So in light of my absence, this is where I was the past few days (and if you don't know that by now. Come on man!). Yes, once more I attended another G-Fest, but not just any normal one. Nope, this particular year was the twenty-fifth anniversary. Twenty-five years of celebrating Godzilla, tokusatsu, and I guess that lonesome ape who thinks he's king.
So instead of just skipping a look back article (like last year), I decided to talk about this years. I mean quite literally as I talked to a friend of the genre, we're in a new golden age of giant monsters in the film. In March to early April, we've had three straight weeks of it (Pacific Rim: Uprising, Ready Player One, and Rampage). This week we have a new Godzilla animated movie to sink into. Next month, we have Jason Statham vs. a giant shark (I'm just sold on seeing the movie alone with that very concept). Add to the fact we'll have one more animated Godzilla movie coming out, a live-action Godzilla movie NEXT YEAR, and probably more tokusatsu goodness. Yep, it's good to be a fan of the genre.
Unlike the previous years though, going just the three days, I went all four this time around and even stayed after the convention wrapped up. Getting there was the greatest pain in the world given I live simply only thirty minutes from where it's held. Yet for some Kong reason, it took me over an hour to get there this year.
After that, I had to rush into checking into my hotel, learn there was another convention going on besides this one (more on that one later), and go meet my friend for the screening of the Mighty Peeking Man (1976), a Shaw Bros. tokusatsu film cashing in on that other ape movie that came out during the year. My short review of the movie can be this. The movie looks rushed and reeks of the low budget but I'll be damned if I didn't be entertained by the movie. That and it's rather ballsy move at the end.
Friday is when I learned basically this con was going on with a Supernatural one. I was gonna think why haven't we've seen that yet? Then I realized IDW gave us Godzilla in Hell, which is basically just that glorious a story. The moment I set foot into the Crowne Plaza I began to realize this G-Fest would be quite different than any past ones on a Friday. It was insanely packed and it was just 10 am.
The dealer room last year began the policy of wristbands to get in early did it again this year. When I got there I was number 2000 range. 2000 and it was just 10 am and told to come by the dealer room by 3 pm (it opens at 1 pm). So I decided to just bite the bullet and do something I never did at a G-Fest before: get an autograph. I mean in past G-Fests there were chances to get one. But, this year had Kenpachiro Satsuma (Hedorah in Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Gigan in Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon, and playing Godzilla throughout the entire Heisei movie series) and Megumi Odaka (who played Miki Saegusa, the longest running human character to appear in Godzilla movies having appeared in six of the seven Heisei movies).
If you know me, you know that I have an emotional connection to Godzilla 1985 (to which Satsuma began the role) and that Godzilla vs. Destroyah is one of my favorite films of all time. So meeting Satsuma in person and being a few feet away from him, hit me. I mean literally, my mind flashed to being a kid again and seeing Godzilla for the first time on the big screen in 1985 and this was the guy who played him. I had to fight back literal tears in actually meeting the Godzilla I grew up with (Even now as I am literally doing this again after thinking about it after typing this paragraph thinking back to this moment from a few days ago). So meeting one's Godzilla. Likewise the same for meeting Miss Odaka, who both I got to sign my Godzilla vs. Destroyah poster. Meeting both will be an experience I shall never forget and shall treasure forever basically a reason why G-Fest is a thing to enable such memories.
By that time waiting in line, I decided to do a bit of venturing downstairs. Killing time by looking at the room which had the history of past G-Fests. Newspaper clippings, photos, programs, flyers, and notes of all the important things that happened at each one. The most fascinating one I didn't know was learning Star Wars: Clone Wars/Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni ties to G-Fest: he created Gfantis (the kaiju mascot of the convention).
Of course, the other thing I did was visit artist alley and get the latest prints of Matt Frank and Jeff Zornow also dabble in anything new from other artists there. Then it was back up to go to the Dealer's room. I don't know if I said this before but there's a reason why the Dealer's Room is always swamped in the early goings of G-Fest. Basically, anything kaiju related is probably here for a price. A Godzilla ornament? They got that there. A cup? Got it. Ultraman toys? Got em. Godzilla? Got em! Kong? Eh, who cares save for Mechani-Kong. You name it. They probably have it there. Anytime I go there it is a battle. A battle because of all the goodies there. For my haul this year I-- went a bit more than I should have. Baltans, Mothras, Mecha Godzilla, and the King of all the Monsters himself. ... But it was worth it.
Friday night, was basically like Thurs just without a friend to see RAMPAGE on the big screen.. again, but this time with fellow fans of the genre. There is the other fun thing about G-Fest. Waiting in line I struck up a conversation with two attendees who traveled from Arkansas to be at the con. Then someone from New Jersey who I told me about a panel they were doing on Sunday. That's another fun thing about G-Fest. You just strike up conversations and just become friends overnight due to the passion of tokusatsu.
Which is the other great thing about G-Fest just going to these panels and learning all this fascinating stuff you never really thought of before. Like the kaiju in horror movies (oh yes it is a thing), the times New York was leveled by a giant monster (it is a thing and you'd be surprised at how recurring it is so much that said person I talked to during Rampage actually has an interactive map that notes every time a giant monster has shown up in a certain section of the major city).
Then listening to anniversary panels talking on Destroy All Monsters!, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II was all very fascinating to listen to (even if a few of them I knew about). The Pacific Rim: Uprising panel was-- meh. Look I'm the great defender of the movie, but it did have a few tiny bits of bright spots. To see a panel who already barely comprehend the original tear into it with no mercy with very little positive to say was.. eh. Still, if there was one positive was to learn all the Chinese had in the say of that movie. Which for the biggest negative I have against it now makes more sense on why. Plus to know that many Chinese filmmakers want to be the next Michael Bay makes me shudder in utter terror.
Saturday night, again was another fine way to conclude the movies at G-Fest by showing Godzilla vs. Mothra: Battle for Earth with Satsuma himself introducing the film. That may not be my favorite Heisei film, but it still was a serviceable entry of the series and enjoyable to watch with fellow kaiju fans.
Sunday was light for the most part. It just felt like the convention was winding down and many were happy about that. Me? The highlight of that day wasn't a panel. It was just stumbling across Keizo Murase (prop master for a ton of kaiju films and the suit creator of Varan, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Baragon, Titanosaurus, and so many others) coming across a child who was dressed up as Godzilla and playing with for a few minutes. It was a moment so damn precious and really is what G-Fest is for. Forging new fans and giving them so many memorable memories.
G-Fest XXV was indeed a memorable con full of memories I won't ever forget. It truly lived up the hype and what it gives to fans such as myself. If you ever are a fan of this genre and never attended one you have too just once. It's worth the experience and memories alone that they forge. Other than that.. I figure the best way to end this look back is this final pic I took of the con.