Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Asagaya Tanabata Festival - Part 3
For a lot of Americans, Godzilla and Japan go hand in hand. Those cheesy weekend movies dubbed in English with guys in rubber suits are fuel for a great many gags in comedy programs. They're so much a part of American pop culture that we all have come to associate Japanese movies with mouths moving out of sync with sounds.
One of the anecdotes I heard in conjunction with the original Godzilla movie was that it was hard to come up with English sounds that come close to the Japanese insult "bakayaro" (idiot) so the English that was used was "banana oil". I probably heard this from George Takei in an interview since he was a voice actor in the original dubbed version of the movie. This story has nothing to do with the tanabata festival, mind you, but it does have something to do with Godzilla who was actually at the festival in one of his incarnations. Incidentally, students usually find this attempt to find a phonetic replacement for bakayaro pretty funny so it's not a bad idea to bring it up if the topic is already at hand.
At the tanabata festival, a mechanical Godzilla was set up in front of the Sony Avic shop. "Avic" is a chain store that sells consumer electronics and various consumable items like batteries, DVDs, etc. These shops used to be called "Sony Sun Life" but were changed to "Avic" awhile back. I'm not sure why the name changed but I'm guessing it has something to do with the words "audio", "video" and possibly "camera".
The mechanical Godzilla is the one most hardcore Godzilla fans hated in the movie with Matthew Broderick. I'm not sure how the Japanese feel about it but the people at the festival were pretty impressed. Many people whipped out their cells phones to take shots of it and kids were especially drawn to it because it wasn't a statue. It moved back and forth and side to side and would open it's mouth and roar. If you compare the various shots in this post, you can see that the position and mouth have changed.
The action didn't do much for the adults but the younger children were sometimes a bit freaked out by it. When he lurched and roared, some of them would squeal and jump back. They didn't do this once but every time the cycle repeated as if they'd forgotten that it'd happened a short while ago in exactly the same fashion.
I'm not sure why Avic in particular was offering this display other than it was kind of cool for everyone to see it and fun for the kids to be scared by. There was a bit of Godzilla kit set out off to the side for sale but that's not a part of the usual Avic product line. I guess it really had nothing to do with Avic except that Sony was behind the much disliked American remake and they were getting some more mileage out of their investment.