On his way to make an offering of squid, octopus, and crab, a young scientist’s offering is stolen. The animals are given a secret drug to make them grow into giant monsters. It’s up to him and a government team to stop these enormous sea creatures before they destroy the city.
Fantasia International Film Festival is bringing lots of laughs to their audiences with Monster Seafood Wars. Director Minoru Kawasaki (The Calamari Wrestler, Executive Koala) co-wrote the film with Masakazu Migita (Death Kappa, Outer Man) based on an unmade film by Eiji Tsuburaya (Godzilla, Tokyo 1960). The film is a parody of the giant monster films popular in Japan. Kawasaki has a long history of making these types of films, but this is the first time he has brought all three of his seafood monsters together in on one screen. The film primarily focuses on Yuta, the young man who invented the drug, who is fired before he is able to complete is work. While he’s working at his father’s fish market, someone steals his seafood offering and uses his invention to unleash havoc on the city.
Monster Seafood Wars is funny, action packed, and also very cheesy. That cheesiness is part of the film’s appeal, especially since it is meant to be a parody. Some of the dialogue is comparable to what many of us likely experienced watching old episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the 90’s. There is also a lot of food references throughout the film. Yuta makes it clear that he created this drug to make animals bigger to help feed the world. This leads to a long stretch in the middle of the film where people begin to eat monster meat and it is regarded as the best tasting meat there is. Kawasaki even brought Masayuki Kusumi, of Solitary Gourmet fame, on board to supervise. It definitely makes your stomach growl watch all the delicious looking food, but it also makes the middle of the film drag as we see meal after meal with no progression of the plot.
Likely in keeping with the parody aspect of Monster Seafood Wars, many of the performances are over the top and hilarious. The clear standout is Keisuke Ueda (Black Crow 1, Yowamushi Pedal) as Yuta. Yuta is the most relatable character for many audience members who are likely watching the film for the monsters. Yuta loves monsters and even describes them as “cute,” but Ueda still does a fantastic job of making it clear that his true purpose is to make the world a better place. Yoshida Ayano Christie makes her debut as Nana, a member of the Defense Ministry and a childhood friend of Yuta’s. Nana is the only female starring in the film, and she is a strong authority figure. Christie is great at making her character stand with the men as their equals.
The creature designs for this film are absolutely delightful. Kawasaki used monsters from his previous films, but this is the first time they have all been together in one film. They all have a very static look common with monsters from classic 1950’s monster movies. The monsters are people in costumes, typically working on a green-screen or in a set with model buildings that can be smashed to smithereens. All three creatures are adorable and I want to cuddle them. The one aspect of the low-budget beasts that I was not a fan of is how the octopus monster looks like he has a giant vagina on his forehead.
Monster Seafood Wars is a delightful giant monster throwback, complete with people wearing the monster costumes. Kawasaki clearly loves Godzilla and similar classics and shows that love by creating his own, more humorous version of those films. Despite some of the clunky dialogue, the performances for the most part are great and Ueda and Christie are endearing to watch. Because of how goofy the film intentionally is, and the long food sequences, this film won’t be for everyone. Yet it will greatly appeal to all the monster lovers out there, just like Yuta.
OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10