My kind of town!

The city of Hakodate in Japan has been producing promotional videos for the tourism trade for their city. Instead of the usual shots of local restaurants and famous landmarks, though, Hakodate features giant robots battling invading space squid, with explosions and smashed buildings and cars being kicked into the air.

Alright, I’m sold. That’s much better than Las Vegas.


  1. #1 drgenetics
    March 29, 2009

    I knew it was more exciting in Japan!

  2. #2 Ryan
    March 29, 2009

    Subliminal Shamwow commercial

  3. #3 'Tis Himself
    March 29, 2009

    I wouldn’t want to be visiting a city and have a fight between two giant robots and/or visiting space squid, erupt around me. With my luck the guy bringing up breakfast from room service would get distracted and my eggs benedict would arrive cold.

  4. #4 JLaeret
    March 29, 2009

    So, is there anything left to visit?

  5. #5 bojangles
    March 29, 2009

    Man…all we have is king kong.

  6. #6 Dave Godfrey
    March 29, 2009

    It was rather surreal, but the bit that threw it into utter insanity was playing “Land of Hope and Glory” right at the end.

  7. #7 Felix
    March 29, 2009

    kewl. generation otaku is now in firm control of advertisement industry. banzaaaiiii!!!

  8. #8 Schpwuette
    March 29, 2009

    Oh, Japan…

  9. #9 AJ Milne
    March 29, 2009

    Man…all we have is king kong.

    Gentlemen, we have a cool sci-fi monster gap.

  10. #10 Ian B
    March 29, 2009

    I have been to Hakodate a couple of times (I lived in Japan for 12 year), and this is exactly like it was. Why do people need to see the facts on YouTube before they believe stuff? I hope that the wikipedia nerds have updated the Hakodate entry to reflect this new evidence, and new dangers.

  11. #11 Phillip IV
    March 29, 2009

    Actually, the video *is* featuring all of the famous landmarks, like the star-shaped fort and the watchtower…it’s just featuring them as giant robots and spaceships…uh, for some reason…

    …perhaps it’s supposed to reassure tourists that Hakodate is prepared for the day alien squids show up to enact revenge for the city’s large squid fishing industry?

  12. #12 'Tis Himself
    March 29, 2009

    Gentlemen, we have a cool sci-fi monster gap.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing. One reason for Japan’s economic problems during the 1990s was having to rebuild Tokyo every couple of years after Godzilla & Co. would come visiting.

  13. #13 Voldemort13
    March 29, 2009

    It would be nice if the buildings in America turned into nice shiny robots like the ones in Japan.

  14. #14 pough
    March 29, 2009

    You’d be very conflicted if you ever went to Hakodate, PZ. Not only is it the cuttlefish capital of Japan, it also seems to have the most churches. It was one of the first ports to open to the western world.

    Mind you, if you manage to stay at the hotel with the hot spring bath built in (like I did) you might not find the big white buildings so bothersome.

  15. #15 Zipdisk
    March 29, 2009

    Well, we might not have Godzilla and co, but we do not lack for Monsters. We have giant ants in New Mexico, Giant Grasshoppers in Chicago, The Blob, The 50 Ft. Woman, The Giant Gila Monster, The Killer Shrews and the thing from Cloverfield. Sure, maybe we don’t have as flashy of monsters but we have them. It’s just that Japan is so much smaller that per capita they have many more.

    What we have is a Giant Robot Gap!

  16. #16 blf
    March 29, 2009

    Feck Hakodate. Well, Ok, I’m sure it?or its smoking ruins?is an interesting place, but what I really want is one of those giant intergalactic flying squidships. Especially if I then get to blow up a few cities. Can I start with, oh, I dunno, Chicago? Nah! I know! Chula Vista. Man, I hate that place. Flying squidship fried Chula Vista has a nice smell to it?

    Tomorrow CHula Vista! The day after, the Universe! BHWAAAHAAA HAAAA HAAAAAA!!!1!!

    p.s. Pee Zed, please send my genuine giant intergalactic flying squidship to Master of All, Box Zero, The Village.

  17. #17 Vestrati
    March 29, 2009

    Sign me up, that’s like a lifetime supply of sushi right there.

  18. #18 AdamK
    March 29, 2009

    In what forsaken corner of the planet do they call “Pomp and Circumstance” “Land of Hope and Glory”????

  19. #19 CortxVortx
    March 29, 2009

    “Hakodate! More dangerous than Baghdad — but in a fun way!”

  20. #20 blf
    March 29, 2009

    One reason for Japan’s economic problems during the 1990s was having to rebuild Tokyo every couple of years after Godzilla†& Co. would come visiting.

    Not quite. After the first couple of times, they realised they could predict when the city would be next destroyed, and so put in a rolling order for a new city. It worked great. Monster attacks, destroys city, monster goes away (or is killed or whatever), a couple of hours of vigourous sweeping, then a few more hours unpacking the new city and swearing at the incomprehensible assembly instructions, and in the morning the city’s back. This is why Tokyo always looks so new and sparkling?it is new and sparkling.

    Then the monster attacks stopped. But the rolling order didn’t. So there’s now several flat-pack ready-to-assemble Tokyos filling up the world’s warehouses. Paying for all that storage is what caused Japan’s economic problems. And, of course, there’s less warehouse space for other things, so we’d had various knock-on effects, like rising food prices and no place to put the profits from your ponzi schemes.

  21. #21 'Tis Himself
    March 29, 2009

    Dear AdamK,

    You ask the question,

    In what forsaken corner of the planet do they call “Pomp and Circumstance” “Land of Hope and Glory”????

    And I will be happy to answer.

    In 1901 Englishman Sir Edward Elgar Bt OM GCVO wrote his Pomp and Circumstance Military March Number 1 in D (Op. 39). The trio for this march contains the tune known as “Land of Hope and Glory” with words from Lord de Tabley’s poem “The March of Glory.”

    Now here’s where it get’s interesting. In 1905 Elgar received an honorary Doctorate of Music from Yale University. Yale’s Professor of Music, Samuel Sanford, made certain Elgar was the star of the commencement proceedings, engaging the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the College Choir, the Glee Club, the music faculty members, and sundry other musicians to perform two parts from Elgar’s oratorio The Light of Life and, as the graduates and officials marched out, Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1. The trio soon became de rigueur at American graduations, but then as a processional at the opening of the ceremony, instead of the original recessional by Yale.

    Incidentally, while Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 is in D, the trio is actually in the key of G. When you’re a major composer like Elgar, you can bend the rules.

    To conclude, I present for your listening pleasure, from the Last Night of the Proms concert on September 10, 2006 Pomp and Circumstance March #1 – Land of Hope and Glory conducted by Mark Elder with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus, backed up by the enthusiastic and lively audience at the Royal Albert Hall, and throughout Britain at the Proms in the Park events.

    Very respectfully,
    ‘Tis Himself

  22. #22 shishinden
    March 29, 2009

    Great video! Hakodate really is a nice place. They’re crazy about their cephalopods too: the famous local delicacy is squid ramen.

  23. #23 Ken Cope
    March 29, 2009

    If you can’t get to Japan, you should definitely not miss San Francisco’s Imperial Fleet Week; it’s closer to Minnesota and probably not as dangerous.

  24. #24 Chris Petroni
    March 29, 2009

    In case anyone cares, the squid monster is attacking because Hakodate folk at so much squid. I find that fantastic.

    I also like the slogan near the end, which could be translated as: “Hakodate: Visit While You Still Can!”

  25. #25 Laser Potato
    March 29, 2009

    When I read the description, I thought the monsters in the video would be ka-sejin (literally “Mars alien”), the typical Japanese depiction of Martians, which resembles an octopus somewhat. (More information here: Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be ACTUAL squid!

  26. #26 Lord Zero
    March 29, 2009

    I also like the slogan near the end, which could be translated as: “Hakodate: Visit While You Still Can!”

    Really fun ad. I wish i could try one of
    those famous Squid on a stick…

  27. #27 Aaron Baker
    March 29, 2009

    But would what happens in Hakodate STAY in Hakodate?

  28. #28 Laser Potato
    March 29, 2009

    Also, inexplicable haniwa

  29. #29 sns
    March 29, 2009

    I went to Hakodate last year, but I didn’t see any robots. I don’t believe this is truth in advertising. I saw lots and lots of squid, though, and a marvelous hamburger restaurant with a year round Christmas theme and about 50 huge santa clauses decorating the outside.

    Lord Zero, trust me, squid on a stick are not worth seeking out.

    I don’t think the churches would be a problem for PZ. The Japanese treat them as quirky (and, yes, beautiful) tourist attractions. They line up to take pictures, but for the most part, I don’t think anyone takes them as serious religious institutions. They’re just pretty buildings, some of the few European style in Japan.

    Now, the Japanese Jehovah’s Witnesses, those are a real phenomenon. They used to regularly knock on my door, but my large dog (quite an anomaly in Japan) did a great job of scaring them off.

  30. #30 arekksu
    March 29, 2009

    i like it how they couldn’t resist including a prominent up-skirt shot of Hakodate Tower-robo. classy.

  31. #31 Eric Paulsen
    March 29, 2009
    Gentlemen, we have a cool sci-fi monster gap.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing. One reason for Japan’s economic problems during the 1990s was having to rebuild Tokyo every couple of years after Godzilla & Co. would come visiting.

    Yes, and all WE have is the attack of the 50 foot Madoff, the Cheney from the center of the earth, and the day the economy stood still. MUCH less destructive.

  32. #32 Bill
    March 29, 2009

    PZ, Hakodate really is your kind of town. I passed through there four years ago and they were hosting a scientific conference on squid.

  33. #33 Betz
    March 29, 2009

    Doesn’t the Hakodate Towerbot know that if you’re going to punch a Giant Space Squid in the nose you should aim for the back of its head?

  34. #34 therubah
    March 29, 2009

    I’m sure Hakodate is great, but if you ever make it to Japan, PZ, you must visit Tokyo so I can buy you a beer.

  35. #35 Sili
    March 29, 2009

    Did we really need that upskirt shot of that controltower transformer?

  36. #36 abys
    March 29, 2009

    I am going to give my professional opinion, as a computer animator, that this looks much more like a student project for his/her class rather than an actual ad for city tourism…. well, granted, that’s probably what the premise of the project is — to make a fake tourism commercial, but taken to an odd extreme or exacerbating a local feature (maybe the city had once been used as a base model for all the 60’s japanese monster movies) to comedic lengths.

    But it’s well done for a student project — it has the ‘I’m not paid for this yet’ quality but it has the spirit of being something done for the sake of silliness/creativeness.

  37. #37 Sam
    March 29, 2009

    What is it with Japan and “Land of Hope and Glory”?
    Japanese violinist.

  38. #38 arghous
    March 29, 2009

    Also, inexplicable haniwa

    They needed some reason to show off their erupting volcanos?

    Anyway, don’t knock it; the Japanese have a tradition of these types of guadian/vengeance/monster things, e.g., Daimajin.

  39. #39 Heraclides
    March 29, 2009

    All the overlaid text with exclamation marks remind me of those Batman programs with “Pow!” and “Bam!”, etc., overlaid.

  40. #40 Valor Phoenix
    March 29, 2009

    The landmarks as robots and startships isn’t that surprising. Heck one of the hot things in Japan right now are female personification of military vehicles, particularly planes. See also Strike Witches(anime), OS-tans, and Mecha Musume.

    As for the quality of the video, it very likely is an actual ad for the city in question. Japan doesn’t have a very advanced film industry partially due to space reasons, which is why their TV is mostly dominated by studio shows and animated stuff. Their advanced 3D graphics tend to be part of the animation industry there as opposed to it being part of the movie industry here.

    In summary, the fact that there were no cute girls featured in the piece leads me to believe it was a government sponsored piece.

    Also, Japan promoted a cat to train station manager for the publicity and have a yearly festival featuring a giant dildo being paraded through the streets.

    Don’t underestimate their ability to do weird.

  41. #41 Utakata
    March 29, 2009

    Nah…a real town is one with Magical Girls. Especially Pretty Cure ones battling evil.

  42. #42 BlindRobin
    March 29, 2009

    je gran gusto hakodate ! hakodate ihci ban…

  43. #43 Last Hussar
    March 29, 2009

    “Come to Hakodate and get killed by alien robots”? I look forward to the San Francisco ads inviting Death by Earthquake tours.

  44. #44 Kimpatsu
    March 29, 2009

    First, to squelch any misunderstandings, the lyrics to “Land of Hope an Glory”:

    Land of Hope and Glory
    Mother of the Free
    How shall we extoll Thee,
    Those that are born of Thee?
    Wider, yet still wider,
    Shall thy bounds be set.
    God, who made Thee mighty, make Thee mightier yet.

    Hakodate is OK, but if you really want churches, you’ve gotta go to Kobe.
    Oh, you mean, PZ doesn’t want to see churches?

  45. #45 Lilith
    March 29, 2009

    Kimpatsu @ #44
    To this day, I still can’t hear Land of Hope and Glory
    without thinking of The Goodies’ black & white minstral version: “land ob hope and glory/mammy ob da free”. Horribly racist in this day and age, but seared forever in my memory.

    I was about to whinge that we don’t have any cool monsters in Australia, but realised that we have a truckload of critters that can kill you faster than any giant robot, from saltwater crocs & man-eating sharks that will chow down on you at the drop of a hat, to all manner of deadly reptiles & spiders that will fang you. And let’s not forget the blue-ringed octopus that makes up in venom what it lacks in size. Giant robots, feh!

  46. #46 Holbach
    March 29, 2009

    Kimpatsu @ 44

    As I travel, I am interested in the many sites that a city has to offer, including an art museum, architecture, and even the worthwhile public library among others. But never a church, even if it was the only building of significance in any town.

  47. #47 JM Inc.
    March 30, 2009

    Any town with that much computer animation has got to be totally fucking awesome! Let’s GO! HAKODATE! ??

  48. #48 JJR
    March 30, 2009

    It must be part of the Japanese building code that the tallest building in your city has to be able to transform into a giant mecha defender robot for just such occasions.

    And to show off for tourists.

  49. #49 Shinji@Tokyo-3
    March 30, 2009
  50. #50 Jerry
    March 30, 2009

    Even if America is able to convert their landmarks into super weapons they won’t be as powerful as the Japanese ones.

    Case in point:

  51. #51 Paul F
    March 30, 2009

    Back in 1992 I lived in Hakodate as a student. It’s a great town, famous for a few things, but they were most proud of the night view (better than Hong Kong) of the city from the top of their volcano, and squid.

    They’re a major squid industry town, and always have been.

    Hakkodate meibutsu Ika odori! (forgive my Romanji, we didn’t learn Japanese that way back in the 90’s, it was all kana). Every year in the summer they have a big squid festival, which features many drunken people dancing the Squid Dance in the streets. The Squid Dance is representative of the mating habits of squid, so should be of great interest to you, PZ.

  52. #52 Thunderbird5
    March 30, 2009

    This is TOTALLY inspired by the Beastie Boy’s excellent 1988 video for Intergalactic

  53. #53 Jake
    March 30, 2009

    Do you realize how cool a war with Giant Squid would be? We’d be some of the most fearful enemies that they’d ever have!

    Think now, what would we do? Ok… Battle.

    *pew* *pew* *pew*

    Ok. Dead on both sides. We bury corpses, we eat theirs. What could be more frightening than that? If they’re in their spaceship licking some wounds there, and they peer back at the battlefield to see their enemy eating their dead friends.

    They’d be ‘Screw this, these guys are insane, later!’

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