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Showing posts from March, 2017

Mecha Kaiju Sensō Tai!!!: Gamera

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Gamera is really neat. The ‘90s Gamera trilogy directed by Shusuke Kaneko remains a high-water mark in kaiju cinema, being to giant monster movies what Watchmen (or, perhaps more aptly, Miracleman) is to superhero comics. The original films from the ‘60s and ‘70s are also certainly special in their own right; my favorite is Gamera vs. Barugon, possibly the only kaiju movie that’s also a heist film. There’s a reason I own both DVD and Blu-Ray copies of almost every Gamera film* (even if the DVDs of the original series have this sleepy-eyed guy and his robots talking over the films).

Gamera is also – as the both series of films take pains to point out – filled with meat. There’s a pretty obviously deliberate gross-out aesthetic to the movies, especially the kid-oriented entries in the original series. Gamera bleeds – a lot – and other monsters routinely get body parts severed. The trailer for the apparently aborted 2016 relaunch (available on YouTube) demonstrates this with a shot of a…

Untitled Celtic Super Powered Setting

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As I’ve shared before, one of the projects Robin and I would like to do is publish a series of Savage Worlds “mini-settings” – 40- to 60-page books that present an abbreviated setting guide, a relatively small number of new Hindrances and Edges and stuff like that, and maybe one full-sized adventure. These mini-settings would rely on published companion books like the Horror Companion and Super Powers Companion to do the heavy lifting on the rules, giving us more space to devote to world-building. To save money, we’d probably use public domain art. (This will work very well with Last Days of the Law, the Heian Japan horror setting, because no new art we pay for is going to look any better than anything Utagawa Kuniyoshi created.) One of the settings I’d like to do doesn’t have a title yet. I imagine it as a Gaelic equivalent to Marvel’s version of Asgard: high fantasy meets superheroics. Inhumanly-powerful protagonists, monstrous villains, a light touch of science fantasy… There’d be a…

Mecha Kaiju Sensō Tai!!!:Kong: Skull Island (Stats)

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While my earlier King Kong stats adequately describe the character who appeared in 1933’s King Kong (and do fairly well for the 2005 remake), the Kong who appears in Kong: Skull Island is a very different beast. As I pointed out in my review of the film, this is Kong as kaiju – a giant monster at several removes from humankind. He’s a Kong designed from the get-go to get into a fight with Godzilla. Unfortunately, Kong is another weird outlier among kaiju in that he’s just a BIG, BIG, BIG, BIG GORILILILILILILILA!!!!!!!! (Or, maybe, a hominid, as he walks erect.) He doesn’t have any beam weapons or spikes or wings – an argument could even be made that he doesn’t technically have armor – so there’s a lot less to spend Power Points on when you’re building him with the Super Powers Companion. Notably, though, one of the characters in Kong: Skull Island points out that he’s still growing. This means that to model his stats in K:SI, we should use the Rising Stars rules. That means fewer Powe…

Kong: Skull Island (Review)

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Note that the title of the film is Kong: Skull Island, not King Kong (2017). This is not another remake of the 1933 motion picture, nor – aside from some third act Easter eggs – does it ever pretend to be. Kong: Skull Island is King Kong as pure battling monsters kaiju eiga (complete with the environmental concerns inherent in that genre) not Merian C. Cooper’s mesmerizing ode to bestiality nor Peter Jackson’s far more effective but overlong love story.
Of course, the giant monster battles are not unprecedented. The first two-thirds of every film titled King Kong are about Skull Island and Kong’s fights with the reptilian predators located there; Kong: Skull Island differs from its predecessors in that it begins and ends on Skull Island and the battle against the reptiles is the film’s central conflict. Kong is the protagonist in a way he’s only been in animated versions of the tale or Toho’s King Kong Escapes” the human secondary protagonists are an entry point into his world, viewpo…

Mecha Kaiju Sensō Tai!!!: Shobijin and Mothra

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Mothra is an interesting corner case in monster design. First of all, Mothra is actually multiple beings – a series of parents and children (usually mothers and daughters, but occasionally mother and son) who replace each other over the course of several film series. Secondly, the parent and child forms have completely different powers. Third, there’s an argument to be made that Mothra isn’t really an independent character, but rather the Animal Companion of the Shobijin’s animal control power.

The Shobijin (also known as the Little Beauties, the Twin Fairies, the Infant Island priestesses, the Cosmos, and the Elias) are a pair of tiny singing women who accompany Mothra on its adventures. They have a telepathic bond with the kaiju and frequently seem to guide its actions. The Shobijin are usually portrayed as members of a purer, ancient (occasionally pre-human) civilization that’s more in touch with nature. Occasionally, they display super powers of their own outside of their connect…