Remembering the Giant Majin – A Monstrous Retrospective

DAIMAJIN [MAJIN - MONSTER OF TERROR]
release date: April 17, 1966
DAIMAJIN IKARU [RETURN OF THE GIANT MAJIN]
release date: August 13, 1966
DAIMAJIN GYAKYUSHU [GIANT MAJIN'S COUNTERATTACK]
release date: December 10, 1966
Daiei Motion Picture Company 84′ / 79′ / 88′
directors: KIMIYOSHI YASUDA, KENJI MISUMI, KAZUO MORI
cast: MIWA TAKADA, YOSHIHIKO AOYAMA, JUN FUJIMAKI
cast: KOJIRO HONGO, SHIHO FUJIMURA, TARO MARUI
cast: SHINJI HORI, SHIEI IIZUKI, MASAHIDE KIZUKA

The mid 1960s was a very profitable time for the Japanese giant monster film – Toho had struck gold with GOJIRA in 1954 and had since turned the titular creature into a powerful franchise while simultaneously unleashing unrelated but equally successful kaiju efforts like SORA NO DAIKAIJU RADON and MOSURA. Rival Daiei seems to have been the first of the other Japanese studios to get in on Toho’s action, bringing their rubber-suit star Gamera to theater screens in 1965′s DAIKAIJU GAMERA. It was popular enough that the following year saw them producing an A-list color sequel to their black and white B-list original, DAIKAIJU KESSEN: GAMERA TAI BARUGON, at their Tokyo facilities – the series didn’t look back until bankruptcy forced it to in 1970.

But Daiei’s Kyoto studio had more interesting things in store for 1966. The chanbara picture had been a staple of the country’s film output for decades [less so in the years immediately after World War II due to the occupational forces dislike of their subject matter], and Daiei’s own Zatoichi series was going strong by the time the mid 60′s came around. Seeking to capitalize on two of the most profitable trends in popular cinema of the time, Daiei head Masaiichi Nagata pushed a short series of what can only be described as daikaiju jidaigeki [giant monster period films] into production at their Kyoto facility, which handled the majority of their period pictures. The first, titled simply DAIMAJIN [literally "Giant Devil"], saw release alongside the second Gamera effort in April of 1966 – its two follow ups, featuring unrelated narratives but the same title monster, would reach theaters before the end of that year.

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