Issue 89 of G-FAN finds kaiju fandom alive and well, despite the absence of Godzilla from movie theaters for the foreseeable future. The sensational cover invites careful inspection and is a great inducement to open the magazine and explore. The issue begins with a summary of G-FEST 16, which did not seem to suffer any ill effects from the current economic climate. The attendance of Kenji Sahara no doubt had much to do with the strong showing. It was wonderful to re-live the event through the summary article and the abundance of photographs.
Kenji Shimomura begins the features with "Japan Under Star Wars Fever," examining the Star Wars variants that beat the blockbuster to the screen, as well as those that trailed behind, such as War in Space and Message From Space. Mr. Shimomura reveals how the ultimate box office failure of homegrown Japanese space adventures led to the rise of animated features, resulting in the explosive growth of anime.
Brett Homenick interviews Kazuaki Kiriya, director of Casshern. I enjoyed Kiriya's stated approach to film making, challenging himself and his crew to make the most of their abilities (and budget).
Retro Reviews appear throughout issue 89, two of which are credited to Mike Bogue. The movies reviewed are The Cosmic Monsters, The Black Scorpion, and The Magic Serpent. Of the three, The Black Scorpion appears to have the most appeal. (I mean, monster scorpions on the move--talk about creepy!)
Brett Homenick and totorom present an interview with the great Horoshi Koizumi, whose answers exude the class and dignity that you might expect from the storied actor.
Allen A. Debus offers his take on the "raptors" from the TriStar Godzilla, correctly identifying the influence of Jurassic Park had on their presence in the movie, and doing so in a rather whimsical way.
Lyle Huckins thoughtfully reviews Big Man Japan, and after reading this article, I must say I'm pretty ambivalent about seeing the film myself--perhaps if I find it through our library system, I'll give it a whirl.
The G-Mail section is something I'm growing more fond of all the time. Suffice it to say that I never tire of learning how people make meaning of Godzilla in their own lives.
Brett Homenick and totorom return for an interview with Goro Mutsumi, who was the alien leader in the original Mechagodzilla movies, and who (albeit dubbed) utters one of my all-time favorite lines from any Godzilla film: "Mechagodzilla: beat Godzilla to death!" Sadly, it seemed that Mr. Mutsumi did not have many distinct memories from the set of these films, and he even seemed to be disappointed with himself for not being able to remember more.
By contrast, Ulf Otsuki, interviewed by Brett Homenick and Sota Otsuki, provides a wealth of detailed recollection about his work Japanese film and television. Most interesting are his reflections on the TV series Rainbowman, in which he appeared with Akihiko Hirata.
Evan Brehany sits down with Dana Foreman for an absorbing discussion of Foreman's role in the mid-1990's kaiju boom. The conversation goes deep and gets fairly personal, and his insider's perspective makes for compelling reading.
Brett Homenick (busy guy!) speaks with Peggy Lee Brennan, star of Message From Space, and finds the actress to be very open and forthright in sharing her acting experiences in Japan. It sounds like she had fun, but took her craft very seriously!
Four reviews of Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit are presented. Upon close examination, there is not a wide variance in the opinions stated--the reviews seem to complement one another, and raise similar questions independent of each other. To summarize: Is this really the future of kaiju films?
Johnny Astchak shares his list of "Godzilla In Print," an ambitious undertaking in which he methodically identifies where and when Godzilla-related articles have been published.
The next two pieces would be foolish (and impossible) to "review," since I am responsible for them. The first is a look at the two most recent Ultraman theatrical releases; the second is a bit of fan fiction that incorporates a few "tips of the cap" to my surroundings in Northeast Ohio.
Jeff Rebner treats us to dynamic illustrations of kaiju from the Gamera series. Previously mentioned are the many fantastic photos from G-FEST 16; my favorite is a shot of Kenji Sahara at Wrigley Field in Chicago--he looks genuinely pleased to be there.
The G-FAN Scrapbook is a potpourri of information, including the happy news that there is a new issue of Calling Monster Island available. The issue wraps up with Steve Agin's vinyl-addiction-inducing "All Monster Toys Attack."
Issue 89 is a reflection of where G-Fans are at right now, as we wait and wonder about Godzilla's cinematic fate. The variety of articles included in this issue suggests that as long as Godzilla stays "retired," G-Fans will continue to widen the scope of their interests, which is natural and probably a positive development. Significantly, there is not one in-depth article about a Godzilla movie in this issue. There are interviews with actors who have shared the screen with Godzilla, news about Godzilla, and reviews of Godzilla products, but no features specifically about the Big G himself.
Late 2009 finds Godzilla fans resourcefully fanning the flame of their favorite interest, while wondering if G-fandom has become a purely retrospective pursuit.