Author: aiman_1417

Student, University of Wollongong, Australia

A Different Experience (Akira)

Aiman's

I remember when I was 10, my cousin introduced me to the anime Akira. I watched it for about 15 minutes and thats about it. My young mind couldn’t handle the graphic violence and the dark dystopian vibe, especially the scene where a guy shot a dog and blood splatted everywhere (yup, I saw that scene when I was 10).

I’m not an anime expert,  I’ve watched a few decent ones like Gundam Series, Naruto, and Howl’s Moving Castle. But Akira was a whole different experience . First, the visual looks stunning for an 80’s anime. Visually compared to Gundam: Char’s Counterattack (another anime from 1988), Akira looks like one of those anime from the early 2000’s.

Chars Counterattack.jpg Gundam: Char’s Counterattack (1988) Source: Sunrise

Akira.jpg Akira (1988) Source: Toho

Most anime I know has one thing in common which is the one dimensional “I wanna be the best” lead…

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How I remember Japanese Monster Films

Growing up in Singapore/Malaysia, my childhood has always revolved around Japanese films and animation (Anime). Back in the 90’s, western cartoon shows like Rugrats, Dexter’s lab and Hey Arnold can only be accessed with an Astro cable subscription (which was new and super expensive at the time).

Source: Cartoon Network & Nickelodeon

Throughout the 90’s until the early 2000’s, the majority of kids (From my circle of friends) prefer Japanese shows like Ultraman, Gundam Series (Gundam Wing) and Ninja Warrior (Sasuke) because its accessible on the public channel every Saturday morning and Sunday Night.

Gundam Wing

Gundam Wing Endless Waltz (1998) Source: Sunrise

Every kid in the neighborhood knows who Ultraman is, we used to play pretend who’s Ultraman and who’s the monster at the playground and ended up having bruises when we get back home. I remember beating my friend so hard because he pretended to be “DADA”, my most hated monster in the Ultraman series.

DADA.png

“DADA” Monster from the Original Ultraman (1966) Source: Tsuburaya Production

When my family got an Astro subscription, I got the privilege to access both western and Japanese cartoons. At that moment, I was exposed to shows like Spongebob and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody where I don’t have to read subtitles to understand. At the time, that was considered as a privilege.  The idea of having 3+ Channels for cartoons was beyond my expectation.

A few days back, I saw the original 1954 “Gojira”, and cant help but to feel nostalgic because it reminds me of the good old “Ultraman” days. The sound and special effects  were similar. Have a look at this comparison :

Ultraman (1966) Source : Youtube

 

Gojira (1954) Source : Youtube

The original Ultraman was first aired in Japan in 1966, so its understandable to see similar values and effects from Gojira. There was an episode from the Original Ultraman (1966) that had a Gojira reference. They introduced a monster that looks and sounds exactly like Gojira and named it “Red King” as a reference to the nickname that was given to Gojira, “Godzilla: King of The Monsters”. That was the closest one we can get for a Godzilla vs Ultraman crossover.

Source: Google

We can clearly see how influential the original Gojira is to the film industry. It became its own genre (kaiju) that inspired awesome films like Ultraman, and Super Sentai. Throughout the years, this film culture has been utilized to its full potential and people tend to link this genre, to be a part of the Japanese culture. Even Hollywood are trying get a piece of the cake when they attempt to make an American adaptation of Godzilla in 1998, 2014 and the upcoming sequel to the 2014 movie.

GOD Z BOI.jpg

Godzilla (2014) Source: Google

They did the same thing to Ultraman as well. There were 2 non – Japanese version of Ultraman throughout the 90’s, one from the US (Ultraman: Ultimate Hero, 1995) and Australia (Ultraman: Towards The Future, 1992).

Source: Google

From my cultural background, I can clearly spot the differences between Japanese films and its western adaptations. Maybe its just my gut feeling, but the American Ultraman has a different tone into it, even with an Asian lead character, and the same monsters from the original, it doesn’t feel the same as the original formula that the Japanese had been using from 1966 – 1980.  Same goes to Godzilla, my first Godzilla film was, Godzilla vs Mothra (1992). When I first saw the 1998 American Version, it felt different. In conclusion, both sets of film shares the same values but different approach and it could be the result of cultural difference.