Negadon: The Monster from Mars (2005)
Negadon: The Monster from Mars (惑星大怪獣ネガドン is a 2005 computer-animated Japanese short kaiju film, written and directed by Jun Awazu and distributed by CoMix Wave Inc. It premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival on October 16, 2005. Styled after the kaiju films of the 1950's and 60's, Negadon depicts a scientist piloting a giant robot to save Tokyo from a space monster ten years after an accident involving the same machine led to the death of his daughter. Wakusei Daikaijû Negadon, lit. Great Planet Monster Negadon)
In the year 2025, Earth's population has reached 10 billion, and its resources are at a breaking point. As a result, humanity is in the process of terraforming Mars with nuclear weapons to make it more hospitable. One such blast exposes a strange cocoon, which is retrieved by the spaceship Izanami. At the home of retired scientist Ryuichi Narasaki, a TV anchor explains that Izanami will soon be returning to Fuji.
Narasaki is visited by Seiji Yoshizawa, a JSDF officer and his former assistant, who implores him to reconsider the military's recent offer to rejoin Japan's heavy-labor robotics program. He again refuses, stating that he no longer has any interest in science and technology. When Yoshizawa presses the issue, Narasaki asks him to leave.
As Narasaki watches a moth fly around the room, he thinks back to the accident ten years ago at the Narasaki Walking Machine Laboratory that changed his life. His daughter, Emi, had come with him to work that day, and listened attentively as he explained his dream to invent robots capable of working on land, in the sea, and in outer space. She asks him if he read her letter, and he replies that he left it in his coat pocket. Just then, a systems malfunction causes a massive tube attached to the robot, Miroku, to detach and crash through the protective glass between them and the hanger, killing Emi and blinding Narasaki in one eye.
As the Izanami approaches Earth, the cocoon in its cargo hold suddenly spikes in temperature, destroying the ship as it falls towards Tokyo and causes immense destruction as it lands. A news helicopter broadcasts footage of a monster, Negadon, floating out of the cocoon, only to be destroyed when it fires an electrical blast at the ground. The JSDF deploys fighter jets, missile launchers, and tanks, but Negadon shrugs their weapons off by shifting into a defensive stance, then destroys the tanks with another energy blast from one of its appendages.
Watching at home, Narasaki muses that "man always brings about disaster by his own hand," thinking of Miroku as well as the accidental awakening of Negadon. As he looks at Emi's letter, a new determination fills him. Returning to the Narasaki Walking Machine Laboratory, he climbs into Miroku's cockpit and launches it, landing before Negadon. Yoshizawa calls Narasaki after seeing Miroku on TV, imploring him to see reason; his ten-year-old prototype is no match for a space monster. Narasaki scoffs, and asks only that Yoshizawa evacuate with his family before hanging up.
Negadon begins the fight with an energy blast, but Miroku reflects it with its drill arm, badly damaging the appendage which fired it and causes Negadon to topple. The monster the unleashes an energy whip which Miroku leaps over, allowing it to deliver a flying kick. However, Negadon rapidly burrows underground and emerges behind Miroku, who turns around just in time to take a devestating beam to the chest. Narasaki switches to Miroku's rocket-powered grappling hook. As Negadon prepares to shoot it down, the JSDF's jets return, firing on the weak point in its appendage with their missiles. Miroku blasts off, and Negadon has no choice but to follow.
Now floating in space, monster and robot regard each other before letting loose their final attacks. Miroku charges with its drill arm extended; Negadon answers with a massive energy ball. The drill intercepts it, then, as Narasaki pushes the robot's thrusters to their limit, disintegrates it and impales Negadon. The monster goes limp and explodes, taking Miroku with it. Narasaki's last thought is, This will do, right, Emi? The robot's drill, still intact, sails through space.
Yoshizawa watches the sun set as Tokyo begins to rebuild.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Jun Awazu
- Written by Jun Awazu
- Produced by Kazuki Sunami
- Music by Shingo Terasawa, Akane Yumoto ("Dream in True Color: The Sky in 2015")
- Cinematography by Jun Awazu
- Edited by Jun Awazu
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Dai Shimizu as Ryuichi Narasaki (voice)
- Takuma Sasahara as Seiji Yoshizawa (voice)
- Akane Yumoto as Emi Narasaki (voice)
- Masafumi Kishi as Narrator / TV Announcer (voice)
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Sean Schemmel as Ryuichi Narasaki
- Dan Green as Seiji Yoshizawa
- Annice Moriarty as Emi Narasaki
- Marc Thompson as TV Announcer
- Tom Wayland, Tim Werenko as Other Voices
Weapons, vehicles, and races
After directing two short CG kaiju films in college (Magara: The Giant Monster and Magara: The Final Showdown), Jun Awazu embarked on a more ambitious project. Negadon: The Monster from Mars was to be an elaborate homage to Showa-era tokusatsu films, from the production design to the qualities of the film stock. He would come to call the latter, which took two years to develop, the "Awazu Filter."
Awazu began writing the script in March or early April 2003, and completed the storyboards in June. The appearance of Tokyo in the film was largely based on his childhood memories of his hometown, Nagoya.
Negadon: The Monster from Mars was animated in 3D Studio Max and After Effects, almost entirely by Awazu himself. The film's cast and crew totaled only 11 people.
- Main article: Negadon: The Monster from Mars/Gallery.
Central Park Media acquired the rights to Negadon: The Monster from Mars in January 2005, and commissioned an English dub from TripWire Productions. The film was screened at several conventions and theaters throughout the year; in theaters, it was part of a triple feature with two other anime shorts, Cat Soup and Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek. A partial list of U.S. screenings is below:
- Anime Syracuse (Syracuse, NY) - March 25, 2006
- ImaginAsian Theater (New York City, NY) - May 9-18, 2016
- Egyptian Theatre (Hollywood, CA) - June 30, 2006
- G-Fest (Rosemont, IL) - July 8, 2006
- Alamo Mason Park Cinema (Houston, TX) - Opened July 12, 2006
The film was released on DVD by U.S. Manga Corps on July 11, 2006.
- Great Planet Monster Negadon (Literal Japanese Title)
- Negadon: Le Monstre de Mars (French Canadian Title)
Writing for the New York Times, Neil Genzlinger remarked that Negadon: The Monster from Mars "looks great and even has a respectable dose of the character development and back story that anime sometimes spurns... The setup is lovely, but the film seems in a hurry to get to the big clash, as if desperate not to violate some anime time limit. Too bad; it might have worked at feature length." Carl Kimlinger of Anime News Network gave a more muted endorsement: "Negadon is, at heart, a distillation of everything that Jun Awazu loves about the kaiju eiga. At only 25 minutes, there isn't time for anything else. Of necessity, this means jettisoning much of what gives the best kaiju movies their resonance; character depth and interaction, social commentary, and (as silly as it sounds) any depiction of the human cost of fighting a giant monster are all excised, inherently limiting the scope of the intended audience. This isn't a movie for everyone; Negadon is instead aimed squarely at those of you who stand up and cheer when a giant robot breaks out its drill arm."
- 20th Digital Contents Grand Prix - Outstanding Production Award
- 9th Japan Media Arts Festival - Jury Recommended Work
CoMix Wave DVD (2005)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0)
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special features: Interview with director Jun Awazu (18 minutes), making-of featurette (14 minutes), trailers
- Notes: Out of print.
U.S. Manga Corps DVD (2006)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese, English (2.0)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Interview with director Jun Awazu (18 minutes), two of Awazu's student films (Magara: The Giant Monster and Magara: The Final Showdown, 2 and 5 minutes), making-of featurette (14 minutes), digital liner notes, Kaiju A-Go-Go (fan-submitted original monsters), trailers, previews of other Central Park Media titles, still from the film (1:28)
- Notes: Out of print. The creations of several prominent kaiju fans appear in the Kaiju-A-Go-Go special feature: artists Matt Frank and Raf Gonzalez, and Kaijusaurus Podcast co-host Steven Sloss.
- Negadon: The Monster from Mars refers to the year 2025 as "Showa 100," suggesting that Japanese Emperor Hirohito lived to be 124.
- According to Central Park Media's press release, Negadon: The Monster from Mars is the first fully computer-animated monster film.
- The Miroku robot in Negadon: The Monster from Mars is the second in its series; the first appeared in Awazu's earlier short Magara: The Final Showdown. However, the two films do not share continuity.
- The transport ship Izanami is named after a Japanese goddess of creation and death, Izanami-no-Mikoto. Her last child was the fire god Kagu-tsuchi, whose birth led to her death. Likewise, the Izanami is destroyed by Negadon as it carries it to Earth.
- Negadon's design was inspired by the camel cricket.
- Miroku is the Japanese name for Maitreya, the Buddha prophesied to appear on Earth when the teachings of the original Buddha, Shakyamuni, have been forgotten.
- Pausing the film at just the right moment shows that the three-letter password to Miroku is "Emi."
- Official site
- SciFi Japan's coverage of the New York City premiere of Negadon: The Monster from Mars
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