Yukiko Takayama Interview

by David Milner

Translation by Yoshihiko Shibata

Yukiko Takayama

(Conducted in July 1994)

Yukiko Takayama wrote the script for TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975). She also wrote a number of other screenplays.

David Milner: I've heard that you attended a screenwriting school. What was the name of the school?

Yukiko Takayama: The Scenario Center.

DM: Was it run by one of the motion picture studios or was it an independent school?

YT: It was an independent school.

DM: What kind of courses were offered?

YT: The students had to write twenty short scenarios.

DM: How long did it take to graduate?

YT: The curriculum took one year to complete.

After completing the standard curriculum, I entered an advanced class in which plot development was covered. Two or three months after that class had started, I heard that Toho was holding a story contest for a sequel to GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974). So, I sent in an entry. (The Godzilla series is produced by the Toho Company Ltd.)

DM: What were the entrance requirements for the Scenario Center?

YT: There were no entrance examinations.

DM: Did you have to submit a sample of your writing?

YT: No. I didn't. At the time, the Japanese motion picture industry was not doing very well, so the studios were looking for new screenwriters.

By the way, Hiroshi Kashiwabara, the person who wrote the script for GODZILLA VS. SPACE GODZILLA (1994), also attended the Scenario Center.

DM: Who chose the winner of the story contest?

YT: It was chosen by Kenji Tokoro, a producer who worked for Toho. He told me that Tomoyuki Tanaka was interested in my entry, and wanted to meet me. So, I went to see him, and he told me to go ahead and write a script. (Mr. Tanaka produced virtually all of the monster movies made by Toho.)

DM: Was the script the first one that you wrote?

YT: It was my debut work. However, while TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA was being produced, scripts that I'd written for a number of television shows were accepted.

DM: Did you write the script entirely by yourself?

YT: Yes. I wrote it by myself.

DM: Was the original version of the script any different from the final one?

YT: Titanosaurus was originally going to be called Titan. In addition, there originally were going to be two Titans. They were going to join together to create one very powerful monster.

DM: Did budget constraints force any changes to be made?

YT: All of Tokyo originally was going to be destroyed during the battle between the monsters. However, Toho limited the scope of the destruction in order to save money.

My original version of the script focused on Katsura Mafune, the girl who had been turned into a cyborg by aliens from outer space. Even after she had been altered, she had emotions. As long as this idea was not removed from the script, I didn't care all that much about what was done with it.

DM: Did Ishiro Honda offer you any advice? (Mr. Honda directed TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA. He also directed GODZILLA - KING OF THE MONSTERS (1954), KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962), DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968), and many of the other monster movies produced by Toho.)

YT: He suggested that I change a few sequences. He also suggested that I cut the sequence at the very beginning in which the submarine sent to recover the remnants of MechaGodzilla was seen on the surface of the water being readied for diving. Mr. Honda thought that it would be better to begin with the submarine already underwater. (MechaGodzilla is destroyed at the end of GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA. It is rebuilt and renamed MechaGodzilla 2 in TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA.)

By the way, Kensho Yamashita, the director of GODZILLA VS. SPACE GODZILLA, served as the chief assistant director on TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA.

DM: How did you feel when you saw TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA for the first time?

YT: I generally was pleased with the way it turned out. However, I was a little disappointed because the scenes showing Tokyo being destroyed were so limited in scope in comparison to what I'd originally envisioned.

DM: What writing have you done since the release of TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA?

YT: I've written eight other movie scripts.

DM: Have you done any other type of writing?

YT: I wrote some television screenplays. I also wrote two novels about a Christian samurai leader named Otomo.

DM: How do you feel about TriStar Pictures producing a Godzilla film in the United States?

YT: When I heard that an American motion picture studio was going to produce a Godzilla film, I said, "Of course!"

Yukiko Takayama Interview © 1998 David Milner