Fantasia 2022: What To Do With The Dead Kaiju (Japan, 2022)

The Gutter’s own Carol is reporting back from the Fantasia International Film Festival with a review of Satoshi Miki’s What To Do With A Dead Kaiju (Japan, 2022):

Writer / director Satoshi Miki had two movies at Fantasia this year: Convenience Story (Japan, 2022) and What To Do With The Dead Kaiju (Japan, 2022). What To Do With The Dead Kaiju addresses an issue rarely at the center of any giant monster, animal, or insect movie: What to do about the giant carcass after the battle is over. Ten days after the defeat of a kaiju, an exclusion zone has been established in the Tokyo metropolitan region, residents are advised to stay home, and the monster’s corpse is beginning to decompose. The people in What To Do With The Dead Kaiju don’t have the good fortune of the bureaucrats in Shin Godzilla (2016), where Godzilla’s body just sort of petrified. Instead, this kaiju is bloating in strange, stinksome ways. But there are issues beyond the logistics of removing an enormous and possibly biohazardous dead giant monster. The Japan Special Forces (JSF), a secret force formed to battle kaiju with science, combat, and the famous #2 Battle Cruiser, are standing down in the face of political concerns. The Prime Minister Nishiotachime (Toshiyuki Nishida) and his cabinet has gathered to discuss which minister is responsible for the body, when to declare the situation safe, the potential tourist appeal of the dead kaiju, and what to name the monster.

Meanwhile, there is a love triangle. Environment Minister Renbutsu’s (Eri Fuse) assistant, kaiju expert and former JSF member Yukino (Tao Tsuchiya) is married to Masahiko Amane (Gaku Hamada), a former JSF member and current advisor to the prime minister. But Yukino is in love with Lt. Arata Onibata (Ryosuke Yamada), a current member of the JSF. She wanted to marry Arata, but something happened 3 years ago. Arata disappeared. He won’t talk about where he went or what happened. Arata and the JSF want to do what’s best for the health and safety of the people of Tokyo (and the Earth), but some of the cabinet wants to profit off the monster, other countries want a piece of it, and the Defense Minister is intensely focused on his rivalry with the JSF.

You don’t need to get all the kaiju, tokusatsu and/or anime references to enjoy the What To Do With The Dead Kaiju. The film does have elements that I always enjoy in kaiju stories: giant footprints; heat maps of the kaiju’s body; the movie’s internal science, and the imaging of the kaiju’s cells. And I enjoyed the position and demeanor of the kaiju–especially it’s leg jutting into the air. What To Do With The Dead Kaiju is lit beautifully and beautifully shot. And it was a pleasure to see Eri Fuse in such a prominent role as Environment Minister Renbutsu and a dreadlocked Joe Odagiri as the munitions expert, Blues. 

Read more of the Gutter’s own Carol on What To Do With A Dead Kaiju (Japan, 2022) here.

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