2002: The Challenge of Defeat

2002:  The Challenge of Defeat

Program Title: “2002:  The Challenge of Defeat.”
Running Time: 90 minutes
Air date: December 7th, 2002 on Fuji Television.

Production Credits:

DIRECTOR:  Ako Imai.
BILINGUAL COORDINATOR:  Steven Mudrick of Mado Productions
CAMERAMAN:  Ryo Takakhashi
ENGINEER:  Koji Kawasaki
ASSISTANT:  Takaki Kawamura

With a little anticipation and great excitement (especially on the part of the interviewees), a Japanese production crew for Fuji Television converged on the home of Kaiju-Fan editor John Rocco Roberto.  The production was 2002:  The Challenge of Defeat, an intimate look at Japan since the Second World War, and the crew was there to wrap up American filming on the production.

The program, which starts with the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri in 1945, follows Japan’s rise from the ashes of war, to economic giant, to struggling economy of the modern day.  The focus of the show will follow Japan’s recovery from their “two defeats.”  The first and obvious one; their defeat after the Second World War.  The second and less obvious defeat, the “defeat” of the Japanese economy in the 1990s, a term many, (including the Japanese) have a problem with (it is felt that “defeat” is not a term that is appropriately applied here).  The show will also look at this topic.

But where does Godzilla fit into all this?  In a segment that looks at Japan just after the War, the topic of the symbolism of Godzilla (why western media often refers to the Japanese country itself as ‘Godzilla,’ and how the icon is looked at here in the west) will be explored (as well as touching on other Japanese pop cultural exports like anime, Power Rangers, etc.).  It therefore came as a shock and honor to both John Roberto and Robert Biondi that they would be asked to participate, providing their insight to Godzilla’s popularity in North America.

The production aired on the Fuji Television Network on Saturday December 7th, 2002.


Japanese director Ako Imai prepares for the shoot as Steven Mudrick of Mado Productions helps Kaiju-Fan
creator John Rocco Roberto un-pack some his Godzilla collection.

The production crew begins to set the “stage” for the interview.

John Rocco Roberto breaks out of storage his Kaiju collection.

John Roberto watches cameraman Ryo Takakhashi set up as director Ako Imai (production notes in hand)
makes final preparations for the shoot.

A quick run through first with Steven Mudrick and Takaki Kawamura before Robert takes his seat.

It’s lights, camera, action as G-fandom’s “dynamic duo” John Roberto and Robert Biondi answer
questions on Godzilla’s role in American pop culture.

One last shot of the collection.

A very special thanks to Steven Mudrick of Mado Productions, and Sean Ledden for taking the photographs.

Photographs © 2002 John Rocco Roberto/Visagraph Films International.