Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Japanese Science Fiction: Monstrous Asterozoan Kaiju!

Today I present to you:
The Japanese Monster-Starfish Collision!!
Perhaps one of my favoritest things in the world is giant monsters: Godzilla!, Ultraman!, giant robots, big massive things that destroy stuff! Threaten the world! etc.

Japan, as one of the most creative countries in the world, has created a whole GENRE of films, TV and media that feature big monsters (called kaiju for 'mythical beast' in Japanese) and aliens (called seijin in Japanese) (and did I mention the guys in rubber foam suits??) as both antagonists and protagonists. Japan is also a country that is creatively inspired by the animal life living around it. Two of their emperors were marine biologists (and taxonomists to boot!).

So, it should come as no surprise that the two paths should cross....Here are some of the most prominent echinoderm-(mostly starfish) inspired creatures from Japanese science fiction!
1. The Starfish Aliens from "Warning From Space"

Oddly enough, I have never seen this movie the whole way through..but basically its about a bunch of starfish-seijin who try to warn the Earth about an impending disaster.

Starfish as the saviors of Earth.

I like it!

2. The Monstrous Pestar from Ultraman
From the 1960s classic Japanese show Ultraman (about a giant Silver giant alien who comes to Earth and fights monsters) is Pestar! The kaiju from the episode "Oil SOS" !!!
Pestar was two parts starfish, along with a BAT head stuck to it in the middle. It breathed fire and destroyed oil refineries!

Plus, it gets turned into a BUNCH of action figures:
(taken from someone's completely random collection! really!)
Some of which, glow in the dark!!

3. The Bizarre Brittle Star
Deimos from Ultraman Leo!
Now, WHERE will you ever find someone who can make a monster out of an ophiuroid?

Ultraman Leo was a later incarnation of the successful Ultraman show
, which ran from 1974 to 1975. He fights a host of monsterous beasts, many of which take after marine life!

The six rays are perhaps inspired by the tropical six-rayed brittle stars Ophiactis savignyi or Ophiothela which would be found in the tropical regions of Japan??

Here for comparison is the giant tropical ophiuroid Ophiarachna incrassata! Which I wrote about awhile back...

4. Hitode murasaki (purple starfish) from the show "Kikaider" Kikaider=good guy with cool half blue/half red costume who fought evil monsters every week. These monsters typically had an animal theme and acted as the "boss" to a bunch of evil minions.. having some gimmick or power that made him the special menace of the week...

The sinister "Purple starfish" could apparently fly and leap over walls! Not a common adaptation seen in your garden variety echinoderm...

5. And of course......

Starfish Hitler!!!
(I'm not kidding-that's what he's called!) from Kamen Rider X -a popular Japanese franchise about motorcylce-high kickin' cyborgs!!! In Japanese the name is more alliterative: Hitode Hiteru

I really don't know how to top Starfish Hitler.


Anonymous said...

oh this is just hands down a most awesome blog, Chris ! You know you need to make your own StarFish Kaiju ;-) , although I would stay away from any WW2 characters !

ChrisM said...

What? You don't think Hitode Hitler would make a good vinyl figure?? :-)

tentaculus said...

I think there are several characters from Mon-based anime shows & manga that are certainly inspired by echinoderms. Pokemon for example, has Staryu & Starmie (sea stars with large gems as central disc); Lileep & Cradily (obviously crinoids). I believe there are other (perhaps less-known) examples....

I find it interesting that the Japanese are much more in touch with marine life, even ones that happen to be overlooked by most people. Keep going :)

rdj said...

I could swear I recall a villain that had a starfish- or squid-like head where, at some point in the movie/show, the bad-guys head comes off and tentacles rise up and out and then spin to behead those who were near him. I wish I could recall enough to find out what this was.

rdj said...

I found it!


Friggin' Gamera!

ChrisM said...

ah..good ol' Viras. I've been mulling over a sequel to this post and Japanese cephalopod monsters. We'll see....

Anonymous said...