My notes on San Daikaijû Gurume (Monster SeaFood Wars), which has screened/streamed via the Fantasia Festival.
Before Toho Studios settled on a giant radioactive dinosaur as the menace of their first big monster movie, effects genius Eiji Tsuburaya pitched a version of the story in which a giant octopus attacked Japan and – after it was defeated – people found it delicious to eat. This genial spoof of daikaiju movies and the gourmet sushi crazes is notionally spun off from that outline, though it throws a giant crab and a giant squid into the seafood platter – plus a token giant mecha (there used to be a blender product in the UK marketed as Robot Chef, which is more or less what shows up late here) to add to the free-for-all.
The monster action uses big, colourful, slightly floppy suits with cute eyes – it’s amusing, but that much more ridiculous than various TV spinoffs of the kaiju industry, and the break-out star is sneaky, snappy giant crab Kanilla, which moves sideways across the screen. Most of the film is about a romantic triangle between sulky young folk – Yuta (Keisuke Ueda), the son of a sushi chef, was about to deliver three prime live specimens to a temple for luck when they were stolen by a passing mystery man only to turn up at giant size thanks to a serum Yuta himself developed. A typical Japanese science fiction film military-scientific task force is set up, Seafood Monster Attack Team, whose handful of members hash over anti-monster devices like a vinegar gun or the old scheme of getting the monsters to beat each other up.
Yuta still has a crush on his childhood friend Nana (Ayano Yoshida Christie), who now works with SMAT, and is jealous of Hibachi (Yuya Asato), a flashier, unethical young scientist who wants to bet the farm on rice vinegar and make Yuta jealous by taking Nana out to expensive seafood restaurants. Frankly, a little of the human characters goes a long way since even the supposedly sympathetic ones are sulky, resentful and not all that focused on saving Japan. Sweeter is a streak of satire as tentacles get lopped off and prove a hit on the gourmet marker, with some funny skits of foodie TV and taste tourism. Written by Masakazu Migita and director Minoru Kawasaki, who have form in kaiju parody: Migita wrote Death Kappa, and Kawasaki directed The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit, a jokey sequel to The X From Outer Space, and
Here’s the Fantasia Festival listing.
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