SciFi Japan

    2008: The Year In Review

    From top to bottom... SPEED RACER © 2008 Warner Bros. Ent. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. SUPER ROBOT: RED BARON © 1973 Senkokikaku. Photo courtesy of BCI. 20th CENTURY BOYS © 2008

    A Look Back at Asian Sci-Fi Throughout the Year Author: Aaron Cooper Special Thanks: The entire staff of SciFi Japan 2008 was intriguing in the landscape of Japanese science fiction and fantasy films. To some, it may have appeared very dry; to others it seemed a great boon of varied material. Big names like Godzilla and Gamera were mostly no-shows, but the slack appears to be taken up in a variety of outlets by a wide range of talent depending on your tastes. The staff of SciFi Japan took another moment to ponder over the events of the past year, and attempted to come up with the most defining moments of 2008. You may agree or disagree but regardless, the year held moments for everyone whether you knew it or not! In dead last and deserving it - 10. 2008 was the 10th Anniversary of Godzilla’s big American reboot and pretty much nobody noticed or cared, least of all us. 9. All 28 Godzilla films were re-mastered in high definition for broadcast on Japanese television. Can high definition Blu-ray discs be too far behind? 8. Gone, Speed, Gone – Most moviegoers ignored it, the critics trashed it, but the Wachowski Brothers’ take on SPEED RACER is definitely worth checking out for the rest of us! If not, there always the SPEED RACER: THE COMPLETE CLASSIC SERIES COLLECTION, now available on DVD. 7. Showing that the gajjin are not completely without taste, official English websites now exist for famed Toho director Ishiro Honda and Ultraman director Takeshi Yagi. 6. If you dig Japanese super heroics, you could do no wrong grabbing the Region 1 releases of INAZUMAN, KITARO, and SUPER ROBOT: RED BARON, or the Region 2 release of Toho`s GODMAN and GREENMAN. The news of these great DVDs was tempered by the closure of quality genre labels Tartan and BCI. 5. Don’t mess with the best – Chaiyo is finally and completely defeated by Tsuburaya Productions in courts, settling the foreign rights to Ultraman once and for all. Now Tsuburaya has new ownership through TYO and Bandai, making for some interesting future possibilities. 4. Japanese sci-fi and fantasy proved to be alive and well at the box office. Hayao Miyazaki’s animated PONYO ON A CLIFF BY THE SEA was the top film of 2008, while 20th CENTURY BOYS, L: change the world, PACO AND THE MAGICAL BOOK, KITARO AND THE MILLENNIUM CURSE, SUPERIOR ULTRAMAN 8 BROTHERS, IKIGAMI: THE ULTIMATE LIMIT and the latest Pokemon, Doraemon, and Detective Conan anime films all scored with moviegoers. On the other end, the space monster Guilala tried and failed to make a comeback in Minoru Kawasaki’s mostly panned MONSTER X STRIKES BACK— ATTACK THE G-SUMMIT. What did anyone really expect from the man that brought us EXECUTIVE KOALA and THE WORLD SINKS EXCEPT JAPAN (now available on Region 1 DVD)? 3. Need more giant monster action in your life? Independent filmmakers of various budgets and scope gave us such outings as REIGO: THE DEEP-SEA MONSTER VS THE BATTLESHIP YAMATO and G. Plus the Godzilla-inspired American film CLOVERFIELD made a splash at theaters last January and again onto DVD. 2. Still looking for more giant monster action in your life? Tsuburaya fills the void! SUPERIOR ULTRAMAN 8 BROTHERS hit theaters and ULTRA GALAXY: MEGA MONSTER BATTLE – NEO came to Japanese TV. And taking our top spot this year: 1. What do you mean, there’s no new Godzilla? Classic Media hooked us up with tremendous DVDs of TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA, ALL MONSTERS ATTACK, RODAN and WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS and included the independently and wonderfully made BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE documentary as a bonus! As always, you can count on SciFi Japan to cover the best (and worst) of what 2009 has in store for us! IN MEMORIUM: 2008 continues to see more loss of those that inspired, create, promote and analyze these films we love. We take a moment to remember those who contributed to the genre: • Forrest J Ackerman – founder and editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland. • Mutsumi Toyoshima – Toho Special Effects Designer. • Koichi Takano – FX Director and former Managing Director for Tsuburaya Pro. • Keiko McDonald – author and historian. • Stan Winston– FX legend whose credits include THE TERMINATOR, JURASSIC PARK, and IRON MAN. All will be missed. At least we can continue to appreciate all the contributions they have made.

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