Saturday, July 19, 2014

G-Fest XXI: Part 2


First thing on the agenda for Saturday was to get in line for the make-it-and-take-it model painting session, featuring a wonderful Y-MSF sculpt of Megalon. Phoenix made a new friend while waiting in line, and we wound up crossing paths with the boy and his grandparents many times throughout the weekend and even sat at the same table at the awards dinner on Sunday. There are only a limited number of model kits available, so we were there for a while, but it was worth it. The kids had a blast doing their own thing, and of course I wound up getting bogged down in the details and didn't have anywhere near enough time to finish painting. I figure I can buy some paint and finish it at home somewhere. Except the only place in town that sells model paint is Hobby Lobby. Well shit. Gavin Smith of Terrible Claw Reviews, and a good friend from B-Fest, joined us for the rest of the day's festivities.

From there we caught the last few minutes of Katsuhiko Sasaki's first session and sat down for part one of Koichi Kawakita. Even this early in the weekend, poor Robert Scott Field, who was doing translating duties for all the Japanese guests, was starting to sound like Macho Man Randy Savage with emphysema. It was pretty rough going, but the first hour of his session was a really interesting live commentary on his first movie as special effects director, a little-known-in-America WWII Zero pilot drama with a title that translates to something like Big Sky Samurai. Amazingly, there is not one single shot of a real airplane in the movie, and some fantastic aerial battle sequences.

At this point the kids were getting bored, so I took them downstairs to Minya's Place for a quiz show, where they got G-Fest Kaiju Kids t-shirts. We caught the last half hour of Kawakita's session, which was something to do with a GunHed TV ad, and wasn't nearly as cool as the WWII movie. No matter. We were there to get some good seats for the next session in that room: Don Frye.

This was the first of two sessions Frye gave, and covered all aspects of his career – his MMA fighting and other film appearances – instead of just Godzilla: Final Wars, although there was plenty of that too. My reaction upon hearing his answer to the first question of the panel was, “Holy crap, his voice really sounds like that!” I assumed he had put on that gravelly voice for his character of Captain Gordon, but it's the real deal. Mr. Frye seems like a warm, friendly guy, and funny as hell, but thoroughly badass. He fought for a year and a half with a broken neck assuming it was just sore before a trip to the doctor for an unrelated injury revealed the truth. Three months after surgery he was fighting again. After his session we got autographs and a photo with him, and then it was back to the room to drop off signed posters before walking to Giordano's for a pizza.

We returned to the Crowne Plaza in time for the costume parade, which was a highlight for the kids. There were several extremely impressive costumes, but my favorite of the bunch for sheer creativity was MechaGuiron, complete with spinning buzzsaw hand. There was also a great Megalon costume with whirling drills, working mandibles, and a light-up horn. There were also several little kids, around four years old, dressed in fairly generic Godzilla (and one pretty cool Gamera) costumes. It was cool to see these kids up there, posing and roaring in their costumes, because for those few minutes they weren't just little kids in costumes, they were their favorite kaiju, and they were fucking invincible.

 Off to the Pickwick Theater for the part of the weekend I was looking forward to the most. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, a full orchestra was assembled to put on a concert of suites of music from every Godzilla movie Akira Ifukube scored. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Toho said no to the planned DVD of the show, but it was recorded for a CD as a premium for backers and I can't wait to crank that sucker up in the car. It was an amazing, moving night, hearing this thunderous, crushing orchestral monster music played live. I've seen a lot of metal things in my day, and that just might top them all.

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