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  • Author: Joshua Reynolds | Banner: Joshua Reynolds

    In the desolate remains of the devastated city, the frozen Godzilla stood like a monument of sin. Decades’ worth of nuclear waste had given rise to a life form beyond that of human comprehension. And yet, humanity was forced to face its own creation. Not only did they face it, but they defeated it. But the city in which this fierce battle was waged would be a ghost town for at least another year. The beast’s radiation would be toxic to anything there. But even now, all eyes were on the behemoth they called “Godzilla.”

    And it was on this day, but 385 days after his supposed death, the demon began to awaken. The petrified skin began to flake off like egg shell. A reddish glow began to spread across his colossal body like volcanic blood veins. The devil’s eyes opened, revealing soulless, black pupils. His mouth parted, unleashing the bellow that shook an entire world to its core.

    Godzilla had revived.

    Immediately, sirens across the empty city of Tokyo began to blast. Clocks began to count down for a nuclear detonation from the United States. The world couldn’t risk the advent of Godzilla once more.

    The lumbering giant turned his body and his unnaturally long tail danced slowly behind him. His eyes focused, looking toward the sea. His home. Godzilla’s movement was slow but steady. Streets collapsed under his titanic weight, sinking his clawed feet into subway and sewer systems. Buildings fell like house of cards around him, avalanching his lower torso in debris. And still, the unnatural being pushed on to return to the sea and advanced his own evolution.

    And then he heard it.

    It was the cry of something else. Another great creature had risen from the depths. Godzilla stopped, his head slowly tilting to the side. He could see the ocean in the distance and something was rising out of it. A gigantic, blubbery body carried on four paddle-shaped fins began to crawl to the beach. Its reddish-black tinted body shimmered in the sunlight as water fell from its leathery hide. On its face, a short snout filled with many needle-like teeth. Its most prominent feature was its titanic tusks, hanging down on either side of its muzzle.

    Maguma’s eyes opened, showing their torques color. The king of the walruses had no idea why he was there, but he was. His mouth opened as wide as it could once more, unleashing another haunting cry.

    Godzilla stood motionless, almost like a sentry at guard while Maguma crawled through the beach and into the surrounding streets. Then the walrus saw him. The beast from another age had no idea what drew him here, but upon seeing the unnatural form of Godzilla standing tall, something inside his primitive mind clicked. This was why he was here. The Earth itself had drawn him here to rectify a deadly mistake. The walrus remained low to the ground as he began to crawl toward his target. Godzilla, however, remained unmoving and only watched curiously.

    Before long, the primitive kaiju closed the gap. Maguma reared up on its hind flippers, bringing its head up to Godzilla’s chest region. He then thrust down. Despite watching the creature approach, Godzilla was taken by surprise as the tusks plunged into the glowing material of his chest. A torrent of blood began to fall, bubbling and sizzling on the streets. Maguma’s head pulled back and thrust down again, stabbing into Godzilla’s front side once more. And again the walrus did this, only this time Godzilla’s tail lashed out with lightning speed. It snaked around his frame and struck like a whip, striking Maguma’s forehead with an awful sound.

    The colossal pinniped gurgled deeply in rage as his head was thrust to the Earth. Godzilla remained unmoving and careless. He lifted a leg and slowly brought it down, claws digging into the blubber behind Maguma’s skull. The walrus’ head was grinded into the debris, but the titan wouldn’t be defeated so easily.

    With the frenzy of a primal world, Maguma began to thrash from side to side. It didn’t take long for him to free himself from underneath Godzilla’s heel. Godzilla slowly stumbled back awkwardly as Maguma regained his aggressive stance. His jaws came down around Godzilla’s thigh, teeth sinking into the devil’s radioactive flesh and blood. Godzilla’s sickening cry rang loud as his head looked down at it. His jaws spread wide and split apart. Maguma’s eyes rolled up, catching Godzilla’s gaze just before a shiny membrane encased them. Then, a plume of smoke erupted from the demon’s maw. Immediately, Maguma released his hold. He awkwardly crawled back, hacking and gagging from the thick, radioactive smoke.

    Godzilla, however, didn’t cease. Instead this smoke began to ignite in his mouth, turning into a concentrate stream of atomic fire. The smoke then detonated like a bomb, erupting in every direction. The force of the explosion was enough to lift Maguma off of his flippers. He was hurled back, flipping several times in mid-air before being slammed back to the Earth, his body now burnt and smoldering.

    Godzilla’s mouth suddenly clamped shut, ending his attack. The membrane of his eyes pulled back, allowing the unearthly thing to gaze upon the destruction he brought. He then spotted Maguma. The walrus was on his side, bleeding badly from wounds on his head and ribcage. However, eons worth of life couldn’t be silenced so quickly. Despite the pain, the Antarctic kaiju rolled over onto his flippers and bared his fangs at the demon.

    Countless miles away, in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, a U.S. Cruiser launched its payload. A missile, hundreds of times more powerful than the ones used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, lifted up from the vessel with a trail of smoke and brilliant light following behind it…

    Godzilla stepped forward as Maguma began to approach. The titan lunged with surprising speed, jaws biting down on Godzilla’s hand. The mutation’s opposite arm came over, claws scraping across the head and face of the pinniped. Trickles of blood began to flow as the walrus began to gnaw. Godzilla released an unheard scream as the bones in his hand were grinded like hamburger. Godzilla’s membrane once again covered his eye, but this movement caught Maguma’s eye. Just as the leviathan’s jaw split, the walrus released his now mangled hand and leaped up like a hungry crocodile. His mouth came down on the mouth of Godzilla, tusks impaling from the top jaw and through the lower.

    The sudden weight caused Godzilla to collapse, dropping to his chest and belly with the arctic kaiju attached to his mouth. Embers of radioactive material began to escape from each side of Godzilla’s face while Maguma’s tusks began to smolder.

    Godzilla’s massive tail waved behind them and then came down, cracking against Maguma’s blubbery hide. It took several strikes, but the walrus eventually relented. He pulled his head up, ripping his tusks from Godzilla’s mouth and backed away. Godzilla, however, was near helpless. With a crushed hand and mangled mouth, the mutation struggled to stand.

    Maguma took his chance again and pounced, this time landing on the back of Godzilla’s head…

    This was a mistake.

    Almost instantly, Godzilla’s spines erupted with purple light. Beams of atomic power pierced through Maguma’s body, scorching and incinerating tons of blubber upon impact. The walrus screamed in a mixture of pain and horror as he was launched backward, circular holes carved deeply into his fatty tissue. The primal kaiju groaned and coughed, spitting up wads of blood in the process. Still, something inside of him told him to persist. He began to stagger…

    At the same time, Godzilla’s lengthy tail snaked underneath his collapsed body. The limb acted like a spring, pushing Godzilla’s body back to a rightful stance. The leviathan snarled, struggling to open his mouth for a moment until, with a disgusting pop, it opened. Godzilla’s eyes looked upon the struggling form of Maguma with an uncaring stare. He then looked at the distant sea. He began to walk, not looking to waste any more time with Maguma.

    Godzilla casually walked past the behemoth. Struggling to remain upright, Maguma’s torques eyes were fixated on the devil’s tail now. As Godzilla moved right past him, Maguma’s jaws parted and bit down on the tip of the tail. Godzilla’s eyes, for the first time, opened wide as a wave of pain bolted through him. Maguma’s teeth and tusks tore through the fleshy material of the tail, spilling blood by the gallon. The tail thrashed, lifting Maguma off of its hind for a brief second and throwing him aside.

    As if he were insulted, Godzilla spun around with surprising speed. His tail, now bloodied, waved back and forth behind him before snaking around, the dripping tip pointing at Maguma. A purple glow began to channel from Godzilla’s spines and into the tip.

    The walrus quickly regained a fighting stance and growled. His eyes watched as the tip seemed to open up into a bizarre mouth. Then it fired, shooting a single, thin beam of neon purple energy at the pinniped. Maguma leaped to the side with a sudden show of speed, belly flopping the ground just as the beam hit where he once sat. The beam followed his movement, adjusting accordingly.

    For some reason, the walrus seemed to know if he was hit by this, it’d be his end. So he continued to dodge it the best he could, but the beam nicked him more than once, cutting through his blubber like a hot knife through butter.

    Maguma was growing tired as he landed with a thud once more. He couldn’t do this much more. A walrus’ body wasn’t made to be playing leapfrog. He pounded the ground with his chest once more and kicked with his back flippers, jumping away. But the beam still hit, striking his flipper with a horrible, sizzling sound. As his body was propelled away, the walrus’ flipper remained behind pooling in blood. The ancient kaiju cried aloud in absolute agony

    And then, all of a sudden, the beam ceased.

    Maguma landed with a hard thump, not knowing what happened as he cried in horror upon sight of where his left flipper once was. But then the realization set in: Godzilla’s beam had stopped. With a soft cry, Maguma looked over. Godzilla remained standing tall, his tail unmoving while still pointing at him. Then, without warning, Godzilla’s head fell to the side. In his blind attempt at slaying the walrus, the abomination had accidentally severed his own head with his beam.

    Godzilla’s legs buckled. His arms fell to his side. And then he fell, his tail following behind. Maguma shook his head back and forth and groaned, once again looking down upon his stump of a flipper. With an awkward hobble, he began to drag himself back to the sea. Humanity’s mistake had been rectified by nature.

    As he dipped underneath the waves, Godzilla’s severed head showed signs of life. His eyes opened. Movement from the cauterized flesh of the neck began to bulge. Suddenly, spider-like legs erupted from them with a creepy, creaking sound. It was impossible to kill this God incarnate. And as his eyes began to scan the area, the nuclear missile launched prior flew overhead, mere seconds away from detonating…

    Winner: Maguma

    K.W.C. // March 21, 2020
  • In April 1952, Akira Kurosawa’s directorial debut, Sanshiro Sugata (1943), was re-released to Japanese theaters with a rather heart-wrenching disclaimer: “This film has been modified from its original version […] without consulting the director or the production staff. 1,845 feet of footage was cut in 1944, to comply with the government’s wartime entertainment policies. As much as we’d like to show the original version, we were not able to locate the cut footage.” Kurosawa’s original ran an hour and thirty-seven minutes in length, but the version that returned to theaters clocked in at only 79. To compensate for the missing scenes, Toho’s editors spliced in big, wordy intertitles describing their content; and it is this shorter version—disclaimer and intertitles intact—which remains most accessible today.

    Unfortunately, many of the cut scenes were vital in establishing character motive and maintaining the story’s rhythm, and their absence results in awkward narrative skimps and plot threads that don’t feel complete in and of themselves. (For instance: characters we’ve never seen suddenly pop up in what were meant to be their second scenes, without sufficient material to inform us who they are and what they want—requiring the audience to fill in the blanks based on what they remember from an intertitle from much earlier.) Although the remnants are certainly interesting and demonstrate that Kurosawa’s technical brilliance was on fast track development, this heavily fragmented film is more of a curious specimen, notable for its historical importance as opposed to any greater artistic achievement. Kurosawa had had multiple run-ins with Japan’s wartime censors—including the first time he released Sanshiro Sugata in 1943—and it seemed they’d gotten the last laugh with the permanent scarring of his maiden film.

    Or so I thought until a few weeks ago, when my colleague François Coulombe messaged me asking what I knew about a longer version of the film that had supposedly played on Japanese television. My response was one of sheer perplexion. As far as I knew, the 79-minute version was the only version extant today. Japan’s motion picture legacy suffered catastrophic damage in the final years of World War II, with thousands of films either annihilated in the Allied firebombings or confiscated by the occupation censors—or, in some cases, destroyed by their own creators to prevent the Americans from getting their hands on them. Given that Toho failed to locate an uncut print of Sanshiro Sugata on their own, I presumed it had perished along with many of its pre-1945 brethren.

    Still, I wanted to hold out hope. After receiving François’s message, I went through every Kurosawa book in my collection; perhaps there’d been some info about a longer extant version I’d forgotten about. I also checked the liner notes of Criterion’s 2010 DVD of the film, wondering if the cut scenes were too damaged or simply not made available. (It wouldn’t be the first time Toho’s denied an international distributor access to something of interest.) Alas, every resource in my possession asserted the 79-minute cut is the one and only in existence. If there was recently exhumed footage, I assumed it’d turned up within the last two or three years. Then, François informed me the deleted scenes had been restored to the film in a Japanese DVD—all the way back in 2002! (A likely source for the television broadcast he’d heard about.) Genuinely perplexed, I hopped on the web to do a little extra specific scouring. What I uncovered next surprised me on several fronts.

    In September 2002, The Japan Times ran an article announcing: “An almost uncut version of […] Akira Kurosawa’s first movie will make a comeback on DVD in October thanks to a Russian motion picture depository that kept a portion of the scenes removed from the original work.” As it turns out, back in the mid-1990s, a researcher from Tokyo’s National Museum of Modern Arts had ventured to the Gosfilmofond (the state film archive in Moscow) to investigate the multitude of wartime Japanese films in its collection. “It is believed,” The Japan Times explained, “the Soviet army advancing into Manchuria to fight Japanese troops in the closing days of the war may have taken the films back to Russia after the end of the war in 1945.” Sure enough, one of the films preserved and found there was a longer version of Sanshiro Sugata, containing about eleven minutes of footage not seen since 1943. These were the scenes that made their way into the earlier mentioned 2002 DVD, commercially available in Japan for almost twenty years.

    Then, after some more scouring, came another discovery: those very same scenes have also been accessible in English-speaking markets for a long time, ported over to Australia and Great Britain in 2005 and 2011 respectively. Curiosity gnawing at me, I promptly ordered the Australian DVD released by Madmen Entertainment, which includes the cut scenes as a bonus feature (conveniently provided with English subtitles). Now, Kurosawa’s vision has not been fully restored. Six or seven minutes remains missing (including a key scene regarding the hero’s spiritual transformation), but what has been uncovered goes a long way in bridging the all too noticeable gaps in the 79-minute version. And since not much has been written about this film’s longer cut (at least in English), I thought it would be worthwhile to go through the deleted scenes and point out how their restoration improves the flow and content of the story (when possible, as some of the deleted scenes only exist in pieces).

    One last observation before we delve into the meat of this article. Despite having gone over the deleted scenes a number of times, I must admit I’m having difficulty discerning what it was that the censors of 1944 could’ve found so objectionable. In fact, I question if they were the ones who chose to take out these scenes, at all. When Sanshiro Sugata was first submitted for review/approval in 1943, a great deal of fuss rose over the “British-American” love scene between Susumu Fujita and Yukiko Todokori; and yet when the movie was re-released a year later, that scene was left intact. (Had the censors been demanding re-edits, one would think that part would’ve been first to go.) Tomonori Saiki, who found the deleted footage in Russia, has similarly remarked: “I found it hard to believe the content […] posed any problem for censors of the (wartime) Home Ministry.” Thereby implying the cuts were purposely made by the studio.

    Saiki suggests the cuts were enacted to increase box office potential. His argument has merit. Toho was enduring immense poverty in the final years of World War II and was starved for product; re-releasing a successful movie (like Sanshiro Sugata) was a cost-efficient venture; and the shorter a film ran, the more times it could be screened in a day. However, considering the film’s disclaimer blames government “wartime entertainment policies” for the missing footage, I’m inclined to believe another factor was some regulation concerning the run time of Japanese films. While I myself am not aware of any such law, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn one existed, given how fiercely the government controlled the film industry in the early 1940s (limiting the number of films that could be made, forcing the major studios to consolidate, shutting down production nationwide once a month to conserve electricity, etc.) and considering Japanese movies, in the last two years of the war, usually ran 80 minutes or less.

    Regardless, it also seems length was the issue when one takes into account the testimony of Kurosawa’s longtime script supervisor, Teruyo Nogami, who asserts the director had been forced to make the excisions himself. “I think he had to cut the film with an aching heart after he was told to make it shorter. Knowing how Mr. Kurosawa cherished his works, he must really have felt frustrated. I only wish we could have shown (the original version of the film again) while he was still alive.” While not a smoking gun, notice she doesn’t say anything about axing objectionable content, just trimming the film’s length. (Though it does raise a few questions. Was Kurosawa not consulted in shortening the film? If he himself physically took the scenes out, as Nogami claims, surely he would’ve at least tried to have input in which scenes were axed. And at what point was he informed his directorial debut needed to be shortened? Did he protest, as he had before, when the censors raised objections over scripts he’d written? There’s so much more context that would be useful to know.)

     

    The Priest Visits Sanshiro

    In the 79-minute version, after Sanshiro (Susumu Fujita) experiences his first spiritual awakening—witnessing the bloom of a lotus flower—we suddenly cut to a medium shot of him doing chores, when someone appears behind him. He turns to see the villain of the story, Gennosuke Higaki (Ryunosuke Tsukigata), who wants a match at the judo school Sanshiro attends. If this sequence feels like it starts abruptly, that’s because the first part of it was lopped off.

    The uncut version of this scene began with an exchange between Sanshiro and the local priest (Kokuten Kodo). The latter comes upon our protagonist doing his chores and remarks how quiet things are around town. Suddenly, a loud yelp comes from the school. Sanshiro explains that one of his fellow disciples (Akira Nakamura) is sparring with Iinuma (Sugisaku Aoyama), a visiting master of Kito jujitsu. We then cut inside the building to see the pupil being thrown to the floor, Iinuma standing over him with a bemused smirk. Back outside, the priest notices Sanshiro staring toward the school and assumes he wants a match with Iinuma. Sanshiro nods in acknowledgement, clearly not having lost the urge to prove himself. (However, he’s been banned from fighting for the last two months due to using his strength to bully people.) The priest tells him the respite being forced upon him will help improve his spirit. He walks off, and Sanshiro resumes his chores.

    The restoration of this particular scene (or partial scene) doesn’t fix any gaps in the plot. It explains who Iinuma is, but since he’s not a major character—not to mention Sanshiro never actually spars with him—learning his background isn’t that fundamental to the audience. What it does accomplish, however, is correcting the narrative’s rhythm. Up to this point, the film had been moving at a very smooth and natural pace, each scene permitted ample breathing space to resonate; and with this footage reinstated, it continues to move efficiently—rather than stumbling with a scene that feels (and is) half complete.

     

    Sayo, Murai, and Higaki

    Of great detriment to the shorter version was the manner in which it “introduced” two major characters. After Higaki’s denied a match with Sanshiro for the first time, we abruptly cut to an intertitle telling us about how he learned jujitsu from a man named Murai; and how Murai’s daughter, Sayo, fears Higaki’s “dark side, his snakelike shadow.” The placement of this intertitle always struck me as odd since none of the characters it addresses appear in its wake. Instead of following up with Higaki, Murai, and Sayo, the shorter version jumps from this intertitle to Sanshiro, his teacher Yano (Denjiro Okochi), and the other judo students—prompting us to forget the characters whose stories we were just told about. Thus making it harder to identify the as-yet-unseen characters when they do appear.

    In fact, Murai doesn’t show up until a whole four minutes after that intertitle, presented as a witness at a match, with nothing aside from a medium shot (and the fact that he’s played by Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura) to distinguish him from the others spectators. Sayo’s “intro” takes place later still: sitting in the background of a wide shot while Higaki gabs away center stage, the scene playing out for a spell before the audience puts two and two together and realizes the woman at the back of the room is, in fact, our heroine. Had the earlier mentioned intertitle been placed in front of this scene, it would’ve been a tad easier to follow along (and it would’ve made logical sense, since Murai himself later enters the room and interacts with Higaki and Sayo). At the same time, though, no amount of rearrangement would completely make up for what had been taken out.

    Here’s what originally played in Kurosawa’s cut. Following Higaki’s victory at the judo school, we see our villain standing on a bridge with Sayo (Yukiko Todokori), an air of tension quickly established as the latter avoids making eye contact—showing the fear she has for Higaki’s “dark side.” Higaki inquires about his old master and learns he’s still drinking excessively. After giving Sayo some money, shoving it down the neck of her kimono, he recalls seeing a Chinese woman who resembled her (“She was really beautiful. And suddenly she reminded me of you.”) before asking his master’s daughter to marry him. Sayo, nervous from the start, promptly runs home, her journey captured in a beautifully executed montage with dissolves taking us from shot to shot. We’re then properly introduced to Murai, who inquires why his daughter’s so quiet. Sayo remains still until she hears Higaki entering the house, at which point she flees into another room.

    Talking with his old master, Higaki reveals he’s returned for two reasons. He wants 1) a recommendation to become the police force’s martial arts instructor after Murai retires, and 2) marriage with Sayo after accomplishing his goal of unifying jujitsu under the Ryoshinto style that Murai has taught him. Murai dodges around this second request by pointing out they’ll have a hard time getting Yano and his students under their thumbs. Higaki realizes this, too, confessing he’d gone to Yano’s school that day hoping to fight either him or a strong, worthy student. In other words, he challenged the school not for the sake of fighting (as was the impression in the shorter version) but as part of his mission to coalesce Japanese martial arts.

    Through just a few minutes of extra footage, Higaki’s revealed to be a fairly complex character with goals and desires; and we realize why his dynamic with Sanshiro changes from seeking a fight to determinedly trying to kill him. In the third act, Sanshiro’s paired against Murai in a tournament to decide which school shall teach martial arts to the police henceforth. Sanshiro wins, granting the job to Yano’s school—in consequence wrenching away Higaki’s career. And when the young judo student becomes a special guest in Murai and Sayo’s home, he acquires the respect of the old master as well as Sayo’s affections. Higaki’s lost everything he’d been striving for (unified martial arts; the job of his dreams; the woman he wanted). Hence why, in the climax, he challenges Sanshiro to a fight to the death.

    One more noteworthy detail. The 79-minute cut only lightly—almost imperceptibly—touched on Murai’s weak physical condition, leaving some viewers (such as myself) wondering how this supposedly formidable jujitsu instructor (someone hired to teach martial arts to the police) could, in the third act, become bedridden after just being thrown a few times. But the deleted scene under discussion clearly establishes that Murai’s health has been diminishing for some time, a problem compounded by excessive drinking. (Higaki mentions the old man’s health was once so bad that he vomited blood.) Now it makes sense that Murai would not only lose a fight with Sanshiro but struggle to recover from it.

    Monma’s Daughter

    After his ban from sparring has been lifted, Sanshiro duels with Saburo Monma (Yoshio Kosugi), the jujitsu “master” he’d initially approached in his quest to learn martial arts. Sanshiro proves to be a more than worthy adversary, throwing his former instructor into a wall and accidentally killing him. The fight is witnessed by Monma’s daughter, Osumi (Ranko Hanai), who later visits the judo school and asks to see Sanshiro, a knife hidden in her kimono. Fortunately, she’s recognized by one of the disciples and apprehended, Kurosawa giving us a close-up of the knife clattering to the ground. At this point, in the shorter version, we cut to an intertitle. “Sanshiro is still young. Nonetheless, he is badly shaken by her failed attempt. That night, Yano trains him by moonlight. Sanshiro is like a lifeless puppet. But as he is thrown by the instructor, he regains his courage and understands. Yano has taught him what life is. Sanshiro is of sound mind once again.”

    Watching the recovered footage, in this particular instance, is something of a bittersweet experience, as only its prelude has been found. After Osugi’s intercepted, we jump to an interior scene of her talking with the priest, who reminds her that Monma’s death was an accident. Despite his best efforts to dissuade her (“Killing someone with intention and doing something that leads to someone’s death by chance are completely different.”), the seemingly emotionless Osugi insists Sanshiro is her “sworn enemy” and that she’ll only be at peace once she kills him. Angry, the priest returns her knife and tells her she’s free to do what she wants once Sanshiro returns to the school grounds. Stillness and silence ensues. The scene then goes outside as someone off-screen asks, “Where has everyone gone?”

    That, alas, is all that survives of this particular scene. The crucial moments (Osugi’s reaction when Sanshiro returns, Sanshiro learning of the botched assassination, his subsequent depression, Yano throwing him around, his second spiritual awakening) remain absent, so we’re still dependent on the intertitle transcribed above to learn about a key moment in our hero’s personal journey. Still, it is nice seeing some additional material with Osugi and getting an idea of how her part might’ve resonated had all her scenes been preserved.

     

    Higaki’s Request

    Filmed in an unbroken take lasting about a minute and a half, Higaki tries to persuade Murai to let him take his place in the police tournament match against Sanshiro. Murai refuses, insisting only he can properly represent Ryoshinto. Higaki calls this a betrayal of the style, to which the police officer in charge shouts back, “[A] person or individual style can lose, but it will never affect the whole of Japanese martial arts.”

    This exchange originally took place between Sanshiro running off to the tournament and the moment of his arrival, providing some quintessentially paced filler: our hero doesn’t magically teleport from one part of the city to the next as in the 79-minute cut, maintaining continuity without slowing things down.

     

    Sanshiro Refuses to see Sayo

    In spite of his ambition to prove himself and the fact that he’s won a major honor for his school, Sanshiro responds to victory against Murai with sheer remorse. He’d grown close to Sayo prior to the match—enchanted by her beauty and spiritual dedication, oblivious to the fact that he’d soon be facing her father. And when the match is over, Sanshiro’s not only remorseful for the now-bedridden Murai but disheartened to see Sayo somber and dejected.

    The final recovered scene, which takes place between the victory and Sanshiro’s visit to Murai’s home, details his guilt. All that survives is two partial shots. We fade into a tilted camera angle looking down at Sanshiro sprawled on the floor of the judo school. He’s staring blankly at the ceiling when a shadow crosses over him, announcing the arrival of fellow student Yoshimaro Dan (Akitake Kono). “You’re a very lucky person,” Dan teases as Kurosawa’s camera elegantly descends and levels out to show both men. “Everytime you win a match, a beautiful girl comes to see you.” As it turns out, Murai wishes to see Sanshiro and has sent Sayo to fetch him.

    The first shot of this scene is missing its middle, so it abruptly skips from Sanshiro sitting up to him on his feet and walking away from the camera. In the second shot, he leans against the door overseeing the school garden, insisting he cannot face Sayo.

    That, unfortunately, is all that remains of this scene.

    General // March 12, 2020
  • Author: Thomas Eckert | Banner: Matthew Williams

    The civilians of New York City ran screaming in terror when one of the city’s many skyscrapers suddenly came crashing down. An avalanche of glass, concrete, and other types of debris smashed onto the streets, burying them along with dozens of people and vehicles. From out of the destroyed building came a terrible shriek that echoed through the Big Apple’s maze of buildings and paved roads. A large reptilian head erupted from the disaster zone; Zilla had returned to wreck havoc on one of America’s greatest cities.

    His scaly feet crushed anything and anyone in his path. His clawed hands and tail carved into various buildings and reduced them to pieces. Many police officers tried shooting at the reptilian terrorist. The enraged beast simply crushed them underneath his powerful feet. Zilla shrieked out loud, claiming this city as his own.

    His eyes then turned up when he sniffed something. He snarled in irritation when he noticed a small object raining near him. When it landed, the dinosaur-like kaiju sniffed it and opened his jaws, ready to crush it. That’s when the object opened up. The surprised Zilla shrieked when a beam of energy swirled in front of him. Before he knew it, a second kaiju was standing in front of him. Sent by his Garoga masters to conquer New York City, Wargilgar shrieked to signal his arrival.

    Zilla stepped back, easily intimidated by this new beast’s size and appearance. Wargilgar spotted Zilla, and the two monsters shrieked toward each other. Wargilgar attacked first by snapping his pincers in Zilla’s face. He found the task to be difficult as Zilla dodged his pincers with ease. Zilla bent down and slammed his head toward Wargilgar’s chest. Wargilgar screeched as he fell on his back. With his foe grounded, Zilla advanced with his claws extended. He landed on top of Wargilgar’s chest and started hacking at the alien’s hide with his claws. Wargilgar shrieked painfully from the slashing claws. Before Zilla could do any further damage, the long-necked insect slammed his head into Zilla’s body. The lizard yelped as he went flying off his foe’s chest and into a building. The structure came raining down onto Zilla.

    Wargilgar rose to his feet, chortling at his foe’s predicament. Within seconds, Zilla had been buried underneath an entire skyscraper. Wargilgar wandered over to inspect the damage. His pincers dug away the debris; expecting to find a crushed body lying inside the wreckage. When his digging ceased, he only found a hole in the ground. Wargilgar shrieked in aggravation. How dare his victim simply dig to safety! The ground exploded from behind him. Before he could react, Zilla’s jaws clamped onto his left leg and pulled him down. Wargilgar did his best to pull back, and it was working. Both creatures were locked in a game of tug-of-war.

    Zilla then grabbed hold of Wargilgar’s leg with his forearms, increasing his strength and grip. His plan was working. Wargilgar released a shrillish cry, trying to pull backward. His two pincers clamped onto a nearby building. Holding on for dear life, Wargilgar pulled harder, surprising Zilla with a quick jerk. Pulled out from his hole, Zilla was vulnerable to attack. The space monster extended his neck out. Once he had a clear shot, he opened his mandibles and the double barrels inside them came out. Two shots were fired onto Zilla’s back with explosive force. The reptilian creature opened his mouth to scream in pain from the injuries on his smoking back. Wargilgar then clamped his pincer around Zilla’s throat and tossed him into the streets. The wounded reptile kept sliding until he crashed into an apartment building.

    Wargilgar wasted no time and charged toward the downed Zilla. Zilla heard his foe coming and decided to bring out his best weapon. Wargilgar stood right near Zilla’s position, his mandibles opening. That’s when Zilla sprang back to life and fired his thermonuclear breath. His breath struck Wargilgar in the chest, sending the shrieking creature backpedaling in pain. With his chest smoking from the attack, Wargilgar opened his mouth and spewed out his own flames. Zilla tried leaping to the side to avoid them, but he wasn’t quick enough. Parts of the flames burned his skin, causing him shriek in pain. He landed on his feet, turning to face Wargilgar. Wargilgar fired his flames again, but Zilla successfully dodged by leaping over them. He planted both feet into Wargilgar’s face, knocking him down.

    While Wargilgar crashed in the streets, Zilla landed onto the side of a building, scaling it with his claws. He looked down to see that Wargilgar had recovered. Wargilgar spotted Zilla climbing along the building toward its other side. He wasted no time in firing his double barrels. Zilla shrieked in pain as the attack ripped through the building’s walls, surprising him enough to make him lose his grip and fall. Wargilgar heard his opponent’s crash and raced around the building’s other side as fast as he could to find him. When he made it around, he spotted Zilla trying to stand. Wargilgar unleashed another fiery torrent onto Zilla, prompting a painful shriek from the beast. The biped lizard’s body was soon covered in burning embers.

    Wargilgar expected Zilla to burn right on the spot. His hopes were shattered when another blast of atomic breath came raging out of Zilla’s mouth. Wargilgar’s legs and torso exploded with sparks, making the shrieking alien fall over again. Zilla’s eyes narrowed onto his struggling foe. Some of the flames on his body were dying, revealing burnt skin. Areas of destroyed tissue showcased bone and muscle. Zilla was still alive, but not in perfect condition. He needed to end this now.

    He dashed toward Wargilgar with a violent trumpet. He landed on top of the orange-hued creature’s chest. Wargilgar moved his head up, but Zilla’s tail whacked it down. Zilla then slashed his claws into Wargilgar’s chest, hoping to tear him apart. Wargilgar quietly moved his head back up and spotted a perfect place to attack. His mouth opened and fired two shots right into Zilla’s left foot, blasting it to pieces. The reptile ceased clawing to shriek painfully at the loss of his foot before crashing off of Wargilgar. Zilla whimpered at his missing foot, then snarled as Wargilgar rose up. The two monsters locked eyes with one another. Zilla fired his atomic breath while Wargilgar attacked with his flame breath. The attacks struck into each other with enough power to create an explosion that sent both creatures flying from each other. Wargilgar smashed into a building while Zilla collided into a bus station.

    Wargilgar’s pincers twitched. He groaned as he started to stand up. His body was badly singed by the explosion. Other than that, he was still in good shape. After a quick moan, he went to check on his foe. When he found his foe lying in the remains of the bus station, he couldn’t believe his green eyes. Some of his fingers and pieces of his tail were destroyed. The stub where his foot used to be was bleeding severely. His skin burned beyond repair. Zilla looked up at his opponent, too injured to attack. Wargilgar chuckled evilly before opening his mouth; Zilla’s eyes closed to accept his demise. Wargilgar fired two shots into Zilla’s head. The explosion of the reptile’s head caused Wargilgar to cheer happily. Victory was his. His masters will be pleased to hear how New York City will now be theirs.

    Winner: Wargilgar

    K.W.C. // March 11, 2020
  • Not long ago, I was chatting with some fellow cinema fans, one of whom confessed he had never seen a film by Yasujiro Ozu and would be rectifying that in the near future. Since the group of us had met through our mutual affinity for kaiju eiga, the joke inevitably came up that he best not look for any giant monsters in whatever film he chose to watch, because none ever turn up in an Ozu film. (Though King Kong does get a mention in 1935’s An Inn in Tokyo, in which the great ape’s declared to be tougher than lions and tigers!) The joke had no sooner played out when I thought of a similar cyberweb gag which had made its way through the fandom back in 2016, when the hype for Hideaki Anno’s Shin Godzilla was current and strong.

    The owner of the item in question has since set its online status to private, so I must rely on a four-year-old memory in this case, but in mid-2016, Jonathan Kiefer of Fandor’s now defunct digital magazine Keyframe released a short video combining trailer clips of Shin Godzilla with footage from Ozu’s 1959 film Floating Weeds. (One of those videos that splices together shots from different movies to create new “scenes.”) As I recall, the video started with characters from the Ozu film sitting on a beach and, one by one, looking up at something which has nabbed their attention. At that point, we cut to a shot from Shin Godzilla: of the monster’s fourth form lumbering forward. Back in the Ozu scene, everyone sits calmly and keeps looking up. Memory compels me to believe the wide shot in which one of the characters raises his hand and gives a little wave was also included—the implication being he was greeting Godzilla. A fun and surreal video, to be sure. (For the record: what the characters were originally looking/waving at was an airplane.)

    Kiefer’s video had obviously been made for fun and was not meant to be taken serious (like, what was the first clue, right?). Still, when I thought back on it recently, the whimsical part of me couldn’t help but run with the idea and speculate: If Ozu had been given the reins for a Godzilla movie, what might we have seen?

    Granted, there’s not much to go on. Ozu never dabbled in tokusatsu (in his late-career films, the closest thing you get to a special effect is simulated rain); he only worked with Toho once, on his penultimate film, The End of Summer (1961); he died between the releases of King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964); and I seriously doubt he would’ve agreed to make a kaiju movie even if someone had approached him with the idea. After all, this is the same director who responded to the Japanese New Wave by saying: “A lot of people now equate drama with sensational incident, such as someone getting killed. But that’s not drama; it’s a freak occurrence.” His impulse was not to produce events, but to show things one sees and knows—and feels—in ordinary life, evoking them through very simple framework.

    Now, having said that, the fact that Ozu’s storytelling methods were so completely antithetical to what one expects in a Godzilla movie only makes it all the more enticing for me, as a fan of both, to imagine a kaiju movie in his hands. And having pontificated on the idea, I decided to write down my thoughts. For absolutely no reason other than, like Mr. Kiefer’s video, it’d be fun.

     

    Yasujiro Ozu’s early films tended to be more “conventional” in the kinds of stories they told (it is shocking for anyone who knows his movies to remember his directorial debut was a period piece featuring swordplay, and that he also made a crime picture in which—gasp!—people get shot on camera), but as his career progressed and he honed his own style and gained more creative control, he gradually shied away from “big moments” other directors take for granted.

    In a late Ozu film, death usually occurs because of something like a stroke or a heart attack, and it typically befalls someone in their upper years. If a young person’s done in through more dramatic means (drowning, getting hit by a train), the accident is talked about but not shown. Similarly, a husband who perished in World War II is either referred to in conversation or appears via a photograph on a shelf (there are no flashbacks and certainly no prologues showing his death in combat). And even though Ozu preferred to tell stories about ordinary life, he often steered clear of domestic “climaxes.” A movie about a daughter being pushed out of the nest likely ends with her departing for her wedding, the actual ceremony—and her groom—never observed by the camera. (In a situation like this, Ozu was more interested in how a young woman’s marriage impacts the home she’s leaving, not the one she’s joining.)

    In fact, the few times he went the “melodramatic” route in his later career were often slagged upon as serious missteps. The record shows, for instance, many felt he went overboard in having Kinuyo Tanaka fall down the stairs at the end of A Hen in the Wind (1949), and Ozu himself agreed that the movie was something of a lesser effort, calling it a “bad failure.” Even though the film’s subject matter—namely the censorable things a person might do when pushed to the point of desperation—is certainly relevant, it was deemed inappropriate for a director with such a gentle aesthetic and narrative style. Ozu’s usual screenwriting collaborator, Kogo Noda, opined that A Hen in the Wind flopped artistically because it had tried too hard in depicting the suffering of the postwar Japanese. (He, too, might’ve been of the view that the climax was overly, for lack of a better word, “climactic.”) In short: the material wasn’t necessarily unfit for cinema; it just wasn’t right for Ozu.

    Many Godzilla films show regular people whose world is suddenly impacted by extraordinary events, but Ozu wasn’t interested in the extraordinary. Grand-scale cataclysms (like war) are in the past; memories; climaxes that happened before the opening credits. Even when the American Occupation vacated in 1952 and Japanese filmmakers were free to recreate the death and destruction their country had endured, Ozu tended to stick to his tactic of less-is-more. Buildings crumbling, monsters stomping around, scores of people running in a panic, etc. probably would’ve constituted too much distraction, too much “freak occurrence.” So, Ozu’s instinct likely would’ve been to take what few components he found useful in a kaiju movie and then work them into his own formula.

    I like to believe that, with this hypothetical Godzilla movie, the director would’ve treated a monster attack the same way he treated World War II in his post-1945 work. His film would probably be set a couple of months (or even a few years) after the monster was defeated, the story transpiring not in the ruins but in some city district Godzilla never touched. I picture a narrative revolving around Ozu’s usual subjects (work, school, family, marriage, etc.), embodied through locals who remember the disaster but just occasionally comment on it as they go about their daily lives. The primary drama consists of simple material like: parents marrying off a daughter; college graduates enduring the rigors of office life; salarymen drinking long into the night. In other words: the movie’s not about the monster attack; it’s about the ordinary lives of people in a city that just so happens to have experienced a monster attack long ago. (Just as 1949’s Late Spring features characters who endured World War II, even though the film itself is not largely about the war or its effect on the populace.)

    Maybe there’s a widow whose husband perished in the destruction. Maybe a retired soldier, now a bar patron, turns up and reminisces about how he had to fight Godzilla, similar to how Chishu Ryu recalls his war service in An Autumn Afternoon (1962). But dialogue would consist of simple remarks like, “It was a scary time. Yes.” The widow recalls her husband with a smile and then goes back to work; the former soldier continues drinking. And if Ozu did choose to set the film in the damaged part of the city, he’d most likely refrain from showcasing the ruins (at least in graphic detail) and still have the story take place years later, so that the people have had a chance to move on (i.e., hide some of the destruction).

    I similarly doubt wed have seen any characters dying of radiation poisoning. When someone dies of sickness in an Ozu film, as in Tokyo Story (1953), it comes suddenly, with no warning outside of maybe an isolated bit of lightheadedness. Showing someone withering away over the course of a film likely wouldn’t have gotten past the “ideas” stage. Again, when Ozu pushed the suffering button too hard—as in A Hen in the Wind or 1957’s Tokyo Twilight, which is also not among of his most celebrated—he was usually criticized for sinking into a kind of melodrama unbecoming for his style.

    It’s fitting that Shin Godzilla came up in this article, because one might be tempted to ask: If Godzilla’s not allowed to stomp around and smash things—and if the story must take place after the calamity is over—are we at least permitted to see him frozen like a big piece of concrete à la the end of Anno’s movie? This is the only condition under which I could picture Ozu allowing such a special effect to appear, though Godzilla would not be the main focus of the scene he’s in. A possible scenario: a husband and wife sit on a park bench, where they can see Godzilla from a long way away, talking about finding a husband for their daughter; they chat about this for a few minutes (their conversation filmed in Ozu’s usual cross-cutting with the occasional medium shot); and before they leave for home, one of them looks at the frozen monster and remarks what a terrifying time it was when Godzilla raided Japan. Then we’d get a distant shot of Godzilla (no close-ups of those humanoid things sprawled out of his tail), then cut to some trees or an alley—and be off to our next scene, somewhere else, back to the drama of current, everyday life.

    General // March 3, 2020
  • For some time there has been some intriguing artwork kind of floating around the Internet portraying a golden, fully-robotic Mecha-Ghidorah that was originally published in a magazine in the early 1980s, a super robot which apparently fought Godzilla in some sort of officially licensed story. I have seen the picture passed around on forums and speculated about repeatedly without much in the form of direct knowledge pertaining to the contents of the article/short-story/whatever the heck it was, except some dismissive remark that the original article amounted to something akin to lousy fan-fiction from someone who may or may not have actually read the material.

    So I was really curious when I saw that the article/story was being republished in the Godzilla All-Movie DVD Collector’s Box Vol. 41, which features the Toho Champion Festival cut of Invasion of Astro-Monster, originally shown in 1971 at the Champion Festivals at the time. I initially had not been planning to purchase this volume, but the fact that I could finally put the mystery of the golden Mecha-Ghidorah to rest was enough to tempt me into purchasing the box.

    I bought the box, took it home, opened it, and dug out the pages—predictably enough printed on terrible paper. So now I know.

    And… what is it? Well, it’s not exactly a story. Let’s start with the basics.

    The Yuji Kaida painting of Mecha-Ghidorah in all his glory.

    The article was originally published in the March 1983 issue of Terebi Magazine, and the reprint includes several pieces of art. Note that the reprint from the box set that I own indicates that the piece was originally published in March 1981, but I received a correction from Monster Island Buddies that this is actually a mistake, and he helpfully provided a scan of the cover of the March 1983 magazine so we can see what it looks like. Big thanks to Monster Island Buddies for the correction!

    Anyway, back to the article. The piece of artwork I most often saw attached on online forums—a beautiful painting featuring a grinning Godzilla busting the right head off of a rampaging Mecha-Ghidorah in the middle of a city while a Japanese couple in an action pose looks on in the corner—was done by Masami Watanabe, who is a frequent illustrator of tokusatsu. Just google the name and feast your eyes on a wide variety of really excellent artwork! I probably just don’t pay enough attention, but I think Watanabe deserves more acclaim in fandom circles. Anyway, on the next page is a full-page, full-body drawing by monster-art legend Yuji Kaida. The publication also includes an enormous two-page dissection illustration, showing the robot’s inner workings and an explanation of the robot’s various powers—and some information about the man who designed the monster, Kunio Okawara, who is famous for basically inventing the “mechanical design” job description in anime with his groundbreaking work on designing the Gundam mecha. There are a few other illustrations of the villains behind Mecha-Ghidorah’s design, though I did not see an attribution for those art pieces.

    The March 1983 issue of Terebi Magazine
    The March 1983 issue of Terebi Magazine

    So now that we have seen the names behind the art, what is the STORY? Well, to be frank, there isn’t much of a story given—just kind of the bare-bones of a scenario suggested for the robot’s background and powers. The first two pages have text that says the following:

    The terrible villain Mecha-Ghidorah has appeared. Mecha-Ghidorah goes on a rampage, and Godzilla faces off with him! Can Godzilla’s attack against Mecha-Ghidorah protect the world? Do your best, monster king Godzilla!

    Godzilla tries with all of his strength to bite off the head of Mecha-Ghidorah, which is made from space metal.

    Each of the three heads of Mecha-Ghidorah emits a different kind of light beam.

    Mecha-Ghidorah was built modeled off of that monster King Ghidorah.

    And that’s it so far as the battle between Godzilla and Mecha-Ghidorah is described, because the story is mostly left up to the imaginations of the readers. Nevertheless, there are some more specific details about the design of Mecha-Ghidorah and his various powers, and a full page about the secret of Mecha-Ghidorah’s birth… but no real narrative. Which doesn’t mean we don’t have some interesting background details to look into.

    It probably makes more sense to reveal the secret of Mecha-Ghidorah’s birth first, because that plays into the robot’s various design features. The creators of this version of Mecha-Ghidorah are a group known as the Dark Mysterious Star Alliance, which has made the robot in order to destroy Godzilla and take over the world. The Dark Mysterious Star Alliance is made up of a whole slew of Toho villainy, including the X-Seijin, the Mysterians, the Natalians, the Kilaaks, the cockroach aliens, the ape aliens, and even the aliens from the planet Yomi of The War in Space (1977) fame. Mecha-Ghidorah was built on a planet that the Dark Mysterious Star Alliance controls, and an image of the construction process is also provided, with a short passage to the side about how giant robots based off of powerful kaiju are very tough just from looking at examples like Mechagodzilla and Mechani-Kong.

    The Dark Mysterious Star Alliance hanging out at their evil lair of evilness.

    And it’s true–this version of Mecha-Ghidorah is a real powerhouse. Like King Ghidorah, Mecha-Ghidorah sports three heads, and each of these heads houses a massive eye, each with a different color—red on the right, white in the middle, green on the left. Each of these eyes can emit a different kind of ray, with the red eye emitting a heat ray, the white eye emitting a freeze ray, and the green eye emitting the familiar gravity beam that the real King Ghidorah was known for. Interestingly, in the 1991 film, King Ghidorah was originally going to shoot three different rays, which can still be seen on the famous poster by Noriyoshi Ohrai, and also in early shots for the film that were actually completed and can be found on YouTube. The rays, or beams, are modeled after the beam weaponry that had been installed in Mechagodzilla and the Daimakan (the alien ship used by the Messiah 13 aliens from the planet Yomi from The War in Space).

    Moving on to Mecha-Ghidorah’s tails, each tail is tipped with a drill fashioned after the Showa Mogera robot’s drill nose built by the Mysterians. The robot’s back features an enormous buzzsaw, based off of Gigan’s massive cutter. The robot’s main energy pack is housed in its crotch area, and anti-gravity plates are installed in the robot’s wings. Various other, smaller features are also pointed out on a sprawling double-page spread, including high efficiency antennae and mechanisms to make the feet move.

    And that is about it as far as the magazine article is concerned. We never learn how the Dark Mysterious Star Alliance came together, or what happened when they attacked, or if Godzilla wins or loses. It all seems to be up in the air, and it isn’t really clear why this design was made, although it is possible that it was part of some kind of promotion to try to garner more interest in the Godzilla reboot projects that ultimately failed at the time (my colleague Patrick suggested this explanation to me). The Mecha-Ghidorah design must have been fairly popular with the Japanese fans at the time, because I was able to find pictures on Twitter of a scan from SF Puramo Magazine in which a model of the mech was included as an example of “super modelling,” which was apparently a monthly feature. The best I can understand is that the model was created from scratch (it’s a “full-scratch” model) by amateur (?) modeler Toshikazu Shishizawa, and was made to match the Bandai vinyl scale of 350/1. The Shishizawa model has an original design for the robot’s backside, however, replacing the Gigan buzzsaw with a pair of jets.

    Still, to me, the fact that this version of Mecha-Ghidorah exists as this sort of nebulous “what-if?” design is puzzling—but other speculative designs have also appeared in magazines and been the basis of models as well, such as the Kongzilla design made by Matt Frank and also made into a really amazing sculpture, the “Metal Gear” Mechagodzilla, and others. I have seen images of a kind of souped-up Gigan that were also published in a magazine at one point, and there are other examples I am sure as well—the Internet is a treasure trove of confusing bits of artwork and mysteriousness. Nevertheless, as I have uncovered more about this particular Mecha-Ghidorah, I still wish there would have been some kind of short story attached rather than just a mostly empty scenario! Maybe some enterprising fan-fiction writer could take up the challenge and write one…

    A pic of the Toshikazu Shishizawa miniature—pic taken from a tweet by Sutenosu.

    General // March 2, 2020
  • February 29th, 2020 update

    Hey Everyone,

    The results are in finally so without further ado, here are the winners for 2019!

    The 5 Best Writers of 2019:

    1. Tyler Trieschock
    2. Andrew Sudomerski
    3. Joseph Steinard Jr.
    4. Connor Clennell
    5. Matthew Freese

    The 5 Best K.W.C. Matches of 2019:

    1. Match 275: Godzilla (Legendary), Mothra (Legendary), Mothra Leo, MUTO (Male) & Battra vs. Rodan (Legendary) vs. Skullcrawler vs. Megaguirus vs. King Ghidorah (Legendary)
    2. Match 249: Godzilla (Heisei) & Godzilla (Legendary) vs. King Ghidorah (Heisei) & Grand King Ghidorah
    3. Match 273: Godzilla (Reiwa) & Mothra Leo vs. Grand King Ghidorah
    4. Match 261: Godzilla (Legendary) vs. Godzilla (Heisei)
    5. Match 280: Anguirus, Baragon, Godzilla, Godzilla Junior, Gorosaurus, Kumonga, Manda, Rodan (Legendary) & Varan vs. Dagahra

    The 3 Most Original K.W.C. Matches of 2019:

    1. Match 275: Godzilla (Legendary), Mothra (Legendary), Mothra Leo, MUTO (Male) & Battra vs. Rodan (Legendary) vs. Skullcrawler vs. Megaguirus vs. King Ghidorah (Legendary)
    2. Match 280: Anguirus, Baragon, Godzilla, Godzilla Junior, Gorosaurus, Kumonga, Manda, Rodan (Legendary) & Varan vs. Dagahra
    3. Match 273: Godzilla (Reiwa) & Mothra Leo vs. Grand King Ghidorah

    The 3 Best Banner Creators of 2019:

    1. Andrew Sudomerski
    2. Tyler Trieschock
    3. Dao Zang Moua

    The 3 Best K.W.C. Banners of 2019:

    1. Match 275: Godzilla (Legendary), Mothra (Legendary), Mothra Leo, MUTO (Male) & Battra vs. Rodan (Legendary) vs. Skullcrawler vs. Megaguirus vs. King Ghidorah (Legendary)
    2. Match 270: Bagan vs. Anguirus, Ebirah, Gigan, Kamacuras, King Caesar, Kumonga, Manda, Monster X, Rodan (Heisei) & Zilla
    3. Match 249: Godzilla (Heisei) & Godzilla (Legendary) vs. King Ghidorah (Heisei) & Grand King Ghidorah

    The Best use of a New Monster/Form in 2019:

    1. Mothra (Legendary), Rodan (Legendary) & King Ghidorah (Legendary) – Match 275

    The 3 Best uses of Kaiju in a K.W.C. Match in 2019:

    1. Match 275: Godzilla (Legendary), Mothra (Legendary), Mothra Leo, MUTO (Male) & Battra vs. Rodan (Legendary) vs. Skullcrawler vs. Megaguirus vs. King Ghidorah (Legendary)
    2. Match 273: Godzilla (Reiwa) & Mothra Leo vs. Grand King Ghidorah
    3. Match 270: Bagan vs. Anguirus, Ebirah, Gigan, Kamacuras, King Caesar, Kumonga, Manda, Monster X, Rodan (Heisei) & Zilla

    The 3 Best use of Human or Alien Character/s in a K.W.C. Match in 2019:

    1. Match 275: Godzilla (Legendary), Mothra (Legendary), Mothra Leo, MUTO (Male) & Battra vs. Rodan (Legendary) vs. Skullcrawler vs. Megaguirus vs. King Ghidorah (Legendary)
    2. Match 250: Battra & Megalon vs. Zandora vs. Monster X
    3. Match 249: Godzilla (Heisei) & Godzilla (Legendary) vs. King Ghidorah (Heisei) & Grand King Ghidorah

    The 3 Best Story/Narrative in a K.W.C. in 2019:

    1. Match 275: Godzilla (Legendary), Mothra (Legendary), Mothra Leo, MUTO (Male) & Battra vs. Rodan (Legendary) vs. Skullcrawler vs. Megaguirus vs. King Ghidorah (Legendary)
    2. Match 270: Bagan vs. Anguirus, Ebirah, Gigan, Kamacuras, King Caesar, Kumonga, Manda, Monster X, Rodan (Heisei) & Zilla
    3. Match 250: Battra & Megalon vs. Zandora vs. Monster X

    The Best New Writer of 2019:

    1. Zeb Dennis

    Best Writing Duo/Trio of 2019:

    • Dao Zang Moua, Landon Soto, Joseph Steinard Jr., Andrew Sudomerski, Tyler Trieschock & Alex Williams – Match 275

    So those are the winners of 2019! But I am also happy to announce the following:

    New K.W.C. Additions (The following have been approved to be added to the K.W.C. for the future. Feel free to submit a match with these fresh faces!):

    • Behemoth (Monsterverse)
    • Mothra (Millennium – Tokyo S.O.S./Final Wars Variant)
    • MUTO Prime
    • Kaishin Muba
    • The Visitor
    • King Cobra (Godzilla: The Series)

    New K.W.C. Retirees (These are monsters that will be soon be entering retirement. Please do not submit matches involving them):

    • King Ghidorah (Heisei)
    • Mothra (Heisei)
    • Spyler
    • Wargilgar

    K.W.C. Survey Match Request Winner:

    • Bagan vs. King Ghidorah (Legendary)
      • Release – Late 2020

    In any case, thank you all for your feedback. We’ve taken strides to ensure matches come out on a more regular basis (roughly every 10 days), and that they are at a higher quality. The staff does an amazing job, and the K.W.C. wouldn’t be where it is without them. So thank you to every Writer, Banner Creator & Reader! See you all next year with the 2020 Awards!

    January 1st, 2020 update

    Greetings Everyone,

    Its that time of year again! In celebration of all readers, writers and banner creators please take a moment to fill out the following surveys. The first, the K.W.C. Awards Survey, is to find out your favorite matches of the year and vote on the overall best of the best in a number of categories. The second, the K.W.C. Feedback Survey, is to get a solid evaluation on our work throughout the year, and where we should focus on in the future including new monster additions!

    The 2019 K.W.C. Awards Survey 

    The 2019 K.W.C. Feedback Survey

    Winners and results from both surveys will be announced at the start of February!

    K.W.C. // February 29, 2020
  • Author: Christian Salabert | Banner: Christian Salabert

    At last, mankind had made a breakthrough.

    For years, the scientific minds at the Shiragami Memorial Research Institute – so named after the brilliant man that had created one of the two truly effective weapons against Godzilla – had been trying to come up with a definitive way to subdue, if not kill the King of the Monsters, or any similar threat to humanity, similar to Shiragami’s own Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria. Unfortunately, while a lot of people had come close, no one had been able to create a truly worthy successor.

    No one, that is, until Noriko Yoshiwara.

    A brilliant geneticist, biochemist, and bioengineer, Professor Yoshiwara was a well-known name in the scientific community for decades before she began to work at the Shiragami Institute. If anyone was going to come up with a viable weapon, it would be her.

    Yoshiwara lived up to everyone’s expectations. Within a year, she had designed and synthesized an ungodly lethal bio-toxin, comprised of some of the most acidic, toxic, and venomous substances known to mankind.

    “I doubt even Bagan himself could survive this stuff,” she said with a chuckle during the press conference in which she and the Institute revealed the toxin to Japan and the world at large.

    As expected, the news took the world by storm. Everyone was talking about it, from the everyman on the street to the highest of government officials. Soon, there wasn’t a soul alive that didn’t know about Professor Yoshiwara’s miraculous creation.

    Of course, this had an unfortunate, if not unexpected downside. Nefarious groups and individuals had heard the wide spread news of the toxin’s creation and wanted to steal it for their own use, or destroy it before Japan could use it. Terrorist organizations like Bio-Major and the Red Bamboo, and enemy nations such as Mu and Seatopia, were already coming up with plans to do just that.

    However, not all the scheming individuals hailed from Earth. Some originated from far beyond, among the stars themselves. These undercover agents had been sent under the radar to live among humanity from the tenth planet in the solar system:

    Planet X.

    * * * * *

    It wasn’t long before news of Professor Yoshiwara’s toxin made its way to the planet’s Controller. He soon called forth a meeting with his highest council members. They all agreed: the bio-toxin had to be destroyed. Even if the Xiliens stole it for their own, there was a chance that the humans would be able to steal it back. Best to eradicate it completely. And now was their best chance, before it left the Shiragami Institute and became mass produced.

    But how?

    “What is the status of Monster Zero?” the Controller asked, staring at the large view screen behind his desk, currently showing the planet’s rocky, barren landscape.

    “King Ghidorah is still dealing with the resistance fighters in the southern hemisphere,” the Colonial Commander informed him.

    The Controller nodded. Pausing for a moment, he asked “And Monster Zero-1?”

    “Monster X is currently helping with… negotiations in Star Hunter Universe M.”

    Again, the Controller sat there, thinking. While Ghidorah and Monster X were the main two weapons he preferred to rely on for his missions, he did have a third option at his disposal. It wasn’t utilized nearly as often, but it was just as capable as the other two.

    “Send in Monster Zero-2.”

    * * * * *

    Night had fallen on the Shiragami Memorial Research Institute.

    Most of the scientists had gone home by now, leaving only a night crew running the facility. Some, however, had stayed behind for the night, still needing to work on their various projects. One of them was Professor Yoshiwara. Though her bio-toxin itself was complete, she still needed to take care of various finishing touches, calculating just how long it would take to mass produce, how much of it would be needed to affect a kaiju of any given size, and so on.

    Professor Yoshiwara sighed, needing to look away from the statistics running across her computer screen. She took her glasses from her face, rubbing her eyes.

    “Professor?”

    She turned to see one of her interns standing there. “Ah, Mayumi,” she greeted the younger woman with a tired smile. “What are you still doing here? Why haven’t you gone home?”

    “I was about to ask you the same thing,” the intern said, bowing as she approached the scientist. “It’s very late.”

    “Yes, I guess it is, isn’t it?” Yoshiwara said, glancing at the clock. “I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad idea to turn in for the night and pick this up in the morning with rested eyes.”

    “Sounds like a plan, Professor,” Mayumi agreed, nodding.

    Just then, the ground shook, throwing both women off balance. The sound of an explosion was heard in the distance.

    “What on Earth…?” Yoshiwara wondered as she stabilized her footing. Hearing the commotion going on out in the halls, she and Mayumi quickly ran outside to see what was going on.

    * * * * *

    Mere moments before, an Xilien Saucer had flown down, its suspended animation bubble cradling their weapon of choice in their latest incursion on Earth:

    Monster Zero-2. Otherwise known as Gororin.

    Once it was close enough to the ground, the saucer cut off its electrical rays, causing the bubble to burst upon hitting the ground. Using the momentum from the toss to continue onward, Gororin rolled like a bowling ball towards the Shiragami Institute, crashing through and destroying several vehicles and smaller structures on the outskirts of the Institute’s grounds.

    As the monster made his way towards the heart of the facility, the scientists within panicked. Not only were they concerned with the obvious – escaping with their lives – they also couldn’t just let all their years of hard work be destroyed. They had to save as much as they could.

    Unfortunately, as one might expect, this left them open to destruction at the spines of Gororin. The spiky orb crushed everything in his path as he made his way towards the main cluster of buildings at the Institute’s center. Several scientists were shredded underneath his round, spiny body.

    * * * * *

    “Professor, we have to go! Now!” Mayumi cried. “Gororin will kill us instantly if we don’t hurry!”

    “The Bio-Toxin!” Yoshiwara realized, looking at her intern. “We have to save it! At least a vial!”

    The two women hurried back to their office to secure the lethal substance.

    * * * * *

    High above the Institute, another being was about to make its presence known. But this was no alien force like the Xiliens. Instead, what descended down from the heavens was what could be described as a golden cloud. But this was no ordinary cloud made of water vapor, rather a cluster of billions upon trillions of spores, ones that belonged to an enormous creature, one very similar to Godzilla in a biological sense. The spores fell into the earth, seeding the soil as they disappeared within.

    Gororin, meanwhile, was leaving a trail of destruction in his path, making sure to eradicate all the outer buildings, leaving very few survivors as he cut off nearly all escape routes. But with that part of his mission complete, it was time to take care of the main building. Rolling towards it, the evil cactus prepared to smash the Institute to pieces.

    But fate had other plans for Gororin.

    The ground shook violently, cracking and splitting open. Before Gororin could halt his movement, his momentum took him directly over the edge, plummeting deep into the earth. For a moment, it seemed as if that might be the end of the cactus beast right then and there. That was not to be his end, however, as Gororin immediately burst up out of the crevasse, high into the air! …but not of his own volition. Gororin was being held high above the ground, ensnared by a large, dripping green vine. The alien plant was so dazed by the sudden fall and rise that he didn’t even try to break free at first.

    A much larger pair of eyes stared directly into Gororin’s. The diminutive cactus found himself face to face with the final form of Biollante.

    Snarling in disgust, Biollante whipped her vine away, hurling Gororin like a baseball through the air. The evil plant could do nothing but soar through the sky like a missile until his flight was suddenly cut short by the ground, knocking the creature momentarily unconscious.

    Looking out into the distance where her foe had crashed for a moment, Biollante eventually turned and looked over the Institute behind her. The damage was noticeable, but had thankfully been stopped before the facility was completely demolished. Biollante wasn’t quite sure why she had decided to save the Institute from destruction. Something within had urged her to do so, to take action against the small, evil–

    The Godzilla-plant hybrid howled in pain as a flurry of cactus needles flew through the air and embedded themselves into her leafy flesh. Snarling in fury, Biollante swung her head around, already knowing that the small creature was to blame. Sure enough, Gororin was rolling straight for her, his evil eyes narrowed as he rapidly approached his much larger foe. With a low, thundering growl, the cactus beast leapt into the air, heading towards Biollante’s face. The larger creature was fast to react, though, smacking Gororin away with one of her tendrils. As Gororin crashed to the ground once more, Biollante cried out in pain, several needles lodged into the striking vine. She shook the tendril hard, shaking the needles free as Gororin made another attack, rolling directly for his opponent.

    Biollante narrowed her eyes in anger at the little monster. Yellow energy surged from the core in her torso, up her throat and into her mouth. Before Gororin realized what was happening, Biollante lunged forward and opened her massive jaws, spewing forth a bubbling stream of radioactive sap towards her foe. At first the cactus creature ignored the sight, but he quickly realized his mistake as the sap began to hit and drench his skin. Gororin let out a pained cry as smoke began to rise from his sizzling flesh, immediately stopping him in his tracks.

    Gororin let out a pained cry as the sap cooked and ate away at his skin, but he had no time to focus on his pain. Her many vines waving threateningly in the air, Biollante charged forward, ready to attack her foe with a vengeance. Gororin rolled out of the way, but the monstrous hybrid was quick to react, erecting a wall of tendrils in front of him, blocking his path. As Biollante advanced behind him, Gororin pressed himself up against the tendrils and began to spin vertically, his needles shredding through the limbs until they were torn away completely. The severed vines fell to the ground as Gororin rolled out of harm’s way, narrowly avoiding an ear-splitting crunch from Biollante’s crocodilian jaws. Biollante sent more of her vines to attack Gororin, but the attempts failed, as each time they struck the cactus beast they burst apart against his spines.

    * * * * *

    “Biollante’s here, too?!” Mayumi gasped in shock as they stepped outside.

    “Mayumi, focus!” Yoshiwara cried, snapping her out of it. “We need to get these onto the chopper immediately!” She and Mayumi each had a steel drum full of the bio-toxin and were transporting them on hand trucks to the Institute’s helipad, where a series of military helicopters had landed, soldiers helping to evacuate the facility’s crew as well as their projects.

    “I’m sorry, Professor, of course!” the intern replied, nodding as she hurried along.

    * * * * *

    A pained wail escaped from Gororin as Biollante’s numerous teeth sank into his corroded flesh. Rearing her head back, Biollante lifted Gororin into the air and began to shake her head back and forth, sinking her teeth even deeper and tearing into the cactus like an angry dog. Even feeling Gororin’s spines scrape against the insides of her mouth wasn’t even to deter Biollante, who was determined to tear her foe apart.

    Gororin was face first in her mouth and thus could do nothing but watch himself approach the black hole that was Biollante’s throat. Desperate to escape her toothy grip, Gororin began to fire a stream of needles directly down her throat. Her eyes widening, Biollante gagged as she opened her jaws, trying to dislodge the cactus creature. Gororin kept his spines firing until they finally burst out the back of Biollante’s neck. Wailing in agony, the larger beast jerked her head to the side, tossing Gororin through the air and sending him crashing to the ground. Even though her leafy flesh had already begun to regenerate and repair the damage, the pain remained, and she narrowed her eyes at the tiny devil, her anger growing rapidly. A series of tendrils rising from the ground, she lunged towards her foe. Despite his injuries, Gororin was still the faster of the two, easily evading Biollante’s attacks. But even with his speed, Gororin knew he couldn’t avoid her forever. At the same time, Biollante knew that having her flesh torn over and over again by Gororin’s needles was beginning to wear her down.

    With Biollante briefly pausing in her assault, Gororin glanced at his opponent and took the opportunity to attack. Charging forward, Gororin rolled as fast as he could and leapt into the air, smashing himself into Biollante’s snout. Reeling back, Biollante screamed not only from the harsh blow, but also from the countless needles that were now lodged in her face.

    * * * * *

    Yoshiwara and Mayumi were on the helicopter, waiting for takeoff. As she waited, the intern looked back at the fight and frowned at what she saw. “Professor,” she said. “Biollante’s in trouble.”

    Looking out the window at the warring titans, Yoshiwara nodded somberly. One couldn’t deny that if Biollante hadn’t shown up when she had, no one would have been able to survive Gororin’s attack long enough for the evacuation choppers to arrive. She thought for a moment, looking over the contents of the craft. There were no other scientists on this helicopter, as it had mainly been filled with projects and experiments that weren’t able to fit on the others.

    Quickly, Yoshiwara made a decision, turning her head to address one of the soldiers. “Hey!” she called out to him. When he looked at her, she asked “I take it this chopper has missiles?”

    * * * * *

    Biollante howled as Gororin rolled past, once again shredding her flesh with his blood-stained spines. The cactus creature tore large chunks from the Godzilla hybrid each time he rolled past, tearing through most of the tendrils that attacked him as well. Biollante spewed out another stream of her acidic sap, but this time Gororin was able to avoid the attack, the sap staining and burning the ground instead.

    Suddenly, Gororin swerved around and headed directly for Biollante. The larger beast wasn’t expecting the tactic and reacted chaotically, lashing out wildly with her tentacle-like limbs. Gororin had been aiming for Biollante’s glowing energy sac, but a vine lashing down towards him caused him to dart to the side. Nevertheless, he was still able to reach her. Pressing up against her side, he began to rev himself up as he did with the wall of tendrils from before, spinning in place and shredding Biollante’s leafy flesh like a wood chipper. Biollante reared her head back and let out a hellacious scream of pain. She tried to reach for Gororin with several mouthed tendrils, but their heads were shredded to pieces by the cactus beast’s buzzsaw-like spinning. Soon, a large portion of Biollante’s lower torso had been torn away as Gororin forced his way further against her wound.

    At long last, one of Biollante’s desperately flailing vines managed to smack Gororin aside, sending him rolling away and allowing the genetic hybrid a moment to recuperate. But Gororin wasn’t about to let up and began firing a volley of needles into Biollante’s torn flesh, eliciting another pained cry.

    * * * * *

    Letting out a stressed huff, Yoshiwara closed the casing of one of the helicopter’s missiles.

    “This is crazy!” the soldier said. He turned and glanced at the pilot, who gave him a ‘hurry up’ signal, then looked back at the professor. “There’s no way this is going to work!”

    “This is the fastest way we have to drive those creatures away from the Institute!” Yoshiwara told him, though to be fair, her head was filled with similar thoughts. The missile was quickly loaded back into the helicopter’s cannon and everyone boarded the craft, which immediately lifted into the air.

    “Professor, we don’t even know if it’ll work!” Mayumi cried, growing increasingly nervous. “It’s never been field tested!”

    “What other choice have we?” Yoshiwara asked her.

    Mayumi hesitated, then went silent and nodded.

    * * * * *

    Biollante’s regeneration was good. Possibly even better than Godzilla’s. But even it could not stand up to the constant barrage of Gororin’s needles as they tore through her flesh over and over, eating her body away. Out of energy and missing a sizeable chunk of her body, Biollante collapsed, laying out across the soil. The mighty plant tried to lift herself back up, but lacked the strength to do so.

    Gororin let out a small growl of victory, narrowing his eyes in glee. His foe was beaten. All he had to do now was finish her off and he could resume his mission of destroying the human’s facility. Rolling towards Biollante, the cactus monster prepared to roll through her and shear her in half.

    Gororin heard a small buzzing sound approaching from behind. Before he could turn and face the source of the noise, he suddenly felt a small prick in the back of his body. Turning around quicker now, he saw a tiny human aircraft not too far from him. Obviously, the craft had just attacked him. Gororin’s eyes became angry slits and he opened fire on the humans.

    …Or, at least, he meant to. The instant the needles left his body, instead of soaring through the air, they fell harmlessly to the ground. Gororin stared for a moment, confused. What was wrong with his spines? Again he fired at the aircraft and again his needles fell uselessly. The cactus was about to charge the humans’ craft, when he was suddenly aware of a strange, sickly feeling within him. The prick he felt moments before… The humans… They must have…

    Every single spine suddenly fell from Gororin’s body, leaving him nothing more than a living ball.

    Even though he was feeling increasingly ill, pure rage began to surge through Gororin’s body. Revving himself up, the spineless cactus prepared to roll towards the humans’ aircraft and plow through them with his round body.

    Gororin’s plans were cut short as one of Biollante’s spear-tipped tendrils plunged deep into his back and burst out between his eyes, the light within them immediately dimming.

    Biollante, still laying down along the ground, lifted Gororin’s corpse up off the soil with her tendril and brought it close to her face, tilting her head to the side and opening her eye so she could inspect her foe. After watching closely for a moment, she was satisfied that the small beast was dead and flicked her tendril hard, sending Gororin’s body hurtling miles away. Again Biollante tried to pull herself up, and though she had healed a fair amount of the damage Gororin had inflicted, she was still beyond exhausted from the energy she’d spent. Before even she realized it, her body began to smoke and dissolve. The last thought that passed through Biollante’s mind before she dispersed into a cloud of golden spores was, even though she still wasn’t quite sure why she had appeared here and tried protecting the human’s structure… She was glad she had succeeded.

    * * * * *

    Professor Yoshiwara, Mayumi, and the soldiers aboard the helicopter watched as Biollante’s spores lifted into the sky, then blasted off into the atmosphere. Almost as one, everyone let out a huge sigh of relief.

    “Well,” Yoshiwara laughed slightly, leaning against the one remaining container of her bio-toxin. “At least we know it works.”

    Winner: Biollante

    K.W.C. // February 29, 2020
  • As Legendary Pictures moves past Kong: Skull Island (2017) and looks toward the future of the MonsterVerse, naturally news is starting to build for the next appearance of Kong, as the character is set to tangle with Godzilla in 2020.

    February 21st, 2020 update

    Legendary has a new press release available. While it shares little in the way of the movie itself, it does name numerous partners working on merchandise:

    TWO ICONIC TITANS TO CLASH ONSCREEN AND AT RETAIL WITH EXCITING
    GODZILLA VS. KONG GLOBAL PROGRAMS

    The much-anticipated epic action adventure’s retail and merchandise partnerships to provide fans with a robust offering of products and experiences in time for the film’s November 20, 2020, global release

    BURBANK, Calif., February 20, 2020 – As excitement builds for the November 20, 2020, release of Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures’ epic action adventure Godzilla vs. KongLegendary and Toho Co. Ltd. have announced an exciting slate of licensees that will deliver a diverse offering of merchandise and experiences to fans as they gear up to see two of cinema’s biggest icons battle it out on the big screen. International toy titan Playmates has been named master toy partner, with forthcoming products themed to Godzilla vs. Kong, as well as additional product lines inspired by Legendary and Warner Bros.’s Monsterverse and Classic Toho Monsters.

    Also teaming up with the much-anticipated film is an expansive roster of partners, including the leading global manufacturer of licensed apparel and accessories, Bioworld; the preeminent designer and manufacturer of costumes, Rubies; leading pop culture consumer product company Funko; interactive live-action adventure escape room producer 60Out; and virtual reality content studio, The Virtual Reality Company (VRC).

    “Kong and Godzilla permeate every aspect of pop culture, and we are excited to bring them back to the forefront of the zeitgeist with our best-in-class partners,” said James Ngo, Executive Vice President, Franchise Management, at Legendary Entertainment. “We are also working to expand this program into gaming, fashion, sports, food & beverage and more in order to create additional entry points for fans to engage with these two larger-than-life titans.”

    “Godzilla has become a beloved international figure since its first film nearly 65 years ago,” said Keiji Ota, Chief Godzilla Officer (CGO) of Toho.  “We’re thrilled to work with these companies to bring the awesome power of Godzilla vs. Kong to life with toys and products for kids of all ages.”

    Additionally, the Godzilla vs. Kong publishing program, which is being rolled out by Legendary Comics, will include two graphic novels, an art book, novelizations, and children’s books, offering fans a chance to delve deeper into the adventures of the great Godzilla and mighty Kong.

    About Godzilla vs. Kong:
    On November 20, 2020, comes the epic next chapter in Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures’ cinematic Monsterverse, Godzilla vs. Kong, starring Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, with Kyle Chandler and Demián Bichir, under the direction of Adam Wingard. In a time when monsters walk the Earth, Godzilla vs. Kong explores humanity’s fight for its future as the titans are set on a collision course resulting in a spectacular battle for the ages. Fans can join the conversation by using the official hashtag: #GodzillavsKong on social media.

    About Legendary:
    Legendary Entertainment is a leading media company with film (Legendary Pictures), television and digital (Legendary Television and Digital Media) and comics (Legendary Comics) divisions dedicated to owning, producing and delivering content to worldwide audiences. Legendary has built a library of marquee media properties and has established itself as a trusted brand which consistently delivers high-quality, commercial entertainment including some of the world’s most popular intellectual property. In aggregate, Legendary Pictures-associated productions have realized grosses of more than $17 billion worldwide at the box office. To learn more visit: www.legendary.com.

    About Toho:
    Toho Company, Limited, is a Japanese entertainment studio focused on the development, production, exhibition, and distribution of powerful content for motion pictures, television and theater. Founded in 1932, it remains a prominent force in bringing brands and original storytelling with versatile talents to audiences worldwide. Its subsidiaries include Toho Cinemas, the highest grossing exhibition company in Japan. To learn more, visit: www.toho.co.jp/en/.

    November 25th update

    It was hinted at way back in June, but it’s finally official: Godzilla vs. Kong has been delayed. The new date, as reported by Variety and others, is now November 20th, 2020.

    The delay probably shouldn’t come as a huge shock, given that news hasn’t picked up as one would expect this close to the original date, although it still marks a substantial delay.

    June 12th update

    In an article published by Deadline, Warner Bros. executives Toby Emmerich and Peter Roth brought up the possibility of Godzilla vs. Kong being delayed: “[Godzilla vs. Kong] might come out later in the year, so we can deliver an A+ movie,” Emmerich commented, noting that they “will deliver for fans in the way they were looking for.”

    June 1st update

    An early advertisement for Godzilla vs. Kong has appeared at Licensing Expo, paired with another of Legendary’s movie projects, Dune (2020). The image shows Godzilla and Kong locked in combat, with a tagline that reads “ONE WILL FALL”.

    March 15th, 2019 update

    Alexander Skarsgård was recently video interviewed by Collider, with the actor expressing his enjoyment working on Godzilla vs. Kong and how it will be “tonally quite different” from other films he’s been apart of in the last 2 years. Discussion of the movie starts around the 2 minute 53 second mark in the link provided.

    November 17th update

    As reported by Deadline, Lance Reddick is the latest addition to the Godzilla vs. Kong cast. Some of Reddick’s more well known portrayals include Charon from the John Wick movie series, Cedric Daniels from HBO’s The Wire, and Matthew Abaddon from the television series Lost. Reddick is also no stranger to giant monsters, having appeared in an uncredited role as a soldier in 1998’s GODZILLA.

    November 12th update

    With principal photography finally underway, an official press release for Godzilla vs. Kong has been made available, courtesy of Warner Brothers. The notes also include a long-awaited plot synopsis.

    WARNER BROS. PICTURES’ AND LEGENDARY ENTERTAINMENT’S MONSTERVERSE SHIFTS INTO OVERDRIVE AS CAMERAS ROLL ON THE NEXT BIG-SCREEN ADVENTURE
    “GODZILLA VS. KONG”

    Director Adam Wingard takes the helm to bring the long-awaited face-off between these two iconic titans to the big screen.

    BURBANK, CA, November 12, 2018 – Following the global success of 2014’s “Godzilla” and 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island,” and in the lead-up to the 2019 release of the highly anticipated “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Entertainment’s cinematic Monsterverse: “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Beginning production today, the epic action adventure will pit two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against one another – the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong – with humanity caught in the balance.

    “Godzilla vs. Kong” is being directed by Adam Wingard (“The Guest,” “You’re Next”). The film stars Alexander Skarsgård (“Big Little Lies,” The Little Drummer Girl”), Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”), Rebecca Hall (“Christine,” “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women”), Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta,” “Widows”), Shun Oguri (“Gintama”), Eiza González (“Baby Driver”), Jessica Henwick (“Iron Fist”), Julian Dennison (“Deadpool 2”), with Kyle Chandler (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Manchester by the Sea”) and Demián Bichir (“The Nun,” “The Hateful Eight”).

    In a time when monsters walk the Earth, humanity’s fight for its future sets Godzilla and Kong on a collision course that will see the two most powerful forces of nature on the planet collide in a spectacular battle for the ages. As Monarch embarks on a perilous mission into uncharted terrain and unearths clues to the Titans’ origins, a human conspiracy threatens to wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the earth forever.

    Wingard directs from a script written by Terry Rossio (“Pirates of the Caribbean”). The film is being produced by Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Eric McLeod, and Brian Rogers, with Kenji Okuhira, Yoshimitsu Banno, Jon Jashni and Thomas Tull serving as executive producers. Jay Ashenfelter, Jen Conroy and Tamara Kent are co-producers.

    Behind the scenes, Wingard’s creative team includes director of photography Ben Seresin (“World War Z,” “Unstoppable”), production designers Owen Patterson (“Godzilla,” “The Matrix” Trilogy and “Captain America: Civil War”) and Tom Hammock (“The Guest,” “Blindspotting”), editor Josh Schaeffer (“Molly’s Game,” “Kong: Skull Island”), costume designer Ann Foley (“Altered Carbon”), and VFX supervisor John “DJ” DesJardin (“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Watchmen”).

    Filming is taking place in Hawaii and Australia. A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Entertainment, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is currently scheduled for release on May 22, 2020. The film will be distributed in 3D and 2D and in select IMAX theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures, except in Japan, where it will be distributed by Toho Co., Ltd.

    November 11th update

    Godzilla vs. Kong Storyboard TeaserCast additions for Godzilla vs. Kongcontinue to roll in. As reported by Variety and Deadline respectively, actress Jessica Henwick – known for her role as Nymeria Sand who first appeared in Season 5 of the popular fantasy/drama television series Game of Thrones – and Japanese actor Shun Oguri in his Hollywood debut will be starring in the 2020 sequel to Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). Like most of the cast before them, their roles are currently not known.

    Meanwhile, director Adam Wingard recently posted on his Instagram account a storyboard teaser for Godzilla vs. Kong. The picture shows only a fraction of a storyboard sketch accompanied by text briefly describing Godzilla’s reaction to something presumably just out of frame in the photo.

    No specifics regarding the picture were shared, though the enthusiastic Wingard did note how shooting for the movie was to begin soon: “This is the only part of the Godzilla Vs Kong storyboards that I can share. We start shooting this week after more than a year of preproduction. It’s finally happening!”

    November 3rd update

    The cast for Godzilla vs. Kong continues to grow as Rebecca Hall of The Prestige (2006) and Marvel’s Iron Man 3 (2013) fame, alongside Baby Driver (2017)’s Eiza González, have joined the movie according to exclusive reports published by Variety and Deadline respectively.

    October 26th update

    In an exclusive announcement from Deadline Hollywood, Emmy Award-winning actor Alexander Skarsgård will be starring in the 2020 movie. Like the previously-reported Demián Bichir, Skarsgård’s role is currently unknown.

    October 20th update

    According to the Hollywood Reporter, actor Demián Bichir of The Hateful Eight (2015) and The Nun (2018) fame is slated to appear in Godzilla vs. Kong. Bichir will be joining Millie Bobbie Brown and Brian Tyree Henry as one of the leads, though his role is currently unknown.

    October 10th update

    As shared in a video via Gormaru Island, the production of Godzilla vs. Kong in Australia was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Village Roadshow Studios. Filming is expected to start before the end of the year, with the movie employing 500 full-time staff and 600 casuals.

    11:05 PM – Actor Brian Tyree Henry of Atlanta fame will be joining the cast of Godzilla vs. Kong, as exclusively reported by Variety. While his character’s role is unknown, he is said to play “a significant role” in the plot. Henry will be starring alongside other confirmed actors including Millie Bobby Brown, Julian Dennison, and Kyle Chandler.

    September 14th update

    In the latest issue of Production Weekly courtesy of Gormaru Island, principal photography for Godzilla vs. Kong is slated to begin next month on October 1st. Currently, the only confirmed film locations are in Atlanta, Hawaii, and Australia.

    June 3rd, 2018 update

    As the project continues to develop, casting news is starting to come in. First off, Van Marten, who will appear in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha, are set to appear in the film. Ziyi will also appear in Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and will reprise her role from that movie. It’s also been announced that young actor Julian Dennison, from Deadpool 2, will appear in the movie as well in a yet to be revealed role.

    August 27th update

    Casting is still not revealed for the project, although director Adam Wingard noted that characters seen in the 2019 Godzilla film will also appear in the 2020 battle royale flick between the two titular monsters.

    June 2nd, 2017 update

    After moving Kong: Skull Island (2017) from Universal to Warner Bros. in 2015, Legendary Pictures announced the natural conclusion to that news in October of 2015. The company stated that a Godzilla vs. Kong movie was in the works.

    Since then, the company has focused most of their efforts on the 2017 King Kong film and the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters. However, with Skull Island released, eyes are now focused on the next movie to feature the character, which is coming on May 22nd, 2020.

    Naturally, some of the first news on the production is related to the staff who will bring it to life. The first major announcement came with the confirmation of the director. For this responsibility, Legendary Pictures tapped Adam Wingard, who has previously directed You’re Next and The Guest.

    Writing duties are being split amongst a writers room, which is being led by Terry Rossio, the scribe behind the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. He is joined by a huge group of writers, which include former comic author J. Michael Straczynski, who also worked on the Thor movie and World War Z. Lindsey Beer, who is an up and coming writer attached to assignments like Barbie, Patrick McKay, Star Trek Beyond, T.S. Nowlin, Maze Runner, Cat Vasko, Grrl Scouts, J.D. Payne, Star Trek Beyond, and Jack Paglen, Transcendence, are also in the writers room.

    News // February 21, 2020
  • Author: Jack Jordan | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

    [continued from Match 230]

    Four months had passed since Godzilla’s battle with Megalon in Chicago, leaving a devastated Windy City to recover from the disaster. Thousands of lives were lost in the attack and millions were left homeless. Dozens of skyscrapers had been demolished, costing the state billions of dollars in damage and lost work. The effects on the stock market were unbelievable, leaving many to fear that the United States would be unable to cope with the damages.

    But despite all of that, the mood of the people was optimistic. Temporary homes and settlements had been established all over the city and adjourning suburbs, allowing a portion of the displaced population to remain local. Many more were taken in by private citizens. Volunteers had come from all over Illinois and the nation to help rebuild the once proud city of broad shoulders.

    And help they did.

    Within the first 3 months, the majority of the rubble had been removed. The large pit created in the battle, referred to jokingly as “the deep dish” by locals, was in the process of being cleared. Designs were being drafted for a memorial park and tower to take its place, though there was some debate raised by various companies about the revenue they would lose to such a construction. Life could have almost been normal if not for the shadow that still loomed over the city: Godzilla had yet to leave Lake Michigan.

    For the first few weeks, the media had given near constant media updates about the search for the Titan as the government scoured Lake Michigan. Surveillance drones maintained a twenty-four hour watch on the shores of the great lake as they waited for signs of movement. Meanwhile, scientists from all manner of fields flocked to Chicago to report on the presence of the kaiju.
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discovered that both the temperature and water level of the lake had changed due to Godzilla’s presence. Marine biologists based at Shed Aquarium surveyed the wildlife of Lake Michigan in relation to the alpha predator. Sociologists remarked on the strange affection and ownership Chicago’s citizens had developed toward Godzilla, whose name now adorned sports jerseys all over the city. Behind all of them was MONARCH, which led the search for the monster king. Unmanned submersibles were deployed, starting a grid based search of Lake Michigan.

    And after just 2 weeks of searching, they found him.

    The announcement that Godzilla had been located immediately stirred panic among the people of Chicago. In response, a press conference was called with the world’s foremost expert on Godzilla: Dr. Serizawa. For the next week, the conference was rebroadcast over major news networks alongside footage of the sleeping giant. “Before the MUTO incident in 2014,” Dr. Serizawa calmly told reporters, “Gojira had not been sighted for more than 60 years. Unless he is provoked, it is unlikely that he will return to the city.”

    Public fervor diminished, but inquiries were made about what the government would do if Godzilla did awaken. Military officials showed blustering confidence on air as plans were drafted by the states of Illinois and Michigan in case the titan landed on their shores. Canada increased communication with the U.S. as they prepared for a possible kaiju arrival. Families planned evacuation routes while schools educated children about radiation exposure and safety. All the while, Godzilla slept peacefully, his wounds from the battle slowly healing. Under advisement from MONARCH, the U.S. military made no attacks against Godzilla as he rested, though they remained prepared to strike at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, far away from the watchful eye of the world, a new threat emerged.

    In the small town of Hourra, Louisiana, strange things had begun to happen.

    Violent tremors had occurred near the town during the last week of August. No one thought much of it; tremors had been reported all across the Midwestern United States since Megalon had been revived. Hearing this on the local news, the people of Hourra went about their lives with little concern.

    At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Sightings of stray animals around the town had decreased, but no one complained about that. Then people started to disappear. It wasn’t until the middle of September that they were first missed. After all, many of the locals lived in isolated homes throughout the swampland. It wasn’t uncommon for such people to come to town only every few months. Hourra was an isolated community, and that’s how they liked it. But when November came and they still hadn’t been seen, the sheriff went out to check on them. And what he found terrified him.

    He had never seen anything like it. The houses had been torn apart. Door frames were burst open, walls knocked down. Even the roof had been torn off of a pair of old two story homes. Inside, among the destruction and wooden scrap, dried blood coated the walls and floors. But most horrifying of all were the footprints all around the houses, large 3 clawed feet that had torn trenches into the muddy ground.

    The sheriff rushed back to town as fast as he could, calling in aid from the state police and every sheriff’s department in the adjacent counties. All told, nine houses had been destroyed and nearly 50 people were missing. With bloodhounds and helicopter support, the sheriff and his brothers and sisters in blue started tracking the footprints into the swamp. If there was any chance that someone was alive, then he had to take it.

    Deeper and deeper into the stinking marsh they went, nearly 30 officers of various departments and jurisdictions. Each carried with them an AR-15 or shotgun, each of them prepared for the worst. And that is exactly what they found.

    The helicopter spotted it first; a sinkhole in the swamp, nearly 500 feet wide. Water cascaded down into the pit, the bottom of it difficult to see even in the early morning light. As the officers approached the pit, an uneasy feeling fell over them. There were no birds chirping or flying overhead. All was quiet except for the sound of their own feet sloshing through the water.
    The current grew stronger as they approached the pit, but careful movement kept them from falling in. Even with their closer vantage point, it was impossible to see inside the sinkhole. A smell like rotting meat wafted up from the enormous hole. Cautiously, the officers set up a perimeter around it.

    A low rumble came up from the earth, like the hiss of a gigantic alligator. The ground shook beneath their feet as clamorous shrieks began to rise up from the ground. Rifles trained down into the darkness, the officers saw nightmarish creatures climbing up the walls at incredible speed. The beasts were large, each one standing between 8 and 10 feet tall, with thin long tails stretching out behind them. The colors ranged from grey to green and brown, but all had leathery skin with bony protrusions jutting from their backs. Their yellow softball sized eyes were fixed on the humans above them, their toothy mouths wide and salivating.

    The officers opened fire on the advancing horde, the muzzle flash of their firearms illuminating the carnage beneath them. Bones littered the floors and walls of the pit; deer, alligator, dogs, cattle, and other unrecognizable specimens. Worst of all, partially eaten human bodies littered the sloping walls of the sinkhole, some still in the ruined clothing they had worn at the end.
    The din of the skirmish rose higher as the creatures began to feel the sting of the officers’ weapons, sending up cries of pain into the daylight. But the pain would not last long; in the face of fear, fire control was completely forgotten. For 10 seconds, gunfire rained down full force on the creatures, but as magazines ran low and fire diminished, the monsters grew bolder.

    Climbing the walls of the pit in 15 foot leaps, the creatures swiftly cleared the rim of the deep hole. Pouncing like jungle cats, they pinned the brave officers to the ground and dragged them back to the pit. Amid the dwindling gunfire and the screams of the creatures, the sheriff radioed back to town. With one hand firing his sidearm and the other on his radio, he gave his last report.
    Back at the sheriff’s office, the message came over the radio in a confusing mass of static, gunfire, and shouting. A response was quickly attempted, but only static came back. With no other recourse, the call was forwarded to the Louisiana State Police headquarters, who in turn sent it to the FBI and Department of Defense. By the time the message got to Dr. Serizawa at MONARCH, an official transcript had already been finished:

    “Monsters *gunfire noise* missing people, killed *gunfire* look like baby *Unknown noise* -zillas! Get everyone to safety! Th-*Unknown noise, louder* RUN! *gunfire, screams*”

    MONARCH immediately sent a team to investigate, but what they discovered only fueled their worst fears: the town of Hourra was gone. In its place remained broken homes, crushed cars, and the visceral remains of the citizenship. Further, any chance of secrecy had been ruined by the numerous police agencies whose officers had heard the distress call. With no alternatives, the decision was made to inform the general public. The president was on the air within the hour to tell the world that monsters were once again loose within the borders of the United States.
    A state of emergency was declared in Louisiana and all bordering states as the military was deployed to fight the monsters. Searches were conducted to discover the location of the creatures, but no evidence beyond footprints could be located. Only the rediscovery of the sinkhole provided any respite for the desperate searchers, who faced increasing public scrutiny with each day that passed. Although it had been emptied, a wealth of information was discovered and analyzed by the eager scientists of MONARCH.
    Based on evidence from both the battles in San Francisco and Chicago, the creatures were not actually related to Godzilla. Numerous footprints of various sizes had been found, revealing that the creatures had both a different shape, stance, and build than the King of the Monsters.
    Fragments of large eggshells were also found deep within the sinkhole, which ran deeper and farther than anyone dared to go in the current crisis. Samples were taken, and back in the lab an incredible amount of information was found. In addition to the vaguely reptilian nature of the beasts (discovered thanks to skin imprints and shedding found around the eggs), there was a faint trace of radiation to be found. But without any knowledge of Godzilla’s life cycle, no true connection could be certain.

    A week had passed before the researchers concluded the most deadly news of all: the oldest eggs had only been laid in the last 3 weeks. Taken into consideration with the various footprints, it was determined that the creatures grew at an unprecedented rate. Grimly, the men and women of MONARCH deduced that it would only be a matter of time before humanity’s next encounter with the creatures. At the rate they grew, they would need copious amounts of food.
    And the day before Thanksgiving, they reappeared.

    On that busiest day of national travel, U.S. Route 51, its four lanes packed with traffic, was beset by strange tremors. For hours, cars experienced sudden turbulence, resulting in numerous accidents and collisions. To accommodate, traffic slowed to a near crawl as first responders tried to help out at the numerous scenes.

    Closer to the city of Hammond, cars were at near standstill when the ground opened up. Dozens of vehicles tumbled into the gaping hole in the earth, their occupants screaming as fate rushed up to meet them. For miles around, the rumbling of the earth and the crashing of metal could be heard. A tremendous cloud of dust and grime rose up from the sinkhole, obscuring nearly a half mile of the highway.

    Stranded on the side of the road, numerous people left their cars once the rumbling had stopped. Some rushed into the cloud to try and help while others looked on. Inside the plume of dust and smoke, nothing could be seen. Would be rescuers shuffled through the cloud, tripping and falling into cars and rubble. Sounds of pain and fright could be heard throughout the hazy gray cloud as trapped drivers called for emergency services.

    Helicopters had to be utilized due to the unbelievable congestion on the road. Cars were backed up for miles in both directions, keeping any ambulance or police vehicles from being able to safely make it to the scene. Half a dozen helicopters were headed to the scene within 10 minutes. A mixed bag of military and medical aircraft, they were ready to evacuate all that they could. The expected to find a terrible accident scene. Instead, they found a massacre.

    Everywhere cars were crushed and torn open. Their occupants were being devoured screaming by the horde of kaiju which had spewed from the earth. Nearly 4 dozen of the creatures that had massacred the police at the sinkhole were racing through the stalled cars. They shrieked and roared as they ripped open cars and dragged people back to the pit to feed on.

    Within the massive sinkhole, a larger creature stirred. Zilla, hidden by a shroud of smoke and dust, observed her children with approval. For the past month and a half, she had been leading her growing children south. After feasting on the people of Hourra, she needed to find another source of food for them. Burrowing toward a source of incredible seismic activity, she had led them through the earth. But their hunger had grown almost beyond control. Her children snapped voraciously at each other and the largest of them had even eaten a few of the smallest. With little choice left, Zilla had led them up to the nearest source of activity to feed. And feed they did.
    In horror, the pilots radioed back to base about what they had discovered. Surveying the scene from 600 feet above the ground, they provided descriptions of the creatures and their activity as they waited for a response on how to proceed. Within the pit, activity increased as they circled. Green light emanated from underground, turning the cloud into a ghostly vapor. The helicopters kept their distance, not eager to discover what was inside the hole…

    When reinforcement aircraft arrived 15 minutes later, the fate of the first responders was revealed by the twisted, blackened remains of their helicopters. Of the creatures, no sign could be found except for a trail of wreckage leading south. Directly toward New Orleans.

    Within hours, the city was a battleground. Incapable of retaliating without massive civilian casualties, an emergency evacuation was conducted. The National Guard was deployed into the city, intent on rescuing as many civilians as possible while engaging the creatures in a limited fashion.

    As the war between humanity and monsters escalated again, something else happened. Far north, away from the besieged city of New Orleans, within the cold waters of Lake Michigan, a sleeping giant awoke.

    With alerts sounding from every drone MONARCH had watching him, Godzilla rose up from the bottom of Lake Michigan. His jagged spikes pierced the surface of the water, sending a misty spray trailing after him as he picked up speed. Landing at an unoccupied section of the shore, Godzilla snorted as he made landfall. Water sprayed from his nostrils and gills as he shook himself out of the water, stretching after his healing sleep. Recovered from his battle with Megalon, Godzilla began to walk south.

    A growing feeling of discomfort had troubled him as he slept. Another titan had awoken. Like the MUTO’s he had faced in the past, it would grow and breed until even his strength would falter, overwhelmed by their brood. He could not let that happen. And so, with senses far more keen and strange than any other creature in existence, Godzilla followed the sensation south. Whatever had awoken him, he would find it there.

    As Godzilla began to make his way through Michigan, conferences and meetings were being held across all arms of the government. With the battle raging in New Orleans, it was now apparent that King of the Monsters would be making his way to fight this new titan and her children. And when Godzilla and Zilla met, chaos was sure to occur.

    But with all efforts being made to stop Zilla and her spawn in New Orleans, there was little the U.S. government could do as Godzilla drew closer and closer to his target. The only consolation came from Dr. Serizawa, who reminded those in charge that Godzilla had largely avoided populated areas previously. And if Godzilla defeated his opponents in Louisiana, he would almost certainly return to the ocean. And so the powers that be watched with bated breath and trembling hands as Godzilla made it into the New Orleans city limits 2 days after awakening…

    Trampling everything in his way, Godzilla announced his arrival to New Orleans with a tremendous roar. The challenge echoed across the once most populous city in Louisiana as he waited for a reply. He could taste his opponent’s fishy scent on his tongue, the stench of it filling his nostrils. They were here. He would just have to draw them out… but the minutes began to add up as he waited. Impatient, he began lumbering toward the heart of the city, his senses alert. His eyes scanned the buildings as he walked, his ears honed for slightest sound of movement. He was the hunter, and he would find his prey.

    Beneath his feet, the ground trembled. The saurian Zilla was moving, her world a frenzy of activity. For the last 2 days, a feeling of unease had been upon her. Her children were restless, constantly looking for food and shelter as she did her best to keep them safe in their nest. A predator was coming, and she would have to defend them.

    Burrowing up from beneath the surface of the ground, she observed her opponent for the first time, sweeping his head from side to side as he looked for her. The pair of them were not dissimilar; both were vaguely reptilian with large scutes trailing down their spinal column. Both were powerfully built after their own fashion. And both were predators. Pulling herself from the ground, she stalked toward him. Block by block, she closed in on him until she felt comfortable that he had not seen her. With a quick roar, she leaped onto his back!

    Caught by surprise, Godzilla cried out in pain! Though not heavy enough to knock him over, the smaller kaiju had latched onto his back with her claws. With a furious screech, Zilla slashed at Godzilla’s head and neck. His tough hide prevented far deadlier wounds, but he was soon covered in small, stinging lacerations. Bellowing in rage, Godzilla shook his body from side to side in an attempt to knock her off, but Zilla held all the tighter in response.

    Desperate to free himself, the monster king turned toward the Plaza Tower. With sudden speed, he ducked forward, crashing his head into the building in a massive spray of rubble. Zilla, situated at his shoulders, was caught unaware and sent sprawling off of him in a heap.

    Regaining his composure quickly, Godzilla made to stomp on the smaller titan. Eyes wide, she pushed away from him just as Godzilla’s foot came crashing down on the spot that she had been. Circling on all fours, she pulled away from him by a city block. The two creatures locked eyes, holding each other’s gaze.

    Anger filled Zilla’s orange eyes, fierce and motherly.

    Godzilla glowered at her, his own rage peaked. This creature had drawn first blood. It was time to return the favor.

    With a booming roar, Godzilla charged toward the smaller kaiju. Zilla roared back in turn before meeting his charge with claws outstretched. She quickly outpaced her larger foe, moving past him with a quick slash of her left claw. The deadly talons left large marks across Godzilla’s thigh, but not so deep as to draw blood. Turning, Godzilla lashed out with his right claw, but Zilla ducked beneath the comparatively clumsy attack. She drew away from him again, ready to make another swift pass. She would have to find a softer spot to hit.

    Godzilla emitted a roar of frustration as he planted his feet. He could not outrun the smaller titan, so he would have to use his size against her.

    Zilla sprinted toward him once more. With two quick slashes, she raked her claws across Godzilla’s left side and belly before moving past him again. The alpha predator cried out in pain as blood began to trickle from his wounds. His armor was tough, but it did not make him invincible. He had to stop her hit and run tactics. He had to keep her still!

    The smaller kaiju all but smiled as she rounded again on her rival. Blood dribbled from her claws as she went to make another pass. The titan king was too slow, too old to keep up with her. She would make him pay for coming after her brood!

    Godzilla roared at Zilla once more, preparing his next move. If he could time it right, it would bring a swift victory. Zilla screeched her triumph and sprinted toward him again, claws ready. Ducking low and turning, Godzilla swung his long, heavy tail at Zilla with tremendous speed.
    Her eyes went wide as the gargantuan tail raced toward her, reducing a row of buildings on Barrone street to a line of dust and smoke. Unable to slow down quickly enough to dodge the attack, she did the only thing she could. Before the tail could hit her, Zilla jumped. Up and over the attack she soared, but not so quick or high that Godzilla could not strike back.

    Following through with the turning motion of his tail swipe, Godzilla spun to face Zilla as she passed his torso. With amazing speed and precision, the monster king lashed out at the leaping kaiju, using his head like a battering ram. His spiky, heavy skull collided with her chest as she went to leap past him. With a meaty thud, Zilla had the air knocked out of her as she tumbled backward, crashing into the Place St. Charles building.

    The 645 foot tall building shuddered with her impact before crashing inward. Concrete and steel rained down onto the lithe monster, briefly burying her beneath the crumbled building. Moving as quickly as possible, Godzilla pushed into the rising cloud of dust and smoke as he sought to seize the advantage.

    As Zilla clambered out of the rubble, Godzilla lashed out with a powerful kick. Catching her in the stomach with his powerful clawed foot, he sent his opponent sprawling into the next block. As Zilla rolled and writhed, trying to get to her feet, Godzilla charged again.

    Roaring in anger, he stomped his right foot down onto her chest. Once, twice, three times he brought his foot down. Zilla coughed up blood with each strike, her ribs cracking audibly with the impacts.

    With the final stomp Godzilla planted his foot on Zilla’s chest, pinning her in place. The smaller titan struggled desperately to escape, but her opponent was too strong. Her eyes rolled frantically in her head as an eerie blue glow began to emanate from Godzilla’s tail. Frantically she clawed at his leg as the light began to advance up his back, the light glowing brighter and brighter. Calling out into the night, Zilla watched as her enemy raised his head up, inhaling deeply.

    Godzilla leaned forward to deliver the killing blow when suddenly he was pushed off balance! His focus entirely on the pinned Zilla, he had not noticed that her brood had come to her aid!
    From out of their underground lair, dozens of young Zilla had appeared. The bulk of the beasts were nearly 10 feet tall dinosaur-like creatures not yet resembling their parent.

    However, of her original nest in the swamp pit, 4 had survived. They had grown rapidly with each new day and feeding. These young titans stood just below 100 feet tall, their scutes finally starting to develop.

    As they approached adolescence, their bodies had begun to developed muted colors to go alongside the natural grey of their species: lavender, rose, chartreuse, and daisy shown on their backs and belies. Acting as a pack, the group had split in half; two of the juvenile Zilla had crashed into their mother’s assailant while the other pair went to aid their mother.

    Ducking their heads low, the pair of Zilla rammed Godzilla with their shoulder scutes. The spikes sank deep into Godzilla’s leg, drawing blood from the King of the Monsters. With a cry of pain, Godzilla was pushed off of Zilla, falling into the street and buildings a block over. Viciously, his two attackers pounced on his prone form.

    No longer pinned, Zilla attempted to pull herself back to her feet to no avail; Godzilla had pushed her shoulder spikes deep into the earth beneath her. She cried out in frustration, but her young had already come to help her. Not quite strong enough to tear her loose from the ground, the pair began to frantically dig beneath their mother as she struggled to get free, rocking her body back and forth to loosen the dirt.

    The lavender and rose Zilla pair continued their assault on Godzilla, slashing and biting at his prone body. Godzilla thrashed about, his armored hide yielding little blood to the attacks of the young titans.

    Unfortunately for them, he had not lost his breath in the fall. Enraged, Godzilla unleashed his atomic breath at the rose colored Zilla, directly impacting his chest and throat. Unlike Megalon or the MUTO’s, Zilla’s species lacked a robust exoskeleton to resist the attack.

    Like a flamethrower, his attack charred the youthful creature’s body in an instant. The rose colored kaiju’s skin blackened and crinkled, withering the muscle beneath and exposing bone. The monster shrieked in pain as the atomic fire burned his throat, spilling his life’s blood boiling into the street before it pierced his body and lanced into the buildings behind him in a massive explosion. Falling to the ground, the rose colored Zilla writhed briefly before it expired.

    Godzilla lifted himself to his forward claws, the blue glow of his atomic energy still shimmering within his scutes. Around his hands and feet, dozens of the smaller Zilla swarmed. At ten feet tall, the damage they could do against their colossal enemy was limited, but it wouldn’t prevent them from trying.

    The tiny monsters swarmed up his arms and legs, digging and biting at his flesh as others ran up toward his face and eyes. Blood welled up across his arms and legs from the swarming attack. Annoyed, Godzilla released his atomic breath again, incinerating the titans on his arms and legs with a carefully aimed blast. As the glow faded from his craggy spikes, he began to swat at the smaller Zilla on his face and neck.

    Meanwhile, the brood’s mother had freed herself from the ground. Loose earth and asphalt tumbled from her back as she rolled her shoulders, ready to attack once more. Standing beside the three remaining juvenile titans, she watched as Godzilla crushed her children against the surrounding buildings like a bear scratching itself against a tree. She could hear the screeches of terror and sudden death as they were snuffed out by the ancient alpha predator. Beside her, the younger Zillas snarled and shook in anticipation.

    Godzilla finished off the remainder of the Zilla horde and turned toward his remaining opponents. The streets around his feet were littered with the broken and lifeless bodies of the tiny kaiju.

    Enraged, Zilla let out a trumpeting roar as emerald light raced up the length of her spine, illuminating her scutes like a light shown through a crystal. The green fire shown in her eyes before bursting from her roaring maw, the line of fire clearing the distance to Godzilla in an instant.

    The beam of atomic energy hit Godzilla in the chest, eliciting a cry of pain from the monster king. The outer layer of his armored hide smoldered from the attack. In response he began to build up his own atomic breath, the blue light running up from the tip of his tail. Not wanting to be on the receiving end of Godzilla’s deadly breath, Zilla released her children and charged.
    The 4 saurian kaiju swarmed toward Godzilla, the lavender juvenile arriving first. With a quick slash of her claws, she struck Godzilla in the stomach as she passed his right side. The daisy and chartreuse colored juveniles followed a similar path, deviating only to the left after drawing blood from Godzilla’s belly. Godzilla swatted at the young monsters as they passed, catching the daisy highlighted Zilla across the face with his powerful claws. 3 large gashes were opened on the right side of her face, blinding her with her own blood. With a shriek she tumbled, rolling into the base of the Hancock Whitney building as she clutched her face in pain.

    Zilla herself struck last, closing the distance to Godzilla in a single leap. Using her powerful hind legs she kicked and slashed at Godzilla’s chest like a raptor before landing in front of him. The armor already weakened by her radioactive breath, she sliced long bloody slashes into his chest. Godzilla roared in anger and pain as blood ran from the lacerations in his chest. Again he struck at her with his massive claws, only for her to duck out of the way.

    From behind him came the three Zilla children again. The lavender and chartreuse pair struck at his flanks as their daisy color sister made a bold move. Furious and wounded, she shrieked and clambered up his back. Using his dorsal plates like stepping stones, she clawed and slashed her way up toward his head. As the adult Zilla circled around him, Godzilla slashed and shook his body in an attempt to dislodge the small yellow kaiju. Buildings trembled for miles around, shattering glass with each jarring impact as she held onto his neck and shoulders with her claws.
    Firmly attached to his head, she opened her moth to use her own special attack. A burst of fiery gas exploded from her mouth, the orange flames singeing the back of Godzilla’s head. Her siblings, seeing the attack, cried out excitedly, and began to circle Godzilla, attacking with their own immature breath weapons. Roaring in annoyance, Godzilla bent downward and grabbed for his shoulder riding nuisance.

    Caught up in the thrill of her successful attack, the young Zilla was unable to escape the grasping claws which ensnared her. With immense strength and speed, Godzilla tossed the smaller kaiju to the ground. Stunned by the impact, the daisy kaiju was powerless to defend herself as Godzilla stomped down on her back. With two powerful downward thrusts of his left foot, Godzilla had crushed the juvenile Zilla’s spine with a loud crunch. The daisy colored Zilla’s orange eyes, so full of life and energy seconds before, dimmed as blood ran from her open mouth.

    Devastated by the loss of their sister, the lavender and chartreuse Zilla rushed her killer. The lavender Zilla circled as her green brother charged in, attempting to climb up Godzilla’s back as his daisy sister had done.

    Unwilling to allow another climber onto his back, Godzilla struck first. With a quick swing of his tail, Godzilla caught the chartreuse kaiju across the torso. The heavy appendage pulverized the young kaiju’s rib cage and spine, sending his broken body flying into the night. He crashed into the nearby One Canal Place, which collapsed atop him in an expanding cloud of dust and glass.
    With nothing left to lose, the remaining Zilla child ran to meet her fate. As Godzilla lifted back up from his tail attack, the purple beast pounced onto his chest. Sinking her claws deeply into Godzilla’s shoulders, the little monster attempted to do as much damage as possible to her siblings’ killer.

    She slashed with her hind legs across his belly and bit at his throat with her powerful jaws. As blood began to run across the front of his body, Godzilla reached up and grabbed the lavender Zilla in his powerful claws.

    The speed of Zilla and her brood had forced him to rely on his claws to strike, but Godzilla’s primary weapon had always been his teeth. Snarling, he snapped at the purple kaiju’s head and neck before clamping his powerful jaws around her throat.

    With a burbling cry, the young Zilla tried desperately to escape as Godzilla sank his teeth deeper and deeper into her throat. Hot blood poured from the wound, running down Godzilla’s face and neck. Shaking his head like a bull dog, Godzilla tore her throat from her body and dropped her to the ground.

    Incensed, Godzilla looked around for the parent but he could find no trace of her. Relaxing his shoulders for a moment, Godzilla exhaled. His body was sore, he was bleeding from dozens of small wounds, not to mention the slashes across his chest. But he still had one more opponent to face.

    Seeing the lifeless bodies of her children fallen on the ground, Zilla let out a heart wrenching screech. Godzilla whipped around to locate the slender kaiju two blocks away from him, her body shaking with grief and rage.

    Her orange eyes, so like his own, brimmed with tears as green light raced up her spiky back. Each scute was quickly illuminated a row at a time, starting from the tip of her tail to the massive spikes on her shoulders. In a flash, Zilla’s tears evaporated as light and heat bloomed from her eyes. Opening her toothy mouth wide, the smaller kaiju let loose with her atomic breath in a swirling stream of green fire.

    But Godzilla was ready for her. His own atomic breath burst from his mouth, the blue plasma colliding with green in a blinding flash of light between them! Sparks flew as the two kaiju poured forth their power in a struggle for dominance. A pulsing cloud of energy was building at the impact point. Blue and green rays of light danced and swirled within the cloud like an aurora, the colors cascading over the ruins of New Orleans.

    Zilla’s eyes widened in shock as she held onto the thread of her breath. She had never experienced something like this before! Her vision was a haze of blue and green light, keeping her opponent’s form concealed from her. Digging her clawed feet into the earth beneath her, she braced herself against the blast. If she could just manage to hold on, perhaps she could escape, regroup. She had to if she was going to make the murderer of her children pay!

    Godzilla kept his breath firing in a steady flow of power. In his long life, he had mastered the use of his atomic breath. He knew its strengths and weaknesses inside and out. His opponent’s weapon may have been a different color than his own, but its function was the same.

    Zilla had led the attack with a powerful blast, attempting to overpower him quickly. If he had been less experienced, perhaps it would have worked. The struggle of beams was as much an act of balance as it was power. A wrong move could spell disaster if the energies were interrupted at the wrong time. And so he let her push herself to the limit, the meeting point of the beams drawing closer and closer to him.

    A new light shown in Zilla’s eyes. She was winning! She took a difficult step forward, attempting to push the energy back on Godzilla.

    Feeling the balance of the beams shift between them, Godzilla made his move. He increased the power of his breath as blue light began to pulse down the length of the ray. Zilla, no longer braced, stumbled with the sudden push from her opponent. Immediately her green radioactive beam began to wither as the cloud of energy raced toward her.

    Pushing his advantage further, Godzilla stepped toward the struggling kaiju as he fired, keeping his head held low and forward to maintain the balance of the beams. Zilla’s eyes widened in fear as her breath finally gave out, breaking the balance of power in a massive explosion, sending an earthquake-like tremor for miles around. Relinquishing his flames, Godzilla raised his head to the sky and roared in victory.

    With a cacophonous sound, a shock wave of plasma rolled across the landscape as a strange blue and green fireball expanded skyward. Zilla, her lithe frame over 7 times lighter than Godzilla’s, was tossed end over end away from the blast. Careening through the air, the saurian kaiju screamed before smashing headfirst into the rubble nearly 300 meters away, sending up a shower of concrete and steel.

    The smoke cleared before Godzilla saw Zilla again, still laying where she had fallen. Her leathery skin was charred and bleeding, the energy released from the explosion having ravaged her aching body.

    With a weak cry she attempted to lift herself up from the ground, failing to pick herself up on the first try.

    Shakily she rose again, forced to support herself on all 4 limbs due to the pain from her broken ribs. Her hearing was nonexistent except for a constant ringing noise. Blood ran from her mouth and nostrils. The fall had even managed to crack the large scute above her right shoulder, its pointed tip left embedded in the earth.

    Stomping across the black and broken surface of ground zero, Godzilla called out against his opponent once more. His powerful roar echoed across the city, managing to penetrate the ringing in Zilla’s ears. She looked up at the monster king and their eyes met across the battlefield.
    Desperation and pain filled the smaller titan’s eyes, power and confidence the larger. Enraged, Zilla screeched back at Godzilla, but the threat was empty. With a snort that flared his gilled neck, Godzilla stalked toward Zilla.

    Her body weak and frail, Zilla considered her options for a single second before turning tail and running. In her current condition, she couldn’t possibly defeat Godzilla. Her only hope was to escape and rebuild her brood. Alone she could not beat him, but together perhaps they could. Painfully, she ran faster and faster for the glistening water of the gulf.

    Outpacing him even in her weakened state, Godzilla summoned his atomic breath once more. Blue light ran up his back, pulsing from within the craggy dorsal plates. Like a line of fire, the plasma burst from his mouth and flashed toward his opponent.

    But the smaller titan was still too fast, the ray striking the ground where she had stood a second before. Eyes bulging from their sockets, Zilla pushed harder. She would not survive another blast. In the water she would outpace him. She just had to make it! Rearing back, Godzilla fired another blast as Zilla jumped for the gulf, just half a block from the waterline.

    Time seemed to slow as she leaped, the line of blue fire rushing toward the saurian kaiju. Still rising through the air, Zilla watched as her enemy’s attack passed directly beneath her! The flaming atomic breath of Godzilla came so close to her that Zilla could feel the immense heat across her body, scorching the leathery skin of her belly.

    With an immense blast of steam, the beam struck the surface of the water as Zilla arced over it to disappear beneath the waves. Trailing blood behind her, she swam with all that she had. She had to get as far away from Godzilla as possible.

    Enraged, Godzilla stomped his clawed right foot into the ground, cracking the pavement beneath him and rattling structures for miles around. Megalon had escaped him in Chicago, but this one would not! So long as she was alive, he was in danger of being overrun by her spawn. He would not let her escape so long as she posed such a threat.

    With grim determination he made his way to the shore and dove forward into the water. In seconds he was gone, once more on the trail of his quarry. Behind him, the people of New Orleans and the United States at large breathed a sigh of relief. Though the destruction was immense, the monsters were gone. Perhaps now, they could finally begin to rebuild.

    Winner: Godzilla (Legendary)

    K.W.C. // February 20, 2020
  • Looking Deeper at Overlooked Godzilla Costumes
    With Nicholas Driscoll and Marcus Gwin

    Over the years, there have been many, many Godzilla costumes created, and while the Godzilla costumes from the actual Toho movies have received a great deal of attention, the Godzilla costumes from other sources, such as movie cameo appearances and commercials, really need more special attention, as their designs and histories are also quite fascinating. This article (which can hopefully be built upon in the future) is an attempt to start that process of taking a deeper look at some of these often overlooked Godzilla costumes.

     

    John Belushi/Interview costume

    Background Details: Created by Robert Short, originally appeared in Hollywood Boulevard (1976). Also appeared later in an SNL skit with John Belushi, and the airing of an edited version of Godzilla vs. Megalon.

    Date Aired: 1976, Godzilla vs. Megalon broadcast 1977?

    Links: Godzilla Hits the Skids: Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) – Den of Geeks!
    Godzilla Vs. Megalon Bumpers (1978 NBC John Belushi bits) – Lost Media Wiki
    12 Strange Non-Japanese Manifestations of Godzilla – Topless Robot
    (Grogan-costumed John Candy is kind of interesting)
    Robert Short’s Godzilla suit was first used in… – Astounding Beyond Belief
    Hollywood Bouldevard (1976) – Trailer (Hollywood Boulevard trailer, suit appears in the trailer)

     

    Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure Godzilla Costume

    Background details: The suit was created by Cleve Hall, who also performed as the monster in the film and described the experience as “Awesome”. In an interview with B Movie Nation, Hall said he could have died that day and he wouldn’t have cared (given how happy he was to have that opportunity). According to that interview, the Godzilla sequence took six days to shoot.
    According to an interview with Ravenous Monster, Hall made a Godzilla costume when he was a junior in high school for a costume contest in Houston, Texas, which garnered the attention of Six Flags Amusement Park. The park hired Hall to create a costume for them, and so began Hall’s lifelong career building monster costumes.

    Date aired: July 26, 1985

    Links: Five Quick Questions with Cleve Hall – B Movie Nation
    Interview with Monster Man Cleve Hall: Chicago Wizard World Satire Edition – Ravenous Monster

     

    Dr. Pepper Godzilla Costume

    Background details: Apparently, the advertising campaign had a budget of 10,000,000 dollars. The commercials were originally independent of the Godzilla 1985 film, and product placement was negotiated after New World learned of Dr. Pepper’s deal with Toho. In addition to the commercials, the suit also appears on shirts one could get via mailaway offer. Interestingly, the shirt alters Godzilla’s eyes to being yellow.

    Date Aired: Godzilla 1985 (1985)

    Links: DR PEPPER BUBBLES UP TO GODZILLA – Los Angeles Times
    Diet Dr. Pepper Can with Godzilla T-Shirt Offer (1986) – the sphinx

     

    One Crazy Summer Godzilla Costume

    Background details: TBD

    Date Aired: August 8, 1986

     

    Charles Barkley vs. Godzilla Nike commercial costume

    Background details: Created by ILM, animatronic face. Directed by Michael Owens. Painter Richard Miller worked on the paint job of Godzilla’s teeth. Richard Miller designed the teeth so that they were dirty from breathing flames, but “white on the ends from chewing up a lot of people.”
    The tail was twelve feet long. Barkley is supposed to be 160 feet tall. The tape was filmed in slow motion to create a sense of size. Godzilla’s flame was created by tracing on top of the film with a pencil and tracing paper, with 72 drawings needed over the three seconds of animation. Smoke was produced from a vat of boiling mineral oil. The scene in which Barkley is crouched down and then lunges for Godzilla was very awkward and difficult to film effectively, requiring many takes–some of which can be seen in the making-of video.
    The tail was sometimes manipulated detached from the body, such as in the scene in which it knocks the basketball skyward.
    Four puppeteers worked together to manipulate the Godzilla face.
    To capture the right look from Charles Barkley when he elbows Godzilla in the face, the director asked him to make the expression first and do the action in reverse–pulling away from the camera. Then, in the commercial, the scene was played backwards. The thirty second commercial required eight days of filming and four weeks of editing.

    Date Aired: 1992

    Links: The Making of Nike’s Godzilla vs. Barkley: Scientific American Frontiers 301 – PBS 1992 (Making-of documentary)

     

    Lottery Godzilla Costume

    Background details: TBA

    Date aired: TBA

     

    Snickers Godzilla Costume

    Background details: Douglas Tait, a 6’ 5” experienced monster and suit actor with appearances ranging from Freddy vs. Jason (as the titular Jason Voorhees) to the Long-Faced Bar Alien in J. J. Abrams Star Trek film, played the part of Godzilla. The suit itself took about two weeks to construct, between November 14th and December 2nd, 2013, when filming started, and was built by Legacy FX, the former Stan Winston studios that would have made the Godzilla for the cancelled American film from 1994. The suit was built around a body cast of Tait and made to be nine feet tall in order to tower above the other characters in the commercial. The suit itself, including a combined backpack and animatronic head, weighed over 120 pounds.
    During parts of the ATV sequence in the commercial, Tait actually rode the ATV while wearing the Godzilla suit, although he reports that a triangular piece was taken out of the neck so that he could see better, and close ups were accomplished with an empty puppet. The waterskiing sequence was accomplished with a combination of green screen and stuntman Tim Soergel waterskiing with Godzilla feet. Tait was filmed against a green screen wearing the suit and standing on a kind of moving gimbal, and the shots were later combined. The commercial was shot between December 2nd and December 6th in 2013. Apparently a making-of feature was made as well, which may have included sequences of Tait improvising in the Godzilla part that didn’t make it into the final commercial.
    According to Tait in another interview with Monster Legacy, the suit was built to resemble the original 1954 Godzilla, and thus used “similar techniques” in its manufacture. Tait stated that corn flakes were mixed into the latex to help create the suit’s skin texture.

    Date aired: Online–February 28, 2014; On air March 2, 2014 during the Academy Awards (originally intended to be a Super Bowl commercial)

    Links: Snickers Godzilla Suit (Behind the scenes video)
    Snickers Satisfies Godzilla – SciFi Japan
    From the suit actor, Douglas Tait’s facebook – pininterest.jp
    Exclusive: Interview with Douglas Tait! – Monster Legacy

    General // February 16, 2020