Bagan バガン [Unused Character]

Bagan (2nd Version)
Bagan

Conceived By : Kazuki Omori & Shinji Nishikawa / Koichi Kawakita & Yasushi Nirasawa

Powers / Weapons

Can change between a land-based Spirit God Beast form, a flying Dragon God Beast form, and a Demon God Beast form / Light Ray fired from forehead horn; arm-mounted wings which enable flight; can discharge invisible energy from claws; adept swimmer; can create multiple water vortexes while underwater; extraordinary jumper; whip-like tail; weakness to Mothra’s poisonous powder

CONSIDERED FOR

Mothra vs. Bagan (1990); Mothra vs. Godzilla (1990); Godzilla 3 (1991); Godzilla vs. Bagan (1995); Rebirth of Mothra (1996); Rebirth of Mothra II (1997); Yamato Takeru II (1997); Rebirth of Mothra III (1998)

Series // Unused Character

No Sound

History

Toho's most well-known failed creation, who was up for a number of screenplays as well as being featured in some of the 1990's Godzilla merchandise. Although considered for eight films, there are three distinct versions of the character.

The first rendering of Bagan technically began in 1980 for the ambitious project Resurrection of Godzilla (Tanaka Proposal), where it went under the name "Bakan" and was a magical creature capable of transforming into a Monkey God Beast, Water God Beast, Dragon God Beast, and a final Demon Beast totem-like form. As Bakan, this monster would have fought against Godzilla, but would have eventually fallen after a fierce battle.

The next occurred following production on Godzilla vs. Biollante in 1989. Toho felt it was time to resurrect their second-most popular kaiju, and one of their most recognizable characters: Mothra. For this perceived project, the firm decided to pit the deity against an all-new foe for the big screen. Conceptually, this version of Bagan started off as a revival of the unused 1980 Resurrection of Godzilla (Tanaka Proposal) antagonist Bakan, only with a minor name change, while still being a monster consisting of three forms: a mammalian Spirit God Beast form, equivalent to Bakan's Monkey God Beast form; a Dragon God Beast form, which fused aspects of the Dragon God Beast and Water God Beast forms of Bakan; and a Demon God Beast form, which replaced Bakan's Water God Beast form entirely. Like its 1980 rendition, Bagan would have been able to transform into these three forms, but unlike its old concept, there is no indication that it would have had a fourth and final "true" form equivalent like the one introduced in the 1983 manuscript Resurrection of Godzilla (Nagahara Draft).

However, as the script neared completion and the various mythological and Chinese-inspired aspects of Bagan became more prominent, Koichi Kawakita decided that it having three forms was unnecessary, resulting in its second and final redesign for the movie – paralleling its abilities from its previous depictions, Bagan was created as a singular titan with mastery over land, sea, and air, and was even given the "Demon Beast" subtitle used for Bakan's final form. Bagan was equipped with large arm-mounted wings to fly akin to its flying forms, was adept at swimming like its aquatic forms, and was predominately a melee fighter similarly to its land-based forms. While it lost the shapeshifting element, it was given other abilities to compensate, such as a Light Ray it could fire from its forehead horn and the ability to discharge invisible energy from its fingertips. The demonic monstrosity carried the title "god of darkness," and was made to be the antithesis of Mothra, whom is described in the film as being the guardian deity of the forests.

Unfortunately, the ambitious movie, titled Mothra vs. Bagan and slated for a 1990 release, never came to pass, even though producer Tomoyuki Tanaka had given the project his blessings. The production's cancellation lay in the fact that Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) didn't meet Toho's expectations at the box office, and creating a larger-budgeted Mothra picture was deemed an unwise move by the company, as was the idea of featuring an entirely new monster. Likewise, a planned 1991 release tentatively named Godzilla 3, which would have gone more into Bagan's background, was also shelved, while a totally new draft created in 1990 by Kazuki Omori titled Mothra vs. Godzilla that may have featured Bagan was also set aside in favor of resurrecting King Ghidorah for Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991).

While Mothra vs. Bagan never saw the light of day, many elements were eventually reworked into 1992's Godzilla vs. Mothra, including characters, the message of environmental destruction, and the plot. The part of Bagan was rewritten to incorporate the "evil Mothra" Gigamoth from the scrapped 1992 movie Godzilla vs. Gigamoth. The concept of Gigamoth would eventually evolve into the "Battle Mothra" Battra, with Battra being given the personality and motivations of Bagan.

Mothra vs. Bagan didn't mark the end of the demon beast, however. Sometime in 1992, development began on a video game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and the role of the game's final boss was handed over to Bagan. As development on the game progressed, Yasushi Nirasawa's intended movie design for Bagan was instead swapped out in favor of one of Minoru Yoshida's unused concepts, a design more influenced by Chinese mythology, thus finally giving Bagan an official look. The video game, titled Super Godzilla, eventually saw a release in late 1993 in Japan and a mid-1994 release in North America.

Two years after the game's Japanese release, the name of Bagan once again resurfaced. With TriStar's GODZILLA (1998) looming on the horizon, Toho decided it was time to wrap up the Heisei VS series and started work on the final Godzilla film of the '90s. Whispers of a movie production titled Godzilla vs. Bagan began to circulate, one of several ideas floating around to act as Godzilla's theatrical send-off into temporary retirement. However, Bagan's big screen appearance was not in the cards. An entirely new monster named Barubaroi was instead created, a shapeshifting monstrosity with ties to the original 1954 film. Over time, the concept of Barubaroi would evolve into Destoroyah, with the last Godzilla film of the Heisei era becoming Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995).

Despite Godzilla going on hiatus, Tomoyuki Tanaka continued to act as one of Bagan’s biggest advocates, as he still greatly favored the monster since its conception in 1980. Plans were made to include the demon beast in Yamato Takeru II, which would have featured Bagan teaming up with a revived Orochi to fight Yamato Takeru. However, as the first movie ended up performing poorly in theaters, the second film was canned. During this time, Mothra was seeing a fairly successful revival in her own trilogy of films, and the idea for Bagan to be included in the series was considered by Koichi Kawakita. But once again, luck was not on Bagan’s side: Ultimately, the final Mothra movie premiered in 1998 featuring King Ghidorah as the primary antagonist, and with the passing of Tomoyuki Tanaka in 1997, this marked the end of Bagan's aspiring movie career.

Bagan gave his last hurrah when he was officially featured, alongside Dogolas, in the 1996 CD-Rom Godzilla Movie Studio Tour. The disc featured a highly detailed, full-color and poseable character design model created by toy company Kaiyodo Co., Ltd. Despite promising beginnings in 1980, and a somewhat constant push throughout the Heisei era, Bagan, Tanaka's treasured child, sleeps...


Images

Trivia
  • The pictures seen above of Bagan (2nd Generation) were taken from the Godzilla Movie Studio Tour CD-Rom. Interestingly, while a majority of pictures in the program are saved as gif-like images with less than 128 colors, the monsters displayed in the Publicity Dep. have both 128-color images and fully-detailed non-gif renders saved in the files, the latter of which can be seen above.
  • The "Bagan (2nd Version) Model" in the gallery was created by digital artist dopepope using Yasushi Nirasawa's concept art as a basis and commissioned for use on Toho Kingdom by staff. More images of this model can be viewed on dopepope's ArtStation and deviantArt pages.
  • In the Mothra vs. Bagan storyboards, one of the characters first introduces Bagan by referring to the monster by its name in Kanji: 「馬銜」.
  • The finalized 2nd Version design intended to appear in Mothra vs. Bagan is credited to Yasushi Nirasawa, who heavily based his design on the West's interpretation of the devil. This detail and the various turnarounds in the gallery can be found in the 2002 Toho-published Japanese DVD release of Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992). However, the canonical design known today was featured as the final boss in the 1993 Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) video game Super Godzilla, and was created by Minoru Yoshida. The Toho monster designer was given the idea to turn Bagan into a Chinese-like dragon after studying the contents of the Mothra vs. Bagan movie manuscript, with a variation of this design being prominently featured in storyboard artwork.

    The three-formed 1st Version was largely illustrated by Shinji Nishikawa. Both Minoru Yoshida and Shinji Nishikawa created many illustrations for the 2nd and 1st Versions of Bagan respectively. A number of Nishikawa's Bagan designs can be viewed in his book, Shinji Nishikawa: Drawing Book of Godzilla (ISBN: 480030959X), while a majority of 2nd Version designs and other information can be found in the 2012 book Heisei Godzilla Perfection (ISBN: 4048861190).
  • The video game version of Bagan and Yoshida's black-and-red 2nd Version design are regarded as being the same entity by Toho, which is why the latter always appears in Super Godzilla-related material, despite the former having concept art created for it. Even the Super Famicom Super Godzilla Official Guide Book (ASIN: B00MISKFJ8) notes Bagan having three claws, despite his in-game sprite having four, and utilizes a recolored version of Yoshida's artwork as a basis for the illustration. The video game design and black-and-red concept are also nearly identical in terms of abilities to Yoshida's unused white-and-green 2nd Version design, whose anatomy art can be seen in the gallery above.
  • In his book Shinji Nishikawa: Drawing Book of Godzilla (ISBN: 480030959X), Nishikawa mentions that of the three 1st Version forms, only the Spirit God Beast's design was specifically mentioned in an early draft of the plot, it having "a figure like an elephant."
  • In an article featured in Heisei Godzilla Perfection (ISBN: 4048861190), Bagan is mentioned as being one of Tomoyuki Tanaka's favorite monsters, ever since its conception for the unmade movie Resurrection of Godzilla (Tanaka Proposal) in 1980. Tanaka was also the biggest influence for trying to push Bagan into various projects during the Heisei era - all the way up to his passing in 1997. The beast is referred to as Tanaka's monster "Onikko" (Japanese: 鬼っ子), or "demon child".
  • A number of familiar Japanese designers have had a hand in the molding of Bagan's appearance over the years, including: Shinji Nishikawa; Yasushi Nirasawa; Hiroto Aragaki; Takashi Sonoyama; and Minoru Yoshida.
  • Kilazee Concept ArtOne of Bagan's concept designs was later reworked into the monster Kilazee (Japanese: シラリー) from the 1990's tokusatsu TV series Ultraman: Towards the Future (also known as Ultraman Great), while Bagan himself was used as a base for the Ultraman monster Reborn Birugamera (Japanese: 再生ビルガメラー), who was featured in the 1992 Japanese-only PC game Ultra Special Tactics Squad Go! (Japanese: ウルトラ作戦 科特隊出動せよ!) with designer credits given to Shinji Nishikawa and Yoshihide Inada. The mention of Reborn Birugamera (pictured right, bottom image) is from issue #83 of B-CLUB (ISBN: 4891892447), while that of Kilazee can be found in Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G" (ISBN: 1550223488). Special thanks goes to James McCleary of Delta Plasma for providing the scan of Kilazee's colored concept artwork (pictured right, top image).

    Reborn Birugamera Concept ArtOn the other hand, one monster commonly misconstrued to be Bagan is the Terrifying Space Beast, Reizaus. Featured in episode 2 of Toho's tokusatsu TV show Super Star Fleet Sazer-X, a clip from Reizaus's premiere episode was edited with black bars and no sound effects, then uploaded online with music from Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), in an effort to pass itself off as lost footage from the aforementioned movie. While later revealed to be a hoax, ironically, the similarities between Bagan and Reizaus may not be entirely coincidental: a paragraph in Heisei Godzilla Perfection (ISBN: 4048861190) mentions how a large number of designs featured in Super Star Fleet Sazer-X were directly inspired by kaiju from Toho's own library, and two of the monster designers attached to the show - Shinji Nishikawa and Minoru Yoshida - have had a hand in creating numerous concepts for Bagan in the past. While potentially inspired (both appearance- and power-wise) by the official design by Yoshida, Reizaus's specific inspirations remain unconfirmed.
  • The mention for the lost project Godzilla vs. Bagan can be found in an interview conducted with director Takao Okawara by David Milner in December 1995.
  • The motivations and personality of Battra were lifted directly from the version of Bagan intended to appear in Mothra vs. Bagan, only tweaked to make Battra more sympathetic and somewhat more benevolent.
  • The video game monsters Balkzardan and Jyarumu from the 1998 video game Godzilla: Trading Battle bare striking similarities with Bagan's various unmade and canonical incarnations. Specifically, Balkzardan is equipped with powerful electrical abilities and its design is highly reminiscent to some Bagan concepts, while Jyarumu carries arm-mounted wings and a prominent face-horn, as well as being an extremely violent monster that was awakened from a tomb of ice due to global warming.

    Likewise, early concept artwork by Minoru Yoshida for the Rebirth of Mothra (1996) antagonist Desghidorah have the monster sporting three familiar horns on its face, and having it colored after Bagan's red-and-black 2nd Version design. Desghidorah was also said to have done battle with a clan of Mothra before being sealed away, details strikingly similar to what occurred to Bagan in the Mothra vs. Bagan storyboards.
  • For some of its later unused movie designs, Bagan's tail was intended to be incredibly long so to take advantage of its whip-like properties. This is best depicted with the design featured in the storyboard artwork for Mothra vs. Bagan.
  • Some of the 2nd Version designs created by Shinji Nishikawa have Bagan appearing like a giant armored beetle. This was done so to make Bagan more of a contrast Mothra, being a large insect herself.

    On the other hand, a handful of his standalone 1st Version sketches are much more radical than the rest. During the very early stages of Mothra vs. Bagan, as Bagan itself had yet to be described in the plot, Nishikawa drew a wide variety of designs ahead of time before the three-formed shapeshifting direction was decided.