Character Analysis: 2.0
In 1974, director Jun Fukuda rang in Godzilla's 20th anniversary with his fifth, and final, film in the kaiju genre: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. The movie pits Godzilla against his mechanical double, but also introduces a kaiju inspired by Okinawa legend: King Caesar.
Guardian of the royal Azumi family, King Caesar must be summoned out of his eternal slumber once a series of prophecies has been fulfilled. The prophecies start when clouds in the shape of a black mountain appear in the sky. The prophecy continues after a red moon sets, and a mirage of the sun must appear to rise from the west. Following this turn of events, King Caesar's statue must be placed atop the sacred shrine above the gate of the Azumi Castle where it can reveal the hiding place of the Okinawa deity. After the monster is revealed he can then only be awoken by the song of a direct descendent of the Azumi royal family.
Taken from Chinese culture, King Caesar is based on the Shisa statues that were placed near the entrances to castles, temples, and imperial mausoleums in Okinawa to ward off evil spirits. The Shisa statues are modeled after lions, with the original legend containing a small Shisa statue that cracks open to summon a giant Shisa who protects a Okinawa village from a dragon. Toho, likely still anxious to celebrate Okinawa's reunification with Japan which occurred on May 15th, 1972 (Toho and Tsuburaya Productions had previously planned a joint project called Godzilla vs. Redmoon to ring in this event, but the film fell through), incorporates this legend into their creation, with King Caesar being evoked by a Shisa-like statue and by featuring circular fur patterns which were common on the Shisa statues.
Although King Caesar looks like a flesh and blood monster, a cutaway view of the kaiju reveals something completely different. Contained in his chest appears to be brick like surfaces, while the belly houses large gems, like the one found behind his eyes. His arms are particularly interesting though, as they appear to be constructed from a metal frame, which raises the question: what is King Caesar's origin? Was he manufactured by the Okinawa people themselves? Although his origin does remain a mystery, the cutaway view of the metal frame work and brick like surfaces does explain the unusually high mass of the kaiju. For his 50 meter size he weighs 30,000 tons, which is 10,000 tons more than Godzilla and 5,000 tons heavier than Gigan, who is also 15 meters taller.
Despite his added weight, King Caesar is surprisingly agile, and was able to fend off Mechagodzilla successfully for a short period of time. His added mass and agility compliment themselves well though, as seen in the movie when King Caesar was able to charge and slam into Mechagodzilla with a devastating effect. Beyond his agility, though, the Okinawa deity possess one other ability which will be a focal point of this article: his ability to reflect beams.
The most memorable feature about King Caesar tends to be his ability to deflect beams shot into his eyes. A cutaway view of the monster's head reveals exactly how this process works. As previously discussed, in spite of a organic appearance from the exterior, the Okinawa deity's interior is filled with inorganic materials where one would expect to find bones and organs. Furthermore, located directly behind his eyes, in place of any sort of brain for the creature, lies a giant gem. So as a beam is fired into King Caesar's eye, it passes directly though it and into the gem. The beam then proceeds to ricochet off the mirror like walls of the gem until it reaches the other eye and is then reflected back at its source. Although sounding slightly complex, this process generally takes around a second from when the beam enters one eye to be shot out the other.
Because of the success of this power against Mechagodzilla, King Caesar was able to reflect three of Mechagodzilla's beams, there has been some speculation surrounding if perhaps energy was drawn toward his eyes. This theory is easily discredited, though, when Mechagodzilla is surrounded by both Godzilla and King Caesar and the mechanical kaiju scores a direct hit on King Caesar's forehead with his eye beams, which sends the Okinawa deity collapsing to the ground. Unfortunately, King Caesar's reflective eyes are as limited as it sounds. King Caesar's opponent must consciously fire directly into one of the Okinawa deity's eyes in order for this power to be utilized.
In closing, King Caesar is often overlooked due to his being laid to waste by Mechagodzilla, a kaiju who could easily have defeated most of the Showa monsters, and the very limited nature of his reflective eyes; however, in terms of "tooth and claw" monsters, King Caesar is one of the more powerful of the Showa era.