Godzilla: The Heisei Years “Godzilla vs. Biollante”

Last time, I began a series of articles on a series of Godzilla films from the 80s & 90s.  They are the “Heisei Series” of Godzilla films.  For this post, I will look at the first film to be released during the Heisei era (by the way, Heisei is a word that is intended to mean “peace everywhere”) in Japan:  1989’s Godzilla vs. Biollante.

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Like I mentioned before in the last article, these films of this era are all connected together in continuity.  It is the only series of Godzilla films that maintain continuity into multiple films (the original Gojira had a sequel Godzilla Raids Again that was connected but the rest of the Showa era were not).  In the case of Godzilla vs. Biollante, in the aftermath of the battle from The Return of Godzilla, skin cells from Godzilla were collected from the rubble.  Some of these cells are later captured by a mercenary who delivers them to the Republic of Saradia and their Institute of Technology and Science.  The hope of the research there was to bio-engineer plants to grow and flourish in the desert (which is where Saradia is located).  However, a terrorist attack on the building disrupts the research but also kills the daughter of the head scientist, Dr. Genshiro Shiragami, Erika.

Five years later, Dr. Shiragami is back in Japan and in self exile after the events in Saradia.  He spends his time now trying to cultivate roses that he injected with cells from Erika.  His hope is that she lives on in the plants.  He enlists the help of Miki Saegusa.  Miki is a psychic who helps run a school for gifted students (kind of like a Professor X, only no mutants).  While this research is going on, the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) are doing research on the Godzilla cells that they had to make an “Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria”.  When an eruption from Mt. Mihara (the mountain where Godzilla was trapped) occurred that shook Dr. Shiragami’s home, he agrees to help the JSDF with their research to help preserve the life of the roses, which means injecting Godzilla cells into those roses that already have Erika’s cells in them.

There are others that want the Godzilla cells, including the mercenary on behalf of Saradia & also mercenaries from an American bio company called Bio-Major.  These groups converge on Dr. Shiragami’s home and find out that the plant has become a creature (which kills one of the Bio-Major agents).  This plant creature escapes into a nearby lake and is later named by Dr. Shiragami Biollante.

The other Bio-Major agent threatens to set off explosives at Mt. Mihara and let Godzilla escape unless the Godzilla cells are given to him.  The Japanese leaders try to deal with the merc but instead the merc from Saradia intercept them and the explosives go off and Godzilla is freed.  Godzilla then goes to fight Biollante in their first battle and wins.  He then tries to attack a power plant but Miki uses her psychic powers to direct him to an abandoned Osaka where the JDSF would ambush him with the Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria.  Lt. Goro Gondo, a leader of the force assigned to take out Godzilla, dies in the battle.  Godzilla is injected with the bacteria but it has no effect on him and he leaves the city.

The scientists then devise a plan where they will try to raise Godzilla’s body temperature with microwave emitting plates in an artificial thunderstorm.  They believe that the bacteria would then work.  However, while they’re trying to do this, Biollante emerges in an evolved state and engages in battle with Godzilla.  The battle ends with Godzilla defeating Biollante and the remains of the plant creature go off into space.  Godzilla, exhausted and after a brief time of laying on the beach, gets up and returns to the ocean.

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I just recently saw this film (as it was just released on Blu-Ray).  Like the rest of the Heisei series, this recent mini-marathon of watching the films was my first encounter with these films.  I grew up watching mainly the films from the Showa era, where Godzilla was most of the time portrayed more as a superhero (especially the later films).  Here, he’s more an anti-hero or in some ways a victim.  Yes, he causes destruction but he also just wants to be left alone.  As this series continues, there will be that introduction of him being a hero to Earth but even then, some  humans will still want him eliminated.

There is also an emphasis of science and morality at play in these films.  We see it here with Dr. Shiragami using bioengineering to try to keep part of his daughter alive along with the bioengineering of plants which led to the creation of Biollante.  There is also the story of Miki and her psychic powers that will be told in future films.

Godzilla vs. Biollante was the first “Godzilla vs.” film in the Heisei series.  It fit with the times in 1989 but also some of the themes still relate to audiences today.

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The 25th Anniversary Edition: Comic Books

It’s time once again for the Anniversary Edition.  This is a series where we highlight the 25th anniversary of some of our favorite things.  These include movies, TV shows, video games, comics and music that came out during the year of 1989, the last year of the decade of the 80s.  A lot of big things debuted or made a huge impact that year and so we will highlight some of those in this series.

We have previously looked at the year in music, video games, movies, and TV shows in 1989.  For the final article in this series, we now turn to the year in comics in 1989.  Compared to other years, 1989 wasn’t the biggest year in comics.  However, there were some important characters and issues that came out that year.

Several comic book issues that were first published in 1989 that were influential centered around Batman.  The first of these was a story published under the DC Secret Origins comic.  This was a series that featured the origins of their superheroes.  Sometimes they published trade paperback versions of the comic that featured original stories.  One such story was “The Man Who Falls”.  This was a retelling of the origin story of Bruce Wayne as Batman.  It was significant as it would later be the inspiration for the film Batman Begins.  Another huge Batman story that debuted in 1989 was the one shot comic Gotham by Gaslight.  This comic would eventually be the first in a series of comics known as Elseworlds.  This series focused on DC characters in different eras or timeframes.  This comic had the Dark Knight in the late 1800s and the main villain is Jack the Ripper.

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On the Marvel front, there were several crossover events.  They included Inferno, which had initially begun its run in October of previous year.  It mainly dealt with the X-Men and featured Madelyne Prior, who was best known as Scott Summers’ (aka Cyclops) first wife.  Another crossover event was “Acts of Vengeance”.  This crossover event centered more around the Avengers and the Fantastic Four but featured many other Marvel characters including the X-Men and Spider-Man.

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There were several comic book characters that made their debut in 1989.  Two characters are prominent in the comic world.  One of these characters is Tim Drake.  First appearing in Batman #436 in April, Drake would become the third Robin character (after Dick Grayson and Jason Todd).  The other is Jubilation Lee aka Jubilee.  She is a mutant who debuted in Uncanny X-Men #244 in May.  She gained prominence because she was one of the featured characters on the 1990s X-Men animated TV show.

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There are many other comics and characters that were featured in 1989.  Is there an issue or character not listed that you enjoy?  Leave a comment and share them here.  Thanks for joining us this month during our trip down memory lane.  We’ll be back next year around this time to look at the 25th anniversary of things that happened during 1990.  Until then, break out the comic books and enjoy some classic reading.

The 25th Anniversary Edition: TV Shows

It’s time again for the Anniversary Edition.  This is a series where we highlight the 25th anniversary of some of our favorite things.  These include movies, TV shows, video games, comics and music that came out during the year of 1989, the last year of the decade of the 80s.  A lot of big things debuted or made a huge impact that year and so we will highlight some of those in this series.

We have previously looked at the year in music, video games and movies in 1989.  We now turn to the TV shows of 1989.  There were some pretty big TV shows that debuted in 1989.  This was still the era of Saturday morning cartoons as well as weekday afternoon cartoons.  Along with that, there were some pretty significant prime time TV shows that debuted that are still adored to this day.

One of the first TV shows to debut in 1989 was The Arsenio Hall Show.  Debuting on January 3rd, this syndicated late night talk show came during the time when there was little competition.  Unlike today where there are many options, there was really only The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson & Late Night with David Letterman which followed The Tonight Show.  Arsenio Hall helped bring some competition and diversity to the late night talk show scene.  The show lasted 5 seasons but had some memorable moments during its time.  Last year it was revived and Hall was back again a late night talk show host, albeit with more competition. However, the updated show was not renewed.

In the realm of cartoons, there were some pretty big ones that debuted in 1989. These included Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers (March 4th) which initially debuted on The Disney Channel and would go on to be a part of the syndicated cartoon block “Disney Afternoon”. Another big cartoon that debuted in 1989 was The Super Mario Bros Super Show! (September 4th). The syndicated show featured both cartoons & live action skits which starred Captain Lou Albano as Mario & Danny Wells as Luigi. On Fridays, The Super Mario Bros Super Show! would feature The Legend of Zelda cartoons. Another huge video game cartoon to debut in 1989 was Captain N: The Game Master (September 9th) on NBC. That cartoon featured characters from Mega Man, Castlevania, Kid Icarus, and Metroid among others.

For the tween/teenage group from that era, there was one big show that debuted in 1989. That show? Saved by the Bell (August 20th). NBC debuted the show that was previously retooled from the Disney Channel show Good Morning Miss Bliss. Saved by the Bell was the forerunner for the TNBC shows that would feature blocks of shows featuring high school age students. Due to its initial popularity, it found a home on syndication and continues on to this day.

There were some “reality” shows that made their debut in 1989.  One of the big ones is still going to this day.  That show is Cops (March 11th).  Following cops in different cities on their patrols, it became one of the most successful shows on FOX & was its longest running series before moving to Spike TV last year.  Another reality show that debuted in 1989 was Rescue 911 (April 18th).  It was hosted by William Shatner and featured recreated events surrounding 911 calls.  On the funnier side, the hit TV show America’s Funniest Home Videos also made its debut in 1989 as a special (November 26th) before becoming a regular series the following year.  Bob Saget hosted the show which continues on to today now being hosted by Tom Bergeron.

In the realm of comedies, there were several big ones that debuted in 1989.  These include Coach (February 28th) featuring Craig T. Nelson and Major Dad (September 17th) featuring Gerald McRaney.  The three biggest comedies to debut in 1989 were Seinfeld (July 5th), Family Matters (September 22nd) and The Simpsons (December 17th).  Seinfeld featuring comedian Jerry Seinfeld became a mainstay on Thursday nights on NBC for the 90s.  Family Matters was a spinoff of Perfect Strangers and became popular in its own right due in large part to the character Steve Urkel.  The Simpsons are still going to this day and is an anchor for FOX on Sunday nights.

Rounding out some other popular TV shows that debuted in 1989 included Quantum Leap (March 26th), Tales from the Crypt (June 10th), Life Goes On (September 12th), American Gladiators (September 16th) and Baywatch (September 22nd).

Which of these TV shows listed was your favorite?  Is there a TV show not listed that premiered in 1989 that you enjoy?  Leave a comment and share them here.  Next time, we will look at the year in comics in 1989.  Until then, crank up the old VCR and enjoy some classic TV shows.

The 25th Anniversary Edition: Movies

It’s time once again for the Anniversary Edition.  This is a series where we highlight the 25th anniversary of some of our favorite things.  These include movies, TV shows, video games, comics and music that came out during the year of 1989, the last year of the decade of the 80s.  A lot of big things debuted or made a huge impact that year and so we will highlight some of those in this series.

We have previously looked at the year in music and video games in 1989.  We now turn to the movies of 1989.  This was a huge year at the box office.  Lots of blockbuster films came out in 1989.  They range from popular sequels to original films that burst onto the scene.  When people talk about the era of blockbuster films, this is one of those years that stand out.  It is also the first year that all of the top ten films domestically grossed more than $100 million dollars. (Just think about how many films today gross that much in a weekend!)

Speaking of top 10 movies of 1989, what was the highest grossing film that year?  It depends on where you’re talking about in the world.  If you’re talking domestically, it is Batman.  Yes, the Tim Burton directed film is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.  It released on June 23rd with a budget of $48 million and would go on to gross over $251 in the U.S. & over $411 million worldwide.  This was the first film to gross $100 million in the first ten days. Now, if you’re talking internationally?  That would be Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  The third film in the Indiana Jones saga was released on May 24th, 1989.  Featuring Harrison Ford back as Indiana Jones and also starring Sean Connery as Dr. Jones’ dad, the film would go on to gross over $197 million in the U.S. & over $474 million worldwide.

What are some other popular sequels that were released in 1989?  These would include Ghostbusters II (June 16th), Lethal Weapon II (July 7th), License to Kill (16th James Bond film) (July 14th), Back to the Future Part II (November 22nd), and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (December 1st). Aside from License to Kill, the rest of the sequels listed here were in the top 15th grossing films of that year in the U.S. (though License to Kill was 12th internationally).

There were lots of popular original films that released in 1989. Besides Batman, what other popular films celebrate their 25th anniversary? One huge film was Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Released in theaters on November 14th, The Little Mermaid was a huge success and was the catalyst for the Disney Animation Renaissance that boomed in the early to mid 1990s. Other family friendly films that released in 1989 include Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (June 23rd), Turner and Hooch (July 28th), and Look Who’s Talking (October 13th).

Big dramas that made their debut in 1989 included Field of Dreams (April 21st), Dead Poets Society (June 2nd), Steel Magnolias (November 15th), Driving Miss Daisy (December 15th), and Born on the Fourth of July (December 20th). Comedies that opened in 1989 included Major League (April 7th), When Harry Met Sally (July 14th), and Uncle Buck (August 16th). There were also several cult classics that came out in 1989. They include the Keanu Reeves’ “excellent” film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (February 17th),the Weird Al’s film UHF (July 21st), and the Fred Savage video game inspired film The Wizard (December 15th).

Which of the films listed was your favorite? Obviously there were so many more films that came out in 1989. Is there a film not listed that came from 1989 that you enjoy? Leave a comment and share them here. Next time, we will look at the year in TV shows in 1989. Until then, crank up the old VCR and enjoy some classic movies.

The 25th Anniversary Edition: Video Games

Welcome back everyone to the Anniversary Edition. This is a series where we are highlighting the 25th anniversary of some of our favorite things. These include movies, TV shows, video games, comics and music that came out during the year of 1989.

Last week, we looked at music. This week, we will look at video games that came out in 1989. The year had a huge impact on the video game world as we know it in several fronts. On the hardware front, there were two major debuts. One major debut was the boom of the handheld system. Two handhelds systems debuted in 1989. One was the Atari Lynx. The Lynx was the first handheld featuring color graphics. It released in North America in September. The other handheld system that released that year was the Nintendo Game Boy. The more popular of the two handheld systems released that year, Nintendo hit a home run with the Game Boy. It released in Japan on April 21st and in North America on July 31st. The system would sell out its initial shipment of one million units in the U.S. within weeks of its debut. This was due in large part to the popularity of Tetris, the game that came packaged with the system as well as the price of the system at release (nearly $100 less for the Game Boy than the Lynx). The other major game that was a launch title with the Game Boy was Super Mario Land. The popularity of the Game Boy made Nintendo a major player in the handheld video game market, which can be felt even to today.

The other major hardware front was the beginning of the 16-bit era in North America. Two 16-bit systems released in North America that year. One was the TurboGrafx-16. The TurboGrafx-16 was the first of the 16-bit era consoles and was in essence a blend of 8-bit and 16-bit. It released in Japan in 1987 but made its debut in North America on August 19, 1989. It wanted to compete with the NES but would eventually be more in competition with other 16-bit consoles. This competition, along with some huge flaws (only one controller port, not being a true 16-bit console) led it to be left behind in that generation’s gaming war. The other console that debuted in North America that year was the Sega Genesis. When one thinks about the 16-bit era, one has to think about the Sega Genesis. It debuted in Japan the previous year but made its North American debut in 1989. Interesting enough the game that is most synonymous with the Sega Genesis, Sonic the Hedgehog was not the initial game packaged with the system. That distinction would go to Altered Beast. It would be because of the popularity of Sonic that would help Sega become a major player in the video game market.

As well as some big hardware debuts, there were also some pretty big games that debuted in 1989. One of the most popular games that released was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Released by Konami (through its Ultra Games division), it was available in stores on May 12, 1989 on the NES. Due to the popularity of the franchise, the game would become a best seller. Another huge video game that released in North America that year was Mega Man 2. The Blue Bomber’s second adventure was released in Japan the prior year but released in North America in 1989.
The other big debut in video games in 1989? The Power Glove. Yes, the Power Glove. Made by Mattel, it was an accessory for the NES. It was featured prominently in the film The Wizard. The Power Glove was a cool concept but never really took off because of very few specific games for the accessory and it was a little buggy in its use. It did end up selling close to 100,000 units in North America.

1989 was a pretty big year when it comes to music. Thoughts about the Game Boy and Sega Genesis? Is there a game that came out in 1989 that isn’t listed here that you enjoy? Leave a comment and share them here. Next time, we will look at movies from 1989. Until then, fire up your old system (or virtual console) and enjoy some retro gaming.

The 25th Anniversary Edition: Music

Welcome everyone to the 25th Anniversary Edition.  This is a series of articles that I’m writing this month which highlight the 25th anniversary of some of our favorite things.  These include movies, TV shows, video games, comics and music.  The year that will be celebrated is the year of 1989, the last year of the decade of the 80s.  A lot of big things debuted or made a huge impact that year and so we will highlight some of those in this series.

To kick things off, we will look at music that debuted in 1989.  There was a lot of good music that came out of 1989.  A lot of artists that were hot at the time released albums that year.  Can you guess what song lasted the longest at #1 in the Top 100 that year?  It was Janet Jackson’s “Miss You Much” which lasted 4 weeks at #1.  It was the first single off the album Rhythm Nation 1814, which would go on to be the biggest selling album of the following year & is the only album to date to have seven top 5 Billboard hits.  Some other #1 songs that year included Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise”, Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”.

Abdul ended up with 3 #1 singles that year (the others being “Forever Your Girl” and “Cold Hearted Snake”). What are some other artists who scored multiple #1 singles in 1989?  The list includes Phil Collins (other being “Two Hearts”), the Fine Young Cannibals (for “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Good Thing”), Richard Marx (for “Satisfied” and “Right Here Waiting”), Roxette (for “The Look” and “Listen to Your Heart”), New Kids on the Block (for “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) and Hangin’ Tough) and Milli Vanilli (for “Baby Don’t Forget My Number”, “Girl I’m Going to Miss You” and “Blame It On the Rain”).

What are some other big songs that came out of 1989? In the pop genre, there was Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame”, “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher and The B-52’s “Love Shack”.   In country music there was “I’m No Stranger To The Rain” by Keith Whitley, “Ace in the Hole” by George Strait” and “High Cotton” by Alabama.  In rap there was “Bust a Move” by Young MC, “Fight The Power” by Public Enemy, “Funky Cold Medina” by Tone Loc and “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie.  In rock music there was Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got A Gun”, Metallica’s “One”, Def Leppard’s “Rocket” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

What artists debuted in 1989? One major artist that debuted was Garth Brooks. His self titled debut album peaked at #13 in the Billboard 200 and would go on to produce two #1 hits. Another was Nirvana. Their debut album Bleach released to little fan fair initially but was well received by critics and would later get bigger sales due to their follow up albums. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had some huge inductions in 1989. The artists inducted that year included The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and Otis Redding.

1989 was a pretty big year when it comes to music. Is there a song or album not listed that came from 1989 that you enjoy? Leave a comment and share them here. Next time, we will look at video games from 1989. Until then, put in an old cassette tape and rock out to some tunes.