G: New Independent Kaiju Film from Japan
News and Photos from Director Kiyotaka Taguchi
Author: Norman England and Keith Aiken
Additional Translations by Oki Miyano
A SciFi JAPAN EXCLUSIVE
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from a new movie.
While serving in an overseas war zone, a Japanese Self Defense Forces unit is ambushed in a guerilla attack. Only the soldiers Goda and Garaemon survive the assault. The two men vow that they will find a way to prevent more soldiers from dying needlessly on the battlefield.
Years later, Garaemon has developed a body reinforcing agent that may accomplish that goal. But when his lab is attacked by a group of industrial spies, Garaemon injects the experimental serum into his own body. Things go terribly wrong, and the scientist is transformed into a vicious giant monster.
Garaemon rampages through Tokyo. The JSDF attacks with guns and tanks but nothing they do even slows the monster down. To save Japan and his fellow soldiers, Goda decides to use the secret weapon he has invented…the special anti-monster armored vehicle called Robo.
Now, at the final defense line along the Tamagawa River, two man-made monsters will battle to the death…
While Godzilla and Gamera take a movie break, other Japanese monsters have stepped up to fill the “daikaiju vacuum”. The Ultraman series continues with a new kaiju-filled film, DECISIVE BATTLE! THE SUPER 8 ULTRA BROTHERS (Daikessen! Chou Hachi Urutora Kyoudai), opening in September. Shochiku Co., Ltd. has revived their space monster Guilala for next month’s MONSTER X STRIKES BACK/ ATTACK THE G8 SUMMIT! (Girara no Gyakushu / Samitto Kiki Ippatsu!). Independent filmmaker Jun Awazu made the world’s first completely computer generated kaiju movie, NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS (Wakusei Daikaiju Negadon, 2005), comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto wrote, directed, and starred in the acclaimed DAINIPPONJIN (2007), and fan-turned-director Shinpei Hayashiya hopefully has the long-awaited DEEP SEA MONSTER REIGO (Shinkaiju Reigo) coming out this year.
Video clips from another new kaiju production entitled G recently surfaced online. Filled with crazy camerawork, extreme monster and robot action, over-the-top violence, slapstick comedy, and an assortment of special effects techniques, the preview footage quickly caught the attention of Japanese monster movie buffs.
On genre news sites and message boards fans have wondered if G was a new indie movie, a fan film, a short, or simply a trailer or FX highlight reel. There has been much speculation but little in the way of concrete information, so SciFi Japan recently spoke with the director/ writer/ editor/ FX director of G and got the official word on the production.
G is a 48 minute long independent kaiju film made by Kiyotaka Taguchi, a professional 2D FX artist who has worked on major studio pictures from Japan and the United States.
The 28 year old filmmaker was hired just out of college to work as the 4th AD to special effects director Makoto Kamiya on Toho’s GODZILLA, MOTHRA & KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (aka GMK, Gojira Mosura Kingugidora Daikaiju Soukougeki, 2001). The following year, Taguchi went to work on the art staff under art director Toshio Miike. He built miniatures and dressed sets on GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (Gojira x Mekagojira, 2002), GODZILLA: TOKYO SOS (Gojira x Mosura x Mekagojira: Tokyo SOS, 2003), and GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (2004).
Beyond the Godzilla series, Taguchi has created 2D effects for Kenta Fukusaku’s BATTLE ROYALE II: REQUIEM (Batoru Rowaiaru II: Chinkonka, 2003), Shinji Higuchi’s remake of SINKING OF JAPAN (Nihon Chinbotsu, 2006), the American sequel THE GRUDGE 2 (2006), the indie Japanese movie THE iDOl (2007), Fuji TV and Toho’s retelling of the classic Chinese tale MONKEY MAGIC (Saiyuki, 2007), and the American remake of the Thai horror movie SHUTTER (2008).
He is currently working on director Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s three part film series 20TH CENTURY BOYS (20-Seiki Shonen). Based on the sci-fi manga by Naoki Urusawa, a new BOYS movie will be released by Toho each season, with the first chapter opening in Japanese theaters on August 30, 2008.
G is a pet project for Kiyotaka Taguchi. “Making a kaiju film has been a dream of mine since childhood,” he told SciFi Japan. “The first Godzilla film I saw was the 1984 GODZILLA [aka GODZILLA 1985] when I was 4. To be honest, it was a bit traumatic! But I loved Godzilla and Ultraman. In junior high school I shot a kaiju film on 8mm video and used a sock puppet and fireworks.”
“As a boy I loved the ‘VS’ Godzilla series [also known as the Heisei Series] the most. Today, however, I prefer the classics and can see where the work done then really outshines everything since.”
G was shot with consumer grade handycam equipment, with filming taking place from 2000 – 2007. Taguchi started working on the movie when he was a student studying film direction at the Nikkatsu Visual Arts Academy (Nikkatsu Geijitsu Gakuin). Almost all the people involved in the film were students there, with the exceptions of music composers Akihide Hara and Kaoruko Aida and the actress Beniko who plays the character “Hono” in G. Beniko is theatrical actress who was introduced to Taguchi by a mutual friend.
The university students who worked on G named their group “Gokan”. Much of the acting in the film is rather poor, but the performances are acceptable with the understanding that the cast was made up of non-professionals rather than trained actors.
Where G really shines is in the special effects. The FX vary in quality— understandable considering the film’s extremely tight budget— but the movie is packed with great compositing and imaginative angles. There is an energy and creativity to the visuals that should thrill most kaiju movie fans. Even Heisei Godzilla special effects director Koichi Kawakita said he would like to cut all the human scenes out of G and use the FX scenes for a new production.
While a member of the art staff on the Godzilla movies, Kiyotaka Taguchi was involved in “hands on” and practical effects techniques. For other films he did much of his work using programs such as After Effects and 2D Digital. He explained, “I like doing both kinds of FX, but when it came down to it, getting proficient in the art of 2D work would be more beneficial for my own films. For G I used my company’s computers after working hours to create effects.”
“I used a variety of effects in G. In addition, I used forced perspective techniques during shooting that I picked up from the Godzilla set. The monsters were the traditional style of men in suits. The suit for the main monster was made by covering a store bought jersey, covering it with urethane and latex. I built it up using foam from a futon bought at my local futon shop. The robot was made by my friend Kakusei Fujiwara, who I knew from the Godzilla sets. He’s been on [Toho monster maker Shinichi] Wakasa’s suit staff since GODZILLA 2000 and has made a number of the suits in the Godzilla movies.”
Among Fujiwara’s creations are the Rodan and King Caesar costumes for GODZILLA: FINAL WARS. He has also provided sculpts, suits and effects makeup for Shusuke Kaneko’s PYROKINESIS (Kurosufaia, 2000), Beat Takeshi’s ZATOICHI (2003), the sci-fi film CASSHERN (2004), THE CAT, THE MOON AND THE GANGSTER (Tsukineko ni Mitsu no Tama, 2004), Kaneko’s horror movie GOD’S LEFT HAND, DEVIL’S RIGHT HAND (Kami no Hidarite Akuma no Migite, 2006), THE iDol, the live-action adaptation of Kazuo Umezu’s CAT’S-EYE BOY (Nekome Kozo, 2006), SPLIT-MOUTH WOMAN 2 (Kuchisake-Onna 2, 2008), and the bikini girls vs zombies flick CHANBARA BEAUTY (OneChanbara: The Movie, 2008). Kakusei Fujiwara now has his own makeup and creature FX shop, Dummy Head.
For Kiyotaka Taguchi, one of the major highlights during production was that he was able to film at Toho Built. Owned by Toho but separate from the main studio lot, the soundstages at Toho Built were regularly rented out to other companies. Tsuburaya Productions filmed there for decades on shows ranging from the original ULTRAMAN (Urutoraman, 1966) to the recent ULTRASEVEN X (Urutorasebun Ekkusu, 2007). The facility was demolished shortly after the filming of Toho’s New Production: GO! GODMAN (Shinsaku Ike! Goddoman, 2008).
“One shot involving Garaemon was done at Toho Built, which was recently torn down,” Taguchi recalled. “My producer got me a discount to shoot for one day there and for it we built an apartment building that the monster tears down. It was thrilling to shoot at Toho Built because of its long history with Ultraman and other films that G owes a debt to.”
Production on G was completed in December 2007, and Kiyotaka Taguchi began promotions for the film in early 2008. On June 7, Loft/Plus One in Tokyo hosted a Special Event midnight screening of the movie.
Taguchi is currently working on a deal to have G released in Japan this fall, and has plans to create an English translation and subtitles to help with foreign sales. He is also in talks with Japanese studios for a new kaiju film project.
Check back with SciFi Japan in the coming months for updates on G’s release in Japan and— hopefully— elsewhere, as well as any future productions by Kiyotaka Taguchi.
G: Production Credits
Kiyotaka Taguchi: Director, writer, editor, FX director
Takuyuki Matsuno: Producer
Akihide Hara: Music
Kaoruko Aida: Music
Tomoyuki Temizu: Goda
Hiroshi Hayakawa: Nobi
Yoshiyuki Hoshino: Minamoto
Sho Wada: Honeyama
Ryo Takasago: Bado
Yotaro Shundo: Monster suit actor
Running Time: 48 minutes
1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Kiyotaka Taguchi has posted two trailers and a handful of clips from G online. To see more scenes from the film, visit his YouTube page.