Film Review: The Great Buddha Arrival (2018) by Hiroto Yokokawa

By Sean Barry

Reboots of extended-established franchises have consistently been recurring in the Japanese entertainment sector. For instance, the ongoing “Shin Japan Heroes Universe” has modernized many classic pieces of tokusatsu history with films such as “Shin Godzilla,” “Shin Ultraman,” and the upcoming “Shin Kamen Rider.” Reboots have also taken a exceptional path in present-day cinema&#8217s independent side. Such an instance is reimagining a extended-lost piece of Japanese cinema. That is the case with the outlandish low-price range film “The Good Buddha Arrival.”

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The original “The Good Buddha Arrival” is a lost 1934 independent kaiju film directed by pioneer filmmaker Yoshiro Edamasa who served as a mentor to numerous filmmakers, which includes specific effects director Eiji Tsuburaya. Its location in Japanese cinema is rather considerable as it was a single of the earliest pieces of daikaiju filmmaking ever constructed, predating the original “Godzilla” directed by Ishiro Honda, by two decades. The plot was straightforward a giant Buddha statue awakens and walks across Japan. Even so, the film was thematically complicated, tackling themes such as life, death, humanity, self-destruction, war, and religion. Decades later, filmmaker Hiroto Yokokawa with the cooperation of Edamasa’s grandson, would rebirth the lost motion image with a new, exceptional path.

A documentary filmmaker named Murata is tasked with researching the history surrounding the lost 1934 film “The Good Buddha Arrival.” Murata’s devoted journey goes from interviewing men and women, collecting photographs of stated lost film, and understanding what the ambitious flick stood for thematically. There are even ideas that years ago, a giant Buddha statue when awakened and started walking. Murata is destined to come across answers but is left with a continuous string of inquiries. Chaos would additional ensue when the Shurakuen Buddha statue situated in Aichi, Japan, awakens and walks across Japan, sending the whole globe into a panic.

Like the lost film of the very same name, the story is straightforward. But, the surreal nature is ramped up, pretty much paralleling that of a David Lynch film. It is a mystery story with mockumentary components, docudrama path, and a giant monster on the loose formula. Integrated with all that insanity are the themes of the original film, such as life and death, and humanity&#8217s self-destruction via war and environmental harm. The theme of death is additional emphasized as Japan’s higher suicide history is on top of that addressed all through the narrative. 1 could say the arrival of the Shurakuen Buddha is akin to a god-like warning to humanity.

The themes are believed-provoking however are in some cases rather overwhelming and maybe not usually the most subtle in execution. Granted, this is an experimental project for young filmmaker Hiroto Yokokawa and his very first function film. Even so, a important strength of the insane function is the atmosphere. A creepy and ominous feeling lurks all through, and at occasions, Yokokawa’s path is downright apocalyptic. This chilling atmosphere comes in droves in the black and white segments scattered all through the story, which are no doubt a important highlight in the film. The recreational footage of the lost 1934 film of the very same name is also superbly executed. The concepts of Buddhism are also properly-utilized inside the narrative, specifically relating to what the Shurakuen Buddha statue represents. Rather than the figure becoming portrayed as a terrifying monster, it is alternatively shown as a desperate cry to the globe to acknowledge and overcome humanity&#8217s shortcomings.

The acting is nothing at all astounding but gets the job performed. The greatest functionality comes from Kazuma Yoneyama, who plays the key character Murata. He does a superior job capturing a man devoted to his craft and gradually falling into insanity as he gets wrapped inside all the chaos surrounding him. The rest of the characters are a single-note but fortunately not annoyingly distracting. Sprinkled all through the surreal reboot are cameos from recognizable actors in tokusatsu entertainment, which includes “Ultraman” suit actor Bin Furuya, filmmaker/writer Norman England, and well-liked Showa actor Akira Kubo. Maybe the most enduring cameo comes from the late and excellent actor Akira Takarada, who plays a fictional version of himself that also serves as a storyteller in the film.

The film is produced on a shoe-string price range, which is in some cases noticeable in the hit or miss editing and recycling of CGI in some shots. But, the funds are creatively utilized. Hiroto Yokokawa’s cinematography is impressive, with some shots becoming completely beautiful. Yokokawa also captures a sense of scale for the camera angles he chooses throughout the Buddha statue’s venture across Japan. The specific effects are also surprisingly properly performed. For the black and white segments and recreational footage of the lost 1934 film, classic tokusatsu methods are utilized, such as miniatures and the Buddha statue becoming portrayed by a suit actor. Even so, for the present-day sequences, the CGI is employed for the Shurakuen Buddha, which is very decent. A lot of it is thanks to the titular kaiju becoming a statue. Additional enhancing the film&#8217s atmosphere is an outstanding music score by Hiromi Shinoda.

Although far from best, “The Good Buddha Arrival” is an entertaining film and an enduring enjoy letter to tokusatsu as a medium. Seeing a lost piece of Japanese cinema resurrected is astounding and opens the doors for other possible reboots of lost pieces or scrapped projects. Hiroto Yokokawa is a talented director whose journey in filmmaking continues to flourish, such as with his most recent film, “Nezura 1964,” which particulars the crazy production history that led to the creation of the kaiju “Gamera.” Hopefully, much more inventive projects such as Yokokawa’s imaginative reboot will be produced.



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