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Mini-Monsters
July 5, 2011 11:13 AM   Subscribe

"The Japanese call critters like Godzilla "daikaiju", which means something like 'sacred giant monster'. I like this name, because it reflects the awe felt by mere humans in the presence of these creatures. These aren't just large animals, to be trapped for zoos or shot and mounted as trophies (sites like this notwithstanding). These are beings that, by their very presence, shake humanity's conceptions of self-importance and place in the universe." Chris Jarocha-Ernst makes miniature pixel monsters in the style of MicroHeroes.

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Inspired by the giant monster films of the 1950s, these comics featured short stories of people fighting against titanic threats from outer space, from unexplored regions of the Earth, or from human folly. They were precursors to the Marvel super-hero comics of the early 1960s and often featured plotlines, motifs, and even names that would later turn up in, say, Spider-Man or The Fantastic Four. (The first 4 issues of the FF prominently feature giant monsters.) Apparently the monsters were fondly remembered, as they returned first in reprints a few years later, which is where I learned about them, and then as "villains" in the super-hero comics themselves.
posted by codacorolla (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I vaguely remember "Droom, the Living Lizard," probably from a reprint sometime in the 70s. Even at that tender age, I remember wondering why being a "living lizard" was that big a deal....

"Haag, Hunter of Helpless Humans," although not personally known to me, has a more menacing name.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:26 AM on July 5, 2011


Yeah, I never understood why Marvel went with giant monsters in their early CCA days - you'd think a hostile giant would smear the town red from one end to the other with tiny victims, not just loom and pose... after a few years of stretching credibility thin like that, superheroes were probably a relief.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:31 AM on July 5, 2011


My favorite is Spragg, the living hill, conqueror of the human race.
posted by codacorolla at 11:31 AM on July 5, 2011


大怪獣 daikaijuu means "really big monster". There's no implication of sacredness.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:42 AM on July 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Neat project, but words cannot express the depth of my hatred for MicroHeroes.
posted by lekvar at 11:43 AM on July 5, 2011


We have about a dozen "daikaiju" VHS tapes for our boys. I think daikaiju are popular in Japan because they are rubbery and goofy, are popular with young children (7 and unbder) and have about as much symbolic importance as a monster from Doctor Who.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:02 PM on July 5, 2011


i just came in here to say that this is probably one of my least favorite art styles
posted by rebent at 12:57 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


i just came in here to say that this is probably one of my least favorite art styles

I'm not a big fan, in terms of aesthetics, but I think the fan communities that get built around these paper dolls is very, very interesting.
posted by codacorolla at 1:09 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Likewise, the Americans call these flying critters helicopters, which means something like "sacred wing". I like this name, because it reflects the awe felt by mere humans in the presence of these aircraft.

/eyeroll
posted by vorfeed at 1:11 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh god. Sacred? Where'd he pull that from?

Why is it that some people feel they can just make up random theories about another culture, including misleading/false translations, and then sell those theories back to the western world as cultural anthropology? Sometimes it seems like the *majority* of English-language writing about Japan on the Internet comes from people who see themselves as 'lone travelers to a strange and faraway land', bringing back exotic tales of the mysterious east to sell to gullible westerners looking for their Orientalist fix.
posted by jet_manifesto at 3:18 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


rebent > i just came in here to say that this is probably one of my least favorite art styles

I'm no fan of it either, but hey, at least the dude's got his drawing hand moving. If he keeps it up he'll get better; eventually his artistic ambitions might take him far beyond what coloring over pre-pixelled bases can do.
posted by egypturnash at 6:01 PM on July 5, 2011


jet_manifesto, I'd say you've hit on one of the main reasons I don't blog about Japan. I already feel like too much of a 'that guy' in most of the Japan-related threads here.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:18 PM on July 5, 2011


Likewise, the Americans call these flying critters helicopters, which means something like "sacred wing". I like this name, because it reflects the awe felt by mere humans in the presence of these aircraft.

I dunno, helicopters are pretty fuckin cool.

Oh god. Sacred? Where'd he pull that from?

my guess is that someone took saw a translation of "大" as "great" and ran with it. Not all that big of a stretch really, given what the average tourist will see "大" attached to. Wait, no. Pretty sure my toilet had a "大" to indicate what flush to choose when you couldn't let it mellow.
posted by Hoopo at 9:33 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I imagine he jumped from reading something about the Daimonji festival in Kyoto where a giant Dai 大 character is formed from piles of firewood on a mountainside and set alight. In Buddhist teachings the 'man with outstretched arms' symbolism of the 大 character can be interpreted to represent the vastness of the universe itself, and the pathos inherent in a tiny man straining to stretch his arms wide enough to encompass the infinite can take on sacred dimensions. Etc, etc. Which is all fine for obscure theological concepts explicitly tied to religious festivals, but in the case of 大怪獣 (lit. Big Weird Monsters) it really just means 'big'.
posted by jet_manifesto at 10:57 PM on July 5, 2011


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