Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What Makes a Monster Giant?

This is something I knew I needed to write about ever since last year's festivities where I included a few smaller monsters on the giant monster scale. People called into question if abnormally large alligators in sewers or mutated Korean river fish monsters could really be considered kaiju. I can understand the third degree, I really can. You all care about the term and the importance of maintaining a defined line between monster and kaiju. But then, what is exactly the cut-off point? When does a monster become a giant monster? I mean, it's not like there is an example of a classic monster becoming a giant monster ,right?

Surely this was just a fever dream, right?

To answer this question, let's look at the definition of the word kaiju. Well, apparently the word literally just means "monster" and what we generally think of in regards to the term is actually daikaiju, which are giant monsters. Interesting. So does this mean that technically any monster is a kaiju? Bigfoot is a kaiju? What about the Fouke Monster in my home state of Arkansas? Or the Okeechobee Werewolf? Wait, does this make werewolves kaiju? I mean, I knew there was a giant werewolf out the on film, but do the others count too? Is Dracula a kaiju? Was Hotel Transylvania just one big lighthearted kaiju bash? Whoah, whoah, whoah! I've got to slow down, as I'm making my own head spin with all these further raised questions coming from this.

I think I need to lay down, because I feel a bit dizzy.
Alright, this line of questioning isn't getting us anywhere, so let's consult an expert. But since I couldn't seem to get in touch with any experts of any sort of renown, I ended up calling the only one I knew was available: the hairy guy writing this article. Yep, it looks like I'm gonna have to figure this out on my own. As such, I'll break down what I think on the subject and we'll go from there. After all, I did grow up on kaiju movies, shows featuring giant monsters battling it out with heroes or other giant monsters, and even some old comics featuring kaiju (Godzilla and Shogun Warriors). I'd say I'm decently qualified to throw in my two cents, yes?

Probably not, but I'll have to do.
First up, I'll cover the basics here: what does kaiju mean to me? Well, like most people I think of kaiju as being giant property destroying monsters who really do a number on insurance premiums. It's the generally accepted norm and I've never really thought about it beyond that. Yes, I was aware of the more proper term daikaiju, but it always seemed more awkward to say aloud. Kaiju just sounded much more graceful, in a way, so I think that's part of why we use it in regards to giant monsters. Japanese words tend to not always sound too great out of Western mouths.

Finally, I have an excuse to use this.
Then there's also the other issues here, which is the question of whether giant monsters from outside of Japan can really be considered kaiju. Believe me, there are a lot of people who think that only the stuff from the shores of Nippon deserves to be fitted with that label, but I have to ask why? Why do you think the label should only apply to monsters from Japanese source material? Is it a question of purity? Like somehow only the stuff there has the right to be fitted with the illustrious title? Because that's stupid, we've already seen the word literally means monster, so I think that's just ridiculous. And when I'm calling something ridiculous, you need to remember that I am the guy who liked the Howard the Duck film, so I have a high tolerance for that sort of thing.

And, hey! It had a giant monster in it too! How about that? Topical.
I personally think that any monster over 10-12 feet tall (or long) should have the right to bear the moniker proudly. People who suffer from gigantism don't even get that tall and we call them giants, so the monsters deserve to get their due, dammit. To me, this whole argument about the term usage is about as silly as the comic book versus graphic novel debate. It's a stupid argument and I am judging you loudly as I blow fumes from my ass in your general direction. Does that bother you? Alright, be bothered, but it doesn't change the fact that I am still going to be referring to Sharktopus and Leatherback as kaiju regardless of their country of origin. They're still perfectly jawesome giant monsters and they don't deserve to be excluded because of some form of elitism.

The truth is though that all the argument I really need is in this one image I threw together in five minutes.
But hey, what do I know? I still call GoShogun by the American name of Macron 1 and have often proudly sang the praises of the Power Rangers, despite the campy nature of the franchise. I'm just a guy who sets aside an entire month to talk about giant monsters because he loves them that much, so why does my opinion matter, right? Just do me a favour and don't preach to me about the history and meaning of kaiju in Japan like I don't already know it all. You're not teaching me anything here, I know it all. But I don't believe in exclusion or segregation of mosnters based on nationality. To me they'll all always be kaiju and nothing anyone ever says will change my mind on the matter. So, until someone assassinates me for my horrible insults regarding their deep-seeded beliefs regarding giant monsters, I'll be here evacuating my bladder because I just drank two bottles of water and I really need to release some pressure. Later days, bleeders.

Please excuse me.

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