Culture

Tokusatsu and Me Part 4

It had been some time since 5 teenagers with attitude had been summoned by a big head in a jar. The initial buzz had since died down. The series was a fixture but no longer was it the show everyone was trying to copy. I would continue to watch at this point, still enjoying the show. In Space, Lost Galaxy and Lightspeed Rescue. I enjoyed them. But as I grew through some of my years of childhood, I started to enjoy the monsters quite a lot, well one specific monster.

There was a show that was being shown on cartoon network a few years earlier, with my current knowledge I know it was actually from years earlier but hey I wasn’t born then and the show was new to me on tv. The show was Godzilla, a cartoon featuring a giant dinosaur that fought other giant monsters. I loved it. I liked dinosaurs as a kid, of course I did, it was one of the reasons I preferred the original Zords to the later ones.

One day at primary school we finally got the internet and what was one of the first things I searched for? Godzilla of course. And while I did find more info on the cartoon I saw some things that looked odd. It looked like Godzilla, was a big dinosaur destroying cities but, was that live action? Names like Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla. Vs Space Godzilla. Was Godzilla more than just a cartoon?

I learned Godzilla was from Japan and a long running series of movies. Not just an old cartoon and large inflatable I hit with inflatable clubs (yes we had that). What’s more an American movie was in the works. While we know that the 1998 Godzilla film isn’t that great, back as a child I was so excited about it. What’s more as a tie in to this, lots of TV channels were showing Godzilla stuff.

King Kong V Godzilla

The BBC had a whole monster night which showed a documentary on the history of the franchise. It’s worth talking about that documentary a bit, it taught me quite a lot. I learned how Godzilla’s original Japanese name Gojira, how the original was actually quite a dark film and came about as a metaphor for the dangers of nuclear weapons. I also learned how even it spawned many other related works, be they other giant monsters or even a show with an oddly familiar looking red and silver giant fighting them. The end of the night had them show two movies, a King Kong movie, and Godzilla vs King Ghidorah. We had to record those because it went on so late and I was only passing 10 by this point but I got to see a Godzilla movie, and loved it.

Now while normally I don’t like live action over animation the difference between this Godzilla and the one I saw in the cartoon was immense, especially the fight against King Ghidorah. Sky movies also had a whole day of Godzilla movies though these were much older but still enjoyable, we recorded those too. I even got a film called Destroy All Monsters on video for my birthday and that had tons of these Kaiju as I would come to know them.

The film came out and, wasn’t too great, definitely not as good as the ones I saw that were from Japan, even the cheesy old ones. But hey I was a kid so I still enjoyed it, got a bunch of the toys when they came out. More importantly a new Godzilla cartoon soon followed and it was good. To this day people cite it as a good show being made from a bad movie (back then almost every major movie tried to be turned into a cartoon)

Now in the last article I mentioned something else that ended up far bigger that came from Japan as well. You see while I was getting excited for Godzilla, in gaming magazines from Nintendo a game was talked about from Japan called Pokémon. Amusingly I recall them also saying they didn’t expect it to come over… and then it did… and the world changed once more. Now this isn’t a Tokusatsu series so I won’t go into too much detail. BUT like the initial Power Rangers series the explosion of Pokémon was the next big thing.

Just like it, we saw a media frenzy from a single series and soon followed by more companies trying to get on the release. Everyone was after their Japanese monster shows and as a result anime like Digimon, Monster Rancher and others were being shown. Combined with the fact that western cartoons in the mid to late 90s got incredibly BORING as they all were about extremely cool teens who were the most boring uninteresting protagonists I ever saw (and I grew up watching the cast of Power Rangers and they were impossibly squeaky clean).. Suddenly all these bright invented shows coming along, yeah the anime boon had hit at last, because once Pokémon opened the doors. In came everything else.

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