Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All, and to All...AHH!! GODZILLA!!!

This year, I have decided to begin a new Christmas tradition. As with all great traditions, it is one I have just made up and will now adhere to for the rest of time.

And that tradition is, every year, at around the holidays, I will sit down and I will watch the 2002 kaiju epic, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.

Now, you are probably wondering what such a film has to do with the holiday season? Well, for that, we have to back in time many years, to that lost year I spent teaching English in Japan.

The very famous movie studio Toho Studios has a very set schedule when it comes to their three top film franchises. Doraemon comes out in March, Pokemon comes out in July, and Godzilla comes out in December. So when December started rolling around during my time in Japan, the hype for Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was starting to kick into gear. All kinds of merchandise was starting to be displayed at my local cineplex. And perhaps best of all, on one of my excursions into Tokyo, a department store I frequented was sure to include Godzilla in their Christmas display...an 8 foot tall Godzilla, made completely out of Chrismtas lights.

I knew Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was going to be one to see during my Christmas holiday. For my Christmas holiday, I was going to be heading to the north part of the country to see my very best friend, who was also teaching English at that time. I was hoping we'd go together, but I was having a tough slog talking my friend into going. He's not a very big Godzilla fan. At around this time, he had just become enamoured with a little horror film called The Ring. And, of course, being in Japan, he had devoured everything having to do with the original Japanese franchise, and was well-versed in all things Ringu. "Tell ya what," my friend said. "I'll go see Godzilla if you go see The Ring." "Dude, you know I'm not into scary movies," I replied. "The only way I'll see The Ring is if you drag me to the theatre."

A few weeks go by, and before long, I'm jetting my way north to my friend's adopted city of Sapporo. I get off the plane, hop on the train into town, and arrive at the train station to see my dear friend. I was tired from my journey, and I was ready to swing by a restaurant, have a bite, and talk about old times. My friend, however, had a different idea. He told me to throw my luggage into a train station locker, so I did. He then said, "Follow me," and led down the streets of town right to a traffic stop. We only paused a moment there when...he took me to a movie theatre on the other side of the street.

He was dragging me to see the The Ring.

I'm sure he was quite embarrased to do that as I screamed out loud like a little girl at least three times during that film. The Ring was just a darn scary film. By the time that was done, then we had our bite to eat and it took me a few minutes for my heart rate to come down. I looked at my friend and said, "OK, dude. I saw The Ring, so now we're going to see Godzilla." This time, my friend begrudgingly agreed, citing that he came to Japan to experience its culture, and Godzilla movies were undoubtedly part of its pop culture.

A couple nights later, after having explored Sapporo, I found a nice cineplex that was playing Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. So now it as my turn to drag my friend to see a movie. We arrived in the theatre, and once we bought our tickets, we were given some nice little swag: Mechagodzilla keychains, and inside was a smiling Hamtaro. According to all the advertising I was seeing, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was supposed to start off with the latest Hamtaro short film. But, there was no short film in front of our screening. Had I known Japanese, I would have demanded my money back.

But the movie started and...it was awesome. Seeing a traditional, "man in suit" Godzilla movie was truly a crowning moment during my time in Japan. I mean, Godzilla! Smashing stuff! On the big screen! My friend, who knew some Japanese but not enough to actually follow a film from beginning to end said, "But it's all in Japanese! How are we going to follow the plot?" To which I replied, "What do you need to know about the plot? Godzilla appears, smashes stuff, Mechagodzilla appears, they fight, Godzilla, defeated, walks off into the sunset. That's all the plot you need to know!"

After the movie and walking back to my friends' place, we had a great time debating Godzilla's motivations. "Why does he always destroy Japan? And why does he turn hero and defend Japan when other monsters appear?" You know...the questions of the ages.

I returned to the theatre the next day, for I had a friend back in Canada who was a bigger Godzilla fan than me, and I thought I'd grab some Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla merch for him. I grabbed one of the official movie posters for him, and one for myself. I sent his poster, and he was greatly appreciative. I foolishly left mine in Japan, and as far as I know, it still adorns the walls of that foreign teacher's apartment to this very day.

I had many other wacky misadventures with my friend during my week in Sapporo, but those memories are just for me. So in honor of those memories, I have decided that I will now watch Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla every Christmas season.

However, I will leave you with this one cliffhanger. I told my friend of Toho's rigid schedule for their film franchises, and my friend said, "Huh. A new film like that, every year, at those times. Too bad there's nothing like that back home." Well, I have discovered a film franchise like that here at home, and I'll tell you all about it in my next entry.

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