The Great Buddha Arrival (2018)
You can not reach Sukhavati without watching this. (これを観ずして極楽浄土には行けません。)
— Tagline, Jun Miura
The Great Buddha Arrival (大仏廻国 is a 2018 Daibutsu Kaikoku)tokusatsu kaiju film produced by 3Y Co., Ltd A sequel to the lost 1934 film of the same name, made with the cooperation of director Yoshiro Edamasa's grandson, it was released in Japan on December 15, 2018. Additional footage with new actors was shot to extend the film's run time for international distribution, with still more footage shot for a Japanese theatrical release in 2020, termed the Final Edition.
3Y Film records an interview with Godzilla star Akira Takarada about The Great Buddha Arrival, a lost kaiju film released in 1934, the same year he was born. It was directed by legendary special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya's mentor, Yoshiro Edamasa. The interview is part of a larger project by 3Y on the mysterious film, spearheaded by Murata. He reviews another segment narrated by Momorun, who explains that the basic premise of the film—the 18-meter Buddha statue at Shurakuen Park coming to life—is rumored to have really happened. She presents a trio of photographs of the animated statue as possible proof.
Murata takes the photos to his producer, Tanaka, who encourages him to run with the idea. He visits the statue to shoot b-roll and interviews a man who claims that Great Buddha statue saved him from falling to his death from a lighthouse during the 1960 Valdivia earthquake. At the 3Y office, Murata finds his editor, Kita, working on a jet-powered bike. Kita shows him footage he edited of a physicist and paranormal researcher arguing over how the statue came to life. He also discovers the source of the photos: they're some of the few surviving images from The Great Buddha Arrival. Edamasa, however, said the film was based on his own experiences.
In a flashback to 1934, Edamasa films his lover in the woods when she suddenly walks away from him, as though in a trance, and leaps off a bridge to her death. Distraught, he soon attempts to join her, but suddenly finds himself face-to-face with the Great Buddha. In the present, a tired Murata researches a rash of suicides across Japan that year and Great Buddha sightings after the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. He falls asleep at his desk and is woken the next morning by what he thinks is an earthquake. His Twitter feed, however, informs him that the Great Buddha, once again on the move, is responsible.
Kita encounters Detective Osaki while testing his bike; when the Great Buddha steps into view, the panicked detective rides away with it. The statue advances towards Tokyo, moving slowly but never breaking stride. There are no evacuations; the populace simply watches it in awe. Reactions pour in from around the world, many of them fearful, although Dr. Mary-Lisa Gleason, an expert on unexplained religious phenomena, sees the statue's march as a sign of hope.
Murata encounters Osaki while following the Great Buddha and takes Kita's bike to continue his pursuit. It finally stops in front of the Tokyo Skytree. As the sun sets, Osaki catches up with Murata. The Great Buddha starts to glow intensely bright, and onlookers begin to walk towards it silently and without expression. Murata is stopped, however, by the ghost of Edamasa, who warns him not to hasten his death. The world goes white, and he awakens in the ruins of Tokyo. He checks his phone and sees an emergency alert about a magnitude 9.5 earthquake striking the Kanto region. Reaching the 3Y office, he continues work on his The Great Buddha Arrival video. In one clip, Edamasa's grandson Kazuyoshi reveals that he saw the Great Buddha again just before his death; he believes it may have helped him travel to the "Land of Happiness". In another, Takarada speaks to the way that Japanese special effects films have served as warnings about the dangers of scientific progress. Murata sends an email declaring that the video is complete, then realizes he has been staring at a blank screen, the computer inoperable.
In a post-credits scene, a crowd gathers before the Great Buddha, now sitting motionless in Shurakuen Park, and it comes to life once more.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Hiroto Yokokawa
- Written by Hiroto Yokokawa, Yuki Yonezawa, Kazuma Yoneyama, Kensaku Sakai
- Produced by Hiroto Yokokawa, Avery Guerra
- Music by Hiromi Shinoda
- Production design by Takuma Asai, Karin Yamada, Ryo Kimoto, Hiroki Ishikawa
- Visual effects by Color Co., Ltd.
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Masanori Kikuzawa as Yoshiro Edamasa
- Kazuma Yoneyama as Murata
- Iwata Momoka as Momorun
- Yuma as Kita
- Takashi Yasuda as Kayama reporter
- Shelley Sweeney as Canadian interviewer
- Peggy Neal as Dr. Mary-Lisa Gleason
- Norman England as American newscaster
- Inge Murata as Chancellor of Germany
- Philip Granger as President of the United States
- Robert Scott Field as Mysterious person
- Iku Hasegawa as Yoshiro Edamasa's lover
- Ai Aoki as Female suicide victim
- Ippei Osako as Producer Tanaka
- Yuki Morita as Announcer Itano
- Toshi Toda as James "Toshi" Maxwell
- Yoshihiko Otsuki as Physicist
- Junichiro Nirasawa as Paranormal researcher
- Yukijiro Hotaru as Detective Osaki
- Akira Takarada as Himself
- Yoshiro Uchida as Mayor Sakurai (international version and Final Edition)
- Yukiko Kobayashi as Yuko Murata (international version and Final Edition)
- Akira Kubo as Prime Minister Maki (international version and Final Edition)
- Shiro Sano as Newscaster Miyakura (Final Edition)
- Bin Furuya as Kazuyoshi Edamasa (Final Edition)
- Great Buddha
- Godzilla (mentioned)
- Gamera (mentioned)
- Ultraman (pin; mentioned)
3Y Films held an unsuccessful Kickstarter for The Great Buddha Arrival from March to April 2018, raising $755 out of a $2,696 goal. A second crowdfunding campaign on Makuake fared much better, far exceeding its ¥1,000,000 target with ¥1,481,000 in donations.
SRS Cinema VHS (2022)
- Tapes: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Notes: Limited to 25 copies.
SRS Cinema Blu-ray (2022)
- Region: N/A
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Behind-the-scenes footage (1:00); deleted scene (6:00); music video (1:07); photo gallery (4:00); The Great Buddha Arrival trailer (1:00) and teaser trailer (1:00); trailers for Zillafoot (0:49), War of the God Monsters (1:05), Howl from Beyond the Fog (1:08), God Raiga vs. King Ohga: War of the Monsters (1:03), Nezura 1964 (0:37), and Monster Seafood Wars (1:36)
- Notes: SRS Cinema also plans to eventually release the film on DVD.
- While no footage of the original The Great Buddha Arrival is known to have survived, the sequel presents recreated clips from the film using suitmation. The Great Buddha who appears in the present day is a CGI creation.
- Yoshiro Uchida played turtle-obsessed Toshio Sakurai in Gamera. His character in The Great Buddha Arrival, Mayor Sakurai, tells a story highly reminiscent of Gamera's rescuing of Toshio and owns a pet turtle.
- The name of Peggy Neal's character, Dr. Mary-Lisa Gleason, references her characters' names in Terror Beneath the Sea (Jenny Gleason) and The X from Outer Space (Lisa Schneider).
- The name of Akira Kubo's character, Prime Minister Maki, references his character's name in Son of Godzilla (Goro Maki).
- Yukijiro Hotaru's character, Detective Osaki, references his character in the Heisei Gamera trilogy, Inspector Tsutomu Osako.
- As in Godzilla Final Wars, Yoshihiko Otsuki and Junichiro Nirasawa play characters who debate whether a mysterious presence is malevolent.
- Inge Murata previously played the Chancellor of Germany in Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit.
- Bin Furuya's character, Kazuyoshi Edamasa, wears a small Ultraman pin. Furuya is best known as the original Ultraman suit actor.
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