Monster Seafood Wars brings us our first Kaiju film of the decade at Fantasia Festival 2020, and whilst we’re still waiting for Godzilla Vs. Kong I can guarantee that Monster Seafood Wars will be the silliest and most fun Kaiju film of the decade regardless of what happens.
The premise alone is fantastic, three pieces of seafood that are supposed to be offered as religious tribute are stolen and turned into giant Kaiju-esque monsters that rampage through the city and only the genius son of a sushi-master, a crack team of monster responders and a suspicious genius rival can save the city!
Director, Minoru Kawasaki’s film is an obvious parody and throwback to the classic Tohu Kaiju films of the past, like Godzilla, where the monsters are brought to life on screen by actors who wear rubber suits and rampage through human-sized cardboard depictions of cities. However, the parody is done with such reverence and love for the genre that it’s not insulting or inappropriate.
Everything that follows though is pretty hilarious in a cheesy way, the Kaiju themselves; a crab, squid and octopus have hilarious costume designs with comedic flailing of limbs and ridiculously cute Beanie Baby-style eyes. Their arrival onscreen is also accompanied by an action-invoking soundtrack that’s reminiscent of the musical change in tone when encountering a wild Pokémon in the Nintendo games and the Kaiju even have Pokémon-esque creature soundbytes.
The film also borrows many elements from classic Japanese anime, most of the characters have anime style hair and costumes, the narrative also includes the classic trope of rival and opposite geniuses we see so often in anime like in Deathnote, or even Yu-Gi-Oh, with the two rivals here competing to stop the Kaiju and to win the heart of the girl.
There’s so much to love about Monster Seafood Wars, the segue from monster-battling to monster-eating and the subsequent montage of ‘influencers’ and ‘celebrities’ trying monster meat from the hand-picked sushi-monster’s fallen limbs is extremely funny, even if it did make me very hungry with his menu-quality mouth-watering food-dishes.
The comedy is also great. The CGI is so clearly bad on several occasions that it’s funny, one example being that obvious toy cars are used to depict explosions. There’s a great sight gag where the hero of the story is relaying his plan and the pictures he uses are crude child-like ones drawn with crayorn, and the enigmatic rival’s plan is accompanied with fully digital images and professional blueprints. Another standout moment is when the Crab Kaiju appears and dramatically scuttles from side-to-side before waging a finger, or claw, at an attempt to take it down that fails.
The climax is also a brilliant continuation of the seafood parody of Tohu. A giant chef’s head, previously seen in an establishing shot earlier on in the film, is revealed to be the head of a giant chef-themed robot Jumbo Cook who saves the day with a ‘knife sword’ and even stands stoically still in a dynamic pose as the monsters ‘die’ in the distance, thus continuing the narrative tradition of Mechs being used to battle monsters. There’s also an ending that hints at a sequel and more Kaiju being made, another classic moment of the genre.
There’s not much more that can be said about Monster Seafood Wars, the performances are all classically over the top, the action is what you’d expect from two people in suits hitting each other with rubber tentacles and the comedy is funny. Other than a freshly prepared tasty food of sushi to accompany the film because man, it makes you hungry, what more could you possibly need?
For more reviews and interviews, check out our Fantasia Film Festival 2020 coverage here