Friday, December 31, 2010

A Look Around Godzilla's Old Stomping Ground

by Armand Vaquer

The print edition of The Daily Yomiuri article, "A Look Around Godzilla's Old Stomping Ground" showed up (faster than I expected) in the mailbox today.

I scanned the article and here it is below (click on image to view larger):

The interview for the article and photo were done on December 7th in Hibiya and published in the December 24 edition.

In case you haven't read the article or the image isn't clear enough, here's the full text:

A look around Godzilla's old stomping ground

Tom Baker / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Godzilla was the embodiment of war in his eponymous 1954 debut film, but he saved the Earth from ecological doom in Godzilla vs the Smog Monster in 1971. The giant reptilian monster has meant many things to many people.

But did you ever imagine him as a tourist? According to The Monster Movie Fan's Guide to Japan (51 pp, 15 dollars, available via, Godzilla has ranged as far north as Sapporo, where he destroyed the TV Tower in one of his many films, and as far south as the Sakurajima volcano in Kyushu, near which he came ashore in another.

One place he hasn't visited is New York. Or perhaps that point is arguable. Armand Vaquer, the guidebook's author, told The Daily Yomiuri in a recent interview that devoted fans refer to the 1998 U.S. film in which Godzilla took a bite of the Big Apple as GINO ("Godzilla In Name Only").

For fans devoted enough to make a pilgrimage to Japan, Vaquer's book will tell them where to find landmarks associated not only with Godzilla, but also with his titanic terrapin counterpart, Gamera.

Some of the practical information in the book is a bit dated. For instance, it has been a few years since a plane-to-terminal bus ride was a routine part of arriving at Narita Airport.

However, most travelers are likely to rely on more conventional guidebooks for such details, using this one for it specialized insights. Those begin at the airport, too, about which Vaquer writes: "Interestingly, a video of the procedures at the Immigration desk features G-FEST XIV [monster fan convention] guest and Godzilla actress Shelley Sweeney. So at least you will be able to see a familiar, friendly face."

Vaquer's devotion to his subject shines through in his book and also in person, but it is not uncritical devotion. In the entry on the Seto Ohashi bridge, which connects Okayama and Kagawa prefectures, he writes, "In Godzilla vs King Ghidora (1991) King Ghidora blasts the bridge (in a not-too-convincing effect) during a fly-by."

A more positively memorable scene involved what Vaquer described in the interview as a cake-shaped cinema that stood on the site of the present-day Yurakucho Mullion building in Tokyo.

"That was in the 1954 Godzilla, where Godzilla steps on the train tracks, and the power surging through him causes his tail to whip about, and it smashes into the building. The inside joke there is that the patrons that were seeing the movie in that actual theater got to see the tail just hit the building they're sitting in watching it," he said.

In another part of town, the Diet Building has suffered abuse in several films, by Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, Mothra and King Kong, which must have been a cathartic experience for at least some members of the audience each time.

The book includes a page about the Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall in Koto Ward, Tokyo, which houses the Japanese fishing boat whose 1954 irradiation by fallout from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test was a real-life reference point for the original Godzilla film.

For monster movie fans, a stop at this spot will mark a solemn pause in an otherwise lighthearted journey.

1 comment:

  1. I believe Godzilla attacked New York in Destroy All Monsters.



Burbank, CA – March 29, 2010 – Legendary Pictures announced today that they will develop and produce a new film based on Toho Company’s famed GODZILLA character. Through the terms of the agreement, Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie inspired by Toho’s Godzilla, a franchise the Japanese company created and has nurtured for over fifty years.

Toho’s GODZILLA franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible. The company will, in the near future, announce a filmmaker to helm the film for an intended 2012 release. The film will fall under the company’s co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Toho will distribute the film in Japan."

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary. "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."

Legendary noted the film will fall under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Legendary's productions with Warners have included "The Dark Knight," "300" and "The Hangover."

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.