Kaiju. It's a word that is usually only recognizable to the diehard monster geeks among us here in the States. Though many Americans often think of the term as meaning “giant monster”, it's literal translation is closer to “strange creature”. The word is not a new one. It's been around for rather some time. The world's most famous Kaiju would of course being Godzilla, the king of the monsters, himself.
Up until recently, zombies have dominated American pop culture and while the hungry dead are still popular, the Kaiju genre is certainly making a profound resurgence. This started, I think, with Pacific Rim. While the studio that produced Pacific Rim may have written it off as moderatly successful film instead of the giant, no pun intended, blockbuster they hoped for, the movie has spawned a widely diverse and large fan following. The toyline based on the movie is a smash hit with collectors, often demanding insane prices for those who wish to have an 18 inch tall Gipsy Danger on display in their homes. Pacific Rim's success has also spawned a graphic novel set in the world of the film, a coffee table book, a Heroclix style minature game, and even a greatly enjoyable video game. There's even, I believe, a cell phone commerical now that features footage of the Jaeger, Gipsy Danger, battling a Kaiju.
And following now on the heels of Pacific Rim, we have an American modernization of Godzilla that just hit the big screen. However, the Kaiju genre is just making a comeback in terms of film. There are numerous Kaiju novels and collections of Kaiju ficiton popping up in the world of literature as well. I'll confess, being a hardcore Pacific Rim fan myself, I, too, jumped on this band wagon. I have a new book out from Severed Press, co-authored by Jason Cordova, entitled Kaiju Apocalyse. Its premise is simple. There was a great ecological diaster that flooded the world of man and awoke the Kaiju slumbering in Earth's oceans. In Kaiju Apocalypse, mankind's only hope is its technological supremacy over the giant creatures. Humanity makes it final stand against the Kaiju in domed, island city states as the Kaiju War threatens to end human life on Earth.
While I don't expect Kaiju to replace zombies in the hearts of Americans everywhere, it is clear that fiction and films about giant monsters are once more on the rise. I know I personally hope that Pacific Rim II will get the greenlight and be produced in the near future but my inner geek also hopes that if Godzilla is successful enough that we might even see an Amercian remake of Rodan.