Rather than giving you yet another typical online critic’s opinion, FM has decided to bring you its verdict on the new GODZILLA movie by transcribing the opinions of four more qualified individuals: Godzilla art guru Bob Eggleton, Heisei Godzilla-suit-wearer Kenpachiro Satsuma, original Ultraman Satoshi “Bin” Furuya, and tokusatsu hero of Kikaida and Inazuman Daisuke Ban. The following Q&A session took place after a special screening of GODZILLA in San Jose at Big Wow! ComicFest, with kaiju expert August Ragone moderating, on May 17.
August Ragone. So why don’t you tell us what you thought of the film?
Bob Eggleton. It kicked ass. The funniest thing is that when I saw Gareth Edwards’ directorial debut called MONSTERS, I turned to my wife and said, this guy should direct Godzilla. If there is some justice in making another Godzilla movie, get Gareth Edwards. And I could not believe it when they said they got Gareth Edwards. I was like, win. It’s a slow burn movie. It builds up and builds up, and that’s what I liked about it. It wasn’t monsters every single minute. It’s a a nice visual tease.
Ragone. It’s the smooth Bourbon of kaiju eiga. And just while we were watching this movie, it earned another ten million dollars.
Eggleton. Legendary was hoping for somewhere between 60 and 70 million for the whole weekend. It looks like it’s going to finish around 100 million. And that’s just the US total. So what this means to us is more Godzilla!
Ragone. Without further ado, let’s get our Japanese guests onstage: Mr. Ban Daisuke, Mr. Bin Furuya, and Godzilla himself, Mr. Kenpachiro Satsuma. And our interpreter, Jason Varney.
Satsuma. [translated] Unlike the last version of Godzilla that America did, he turned out to be more a friend to the humans this time, which surprised me. I only hoped that Godzilla would walk a little more slowly back into the ocean and roar a few more times. If Godzilla is really fat like people are saying, he should have room for a huge roar.
Furuya. [translated] Godzilla was evil back in the old days. But he turned out to be America’s hero in this movie, right? I never thought Godzilla could be this gentle. It was great to be together with all you guys for a fun Godzilla movie.
Ban. [translated] As Furuya said, it was interesting to see Godzilla as a hero. I was very moved by it. It’s good to know that so many people have come to see this. It seems to be popular. I am very proud of how strong and tough, but gentle and nice Godzilla actually was. It’s a good family movie!
For Ultraman [Furuya], what was it like working with (original Godzilla suit actor) Haruo Nakajima on the set?
Furuya. [translated] It was great. He was my sempai (older mentor). He was very tough. He challenged me to do my best, and I learned a lot from him. The only bad thing was that since he was my sempai, I couldn’t punch him as hard as I wanted to. [everyone laughs] Even though Ultraman was supposed to be stronger!
For Ultraman, again, I read on Wikipedia that you and Nakajima were actually chosen for your height and your martial arts ability. Is that true?
Furuya. [translated] Yes. I was chosen to be Japan’s number one hero because I was tall, I was thin, and I had a lot of free time.
Do you think this new Godzilla kept the heart of the classic original from the 50s?
Satsuma. [translated] I think he’s lost a bit of his heart in comparison with using suit actors.
How accepting will Japan be of Godzilla as a hero instead of as a destructive monster?
Satsuma. [translated] I don’t think of Godzilla being evil or a hero. If there are buildings in his way, he should get them out of the way. Godzilla should follow his own path, ignore other people, ignore everything else. Just follow his own way.
As a portrayer of Godzilla, do you have a favorite fight in the history of the King of Monsters, and why?
Satsuma. [translated] Biollante. [applause and cheers] Many of the scenes were filmed in water, so the acting was up to everyone else—water technicians, people making waves. I just had to move a little bit. There wasn’t much acting involved. If all I did was go [growls and moves around], that was enough.
In a sequel to this movie, what would you like to see differently?
Satsuma. [translated] Godzilla’s arms are a bit too long. They should be shorter. His stance should be more [crouches down], and he should come out in a fighting stance. He shouldn’t be using his tail so much, but using his body. For the scene when his tail was swinging at the building, I thought there should be more of his body in it, not just the tail.
Ragone. Many people don’t know that there was actually a motion capture artist who played Godzilla: Andy Serkis, the same guy who played Gollum and King Kong. So if they used him, shouldn’t we have Mr. Satsuma do the next movie? [audience cheers]
Satsuma. [translated] Are you kidding? Maybe I’ll do it; teach everyone “Godzilla kempo”.
This question is for all three of you. Did you ever take on pupils and pass on the legacy of suitmation to a younger generation?
Satsuma. [translated] I taught a lot of actors, though it wasn’t a smooth system like back in the day.
Furuya. [translated] Because I was playing a hero, I didn’t think about mentor-tutor relationships. I just thought, we’re making a show for children, so let’s just make it as entertaining as possible. There were so many episodes of the show.
Ban. [translated] When I was watching this movie I tried to imagine Satsuma in his Godzilla suit, and I saw two different Godzillas in my head. I realized that we’re entering a different era. It will be interesting to see how Godzilla is portrayed in the future. Also, there is a new KIKAIDA movie coming out at the end of this month, and I’m in it. I hope it will play in America soon.
Who would you like to see Godzilla fight next?
Satsuma. [translated] I can’t choose an existing one; I’d rather see a new monster.
Eggleton. Apparently Gareth Edwards wants to do his version of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. [loud cheering]
And if you’re still looking for that critical opinion, suffice it to say that the whole FM crew enjoyed the movie very much.