Godzilla



Godzilla is a fictional monster featured in Japanese films. He was first seen in the 1954 film Gojira, produced by Toho Film Company Ltd. To date, Toho has produced 28 Godzilla films. In 1998, TriStar Pictures produced a remake, set in New York City.

Godzilla is the personification of the horror of nuclear weapons. Created by a nuclear blast, his sheer size, power, horror and destruction are to show that of the atomic bomb, such as those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As the series continued, the great beast is developed as a character, and becomes something of an anti-hero.

Godzilla is one of the defining aspects of Japanese popular culture for many people worldwide. Though his popularity has waned slightly over the years, he is still one of the most renowned monsters in the world. To this day, Godzilla remains an important facet of Japanese films, embodying the kaiju or "giant monster" subset of the tokusatsu genre.

In the Japanese films, Godzilla is depicted as a gigantic dinosaur with rough, bumpy, charcoal grey scales, a powerful tail, and bone colored dorsal fins shaped like maple leaves. His origins vary somewhat from film to film, but he is almost always described as a prehistoric creature, and his first attacks on Japan are linked to the begininng of the Atomic Age. In particular, nuclear mutation is presented as being an explanation for his great size and strange powers; fury unleashed from man splitting the atom. Godzilla's design was inspired by various species of dinosaurs; specifically, he has the body of a Tyrannosaurus, the long arms of an Iguanodon, and the dorsal fins of a Stegosaurus.

For many, the name "Godzilla" is popularly associated with poor special effects, men in rubber suits, bad dubbing and monster fights. This stereotype, based on heavily re-edited American releases, and the less serious entries in the series (the 70's in particular), dilute and even ignore the message behind the original film. The original Godzilla film was meant as an allegorical criticism of the use of nuclear warfare at the end of World War II. Ishiro Honda's witnessing of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the primary inspiration for the anti-nuclear message behind the original Godzilla film.

The original film was not seen in the US in its original form until 2004 when Rialto Pictures distributed it to art theaters in an uncut, undubbed, uncensored, English-subtitled presentation. Before this, the only domestically licensed version of the film available to Americans was the edited 1956 adaptation, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. In this version, most of the key anti-nuclear messages had been softened or removed, and the rhetoric was completely changed, probably due to the fact that the original Japanese film referred to a 1954 incident concerning the Japanese fisherboat "Fukuryu Maru" (Lucky Dragon):

"…in March 1954, the United States exploded a fifteen-megaton H-bomb that unexpectedly sent substantial fallout across a seven-thousand-square-mile area. Twenty-eight military personnel and 239 Marshall Islanders at a presumably 'safe' distance were exposed to high radiation. The United States attempted to downplay the incident until it was discovered that a Japanese tuna boat, the Fukuryû Maru or 'Lucky Dragon,' had also been hit by fallout. The entire crew developed radiation sickness, and one member soon died."

The name "Godzilla" is said to be a combination of two Japanese words: gorira 'gorilla' and kujira 'whale'. The word alludes to the size, power and aquatic origin of Godzilla. A popular story is that "Gojira" was actually the nickname of a large employee of Toho Studio. The validity of this claim is questionable to say the least, because in the 50+ years since the films original release, no one claiming to be the employee ever stepped forward and no photographs of that same said employee have ever surfaced.

There are arguments as to exactly how the creatures name is pronounced. Purists tend to say that the Japanese Kana, pronounced "Go-JEE-Rah", is correct while others state that the Americanized name "God-ZIL-la" is closer to the original pronunciation. The reality is a combination of both. The first Kana symbol is pronounced "Go". While it is true that modern Japanese pronounce the second Kana "JEE", back in the 1950's when Godzilla was created, the Kana was pronounced "DZEE", a "ZEE" sound with a touch of a "D" at the beginning. The third Kana is pronounced "rah", starting with an "R" sound with just a hint of an "L", similar to the slight tongue flap used in the Spanish "R" sound, followed by an "ah". This makes the original pronunciation "Go-DZEE-rah".

Nevertheless, the correct pronunciation is Gojira, as it was originally meant as the monster's name and has retained the exact writing form from era to era. The pronunciation of cast members is individual accent or dialect or both, thus making the name sound bit different.

There have been eight different incarnations of Godzilla over the course of the character's existence (eleven if Zilla, Hanna Barbara Godzilla and Marvel Godzilla are taken into account as well). Since the movies created by Toho are what is regarded as canon, the eight incarnations of the cinematic Godzilla will be presented here.

The original Godzilla in Godzilla or Godzilla, King of the Monsters! was a prehistoric monster over 400 feet tall and weighting 20,000 metric tons that was disturbed by American atom bomb testing in the Pacific Ocean. After attacking Tokyo, destroying much of the city and killing tens of thousands, Godzilla was defeated when the scientist Dr. Daisuke Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata) sacrificed himself to use an experimental weapon, the Oxygen Destroyer, which dissolved Godzilla’s flesh from his bones. It was stated at the end of the film that it was doubtful that there was only one creature, alluding not only to the many incarnations of Godzilla that would later appear but also to all the other kaiju monsters that would be featured in movies produced by Toho.

The following series would use the events of the first movie as part of their narrative but would occur in their own continuity separate from each other.

As alluded to at the end of the original movie, Godzilla again surfaced at first as a menace in Godzilla Raids Again (shown in the United States as Gigantis, The Fire Monster. Setting the tone for future Showa-series films, Godzilla's fate is uncertain at the end. His next film was 1962's King Kong vs Godzilla, Kingu Kongu tai Gojira, where once again, the ending was ambiguous. (Urban legend has it there were two endings filmed: one for the Japanese audience, with Godzilla winning, and one for the American audience, with Kong the victor. There was only one ending - the one in the released film.) The "bad" Godzilla's final film in the Showa series was 1964's Godzilla vs. The Thing (that being the original American release title, but since better known as Mothra vs. Godzilla, Mosura tai Gojira. Starting with Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla took on the "good guy" persona he would wear for the remainder of the series. He would team up with Mothra, Rodan and Anguirus to battle a variety of foes both mundane (Ebirah, Kumonga and Kamacuras) and bizarre (Hedorah, Gigan and Megalon). He even gained a son in the form of Minilla. The series ended with Terror of Mechagodzilla in 1975. The final scene depicted Godzilla wading off into the sea, not to be seen until his return in the VS series ten years later.

The VS series is in the era known as the Heisei Period wherein, not only did Godzilla return after more than a decade's absence, but it marked a transition between the reign of the Showa Emperor Hirohito to that of his son Akihito now dubbed the Heisei Emperor.

In The Return of Godzilla, rather than being disturbed by atom bomb testing in the Pacific Ocean, the second Godzilla monster of the Versus series, 80 meters tall and 50,000 metric tons, is the direct result. After his battle with the Super X Godzilla would be lured to Mount Mihara by Professor Hayashida where he would be dropped into the lava below. There he entered a state of dormancy.

During his slumber, Japan would develop the Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria (ANB) as a contingency in case Godzilla ever returned.

Reawakened by explosions, Godzilla headed for Lake Ashino where he would do battle with Biollante, the hybrid monster of Godzilla’s own DNA and the cells of a rose. In their battle the ANB had taken effect and forced the battle to draw. Biollante was mortally wounded and Godzilla had fallen into the ocean, where he would die from the ANB. The cold waters of the Pacific would lower Godzilla’s body temperature, forcing the ANB to fall dormant and allowing Godzilla to live on.

In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, time travelers from the future go back in time to 1944 to relocate the Godzillasaurus (which would become the second Godzilla) in the Bering Sea, and to replace it with their own creation - 3 tiny Dorats, which were harmless pets of the Futurians - to allow it to undergo Godzilla’s nuclear transformation instead, mutating and combining them into a three headed golden dragon, King Ghidorah.

In efforts to stop the Futurians' monster, those who were tricked into leading the Futurians to the Godzillasaurus made plans to send a nuclear submarine into the Bering Sea in an attempt to create the second Godzilla. Instead of finding the Godzillasaurus, the submarine would come face to face with Godzilla himself, 100 meters tall and 60,000 metric tons. The Futurians’ ignorance of the past leads them to create the second Godzilla in the first place rather than removing him from history. Godzilla would absorb the power of the nuclear sub, and not only would it seem to have cured the monster of the ANB but it would also mutate it even further, becoming powerful enough to defeat King Ghidorah, the Futurians’ monster. Godzilla went on to attack Japan himself, but was stopped when Emmy, one of the Futurians who had turned on her fellows, resurrected Ghidorah as a cyborg , Mecha-King Ghidorah. The two battled in Tokyo, with both falling into the sea at the movie's conclusion.

Further movies showed mankind's efforts in defeating Godzilla while also being challenged by other monsters such as Mothra, Rodan and SpaceGodzilla. This series featured a team of monster-fighting soldiers called G-Force. Several ways G-Force planned to stop Godzilla included the construction of two "mecha-kaiju", Mecha Godzilla (who would do battle with both Godzilla and Rodan) and M.O.G.U.E.R.A, also called Moguera (Godzilla and SpaceGodzilla). Like in the previous series, Godzilla had a son, this time the smaller creature was simply called "Baby Godzilla", "Little Godzilla" and "Godzilla Junior" (Junior for short).

Ultimately this Godzilla would meet his end in the finale of the versus series, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. Everything comes full circle when Godzilla faced with a monster, Destoroyah, created by the experimental weapon, the Oxygen Destroyer, which was used to kill the first Godzilla in 1954. The end of Godzilla came when the radiation became too much for his body to control, and he finally succumbed to a total nuclear meltdown. This was not the end of Godzilla's legacy, however, the wounded Godzilla Junior absorbed all of the energies from his "father"'s remains and fully matured into an adult Godzilla like him.

The Millennium series is unique because rather than creating a single continuity that all the films would follow, the series would instead be compromised by a number of discrete narratives, each using only the original Godzilla film as a backdrop. It is often called the "Shinsei" series by Western fans --meaning "rebirth" - however the name is not recognized by Toho.

As a direct sequel of the original movie, the Godzilla, 55 meters tall and 25,000 metric tons, depicted in Godzilla 2000: Millennium is not related to any other Godzillas seen previously, or to those to come. It is unclear whether this Godzilla is the same as the original, but what is known is that he has been attacking and feeding off of Japan’s energy plants for some time. An alien UFO obtains some of Godzilla’s DNA in order to adapt to Earth’s atmosphere and becomes the monster Orga. The two monsters battle and Godzilla prevails by destroying his foe as it attempted to swallow him whole.

Though Godzilla looks the same in this film as he did in Godzilla 2000: Millennium, this movie takes place in a seperate continuity from the previous film. The Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus attacked Tokyo in 1954, the Tokaimura Power Plant in 1966, and Osaka in 1996. In 2001 Godzilla would be the first to encounter the Meganura threat. However, shortly after this, Godzilla would be lured to Kiganjima Island where he would fall victim to a top secret weapon, the Dimension Tide. The attack would be interrupted by the Meganura allowing Godzilla meet their queen, Megaguirus in battle. After Godzilla's victory he would fall victim once again to the Dimension Tide and be buried deep underneath the city.

Again disregarding the continuity of previous films of the millennium series, the Godzilla in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack is confirmed to be the original monster, now driven by the souls of those who died in the Pacific in World War II. This film returns the Godzilla to his roots of being a genuinely malevolent being who deliberately seeks to punish Japan for the sins of WWII. Godzilla would do battle with the Yamato beasts Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah but ultimately would meet his end by the actions of general Tachibana, who piloted a submersible down Godzilla's throat and out through a wound in his neck. The next two times Godzilla attempted to use his thermonuclear breath it shot out of his wound, and eventually tore him apart from the inside. This would not be his end. At the bottom of Tokyo Bay the monster's heart lived on, beginning to rejuvenate his body.

For the first time in the Millennium Series, a specific Godzilla would appear in a series of two movies, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.. As predicted at the end of the original film, a second Godzilla emerges in the middle of a typhoon in 1999 but would be driven away. In 2003 in its attack on Tokyo, he was temporarily defeated by the new Mechagodzilla, Kiryu. Godzilla reappeared in 2004 where it would take the combined efforts of Kiryu, Mothra and her larva to bring him down.

The Godzilla from Godzilla: Final Wars is the last Godzilla as of 2004; Toho has decided to retire the franchise for a period of 5-10 years to renew interest in the future.

It seems this Godzilla was the same from 1954, despite being significantly larger, and had the same actions of all previous incarnations of Godzilla. Decades before the main story starts, Godzilla was buried in ice at the South Pole by the Earth Defense Force’s aerial battle ship Gotengo. When the Xilians, an alien race, used many of the earth own monsters in attempts to conquer it, the EDF would have to be forced to free Godzilla from the ice to fight for mankind. This Godzilla was lured towards the Xilians' mothership in Tokyo while he fought the Xilians' monsters along the way, defeating/destroying each one in his path including Zilla, Kumonga, Kamacuras, Rodan, King Caesar, Anguirus, Ebirah and Hedorah.

He at last arrived in Tokyo just in time for an asteroid to enter Earth's atmosphere. Godzilla attempted to stop it by exhaling his atomic breath on it, causing it to explode and releasing the real threat, Monster X. Mothra came to atack Gigan while the Xilians summoned the revived and rebuilt Gigan. Gigan perished and Mothra dies with Gigan while Monster X transformed into a new form, Kaiser Ghidorah, who nearly killed Godzilla if it weren't for Ozaki transferring his mutant powers into Godzilla, restoring his strength and empowering him enough to destroy Keizer Ghidorah. Turning his attention back on his old enemies, Godzilla shot down the Gotengo and was prepared to finish its crew off if Godzilla's infant son, Minilla, had not intervened, pleading Godzilla to stop. Tired from his past battles, Godzilla returns to the ocean with his son.

Over the years Godzilla has possessed many powers and abilities to use against his foes. Godzilla is generally considered to be one of the most powerful kaiju in the series.

Godzilla's strongest weapon is his distinctive Atomic Breath. Godzilla's dorsal fins glow ominously, and then he lets loose with a concentrated blast of radiation from his mouth.

Godzilla has been shown apparently being able to adjust the intensity of his ray, varying from a wispy spray of steam or flame (such as in the 50s and 60s), to a beam with explosive and kinetic properties, (in the 70s and onward.) The beam is usually portrayed as being neon blue, though in some films it is reddish orange.

In Godzilla vs. Megaguirus the beam was shown to have incredible incendiary properties and was powerful enough to destroy a miniature black hole, while in Godzilla: Final Wars, it posessed incredible range, power and accuracy, able to hit a target in outer space and kill most Kaiju with a single shot. In a memorable scene in Godzilla versus the Smog Monster, Godzilla even used his atomic breath to fly by aiming it at the ground and lifting off like a rocket.

A variation on this in the Heisei series was that Godzilla gained a terrifying red spiral beam as a result of absorbing the essence of Rodan. This beam was so powerful that only a few blasts of it was sufficient to completely destroy Mechagodzilla II and SpaceGodzilla. The spiral beam returned in Final Wars, and was strong enough to push Kaiser Ghidorah into the upper atmosphere and then utterly destroy him in a massive explosion visible from space.

In addition to his deadly atomic breath, Godzilla can also emit thermonuclear energy in all directions from every inch of his skin in a short pulse, capable of stunning any enemy in his proximity. Godzilla only used the nuclear pulse in the heisei series, though many have presumed that the final attack used on Orga in Godzilla 2000 was a Nuclear Pulse as well.

In the showa Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, after being struck several times by lightning, Godzilla found a way to generate powerful magnetic fields from his body, which proved devastating against his metallic foe.

Using a similar power, Godzilla discharged energy up the shock anchor cables and into the heisei Mechagodzilla, overheating the robot monster's circuitry.

Godzilla has displayed an almost immortal ability to absorb punishment over the years.

Right from the get-go, Godzilla displayed an immunity to conventional weaponry, effortlessly shrugging off everything the JSDF threw at him. His skin is so tough that it can withstand molten lava. The only times he has visibly bled were in battle with the showa Gigan, the Super X, Biollante, Destroyer, and from Mechagodzilla's weapons in both the showa and heisei series.

Similar to certain lizards and salamanders, Godzilla possesses a highly efficient regenerative ability, only far, far more advanced. (This power was a crucial plot point of Godzilla 2000: Millennium and Godzilla vs Biollante). In Godzilla 2000, it is explained that Godzilla's regenerative abilities may have something to do with his radioactive properties, and "Regenerator G1" (Organizer G1 in the original japanese) is the name given to his healing power. Godzilla's skin is tough enough on its own to withstand most types of damage, and even when an attack breaks his hide, thanks to his advanced regeneration his wounds heal almost instantly. These factors taken together make Godzilla practically invincible.

Godzilla has displayed varied levels of physical strength. He is shown using martial arts in a comical fashion the Shōwa Series, or moving very quickly in spite of his size, (such as in Zone Fighter). In the millennium series he has also been able to leap high into the air (in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus and Godzilla: Final Wars).

Godzilla's long tail is also a formidable weapon. It has been shown to be very flexible and powerful, able to lash out quickly and topple over buildings and enemy monsters. In Godzilla versus Megalon, he was even able to slide on his tail a great distance to deliver a devastating "dropkick", and in Godzilla vesus Megaguirus it was revealed to be prehensile as well. In all his incarnations he has been shown to have powerful jaws and claws, although these are more prominent in some incarnations than in others.

However, many of the films show Godzilla preferring to battle his opponents from long range; either by using his atomic breath, or by hurling massive objects such as boulders or entire buildings.

Like any amphibious creature, Godzilla spends most his life in the water, occasionally emerging from the sea to wreak havoc or save the day. He is as adept a fighter underwater as he is on land. Capable of marching on the sea floor or swimming by undulating his tail like a crocodile, Godzilla is displayed as being able to breathe underwater (often hibernating in the ocean depths between movies), and being submerged apparently does not impend his ability to fire his atomic breath. He engages opponents in the sea on multiple occasions, fighting Ebirah, Battra and King Ghidorah beneath the waves.

Despite his incredible strength, Godzilla has displayed a few weaknesses over the years. Early in the showa series, he was vulnerable to electricity, though this weakness was apparently dropped. In the Heisei series, Godzilla is revealed to have a second brain in his spine, and Mechagodzilla was able to temporarily kill him by destroying it- however, he was revived by Rodan and further films seem to ignore this achilles heel. Anti-nuclear bacteria has had an effect on him, though Godzilla's immune system was eventually able to overcome it. In The Return of Godzilla, Godzilla was shown to be vulnerable to Cadmium. It was also suggested in Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla that Godzilla has a soft spot under each armpit, however the validity of this claim was highly dubious and was never exploited.

To date, the only weapon to ever shown to be truly effective against Godzilla was Dr. Serizawa's Oxygen Destroyer, which was able to kill the original Godzilla, overcoming his regeneration by dissolving him down to the bone and then into nothing. However, the technology for this weapon was lost forever when Dr. Serizawa died along with the original Godzilla.

Godzilla's trademark roar originally began as a low, groaning bellow, created when the series' famous composer, Akira Ifukube, rubbed a resin coated glove on a contrabass and resonated the sound, but has since developed into a highpitched shriek.

1998 saw the release of an American film called Godzilla, which bears little resemblance to previous works, with modern visual effects, but a script generally held to be poor and an interpretation of the character widely disliked by Godzilla fans.

Godzilla made his American series debut in the 1978 Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning show The Godzilla Power Hour. Godzilla cartoons were paired with cartoons featuring Jana of the Jungle. The series ran, both as part of the hour and with the Godzilla segments airing as a separate half-hour show, until 1981.

The second cartoon series, which aired on Fox Kids, was based off the events of the 1998 American movie. Godzilla: The Series featured an offspring of the movie Godzilla which had grown to full size. In a similar fashion to earlier animated works, Godzilla traveled around the world with a group of humans, including scientist Nick Tatopoulos, battling monsters. As a result of its parent, this Godzilla had all the abilities of the original and a few more besides. While the film version never actually breathed fire, the cartoon version had the ability to breath a green atomic flame similar to the original.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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