Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters (2008)
|Deep Sea Monster films|
Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters (深海獣レイゴー is a Shinkaijū Reigō, lit. Deep Sea Monster Reigo)2008 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Reigo Associates and distributed by InterMedia Co., Ltd. It premiered on June 12, 2008, at the Kitazawa Town Hall in Tokyo. Set in 1942, the film depicts a sea monster hunting a Japanese fleet led by the real-life battleship Yamato after it accidentally kills its child. It is the first original kaiju film by Gamera 4: Truth director and popular rakugo performer Shinpei Hayashiya. A sequel, entitled Raiga: God of the Monsters, was released the following year.
In 1941, the Empire of Japan commissioned Yamato, meant to be the mightiest battleship to ever sail. With the Pacific War underway, the Navy calls in Divisional Officer Noboru Osako to serve on the Yamato as his wife is expecting a baby. Talking with his childhood friend Chie, Sub-Lieutenant Takeshi Kaido voices the possibility that he might not return. His grandmother and Chie see him off the following day. As soon as the ship finds port, Osako sneaks a woman named Momoka aboard underneath a flag with amorous intent, only to reel back in terror when he discovers her grandfather under the flag as well. He explains that his village can no longer fish at night, as a dragon called Reigo has returned to the seas. Its appearance will be heralded by "Bone Fish." Osako laughs at his story, believing the fleet is more than a match for any monster. He delivers a final warning: Reigo isn't just dangerous in its own right, but an omen of disaster.
Captain Yamagami announces that Yamato will soon be escorting a supply convoy. One of his officers reprimands the gambling aboard the ship, at which Osako looks especially chastened. A sailor spots Reigo and its child swimming near the fleet, but mistakes them for an enemy submarine. The Yamato opens fire with its main guns, killing the child. Sailors note its final cries and notice strange flashes in the water, but dismiss it as a whale. Word never reaches Yamagami, who distributes sake throughout the ship in celebration. Osako passes along the story Momoka's grandfather told him, but only as entertainment. Later that evening, he spots an American sailor in the water and brings him aboard. Kaido steps in to translate, but to their surprise the man can speak Japanese. He identifies himself as Lieutenant-Commander Norman Melville. Before the intoxicated Osako can carry out any violence, Yamagami orders Melville locked up in the hopes he can provide them with information.
Bone Fish leap out of the sea to attack sailors on the Yamato, leaving two dead and ten missing. Kaido rushes to the deck in time to see lightning strike Reigo's massive dorsal fin. Melville, who Osako is thrilled to discover is a fellow gunner, reveals that his ship was targeted first by Bone Fish, then by an enormous dragon, leaving him the only survivor. Realizing that Reigo is real, Osako rushes to inform Yamagami. Though the captain is already scheduled to visit Rabaul the following day, he orders all of the officers and senior non-commissioned officers to meet and discuss the threat posed by the monsters. The meeting quickly descends into chaos, with no solid countermeasures agreed upon. Addressing his troops, Yamagami notes the difficulties in strategizing against such an unexpected foe.
Reigo strikes a ship without warning, instantly destroying it. The Yamato trains searchlights on it, and finds Reigo charging from a distance so close its guns will be ineffective. The destroyer Ushio distracts Reigo, who sinks another destroyer as the fleet retreats. The next day, Yamagami learns he has been promoted to Secretary of the Navy and is to return to Tokyo, but feels only rage at having to leave Yamato with Reigo still at large. The new captain, Matsuda, offers to put his studies of marine life as a teacher to use. He plans to blind Reigo with searchlights when it appears again, then bombard it with cannon fire and depth charges. Reigo raids again that night, dispatching a submarine, and the fleet unloads on it. It bats away a pair of torpedoes with its tail, hitting a ship, then surfaces beneath another one before staring down the Yamato. The battleship's machine guns pass harmlessly over it, but it withdraws.
Matsuda summons Kaido due to the thesis on floation he wrote as his student. By partially flooding the Yamato, Kaido theorizes, they could lower its guns below the horizontal plane and hit Reigo. Osako scoffs at the plan due to the extreme precision needed to avoid disaster. The other officers agree, leaving them once again with no plan beyond hoping for a lucky hit. Afterwards, Kaido reads a letter from Chie where she confesses her love for him. Reigo leaps over the Yamato as lightning repeatedly strikes it, seeming to taunt it. Four destroyers fire on it, missing again; it seems to retaliate with lightning which strikes the Yamato and kills a gunner. Despite the risk, Matsuda decides he has no choice but to use Kaido's plan. Down a gunner, Osako drags a terrified Melville into action. As they make their preparations, Reigo sinks another destroyer. The Yamato tilts successfully, but a misfire allows the monster to hit the main mast with its tail. It charges again from the left side, but Osako's team turns the cannons around just in time to shoot it through the chest. It falls into the sea, mortally wounded, as the fleet peppers it with machine guns. With Kaido's encouragement, Matsuda orders a cease-fire so Reigo can die peacefully. Motionless, the beast sinks beneath the waves.
In 1945, American bombers ambush and destroy Yamato, killing all aboard, but one pilot reports the battleship sinking "as if a huge black shadow was pushing it down." Indeed, Reigo leaps atop the Yamato as it nears its end, finishing it off. Years later, Chie passes Osako's wife and child - a son, as he hoped - at a shrine.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Shinpei Hayashiya
- Written by Shinpei Hayashiya, Keita Toriumi
- Produced by Hisako Iwai, Hajime Okano
- Executive producer Atsuko Iwai
- Music by Keiichiro Kitazono
- Cinematography by Masayuki Nakazawa, Satoshi Murakami
- Production design by Naoya Yoshida, Atsushi Takahara
- Special effects by Kazuaki Skiyama
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Taiyo Sugiura as Sub-Lieutenant Takeshi Kaido
- Mai Nanami as Chie Kojima
- Yukijiro Hotaru as Divisional Officer Noboru Osako
- Susumu Kurobe as Captain Yamagami
- Yoji Tanaka as Kanai
- Mickey Curtis as Grandpa
- Yumika Hayashi as Momoka
- Ukon Ichikawa as Benkei
- Yoko Kanda
- Yui Nirehara
- Mubu Nakayama
- Masayoshi Okada
- Koki Hisaka
- Toshihiko Yamamoto
- Akihiro Shimizu
- Makoto Inamiya
- Hiroshi Shimizu
- Yuma Kusakawa
- Isamu Ago
- Yoji Tanaka
Weapons, Vehicles, and Races
Following tremendous fan interest in Gamera 4: Truth, Option Inc. hired Shinpei Hayashiya to direct an original kaiju film for them. First titled A-140F6: Operation Deep Sea Monster Reigo, then Reigo vs. Yamato, the basic premise remained the same: a sea monster battles the massive Japanese battleship Yamato.
Several tokusatsu luminaries helped bring the creatures of Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters to life. Garo creator Keita Amemiya designed Reigo, while the puppet was sculpted by Tomoo Haraguchi and Shigeaki Ito. Shinichi Wakasa designed the Bone Fish, which were sculpted by employees of his company MONSTERS, Inc., including Fumihiko Yagi. The internal mechanisms of the creatures were created by Nobuhiro Ekubo.
- Japan - June 12, 2008
- Deep Sea Monster Reigo (initial title)
- Reigo: The Deep-Sea Monster vs. the Battleship Yamato (English title prior to 2019; also used for SRS Cinema's VHS release)
- The Deep Sea Monster Reigo vs. Yamato, the Greatest Battleship (German DVD title)
Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters premiered at the American Film Market on November 3, 2005, under the title Deep Sea Monster Reigo. Revisions on the film began in early 2006, but were delayed due to lack of funding from Option. Producer Yuichi Asada managed to transfer ownership of the film to his own company, InterMedia Co., Ltd., allowing it to be finished by 2008. Though it played in Japanese theaters that year and was given the English title Reigo: The Deep-Sea Monster vs. the Battleship Yamato, it remained unavailable in the U.S. until 2019, when SRS Cinema acquired the rights to it. Retitling the film in imitation of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, they released it on limited-edition VHS and Blu-ray, followed by a mass-produced DVD. In a review for DoBlu, Matt Paprocki noted that the film appeared to have been shot digitally in standard definition, concluding that "there's no reason to buy [the Blu-ray] over the DVD." SRS Cinema president Ron Bonk defended the release against similar criticism in a Facebook post, stating, "I don’t know what Shinpei shot on but he mastered out to HD and we sought to preserve that." He went on to say that even standard-definition films experience less compression on Blu-ray than DVD. SRS, working with MVD Entertainment, released it on Blu-ray again with Raiga: God of the Monsters on November 10, 2020.
8-Films DVD (2011)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese, German (5.1)
- Subtitles: German
- Special features: None
SRS Cinema VHS (2019)
- Tapes: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Notes: Limited to 50 copies.
SRS Cinema DVD/Blu-ray (2019)
- Region: N/A
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Option to watch the film in black-and-white (Blu-ray only), photo gallery, trailers
- Notes: The Blu-ray edition is limited to 1,000 copies.
SRS Cinema/MVD Entertainment Blu-ray (2020)
- Region: N/A
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Trailers
- Notes: Packaged with Raiga: God of the Monsters.
Shinpei Hayashiya directed a sequel set in the present day, Raiga: God of the Monsters, in 2009. The third film, God Raiga vs. King Ohga: War of the Monsters, premiered in Japan in 2019, with SRS Cinema bringing it to home video in North America the following year.
- Reigo's look shares similarities with Mosasaurus Godzilla - a hypothetical version of an evolving Godzilla featured in Entertainment Bible: New Edition Godzilla Encyclopedia (Bandai, 1989). Both Reigo and Mosasaurus Godzilla were designed by artist and filmmaker Keita Amemiya.
- Yukijiro Hotaru's character is named Osako and plans to name his unborn son Tsutomu, referencing Hotaru's recurring role as Tsutomu Osako in the Heisei Gamera trilogy.
- Taiyo Sugiura is best-known to kaiju fans as Agent Musashi Haruno, the human host of Ultraman Cosmos who prefers to pacify the monsters he fights instead of destroying them. Appropriately, his character is the first to plead for the fleet to cease fire on the wounded Reigo.
- The introductory scenes for Osako and Kaido are in black and white, along with Kaido's flashback to the Bone Fish attack and the scene where American bombers and Reigo sink the Yamato. A bonus feature on the SRS Cinema Blu-ray allows the entire film to be watched in black and white.
- Norman Melville's name is likely a reference to Moby Dick author Hermann Melville.
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