Sunday, July 9, 2017

GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA II! Revisiting a Heisei Classic!

 Director Takao Okawara (left) and actor Ichirota Miyakawa (right) join forces to talk about Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993). Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a screening of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) in glorious 35mm. It actually isn't the first time I've seen the film in 35mm in Japan, but it has been years. Despite no longer being the fan favorite it was in '90s, the movie holds up reasonably well 24 years later. I did find that the final battle dragged on a bit too long and wasn't all that interesting to begin with, but otherwise I enjoyed the film. The film print came with a couple of teasers from the era, the first touting the upcoming "Godzilla 6" (which, of course, turned out to be Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla), and the second heralding the much-anticipated TriStar version. ("Dynamic Hollywood filmmaking!")

Director Takao Okawara. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Naturally, we were joined by a couple of guests. The headliner was the film's director, Takao Okawara. Okawara-san's career at Toho stretches back decades, working as an assistant director on such high-profile projects as Submersion of Japan (1973), Kagemusha (1980), and Godzilla 1985 (1984). After being promoted to a director in his own right, Okawara-san went on to direct Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla IIOrochi the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994), Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995), and Godzilla 2000 (1999).

Actor Ichirota Miyakawa. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Joining Okawara-san was actor Ichirota Miyakawa. Miyakawa-san played G-Force officer Jun Sonezaki, Mechagodzilla's gunner, who operated the monstrous machine alongside Daijiro Harada and Shelley Sweeney in MG's cockpit. After his role in Mechagodzilla, he went on to play Mydo member Manabu Kazu in Ultraman Zearth 2 (1997).

I brought DVD sleeves from Godzilla vs. Mothra and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah for Okawara-san to sign. The signatures turned out rather well, and I'm happy to add them to my collection.

The guests were a lot of fun. Miyakawa-san was very generous and friendly. He is still busy with movie and TV productions to this day, so we were quite fortunate to have him join us today. He often brought down the house with his quick wit, making it pretty obvious that his appearance was a big hit with the attendees.

It was great to see Okawara-san again. He and Kazuki Omori are the only directors left from either the Showa or the Heisei series. Let that sink in for a while. Be that as it may, a great time was had by all. Despite the overwhelming heat, I still managed to wear long pants and a collared shirt. I wanted to keep it classy, you know.

Many thanks to everyone who made this evening one for the history books!

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