Character Analysis: Gigan [Showa Series]
Anatomy - Abilities - Fighting Tactics - Power Ranking - Character Bio

Published: 09/30/13
Updated: 07/18/17

Energy Rating Energy
Durability Rating Durability
Intelligence Rating Intelligence
Strength Rating Strength
Speed Rating Speed

A cyborg monster, Gigan is an alien creature first seen under the control of Nebula Space Hunter M. Introduced in Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), the creature quickly became one of Toho's most recognizable characters and a popular adversary for the King of the Monsters.

The beast's history was always shrouded in mystery, however, as Gigan was clearly more than just an alien creature, yet was given no additional backstory. Despite a lavish design as well, the creature always seemed rather simplistic in terms of powers, lacking on the immense list of extravagant abilities shown by Hedorah and Mechagodzilla in the same decade. At least, so it seems in his featured films.

 

Anatomy

Cutaway view of Gigan (1992)
Cutaway view of Gigan (1992)

Gigan, almost more than anyone, is one of those characters who is begging for a cutaway view. A chance to see under the hood and understand a bit more about this mysterious creature. The cutaway view does not disappoint either, showing a monster that is far more machine than biological, missing almost all basic organs with the exception of a brain. The readout also presents a few powers not seen in his films or TV appearance, including the famous eye laser seen on posters.

Yet, unfortunately and in a rather unusual twist, Gigan is one of those characters that even official sources are contradictory on. To demonstrate, this article will focus on two licensed cutaway views of the character, one from 1992 and the other from 1993. Both sanctioned by Toho, and both sporting notable discrepancies in two areas.

Abilities

Universal Cutter

Cutaway view of Gigan (1993)
Cutaway view of Gigan (1993)

Easily the most unique aspect of the character, the cyborg sported a large buzzsaw in its abdomen. While not fond of using the weapon when grounded, only utilizing it against a building and to deter Anguirus from rushing toward Godzilla, the saw was often utilized in aerial attacks. This included making passing runs against Godzilla, with the saw slicing into him as the cyborg flew past.

Sadly, its the technology behind the blade where we find our first major discrepancy in the cutaways. As can be seen, one sports an actual buzzsaw blade located in the stomach powered by a central rotator. The other cutaway displays a saw that is moved through a chain system that is powered by an electromagnetic generator. Regardless of which is correct, there isn't necessarily a tactical advantage to either.

 

Hammer-claw Hands

Gigan's other defining trait, and most frequent offensive attack, are his large Hammer Claws. Created from cosmo steel, the appendages get their name from their sharp tip and long, blunt-like qualities. While the claws seem pretty straight forward in terms of their application in the film, they were outfitted with explosives by the Garogas in Zone Fighter (1973). These allowed the claws an extra kick in power, which floored Zone Fighter when Gigan struck him once in the head.

Sadly... the claws are the other major discrepancy between the cutaways, as both have added characteristics that aren't referenced by the other. The 1992 cutaway mentions venom as an added power of the claws. This might explain Godzilla feeling woozy towards the end of Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), having to bang his head to clear his vision to see Godzilla Tower and generally being lethargic when Gigan attacks him after the Tower has laced into him with its laser, but nothing in the movies would vouch that this is correct.

Meanwhile, the 1993 cutaway mentions vibration, via a tuning fork-like device inside the claw, and electricity being used to amplify their destructive force. However, much like the venom, nothing in the films would indicate this as the accurate explanation behind the Hammer Claws. A slight shame as depending on which is correct, it might alter how Gigan performs in battle against certain opponents, for example the venom would probably make quick work of Dogora. So unfortunately we can assume that their power is being amplified, but how is unknown.

 

Laser Knife

Thankfully, the rest of the cutaways don't present anything that overtly contradicts each other, and does leave us with a couple of facts not obvious in the films. The first is the laser cannon, which is heavily used in promotions such as posters for both Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) and Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973). Fan theories on why the laser isn't used in the movies run the gamut, although the most popular one is that a budget problem forced it to be removed. There is a scene in the 1972 film where clearly the laser was intended to be used, as Gigan is hit with a rock in the head and then the small cannon above his eye lights up.

Laser Knife
False start to the laser cannon


According to special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano, the reason the beam wasn't featured in the film was because he felt it didn't fit with the character. The original inspiration behind the cannon was to give the monster a "third eye", a mystical and esoteric concept related to human beings with psychic powers and enlightenment in Hinduism and Buddhism beliefs. However, the director ended up getting cold feet about giving something prestigious like that to a non-human creature like Gigan and decided against it in the end, although clearly very late into production. Regardless of Nakano's feelings, Toho still sees it as one of the monsters' powers and wasn't shy about using it a year later to help promote Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973). From a combat perspective, the laser cannon, also called a "laser knife" in sources like Godzilla Movie Studio Tour, was stated to be able to break through solid rock. Not a bad feat, but in the realm of kaiju its not all that impressive given that they are much more durable than stone.

 

Heat Ray

When Gigan first used a flame breath weapon in the Super Nintendo game Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters (1994), most assumed that it was something created for the game to flesh out the character's moveset. However, both cutaway sources and others, such as the previously mentioned Godzilla Movie Studio Tour, cite this as an actual power of the monster and some of these sources pre-date the game as well.

So why was this five thousand degree heat ray never used on film? Its possible that either it requires too much energy from Gigan to be effective and/or the monster felt his Hammer-claws and buzzsaw were more lethal to his opponents. If the game is any indication of what it might look like, the range is somewhat limited, like a short range flamethrower, meaning that the foe often would have been in swiping range. Either way, for combat purposes, its a non-issue given the monster never felt compelled to use it.

 

Fighting Tactics

The Space Hunter Nebula M cyborg was a cunning kaiju. Gigan demonstrated a penchant for scheming in battle, such as faking an injury to lure Godzilla closer to him. When paired with another monster, he would also take a lead roll, going as far as to order and instruct both King Ghidorah and Megalon.

Gigan ordering King Ghidorah
Gigan ordering King Ghidorah


While Gigan's intellect makes him a natural leader, his bravery, or lack there of, makes him a poor candidate for an exemplary one. It's not unusual for monsters to retreat from combat, King Ghidorah had done so in his first two appearances for example. However, Gigan tends to do so quickly when the tide starts to turn, and generally without regard for the teammate he is leaving behind. In both films Gigan attempted to leave early before being stopped, either by Godzilla's heat ray or Jet Jaguar ramming into him. While Gigan and King Ghidorah ended up retreating together in the end, Gigan's third attempt at doing so in Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), Megalon was not so lucky and was left alone against Godzilla and Jet Jaguar.

 

Power Ranking

Energy Rating Energy

Gigan had two energy based attacks: his Laser Knife and heat ray. However, the creature never elected to use them in combat. As a result, the effectiveness of these are hard to determine. On the basis of his heat ray, the attack did not posses the heat qualities of other kaiju weapons. For example, its 5,000 °C temprarture packed only 10% the heat of Mechagodzilla's unused Desto-Fire. Still, the fact that the cyborg had these would at least cause him to outclass those without energy attacks, like Anguirus, in this ranking.

 

Durability Rating Durability

In terms of durability, Gigan was probably below average for what Godzilla was used to dealing with. It was certainly below some of the other sturdy creatures like Rodan or King Ghidorah. For example, the maser tanks were quite effective against Gigan, bringing the creature to its knees. In contrast, the three-headed monster looked to be hurt by their fire, but not nearly as compromised. Godzilla's ray also proved quite damaging against Gigan. Every time the cyborg was struck by the beam he would topple over, often crashing to the ground if the monster was airborne.

Gigan crashing
Gigan crashing


The alien creature also met his untimely end as the result of Zone Fighter's Meteor Missile Might bracelets and a volley of the missiles, causing Gigan to foam at the mouth before exploding. While this doesn't speak greatly toward the cyborg's resilience, its worth mentioning that the Meteor Missile Might bracelets are quite powerful. They killed all other foes in the show in a single blast, save for Shadorah, King Ghidorah and Gelderah, although the latter was decapitated by a slice shot after the missile attack.

 

Intelligence Rating Intelligence

When paired with King Ghidorah or Megalon, Gigan positioned himself as the leader, giving orders to monsters like King Ghidorah. In battle, the cyborg would also utilize advanced tactics. For example, it pretended to be knocked out in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) so Godzilla would get close enough to investigate and be within striking distance. The alien creature was also cunning enough to try and hold Jet Jaguar hostage in an attempt to dissuade Godzilla, which as far as Toho kaiju strategies go is fairly exceptional.

Gigan taking Jeg Jaguar hostage
Gigan taking Jet Jaguar hostage


Unfortunately, for his fight with Zone Fighter the cyborg appeared to be reverted to a more primitive state. The creature rushed into battle, using nothing but brute strength to fight his foes. Not being overly powerful, this led to the cyborg being easily beaten by both Godzilla and then Zone Fighter, each in one-on-one circumstances. In terms of what happened to cause the drop in intelligence, the actual reason is due to the production. Gigan's role amounts to less than eight minutes of screen time in order to fight two battles, and writer Kazuhisa Hattori was likely unfamiliar with the character, going as far as to give him parachutes despite his ability to fly. In contrast, in both of his film appearances he was written by the team of Takeshi Kimura and Shinichi Sekizawa.

However, chalking it up to a different writer is an out of universe explanation. If one wants to theorize what happened in the canon, it's possible that the creature reverted to a more brutish form in his weakened state. Alternatively, it's possible the Garoga tampered with him in an effort to control the cyborg, reverting his intelligence in order to subdue any rebellion the creature might have started while being sent to the battlefield.

That said, benching his intelligence strictly on his role in the Zone Fighter (1973) would likely net a 1/5. Averaging the films and the show would probably give an overall score of 3/5. However, we will assume that something was negatively impacting his intelligence in the show, and was not reflective of his normal intellect.

 

Strength Rating Strength

Gigan had no overly remarkable feats associated with his appearances. Part of this is likely due to his clawed hands, as a lot of feats in this category usually involve lifting or throwing objects. That said, he was strong enough to easily drag Godzilla across the battlefield with his arms, dropping him in front of King Ghidorah.

 

Speed Rating Speed

Powered by rockets hidden beneath his wings, with the wings circulating coolant for his energy sources rather than helping him with flight, Gigan was able to fly at Mach 3. This speed is similar to Mothra and King Ghidorah, having become a somewhat standard flight speed for the Showa series characters, although is below what Jet Jaguar and Mechagodzilla could fly at.

For space travel, the character could maneuver at much faster speeds, going as high as Mach 400, and was also capable of shielding itself inside a diamond-like form. Unfortunately, the diamond form is still a mystery, not referenced or mentioned at all in the cutaways yet was something that Gigan could change in and out of as he did it twice in his two film career.

 

Conclusion

Gigan is a middle tier kaiju. He stands out more due to brain power than anything else, which allowed him to prove a more troublesome adversary to Godzilla than the more powerful Megalon. In fact, Gigan also bested Jet Jaguar, managing to trap the robot in a ditch and had him beat before Godzilla saved him, which is more than can be said for Megalon who was losing to the machine in a one-on-one fight. Still, intellect can only go so far, as Zone Fighter proved, and Gigan lacks in both raw power and durability to take down the more powerful monsters in the Toho films.

That said, the cyborg does shine more when paired with another monster. This can give Gigan a chance to help out his alley, using his intellect to help coordinate attacks and stop less intelligent partners from being easily confused by adversaries.