The Railway Company – A History of TOHO (200th Post)

24 06 2012

It is the Biggest, The Greatest and Most Legendary film production company in the history of Japan. If I was to say the word TOHO to some bloke in the street, they may have no idea what I am talking about, but if I say TOHO to a fan of Japanese Cinema they would instantly recognise the name. It is the studio where some of the world’s greatest films were made and to me my favourite films in the world. It is where films like Seven Samurai were made and is the home of Godzilla. And to think it all started with a Railway.

Laying Tracks

It may appear hard to believe but the history of TOHO started as a railway company. In 1907 businessman Ichizō Kobayashi founded the Mino-o Arima Electric Railway Company in Osaka. It was a struggling company but its fortunes turned around when Kobayashi combined the railway with Show Business. He built residential areas in the less populated areas and an amusement park as well as a hardware store at the terminus. In the 1930’s he founded the Takarazuka Company, an all-female opera troupe; this followed with a lot of fame for the company and as a result of this an entertainment city sprang up around it with attractions including a zoo, a circus and restaurants. From this major success Kobayashi made a fortune from his railway company.

Kobayashi would later become president of Tokyo Gasu Denki and in 1940 was put in charge of Minister of Commerce and Industry. He would later join the Taisei Yokusankai group. After World War 2 he was appointed the cabinet minister of the Shidehara cabinet. He was also appointed the president of the War Damage Rehabilitation Institute but was soon kicked out due to his previous political career. Ichizō Kobayashi died in 1957.

Today the railway company is still going under the name Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, Inc. and owns the original Hankyu Railway and Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd. Hankyu Hanshin Holdings is not just centered around railway lines but also has businesses in retail, real estate and of course entertainment. They are also part of the Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group which centers around Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, Inc., H2O Retailing and Toho Group (despite the fact that they are the owners of the other two companies, it’s a bit technical).

From Rail To Film

Ichizō Kobayashi had hopes of building an entertainment empire and started buying theatres in the Tokyo area. It was part of a grand vision of a chain of cinema and movie houses nationwide. In 1937 he bought two film companies to produce films for his cinemas. These two companies were JO and PCL (Photo Chemical Laboratory), from these he founded the Toho Motion Picture Distribution Company to distribute the two company’s films and some American movies. Two years later he bought another two small companies and cemented all operations into one company, Toho Motion Picture Company. The name of the company Toho is actually an abbreviation of “Tokyo-Takarazuka”, the ho in Toho comes from Takara which can also be announced “ho”.

It was during the late 30’s and 40’s that Toho gained its initial success. During the war-time periods Toho became the foremost company producing War Propaganda films. Using miniatures and pyro techniques, the expensive productions were the initial foundations of the special effects department. The nationalist movement in Japan caused people to flock to the movies to see the elaborate war movies. Toho gained a huge early success from these films.

However when World War 2 finished things hit rock bottom. With the occupation of Japan there was a real issue on what film makers could and could not make. Many film directors and producers were forced to leave Toho and along with a recession and a new labor movement which in turn caused several strikes at Toho, Toho was nearly bankrupt and almost folded. It was not until the Korean War started that things began to turn around. Japan entered a time of prosperity with the country producing procurements for the United States. In 1952 when the occupation ended, a former producer for Toho who was kicked out for producing Propaganda Films came back, Iwao Mori and set his sights on making the company profitable again.

The Revolution

The 1950’s were a golden age for Japanese Cinema, during this time the country was making 500 films a year. That was more than what America (300) and Britain (100) were producing at the time. Everyday thousands of people would commute to Toho Studios who had become the Largest Film Company in Japan.

“In 1954, fuelled by a postwar economic boom, Japanese movie studios were entering a period of unprecedented productivity. The Toho Motion Picture Company, which had already established itself as an innovator in the film industry, was engaged in box office battles with its rivals’ (Shochiku, Nikkatsu, Shin-Toho, Toei and Daiei studios) as it attempted to solidify itself as Japan’s biggest and most ambitious moviemaker”.

– Steve Ryfle; The Unauthorized Biography of “The Big G”.

It was in 1954 when the companies name would become a legend from not one but two films in the same year.

1948 saw the breakthrough for Akira Kurosawa in his film Drunken Angel which was also the first of 16 collaborations with Toshiro Mifune. From this film Akira Kurosawa would continue to produce several films which would become famous worldwide. It was particularly the case in 1950 with the release of Rashomon which revealed the work of Kurosawa to the world as well as Japanese Cinema winning a Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.

In 1952 after returning to Toho (after working with Daiei on films like Rashomon), Kurosawa took his writing team to a secluded residence for 45 days to write the script for his new film. The film was one and a half years late when it was released due to shoot problems, Kurosawa’s health and finance issues making it the most expensive film made to date when it was finally released. The film took a whole year to shoot and was shot on location. There was also some buzz going round on set about another film being produced by Toho. On April 26, 1954 the film was released under the name Seven Samurai. The film very soon made back the money that was spent on it, and that is not all. Today, Seven Samurai is regarded as one of the greatest films in cinema history (not just Japan but the whole World). It inspired a remake in The Magnificent Seven. It has been rated in several top films lists:

  • “Ranked #1 in Empire magazines “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” in 2010”
  • 96% Audience Rating on Rotten Tomatoes
  • 100% Rating on Rotten Tomatoes
  • “voted number one in an audience poll conducted by MovieMail in 2000”
  • “the highest reviewed movie at Rotten Tomatoes with the highest number of votes that is listed as an action movie on the site”
  • “Cited as the greatest Japanese film ever; at number 12, it is the highest-ranked Japanese and Asian film on the Internet Movie Database‘s “Top 250 movies” list. It ranked, for the first time, at number 3 in the 1982 Sight & Sound Critics’ Top Ten Poll, appeared on the Sight & Sound Directors’ Top Ten Poll in 1992 (ranked number 10), and tied for the highest-ranked Japanese and Asian film in 2002 (ranked number 9). It is ranked number 2 on Rotten Tomatoes‘ top 100 foreign films, and number 1 on their top 100 action/adventure films. It was also voted the “Best Japanese Film ever” in a 1979 Kinema Junpo critics’ poll”
  • “It is now regarded by some commentators as the greatest Japanese film ever made, and in 1979, a poll of Japanese film critics also voted it the best Japanese film ever made”

With the success of Seven Samurai Toho were about to make another Big Splash, a splash which would not only become famous with cinema but would also an icon for a whole country, how many films do you know of that has done that?

I was an actor in a film by Akira Kurosawa – “The Seven Samurai”. It was a very long job; it took a whole year to shoot. But while were working on it, we kept hearing strange rumours. On set we would hear people talking about something called Godzilla. We kept hearing this name…..and none of us had any idea what it was. But nobody would tell us”.

– Yoshio Tsuchiya; Godzilla King Of The Monsters BBC Documentary (1998).

In early 1954 Toho was to produce a film called In The Shadow Of Honor. However things fell apart when the Jakarta Government prevented Toho from filming there. Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka had to come up with a new film idea and fast. During this period in Japan there was a tragedy at sea involving a Fishing Boat called the Lucky Dragon 5. The ship was in an area where the H-Bomb was tested and even though it was many miles away the effects of the bomb spread to the ship and all the fish on board became contaminated and several of the crew died a few months later. It was while Tanaka was on board an airplane and reading about the incident that he also thought about the incredibly popular Sci-Fi film The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms which was released one year earlier. From these 2 ideas Tanaka had an idea for a film. Toho head Iwao Mori backed the project and a group of men (Ishirō Honda, Eiji Tsuburaya and Akira Ifukube with story by Shigeru Kiyama) worked on the idea and together created a film called Gojira. The name was later Americanised to Godzilla and it has stayed that way since.

The story premise behind the film is the idea that a Giant Monster has been awoken by nuclear testing and goes on the rampage, destroying Tokyo in the process. One way of describing the film is the idea of Godzilla being a force of nature as if Mother Nature is saying that she has had enough of man destroying the world and has put her foot down, and the destruction in this instance is Nuclear Weapons and as a result of this Nature releases a Giant Unstoppable Monster.

The film was a huge success in Japan and would also become a big success around the world. The film became the first of a whole series of 29 films and also sparked the Kaiju (Monster Movie) Genre in Japan which spawned many more films from Toho including Mothra, Atragon, The Mysterians, Space Amoeba and Rodan with some monsters from these films appearing in the Godzilla series. Monster Movies would become one of the studios Major output over the 1960’s and include a fight between Godzilla and King Kong.

Trouble was on the horizon though for Toho as one of its rival studios would become its biggest competition. In the 1960’s Daiei saw the potential of the Godzilla series and created their own Giant Monster, Gamera. The effects for Gamera were not as good and appeared to be more silly than Toho’s Monsters but they did put children in their film which was something Toho usually did not and so Daiei achieved that audience and even though it was not a worthy foe in terms of effects Gamera did become a cinema icon for Japanese Cinema, meaning Godzilla was not the only big guy at the Movie BBQ.

The Grim 70’s

The 70’s was not a great period for Toho. Their popular Monster Movies went into a decline during the period despite Godzilla staying strong for 5 years. Fewer people were working at the company and fewer films were made. Several reasons were behind this decline, two of the biggest were the rise of Monsters on Television which was created by Eiji Tsuburaya who was one of the founders of the Japanese Monster Movie. Tsuburaya set up his own production company for television and produced a series of shows which involved people fighting giant monsters. The idea worked brilliantly and eventually turned into Ultraman which is still going strong in Japan to this day. More and more people in the movie industry started to either leave or go to television. Toho managed to turn things around for themselves by training or “farming” crews to work in television and several other non-film use including conventions and expos. This side of the business became very profitable as a result.

One other reason for the decline came down to one use of special effects; Stock Footage. The effect was to use footage from previous films and put them into a film making the film a lot cheaper as a whole. It was used originally in Godzilla’s Revenge in the late 60’s but the result was more like a clip show than a film with only a few new scenes added. This quality improved but not greatly. During the 70’s Godzilla films (Gigan and Megalon) the shots were used primarily for scenes involving the military. These shots were actually very good but when you are using monster, not so good. If you look closely in Godzilla vs Megalon there is a clip where Megalon is attacked by fighters, but the close-ups of his hand swatting them is actually Gigan’s hooks and not Megalon’s drills. It was not until Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla was released that Toho stopped doing it and instead released a film which is widely seen as a classic by fans. Stock Footage was used once in the following film but only for plot use so it was not so bad.

One of the more grim parts of the 70’s came to Akira Kurosawa. In 1970 his rather odd film (I have only seen a clip of it) Dodes’ka-den was released.  It focuses on the lives of people who happen to live on a rubbish dump. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film but the film was actually a financial failure and Kurosawa was finding it hard to finance his films despite the success of some of the films he previously made.

Its critical failure sent Kurosawa into a deep depression, and in 1971 he attempted suicide. Despite having slashed himself over 30 times with a razor, Kurosawa survived his suicide attempt; however, he would not return to filmmaking for five years, releasing Dersu Uzala in 1975”.

– Wikipedia

The Revival

The 80’s and 90’s was a great period for Toho. It was a real struggle but they managed to get themselves back on their feet. Since 1975 Toho had tried to bring Godzilla back but to the screen. There were several ideas including a 3D film but eventually Godzilla 1985 (The Return Of Godzilla) was released and it used a new story idea to recreate the series. The idea was to forget the previous films except the original. So in other words Godzilla had not been seen for 30 years. The move worked and during this new period several of the best films in the series were produced including the 1985 film, Godzilla vs King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs Mothra 2.

During the 1980 period Akira Kurosawa made his last Epic, RAN. The film was set once again in feudal Japan much like most of his well-known Samurai Films. The plot was based on several things including King Lear and was a co-production between Japanese and French film studios. While being his last Epic Kurosawa would direct 3 more films and help out on many others until his death in 1998.

In 1990, he accepted the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Posthumously, he was named “Asian of the Century” in the “Arts, Literature, and Culture” category by AsianWeek magazine and CNN, cited as “one of the [five] people who contributed most to the betterment of Asia in the past 100 years“.

– Wikipedia

“I am proud of nothing I have done other than with him”

Toshiro Mifune

Trouble was on the horizon however in the shape of an old foe. In 1971 Daiei went into Bankruptcy but were bought out by Shoten in 1974. During the 1990’s they started to remake Gamera Films. This time they employed Shusuke Kaneko to direct the films. The films had better production values and even starred Steven Seagal’s Daughter. The films had better special effects than before. The Gamera films could at long last truly rival the Godzilla series. Three Gamera films were made in total, each one being an excellent example of Japanese Independent Monster Movies. The third one in particular is highly regarded as one of the greatest Monster Movies of all time. Many believe it is the best Kaiju film since the original Godzilla. One interesting point about this series is that the films were actually distributed by TOHO.

Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999 - Daiei Film)

The end of the 90’s was a great time for Toho. In 1996 they made headlines worldwide that they were going to kill Godzilla. The move was planned not to be permanent though as an American film was being produced and they felt that the new century should have a new Godzilla. While the 1998 American film did very well at the box office it did not sit well with fans of the series, or Toho. After the film was released Toho started to make plans to bring back the monster in 1999.

One monster from the Godzilla series got their own series; Mothra had three films to herself with no sign of Godzilla but with the sighting of a new monster in Desghidorah and several varieties of King Ghidorah. Mothra started her career as her own film and now she had her own film again.

As the century drew to a close Toho gained the Japanese Distribution rights to the Pokémon film series and have distributed the films since.

The Millennium

One month before the Millennium Toho brought Godzilla back in Godzilla 2000. The new series had a good start but fell a bit with the release of Godzilla vs Megaguiras. This time the major driving force behind the series was producer Shogo Tomiyama who would later become President of Toho. A new story premise was brought in with the idea that once again the previous films except the original did not happen, this was the case of all the films except Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. which was a direct sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla; however the films did have continuity from other Kaiju films. New guys were working on the series and after Megaguiras Toho released two highly successful films with Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (My Favourite film) which was directed by Shusuke Kaneko and Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (Directed by Megaguiras Director Masaaki Tezuka). The series finished with Godzilla: Final Wars which celebrated 50 years of the King of the Monsters.

No Japanese director would ever dare to say “no” to Godzilla films. I can make any Hollywood-style film but only a few can make Godzilla films, plus this is the 50th anniversary of Godzilla. I think this is the greatest challenge of my life to make this Godzilla film”.

Ryuhei Kitamura interview

Since 2004 Godzilla has been on a break with a possible return in 2014 for the 60th anniversary as well as the recent announcement of Legendary Pictures doing a reboot of the American Series.

Daiei made another Gamera film in the period however they were bought by Kadokawa Pictures in 2002 and Gamera while still being a lot better quality than the original series returned to its more childlike routes and focused mainly on Children Actors.

Today and Tomorrow

Toho has produced fewer films these days than its glorious period when it first started and during the 50’s and 60’s. Toho is now more than just a film studio. The original studio had shrunk in size as some parts were sold off in real estate and moved into a new office in 2005. While Films is still their main output, they now also have work in real estate and real estate management. Toho is still one of the major parts of that old railway line but works more independently and is the largest shareholder of Fuji Television.

While the company is in a more quieter state than its older days, history has shown that they won’t stay quiet forever. Hopefully in a few years their Big Monster will resurface and cause havoc once again. After all Tokyo has a new building for him to smash. Godzilla is not only the icon for the company and Japanese Cinema, he is an icon for Japan and you can’t keep him calm for long. Samurai Epics Films like the films of Akira Kurosawa have also begun to make a sort of comeback with critically acclaimed 13 Assassins which was both produced and distributed by Toho.

With a new era of film comes a new era of film makers and Toho still holds its ground as the greatest Film Company in the history of Japan with aspiring film makers flocking towards Toho to have their films produced and while it may be quieter than it used to be, Toho’s painstaking and dedicated style to making films still goes strong to this day. And let us not forget that all this came to be when a young business man decided to combine a Railway with Show Business.


Random Alphabet Quiz 2

23 06 2012

This week is the final week of this Post A Day in June and it is also a special week. Tomorrow is my 200th Post, so to celebrate that I have done a very special post on Japanese Cinema. Also this coming week is a the final of The King Of The Monsters Tournament as well as 4 film reviews, all of them are Japanese films including 2 Godzilla films. That is all happening this week but it is now time for another quiz.

You may remember a few months ago I did a quiz where each answer started with a different letter of the alphabet (26 questions). I enjoyed doing this quite a lot, So I have decided to do another one but this time it will be a little bit different. Last time the answers were in alphabetical order, so question 1 began with A, question 2 began with B and so on. This time however I am going to make it more difficult. Most of the answers will not be in order. The answer to question 1 will begin with an A and the answer to question 26 will start with Z. however, all the other answers will be all over the place, so in order to get them all right you will need to use your own general knowledge with what you have already answered, the more letters you use the less there is to choose from.

Leave a comment with your answers in and I will post up the answers later in a few weeks’ time, Enjoy.

  1. An Orange like fruit?
  2. What is by no means a system of Government?
  3. A Musical Instrument?
  4. A Board Game with Small Green Houses?
  5. An Irish Airline?
  6. The 16th Book of The Bible?
  7. A British TV show hosted by Stephen Fry?
  8. A type of Boat?
  9. Nicholas Cage’s character in Con Air?
  10.  A Finalist in the King of the Monsters Tournament?
  11.  One half of Morecambe and Wise?
  12.  The host city of the 2012 Olympics?
  13.  A Dinosaur that I did a post about?
  14.  The Best Boxing Match that did not really happen?
  15.  The Creatures in Reign of Fire?
  16.  Norwegian Currency?
  17.  A Film that I reviewed in March?
  18.  The Top Gear presenter who built a garden out of Plasticine?
  19.  The Incompetent Economics Reporter for The Day Today?
  20.  A 2003 Channel 4 game show involving cars?
  21.  The London Tube can be found where?
  22.  A tropical country on the northern coast of South America?
  23.  A type of angle?
  24.  What does Missä Miehet Ratsastaa mean?
  25.  A Song originally played by Budgie and released again by Metallica?
  26.  A Place where you can see animals?


How To Make A Tardis?

22 06 2012

When danger is about, Doctor Who may appear. Throughout all his adventures through space and time his most trusted and loyal companion is his Time Machine. Wherever he goes the Tardis is usually not far behind, it has helped him to get out of many situations and in most occasions into trouble in the first place. Now to many it may just be a big blue box, and it is but it is also a lot more than that, out of all his equipment, it’s the Doctors most magnificent. So if you fancy building one for yourself, keep reading as I delve into the more complex side of the Doctor’s Time Machine.

Tardis (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is a special piece of equipment built by an advanced extra-terrestrial race known as The Time Lords on their home planet of Gallifrey. The Time Lords as their name suggested were experts in Time Travel and Time Perception. Their Time Machines were built to allow them to travel back and forth in time to any planet but more to observe than to intervene but this was sometimes allowed. While the history of the Time Machines themselves are a bit sceptical it is clear that the Doctors machine was not the first. The Doctor’s Tardis is a TT 40 Type Mark 3. Now the TT could be like the Model T in which it does not mean that there was a T or an S like it goes alphabetically, it is just a name given to the model to allocate it and show how it is different to another model but we can tell from the Mark 3 that there have been 2 other versions of the TT 40 beforehand. It is stated that it does not really belong to the Doctor because he “unofficially” borrowed it, in fact it belonged to a Time Lord before the Doctor called Marnal who is believed to have been a renegade like The Doctor so the characteristics of the Doctor were already planted before he took control of it and so it suited the doctor to the ground. Because of the fall of Gallifrey it is hard to know what the current type of Tardis is like but it is apparent that the TT 40 Type Mark 3 is obsolete so with a more advanced model it makes it easy to suggest that the problems with The Doctor’s Tardis may have been fixed.

So if we were to build a Tardis we would have to build it in a certain way. If we were to build it like a house we would start by building the outside first but in case of building a Tardis this would be quite tricky because the outside of the Tardis can be any shape at all. If we wanted it to have the same shape and image wherever we went we could simply design it and then build it but we would need the right material. It has been shown over and over again that the Tardis can withstand an attack from almost anything. In series 27 episode 1 the doctor mentions that the doors were able to hold off the hordes of Genghis Khan. Later on in the series the Doctor tells Captain Jack to close the doors because there will be a draft in a minute meaning that when the ship explodes the debris will fly in. So it is clear that a special material is used but the door can easily be opened and closed so how do you prevent harmful force from entering but somehow let friendly forces in and out. It is unlikely that Validium was used because it is described as a material that should not have left Gallifrey and so even if it was used it would be used possibly as a prototype and then if a problem was detected they probably would have removed it. There is mention of the use of a key to let people in and out but what about for those who do not have a key. Well there is the possibility that the Doctor is a key and while he is there people can come and go as they please but still there needs to be a reason why friendly forces can come and go as they please. Well one possibility is the idea that there could be a Psychic Computer embedded into the machine which could read the heart of a person and could tell what kind of person they are. If it was able to read what a person’s intentions were and saw that they were good it would let them pass while keeping harmful intentions out, one issue of this though is that because it is a Time Lord machine it would possibly let Time Lords come and go as they please even if they had harmful intentions because it was designed for the Time Lords to use in mind. If a system like this was to be used though it is unlikely that it would be mechanical because the human heart does not work like computer data and so a living natural part will be required in order for it to work properly.

If we wanted to keep the ability to change shape we would need to build the Tardis with a different material. The Doctors Tardis does not work properly because its Chameleon Circuit broke. The Chameleon Circuit would allow the Tardis to change shape where it went, so if it was to land in the desert it could turn into a pyramid and so as such would not draw attention to itself, however the chameleon circuit broke when it landed in the 1960’s and so it took the shape of a police box and stayed that way. The Chameleon Circuit is so-called because it works like a Chameleon, however Chameleons change colour slowly and so for the Tardis one to work it would have to change before it landed in order to conceal itself a lot better. The circuit would need to know all the information before the Tardis landed and so it would possibly go in a certain order possibly like this:

  • Start (A1)
  • Location Decided (A2)
  • Information on Location Gathered (A3)
  • Location Information Processed (A4)
  • Best Outcome for Location decided (A5)
  • Generate Outcome (A6)
  • Land Tardis in Location (A7)
  • Finish (A8)

If a Chameleon Circuit was installed into the Matrix of the machine, a solid outside would not be possible and another material would be needed. One suggestion would be to use Time Lord Cells or Time Lord DNA. Much like how when a Time Lord regenerates and changes face, it would be reasonable to use the DNA of a Time Lord to change the shape of a Tardis. The control of these would be tricky for a mechanical machine and may require the use of electronic cells like blood cells to give commands to the other cells. Another possibility could be the idea of small robots that link together. This sounds more plausible due to the Tardis being a mechanical machine not a living breathing creature. Small robots could link together and when they got orders from the Chameleon Circuit they would link together in a different pattern to create that shape. However each robot would be given their own independent order for their location so they know where to go and prevents the robots having to fight over the same location but this order probably won’t be given until A5 is complete, When the orders are given at A5 the robots start to take shape, when A6 is complete the Tardis shape will be complete.

Before we talk about the inside of the Tardis, we should take a look at the invisible bubble around the Tardis. When the Doctor takes Donna into outer space (The Runaway Bride) and shows how the world was put together he has the door open and so somehow they are still able to breathe. This is a piece of evidence that we can see that there is more to the Tardis than both meets the eye and attached to it. This bubble could protect the occupants from dying in case of the door being opened. Also in the Christmas Invasion when the Sycorax start talking from their own language to English this could show that this bubble is also able to help those who have not been inside the Tardis understand other languages, this bubble could be a major life support system for the Tardis as a whole. The idea of a bubble is just a theory but there are strong suggestions pointing towards it and if we were to understand other ideas of other unknown life support in the Tardis we could better understand this theory and possibly prove that it is more than a theory or even figure out how to produce a bubble.

The Tardis is not all about the outside, most of how it works is done on the inside. If we wanted to build a Tardis we would need some method of control, this would come in the form of a central console. When the Doctors Tardis is flying through Space and Time it is always shaking about, however in a later episode of Doctor who when several people are using it, it is more stable and the Doctor hints that it was designed for several people to use. This suggests more about the Time Lord’s culture as these vehicles could have been used as a form of transport for several occupants, this could hint towards the idea of Time Lords being like missionaries or the Tardis’s being used as a form of transportation. However with this current model things like this could be improved and so fewer people may be required to pilot the machines themselves. Later models of Tardis could be made where only one user is required to pilot it. The way the central console is designed though suggests that they are difficult machines to pilot and even if it came down to one steering wheel other items may need to be addressed while driving the thing (much like an Aircraft Carrier). I am not suggesting that there is a Space Highway Code but the Tardis is a sophisticated machine and as such would require a lot of attention to run. The central console is more than just a form of control though, it could be the brains of the machine as well because all the commands are sent from it and so while it is more advanced than a PC it could work a lot like it. This also suggests why the inside of the Tardis is so big because it needs a lot of hardware in order for it to work and so requires the space for it to store all these important systems.

It has been known for the inside of Tardis to change as well, but if the Chameleon Circuit is broke how does it do this, well why would the inside need to hide itself. The interior design has mostly gone unchanged except for a few bits here and there. In terms of huge change this has rarely occurred with only doctors 4, 7, 8, 9 and 11 having some obvious changes. In terms of the 4th doctors it has a slightly more renaissance or library look about it where it looks more like something from earth or similar culture than its usual look. In terms of the late 7th doctor and 8th doctor it is clear he may not have had a companion and so he may have programmed a change just so he can amuse himself when he is alone. When it comes to doctors 10 and 11 it was a rustier look and untidy but then it became slightly more modern and clean almost like a high-profile architects work with the 11th doctor. There is not much suggesting how or when this happens but one suggestion is that it takes place when the Doctor regenerates but this would mean it happens all the time. It could be that the Tardis has its own life-cycle and needs to regenerate every so often in order for it to work at its best. How it does this is another matter. If it was to regenerate the inside of itself it could once more use the robots from the Chameleon Circuit but work on a different circuit so it does not confuse the 2 or it could possibly use Time Lord DNA to regenerate itself. If it was regeneration that causes it could this mean that like a Time Lord it has a lifetime on it and so eventually the machine would die as a whole? Much like how a Time Lord has 13 lives could this be the same for The Tardis. Seeing as the Tardis is almost indestructible though it could show why it has not changed when the doctor has and so the Tardis has more life in it than the Doctor (or any Time Lord for that matter). In other cases of it being able to change its interior it could be that the Doctor likes to do a bit of DIY every now and again or maybe he requests an interior change from the command console (or even hires a crew of Cybermen decorators).

The Tardis’s real magic trick though is how it is bigger on the inside than the outside. If you were to walk into such a big room from a small box you would be surprised and could possibly faint from the shock. It is an interesting question to answer but it is relatively simple. Now I am going to use an Idea from an episode of doctor who to explain.

Let’s put it like this, if you had a Big box and a Small box. If you wanted to put the small box inside the big box you would not have any trouble. But if you wanted to put the big box inside the small box you could encounter a problem, because it can’t be done. You will need to find a way of shrinking the big box or growing the smaller box. You could increase the size of the small box by placing it inside an air tight containment area and then remove the area forcing it to expand. Alternatively if you were able to shrink the big box and put into the small box, the small box could be the containment field but you have the problem that once you remove the air the big box will only grow to the size of the small boxes perimeters. The only really feasible way of making something big fit inside something small is distance. If a big object is seen from a far distance it gets smaller and so if we had a big box and a small box and we kept the small box with us but moved away from the big box, the big one would fit inside the small one by a matter of eyesight and distance. The question is how do we connect them?

People living in Big cities like London use a human system of the Tardis. In London it is called The Tube. The Tube allows people to travel long distances in a short space of time, a time shorter than walking the distance. Each station is a destination in London. Now imagine that 2 stations in London are the Tardis. For example if we were to take a relatively Small station like Seven Sisters which is a rail link to towns and areas outside of London as the outside of our Tardis and then take a Big station like King’s Cross St Pancras which is another rail link but has connections with the whole country and Europe as the inside of our Tardis it is easier to understand. The door or link between boxes for our Tardis would be the tube train system tunnels. The idea is that the inside of the Tardis much like our big box is in a completely different location to our small box which is close by. It is possible that inside the Tardis Blue box is nothing but white space and that the door is a very short tunnel to another location in the universe. This short tunnel would take the form of a portal/teleport of some kind, the most likely case being a wormhole which means the inside of the Tardis could be in a different galaxy or be a galaxy by itself which means it could be as big as it wants to be.

So we know how to build the solid side of the Tardis in the form of its interior and exterior but what about its functions as travelling through time and space. Well if it is to travel in a physical form simply through space then it would be easy for it to move in physical form because all you need to do is just steer it around obstacles, but how do we make it move at all. Well, let’s return to the bubble theory. The idea of a bubble allowing it to move through Time and Space means that you are moving the bubble and the bubble only because it is around the Tardis and so the Tardis goes with it. The bubble could have a zero gravity energy which means it could go in any direction while in physical form, that is, if it has a physical form. When you add time to the mix it gets a little bit trickier. You need to ask the question does the Tardis exist? When the Tardis leaves the location it is occupying, it disappears and so it begs the question about existence because if it is there, then why does it disappear, like a mirage. One possibility is that the Tardis is nothing more than the space form of Data. When you send a message (or e-mail if you will) across the internet you are not sending a solid piece, that message is turned into a series of 1’s and 0’s. When the e-mail reaches its destination the 1’s and 0’s will turn the data back into a readable format using a special coding language. There are several coding languages and they will process data in their own way. It is not just emails, when you are typing away in Microsoft word you are not typing onto a sheet of paper you are actually writing out a simplified code base where even the letter A is actually a combination of 1’s and 0’s and that is all it really is but using the code base within Word it takes the form of an A, it is not until you print it out onto a sheet of paper that it takes a physical form but once again that physical form does not begin until the data has reached the printer and it starts printing. When it comes to travelling through space and time, when the Tardis leaves the planet and it disappears, this is it turning into data and then as it travels through space and time it exists in a non existant way, as it can’t be seen. But then when it lands it uses an on board code to transform its data form into a more physical form.

After examining the evidence a Tardis sounds doable as long as you have the correct resources and tools but processing these resources would be the hardest part. If it was feasible it could take forever and I do mean forever. You could spend your whole life to build one and you may not even finish it. The main problem we have is that we still really don’t understand the Tardis and we may never do. It won’t be until we have a full and proper understanding that we can really make a shopping list of what we need but as Dr. Jim Al-Khalili suggested;

“but who knows, maybe the Time Lords on Gallifrey know something we don’t”.

– Dr. Jim Al-Khalili, Doctor Who Night 1999


Matt’s Super Question

21 06 2012

The final of my friend’s questions is here, earlier this week I answered Matt’s Music Question and now it is time to answer Matt’s Super Question.

Who do you think is the greatest superhero, and why?

Well you may know that I am a fan of Thor but he is not the Greatest Super Hero. The answer to this question dates back to 2007 when I was making a list of the top 50 Monsters and Mutants (maybe I should return to that?). Even though I did not finish the list I knew who the people at the top were and in terms of Comic Book Super Hero which is usually what Super Hero refers to there are 2 Comic Book characters in the top 5.

One of them is the mysterious Gambit from X-Men. When you grow up with the X-Men at a young age, Wolverine usually stands out but when you think about it Gambit is the best because he is so cool. Claws coming out of your hands are quite cool but being able to put explosive energy through any object is better. In this case, a pack of playing cards making 52 light grenades. When I read X-Men comics I look forward to seeing Gambit in them. When I watched the cartoons like X-Men Evolution and my favourite cartoon Wolverine and the X-Men I really enjoyed the episode with Gambit in. It was disappointing to not see him in the main X-Men films but there is hope for the future, but I did enjoy his appearance in X-Men Origins played by Taylor Kitsch, I hope he plays the character in the future.

Then there is Blade. Blade is a vampire hunter who is half man and half vampire. I first took an interest in blade when watching Blade The Series (The Best TV Show of 2007 and the Third Best TV Series of all time, well at least to me) in which he is played by Kirk “Sticky” Jones. The excellent characters, the thrilling story lines and Blade’s “I don’t care” attitude to almost everyone around him made him stand out. His fighting style, his look and some of the catchphrases he did were excellent. Since then I have seen Blade Trinity and that had the same style and everything but had a different lead actor, Wesley Snipes.

Choosing between these 2 is tricky; They are both fantastic characters and I like both of them. Originally Blade was higher in the list but just thinking and talking about them now makes me want to have them draw or switch. It is a tricky decision. But the question asks who the greatest superhero is, and because Gambit was sometimes working for the villains that kind of rules him out which means that Blade is the Greatest Superhero.


King Of The Monsters Tournament – Round 2

20 06 2012

Last week 16 Monsters fought it out against each other to move onto the next stage in the tournament. Well we are now down to 8 Monsters, Next week is The Final where we will crown the first King of the Monsters Tournament Champion. The Monsters have already been paired up so let us remind ourselves who is facing who.

Kiryu vs Gyaos

Manda vs Optimus Prime

Rodan vs Battra

Gigan vs Gamera

In this round of the Tournament things get a little heated. The rules are the same as last week however instead of 3 fights per match we have 5 fights per match. Things may get ugly, so let us begin.

Match 1 – Kiryu vs Gyaos – Kiryu goes first.

Kiryu                                                      Gyaos

7                                                              15

18                                                           12

12                                                               4

11                                                           13

7                                                              18

Gyaos Wins

Very close match Ladies and Gentleman but your Winner is the Terror of the Skies.

Match 2 – Manda vs Optimus Prime – Optimus Prime goes first.

Optimus                                                               Manda

1                                                                             8

7                                                                           11

4                                                                           17

9                                                                             7

2                                                                           17

Manda Wins

That was a pretty one-sided match and almost a flawless victory, However The Serpent God has Won. But there was once more some outside interference from Microsoft Word, but that fight was rerolled to make it fair.

Match 3 – Rodan vs Battra – Battra goes first.

Battra                                                            Rodan

8                                                                      20

2                                                                        7

7                                                                        6

9                                                                     13

15                                                                      9

Rodan Wins

Another one-sided match but Battra stayed in long enough to at least cause some major damage. However your Winner is The Fire Pterodactyl.

Match 4 – Gigan vs Gamera – Gigan goes first.

Gigan                                             Gamera

9                                                    1

5                                                    6

8                                                    1

10                                                  5

17                                                 18

Gigan Wins

Final Fight of the evening saw 2 of the toughest monsters in the competition duke it out however The Guardian of the Universe (and the Wildcard Champion) did not have it in him to beat The Mutant Menace, Gigan is the Winner.

There we have it Ladies and Gentlemen, we now have our 4 finalists. So now we need to decide who will be facing each other next week, this time it will be decided a little bit differently. This time a D20 will be rolled for each Monster. Then the 2 Monsters with the highest values will face each other while the 2 Monsters with the lowest values will face each other.

Gyaos vs Rodan

Manda vs Gigan

Next week is the Big One as we will find out who is the First King Of The Monsters Champion. We have The Terror of the Skies vs The Fire Pterodactyl, the last 2 flying Monsters in the tournament going one on one. We also have The Serpent God vs The Mutant Menace, an odd fight in itself but still an interesting pairing. So please return next week as we conclude who is the King Of The Monsters Champion 2012.

BREAKING NEWS: After he failed in the first round last week, Godzilla has smashed up Locker Room City and has severely injured The Kraken, we will let you know on developments as we receive them.


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