There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of kaiju films: those that are laden with metaphor, meaning, and subtext like 1954s Godzilla, and those where giant monsters fight each other for the amusement of the audience like 1974s Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla. I like both varieties of these movies, but it’s clear to me that Minoru Kawasaki loves the latter.
Monster Seafood Wars is in many ways a perfect homage to the silliest of the classic kaiju movies, complete with men in suits playing the monsters, ridiculously low tech effects, and a ridiculous storyline. The only thing it’s missing is space aliens.
The set-up is simple enough. Yatu (Keisuke Ueda) is on his way to deliver three offerings to a local shrine: An octopus, a squid, and a crab. On his way, they are knocked off his bike and into a nearby river. Soon after, a trio of Kaiju, an octopus, a squid, and a crab, rise up and start terrorizing Japan.
The story isn’t done with Yatu, though; he’s soon recruited to join the Seafood Monster Attack Team (SMAT) because he was instrumental in developing Setap-Z, a chemical designed to make animals grow large in an effort to solve a food shortage.
Is this sounding silly to you? Excellent, because it is. But it’s not all silly. As the SMAT starts to fight back, chunks of meat fall off the monsters that people then collect and eat. Soon there are restaurants charging exorbitant prices for kaiju feasts and people ignoring the danger of, you know, kaiju fighting to try and collect this new commodity.
These comments on society are welcome, though they do contribute to the movie feeling a little bloated. This is a pretty minor nitpick, though, as the final act has Yatu’s best friend, a blindfold wearing video game player, arrive at the final battle with a controller for a robot that I will not tell you anything else about.
If you like Kaiju movies, particularly the Shōwa Era Godzilla films, then you should give Monster Seafood Wars a try. If you like Saturday morning cartoons, you should probably give it a try, too. It’s big, silly, weird, has a few things to say—everything you need in a Kaiju movie.
Except for space aliens.
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