Animal Icons: It Came from Japan Review

If there's something the vast majority of Americans don't understand, it's Godzilla. If you're reading this, chances are the usual "It's a guy in a rubber suit knocking down cardboard buildings while people talk via bad dubbing" thought process is going through your mind. Animal Planet knew this, but they also understand there's a very large, dedicated fan base out there, and showcased that perfectly on Animal Icons.

With the usual recap of the films, It Came from Japan discussed the variances between the Japanese versions and the usual butchered US translations. There were some behind-the-scenes photographs and video (including a rare shot from what looked to be Gappa), likely familiar to fans, yet new to those not aware of what it really takes to make a film like this. They even brought on one of the original dubbing actors to discuss the process and some of the situations they need to find a way out of translation wise.

They did skip over a few of the films, likely for the better in some aspects. There was no mention and only a brief clip of Godzilla vs. Megalon, and most of the later 70's films for that matter were skimmed. Steve Ryfle, author of Japan's Famous Mon-Star, gets a lot of screen time, explaining the reasoning and some of the mythology. John Carpenter, the editor of Fangoria, and a G-fans most hated enemy, Dean Devlin, also speak their piece. Still, why was no one actually associated with making these films, past or present, interviewed?

While it's necessary to focus on the films so much, it would have been nice to see more fandom. They focus on only two collectors, and hardly showed much of their collections. G-fest, the yearly gathering of fans, is also covered, but again, only briefly. In addition, while most of their facts were spot-on, they made one crucial mistake throughout the hour-long show: Godzilla is NOT green, and with the exception of a few of the more recent films, never has been.

That said, Animal Planet put on what was probably the best US produced show on the giant monster. It wasn't particularly different and it didn't tell G-fans anything they didn't already know. However, it didn't go the usual route, ripping the films for their apparent "cheapness" simply because it's the popular thing to do. That's the best thing they could have done, and deserve all the credit in the world for it.

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