With the Kaiju-Boom (ULTRAMAN, GODZILLA) in full swing, it made sense to add giant monsters to animated features too. Toei Doga’s 1970 feature KAITEI SANMAN MILE (30,000 MILES UNDER THE SEA) 海底３万マイル, took kaiju in anime to an all new level. With an original screenplay by Shotaro Ishinomori (KAMEN RIDER, CYBORG 009), you get one of the best in Japanese sci-fi-adventure storytelling.
The adventure begins when Isamu, son of a marine researcher, and his pet cheetah, simply named Cheetah, go up to check out an active volcano. Isamu meets Angel, princess of the deep sea kingdom of Atlas who was there with the same curious intentions. Suddenly the volcano splits open and a giant robotic dragon kaiju, Kaen-Ryu Robot (Flame Dragon Robot) appears. The giant monster breathes fire, along with meteor-like projectiles that vaporizes it’s targets. Tanks and jet fighters arrive with no effect on the iron behemoth. Angel uses her pendant to signal for help from her people. A cool submarine designed after a chambered nautilus arrives and saves them. Angel invites Isamu and Cheetah to her undersea kingdom where they meet her father, king of the ocean floor, Kaitei-Oh (Deep Sea King). He explains, they are at war with the magma world ruler, Chitei-Oh (Deep Earth King). The magma king was behind the attack at the volcano and plans on taking over the surface world with an army of giant robot monsters. A Kaen-Ryu Robot is unleashed on every major city with no hope for the world. Now it’s up to Isamu, Angel, Cheetah, and Kaitei-Oh’s fleet of super submarines to save the day.
With the current rise of animated kaiju films like WAKUSEI DAIKAIJU NEGADON (NEGADON, MONSTER FROM MARS) and the upcoming PLANZET, you can look to KAITEI SANMAN MILE as one of the pioneers. Scenes showing the attacks on world capitals and landmarks are mirror images of KAIJU SOSHINGEKI (DESTROY ALL MONSTERS). The Flame Dragons meteor bombs reminded me of GAMERA DAIKAIJU KUCHU KESSEN (1995), where Gamera exhaled plasma blasts. This movie is visually vibrant and has so much to look at, from the spectacles of the undersea kingdom to the sea life surrounding it, think PONYO. Again, more upbeat cool songs really uplift this film even more.