Friday, October 15, 2010

Rubber Gods & The People Who Love Them

Feels pretty good to be able to get back on the back of the creature once again, and share someof what's been happening as of the last few days. And among the cool things in the works at the moment, we here at Kaijyu have finally been able to coordinate, and finish what could be a signature episode of the Adventures On Infant island podcast! With the completion of a full watch of several James Bond films over the last several months, we have also go ahead and completed a long awaited viewing of 1954's Gojira, as well as 1965's Dai Kaiju Gamera respectively, so that we could share some words with listeners. So in the spirit of drumming up some anticipation for this episode, I found it to be fun to share a few things that came rushing to my mind this time with two films that have long had a history in my life.

With this weekend's viewing, it came to pass just how diversely these films affected me as a quiet, introverted 5 year old, living in the quiet farmlands of South Cal. To see both of these films back to back, it suddenly occurred to me which one was the more scarring, indelible piece of work, while the other was an encompassing of everything that was being young, and coming to terms with a world not well understood. Honda's monster movie, was something of a grand scale parable of horror that helped me understand what it was to survive within the malestrom of clamity, whether it be disasters of the natural persuasion, or man-made ones. It's a scary, personal piece that helped put those frightening paintings I saw in maritime museums with mankind's grandest creations succumbing to the monolithic forces of nature into more vivid perspective. While Yuasa's giant turtle movie is something more akin to a youth forced into a world without proper guidance, all the while throwing a gargantuan tantrum via stomping & sucking fire in some fruitless yearning for understanding in a world running for their guns.

Catching these films on Los Angeles-based channels KTLA & KHJ Channel 9 were amongst the more impression-making tv memories I have growing up as these channels often had marathons of english-dubbed kaiju movies. Not only were these films major totems of my childhood in featuring the coolness of monsters destroying cities, toppling models, and fighting increasingly bizarre opponents, but they also served as an early mirror to how another culture handled their heroes, as well as each other with an unrivaled gusto.(they made these elaborate toys, models, and environments- almost exclusively to be destroyed! COOL.) And these were clear, even as the localization often did their damndest to make it easier for us westerners to understand what was going on. And yet, it hardly mattered at the time. Monsters Were Fighting! (And wasn't that a giant robot?)

But it was these two giants that made for some truly unforgettable weekends with family.

While I may use the visage of the legendary "friend to children" on my site, it is more of an embracement of that sense of childhood wonder, and perplexed nature that comes with exploration. As much as Gojira always made the deeper impression, his presence is more of a seething anger with tackling life now co-mingled with the existence of science in the service of mankind's greatest weaknesses, and therefore feels a lot less appropriate. If this were a rant & flame site, carrying some kind of splintery lumber on my shoulder at internet fandom, or some other "them", perhaps the big lizard would have been more prescient on these pages. But alas, the pages of The Wandering Kaijyu serve more as a love for culture, and the mutations that helps spur forward the evolutionary changes that myth may offer in such surreal, promising times. And perhaps through this, we may also find flight, and perhaps even inspire kinship with those looking to inspire, rather than decry.

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