In 1966, Toho rivals Daiei Studios produced three excellent daikaiju films in a subgenre of their own invention, combining giant monsters with jidaigeki or period drama — a fantasy extravaganza that held a unique appeal. The films were:
- Dai Majin [trans. Great Majin] (1966; dir. Kimiyoshi Yasuda) [aka Majin, Monster Of Terror; Majin, the Hideous Idol (US, 1968), Daimajin]
- Dai Majin ikaru [trans. The Giant Majin Grows Angry] (1966; dir. Kenji Misumi) [aka The Return of the Giant Majin (US, 1968)]
- Dai Majin gyakushu [trans. The Great Majin’s Counterattack] (1966; dir. Issei Mori) [aka Majin Strikes Again]
These films have an authentic chambara feel about them, and though they work on a smaller scale than Godzilla and his ilk, the lead kaiju — a giant stone statue that comes to life in response to injustice or at least in the cause of divine retribution — is a truly magnificent creation. Though played by a man-in-a-suit, the design and the eerie contrast of statue-like suit and real human eyes is highly effective in conveying an uncanny anger that cannot be stopped until a debt of honour has been duly paid.
Now we learn that Kadokawa Publishing, who obtained the rights to Daimajin from Daiei back in 2002, is remaking the films as a TV series called Daimajin Kannon, produced by Shigenori Takatera, who cut his teeth on various Kamen Rider series.
A fuller history of attempts to resurrect the Daimajin franchise can be found on daikaiju expert August Ramone’s blog. The only information regarding the series seems to come from the pages of a Japanese magazine, Kadokawa Publishing’s Newtype: The Live. As the text is in Japanese I can’t read it myself, but August has made this comment about it:
While the Newtype: The Live article was very coy at divulging details, it does state that DAIMAJIN KANNON will be contemporary, instead of the feudal period-setting of the feature films, and will be aimed squarely at adult viewers, most likely guaranteeing a late-night broadcast (a network has not been announced). The article features an “image sketch” by To-ru Watanabe (Master of Epic), of a young girl, most likely the titular “Kannon” (or “Goddess of Mercy”), an avatar for Daimajin—following the template of the first film. Kadokawa describes the production as a “VFX Fantasy” remake of the original film.
In another post, August reveals the following image of the new daimajin, which seems to indicate that the show is set in modern times:
Meanwhile, Kaiju Search-Robot Avery has been scouring the internet and has unearthed the following images from the Newtype article: