SciFi Japan

    EVENT COVERAGE: NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS

    The Highly Anticipated Animated Short Premieres in New York City
    Author: John “Dutch” DeSentis
    Special Thanks to Peter Tatara, Tom Wayland, and Central Park Media

    A SciFi JAPAN EXCLUSIVE

    This past Tuesday, May 9th 2006, Central Park Media held the official New York City Premiere of NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS at the wonderful ImaginAsian Theater on 59th Street. Central Park Media, a small New York based distribution company that takes much pride in finding great Japanese animated films that would go unnoticed by bigger companies, became interested in NEGADON after they acquired the independent CG horror short KAKURENBO: HIDE AND SEEK last year. That film was received very well and was even shown on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. NEGADON is the product of director Jun Awazu, who left his 9-5 job in pursuit of his kaiju dream. In the same manner, Central Park Media was founded by John and Masumi O’Donnell who sought to establish a company in their own vision. NEGADON and CPM seemed a perfect match for each other. “It wasn’t like anything we had seen before. We loved it, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from the North American kaiju fanbase since the moment we announced we’d be bringing NEGADON out in the US and Canada” said CPM Marketing Manager Peter Tatara.

    Turnout to the event was very good considering the nature of the content. The theater looked to be right around half full, approximately 150 people. The crowd in attendance seemed greatly enthusiastic to be seeing this much touted CG film. The theater even gave complimentary popcorn and soft drinks to all in attendance. Commented Peter Tatara; “We had everyone from hardcore kaiju fans to reporters from newspapers and magazines. I was curious — and even a bit scared — to find out how everyone would react. I hoped the reaction would be positive at the end of the evening, but I was floored by just how positive everyone was. The room was electric through the movie and everyone was beaming as they left. CPM is very proud of NEGADON, and we couldn’t be happier by how it was received”.

    Prior to the showing of the film itself, the crowd was treated to several bonuses. First, Peter Tatara gave an introduction that expressed his heartfelt thanks to all the fans and others alike for coming out to the presentation. Next, we had the great honor of being thanked by director Jun Awazu via a taped message. He expressed his gratitude to American fans for their gracious reception of his film with zeal and a great sense of humor. Presented here is a complete transcription of his message, which goes out to all the kaiju fans that support his film..

    “Hello, everyone. I’m the creator of NEGADON, Jun Awazu. I know that you’re screening NEGADON in New York, which I regrettably can’t attend. Since I can’t be there, I decided to send this video message in my stead. NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS was a huge success in Japan. And thanks to all of you, this film has made its way to America as well. NEGADON is the first completely CG animated monster movie out there. I actually half wonder why it hasn’t been nominated for the Academy Award this year in the Short Animated Film category. There’s no such award in Japan, so hopefully this year the Academy will see this and it will get nominated. So, if you know any Academy judges, please show them this movie. I personally think that Japanese monster movie fans will be proud of this. I hope that the American fans support this film as passionately as the Japanese fans did. I’d be very grateful for your support. Please just sit back and enjoy the movie, and I hope you like it. Thank you.”

    NEGADON was preceded by two of Jun Awazu’s previous films, MAGARA: THE GIANT MONSTER (Daikaiju Magara Shurai) and MAGARA: THE FINAL SHOWDOWN (Magara Gekimetsu Daikessen). These films were made for his college animation classes and watching them really shows that the director is growing. These two films will be included as special features on the DVD release of NEGADON.

    Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD! The movie itself is highly enjoyable. It takes place in the year 2025 in a world in which overpopulation has forced mankind to look for a new planet to live on. Enter the Mars Terraforming Project, a scientific undertaking to make the planet Mars inhabitable for human beings. The plan goes wrong, however, when a Japanese freighter ship on a trip back from the red planet explodes over Earth and crashes down in Tokyo. Even worse, the ship is carrying a vicious daikaiju with it, Negadon! The creature begins to lay waste to both Tokyo and the military dispatched to stop it. Mankind’s only hope rests in the hands of Dr. Narasaki, a scientist involved in the creation of giant robots. It is his robot Miroku alone that can stop Negadon. Dr. Narasaki is reluctant to have anything to do with the robot due to having lost his young daughter Emiko in an accident involving the construction of the robot ten years previous. However, in a moment reminiscent of Captain Jinguji from ATRAGON, Dr. Narasaki relents and pilots Miroku into battle.

    It took Jun Awazu and a team of 10 people almost three years to make a 24 minute feature. When one considers that fact and watches the film only one word comes to mind: passion. This director is incredibly passionate about kaiju movies and this movie shows it from beginning to end. The computer graphics in this film are amazing and the sound editing would, as Tatsui Terri would say, shake your teeth loose. When it comes down to the images on screen, this is simply superb art on film. The retro look of the film is reminiscent of the movie SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. According to the press release, Awazu and his team had to invent special computer algorithms to replicate the look of the 1950s style film. What is even more amazing is that many of these graphics are better than what appeared in GODZILLA: FINAL WARS. One could not help but think, “What if Gorath crashing down on Tokyo in GFW had looked as good as Negadon’s crash to Earth?” Why the comparison to GODZILLA: FINAL WARS? Very simple; this movie demonstrates what a dedicated and passionate individual can do. Given a big studio budget, one cannot help but think about what Jun Awazu could do. Hopefully, Toho is paying attention to this director because if and when Godzilla does come back Jun Awazu would be a perfect choice to give a shot at directing the movie.

    The dubbing job was also well done, mostly due to the fact that the people dubbing the film were professional and experienced voice actors who obviously took their jobs seriously. The dubbing was recorded and mixed over a period of about five days at NYAV Post in New York City and was directed by Tom Wayland of TripWire Productions, the company overseeing the dubbing and post production process. The voice of Dr. Narasaki was dubbed by Sean Schemmel, who also does the voice of Goku on DRAGONBALL Z. Other cartoons in the voice actors’ range of work include YUGI-OH and G.I. JOE.

    Overall, the entire event was well staged and the movie was an incredible experience. Two kaiju enthusiasts in attendance, Kevin Frederick and Gregory Cordaro were both impressed and both highly enjoyed the film. When one takes the time to think about how long it took this great piece of work to be made and with the low number of people working on it, it really makes the film all the more enjoyable. Kaiju fans should feel good to know that there is someone as passionate as Jun Awazu to give us something to enjoy like this. Kaiju movies may be on the down low right now, but Awazu is proof that there is another generation of filmmakers ready to inject the genre with new and exciting life. We should all be grateful to him and thank him for his hard work.

    The ImaginAsian Theater is screening NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS with KAKURENBO: HIDE AND SEEK and CAT SOUP as the 90 minute show “Negadon Attacks: Three Animated Odysseys From Japan”. This triple feature will be playing through May 18, and screening times are listed on the theater’s website.

    For more information about NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS, including a comprehensive list of awards, press, and details, visit CPM’s official NEGADON website.

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