Saturday, November 3, was a big day for kaiju fans lucky enough to be in Tokyo. The Cine Pathos Theater played host to not one but two big events for fans of tokusatsu. Appropriately enough, the first event focused on Godzilla's birthday. Thus, attendees were treated to screenings of Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994), and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).
But movies turned out to be a small portion of what was on tap. Advertised to appear were screen (and scream!) legend Kenji Sahara, Space Godzilla star Jun Hashizume and director Kensho Yamashita, Final Wars SFX director Eiichi Asada, and longtime Toho SFX director Koichi Kawakita. Little did any of us know that these guests were just the tip of the iceberg!
The first guest was none other than Kenji Sahara, who entered the theater immediately after Destroy All Monsters played to a packed house. Sahara-san clearly enjoyed sharing his memories from the set of DAM as well as other Toho features. After Mr. Sahara's talk show wrapped, he signed autographs for the fans in attendance.
Following Kenji Sahara's appearance, Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla was screened. Not having seen the film for a number of years, I was particularly interested in seeing it again. I found it enjoyable for the most part, but the "climactic" battle at the end was badly paced and bored me to distraction.
Once Space Godzilla ended, two new guests took the stage: Kensho Yamashita and Jun Hashizume. The pair (naturally) recalled their work on Space Godzilla. At one point, Hashizume-san mentioned that he's a fan of Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, which I found quite interesting. (Hashizume-san went on to work with Sea Monster star Akira Takarada in Godzilla: Final Wars).
Even before the Space Godzilla interview ended, more special guests joined the lineup! SFX director Eiichi Asada appeared along with Godzilla suit actor Tsutomu Kitagawa and kaiju suit maker Shinichi Wakasa. They signed autographs for fans with the Space Godzilla guests.
In preparation for the screening of Godzilla: Final Wars, Messrs. Asada, Kitagawa, and Wakasa held a Q&A session about the making of the film. After that, the film screened. Unfortunately, Don Frye (and the other English-speaking actors) were dubbed into Japanese. Noticeably, the crowd had practically no reaction to any of Don Frye's lines. Something must definitely be lost in translation!
Overall, I still enjoy the movie immensely, but it would benefit greatly from a bit of editing. The movie really bogs down once the principal characters are taken aboard the spaceship. Aside from that, I had a blast watching it, but I missed hearing Don Frye's line readings!
After the Final Wars credits rolled, Koichi Kawakita was introduced to the audience. His appearance was no surprise, as he was an advertised guest. But it was the night's final surprise guest who really surprised me!
Destroy All Monsters leading lady Yukiko Kobayashi made her way into the theater after being introduced by the emcee. This came as a complete surprise to me, especially since her movie was screened at the very beginning of the event! But I'm not complaining; it was great to meet her at long last!
What an event it was. Last year's Mechagodzilla event was great fun, too, but I'd have to give the edge to this year's shindig. The guests were more accessible, which in my book is always a big plus. Full marks!