Daikaiju Eiga 2015: The Year in Review!
This is the third time I’ve done one of these Year in Review posts (2013/2014), and good golly, they just get better and busier every year. What a year 2015 has been for the kaiju genre! Let’s take a look back at the Year in Review.
Following the huge international success of Legendary’s film last year, Godzilla and the kaiju genre as a whole has enjoyed an incredible resurgence in popularity. In April, Tokyo’s four-star Gracery Shinjuku hotel unveiled a Godzilla room, complete with a “life size” bust of Godzilla on the building’s roof. Godzilla himself was also made an official honorary citizen of Japan, for “promoting the entertainment of and watching over the Kabuki-cho neighbourhood and drawing visitors from around the globe”. Bandai Namco’s Godzilla game for the PS4 also reached the western world in July as Godzilla: The Game. It received poor reviews but was warmly received by the fandom. IDW Comics also released the latest in their licensed range of Godzilla comics - “Godzilla In Hell”. While being an extremely divisive title, the book was nonetheless indicative of IDW’s willingness to experiment with the license. The extremely popular fan-favourite “Godzilla: Rulers of Earth” also came to a glorious, blistering conclusion, forever cementing the exciting potential of just what can be done with a Godzilla comic book license when all the right people are involved.
June saw the release of Sion Sono’s Love & Peace, a fantasy drama featuring a giant turtle brought to life in traditional tokusatsu style. In August and September, Shinji Higuchi’s epic two-part adaptation of “Attack On Titan” was unleashed in Japanese cinemas. While being practically disowned by fans of the otherwise-unrelated anime series, the films have been somewhat embraced by the kaiju fandom, who appreciate the film’s championing of traditional tokusatsu miniature effects. Tsuburaya Productions debuted the latest in their long-running Ultra series Ultraman X in July, to rave reviews and fever-pitch fan reaction. The series also championed traditional tokusatsu special effects techniques, and was also the first of the franchise to be simulcast for English viewers through Crunchyroll, allowing Ultraman to reach a wider worldwide audience than ever before. Tsuburaya have also announced a film continuation of the series for next year. In October, Kadokawa completely floored the entire fandom by unveiling a proof-of-concept trailer for a new Gamera film at New York Comic Con. The fiftieth anniversary Gamera project had be thought long-dead, so its resurgence was a welcome and unexpected surprise.
2015 also paved the way for the future of the Godzilla franchise, with both Toho and Legendary Pictures making big announcements about their respective concurrent series. Toho’s 2016 Godzilla film was announced as being titled Shin Gojira, with the English title soon being revealed as Godzilla Resurgence. A teaser trailer and poster (debuting Godzilla’s terrifying new look) soon followed. Meanwhile, after months of rumours and alleged behind the scenes and legal battles, Legendary Pictures announced their ambitious plans to craft a giant monster cinematic universe in the Marvel fold following on from Godzilla ‘14. The series will initially comprise Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla 2, culminating in Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020. With all these new films lined up in separate, concurrent franchises, there’s never been a better time to be a Godzilla fan.
As always, the year was not without its sadness, and lest we forget those we lost this year. Genre legend Hiroshi Koizumi, of Godzilla Raids Again, Mothra, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, and many more, sadly passed away in May, while the extremely popular artist Noriyoshi Ohrai, whose work adorned the teaser posters for the Heisei films, as well as many, many more amazing works, left us in October. They are gone but the legacy they leave us will certainly not be forgotten.
2015 is also the year I launched my own podcast - the Kaijusaurus Podcast - with my friend Ross, and it’s been a pleasure hearing all your feedback and enjoyment of the episodes so far! 2015 also saw several incredible fan efforts to celebrate Gamera’s fiftieth in the then-apparent lieu of any official production, but I’ve elaborated upon that in a previous post already. As always, a sincere thank you to everyone who follows and supports my running of this blog, and a special thanks to those who actively listen and contribute to the podcast. You all make it worthwhile.
I think we can all agree 2015 has been an absolutely phenomenal year for the kaiju genre, and an even better one to be a fan of it. Happy new year when it comes, everyone! The next few years look very bright indeed.