he is a god not a monster. Regardless,
it is a very bad idea to provoke him. Every
kid ought to be dressing up as the giant (majin) deity this Halloween. He also makes a perfect stocking stuffer now
that all three Daimajin features have
been released together as the Daimajin Triple Feature collection (trailer here), now available on Blu-Ray at online
the Jidaigeki historical genre with the big lumbering Kaiju monster movie, the
storied Daiei Japanese studio released three Daimajin films in 1966. The concept essentially adapted ancient archetypes
of the Waste Land suffering from despotic rule for the Godzilla age. Indeed, the serious tenor is established
right from the start of Kimiyoshi Yasuda’s series launching Daimajin.
Hanabusa’s serfs live secure in the knowledge they are protected from a fierce
majin by the idol of their god, holding him trapped under the mountain. He is about to get really hacked off though. The humane Hanabusa has been overthrown by
his ruthless chamberlain Samanosuke, who orders the murder of the entire
Hanabusa clan. However, loyal family
retainer Kogenta spirits Hanabusa’s young son and daughter off to the monster’s
mountain, where they live in relative peace under the shadow of the Daimajin
statue. Eventually, Kogenta and the
Hanabusa heir are captured. Intending to
permanently demoralize the restive villagers, Samanosuke’s men then set out to
destroy the mountain idol. Okay, good
luck with that plan.
Kenji Misumi’s Return of Daimajin, the
second and perhaps best of the series, Daimajin now resides on a quite
picturesque island in Lake Yakumo, where the neighboring Chigusa and Nagoshi
clans pay proper reverence. Coveting the
fruits of their industry, the tyrannical Lord Danjo Mikoshiba launches a sneak
attack during a joint Chigusa-Nagoshi festival, occupying the land around Yakumo. Lord Nagoshi is murdered, but his son Katsushige
escapes, taking refuge on the majin’s island.
It is here that Sayuri, his Chingusa fiancée, prays for their salvation.
course, Mikoshiba tries to show everyone by blowing up the island idol. Soon thereafter, the skies darken and lightning
flashes, prompting some rather nervous comments about how abruptly the weather
around these parts can change. Featuring
well crafted sets, appealing backdrops, and a shockingly strong cast (led by
Shiho Fujimura as Lady Sayuri) Return would
probably be nearly as satisfying as a straight historical drama without the
each clocking in under the eighty minute mark, the Daimajin films are formulaic
and addictive as popcorn. The third
departs the most from the template, which might be why it became the franchise
finale (sadly there would be no I Told
You Not to Mock Daimajin, but everyone’s favorite angry majin was rebooted
on Japanese television in 2010). For his
third go-round in Kazuo Mori’s Daimajin
Strikes Again (a.k.a. Wrath of
Daimajin), Daimajin has returned to the mountains and he now has a winged
familiar. Through the hawk’s eyes,
Daimjin follows four poor youngsters as they make the arduous journey over his
mountain in hopes of rescuing their logger fathers and brothers from an evil
warlord. While the boys give the first
half of the film a distinctly adolescent character, it proceeds on a rather
bittersweet course that might be too emotionally challenging for similarly aged
the consistencies between all three films, the most important is the late third
act coming of the guest of honor, Daimajin.
Building viewer anticipation, the usurpers and warlords he crushes have
truly been asking for it when he finally shows himself. Unlike other Japanese monster movies, we can
enjoy his rampages with a clear conscience, because they are all about retribution.
It is a sight to behold when the stone idol rouses itself to action. Although Daimajin seems to have some
undefined telekinetic powers, his weapon of choice is the slow bone-crushing stomp.
the special effects rendering Daimajin’s destructive force were the product of
their time, but they hold up pretty well, all things considered. Daiei definitely assigned some of their
better period designers to the franchise, because the trappings are first
rate. It all looks great on Blu-Ray,
thanks to a nice transfer.
More than a cut above standard issue creature
features, the Daimajin films earnestly and rather compellingly address themes
of faith and sacrifice. Bad guys also
get flattened, which is kind of awesome.
Enormous fun for connoisseurs of both Jidaigeki and Kaiju films, the Daimajin Triple Feature is
enthusiastically recommended to skeptical viewers beyond the cult fan base. Just in time for Christmas, it is now
available on Blu-Ray from Mill Creek Entertainment.
Labels: Daimajin, DVD, Japanese Cinema, Monster movies