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Review: Monster Seafood Wars (2020) – Fantasia

With a resume that includes titles like Pussy Soup, (it’s about a feline ramen chef you pervs) and The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit, it’s obvious that Minoru Kawasaki isn’t your average kaiju director. Or your average director for that matter. And his twenty-seventh film, Monster Seafood Wars, isn’t going to change his reputation.

The credits for Monster Seafood Wars are, naturally, in Japanese. Unfortunately, the IMDB entry doesn’t give the names of the characters. So I can’t do my usual plot and character summary.

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Yuta (Keisuke Ueda), the son of a sushi bar owner, is delivering seafood to the local temple when a bicycle accident sends them into the river. A giant octopus and squid appear shortly after. After the military proves useless, the government forms SMAT, the Seafood Monster Attack Team.

However, the team is plagued with internal conflicts and a long-standing rivalry between Yuta and Hikoma. Outside forces threaten it too. A giant crab emerges from the water, and its shell makes it resistant to the SMAT’s rice vinegar cannons. And as a result of their battles, it’s discovered that giant seafood monsters taste delicious.

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Kawasaki and frequent co-writer Masakazu Migita claimed to have adapted an unproduced idea of Godzilla creator Eiji Tsuburaya into Monster Seafood Wars, but I have my doubts. Regardless, the film is an on-target parody of the kaiju genre. Mad scientists, strange formulas, in this case, Setap Z which makes seafood grow to huge sizes. There’s even a love triangle between Yuta, Hikoma and defence analyst Nana (Ayano Yoshida Christie) to spice things up.

Given the film’s budget, there isn’t much in the way of effects. We’re told about the creatures’ battles with the army. But like all scenes of destruction, they happen off-screen. The creatures themselves look like a cross between a man in a suit and those giant decorations you get for your lawn. I’m also fairly sure the squid costume is the one from his earlier film The Calamari Wrestler.

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While that is a bit of a disappointment, it does make sense. Apart from budgetary reasons, it is kind of hard to make a city being levelled funny. And Monster Seafood Wars is a very lighthearted film. In an age when so many films seem to need a deeper meaning or dark twist, it’s nice to see one that’s just fun. As its website proudly states, “It’s the biggest stupid movie ever made, with a big and serious face to monster food! !!”

Monster Seafood Wars made its international premier at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival.

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