Death Kappa (2010)
Death Kappa (デスカッパ is a Desu Kappa)2010 tokusatsu kaiju film co-produced by Nikkatsu, Nakasu, and Fever Dreams. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Tokyo Shock in the United States on July 27, 2010, and released in Japanese theaters by Nikkatsu on November 27, 2010.
When military experiments go haywire and trigger an atomic bomb, the consequences are of epic proportions. A monster arrives in the midst of the nuclear fallout, and Japan's defenses are helpless against it. Mankind's only savior is an irradiated water goblin from Japanese folklore called the "Death Kappa." The two rival monsters must go head-to-head in the ultimate battle between good and evil!
Kanako returns to her home town in the wake of a failed career as an idol singer. As soon as she meets up with her grandmother Fujiko, a VW Beetle speeds down the road, hitting her grandmother and knocking a shrine containing a mummified kappa off a cliff and into the sea. With her dying breath, Kanako's grandmother begs her to "protect the kappa". Kanako takes over as the miko to her family's shrine. On a nearby beach, the joyriders who ran over Kanako's grandmother are attacked by strange creatures and men in black suits, the boys killed and the girls abducted.
One day Kanako catches her brothers listening to her song only to hear a noise coming from outside their house. The three of them find a kappa dancing to Kanako's song. The siblings befriend Kappa and he soon becomes part of the family. One night while Kappa is dancing to Kanako’s song, he is attacked and netted by a group of men in black suits. Kanako tries to save Kappa using a bow and arrow, causing the men to turn their attention towards her and capture her. Her distraction allows Kappa to escape. With their main quarry gone, the leader of the assailants turns her attention to Kanako as one of her subordinates tazes her.
Kanako wakes up to find herself chained to a giant wooden "X", surrounded by strange fish men, in a room full of Imperial Japanese imagery, traditional samurai weapons, a banner that reads "Revive the Spirit of Japan", jars full of specimens, and a mummified corpse in a wheelchair. A woman named Yuriko identifies the fish men as Umihiko and the mummy in the wheelchair as her grandfather. The Umihiko are his creations, made from Kappa's skin cells and intended for use as super soldiers to turn the tide near the end of World War II. He was rejected by the Japanese army, who saw the Umihiko as a crime against nature, but spent the rest of his life continuing his experiments. Yuriko has finished what he started, working with a group of radicals called the State Guard who believe that the Japanese were defanged in the wake of World War II and plan to use the Umihiko to resurrect bushido and Japanese imperialism. Another soldier comes in, escorting the two girls they had abducted, who now have gills and sharp teeth. They are becoming the first female Umihiko, and Yuriko tells Kanako she is going to become the third.
As Yuriko begins the process, Kappa storms into the lab to rescue Kanako. The State Guards try to capture Kappa alive, but he proves too tough and frees Kanako. Yuriko activates the Umihiko and sics them on kappa, which prove to be more evenly matched. Kanako pulls a naginata off the wall and slices the control panel in half, paralyzing the Umihiko. Infuriated by the defeat of her grandfather's opus, Yuriko pulls out a machine gun and tries to kill Kanako, who jumps behind Kappa's shell for protection. The bullets bounce off Kappa's shell, killing the State Guard captain, crippling another member, and destroying her grandfather's mummy. After she runs out of bullets, Yuriko discovers the damage she caused to her grandfather’s remains and freaks out, unveiling an atomic bomb. Despite the State Guard member's protests, she sets it off. The radiation from the bomb fuses the Umihiko into a single gigantic, amphibious fish monster that proceeds to rampage through Yokohama.
The JSDF is called in to deal with the monster, which has been designated Hangyolas. Their infantry is too terrified to open fire and quickly crushed. A joint attack by tanks and fighter jets stalls Hangyolas for a time, but he incinerates them with sheets of flame. As a last resort the JSDF send in the Gorgon Monster Death Ray, the most powerful laser in the world, but he endures it and returns fire. With all their countermeasures having failed, the JSDF resign themselves to the possibility that Hangyolas is invincible and a dark shadow falls over the minds of all of Japan. Suddenly, Kappa appears, having grown to gigantic size by the same radiation that created Hangyolas, his eyes glowing red. The two monsters do battle in the ruins of the city, with Kappa quickly pulling Hangyolas's tail off. Their fight comes to a head in an oil refinery, when Kappa picks up several Horton spheres and throws them at Hangyolas. The kaiju retaliates with his fire breath, only for Kappa to block the attack with his hands and push it back into Hangyolas, killing his enemy. The JSDF breathe a sigh of relief at the death of Hangyolas, but their victory is short-lived as Kappa goes on an even more destructive rampage. A kappa expert strolls into the JSDF meeting room and calls the giant kappa the consequence of humanity not believing in unconfirmed life forms. Declaring that Kappa will be humanity's doom, he rechristens him Death Kappa. The National Diet Building falls before his might, and he even targets Mount Fuji. The JSDF are at a loss: their entire military might was no match for Hangyolas and Death Kappa defeated him. Kanako comes to the top of a building with a bucket of water and a ladle, and starts singing. Death Kappa approaches her, suddenly calmed. Kanako uses the bucket and ladle to wet the dish on Death Kappa's head, returning his eyes to normal. The head of the JSDF committee states that Death Kappa should serve as a reminder of forgotten values. Death Kappa returns to the sea to the cheers of a grateful Japan, as Kanako quietly says goodbye to her friend.
- Main article: Death Kappa (film)/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Tomoo Haraguchi
- Written by Masakazu Migita (screenplay), Tomoo Haraguchi (story)
- Produced by Yoko Hayama, Yoshinori Chiba, Tomo Fukatsu, Hidemasa Iwashita
- Executive producer John Sirabella
- Music by Masako Ishi
- Cinematography by Yoshihito Takahashi
- Edited by Yoshitaka Honda
- Production design by Masaaki Sugiyama
- Assistant director Daiji Hattori
- Director of special effects Tomoo Haraguchi
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Death Kappa (film)/Gallery.
At 85 minutes, the Japanese release of Death Kappa is six minutes longer than the version Media Blasters released in the United States, and includes an alternate ending in which a kaiju-sized Kanako, dressed like one of the Shobijin, soothes Death Kappa with her song.
Tokyo Shock DVD / Blu-ray + DVD (2010/2020)
- Region: 1 (DVD) or A/1 (Blu-ray)
- Discs: 1 (DVD) or 2 (Blu-ray + DVD)
- Audio: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and 5.1), Japanese (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and 5.1)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: "The Making of Death Kappa" featurette (11 minutes), extended version of the film's music video (5 minutes), pre-production promo films (5 minutes), still gallery (8 minutes), trailers for Death Kappa and other Fever Dreams films
- Notes: Both the DVD and Blu-ray include all of the listed special features. Contains only the 79-minute version of the film.
Happynet DVD (2011)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Three audio commentaries (staff, Misato Hirata and Mitsuko Hoshi, and audience reactions from a screening in Spain), American ending, trailers, featurette on a Death Kappa screening in Spain, other special features unknown
- The Kappa suit was originally built for the 2004 film Kibakichi, also directed by Tomoo Haraguchi.
- Hangyolas destroys a billboard containing a link to lead actress Misato Hirata's Ameba blog.
- Hiroko Sakurai's character is named Fujiko, a nod to her famous role in Ultraman.
- The Gorgon Monster Death Ray is patterned on the Type 66 Maser Cannon.
- The making of Death Kappa was featured on an episode of the 2010 show Nat Geo Amazing! Translator Matt Alt, who played an extra in the JSDF command center, wrote and served as a field producer for the segment.
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