2020 Kaiju Streaming & Home Video Guide
2020 Kaiju Streaming & Home Video Guide is the 10th episode of Wikizilla's Kaiju Facts video series. It was uploaded on July 21, 2020.
Kyodai Kino: Hey kaiju fans, I'm Kyodai Kino...
The past two summers, we've run panels at G-Fest on fan reconstructions and the nuances of Godzilla home video releases. Unfortunately, there's not going to be a G-Fest this year, or a new Godzilla movie for that matter. So if you can tear yourselves away from the news, this is the time to get caught up on all the kaiju stuff you've been putting off. Fortunately, a lot of it is more accessible than ever, even as the avalanche of new streaming services threatens to create Cable 2.0.
Kyodai Kino: As a disclaimer, we both live in the U.S., so this video will mainly be focusing on what's available here. And since the only constant in the world of streaming is change, this video will become less accurate as time goes on.
Recent Home Video Releases
Kyodai Kino: First, though, just a brief look at what's coming out on physical home media these days: In an incredibly ambitious deal with Tsuburaya Productions last year, Mill Creek secured the home video rights to nearly the entire Ultra Series, and so far has released Ultra Q up through Ultraman Ace, as well as Ultraman X, Orb, the Orb prequel series, and Geed, with Neo Ultra Q slated for this August, both seasons of Ultraman Ginga for September, and Ultraman R/B for October. And during the production of this video, they announced and released a tie-in disc promoting Marvel's new Ultraman comics, featuring The Birth of Ultraman, a live special that aired one week before the premiere of the original Ultraman, plus a selection of seven episodes of the series in Japanese and, belatedly, the uncut United Artists English dubs. All of the Ultra Series released so far are also available on the company's own streaming site, MovieSpree. They've also recently released a double feature Blu-ray of The H-Man and Battle in Outer Space through a deal with Sony, thanks to Columbia's perpetual distribution deals with Toho. Despite my own best efforts to provide them with an accurate subtitle script, the Japanese version of Battle in Outer Space features subtitles corresponding to the English dub, an issue that has plagued the film since the first run of the Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection DVD set and cropped up once more on the 2018 standalone Blu-ray. British boutique label Eureka has a release of these two films lined up for sometime later this year, though, so there may still be hope.
Astounding Beyond Belief: The biggest kaiju home video release this year is coming in August, and I mean that figuratively and literally. Arrow Video is bringing all 12 Gamera movies to Blu-ray in a set the size of a cereal box. Yes, they're all available on Blu-ray in the States already, but hear me out: there's going to be audio commentaries for every film, 4K transfers of the Kaneko trilogy, all 18 English dubs, too many featurettes to list, an 80-page book, and a graphic novel reprinting of the Dark Horse Gamera comics and Matt Frank's The Last Hope. Basically, it's going to make the Criterion Showa Godzilla set look like a public-domain DVD pack. You can get a peek at the Japanese versions on the Arrow Video Channel, available via Apple TV. And while they haven't announced it yet, looks like they have plans for Warning from Space too.
Kyodai Kino: And on the more obscure side of things, a small label called SRS Cinema has recently released a handful of independent kaiju films, including Shinpei Hayashiya's Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters, Raiga: God of the Monsters, and God Raiga vs. King Ohga, as well as Yoshikazu Ishii's Attack of the Giant Teacher. Reigo and Raiga are both available on DVD at brick-and-mortar Walmart stores, while all four films are available on Blu-ray and limited-edition VHS on SRS's website. Norman England's 2006 film The iDol is set to be released this summer as well.
Astounding Beyond Belief: Media Blasters ended its tokusatsu hiatus earlier this year by bringing Gappa to Blu-ray for the first time, and they’ll be doing the same with Zeiram 2 in the fall. No word on the original yet, but it would be strange if they didn't have plans for it. And following a strong reception at G-Fest and film festivals around the country, Allied Vaughn is bringing Notzilla to home video on August 18.
Subscription Streaming Services
Astounding Beyond Belief: We might as well start with the new kid on the block, HBO Max. Thanks to a deal with Criterion, Warner Bros.'s streaming service has 13 of the 15 Showa Godzilla movies, only missing King Kong vs. Godzilla and All Monsters Attack. You can watch the original in Japanese or English, though the rest lock you into either dubs or subtitles. It's a bit odd, but not as odd as their descriptions. Also from Criterion are Rodan, The War of the Gargantuas, The X from Outer Space, Kwaidan, and House. Warner itself really held back, only contributing the original "King Kong" and "Godzilla: King of the Monsters". Oh, and they got "Monsters vs. Aliens" from Universal too.
Kyodai Kino: The Criterion Channel, the bespoke streaming platform created by the famed home video label, features the entire Showa Godzilla series, save for King Kong vs. Godzilla, with language options consistent with Criterion's Blu-ray set: All of the films in Japanese with subtitles, plus Toho's reverse-engineered "international" English track for Invasion of Astro-Monster, the international export dubs for Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and Terror of Mechagodzilla, and Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
The Channel also features Rodan in Japanese with English subtitles, and The War of the Gargantuas with its Hong Kong export dub. Besides these Toho films, it has the contents of the Eclipse DVD set When Horror Came to Shochiku: The X from Outer Space; Goké, Body Snatcher from Hell; The Living Skeleton; and Genocide. There's also Kwaidan, House, Princess from the Moon, and Jellyfish Eyes. All of these films are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.
Astounding Beyond Belief: On the surface, Prime Video looks like a typical streaming service, but the more you browse, the weirder its offerings get. While Amazon has original and licensed content, it also allows filmmakers to upload their own works for free, paying them a nominal sum for every hour of video subscribers watch. But it's all done on the honor system, which is how you get things like, uh, Godzilla vs. Cosmic Monster. It's pretty obvious that Toho didn't sign off on this. Not only is the photo stolen from MyKaiju, but the film itself is MustafaD’s reconstruction of the American theatrical version of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, which pared back the gunplay and swearing. I have no idea why the picture is stretched. Equally unlicensed are Rodan, Mosura, The King Ghidorah, and Revenge of Mechagodzilla, but those are just rips of Classic Media and Sony DVDs.
Prime Video's movies get pretty random after Godzilla. There are a few more Toho productions, Asylum atrocities, public-domain DVD staples, and an assortment of giant monster flicks from around the world. That includes Legend Films' restoration of Gammera the Invincible and its subsequent RiffTrax, a cropped version of direct-to-video obscurity The Mighty Kong, and a pretty good King Kong documentary. Speaking of documentaries, keep an eye out for The Dawn of Kaiju Eiga. It was briefly available on Prime earlier this year, only to be taken down following multiple reports of dysfunctional subtitles. No set return date, but they're working on it.
Kyodai Kino: Netflix brings a number of exclusive original offerings to the table with the GODZILLA anime trilogy, the anime adaptation of Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi's "Ultraman" manga, The Cloverfield Paradox, the animated series Kong: King of the Apes, and Masaaki Yuasa's Japan Sinks: 2020. Also slated for this year but otherwise shrouded in mystery is a Pacific Rim anime. As Netflix Originals, these will probably remain on the platform as long as it's around, which is more than can be said for virtually anything else listed in this video. Beyond that, their kaiju and kaiju-adjacent offerings include Neon Genesis Evangelion, the 1998 GODZILLA, Cloverfield, and Monsters: Dark Continent. There’s also virtually the entire run of Power Rangers, along with other Saban tokusatsu adaptations like VR Troopers and Beetleborgs. Masked Rider remains banished from official distribution.
Astounding Beyond Belief: Now, let's see what kind of giant monster offerings are on Disney+, the signature streaming service of the most powerful entertainment company on the planet. Okay, it's… just the Mighty Joe Young remake then. Disney also controls Hulu, where you can watch one of the most underappreciated films to come out of the Kaiju Renaissance, but overall, a pretty poor showing from the House of Mouse. Should've let Mike Dougherty make Calling All Robots!
Kyodai Kino: With the subscription A-listers out of the way, we come to Toku, a genre-focused service offering a pretty substantial range of deep cuts, though some of the shows' subtitles are dubious at times, and they made the mind-boggling choice to swipe /m/subs' work on the first three episodes on Gridman. With that caveat established, they've got Mirrorman, Ultraman Leo, The Ultraman, Ultraman 80, Gridman, Ultraman Gaia, Ultraman Neos, Ultraman Cosmos, Ultraman Nexus, the English dub of Ultraman Max, Ultraman Mebius, Ultraseven X, both seasons of Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle, Death Kappa, Neo Ultra Q, both seasons of Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman X, Outerman, Ultraman Orb, and Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle.
Astounding Beyond Belief: FlixFling has a remarkable selection of classic monster movies. What's even more remarkable is that they're all courtesy of Echelon Studios. Their presentation leaves something to be desired, however, with issues like out-of-sync sound, distorted video, missing subtitles, and generally poor quality. After my experience with Prime Video, I questioned if this company had actually licensed all these films, and their baffling online presence makes me believe the answer is no. It's like if New World Cinemas actually smuggled Shin Godzilla into theaters. Anyway, if you're going to pirate movies, I don't see the point in paying for garbage.
Kyodai Kino: Finally, a service called IndieFlix has the international version of Latitude Zero.
Streaming - Free With Ads
Kyodai Kino: Anime streaming giant Crunchyroll has a few Tsuburaya tokusatsu offerings, with Ultraman Gaia, Ultraman Nexus, both seasons of Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman X, Ultraman Orb, and Ultraman Geed.
Astounding Beyond Belief: Tubi has a dizzying amount of content, including Destroy All Monsters and Matango, all of the Showa Gamera sequels, a bunch of tokusatsu shows from Shout! Factory, the horrors of Full Moon Features and The Asylum, the RiffTrax of Gammera the Invincible, and a few more flicks that defy easy categorization. Thanks to Shout! Factory’s recent deal with Tsuburaya, that list is going to become significantly longer in November. The only downside is the microscopic closed captions—they come in small, medium, and large, and you’re looking at large right now. Fortunately, some of the shows have burned-in English subtitles.
Kyodai Kino: Anime distributor Funimation's streaming service has the SSSS.GRIDMAN anime, both dubbed and subtitled. A Premium Plus subscription nets you Shin Godzilla and Attack on Titan the Movie: Part 2.
Astounding Beyond Belief: The very site you're watching this on has a few official kaiju channels worth checking out. The Godzilla Channel is home to Godziban and reruns of Godzilla Island. If you don't feel like sleeping tonight, Toho also has a Kure Kure Takora channel, with episodes from more of their old toku shows sprinkled in. Tsuburaya Productions is simulcasting Ultraman Z with English subtitles, and their channel has a number of episodes from older shows as well. After accidentally copyright-striking itself into oblivion on Day 1, Toei Tokusatsu World Official has come to host a ton of the company's shows, though most of them aren't subtitled. And who knows what you'll find just by searching?
Kyodai Kino: Crackle, the long-running streamer associated with Sony, hosts nearly every Toho Godzilla movie the company has the rights to, plus "10 Cloverfield Lane".
Kyodai Kino: Library- and university-oriented streaming platform Kanopy's sole kaiju offering is, of all things, the 1976 Kongsploitation epic A*P*E.
Astounding Beyond Belief: Peacock, which NBCUniversal just launched, is a strange hybrid model. Most of its movies and shows are free with ads, like Kong: The Animated Series, but a handful of seemingly random titles require a monthly subscription. Now, based on its absence from The Criterion Channel and HBO Max, you might think Universal was saving King Kong vs. Godzilla for its own site… and you would be incorrect. As a result, it’s the only Showa Godzilla film completely absent from American streaming services. That doesn’t count!
Kyodai Kino: Well, we hope that's enough kaiju mayhem to keep you entertained until May 21st.
Astounding Beyond Belief: Thank you for watching!
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Narration Kyodai Kino and Astounding Beyond Belief (as Michael Callari)
- Script Kyodai Kino and Astounding Beyond Belief
- Editing Astounding Beyond Belief
- Sound Editing Les
- Additional Photography Nicole Hermann
- G-Fest Footage SlimerJoel (as CinemaGoji)
- Section Headings Titanollante