One look at the dazzling Chris Scalf cover conveys that J.D. Lees and company have come up with something special for G-FAN issue 90. As the artwork suggests, the spotlight is on "Terror of Mechagodzilla" (hereafter referred to as TOM) in honor of the film's 35th anniversary.
Issue 90's big news (which had broken online some weeks earlier) is that Akira Takarada will be the guest of honor at G-FEST XVII. This is a major victory for the festival. It will mark the first Stateside convention appearance of the most recognizable actor associated with the Big G. There was also much rejoicing in the revelation that the Thursday of G-FEST will bring a day-long film fest at the Pickwick Theater.
Getting into the articles, Abel Alfsonso does an admirable job tying together the known facts about the latest Ultraman feature film, "Mega Monster Battle." Here's hoping for a theatrical release in the U.S.--which may not be out of the realm of possibility with the involvement of Warner Brothers.
totorom's interview with TOM's Tomoko Ai is great reading. "Katsura" impresses with her humility, charm, and detailed memory. Her recollections regarding the infamous "operation scene" are especially amusing. It was somewhat shocking to learn that following the release of TOM, Ms. Ai was "not at all" recognized in public!
That sets the stage for the centerpiece of the issue, the only-half-kiddingly titled "Ultimate Commentary" on TOM by J.D. Lees, with supporting information provided by August Ragone, Brett Homenick and totorom. The article is a loving tribute to a unique, often overlooked entry in the Godzilla series. Highlights include the reflections of Yukiko Takayama, TOM's screenwriter (the only woman to have written a Godzilla script) and Teruyoshi Nakano, TOM's director of special effects. Twenty-two pages are devoted to the 1975 film (not counting the full Tomoko Ai interview), and they are loaded with illustrations, photos, detailed actor profiles, and comments from such luminaries as Kenji Sahara. After reading the "Ultimate Commentary," I couldn't help but watch the film again with renewed appreciation, and I must say that the Classic Media DVD looks fantastic when viewed on Blu-ray.
In the middle of the issue are incredible pictures of new Godzilla footage being shot for a video game, featuring a spectacular showdown between Godzilla 2000 and Final Wars Gigan. G2K is also seen facing off against Anguirus, as well. This is great, exclusive stuff, courtesy of Koichi Kawakita, renowned Godzilla special effects director.
Daisuke Ishizuka shares cool pics of the Final Wars Godzilla suit he stumbled upon while shopping in his native Japan, in addition to a two-meter-tall Gigantor model he saw the same day.
Next up is Brett Homenick's G-FEST XVI interview of Kenji Sahara, and what shines through is the graciousness and goodwill that Mr. Sahara brought to the festival's proceedings. His commitment to his craft cannot be questioned--not after reading that he had his front tooth pulled to play Senzo Koyama in "Matango" (which Mr. Sahara names as his favorite role).
Homenick also checks in with photos from the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention's "Green Slime" 40th anniversary reunion and an entertaining conversation with Joan van Ark of "Dallas" and "Knot's Landing" fame. Of course, for the purposes of G-FAN, the focus of the interview is on Ms. van Ark's appearance in the Rankin & Bass/Tsuburaya production "The Last Dinosaur," and the actress comes across as fun-loving and professional. Homenick also speaks with writer-director John Fasano, whose memories of being a true kaiju kid make his involvement with the current "Kamen Rider" series all the more sweet. Fasano also shares a really cool tidbit of Godzilla/Star Wars crossover trivia (you'll have to read the article to discover the connection).
The legend of G-Fantis is extended in the latest installment of " G-Fantis: Heart of the Beast part III."
Rounding out the issue are essays by collectible purveyors James Bond and Steve Agin, both of which provide sufficient inspiration to keep saving one's allowance for the G-FEST Dealer's Room.
G-FAN # 90 is a Titanosaurus-sized antidote to the winter blahs. The idea to concentrate on TOM was smart and was well-executed. With the arrival of this issue, the countdown to G-FEST XVII, Return to Monster Island, is now officially on!