Monday, September 17, 2018

Kaiju VS Heroes Take Over Little Tokyo

by Jonathan Bilski

Roarrrrr! Pew!! Bam!!! The sounds of monsters (kaiju) and Japanese heroes were heard in the minds of those vising Little Tokyo this weekend. We were there, the opening day of Kaiju VS Heroes. Longer version of the exhibit, Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys. This brand new exhibit just open at the Japanese American National Museum and will be there until into next year.

The exhibit shows the heroes of Japanese culture, not even that much of the predecessors of Power Rangers, but heroes that came from Toho who set the stage for battling giant and strange looking monsters. It all comes from the collection of artist Mark Nagata. His real life toy collection is in front of you and it can fill shelves and shelves of graphic artist's offices. You have your giant growing Ultra Man and some dude with a lion for a head on one side of the exhibit.And on the other side all the monsters that you would beat up with said heroes.

There's such a huge strange take on design. Monster make up the most interesting shapes. Monsters of all sorts and good ol's Godzilla or shown in the ancient art of vinyl toys or really sofubi toys. Sofubi meaning: made of soft vinyl and the process done to make soft vinyl. It's still done today to make toys you can pick up and play with.

One of our favorite monsters at the exhibit is Eyezon, a supposed mutated potato. The gift shop has a great t-shirt of him for $25. He was created by Mark Nagata as were many of monsters you"ll see at the exhibit.

Mark Nagata will give you "Goosebumps" as he did a bunch of covers from the series you grew up on from Scholastic. Yeah, all those monsters Mark grew up helped him come up with creepy designs for grad school kids reading R.L. Stine.

We would have liked to have seen even more toys, maybe even gotten some more collections in the mix as the exhibit does feel a little small. There's a lot to get lost in and look at. While there, they were even running VR of a short look inside Mr. Nagata's collection at home. And they had a little monster simulator. There's many monsters and heroes to look at and a wonderful video playing of Japanese commercials for toys to view for a little bit, but we want more. More monsters and heroes, please!

Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys
Now- March 24, 2019
Japanese American National Museum
100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
$ Admission

In conjunction with Kaiju vs Heroes, JANM will present a free outdoor screening of the original Japanese version of Godzilla (Gojira) on Thursday, October 25, at 7 p.m.