere before.

This is the case with today's subject, a lost fantasy film from 1934 entitled "Daibutsu Kaikoku".

Forgive the poor photo quality...It does come from a lost film after all!

Despite the original "Godzilla" starting up the Kaiju and Tokusatsu genres as we know them today, there were earlier Japanese produced fantasy and science fiction films made well before the 1954 milestone, however, many of these productions became lost to time or simply didn't make enough of an impact and were quickly forgotten soon after.

Think of this like the 1952 re-release of "King Kong" which had a far greater impact on worldwide cinema than its original 1933 premiere, or the numerous, but largely forgotten giant monster pictures made before Kong's theatrical debut.
Neither King Kong or Godzilla were the first giant movie monsters of their respective countries, let alone in human fiction and myth, but both did made far bigger splashes and continuous rippling effects compared to their predecessors.

"Daibutsu Kaikoku", also known by the longer English title of "The Giant Buddha Statue's Travel Through the Country" is one such pre-Godzilla Japanese giant monster fantasy.

Japanese advert poster for "Daibutsu Kaikoku" (1934)

The following selection of limited information comes from the Monster Kids Classic Horror, and Kaijuphile web-forums (Beware! The former link is filled with pop-up ads!) and were originally posted / re-posted by forum members Bakeneko and Mattman, respectively.

A giant Buddha statue (labeled “33 meters tall in height”) comes to life and goes on a nation-wide tour to save the people. After visiting some tourist spots in the Chūkyō region (a metropolitan area centering around Nagoya city), the Buddha statue flies away to Tokyo in the clouds. This was going to be a film franchise, but due to financial problems, they never got made. Now, it is considered lost. 
Yoshiro Edamasa said to inspire Eiji Tsuburaya to get into the special effects industry. Kind of like the way Willis O'Brien inspired Ray Harryhausen to become a stop-motion animator. Yoshiro akin to Obie had a project that never got made called THE JUDGEMENT OF THE SOULS, which is a science-fiction thriller.

Now, question. Didn’t daikaiju (giant monster) movies exist in the 1930s Japan? The answer will depend on your opinion. If you think Daimajin (1966) and its two sequels are giant monster movies, you can call Yoshiro Edamasa’s 大仏廻国 Daibutsu Kaikoku (1934) a giant monster movie, too. The title can be translated to The Giant Buddha Statue’s Travel Throughout the Country.
As the title describes itself, a giant Buddha statue (labeled “33 meters tall in height”) comes to life and goes on a nation-wide tour to save the people. After visiting some tourist spots in the Chūkyō region (a metropolitan area centering around Nagoya city), the Buddha statue flies away to Tokyo in the clouds. Originally planned as multi-part films but (possibly by financial problems) the sequels were never been made.
According to the magazine article at that time, it was a “half religious, half sensational film in the style of King Kong” and had some spectacular scenes such as the statue “strides over a train,” “rests his heads on a three-story building,” “makes geisha girls dance on his palm” etc. The “heaven and hell” sequences were filmed in color. This film was shown only in the limited area and is now considered to be LOST.
Edamasa was a cinematographer/director who worked on 145 films between 1914 and 1934. In 1928, he directed a feature length science fiction thriller called 霊の審判 Rei no Shinpan (trans: Judgement of the Souls) for Bando Tsumasaburo Productions but it has never been completed. Edamasa is also known as a man who led Eiji Tsuburaya into the film industry.

Daibutsu, or Giant Buddha statues, are somewhat commonplace throughout Japan and therefore it wasn't too big of a stretch in imagination by having one of these humanoid effigies come to life and walk about the countryside.

Films made on that same subject, however, are not as common, though totally normal completely inanimate Giant Buddha statues are used as interesting locations throughout Japanese films and television programs, however, though the only one I can confidently name at the time of this writing is 1994's "Zeiram II".

Giant living statues (or even smaller human-sized ones for that matter) are a recurring story trope throughout worldwide fiction, so I'm not even going to attempt to name check them all beyond the usual suspects of Talos (from 1963's "Jason and the Argonauts"), or Japan's own Daimajin (from the 1966 trilogy of "Daimajin" films).

The Giant Buddah Statue of this unaccounted film stands apart from most of the aforementioned by being a completely benevolent figure, one who seeks out to help us tiny humans as opposed to terrorizing us. As much as I try to give older fantasy and science fiction stories more credit in their construction and intelligence, it'd be impossible to deny just how 'on-the-noise' this character quirk is... Our wandering friend here is a Giant Buddha Statue, after all!

I also think it's safe to assume that the title hero of this film was brought to cinematic life through basic make-up effects and costuming over that of the more elaborate full-body creature suits, which are the norm for most Japanese giant monsters and fantastical beings.

Lastly, for posterity sake, I'd like to make mention of the film's only known actors, Hidemichi Ishikawa, Kazuyo Kojima, and Tankai Soganoya; the latter two listed might have been playing themselves if some online sources are to be believed.

Which begs this additional question from yours truly as to whether or not "Daibutsu Kaikoku" was a true fantasy film narrative, or some offbeat travelogue or documentary-drama, akin to Walt Disney's "The Reluctant Dragon" (1941)?




Huge thanks to the Japanese prop maker and effects artist Taichi Yamada for bringing the following to my attention through Facebook:

There's currently a modern day remake of "The Giant Buddha Statue's Travel Through the Country" being worked on back in Japan. This planned remake seems to be a crowdfunding affair so no clue if this will even see completion through said funding, but it's still worth mentioning as obscure giants need more love and exposure.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Waiting for Gamera - Featuring Artwork by WinterGaia

Despite several official news announcements made across 2014, it looks as if the "Gamera Revival Project" (its official placeholder title), which might have been a new movie planned for 2015, has been canceled.

And quietly swept under the proverbial rug.

Now giant monster movies are announced and ultimately cancelled all the time (looking at you two, Hollywood and Kickstarter). But with 2015 being the 50th Anniversary of Gamera, this is a very discouraging turn for fans of the fire-breathing super-turtle.

Today's subject, as seen in his successful 1995 film revival "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe"

There's still some hope that we'll be getting SOMETHING significant later this year, to commemorating Gamera's original 1965 debut. Outside some limited Japanese toy releases, and simple lip-service from 'niche-nerd' news sites.

And I also suffer from extremely terrible, awful, miserably BAD timing, which has been a major factor in why I don't update my blog that often to begin with. And knowing my luck, the greatest final trailer for the completed "Gamera Revival Project" film, will premier an hour from whenever your reading this.

But since this is Gamera we're talking about, for once my bad timing would be a good thing.

Some of my fellow fans have noted that there's still plenty of time left for a new Gamera film to begin shooting, before year's end. But unless Kadokawa Pictures has one Hell of a secret production plan in the works, this is cutting it way too damn close!

Something all turtles are known for; flying through the outer space without oxygen

After giving it some thought, I've come to realize that I actually like Gamera a little bit more than the original Kaiju King who inspired him, Godzilla.
Blasphemous, I know (nor do I really care), but the world needs more positive heroes, fictional and otherwise...Even if Gamera did start out as a berserk destroyer, in his very first film outing.

And the very idea of a gigantic, fire-breathing turtle monster from ancient Atlantis, who can pull into his armored shell, and become a flying saucer of blue flames and physics-deifying awesomeness, is just too insane for me NOT to love!

There are many fellow Gamera fans who feel the exact same way. And have taken their own paths in celebrating Gamera's 50th birthday, through endeavors like web-podcasts and fan created artwork.


Over the course of 2015, I'll be doing several Gamera-themed articles, as well as showcasing related projects from people outside myself.

Beginning with this melancholy, but ultimately sweet nature comic strip, entitled "Cheer Up Gamera". And was written and drawn by fellow artist, Kaiju fan, and overall nice person, WinterGaia.

It captures both the negative and positive aspects of the Gamera's now overlooked legacy. In an anime-inspired, anthropomorphic, somewhat schmaltzy, kind of way.

Click HERE for An Enhanced View of Page 1

Click HERE for An Enhanced View of Page 2

Click HERE for Page 3

Click HERE for Page 4

Click HERE for Page 5

Click HERE for Page 6

Click HERE for Page 7

Click HERE for Page 8

Click HERE for Page 9

Multiple Morals of the Story:

*Cute, young anime girls are eternal angels of mercy.

*Guiron the knife-headed monster is a much nicer guy off-camera.

*The Kaiju from "Pacific Rim" really are a bunch of teenage jerks.

And the love and support of friends is always welcomed, when keeping one's spirits up. And that last sentence was diffidently NOT meant as a simple joke.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kaiju Images: Snake King

Snake King; Today's Kaiju Images Honoree
There's a lot of wonderful, and equally obscure giant monsters in fiction, who deserve more attention online. And although I am not the pop culture historian that I often wish to be, I've come to the conclusion that simply mentioning these characters and subjects, even in the most simplistic of written articles, goes a long way in public awareness.

Especially after getting some much needed words of encouragement from Kevin P, the web-master of the wonderful cult movie blog Exploder Button, along with Darkrai Titanollante, one of the founders and overseers of Wikizilla.

So even if my future blog posts are lacking hard facts or extreme details (which I will openly admit to, whenever possible), the fact that I simply sharing these lesser known characters in the 'internet aether', is a worth wild endeavor all on its own.

'Jets? Where?!? I don't see any jets?'
Another, very supportive friend, fellow artist, and giant monster fanatic EarthBaragon has also been encouraging me to do more with this blog. And has even given me a wonderful variety of screen-captures from Kaiju-related television shows and films.

And like an idiot, I've yet to do anything with these valuable gifts of otherwise silly nerd trivia. Until now, that is.

The following will be the first of many Kaiju Image galleries, featuring EarthBaragon's awesome donations, along with much needed written information that he also helped write. Good thing too, because I really can't stand my own writing, as I keep finding typos whenever I revisit this site, and its past uploads. And sadly another reason I don't do more around here.

Take it away, EarthBaragon!

'Hail Cobra!'
Behold the villainous Snake King, from episode 29 of Tsuburaya Productions’ ”Mirrorman”, entitled ”Mirrorman Annihilated” (original broadcast date: June 4th, 1972)

The Invaders from Planet X (the main recurring fish-faced villains of ”Mirrorman”) send the monster Snake King into a city, to destroy the headquarters of the Monster Attack Force (MAF); the organization that helps the inter-dimensional superhero Mirrorman in his endeavors.

Snake King actually succeeds in destroying the building, and for a while, you the audience, believe that the MAF forces are all dead. Even the hero. But it turns out that they managed to get away, and have retreated to a secluded new base that is out in the middle of nowhere, really.

Realizing their mistakes, The Invaders capture Mirrorman in his human form of Kyotaro Kagami, and send Snake King to finish up the job it started.

While in their control, the aliens place a bomb inside Mirrorman, that will detonate if he is in his giant hero form for more than a few minutes. See, up until this point, Mirrorman didn't have a time limit, like most of the Tsuburaya Production heroes. The addition of this ‘Invader Bomb’ was a way for the producers add a little bit of suspense to the fights of future episodes. 

Needless to say, Kyotato Kagami escapes and transforms into Mirroman, to battle Snake King.

Unfortunately for him, another monster shows up; the hook-handed Harigojira! The two enemy beasts tag team on Mirroman, but MAF’s super jets intervene and allow the hero to kill off Snake King.

Harigorjira flees and tunnels away. Mirrorman was going to take chase, but remembering of the time limit, he is forced to let the monster run away.

EarthBaragon's Comment:

I just love the way Snake King looks! His hands are snake heads, with his feet also being snake heads! And he has eight other snake heads all long that flat body of his. The only thing that is not a snake head is his tail. And I love his coloring too. And as you can see, he can shoot fire or scalding hot gas from the snake heads on his hands, as well as his own normal head. And he can electrify people within his grasp.

More Images of Snake King Fighting Against Mirrorman:

Snake King's Saucer-Like Flying Form:

Snake King Attempting To Kill A Whole Lot of Scarecrows:

The Less Impressive, Remaining Images for Snake King:

'Damn It! My fly was open this whole time!'

In his spare time, Snake King is a peeping-tom!
Behold! The Glove-handles of Snake King!
Behold! The BIG BUTT of Snake King!