There’s something to be said about a short film that gets in, does what it sets out to do, and gets out. Negadon: The Monster From Mars does exactly that.

The Japanese movie poster for Negadon The Monster From Mars
Even the poster looks like it came out of the ’60s.

The film is a very reverent, very loving CG homage to tokusatsu films of the Showa era – arguably the golden age of the Godzilla films. Indeed the film is set in the 100th year of the Showa period. Humanity has started colonization of Mars, and during the terraforming process they uncover a mysterious biological entity. While it’s being transported back to Earth, the creature wakes up as it enters Earth orbit, and it destroys its ride and crashes on Earth in Japan.

After, in grand Kaiju movie tradition, the JSDF is utterly ineffective against the monster, it falls on an old, disillusioned scientist who had been working on a giant robot before an unfortunate accident killed his granddaughter, to best the monster.

The film itself, while CG, really gets across the idea that this is a short film from the 1960s that had just been forgotten. The streets look like location footage from Godzilla vs. Monster X, and the monster’s energy weapons have the scratchy feel of ‘60s optical effects.

There are a few things that break the illusion though. The CG just doesn’t quite look realistic enough to give the illusion that we’re watching puppets or rubber monster suits, and the film grain and simulated dirt on the film can’t cover for that. Similarly, the movie does a few shots that are more anime inspired as they just couldn’t have been done in tokusatsu of the period, because the tech wasn’t there. A few of them even are direct homages to particular series (including one shot that appears to be an Evangelion reference).

Ultimately, I will admit that I came in with modest expectations, but they were blown out of the water. I definitely recommend seeing this if you can find a copy, and I hope it gets license rescued – as this is one of the last licenses from US Manga Corps, so it’s out of print.

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