Japanese monsters meets wrestling.
April 30, 2003
Who doesn’t love a big, rubber-suited, dinosaur-like creature stomping the crap out of little model buildings and fighting other goofy-looking monsters while an enthusiastic crowd looks on in awe?
Well, we do, of course! And so does the visionary design group, Studio Kaiju, which harnesses the worldwide power of federation wrestling and cooks it up with a blast of flame-hot Godzilla power into something called “Kaiju Big Battel,” a romp ’em, stomp ’em free for all of characters ranging from a 15-foot dinosaur-like monster that spits slime to a yellow-clad duo known as the Los Plantanos, whose tag-team method of fighting and cheerful spirit have won the love of Kaiju fans. Our Kaiju heroes are tested at every turn by the nefarious Dr. Cube, a fanatical geneticist with a box for a head, who is constantly creating new and powerful monsters who hope to conquer the Kaiju heroes and eventually take over the world. They go mano-a-mano in a big steel cage, refereed by Jengi, a man who speaks only through his whistle, and narrated by a loud and wild-eyed announcer, Louden Noxious. Just in case you miss any of the action, have no fear: two jumbo-trons alternate fight footage, manufactured news broadcasts about events in the Kaiju world, as well as hilarious commercials for t-shirts and other related Battel-merch.
We went to the Roseland Ballroom for Kaiju Big Battel’s latest event, “Ballroom Blitzed.” By night’s end, at least one of us had joined the minions of evil…
Battel 1: Seafood Soup Surprise: Unibozu vs. Kung Fu Chicken Noodle
Rachel: I was really rooting for Kung Fu Chicken Noodle, as you know. Anyone called the “Unfriendliest Consumme” naturally demands respect.
Diana: Of course. It was a good pairing. But I had the feeling that Unibozo would emerge victorious.
Rachel: But Unibozu, the mutant sea urchin opponent, is also a fave of mine, although not nearly as big a one. I was pretty disappointed with the fight in the end, though. Kung Fu got pretty dented.
Diana: Took it right in the label.
Rachel: Totally. He also lost his chopping knife early on — I think that hurt him. He needs a weapon of some kind…his maneuverability is hindered by his tin can body. Once he gets dented too much, the pressure inside the can starts to change and screws with his equilibrium. And Unibozu has the whole nuclear-mutation thing going for him. Probably sending off some kinda rays or somethin’ that fucks with Chicken Noodle’s strength.
Diana: See, you learn about physics and stuff at these Kaiju big battels. The next one was Dusto Bunny, right?
Battel 2: Easter Savior: Dusto Bunny vs. Gomi Man
Rachel: Dusto Bunny was good.
Diana: You liked it? I thought it went on a bit too long.
Rachel: The struggle did go on a bit long, but I thought the MC’s storytime bit was brilliant, sitting down with a big oversized book to read the story of Dusto Bunny’s Easter party, where the heroes were invited, but the opponents were not — and therefore got angry and vowed revenge.
Diana: The costume doesn’t do it for me.
Rachel: But I dug Dusto vs. Gomi Man, “the Garden State Garbage Monster.” He totally swept the floor with him for a while.
Diana: Ha! Punny.
Rachel: And using a vacuum cleaner as a weapon was hilarious. That was the masterstroke. But Dusto’s goodwill was apparently enough to save the day in the end. Louden Noxious got a fair amount of beating and toxic chemicals in the face throughout the evening!
Diana: It’s too bad he gets sucked in to the battels, and gets an ass kicking, but, as Kaiju always warns, “Danger Can Happen.” The guy playing him is doing Oscar-worthy stuff. That’s a hard job.
Rachel: Exactly. And he knows that better than anyone: from the beginning he was warning the kids in the Danger Zone. And he sweats very convincingly.
Diana: Yes. Louden Noxious is definitely the glue that holds it all together. You gotta stay with the action, make it interesting, and try not to be repetitive or boring for the audience.
Rachel: The newscasts also keep the action moving.
Diana: Those newscasts elevate the event to something bigger. I thought the story behind the wrestling with Los Plantanos was the highlight of the show.
Rachel: That whole Los Plantanos scandal has been rocking the world of Kaiju for a while…so it’s understandable that the coverage would be so extensive. You know, I think that’s a lead in!
Battel Break: Fun Time with Los Plantanos
Diana: Los Plantanos, without a doubt, are the real genius creation of this whole enterprise.
Rachel: They’re hilarious. I especially liked the fact that one of their suspected crimes was knocking little girls off scooters.
Diana: Oh, yes. And I love that they’re a combination of “plantains” and “platanos,” the Spanish word for bananas. Authentic, yet so fake!
Rachel: They’ve been an inspiring team of heroes in the Kaiju pantheon.
Diana: Pedro and Pablo right? It’s somehow racially charged but because they’re aware of it, it’s not offensive.
Rachel: Right. It’s a positive thing. And the salsa-themed music is a nice touch.
Diana: It would not have worked as well had not the impostor, unripe “green” Plantanos been revealed as false fruit. And Los Plantanos have all the moves. That rolling thing they do is a show-stopper. They might be my new favorites. Who was after them, Team Space Bug?
Battel 3: Danger Duet: Sky Deviler and Mota Naru vs. American Beetle and Slo Feng
Rachel: Ah, American Beetle, the 98 pound weakling all true Americans have to love…those Americans not supporting Dr Cube, that is…
Diana: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? I liked the spirit of ironic patriotism in the room.
Rachel: Well, it was also Earth vs. Space too. American Beetle’s compatriot was a Norwegian hero, I believe, Slo Feng.
Diana: Oh yeah, I spotted someone waving the Norweigan flag. You gotta hand to the Kaiju people, they work every detail. Very World Cup, that.
Rachel: Best though was the “Fuck Dr. Cube” sign, and the guy near us crying out “You bastards!” to the Plantanos impostors.
Diana: The Kaiju crowd is indeed emotionally involved! And I’m surprised Dr. Cube doesn’t get more support. It’s fun to be on the side of evil sometimes, especially with things like this.
Rachel: Totally. And he’s got the personality to back it up. Park “Dark Helmet” and part Stone Cold Steve Austin, in medical scrubs.
Diana: I wonder who plays him?
Rachel: A lot of these people remain anonymous, I assume. Much cooler to let the monsters and characters speak for themselves, as it did in the final showdown.
Battel 4: Championship Belt Contest: Silver Potato vs. Hell Monkey
Diana: So, Silver Potato, the main event. You’ve seen him battel before?
Rachel: Yes. His performance was more impressive on Saturday, I think. Although I think he won last time, as opposed to his painful defeat in this latest bout. He does a good fight even though he’s not nearly as big as a lot of his opponents.
Diana: I noted a distinct lack of humility in the character.
Rachel: Oh yeah, the attitude is kinda one of his weapons, I think. All good wrestlers have monster-sized egos…as well as some of those break dancing moves, and the bag of spuds. And you’ve got to admire the thinking behind the character: an aluminum-clad baked potato/wrestler, shiny and straight out of the microwave.
Diana: Despite his savory sartorial look, I just couldn’t cheer for the potato. I guess I gotta fess up right here: I ended up supporting the forces of evil, without even knowing the night’s outcome, but I think I would have swung that way anyway after seeing Silver Potato strutting around with his girlfriend. That’s an immediate turn-off for me, which is why I dislike the Lakers and the Yankees so much. Arrogance. Ugh.
Rachel: His girl was pretty wimpy this time, last time he was getting beaten on by opponents she got into the ring and fought alongside him.
Diana: That would have been much cooler!
Rachel: Maybe he told her to stay on the sidelines this time. “This is my fight, baby. I can take ’em all on my own.” I dunno, I kinda have a strange affection for Silver Potato.
Diana: Well, he certainly overestimated this time! I liked the free-for-all atmosphere of the main bout.
Rachel: “PO tato…PO tato…PO tato…”
Diana: Hey, but there was a surge of support for his first opponent, Hell Monkey.
Rachel:Hell monkey was pretty damn cool, I have to admit. His entrance in a cryogenic freezer was top B-movie cheese.
Diana: I like the look, devilish-red and very simian. Yes, the cryogenics makes it that much more lurid. “Go Monkey, Go Monkey,” and “Mon-KEY!, Mon-KEY!”
Rachel: Although he soon became obscured by the onslaught of Dr. Cube’s minions.
Diana: Yeah, that was my one complaint: I kept expecting Hell Monkey to jump back into the fray.
Rachel: There were a lot of people up there puttin’ the hurt on Silver Potato after a while.
Diana: Some of the minions reminded me of Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw. Something about the way they moved and how big they were. Evil always gets away with it!
Rachel: But y’know, the whole night was kinda slated in Dr. Cube’s favor. I mean, there wasn’t even an anti-Cube table set up!
Diana: That should have been a clue for all of us. Let me quote from a Cube pamphlet for our readers: “Dr. Cube loves you, and wants you to know that if you do not join his poweful Posse, you are on your way to poverty, misery, and famine.”
Rachel: He is a master of manipulation, I’ll give you that. I mean, he didn’t get the title “evil genius” for nothing. Not only does he have minions, but full-fledged monsters as well. He’s great at creating those fighting machines with all muscle and no morals.
Diana: I liked how the whole evening was story-based. We were left with a cliffhanger, in which evil triumphs. There’s a sense of continuation and real world-building. I think it transcends its geek-ness.
Rachel: I’m just hoping as it becomes more popular it doesn’t become too big for its own good.
Diana: It’ll probably always have the feeling of being home-grown and underground. Something like this is too, “eclectic” as they say in the non-geek world. The Japanese monster angle I think, would not appeal to regular wrestling fans.
Rachel: Yeah, I think you’re right. It appeals to a lot of people, but only within a certain context. But as long as the creators stick to the original concept of creativeness and silliness, it’ll be a great time.
Diana: I’m not a wrestling fan, but in this context I definitely enjoy the cartoon violence. I’m a convert.
Rachel: But I grieve that one of those converts is now a supporter of eeeevil!
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