(A Scene from Akira)
Each year, film theorists and arm chair psychologists throw in their two cents about why Tokyo, the center of Japan’s cosmopolitan and technological life, and it seems, the Center of The Universe, always gets blown to bits by monsters, children with supernatural powers, earthquakes and man-made disasters, on celluloid and video.
One theory has to do with the psychic wound cut opened after the US dropped two hydrogen bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during World War 2. Another theory is more factual than suggestive. It says that the cyclical destruction of Tokyo on film has to do with the very real fact that Tokyo has been destroyed and rebuilt several times because of typhoons and because it sits on a fault line on the Ring of Fire, the earthquake-prone area of the Pacific Rim. A further theory says that Tokyo gets destroyed and rebuilt because the film and the manga industry, the story factories of Japan’s media empires, is based there. We’re gonna roll with All of The Above.
Take a look at some early films where Tokyo is in chaos. See if you recognize any of the films.
“Gojira,” released in Japan 1954, premiered in America in 1956 as “Godzilla, King Of The Monsters.” It was the first of many “giant monster” movies (known as kaiju) to be produced in Japan, many of which also feature Godzilla. In all 16 films featuring Godzilla, Tokyo gets razed.
Rishin Retto or Death Quake (1979-81) in the US and The UK revolves around a massive earthquake which in turn triggers a city-wide firestorm.
“Gamera Vs. Zigra” was released in Japan in 1971 and in the US in 1980s on VHS. He was as equally as popular as Godzilla and spawned several films. Tokyo was destroyed when he fought Zigra, an alien being.
(Anime) “Demon City Shinjuku”
“In Demon City Shinjuku,” released in 1994, an earthquake in Tokyo destroys a police station and unleash demons across the city.
Considered a landmark in Japanese anime and film, this cult classic features Tokyo’s destruction not once but twice. The film centers around a young boy whose psionic powers go wacko because of his mental abuse at the hands of a government agency and teen bullying.