One of the popular concepts of kaiju storytelling that isn’t often translated when the genre crosses the Pacific is the idea of a link between monster and man. You see this in Ultraman, the 90’s Gamera trilogy, and an assortment of other tokusatsu entertainment. The closest we get to some approximation of that in Western Kaiju is the link between man and machine as seen in Pacific Rim and (the Americanized) Power Rangers. Raffael Coronelli’s Daikaiju Yuki is one of the only examples I can recall of the man/monster concept in an American kaiju tale. It’s a refreshing new take on the kaiju novel with an old school twist.
Daikaiju Yuki takes place in the distant future after our world succumbed to nuclear war and the advent of the kaiju. The world we know is something of the distant past. Now most the world is split into four warring nations, some simply looking to live in peace and others vying for superiority on a global scale. The new weapons of mass destruction are the kaiju. The nemesis nations have used their links with kaiju (a giant bear and a giant bird, in this case) to destroy armies and cities as they continue their conquest. Our heroine Yuki is sent to a temple to check on the progress of raising her nation’s kaiju, Narajin. As she sneakily inspects the temple, Yuki accidentally performs the task necessary for linking her body/mind/soul with that of the kaiju, thus waking the giant lion god from its deep slumber.
There are stumbles and self-doubt as Yuki tries to talk her way out of the enormous responsibility she has inherited. The kaiju Narajin, seen as a god to many, believes that Yuki is worthy to be sharing the fight to save the world with him. They communicate telepathically, as depicted with lots of italic text, giving Yuki (and the reader) the lowdown on how the kaiju ‘pantheon’ works and their role in the world. Yuki and the kaiju then march across the globe looking to unite others like them in preparation for the coming battle.
Daikaiju Yuki is enormous fun. It’s like an anime take on kaiju storytelling, with a big cast of characters and new details explored with each new chapter/episode. I had pleasant flashbacks to Saturday morning cartoons like Digimon and Sony’s Godzilla: The Series (the movie sucked but the cartoon was good, yo). The heroes that Yuki meets along the way are a diverse bunch, each with big personalities (there is an emphasis on diversity which I took great joy in. Yuki is a lesbian kaiju superhero badass and I love her). There’s big kaiju rumbles on a regular basis and the monsters are each original and easy to take a liking to.
The novel is a little on the short side this appears to be by design. A sequel and a spinoff are already available. I will be reading them both shortly. In a time when kaiju fiction is going through a surprise boom of popularity, many authors (myself included) have used the opportunity to tell dark tales that mainstream kaiju entertainment was reluctant to give us. Coronelli goes the other direction and embraces the fun and fantasy of kaiju spectacle. Ishiro Honda, who directed a number of the best Godzilla movies, frequently used the kaiju threat as a way to bring people together to accomplish common goals. Honda believed in the good of mankind. Daikaiju Yuki is similar in that way. Evil accomplishes much in its time on earth and even the people who mean to do good are not without their faults, but ultimately if we find a way to come together then perhaps peace will win out. I dig it.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
Blog notice: mostly this blog is for sharing my thoughts and talking about my books. From time to time I will also comment on books, films, music, sports, and/or videogames. During these times I may use images of the creative works under discussion. I'm posting the images under the "fair use" allowance, for purposes such as criticism, comments, reporting, teaching, and research. If you have any issue with images used on this blog, please contact me and the images will be removed.
I am not paid for my reviews and I do not take book review requests at this time.