Prompted by a post at Boing-Boing, I decided to check out the L.A. appearance of Kaiju Big Battel at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood. What is kaiju? you may be asking. Xeni Jardin provides a much better explanation than I ever could in her article on Wired, but in brief, it's a performance piece featuring Japanese monster wrestling.
I enlisted the Sister to attend with me, since her inveterate gaming habit has brought her great familiarity with the Japanese monster species. We dressed down for the occasion, since we had read that there was some risk of getting slimed by a monster.
The main event began with a short film describing the origins of the kaiju, monsters from outer space whose destructive force is kept in check through periodic wrestling bouts organized by a mysterious group known as the Kaiju Regulatory Commission.
In general, there are two types of kaiju, heroes and anti-heroes. However, within the anti-hero group there are two major factions, those who follow the incredibly evil Dr. Cube, kingpin of the kaiju dark side, and independents, rogue monsters acting on their own behalf.
I was hoping to see the kaiju anti-hero Sky Deviler, whose "Hello, Kaiju" bio describes him as "ravenous dimwit space bug." Although Sky Deviler did not appear in the wrestling cage last night, I did enjoy seeing the anti-hero Super Dimensional Slug One (SDS-1), a 6-foot long slug bearing a large model tank on its back. It perched precariously at the top of the wrestling cage before flopping its slimy body to the mat.
The Sister and I were very impressed with the performance of agile hero Dusto Bunny ("unclean home result hero") and the fan favorites Los Plantanos. Though he was a poor fighter, we were especially thrilled by the introduction of new kaiju hero Superwrong!, who made his entrance dancing his own special dance and tossing psychedelic teddy bears into the crowd.
The final match-up turned into something of a free-for-all, with multiple anti-heroes turning out to take a swipe at the sinister Dr. Cube. The most impressive was Kung-Fu Chicken Noodle, whose graceful maneuvers and distinctive theme music put all other contenders to shame.
But it was the spiky Unibouzu who succeeded in pulling off Dr. Cube's boxy, tofu-like headpiece, revealing the scarred, misshapen form beneath. Even the announcer recoiled from his distorted visage, shouting, "DR. CUBE IS A HIDEOUS FREAK! DR. CUBE IS A HIDEOUS FREAK!" as the audience watched in fascinated horror. Yet Dr. Cube proved triumphant and won the match.
There are many resources available on the kaiju.com web site, including manga about the various monsters and video that gives you a sense of what a kaiju wrestling match is like. The most descriptive thing I can think of to say about it is: while watching the show last night, I was suddenly reminded of the Banana Splits. It was just that good.