Godzilla

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File:Godzilla.jpg
Godzilla, as portrayed during the late Heisei series. (Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, 1994)

Godzilla (Gojira) (ゴジラ) is a giant, amphibious, dinosaur-like fictional creature first seen in the Japanese-produced 1954 tokusatsu (kaiju specifically) film Gojira produced by Toho Film Company Ltd.. In total, 28 films have been made by the Toho Film Company and a further two made unofficially (not related to the Toho Film company). For a list of these films, see below. The most notable unofficial movie is the 1998 film Godzilla, directed by Roland Emmerich. Despite being the highest grossing film of the year factoring in overseas profits, the film has been widely panned by cult followers of the Godzilla franchise, critics on both sides of the Pacific, and movie-goers in general and has since been dubbed GINO (Godzilla In Name Only). Ironically, the Americanized Godzilla featured in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) was killed by the "true" Godzilla from a hit to the tail, and its radioactive breath. In this film, the American Godzilla appeared simply as "Zilla". Godzilla has three primary abilities: regeneration, amphibious mobility, and an atomic fire beam. Godzilla is also extremely durable and can resist almost all physical assaults. The atomic fire beam is Godzilla's trademark skill. Although much of Godzilla's significance as an anti-war symbol has been lost in the transition to pop culture, the nuclear breath remains as a visual vestige of the creature's early Cold War politics.


Origins

Born on the coastal regions of Oto Island (located near the Bikini Atoll, where he was affected by nuclear tests), Godzilla became a modern god, feared by the fishing villagers on that island, and ultimately, all of Japan. Standing at a towering 50 meters (164 feet), he is a powerful demon of destruction. Among his popular characteristics:

  • His iconic design (a charcoal-colored dinosaur-like figure with small pointed ears, rough bumpy scales, powerful tail, and bony white dorsal fins shaped like maple leaves).
  • He is virtually indestructible, impervious to all modern weaponry.
  • He can release a powerful atomic energy beam, usually blue but in some films red, from his mouth (which is ominously signalled when his dorsal fins glow/flash in the same color as the atomic beam).


The name "Gojira" is a combination of "gorilla" and kujira, which means "whale" in Japanese. The name was allegedly originally a nickname of a large worker at Toho Studios. But since Gojira was neither a gorilla nor a whale, the name "Gojira" was devised in a different way for the film's story; Gojira's name was "originally" spelled in kanji (呉爾羅), but for sound only. The combined characters, oddly enough, mean "give you net"!

Gojira was first released in the United States in 1955 in Japanese-American communities only. In 1956, it was adapted by an American company into Godzilla, King Of The Monsters, edited and with added, principal scenes featuring Raymond Burr, and this version became an international success. As a result, the monster came to be known as "Godzilla" also in Japan.

History

Godzilla was originally an allegory for the effects of the hydrogen bomb, and the unintended consequences that such weapons might have on Earth. The Versus and Millennium Series have largely continued this concept. Some have pointed out the parallels, conscious or unconscious, between Godzilla's relationship to Japan and that of the United States; first a terrible enemy who causes enormous destruction, but then becoming a good friend and defender in times of peril.

Films have been made over the last five decades, each reflecting the social and political climate in Japan. All but one of the 29 films were produced by Toho; a version was made in 1998 by Columbia Pictures and set in the United States by the directors of Independence Day (ID4) and is somewhat despised by Godzilla fans, many of whom refer to it as GINO (Godzilla In Name Only), a term that would refer to all monsters modeled after Godzilla. Toho immediately followed it with Godzilla 2000: Millennium, which began the current series of films, known informally as the Mireniamu or Millennium series.

Much of Godzilla's popularity in the United States can be credited with TV broadcasts of the Toho Studios monster movies during the 1960s and 1970s. The American company UPA contracted with Toho to distribute its monster movies of the time, and UPA continues to hold the license today for the Godzilla films of the 1960s and 1970s. Sony currently holds some of those rights, as well as the rights to every Godzilla film produced from 1991 onward. The Blue Öyster Cult song "Godzilla" also contributed to the popularity of the movies. Also made an appearance in the Nike commercial where Godzilla went one-on-one with NBA star Charles Barkley.

Synopsis (stub)

Template:Spoiler The deoxygenation of Tokyo bay, caused by Dr. Serizawa's oxygen destroyer, killed Godzilla at the end of this first movie, dissolving his flesh and bone into nothingness. Nonetheless, Gojira - or Godzilla - returned in a series of films, all from Toho.

Subsequent films in the series had another of Godzilla's species take his place (there is some debate about this. In Godzilla 2000 it is discussed that Godzilla possesses a component known as "Organizer G-1" ,"Regenerator G-1" in the English version of the film, which allows him to heal from any wound, possibly even regenerate himself from mere fragments. This would make it possible for Godzilla to continue indefinitely, even though he appears to die. This is oddly similar to the regenerative ability of Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th movies).

The Japanese version of Godzilla was greatly inspired by the commercial success of King Kong, and the 1953 success of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Godzilla would go on to inspire Gorgo, Gamera, and many others. The American version is just an iguana-turned -dinosaur.

On his 50th (Japanese) birthday, on 29 November 2004, Godzilla got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Series

File:GodzillasAtomicRay.jpg
Godzilla firing his atomic ray (Destroy All Monsters, 1968).

The Godzilla timeline is generally broken into three parts.

Showa Godzilla Series (昭和ゴジラシリーズ)

Named for the Showa period in Japan (as all of these films were produced before Emperor Hirohito's death in 1989). This Showa timeline spanned from 1954, with Godzilla (1954) to 1975 with Terror of Mechagodzilla. With the exception of the serious Godzilla (1954) and the semi-serious sequels Godzilla Raids Again and Mothra vs. Godzilla , this period also featured a somewhat more lighthearted Godzilla. This phase started with King Kong vs Godzilla, which had the highest ticket sales of any Godzilla movie. Starting with Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (made 10 years after the first Godzilla film), Godzilla became a semi-playful antihero, and as years went by, he evolved into an anthropomorphic superhero. The Showa period saw the addition of many monsters into the Godzilla continuity, three of which (Mothra, Rodan and Varan) had their own solo movies, as well as a movie for the Toho-ized King Kong. This period featured a rough continuity, although the chronology is confused as some of the later movies were set in an arbitrary future time, often 1999.

In all films of this original series, Godzilla was 50 meters tall, and weighed 20,000 tons.

Versus Series (VSシリーズ) AKA: Heisei Series

The timeline was revamped in 1984 with The Return of Godzilla; this movie was created as a direct sequel to the 1954 film, and ignores the continuity of the Showa series. Known as the Versus Series, (unofficially known to American fans as the "Heisei Series", for the ruling emperor of the time), the continuity ended in 1995's Godzilla vs Destoroyah after a run of seven films. The reason for the continuity shift was based on a realization that the marketing of the movies had removed the reason it was so loved. When it was discovered that Godzilla was popular with children, sequels were toned down in obvious screen violence, and Godzilla was made out to be a good guy instead of an indestructible abominate mistake of Men. Characters such as Minilla, the "son of Godzilla" (a dimunitive chubby replica who blew smoke rings) were introduced. However, the further Godzilla was taken away from his roots, the less popular he became. Hence, The Return of Godzilla brought the series back to form.

Godzilla has changed sizes in this series. He starts out as 80 meters tall in The Return of Godzilla, but in Godzilla vs King Ghidorah, he becomes 100 meters tall.

The Millennium Series (ミレニアムシリーズ)

The Millennium Series is the informal term for the Godzilla movies made after the VS Series ended with Godzilla vs Destoroyah. Unlike the previous two series, this era does not feature a continuous timeline. Only two of the films in this era, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, are directly related to one another. The rest follow entirely different timelines. The common theme to this era is that all movies use Godzilla (1954) as the jumping-off point.

In the 1998 movie, Godzilla Godzilla was a reptile mutated after a French atomic test, on a French Polynesian island. This movie brought a drastic change to Godzilla's appearance, resembling a bipedal iguana or Komodo dragon. The Godzilla in this movie was also almost entirely computer-animated. Set in New York City and produced by Columbia Pictures, this movie is not considered to be part of any of the above three series, but the Gotham attack was referred to in the movie Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. The monster that appeared in New York was not, in fact, Godzilla, but an entirely different yet similar monster. This monster made a return appearance in Godzilla's 50th anniversary film, Godzilla: Final Wars. Renamed Zilla, the monster attacked Sydney, Australia and is later killed by the real Godzilla.


Since the films are different, the sizes are different in some cases. Godzilla's most prominent size in this series is 55 meters. The exceptions: In Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, he was 60 meters, and in Godzilla: Final Wars, he was 100 meters (he was supposed to be 50 meters in that film, but budgetary cutbacks in miniature sets forced this size change).

Official Filmography

There have been 28 official Toho-produced entries in the Godzilla series since 1954. Please note that the titles listed below are Toho's official English titles.

No. Title Year Director Monster Co-Stars
1 Godzilla 1954 Ishiro Honda N/A
2 Godzilla Raids Again 1955 Motoyoshi Ota Anguirus
3 King Kong vs. Godzilla 1962 Ishiro Honda King Kong
4 Mothra vs. Godzilla 1964 Ishiro Honda Mothra
5 Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster 1964 Ishiro Honda King Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan
6 Invasion of Astro-Monster 1965 Ishiro Honda King Ghidorah, Rodan
7 Ebirah, Horror of the Deep 1966 Jun Fukuda Ebirah, Mothra
8 Son of Godzilla 1967 Jun Fukuda Kamacuras, Kumonga, Minilla
9 Destroy All Monsters 1968 Ishiro Honda Anguirus, Baragon, Gorosaurus, King Ghidorah, Kumonga, Manda, Minilla, Mothra, Rodan, Varan
10 All Monsters Attack 1969 Ishiro Honda Gabara, Minilla
11 Godzilla vs. Hedorah 1971 Yoshimitsu Banno Hedorah
12 Godzilla vs. Gigan 1972 Jun Fukuda Anguirus, Gigan, King Ghidorah
13 Godzilla vs. Megalon 1973 Jun Fukuda Gigan, Jet-Jaguar, Megalon
14 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 1974 Jun Fukuda Anguirus, King Caesar, Mechagodzilla
15 Terror of Mechagodzilla 1975 Ishiro Honda Mechagodzilla, Titanosaurus
16 The Return of Godzilla 1984 Koji Hashimoto N/A
17 Godzilla vs. Biollante 1989 Kazuki Omori Biollante
18 Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah 1991 Kazuki Omori Godzillasaurus, King Ghidorah, Mecha-King Ghidorah
19 Godzilla vs. Mothra 1992 Takao Okawara Battra, Mothra
20 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II 1993 Takao Okawara BabyGodzilla, Fire Rodan, Mecha-King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, Rodan, Super Mechagodzilla
21 Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla 1994 Kensho Yamashita Fairy Mothra, LittleGodzilla, Moguera, Mothra, SpaceGodzilla
22 Godzilla vs. Destoroyah 1995 Takao Okawara Destoroyah, Godzilla Junior
23 Godzilla 2000 1999 Takao Okawara Orga
24 Godzilla vs. Megaguirus 2000 Masaaki Tezuka Megaguirus, Meganula, Meganulon
25 Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack 2001 Shusuke Kaneko Baragon, King Ghidorah, Mothra
26 Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla 2002 Masaaki Tezuka Mechagodzilla
27 Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. 2003 Masaaki Tezuka Kamoebas, Mechagodzilla, Mothra
28 Godzilla: Final Wars 2004 Ryuhei Kitamura Anguirus, Ebirah, Gigan, Hedorah, Kamacuras, Keizer Ghidorah, King Caesar, Kumonga, Manda, Minilla, Monster X, Mothra, Rodan, Zilla

Unofficial Filmography

Though numerous attempts have been made at producing a Godzilla film outside of Toho Studios, the only one completed is the 1998 film from Sony Pictures. Yoshimitsu Banno, director of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, has acquired permission to make a 40 minute film for IMAX theatres, but has yet to raise the neccessary funding.

No. Title Year Director Monster Co-Stars
1 Godzilla 1998 Roland Emmerich N/A
2 Godzilla 3D to the Max 2007 Yoshimitsu Banno Deathla

See also

Actors & Staff

Godzilla-Related Stuff

Godzilla Televison shows ( Or cameo in shows)

Animated series

In 1978, Hanna-Barbera Productions produced an animated Godzilla Saturday morning cartoon as the centerpiece of their Godzilla Power Hour. The series featured a team of scientists, who could call upon the monster using a special communicator in order to assist them in various adventures. Also included in the series was a cute diminutive Godzilla counterpart, Godzooky.

Godzilla's size in the animated series shifted even more radically and with greater frequency than the films - sometimes within a single episode or even one scene - as sometimes Godzilla's claw will wrap around a large ship, and only minutes later the team of scientists fit rather neatly on Godzilla's palm.

The Godzilla cartoon was aired in reruns through the early 1980s, and is periodically broadcast on Cartoon Network's Boomerang network.

Another cartoon, Godzilla: The Series, debuted in 1998 in the wake of the American film. Although it featured the creature design and characters from that film, the concept was much more in line with the traditional depiction of Godzilla. Two DVDs were produced for this series. One depicts the first two part pilot called Trouble hatches, and the other compiles a three part trilogy from the series called The Monster Wars. It was most likely a tribute to the classic film Destroy All Monsters, a showa era film which included virtually every monster Toho studios had ever produced. Monster Wars is also the first appearance of a truly cybernetic Godzilla. The 1998 feature film version of the monster is resurrected as 'Cyber-Godzilla' and eventually comes face to face with its sole surviving offspring. (This is technically inaccurate, as one egg in the 1998 film hatches within Madison Square Garden, while the one depicted in the cartoon series was located much further below ground. The 1998 film had been left deliberately open ended in order to pave the way for a sequel. However because of the negative response by fans, that never panned out. It is interesting to note that despite the negative response to the 1998 film, the animated series still did surprisingly well, with only two episodes produced that never saw the light of day on television.)

Video games

  • Monster's Fair
  • The Movie Monster Game
  • Godzilla! Monster of Monsters
  • Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters
  • Super Godzilla
  • Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen
  • Kaijuu-Oh Godzilla (a.k.a. Godzilla King of the Monsters)
  • Godzilla Giant Monster March
  • Godzilla Generations
  • Godzilla Generations Maximum Impact
  • Godzilla Trading Battle
  • Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee
  • Godzilla: Domination!
  • Godzilla: Save the Earth

Similar concepts

Gorgo

See Gorgo.

Agon

Agon was a serialized B&W TV movie produced in 1964, but aired in 1968. This 4 episode miniseries (aired Jan 2-5, 1968 on Fuji TV) was produced by Japan Radio Pictures (Nippon Denpa Eiga). The title monster is similar in appearance to Godzilla, so much that Toho almost sued Japan Radio Pictures, until they found that it was Fuminori Ohashi (who helped create the Godzilla suit for the original 1954 film) who designed the Agon costume!

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is a 1953 film based on a short story by Ray Bradbury, in which a revived aquatic dinosaur attacks the city of New York.

Gamera

See Gamera.

Gappa

See Gappa.

Dragon Caesar (from Zyuranger)

Dinosaur Task Force Zyuranger, the 16th entry of the Toei's ongoing Super Sentai Series from 1992, had the title quintet of superheroes ride giant robots called Shugojū (Japanese for "Guardian Beasts"), which are shaped like dinosaurs, only these "robots" are actually gods! The five Shugojǔ unite to form a giant warrior called Daizyujin (Japanese for "Great Beast God"). Later in the series, Dragon-Ranger Burai (who turns out to be the older brother of Zyuranger's team leader, Tyranno-Ranger Geki) appears initially as a misguided tragic villain, only to realize the wrongs of his ambitions. Brought back with a temporary life to help the Zyurangers, Burai dies selflessly in saving his teammates and the rest of mankind, but before he dies, he passes his weapons and his own Shugojū, Dragon Caesar, to his younger brother Geki, who, with added powers, continues the battle against the show's villain Bandora.

With his striking standout appearance, Dragon Caesar is the show's homage to Godzilla (who was a phenomenon in Japan at the time). In Zyuranger's Americanized adaptation, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (the first season), he is renamed the "Dragonzord" (Burai's costumed form, Dragon-Ranger, is renamed the "Green Ranger").

Reptar (from Rugrats)

A popular cartoon show, Rugrats, has Reptar, a Prehistoric Green Dinosaur that made his way to the present. Clearly inspired by Godzilla, right down to the bad American voice acting for the Japanese characters, Reptar has taken to the more heroic front, similar to his live action counterpart in the later Showa series.

Reptilicus

The star of the 1961 Danish film of the same name, Reptilicus is a dragonish or serpentine monster able, like Godzilla, to regenerate.

Raki

See Raki

Score/music

External links

Official

Information

Analysis

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