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Animal Icons: It Came from Japan Review

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If there’s something the vast majority of Americans don’t understand, it’s Godzilla. If you’re reading this, chances are the usual “It’s a guy in a rubber suit knocking down cardboard buildings while people talk via bad dubbing” thought process is going through your mind. Animal Planet knew this, but they also understand there’s a very large, dedicated fan base out there, and showcased that perfectly on Animal Icons.

With the usual recap of the films, It Came from Japan discussed the variances between the Japanese versions and the usual butchered US translations. There were some behind-the-scenes photographs and video (including a rare shot from what looked to be Gappa), likely familiar to fans, yet new to those not aware of what it really takes to make a film like this. They even brought on one of the original dubbing actors to discuss the process and some of the situations they need to find a way out of translation wise.

They did skip over a few of the films, likely for the better in some aspects. There was no mention and only a brief clip of Godzilla vs. Megalon, and most of the later 70’s films for that matter were skimmed. Steve Ryfle, author of Japan’s Famous Mon-Star, gets a lot of screen time, explaining the reasoning and some of the mythology. John Carpenter, the editor of Fangoria, and a G-fans most hated enemy, Dean Devlin, also speak their piece. Still, why was there no one actually involved with the making of the films interviewed?

While it’s necessary to focus on the films so much, it would have been nice to see more fandom. They focus on only two collectors, and hardly showed much of their collections. G-fest, the yearly gathering of fans, is also covered, but again, only briefly. In addition, while most of their facts were spot-on, they made one crucial mistake throughout the hour-long show: Godzilla is NOT green, and with the exception of a few of the more recent films, never has been.

That said, Animal Planet put on what was probably the best US produced show on the giant monster. It wasn’t particularly different and it didn’t tell G-fans anything they didn’t already know. However, it didn’t go the usual route, ripping the films for their apparent “cheapness” simply because it’s the popular thing to do. That’s the best thing they could have done, and deserve all the credit in the world for it.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    How did I miss this? I must see rerun…

    And Matt, it looks like your column got doubled.

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    I just checked, it’s on again Saturday morning. Joy!

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    Thanks for catching it Chris. I know what I did, entirely my fault. Hope you can check it out!

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    Glad to help.

    I am very much looking foreward to it now, and will add it to my TV scheduling. I also really need to revisit all the G titles I own. It has been too long…..

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    If you do by some chance miss it again, I did tape it. I can always make you a copy if neccesary.

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    Thanks for the offer. I think I’ll make it. I use the Palm desktop software to schedule my viewing, once it’s in there, I’m gold!

    It’ll have and entry in my tv recap.

  • http://blogcritics.org/author.php?author=Cerulean Cerulean

    I saw it today. It was good. I’m not a particular fan of Godzilla but I liked that show.

  • Thomas Corsello

    I did not see it and I want to see it because you can’t keep a good godzilla fan down.

  • richard bridwell

    please if any one has a copy of this i would love to get it . my son is very sick and he loves godzilla .please email me at toho2010 at aol.com if any one can help me out