Demeking, The Sea Monsteris set in the early 1970’s as we follow along with Kame, an super awkward high school student whose bullied and generally fulfills all the stereotypes normally associated with those craving adventure and escape. His family runs a local tofu shop, a business that he hitches his future to rather than applying himself to any productive endeavors to make his own life better. Seems there’s not much to do in this quiet seaside town, except get picked on and hang out with kids half your age. The first part probably wouldn’t happen as often if Kame hadn’t quit Karate lessons. Kame is the de facto leader of an explorers club, a group rostered by prepubescent boys on the cusp of knowing there is no more great mysteries in the world to discover. They meet Hachiya, a motorcycle riding parallel to Kame who tells the gang about Demeking, a monster that will one day destroy Tokyo. Kame and his crew go off in search of more details about Demeking through a scavenger hunt perpetuated by Hachiya. There’s not much in the way of clues, just a lot of plot holes to fall into and red herrings that are left unseasoned with development. It’s only through a fever dream at the end of the film that you finally witness the destructive force of Demeking – a giant egg laying snail. And that’s about it. Seriously.
At first appearance I thought this was to be a simple smash and bash Kaiju story, the kind with models of buildings to be stepped on by men in rubber suits. Instead there was the introduction of this adventure club, which was intriguing at first. Perhaps they sought to add an element of The Goonies or Stand By Me to the mix for a broader appeal. What a waste of true story telling potential. Instead of the promise of innocence lost we’re treated to meandering conversations of unfulfilled hopes for the future. Adding a laugh track wouldn’t even perk this flick up. The acting is decent enough to keep your attention, especially from the children, but you’re left wondering where all the action is in the adventure. There seems to be no real connection between Kame and Hachiya, Demeking and Hachiya, and no one learns any lessons to improve their predicaments. Instead of a schlocky ’70s style tribute to B-movie monsters, we’re treated to the subtitled version of Judy Blume doing Godzilla. There’s not humor to laugh at, no loss to cry over, no action to root for, and no terror to be afraid of with this film. The story doesn’t straddle these fences, it gets buried underneath them. Demeking should honestly be ashamed to be called a Kaiju movie, let alone be advertised as one.
The special effects sequences for the reveal of the monster are fairly effective, on par with what’s expected from current Kaiju fare, though this is the only redeeming part of the film. The lead up almost doesn’t seem worth it, like a hooker that makes you fill out a loan application before the you see the goodies. No honor is avenged with the bullies, Kame and Hachiya become awkward friends and the children are left to their own devices. There’s no role models for anyone and they all yearn for one deeply. It all moves at a snail’s pace, even a Giant Snail’s pace, with not enough elements for fans of city leveling monster movies to sit through and not enough story to lure in outside viewers to this genre.