Before Godzilla took the world by storm in 1954, King Kong was becoming a worldwide hit, especially in Japan. While other parts of the world was stir crazy for King Kong, America fell silent. So Japanese film studio, Shochiku Studios, decided to make their own version of King Kong titled Wasei King Kong (translated as Japanese King Kong).
According to August Ragone's book Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters, Wasei King Kong was a black and white silent comedy short film that used King Kong as a backdrop for the movie's story. After watching the movie, King Kong, the main character has an idea to dress up in an ape costume and put on a play so he can earn enough money to marry his girlfriend and prove to her father that he is more than wealthy to marry her.
Wasei King Kong was directed by Torajiro Saito, who was well known in Japan as a comedian and a producer at the time. Saito made the film as quickly as possible to it in with the October 5, 1933 release of King Kong.
Then in 1938, another Japanese King Kong film was made called Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu (translated as King Kong Appears In Edo). The film was a two-part drama about King Kong appearing in Japan's Edo period.
The story follows the daughter of a wealthy man, Chinami, mysteriously disappearing one night and her father goes out in search for her. But one man, Magonojyo Go, refuses to help search for the man's daughter because he is secretly holding Chinami hostage. The reason for holding the girl hostage is because Go's father was locked up and killed by Chinami's father many years ago for counterfeiting coins.
How King Kong fits into the story is that Go owns a pet ape named King Kong and he sends his pet ape to kidnap Chinami. The story has almost nothing to do with King Kong and most infamously criticized for looking more like a Yeti or Sasquatch rather than an ape. In many promotional pictures, King Kong's size varies between a human size and a giant. In an interview in 1988 with the suit actor, Ryūnosuke Kabayama, he claims that King Kong in King Kong Appears in Edo was a giant ape. That would mean that King Kong Appears in Edo would be considered the first Japanese monster movie predating Godzilla.
At the height of World War II, both Wasei King Kong and King Kong Appears in Edo would be considered lost as movies during this time were being burned and destroyed. Only a few still images were salvaged.
With the technology we have today, I would like to see these two films be recreated. That is a really tall order since nobody from that era are around anymore, but that is the beauty of remakes. If a movie is lost and can no longer be salvaged you can always remake it again with a different vision. A Japanese indie film called The Great Buddha Arrival did just that. The Great Buddha Arrival is a remake of another lost film of the same title developed by 3Y Films. The studio salvaged up any info on the lost film, held two fundraisers, and produced the movie based on that info. If a small indie studio could do that for The Great Buddha Arrival, then why not for Wasei King Kong and King Kong Appears in Edo?
What are your thoughts on these films? Do you think they should be remade? Let me know in the comments in the comments section of your thoughts on Wasei King Kong and King Kong Appears in Edo. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Minds, MeWe, Gab, and Parler to stay up to date for more news, reviews, and discussions.