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Since the dawn of DVDs, Criterion has been issuing films to disc with a number on the spine. Seven Samurai (1954), for example, was their second release and is #2. With the advent of Blu-rays, this tradition continued, with House (1977) being an example of around this time and carrying spine #539. The company is now about to break past #999 and is ready to celebrate the shift to four digits. To commemerate this, and in an unprecedented turn of events, Criterion has announced that a slew of Godzilla movies will be joining The Criterion Collection for a Blu-ray boxset. This is not just a few titles, but is in fact the entire Showa series: from Godzilla (1954) to Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975). This will be a landmark release, the first time the entire original series has been available from one set in the United States.
Fans and casual collectors have for years lamented over the clustered approach to releases. Classic Media, Sony, Media Blasters, Universal… at any one given time, collecting the entire Showa series involved going across releases from a number of companies. That is if one was lucky, as there have been huge spans of time where certain titles have been out of print altogether. This 15 film set is historic for many reasons, involving working not just with Toho but also Universal as well, who owns the US rights to King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). Having navigated that, Criterion will also make history for being able to release in the US, for the first time, the original Japanese version of that 1962 film.
The movies featured in the set are:
- Godzilla (1954)
- Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
- King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
- Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
- Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
- Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)
- Son of Godzilla (1967)
- Destroy All Monsters (1968)
- All Monsters Attack (1969)
- Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
- Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
- Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
- Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
In total, the 8 disc set which is found in a 14 in x 10 in case includes (information taken from the press release):
- High-definition digital transfers of all fifteen Godzilla films made between 1954 and 1975, released together for the first time, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
- High-definition digital transfers of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, the 1956 U.S.-release version of Godzilla; and the 1962 Japanese-release version of King Kong vs. Godzilla
- Audio commentaries from 2011 on Godzilla and Godzilla, King of the Monsters featuring film historian David Kalat
- International English-language dub tracks for Invasion of Astro-Monster, Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and Terror of Mechagodzilla
- Directors Guild of Japan interview with director Ishiro Honda, conducted by director Yoshimitsu Banno in 1990
- Programs detailing the creation of Godzilla’s special effects and unused effects sequences from Toho releases including Destroy All Monsters
- New interview with filmmaker Alex Cox about his admiration for the Showa-era Godzilla films
- New and archival interviews with cast and crew members, including actors Bin Furuya, Tsugutoshi Komada, Haruo Nakajima, and Akira Takarada; composer Akira Ifukube; and effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai
- Interview with critic Tadao Sato from 2011
- Illustrated audio essay from 2011 about the real-life tragedy that inspired Godzilla
- New English subtitle translations
- PLUS: A lavishly illustrated deluxe hardcover book featuring an essay by cinema historian Steve Ryfle, notes on the films by cinema historian Ed Godziszewski, and new illustrations by Arthur Adams, Sophie Campbell, Becky Cloonan, Jorge Coelho, Geof Darrow, Simon Gane, Robert Goodin, Benjamin Marra, Monarobot, Takashi Okazaki, Angela Rizza, Yuko Shimizu, Bill Sienkiewicz, Katsuya Terada, Ronald Wimberly, and Chris Wisnia
Despite all the positives, there are a few negative points from the information seen. First, the set will consist of 8 Blu-ray discs. This means movies will be sharing disc space with each other, reducing available space that could have been used for a higher bitrate video track. Second, the set is light on dubbed tracks. In fact, only 7 or 8, depending on how King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) is handled, dubbed versions are included in the set out of a total of 15 films. It’s also missing the, arguably, important Godzilla vs. the Thing version of Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), which contained additional footage for the frontier missile scene.
Regardless, this will be a historic home video release for the US market. One that will mark the first time many of these movies will arrive on the Blu-ray format in the United Sates. In addition, the initial reaction has been very positive as well, with the title (at the time of writing this on July 26th) currently ranking #3 on Amazon’d best sellers list for Movies & TV.
Excited about the release or have thoughts on what has been announced? Sound off in the comments.News // July 26, 2019
The latest Godzilla movie, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, has now spent four weekends at the box office. As we are now well past any normal grace period for avoiding spoilers, the staff of Toho Kingdom is giving their full thoughts on the latest movie. As expected, stuff will not be held back, so if you haven’t seen the film and are still looking to avoid spoilers, this article isn’t for you. So without further ado, the staff’s impressions after seeing the film.
I was excited to see GKOTM. I went out of my way to go see it in IMAX on the Friday the film was released in Shinjuku with a nearly full theater because I wanted to get the audience buzz and excitement (unfortunately, there wasn’t much). I had along with me a homemade Godzilla hat my mom had made for me. I had read the graphic novel, listened to the soundtrack, and even started reading the novel version. I was primed for a good time.
But much to my shock, I did not have a good time. Quite the opposite. Please understand, I usually like crazy and silly monster movies. I even liked Rampage and Pacific Rim: Uprising, and I thought Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) was a lot of fun. The reviews for GKOTM were bad, but I still figured I would just have a good time with the movie.
Yet when all was said and done I hated this movie–and I have never hated a Godzilla movie before. Certainly I didn’t hate the film because it had lots of monster scenes–I love monsters. Certainly not because I thought it needed more human scenes–it had plenty. But from start to finish I felt like the movie was undermining its own tension, that despite sometimes fantastic effects the film felt slipshod and rushed, that nothing really seemed to gel. I don’t say this to make anyone angry, but just… that’s how the film felt to me.
Sure, one can complain about the human characters, how Kyle Chandler’s character always seemed to know exactly what to do (I figured he was still receiving tomorrow’s newspaper today), how ineffectual the military was even against a small group of terrorists, the groan worthy lines, or the way that the characters often say or do things that make no sense, etc, etc. I liked the conceit of having the family drama in the middle of the monster attack, but it is VERY hard to understand or buy into a character who, after losing her child, decides it’s a good idea to destroy all of civilization and allow for the deaths of millions and billions of people. And whose daughter initially goes along with this plan (she admittedly didn’t fully understand the plan, but she had a general idea of how giant monsters would be released to change the world, and it’s made clearer in the novel). And then we are just supposed to accept when she and her daughter think, oh, maybe killing millions of people might NOT be the best way to handle their personal emotional problems. But I often felt like there were many plot elements that just were barely put together, not just the characters, but events and monsters as well. I could go on and on.
Even the monster action felt uninteresting to me. King Ghidorah looks cool… but he runs away from his first fight, and is losing the second until Godzilla gets hit by the Oxygen Destroyer, which is now just a green bomb for some reason. Over and over again, almost every time KG is about to attack, another monster appears to stop him at the last moment. It becomes like a bad drinking game, and happened so often that I was waiting for it to happen. KG is our big bad, but he comes across as a big wuss! Godzilla, meanwhile, is “killed,” but not really, and in his nearly-dead state he swims far away to a regeneration room to heal. Our heroes find him there, and decide to nuke him to charge him up faster (you know… the same method they were using to KILL Godzilla and the MUTOs in the previous film is now used to bring Godzilla back to life), and even though drones are conked out just by approaching Godzilla due to the high radiation, an old man (the least capable person on the whole ship for the mission) volunteers to go alone with barely a peep of protest, then handily manages to deliver the missile payload instead, and he feels good enough even after taking off his mask right next to Godzilla that he has the energy to caress the monster’s face instead of instantly dying. To me, Serizawa’s sacrifice just felt forced and ridiculous. (I was hoping he would emerge from the explosion as a giant monster ala a certain Dreamcast video game, but alas.)
And the last fight… wasn’t interesting to me. The fight tended to be quick snippets rather than a sustained battle sequence. It felt like a string of money shots interspersed with humans yelling and carrying on rather than a fight building upon itself. Also, the monsters just kept developing new powers whenever they needed them, with little build up. KG has the power to regenerate, but we don’t really see him use it during the fight. Mothra fights Rodan and suddenly has a giant stinger that she uses to kill Rodan… who then comes back to life to grovel at Godzilla’s feet later anyway, further undermining the stakes of the battle because monsters can just resurrect at will. KG suddenly in one really short scene has the ability to suck energy out of Godzilla, and nearly sucks him dry somehow. Godzilla, after nearly getting sucked dry, suddenly goes thermonuclear and implodes, but is completely fine afterwards and enjoys a nice KG-brand cigar. For what it’s worth, it is implied in the film that Godzilla’s transformation into fire Godzilla is facilitated by Mothra’s death, though this, too, follows the same problem as above—a monster conveniently manifesting just the power it needs in just one scene to make things work out. It’s a total deus ex machina move, made all the more confusing because the movie already set up fire Godzilla via the effects of the Serizawa bomb underwater and the fact that the image of fire Godzilla hearkens back (for fans) to Godzilla dying in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995). It’s confusing and, to me, poorly done, and it all felt like flash and bang without any real excitement or tension. It also kind of feels like Hollywood saying, “our Godzilla is better than yours because he can survive the Oxygen Destroyer AND blowing himself up—and he is bigger than Shin Godzilla, too, so there!” (I have read the novelization, which makes a lot of aspects of the plot clearer… but the novel makes no explicit connection between Mothra’s demise and Godzilla going Super Saiyan.)
I left the theater confused and shocked at how much I disliked the film. Upon reflection, there were things I liked, such as the references to the original Rodan (1956) and the music and the monster designs (especially Rodan), and particular scenes, such as Mothra webbing Ghidorah. I liked seeing the extra Titans, though I wish there had been more of them. But as for the movie as a whole, I left feeling like it was a huge missed opportunity. I wished that the action could have more real tension and excitement and build-up. I wished that the story could’ve had more clever twists and fewer (to me) lousy one-liners. To me, the whole affair came across as a slapped-together monstrosity with a heavy sprinkling of what seemed to me almost ironic, haphazard fan-service.
And I say all this with great regret because I absolutely wanted to enjoy the film and embrace it like so many fans have apparently done. But I just couldn’t do it. Even though I have found many of the “dumbest” Godzilla movies in the past were also my favorites, and they often had similarly nonsensical plots. But for me, they also had a straightforward charm that this film lacked. I mean, I enjoyed the anime trilogy more than I did GKOTM.
I don’t say any of this to discount your opinion if you loved the movie. If you did, that’s great. And I really want to thank the director and the makers of the film for all their hard work, and I really wish them all the best. I don’t want to write this to be hateful or anything of the sort. These were just my impressions, my honest emotional reaction. They could change upon further viewings.
Maybe someday I can revisit the movie and just enjoy it for what it is, but for whatever reason, this time I just couldn’t. To those who could, I am glad you did, but… I just didn’t, for the reasons listed above and others. It’s tough to say it, but at least after one viewing, I have to give GKOTM a big thumbs down.
I’m not sure how much I can elaborate on that quote in the lower left corner without over explaining.
From director Michael Dougherty comes the anticipated Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), the long awaited sequel to Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (2014) and connected to Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island (2017) in the greater universe of films known as the MonsterVerse. So how does it hold up?
In my first and only viewing, combined with the weeks that have passed since then, I find myself mixed about it. I’ll be one to fully admit that the trailer hype may have set up something of a false expectation to what the film actually is. Even with that in mind, it doesn’t mean that the film should be excused for its flaws, no matter how much fan service is thrown in.
Aside from false expectations, it still feels like it’s missing something. To me, all the right ingredients are in place that could rival that of an Avengers movie in terms of scope and scale. I feel, at least for the theatrical edit, it boiled down to sloppy execution. The breakneck pace combined with the human-focused sequences in the middle of the monster action I think are two of the biggest sins that hamper the spectacle it’s trying to go for. And the contrivance of the human story just to get the ball rolling or to act as set pieces for action sequences takes away any tension it could have had. While I didn’t mind our leads playing the Russell family, some aspects to their character and character arcs could’ve been handled much better for a truly emotional story about a broken family in the aftermath of discovering monsters.
The fan service I think is also a major contributor here… Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty I’m truly appreciative of. The score from Bear McCreary is utterly gorgeous and to hear the Godzilla and Mothra themes modernized is truly a treat in of itself. Even the reinvention of the Burning Godzilla concept in the form of Fire Godzilla is also a surprise return, let alone in an American production. Kudos to the team for that. But I feel the excessive amount of the fan service hinders it as well and all could’ve been either removed or replaced with something that doesn’t need to be explicitly stated. The Oxygen Destroyer I think is a prime example of what I mean, only being haphazardly used as a one-time plot device to render Godzilla useless with none of the build up to justify its spot there.
As a whole, I still got a nice bit of enjoyment out of the film. Even if it’s a little bit forced, I think Dr. Serizawa’s sacrifice was one of the more emotional moments of the film. But a lot of it is undercut by the pacing and the editing (sans the Serizawa scene, which I felt was handled really well), and leaves much to be desired. My only hope is for the alleged Director’s Cut that has 40-something minutes of footage could clear up the issues I have currently.
And now, for the kick of the curb and for perspective’s sake, this is my personal ranking between all stories in the MonsterVerse canon, so that’ll include the comics.
- Kong: Skull Island (2017)
- Godzilla (2014)
- Skull Island: The Birth of Kong (2017)
- Godzilla: Aftershock (2019)
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
- Godzilla Awakening (2014)
Going off that list, it becomes abundantly clear I find KOTM to be the weakest of the MonsterVerse movies. It’s a bit of a shame, because I want to have good reason to place it higher. But compared to the two movies that came before, despite their flaws, they’re still much better constructed movies; even the comic book tie-ins (for the most part) told more structured and coherent stories.
And who knows? Maybe a second viewing of KOTM may change my stance on it. As it currently stands, I’m mixed about this long-awaited sequel and hope the next entry doesn’t disappoint. I await with mild curiosity how Adam Wingard and crew handle the even more anticipated crossover event.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a dream come true. Seeing Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah on the big screen in a new film is something I’d been dreaming about since 2004 and in some ways never expected to see.
So seeing these old friends onscreen was terrific but what about the film itself? I have some issues with it. I loved the human cast although I thought some characters were poorly used in particular Dr. Vivian Graham. Many people have mentioned that the story isn’t particularly new or deep. It’s nowhere near as deep or nuanced as Gojira 1954 or GMK. However is that a bad thing? I agree the story could have used more depth but I don’t think a Godzilla film that errs on the side of pure entertainment more than a deep philosophical approach is a bad thing. This is what makes Godzilla such an enduring icon. He can be many things and his movies can be infinitely diverse in tone. Looking at KOTM in that perspective does the film work? ABSOLUTELY! This movie is the closest Godzilla movie to match the energy and soul of the classic Showa films like Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) or Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) more so than the last attempt to do so with Godzilla Final Wars. The greatest achievement of Godzilla 2014 was making its version of Godzilla FEEL like the Godzilla character we know and love. KOTM only improves on Legendary’s success as Godzilla’s power is only matched by his personality. The film makers knew that Godzilla isn’t a monster but a CHARACTER and they treat him as such. KOTM also revitalizes the characters of King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan like never before. So much personality has been reintroduced to these characters that I loved so much. Rodan is a truly frightening sight in mid air and his volcanic entrance was amazing. I was afraid that the lack of her two priestesses would remove the humanity and hope of Mothra as a character but I couldn’t be more wrong. The fact she has become so popular across the internet from Facebook posts to fan art or memes is testament to her character and appearance in the film. King Ghidorah is perfectly terrifying in a way unseen in any Godzilla film since Invasion of Astro-Monster. His is truly an apocalyptic presence in the film. The choice to have a separate motion capture actor for each head was inspired and gave him a new depth of character never seen in the character before.
The visuals are breath taking. The scope of the fights and destruction are beyond what I expected from the film going in and I couldn’t have enjoyed them more. The visuals are only matched by the sound design and soundtrack. To hear the classic Ifukube themes on the big screen in an American production was beautiful and moving. McCreary’s original score work is just as good blending these themes in with his own original compositions in a perfect mix.
While not ground breaking I thought the human cast and characters were more than serviceable. I enjoyed just about every performance and each character regardless of their depth or lack thereof.
As a Godzilla fan I truly feel blessed to be alive now. It’s hard for me to think of a better time for the Godzilla character. For those who wanted more from KOTM’s story or something new from this movie can enjoy the Anime Trilogy for creating something never seen before with the character. If you want more political subtext in your Godzilla films then Shin Godzilla is one of the greatest examples of Godzilla as political commentary. If you were disappointed in Shin Godzilla (2016) or The Anime Trilogy for their lack of action then you have King of The Monsters to turn too. Each new Godzilla releases complements the last by taking separate directions for the character. I believe that Godzilla King of the Monsters is on the way to being one of my favorite Godzilla movies and a wonderful introduction for the main stream audiences to this tremendous character.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) is a thermonuclear-sized gift to monster cinema. The monsters may be the stars, but we are the beneficiaries of their cataclysmic feuds. Generally, monsters are portrayed as being mindless forces of destruction, meant only to challenge the humans caught in their wake. It is nice to see that trope elegantly subverted here; in this film, monster and human are equal.
Godzilla has never been better. The aesthetics of his design evoke a delicate balance of power, savagery, and grace, casting him as a majestic god while simultaneously humanizing him. This film and its predecessor rekindled my long-lost appreciation for Godzilla as a good guy; I loved Godzilla’s hero journey in this story. Mothra is truly a divine monster, and every scene she’s in is awe-inspiring. Give this Mothra a solo movie. Rodan is nearly perfect, with a design that could very well be my favorite. I loved his molten feather-like scales and how sparks of ember shot out of his wings whenever he took flight. My single regret is they didn’t let him keep his classic roar. Out of all of the monsters, King Ghidorah arguably benefits the most. Despite being Godzilla’s archenemy and one of the most dangerous kaiju around, Ghidorah has never scared me — until now, that is. Each Ghidorah has a unique personality that makes every scene he’s in memorable. I must say, the part where he regenerated one of his severed heads like the hydra of old? Yeah, I’m still picking my jaw up from the floor.
Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) are compelling, each bringing dignity to their respective roles. Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) was endearing, and I hope she continues to evolve as a person in future installments. In a film teeming with amazing scenes, Serizawa’s heartfelt goodbye to Godzilla is without question my favorite. For me, it’s an inspiring scene. Serizawa, while holding his father’s watch from Hiroshima, faces his inner demons by turning the very same weapon that has haunted his people for generations into a life-saving instrument. Beautiful.
Unfortunately, some of the human characters were generic, namely the human antagonist: Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga). Her genocidal plan—delivered in an excruciatingly long villainous monologue—and the onus placed on us to sympathize with her plight made it all but impossible for me to forgive her, which is a shame because Vera is an outstanding actress. Some of the humor felt forced and was unnecessary (i.e., “I record everything, man,” and “Gonorrhea?” was eye-rolling). Ultimately, more time spent on developing the principal human cast would have significantly benefited the film. Monster scenes are great, but compelling human drama in these kinds-of-films is a necessity. No story has ever suffered for giving us relatable human characters to follow.
All good films have a music composer orchestrating the emotional journey of its characters. Bear McCreary’s soundtrack awakened the emotional Titan within. Bear’s homages to the legendary works of Akira Ifukube and Yuji Koseki brought a smile to my face. Every time Godzilla’s iconic theme boomed, I felt like I was discovering Godzilla for the first time. Bear’s rendition of Mothra’s Song was perfect. It’s a beautiful melody to listen to by itself. I thought the beatings of the drums juxtaposed with Godzilla leading his human allies into battle was beyond impressive. Who wouldn’t follow Godzilla into battle? Just make sure you let him go first.
Michael Dougherty is no stranger to directing creature features (e.g., Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus). Here, his Godzilla-loving credentials are on full display. There are a few discrepancies I have with the film, like how I think Emma’s villainous monologue speech should’ve been left on the cutting room floor, or how the Oxygen Destroyer was shoehorned in as a convenient plot device. Don’t get me wrong; it was a cool scene and, as a fan, I was smiling ear-to-ear. However, when you incorporate the Oxygen Destroyer for only a few minutes, it comes across as a missed opportunity. Nitpicks aside, I’m satisfied with what Mike and his crew set out to achieve, and I hope he returns to the kaiju genre.
At the end of the day I cared about the characters—both human and monster alike—and I know I’ll be enjoying Godzilla: King of the Monsters for many years to come. Long live the King!
With what I would consider one of the best trailers of 2018, Godzilla: King of the Monsters finally roared into theaters in May of 2019. After waiting nearly 2 weeks to see it with a friend, I can definitively say Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a mixed bag that I enjoyed. A collection of some jaw-dropping set pieces that barely overcomes elements as endearing as nails on a chalkboard.
To get the worst out of the way, the family in the film begin as sympathetic characters, but by its end, I wished for Ghidorah to disintegrate them all where they stood. Not to say their acting is atrocious, as all give solid performances, but Kyle Chandler as Mark Russell, Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell and Vera Farmiga as Emma Russell can’t overcome one opponent in the film, the script. Motivations change on a dime, characters are looked to for advice even though experts fill every square inch of the screen and every moment the family appeared I felt myself despising the movie more and more. Aaron Taylor Johnson’s character of Ford Brody in Godzilla may have proven dull, but I did not actively wish for his death by the film’s conclusion by comparison. The other side characters proved more engaging with Charles Dance as Alan Jonah and Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa being my personal highlights, the latter receiving a wonderful sendoff scene with Godzilla.
Speaking of Godzilla, wow does he shine in this movie whenever he appears. Mothra, Ghidorah and Rodan have also never come to life in such a spectacular fashion with Rodan’s awakening in particular stealing the movie for me. Whether its Mothra illuminating the horizon or Ghidorah battling Rodan high above the clouds, these moments put a genuine smile on my face in the theater and are easily the highlights of the film. I’d even argue some of the action is the best in the three movies of the Legendary series, but for every peak that the film achieves, the characters take you to a valley you wish went undiscovered.
I could nitpick other elements like the unexplained use of the Oxygen Destroyer, or praise certain details like Ghidorah’s personalities or McCarthy’s fantastic score, but what I’m left with at the end of the day is a film at odds with itself. A film I’d praise and tear apart in the same sentence. Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Yes, and its easily superior to the Anime Trilogy or Shin Godzilla, but for someone who wanted a film to stand side by side with the classics of Godzilla, I can say what we got is a flawed, good Godzilla movie, just not a great one.
Marcus GwinIf you had told me that one day I would watch two Godzilla movies back to back, and Godzilla 2014 was the one I enjoyed more, I would’ve said “Ohhhhhhhhh no…”Yes, as someone who didn’t like Godzilla 2014, I was hoping that this would be a step up, but to my shock Godzilla 2014 is better on every level. The special effects in Godzilla King of the Monsters are nothing short of underwhelming, the animation is terrible, and worst of all the story is awful. While there may not be as many plot holes as in Godzilla 2014, it more than easily makes up for it with terrible dialogue, nonsensical logic, and a complete lack of understanding towards any aspect of science, natural or otherwise. The film simply has no idea of what animals are actually like, and the behavior exhibited by the Kaiju is distinctly non animalistic. Seriously, Godzilla 1998 does a much better job portraying Godzilla as a real animal.There are also many things i didn’t like on a more subjective note as well. For example, “Titans” is the most awful way of referring to Kaiju throughout any film that needs a term for the monsters. It just sounds pretentious and stupid the way they say it. Also, what if we wanted to bring Titanosaurus into the monsterverse? This term would make all the more awkward.Suffice to say, Godzilla KOTM is a failure on every cinematic level, and competes with Godzilla Planet Eater for the position of worst film in the entire franchise from an objective standpoint.
Having enjoyed the cinematic entries in the MonsterVerse to date, my anticipation and excitement for this latest film was pretty high after the 2018 Comic Con trailer. Many months later, those expectations were brought back down to earth as the review embargo lifted and the movie took a critical thumping. So I went into the theater with excitement, but with expectations I thought were in line for what I was about to see.
Sadly the movie didn’t meet those lower expectations, and instead was a film I would give 2 or 2.5 stars out of 5 to. In fact, I found the latest MonsterVerse entry much more forgettable than anticipated, although not nearly to the degree that the Anime trilogy suffers from. I think my biggest complaint with the production was just a lack of highlights. I loved King Ghidorah carrying Godzilla into the sky and also the brief moment when Mothra and Godzilla teamed up against King Ghidorah… but that’s kind of it. Sadly there just isn’t a lot of moments where I go: “oh yeah, I want to see that again”. This is in contrast to the earlier films, where I was thrilled by the build up the first time Godzilla used his atomic ray in 2014 or the tense sequence on the bridge with the MUTO. Similarly in Kong: Skull Island (2017), the final battle itself was packed with great moments. I was not expecting this lack of highlights at all, as the trailer did a great job at showcasing Rodan’s arrival from the volcano or King Ghidorah emerging from the clouds, yet in the final product these sequences just didn’t carry the same gravitas. Not sure if that’s pacing or just general editing, but I wasn’t wowed like I was expecting to be.
As for the human cast… couldn’t care less for them. When Emma Russell unveils her big plan to let the titans rule the earth, returning it to glory, I was ready for the film to develop her as the villain. Instead? She heel turns pretty much immediately to regret her actions due to her daughter and, it would seem, not thinking the plan all the way through. It’s the kind of turn of events that gives the viewer new found respect for Emmy Kano from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), whose badly handled confusion over the Futurians’ plan was at least executed better than this. Speaking of poorly executed, the death of Vivienne Graham was a joke, and it felt like someone looked over the film and said “crap, we kind of glossed over this… let’s throw her face on a computer monitor and note she is deceased just so it’s clear she is dead.”
Overall, I don’t want to dive too much into the film, as to avoid a full review, but I can say this did temper my excitement for Godzilla vs. Kong a bit… hopefully the trailers for that turn things around. On the plus side, at least Rodan lived to see another day… which did bring a smile to my face, even if it was in a role that sees him more as a lackey.
Have your own impressions related to the film? Feel free to sound off in the comments.General // June 25, 2019
An interview conducted by Toho Kingdom staff with Japanese artist Shinji Nishikawa, known for his work on the Godzilla series from the late ’80s into the early 2000s. The interview took place through e-mail beginning January 11th, 2018 and concluded later that year in November. A majority of the questions are one-offs, with the theme of the interview initially being about “lost projects,” though some of Nishikawa’s other works outside of Toho are briefly discussed as well. Translations by Noah Oskow and Joshua Sudomerski, and special thanks to Matt Frank for helping get this interview together!
Toho Kingdom: When did you first become interested in drawing professionally?
Shinji Nishikawa: I enrolled in university and joined a manga research group. In this circle there were many special effects fans, and a year prior to the release of The Return of Godzilla (1984), screenings of Toho special effects movies were being rerun in various parts of Japan as part of the “Godzilla Revival Festival”. Being in such an environment, I also became interested in Japanese special effects again. In my third year of university, I had gotten into manga and movies so much that graduating became difficult, so my father told me that I could “make a book as a condition to allow me to drop out of college.” So I made the doujinshi called “Godzilla Legend”. This book gained a reputation and soon offers from publishers arrived, and this opened the way for me to become a professional cartoonist.
TK: How did you become affiliated with Toho?
Nishikawa: Toho was planning a film adaptation of a novel called Toi Umi kara Kita Coo, and director Koichi Kawakita who had received the consultation was looking for a person who could draw “a cute child dinosaur”. Mr. Kazuo Sakutani, who had a close friendship with director Kawakita, introduced “Godzilla Legend” to him and mentioned me. In February 1989, I brought a picture of dinosaurs and “Godzilla Legend” to the shooting of Gunhed (1989), and this was the first time I met director Kawakita. Although the film adaptation of Toi Umi kara Kita Coo was cancelled, a few months later, there was a call from director Kawakita and I was asked to design Biollante.
TK: What Toho project did you enjoy working on the most?
Nishikawa: That’s a difficult question. The most exciting to work on was Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), as I participated on the development of a Godzilla movie for the first time, but because I was brought in during the middle of development, it wasn’t as satisfying. For Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), as I was able to draw many designs from the start, this one had the most sense of fulfillment. In terms of what I “enjoyed” the most, I rather liked working on the “Millennium Series,” where we increased our new staff, and where I started receiving production planning consolation with the directors.
TK: Which monster design of yours would you say is your favorite?
Nishikawa: I think that Biollante is good in the sense that I could present a new form that I had never seen before. However, as I was able to help the senior designer and modeling, I’d say “Kiryu” is my favorite character as I had the most control over the design overall.
TK: What are some of your favorite monsters in general?
Nishikawa: There are too many that I cannot narrow it down, but… basically I like the standard “dinosaur type” monsters such as Godzilla, Anguirus, or Varan, but monsters that deviate from traditional living things such as Hedorah or Gigan are also cool.
TK: What was it like seeing Biollante being brought to life in a movie?
Nishikawa: When I first saw the models for Biollante at the studio, I was deeply impressed by the size and realism of the molding. Compared to the impact of the real thing, I felt that the short ten minutes or so it appeared on-screen was not enough to really demonstrate its appeal. Still, some of those cuts had a real impact, and were really wonderful.
TK: In your Godzilla art book [Shinji Nishikawa: Drawing Book of Godzilla], you mention how Bagan was originally going to transform into three different forms. Do you remember any other story details of this early outline?
Nishikawa: I drew the three forms which were initially described in the plot, after which director Kawakita told me that I should “freely draw as many drafts images” as I liked, and I went about drawing quite a few different designs. The thing that most influenced me was being asked to use the head of the dinosaur Styracosaurus as a motif in my drawings.
TK: In an interview, [director] Kazuki Omori said how Mothra vs. Bagan would have been the start of a new series of monster movies. Did you hear of any details about where the series would have headed, or what monsters could have appeared?
Nishikawa: I don’t believe there were any concrete plans for a series after that. However, because the story of Mothra vs. Bagan began in Singapore, movies from that period onward might have taken place in other countries as well.
※ The story for Mothra vs. Bagan included scenarios in Japan, Singapore, Nepal, Malaysia, India, and Thailand.
TK: Did you submit a story outline for Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)?
Nishikawa: No. But after receiving the synopsis, I made some suggestions and pointed out problems.
TK: In your Toho art book [Shinji Nishikawa: Drawing Book of Godzilla], you have a sketch of Meganulon from 1991. What movie was it considered for, and what role would it have played?
Nishikawa: I hadn’t made it based on any concrete assumptions regarding any movies. With King Ghidorah having been resurrected, we thought we were going to have a policy of bringing back monsters of the past rather than creating new ones. Rather than simply putting these monsters into the films exactly as they had been portrayed originally, I drew Meganulon with the intention of having him be a monster we knew from the past but whose appearance was like something we had never seen before, hoping to thus combine the appeal of newness with that of nostalgia.
※ The concept artwork for the 1991 Meganulon bears a heavy resemblance to the Meganula from Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000), a movie Nishikawa also contributed concept art to.
TK: Did you submit a story outline for Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)?
Nishikawa: While this isn’t the storyline itself per se, I did put forward some ideas, like how Godzilla and Mothra fighting only by themselves would be limiting, and how the mechanics on the human side would fight.
※ When asked, Nishikawa stated that he did not submit story outlines for Mothra vs. Bagan or Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994).
TK: How did you enjoy working on Ultra Special Tactics Squad Go!?
Nishikawa: I found it interesting in that the design orientation in regards to the Ultra Monsters was so different from that of the Toho monsters. As it’s a story that involves Ultra Q and Ultraman, I attempted to create designs that would not feel out of place amongst those of the kaiju designed by Toru Narita.
※ Fantasy Tokusatsu Series: Ultra Special Tactics Squad Go! (Japanese title: 空想特撮シリーズウルトラ作戦 科特隊出撃せよ!) is a 1992 video game released for the PC-9800 series in Japan, with Toru Narita being a notable Ultra series monster designer.
TK: Which monsters did you design for Ultra Special Tactics Squad Go!?
Nishikawa: I designed all the monsters, though the combining monster Mido & Ronga was designed by a modeler.
TK: Is Reborn Birugamera based off of one of your designs for Bagan?
Nishikawa: The way his neck protrudes and the shape of his shell are some of the aspects of his design that I drew based on those I had made from when I worked on Bagan.
※ “Reborn Birugamera” (再生ビルガメラー – Saisei Birugamera) is a boss monster from the game. In his 2019 art book Shinji Nishikawa Design Works, Nishikawa would reiterate how the Ultra monster was based off of a concept he made for Bagan, its silhouette being like that of a beetle.
TK: In your draft for Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), was your version of Mechagodzilla a combining machine?
Nishikawa: Before we decided upon “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla,” I had put forth a project called Mecha-King Ghidorah’s Counterattack. This was based on an idea about how Mecha-King Ghidorah, raised from the seafloor, could be brought back to life as a combining machine. Besides my first drawings of Mechagodzilla, they were all drawn and designed as combining mechas.
TK: Was Rodan included in your story outline for Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)?
Nishikawa: Rodan did not appear.
TK: In an interview, Koichi Kawakita mentioned the name of an outline called Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla: Metallic Battle. Was this your outline?
Nishikawa: I think different.
※ Koichi Kawakita’s interview can be found in the Japanese book, Heisei Godzilla Perfection. In it, Kawakita refers to Toho monster/mecha designer Kunio Aoi as the writer for this draft. Aoi has denied this claim, however.
TK: What were some of your inspirations when designing Kumasogami from Yamato Takeru (1994)?
Nishikawa: I wasn’t specifically referencing anything in particular with that design. Toho tokusatsu don’t tend to have many humanoid monsters, so I thought that creating him with the simple image of a titan made of lava would help to create some differentiation between it and the Godzilla series.
TK: In your art book [Shinji Nishikawa: Drawing Book of Godzilla], you have a salamander monster and a jellyfish monster in the section for Yamato Takeru (1994). Were these early designs for Kaishin Muba?
Nishikawa: In the story within the draft script, the salamander was to appear in the first half of the story, meaning he was a monster who was scheduled to appear earlier than Kumosagami.
TK: Did you hear any story details about Yamato Takeru II?
Nishikawa: I don’t know about the second film, but I heard for “3” they wanted to introduce Godzilla into the trilogy.
TK: In the book Godzilla vs. Destoroyah Completion, it talks about your story outline called Godzilla vs. Baraguirus. Did you make any sketches for Baragon or Baraguirus?
Nishikawa: I don’t think I drew any.
※ Also in the same book is one of Nishikawa’s sketches for a Heisei version of Anguirus. This version of the monster was originally suggested by Nishikawa to appear in a story draft for Godzilla vs. Godzilla, with Ghost Godzilla possessing Anguirus as opposed to Little Godzilla and taking on a new monstrous form.
TK: Do you mind sharing more details about “Baraguirus”, such as what caused Anguirus and Baragon fuse, or how the story ended?
Nishikawa: Since we talked about how we wanted to use a quadruped monster that hadn’t yet appeared in the Heisei Series, we also thought about how we wanted to have Moguera fight underground, and I came up with Baraguirus as a subterranean monster to fulfill that role. Although he possesses both of the special characteristics of Anguirus and Baragon, it’s not as though he was born from an amalgamation of the two of them.
TK: Did you make any sketches for the new monster created by Ghost Godzilla and Anguirus fusing? And did it have a name?
TK: How was your experience working on the Heisei Mothra series?
Nishikawa: Because I was working the TV anime series YAT Anshin! Uchuu Ryokou on the NHK network at the time, I wasn’t as involved as I had been with Godzilla. Because Mothra was a monster whose design hadn’t seen many changes up until that point, it was quite fun thinking up variations on her design. Also, since Dagahra was the sort of oceanic kaiju who hadn’t appeared in the Heisei Godzilla Series, I had a lot of fun drawing out its designs as well.
TK: What were some of your inspirations when designing Grand Ghidorah from Rebirth of Mothra III (1998)?
Nishikawa: Since he’s said to be a Ghidorah who has been living since the age of the dinosaurs, I had this image of him being quite aged. Our nickname for Grand Ghidorah was “Grand(father) Ghidorah.” I designed him with transforming wings that were well suited for flight, and rather than having him be monochromatic, I added black specks to his scales, but unfortunately these weren’t carried through in his molding.
TK: How did you become involved in the development of the PC game, Godzilla Movie Studio Tour?
Nishikawa: It was fun for me to draw in that cute super-deformed style. I was also quite happy when they included the partially animated pieces for the map screen that I had gone ahead and made by myself.
※ The animated “map screen” is a bonus program included with Godzilla Movie Studio Tour, with objects that can be interacted with via clicking. This includes Mothra Larva wiggling her tail, SpaceGodzilla summoning numerous crystals from the ground, a heat maser tank blasting Mothra Larva, King Ghidorah’s heads and tails moving while cackling, Mothra’s egg bobbing in the water, an MBT-92 firing at Godzilla’s face, and Godzilla momentarily glowing like Burning Godzilla.
TK: In the game, there is a monster called Dogolas. Was that a monster created for the game, or was it meant to appear in a movie?
Nishikawa: I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was a monster made for the game.
TK: Did you submit any story outlines for the “Millennium Series” like you did for the “VS Series”?
Nishikawa: For the “Millennium Series”, I wrote drafts for Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), but I don’t remember whether or not I submitted them.
TK: In your art book [Shinji Nishikawa: Drawing Book of Godzilla], you had a [Godzilla] skeleton on the moon from an early outline for Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000). How did the skeleton end up on the moon?
Nishikawa: I had drawn that based on a request from our producer, Shogo Tomiyama. He said it had come about as an idea from scriptwriter Wataru Mimura back during Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999), but it seems Mimura hadn’t thought up any further plot for it beyond just that one image.
TK: You created many designs for Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). What was your experience working on that movie?
Nishikawa: Because we had designers with strong, individualistic personalities like Yasushi Nirasawa, Katsuya Terada, and others taking part, I ended up not being able to change much of the original monsters I was in charge of. Thinking back on it all now, there are some monsters for whom I think “maybe it would have been good to change them just a bit more?”
※ Nishikawa was responsible for creating concept art of Anguirus, Rodan, King Caesar, Hedorah, Manda, Minilla, Kumonga, Kamacuras, and Ebirah. Katsuya Terada, a character designer who worked on The Legend of Zelda for the NES among other games, made concepts for Monster X and Keizer Ghidorah. Lastly, Yasushi Nirasawa is a fellow veteran artist of the Godzilla series who made concepts for Gigan, the Xiliens, and the Xilien Mothership.
TK: How do you feel about the translation from your work to the suits used in the films? Do you have a favorite?
Nishikawa: My favorites are the Kiryu version of Mechagodzilla as well as Armor Mothra, who were both molded quite faithfully to the designs. For Biollante, there are some parts that are different from my design diagrams, but I still think it turned out well. Megaguirus is quite different though, isn’t it?
TK: When it came to redesigning older monsters, did you have to follow strict guidelines?
Nishikawa: There were no strict guidelines. However, I was careful not to change the way they looked too much.
Nishikawa: All the characters in these shows were brand-new, so I was able to work with a good deal of freedom. They were fun, with so many different types of characters showing up.
TK: Out of all the movies you worked on, which monster was the most difficult to design?
Nishikawa: There aren’t any monsters that I would call especially difficult, but Mecha-King Ghidorah took some effort.
TK: What are some of your favorite designs that went unused from any of the projects you worked on?
Nishikawa: There were a few I quite liked from Bagan’s designs. I also drew most of Orga’s designs, so there were some of those I felt favorable towards.
TK: How did you enjoy working with Bandai on “Chogokin Tamashii MIX Mechagodzilla“?
Nishikawa: I had fun on that project since my contact person from Bandai had a lot of love for Mechagodzilla.
※ The aforementioned figure was based on Noriyoshi Ohrai’s poster for Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), with the design in question originating from concept artwork by Nishikawa.
TK: [By the way, we] wanted to let you know that we spoke to the designer of the new Mechagodzilla that appeared in Ready Player One (2018). The name of the designer is Jared Krichevsky, and he was sent the work of Noriyoshi Ohrai to use as a base for his Mechagodzilla design. When Jared was given the 1993 “Heisei VS Series” poster, he was told to “make Mechagodzilla like this.” We thought you might like to know!
Nishikawa: Thank you for the interesting information about Mechagodzilla’s design. In an interview I had that was put in the Japanese brochure for Ready Player One (2018), I wrote that “I think that Mechagodzilla is based on the Ohrai poster,” but I’m glad to hear confirmation of this.
TK: Which of the doujinshi that you made is your favorite?
Nishikawa: The first “Godzilla Legend” is my favorite.
TK: How can fans buy some of your doujinshi, such as your Godzilla side stories and “Lady Franken”?
Nishikawa: Nowadays they’re all out of stock, so buying them might prove difficult. I’ve been mulling over a new issue for “Lady Franken,” so I’d like to put that one out there again with the new issue attached.
TK: Some of your Godzilla manga were released in “Godzilla Crazy Age”. However, there are other stories you have made that were published in TV Magazine and “Whole Godzilla Movie”, as well as “Godzilla Legend” and “Making of Godzilla Legend”. Are there any other Godzilla manga you have released in the past? If so, what are they called?
Nishikawa: From Rippu Shobo Publishing Co.’s “Godzilla vs. Biollante Encyclopedia” to “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah Encyclopedia,” I drew a Godzilla movie digest manga, a work called “Road to Canossa” in a volume from an anthology called “Godzilla Comic Counterattack” from Takarajimasha, a making-of manga about Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) as well as a manga called “Vindication of Kano” in NTT Media Scope’s “Roar of Godzilla,” and a manga named “Kiriko Kokiroko” in Keibunsha’s “Godzilla Magazine Vol.8.” This summer I put out a doujinshi called “New Generation Godzilla Legend.”
TK: Regarding your manga “Monster King Godzilla,” how many chapters did you release?
Nishikawa: I drew these three times for a monthly publication. They haven’t been compiled into a single release.
TK: What are your thoughts on Shin Godzilla (2016)?
Nishikawa: Compared to the Godzilla movies from back when I was involved in the series, it gives off this feeling of having been made within the context of a sort of unrestrained freedom. While I do think that there are parts of it that would be difficult to grasp for those without an understanding of the specific make-up of Japanese politics, as we have Legendary’s Godzilla (2014) which was made to appeal to the whole world, I’m glad that something like Shin Godzilla (2016) can exist alongside it.
TK: What are your thoughts on the “AniGoji” series? (Planet of the Monsters, Monster Apocalypse, etc.)
Nishikawa: The theory behind these films is quite divorced from that of already existing Godzilla movies or other kajiu films, but in a world where Legendary’s Godzilla (2014) and Shin Godzilla (2016) exist, I think it’s good to have a sort of distinctiveness. I evaluate these films as bringing forth a new way of communicating the themes inherent in the “Kaiju” concept.
TK: When did you first start joining exhibitions related to Toho? And what inspired you to join them?
Nishikawa: I think it was around 2014 that the reevaluation of Godzilla and the the proliferation of these exhibitions began. I’m not completely sure what spurred all that on, but someone I knew from reconstruction and support activities from after the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami was planning an “Akira Ifukube 100th Anniversary Concert,” and the poster I drew for that concert was what lead me to the paintbrush art style I currently employ.
TK: How have your experiences at these exhibitions been?
Nishikawa: I was able to really feel valued, not only as “the designer of Godzilla,” but also as an illustrator and as an artist. I was also able to feel how popular the Heisei works are, as well the continuing alternation of generations of Godzilla fans.
SHINJI NISHIKAWA (西川伸司) – Since the conclusion of this interview, Nishikawa has published his latest art book Shinji Nishikawa Design Works, released a new doujinshi titled New Generation Godzilla Legend, and worked as a monster designer for the 2018 anime SSSS.GRIDMAN. He also runs a blog, which he updates occasionally.Interviews // June 2, 2019
The staff of Toho Kingdom sound off on their hopes for Godzilla and Toho related events for 2019, “Tohopes” if you will and don’t mind a large helping of puns. With a new Godzilla film on the near horizon with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the new year is likely to be big for the franchise star, and we weigh in on what might be in store and what would be great to see in the near future as a result.
2019… the year of Godzilla’s 65th birthday! And for such an auspicious year, we are getting a spectacular showing from him!
We’re finally going to see the long awaited release of the next MonsterVerse film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which is where most of my Tohopes for this year are bound. The two trailers which have been released at the time of this writing have been utterly stunning; the fab four Toho kaiju look amazing, the action looks to be stellar, and I am fully planning on enjoying myself on this film. Simply put, I hope it is as at least as much fun as it seems to be!!
In addition to the movie, I’m very excited on the collectibles side of G:KOTM too. The SH-MonsterArts figures all look pretty good, but I’m hoping we’ll get some new X-plus announcements showcasing the MonsterVerse designs as well. Most of all though, I’d like to see another statue come out in the same vein as the Sideshow Collectables 2014 Godzilla. The first statue in particular is spectacular, but as soon as the updated 2019 Godzilla design was revealed I knew I had to have an updated version! I’m excited just imagining the ways I would display the two of them together.
I’m also getting anxious to hear about Toho’s plans for Godzilla post 2020. I love the MonsterVerse and I’d like to see it continue. My hope is some sort of deal can be brokered that allows the continuation of the MonsterVerse alongside some new Toho offerings. Time will tell on that front though; I’m excited to find out what will happen next!
Beyond that, I’d just like to see more Godzilla material in general! I really can’t get enough of the big guy! I’d really love to see him get back into comics this year. IDW’s Godzilla run was great, and every month I looked forward to those titles. It would be wonderful to see something else come out like that. A new Godzilla video game would be cool as well, or maybe even a re-release of the classic Pipeworks Godzilla trilogy? I know I’d be game for either!!
Past Godzilla though, I’d be very happy to expand my exposure to various other Toho movies. I’ve been dying to see Gorath for some time, and I’d like to make this year the one where I see it! Time will tell though; I just hope it’s a great year for Godzilla, and all the rest of us out here enjoying his resurgence!
1. I think everyone has some high hopes for the new Godzilla: King of the Monsters release. Of course, as with many others, I am hoping for awesome monster action, cameos from favorite Toho monsters and new originals (I love original monsters!), and a compelling story. But can I be frank and just say I really hope the human cast is memorable as well? That might be my biggest hope for the film. From what I have seen of the monsters, I think they look great. But if the human scenes (which, let’s face it, will be the majority of the movie) are a slog, then the movie will be a pain in the butt to sit through. Please, please, PLEASE have interesting and relatable human characters!
2. Comics! I am a big fan of comics, and I would love to see more Godzilla comics released both Stateside and in Japan. Come on, original stories! I would love it if, instead of just getting one Godzilla tie-in graphic novel, we could get some ongoing comic adventures!
3. And as long as I am at it, I wish, wish, wish Toho would just release several big volumes collecting all the old Godzilla and Toho kaiju/sci-fi stories together, including the original side stories. Oh, gosh, that would be AMAZING.
4. Here’s a big stretch, but if I could have my druthers and dream big… I wish we could finally see an official DVD release of Half Human (1955) and Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974) in Japan OR in the States, plus official releases of Invisible Man and The Secret of Telegian (1960) in the States. I know it’s shooting for the moon, but I wish we could see that.
5. An announcement of something new with Gamera. A new movie, a new TV show, a video game, something. I just want more Gamera—especially if we could finally get that crossover with Godzilla. Hey, Godzilla is fighting King Kong again. Why can’t he have a crossover event with Gamera, too?
6. We had our Godzilla anime trilogy. Could we have an actual Godzilla anime TV series now? Pretty please?
7. A new, good Godzilla video game. Or even a sequel to City Shrouded in Shadows! That may not have been a great game, but I really enjoyed it!
8. Can I just say, more than any of these other hopes, that 2019 will be a year in which we have a lot of good health? Yes, for the various beloved creators and actors and celebrities, but also for the fans. We lost a lot of people last year. I hope that 2019 can be a year of good health and fun fan friendships all year long as the Toho kaiju world gets bigger than ever. Time is precious!
It’s been five years since a Godzilla movie hit theaters for a wide release in the United States. That event was the second ever American Godzilla film, and while it didn’t cause the same onslaught of merchandise that GODZILLA (1998) did, fans did get a lot of things to look forward to. This included a number of toys and also a lot of Blu-rays, such as Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster! Godzilla vs Hedorah.
So my hope is that we get something similar this year, in particular in the realm of home video releases. If I had to narrow my selection on what I would like to see most, it would probably be Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) from Kraken Releasing and by some miracle a release of Rodan (1956) from Criterion. I also hope that Sony continues with their releases of some of their catalog on Blu-ray. I was pretty happy with the Blu-ray of Battle in Outer Space (1959) last year, and would love if they followed it up with Mothra (1961) and H-Man (1958) this year.
Regardless of what happens though, we are getting a new Godzilla film, a new appearance by Rodan and a new Godzilla soundtrack from Bear McCreary, who has done decent work on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tv series. So even if none of my wishes pan out this year, I know I will have enough to keep me happy as a Godzilla and Toho fan in 2019.
Have a hope of your own for the new year? Sound off in the comments below.General // January 16, 2019
It’s been 16 years since Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee was announced and released. Since then several generations of video game consoles have come, as the industry continues to march on. Despite these advances, though, the original trilogy of games from Atari and Pipeworks are still well remembered today. In fact, one doesn’t have to look further than this petition to re-release them, currently with over 8,000 signatures, to see that.
So, the staff of Toho Kingdom does its retrospect on these titles, diving into what made the Atari and Pipeworks trilogy of Godzilla games particularly memorable. Feeling nostalgic for the titles yourself? Feel free to leave a comment on the article sharing your experience with the titles.
As an avid video game player to this day, I believe that I have never been more excited for any game than I was for Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee! There’s simply nothing else that compares. When I first got wind of it in a quarter page preview in Game Informer, my 11 year old brain went into overdrive. I spent at least 1 hour, every day, looking up screen shots, videos, and articles for the game on my slow dial up internet. It got to the point where I had to limit my searches just to spare myself agonizing over every screenshot. For the first time ever, I had a shot at fulfilling my childhood dream to get to be Godzilla. This game felt like the closest I could get to making that dream come true. So, needless to say, before the game even released I was hooked. I had my Mom take me to KB Toys to pick it up, desperately anxious to play. Waiting for the staff to find it and then bring it to me was agonizing, but at long last it was in my hands! What followed was a blur of elation and pure joy. I unlocked the roster in a matter of two days, played an untold number of hours against AI and friends. And even if it wasn’t perfect, it was an absolute treasure. Godzilla: DAMM was a routine mini-disc in my Game Cube (and later Xbox) tray, and I still keep both versions in my collection today.
Fast forward to the sequel in 2004 and my experience changes only very subtly. I was excited from the first announcement, and the expanded roster of kaiju only further fed my obsession. Thankfully I had learned to dial back my exhaustive researching, so it seemed like no time until the game was released. After that, I started networking my classmates; I hooked everyone I could into playing with me! I brought my PlayStation 2 over to other people’s houses just to get them in on the game, even buying the controller expansion port so I could have 3 other friends play with me. I played the asteroid and submarine levels on my own to get higher scores, staged recreations of Godzilla’s most famous movie bouts, as well as many original set ups as well. Truly, no Godzilla game before this could compare to it. Super Godzilla might be nostalgic, but nothing could come close to this game.
Which leaves Godzilla: Unleashed for our final entry in the trilogy. My relationship with this game is a bit of a rollercoaster. Being on the Wii, I was rather concerned about the controls… but my love of Godzilla overcame me and I bought a Wii just to play it! It just looked so exciting! The roster was even bigger than G:STE, and graphically it was improved (if only slightly). There were rumors and tales of an expanded story mode, which was more than enough to get me to chance it. And then, as I feared, the motion controls nearly killed if for me. It was clunky, not very responsive, and the battlefields just didn’t quite keep my attention. I played through it, unlocked as many kaiju as I could, and put it away… Until I didn’t. Years later, I put my Wii out for a party and Godzilla made it into the lineup! And to my initial surprise, he was a big hit too! Suddenly I was running tournaments with my friends, people were coming over just to play the game! Clearly I had been too harsh on my first play through; like all the games in the Pipeworks/Atari trilogy, this Godzilla game was a ton of fun!
Which is precisely why we need them back now! Godzilla is at the forefront of a kaiju resurgence. With multiple movies out and Godzilla: King of the Monsters on the horizon, now is the best time of all to bring these games back out. Plenty of people have the same dream I did at 12; to be Godzilla. And there are frankly no better nor more fun video games than these three gems to make that dream a reality.
There are three video games that I’ve anticipated more than any others. They are Super Smash Bros. Brawl, to which I would eagerly await the daily updates on Smashbros.com, Pokémon Gold/Silver, to which half the fun was trying to separate fake rumors on the net from actual news, and finally Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee.
I still vividly recall my disbelief that we were getting a Godzilla video game in the United States for the Nintendo Gamecube. Despite its faults, Godzilla: Monster of Monsters remains a very fond memory for me, drenched with Toho lore from every pore. However, it had been a long time since its sequel hit the US and the SNES Super Godzilla just never clicked with me and so felt like a distant memory at the time. Outside of these, it had felt like most Godzilla games were a Japan only affair, and my disappointment about us not getting Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters in the US was still palatable. So to discover we were getting a 3D fighting game based on the King of the Monsters felt like a dream, and I was instantly hooked on gathering as much information as possible.
Some may recall how fixated Toho Kingdom was on covering the game. Any and all news was broadcast on the game, and we had early access to producer Kirby Fong and Pipeworks president Dan Duncalf as well to fuel the excitement. At that time, all eyes were on the roster for the game. Every day felt like a new adventure to see who might be confirmed, looking through new screenshots for any hints. That’s a real testament considering the final roster, for the US Gamecube release, ended up being 11 monsters. Ultimately, the last reveal happened by accident, as the final copyright for the game, due to Toho’s policy, revealed everyone.
Excitement building aside, how did the final game stack up? Well I played the hell out of it, for sure. The title was immensely more engaging than most of the Godzilla games before it, greatly surpassing Godzilla Generations just in being able to feel like you are walking around in a city as the title character. The multiplayer aspect was icing on the cake… and honestly, it’s just a lot of fun to pickup a building and toss it at another monster. In fact, it’s still a Gamecube game I revisit, pretty much the only one at this stage beyond some occasional joy in playing Link in Soul Calibur 2. While I enjoyed the sequels, which I’m not saying aren’t better games, the first Pipeworks title will always hold a special place for me due to the hype leading to its release and the fun I had with it.
Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (Gamecube, Xbox)
I never had the Gamecube version of this game, but I remember finding a Gamestop that had a demo version of the game running shortly after its release. I was really excited to try it out, and thought the monsters looked great, which was pretty exciting for a Godzilla geek like me. If I remember correctly, only a few monsters were enabled on the demo—I think Megalon, Anguirus, and Godzilla. I remember smashing things up for a bit, but getting my hinder handed to me by the aggressive computer. Later my brother picked up the Xbox version of the game and we played it via the Xbox360 emulator, but by that time I had played Save the Earth, and the older game felt pretty clunky to me, so I personally didn’t get very far.
Godzilla: Save the Earth (PS2, Xbox)
This was probably my favorite game in the series, but for the life of me, I can’t remember it very well. My strongest memory of playing this game was picking up the Japanese version when I lived in southern Honshu many years ago and being blown away by the gorgeous cover art. I am sure I played through the game several times, but in all honesty, while I remember enjoying the game (especially size-shifting Jet Jaguar), the game didn’t have a huge impact on me.
Godzilla: Unleashed (Wii, PS2)
So… the game that had the biggest impact on me personally out of all three of the Pipeworks Godzilla games was Unleashed, specifically the PS2 version. I have had only very limited playtime with the Wii version, but the PS2 version I played to exhaustion because for a while I was thinking to write a review of the thing, and I was frustrated by the lack of detail in the reviews I had seen online. I remember getting incredibly frustrated with this game, and took many notes for a review which I never finished because I just got sick of the game.
These games for me are a big part of my childhood. Nothing was more satisfying than being able to lay the smackdown on an opposing monster with another giant monster, using whatever tools you had or utilizing the environment to your disposal. These were very solid 3D fighters and play very well, with a roster that only expanded with every new entry. So the thought of having high definition remasters is an incredibly exciting prospect!
Each entry holds a special place for me. Although I enjoyed the GameCube version of Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee fine, the Xbox version became my personal go-to game with its revised graphics and additional content. Playing as Kiryu (Mechagodzilla 3) on the Boxing Ring and Vortaak homeworld was one of the most cathartic experiences for younger me. Even if we didn’t have access to it at the time, being able to demolish the elusive Thrashburg stages still gives the game more to discover of what we’ve been missing on.
While I did wind up sinking most of my time playing Godzilla: Unleashed (Wii), I’d say Godzilla: Save the Earth is probably the best in the trilogy, with its refined combat system being several steps up from where G:DAMM started. Before GU hit the scene, it was definitely GSTE I played at every waking moment I could (with Super Smash Bros. Melee being the other major contender). It was always an intense game, and one I still hold good memories of. An overall better fighter than its predecessor. Even the likes of the game’s cut content–notably Biollante–kept me invested in the game after hearing from an old interview with Simon Strange so many years ago (and having had the chance to play as her, she’s a blast!).
Godzilla: Unleashed (Wii) is a title that understandably gets flack for its wonky motion controls, but it’s also the entry with the most in terms of roster size. It’s unfortunate that the game’s controls is the biggest hurdle of them all, because this is a game that has tons to offer and has memorable set pieces (like the Invasion event in the story mode). As stated, I’ve played the game for hours upon hours, playing through the entire game with absolutely everyone. Here’s to the remastered version being able to amend these faults, if that can be at all changed.
It’d be nice to chip in two cents of what we’d want to see, but first we have to wait if such a herculean task will be picked up or what direction it’ll be taken in (and if Toho gives their blessings). So let your voice be known, because I believe they are listening.General // January 14, 2019
To celebrate Thanksgiving, the Toho Kingdom team has put together some of the things they are really thankful for in kaiju fandom to share the holiday cheer—and we think there is a lot to be thankful for recently! So grab a monster-sized turkey leg and an extra helping of radioactive cranberry sauce and a slice of pumpkin pie (made from leftover jack-o-lanterns perhaps) and gather around for the celebration! Also, if you have something that you’re thankful for, be sure to share it in the comments!
There are so many things to be thankful for it’s hard to know where to start! Let me share three things that make me really grateful.
1. Godzilla movies being made in BOTH the USA and in Japan! Okay, so the Japan films are completed now, and while I am not the biggest fan of the anime trilogy, it is still exciting to have the opportunity to see a new take on Godzilla and (for me at least) go to see them in a movie theater. And we have not one, but TWO Monsterverse movies being made now, and the trailers for the first of those two films I still think is surprisingly beautiful! We really do have a Godzilla resurgence going on, and I am looking forward to seeing what will happen next!
2. I really enjoyed the Godzilla DVD Collectors sets, which I think finally concluded recently. My main reason for enjoying them has been the reprinted manga! While the manga itself is often printed on depressingly cheap paper, just the chance to read some of these classic monster manga is a dream come true. It’s so fun to see some of the bizarre liberties some of the manga have taken with the source material, and after reviewing the manga version of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, I even had the chance to meet and interview Daiji Kazumine! I just feel incredibly lucky!
3. And perhaps for me I feel most lucky just to be in Japan, and close to Tokyo. Because I am here, I can easily attend a lot of events I normally would not have the chance to. Yes, I can go see the new Godzilla movies in theaters, but that’s almost the least of it. As mentioned above, I could meet Daiji Kazumine, but I also got to see the original Godzilla (1954) with a live orchestra playing the music last year. I attended the Godzilla Festival last year and this year. I have gone to multiple exhibitions, played a Godzilla AR game, saw Godzilla the Real in Universal Studios, and attempted the Tokyo Mystery Circus Godzilla escape room experience with a friend (though we ultimately failed). And my Japanese has gotten a lot better as well! Honestly, I just feel very, very thankful for so many things in my life. And with that, I just want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving as well! I hope everything is the best it can be with you.
This truly is a great time to be G-Fan huh? Back around 2004 or 2005 I really thought we’d seen the end of the series for a long time and even then I only figured it would be a single film. I still can’t quite grasp the fact that we’ve had a new American made Godzilla film, a new Japanese Godzilla film, and an animated trilogy of Godzilla films. That’s also not even counting Godzilla King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Kong, and a whole new series from Toho! I truly feel blessed and thankful to be alive and a Godzilla fan right now. But my thankfulness goes beyond getting new Godzilla films. I never would have believed as a kid that my passion for Godzilla would lead to me getting to write for the biggest Godzilla website ever, getting to meet and film a professional interview with a director of a Godzilla film, and even getting to meet Godzilla (Haruo Nakajima, Kenpachiro Satsuma, and Tsutomu Kitagawa) himself in person. Finally I am also thankful for all the friends I have made who share my passion for Godzilla many of whom I meet on this very site. For all of this and more I am well and truly Thankful.
Being a Godzilla fan has always been an interesting proposition. It’s far different from being a Star Wars fan, a Marvel fan, a Nintendo fan or any other prominent franchise where you could reasonably expect to walk down to a Target or Walmart and find at least some toys or shirts to represent it.
Godzilla fans have always been the type who are on the cusp of mainstream, which might be part of the allure for some. I don’t expect that to change, but I’m thankful for the degree of spotlight the nuclear leviathan has gotten of late. While I was majorly indifferent to the Anime Godzilla films, it’s an exciting time for me, with a constant news cycle around the upcoming two Godzilla films from Legendary Pictures.
So what am I thankful for? I considered something more overarching, but I’d rather focus on something hyper focused, timely and on the near horizon: I’m thankful for Rodan in Godzilla King of the Monsters.
It might seem like a small aspect, but I’m a huge Rodan fan for a very distinct reason. That reason being that there are arguably three films that made me a life long Godzilla fan:
Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) – for being the film that got a young Anthony to actually become fascinated with the character and the hints at this larger monster world.
Rodan (1956) – for not just introducing the idea that this universe extended beyond Godzilla for me, but for the personal attachment as I watched it on VHS with my father who recounted seeing the movie as a kid in theaters.
Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) – for quickly becoming my favorite film, and hitting just that right level of “maturity” to appeal to a teenager wanting something more “adult” (this was the exxxxtreme 1990’s, when everything felt ramped to 11 to try to appeal to this notion).
So I’ve long been a Rodan fan, who has been an important pillar to my fascination with the Godzilla franchise. However, the character really hasn’t gotten a great role since Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965). Destroy All Monsters (1968) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) were okay from an assemble sense, and certainly he got a better role than others like Varan or Hedorah respectively. The character did have a meaty presence in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), although at the same time the flying kaiju had somewhat been reduced to showing off how strong both Godzilla and Mechagodzilla were in contrast.
I’m hopeful that next year will see the winged monster’s return to glory. Heck, even if the best moments for Rodan were in the first trailer, I’d argue it would be a more impressive role than the character has gotten since 1993. So I’m thankful for where the franchise is headed, and that the spotlight is expanding to focus on characters outside of Godzilla in the West.
Thanksgiving being a time for gratefulness and reflection, you’ll often hear it used for reminiscing with friends and family. While that is true, it’s also a good time for remembering how grateful we are for Godzilla! For the past few years, Thanksgiving has brought with it the opportunity to partake in some fine Godzilla movie marathons like the days of old. Families can gather around the table/couch/radioactive spring and bond over one of the many enjoyable movies being broadcast that day; a perfect companion for your holiday meal of choice! And then, if that’s not enough kaiju goodness to whet your whistle, there’s plenty of great collectibles to be purchased come the deals to follow the holiday! Honestly, the ease of buying X-Plus figures in the US is something that I’m pretty thankful for as my burgeoning collection slowly grows.
Of course, I’m most grateful for is the continuation of the Godzilla series at large. I’m certain that I’m not alone in my excitement for Legendary’s MonsterVerse movies. Both Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs Kong are setting up to be something special if the world building that’s slowly happening in the background is any indication. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited just to see what’s happening on the Godzilla radar that MONARCH has set up. The thought that he’s out there, peacefully swimming the oceans is rather pleasing to me. 🙂 But it’s not just Legendary’s movies that have my heart aflutter, it’s Toho’s own. From the anime series to the planned Godzilla films after 2020, it’s a pretty exciting time for the house that made Godzilla, if still somewhat on the horizon.
Then there’s all of you out there! My personal life is pretty crazy; I’m taking nursing classes, working, and making the rest of life come together as well. But with all that, when I’m feeling like I need to see what’s going on in the land of kaiju, there’s still a place for me to stop back in and talk to someone about giant monsters. It might not always seem like the friendliest place (depending on where you’re looking around the web), but there’s a lot of good people around these parts. And that is a far cry from the lonely playgrounds I was on as a kid with my Trendmaster figures in hand. So thank you all for keeping those radioactive flames burning!! I hope we can all manage to have a happy and safe holiday this week!
With giant monsters rising to dominate modern day media, there is plenty to be thankful for. Whether it be the latest American version of Godzilla, the revival of Gridman in animation, or the ever-expanding library of physical and digital novels revolving around kaiju, there is a little something for everyone to enjoy. Despite how long monsters have been present in the world of fiction, the kaiju fandom still has some growing to do, and there is fortunately plenty of room for newcomers. I’ve always been appreciative of how accessible the fandom can be, and I find myself constantly amazed by just how creative fans are with their artwork and writing. The devotion others have when it comes to sharing their discoveries from Japanese sources is something I also greatly admire. There are small communities dedicated to breaking the language barrier and providing information for the sole purpose of informing others. Some even go so far as to hire professional translators to subtitle television shows, such as Toho’s own Zone Fighter.
Yes, I am extremely grateful to be part of a community of such talented and committed individuals, and I sincerely look forward to seeing the growth of the next generation of fans. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
So what are you thankful for in the Godzilla Fandom? Sound off in the comments.General // November 22, 2018
The staff of Toho Kingdom makes some Toho film recommendations for the Halloween season. This covers creepy, atmospheric and horror movies produced or released by Toho that are perfect for the month of October. Recommendations run the gamut, dating from the 1950’s all the way to films released a few years ago. If you are looking for even more horror productions from Japan, also be sure to check the Horror Movie Listing.
Hi gang! For me, I do rather like a good horror flick or creepy movie, though I have to admit I have not seen a great many of the Japanese horror classics—I am still catching up! The following is just a list of some horror and monster flicks outside of the usual kaiju canon that I enjoyed and would like to recommend to Toho fans out looking to try out something new! Thus, with no further ado, here we go!
1. Invisible Man (1954)
As a fan of old monster films, and as someone who enjoyed the Universal Invisible Man franchise much more than I anticipated when I visited them recently, I was looking forward to seeing what an Invisible Man film would be like in the hands of eventual Godzilla Raids Again (1955) director Motoyoshi Oda (who had that same year directed Ghost Man, an exploitative detective film with a villain boasting a mask of bandages much more akin to traditional depictions of the Invisible Man!). I found the answer to be—quite entertaining! While perhaps the plot may be a bit predictable, but boy howdy does it have a memorable opening scene of an invisible-man suicide, and I later found myself quickly growing attached to the central clown character Nanjo and his relationship with a little blind girl. The eventual reveal of the identity of the invisible man was, in my opinion, quite well-done. As for scares, well, this movie is light on them, but lots of fans of old monster films don’t really watch them to be scared anyway, and this is also a great way to get into the surprisingly robust “invisible man” genre of Japanese cinema, which also includes at least FOUR MORE films from rival Daiei films, including TWO which are (invisible) samurai films.
2. Haunted School (1995)
Given the very low score my colleague Anthony Romero gave this film, it may be a surprise to see that I am here recommending the flick. And to be honest, I find the film to be a vigorously mixed bag. Nevertheless, as far as monster movies for younger viewers go, I found a lot to enjoy in this story of a bunch of kids who end up trapped in a ghost-infested old school. A lot of the ghost effects reminded me of Ghostbusters, including a sort of mascot-like furry guy who shows up multiple times to harass various victims, and I really enjoyed several scenes of major ghost mayhem in the school itself. For me, I also really got a big kick out of a huge cockroach-like beasty that menaces our heroes late in the story. While by no means a high quality movie, this one nevertheless really appealed to me, and for lovers of practical effects looking for mild thrills, I found it fun.
These gory sci-fi horror movies based on the influential Hitoshi Iwaaki manga and anime of the same name (and both of which I reviewed a few years ago) are in my opinion highly entertaining monster flicks with memorable and impressive effects and a likable lead performance by Shota Sometani. While the second film is arguably a pretty big step-down from the first, I found them both to be rather thoughtful, sometimes shocking, and very engaging monster-fests. The plot, in which alien worms from outer space attack earth by taking over the bodies of human beings and transforming them into flesh-munching monsters, shows a lot of influence from body-horror greats like The Thing (1982), and our hero—infected with an alien parasite in his hand, but not taken over entirely—has to struggle with his new identity, like in many half-monster stories such as Blade or Tokyo Ghoul. Gore hounds will appreciate the abundant flow of blood and gore, though the aforementioned infected hand (named Migi) looks pretty absurd in live action. Still, for creepy, slimy, monster-action thrills, this duology is a fine choice.
4. Vampire Doll (1970)
Sometimes I just get in the mood for a decent vampire flick—after all, I have written two as-yet-unpublished vampire novels. So I was kind of excited to check out Toho’s take on the old bloodsucking mythos, and while Vampire Doll does not feature traditional nosferatu as such, the menacing Yuko and her seemingly supernatural powers fit the bill. The story is a little bit convoluted, dealing with missing people, hypnotism, unrequited love, and creepy butlers, but all the dark shenanigans build up into a movie overflowing with classic horror atmosphere, and the local haunted mansion where much of the film takes place gives an appropriately creepy backdrop to an already spine-tingling story. I greatly enjoyed this film, far more than either of its spiritual sequels, and heartily recommend it to lovers of gothic monster mayhem.
5. Ring (1998) and The Ring (2002)
Ringu is probably the most influential film on this list, and if you are at all interested in the genre of J-horror, this now-classic movie was basically the film that kicked off a worldwide phenomenon of creeping long-haired soaked ghost women stalking folks and scaring moviegoers. The first film honestly didn’t scare me very much, but the story itself is suitably weird and pretty enthralling. The story is about a cursed video tape that, once watched, triggers a mysterious phone call and a death sentence—after one week, SOMETHING will kill you. (Yes, that something is the aforementioned ghost woman, and her eventual emergence has become one of THE iconic horror sequences in movie history.) The mystery behind the cursed tape (and more specifically the ghostly Sadako) adds a great deal of interest and suspense to the movie, especially as the main character, Reiko… well, let’s just say she finds some very deep motivating factors to discovering the truth behind the video. For me, the American remake was even scarier than the original, despite a silly CG horse dashing about on a boat at one point in the film. While Ringu may be an overly obvious choice for a list like this, seriously, if you haven’t seen it and you are interested in Japanese horror films, this is a good place to start.
Time to kick off my list of recommendations, and like Nicholas I don’t really associate the kaiju movies with Halloween. I think it’s because I’m such a Godzilla fan that the movies appeal to me year around so to speak, and they usually don’t dwell to much on the horror element but rather city destruction… save perhaps Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971). Anyway, here is a list of five recommendations for Halloween.
1. Ring (1998)
Well we have a repeat across the two lists here, and I’m starting with the movie that arguably defined the Japanese horror industry for decades. In addition, this is the only movie on this list that I would qualify as being truly scary. While I actually prefer the American remake, the original Ring had a stellar concept: a tape that doomed you after watching it. It was a simple premise, but introduced the deadly stakes early in the movie while it kept your interest through learning more about the mysterious elements surrounding the curse. The countdown aspect helped tremendously too, while the climax with Sadako is downright chilling. Like a lot of successful horror movies, this had a load of sequels and imitators after it, but none captured the same level of atmosphere and dread as the original Ring.
2. The “Bloodthirsty” Trilogy
I’m going to cheat and recommend three in one stroke. This unconnected series of vampire films shifts from the more original Vampire Doll (1970), far and away the best of the three, to the stereotypical with Lake of Dracula (1971). All three deal with topics ripe for the Halloween season, though. From creepy, isolated mansions to your standard vampire fare. While quality might vary, I’ve found myself revisiting them all quite frequently. Faults aside, they have good special effects for the time, save the bat props that were also used in Space Amoeba (1970), and the latter two, while lacking in quality compared to the first, are vibrant with colorful sequences and good to okay pacing.
3. House (1977)
This psychedelic horror movie is slightly self-aware, crafting a bizarre movie that strikes just the right balance to offset the cruelty being played on the movie’s characters due to the tone it strikes. While it doesn’t always click with the viewer, the movie is well regarded for its experimental style. This results in some lacking special effects, as it feels like the movie was more focused on vision than realization. Regardless, the movie has stood the test of time because of these risks, as it comes across as a rather crazy horror movie that, at the minimum, features a number of creative deaths against the backdrop of a haunted house. For those looking for something darker and crueler, and with a stomach for strong gore, Sweet Home (1989) could be seen as in a similar vein.
4. H-Man (1958)
When director Ishiro Honda took on the mutant and crime genre at the same time he struck gold, creating a movie that is both lively and creepy. The flashback attack on boat by the liquid people is down right chilling as well, even today, and do a good job at portraying the threat and keeping the stakes high throughout the rest of the movie. Also, the 1950’s club setting, while contemporary at the time, feels a bit more unique in retrospect now and helps the film stand out. As a side note to Honda, I was also going to include Matango (1963) on this list, my favorite horror film. However, I just never saw it as a Halloween film due to the tropical setting, even though the atmospheric night sequences fit right in with this time of year.
5. One Missed Call (2004)
The early millennium was stuffed with “J-horror” pictures looking to capitalize on the success of Ring (1998). In fact, this took a fascinating turn where they eventually started to create movies with the hopes they would be picked up to be remade in the US… an odd turn, but enough of them were successful like Pulse (2001) and Dark Water (2002) that the Japanese industry doubled down on this strategy. One film to arise from this odd trend was One Missed Call, from Takashi Miike. The result is entertaining fluff, but enough to stand the test of time to make it recommended viewing. It’s got a creepy atmosphere at times, and doesn’t even try to hide that it’s swapping Ring’s VHS tape concept for a cellphone call… all the same, that death bringing ring tone is truly iconic after seeing the movie and this is one of the few horror movies of this period that I would be willing to watch again and again.
Hey everyone! How’s it going? Well, since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my list of Halloween recommendations! Unlike my peers however, I will include a few Kaiju flicks in mine, as there are a few that I find seasonally appropriate. Also given the nature of our site’s user base, I think mentioning these pieces would be appreciated. So without further ado, here’s my list in order of least recommended to most recommended
1. House (1977)
This will no doubt be sacrilegious to some, but I must confess that I don’t particularly care for this film. I found it lacking in substance, and the psychedelic aspect to more be a mask for poor filmmaking that didn’t particularly add anything to the film. Also, while I won’t be going into spoilers for any entries on this list, I will say that I found the ending too cliché, which knocks it down a few pegs for me. Nonetheless, I do think this film is worth a watch. It is simply dripping in memorable imagery, and it does feature a few sequences that are nothing short of bat… erm, “guano” crazy. The soundtrack isn’t half bad, and Godzilla fans familiar with “A Space Godzilla” will no doubt be interested to see what the would be filmmakers have also created. Also, this film does have a massive cult fanbase, so who knows. Maybe you’ll see something in it that I don’t.
2. Frankenstein vs Baragon (1965)
What’s Halloween without a Frankenstein movie? Even better, a Frankenstein KAIJU movie! Yep, Toho went all out for Mary Shelly’s classic tale of a man who plays god and faces the consequences, and took it to the next logical step of having the monster fight a giant dinosaur! While the premise may sound laughable, I actually really enjoy this film. It’s notable for several reasons, including the first appearance of Baragon, the second appearance of the Giant Octopus (sort of), and being the direct precursor to The War of the Gargantuas (1966). The film itself, while being squarely in the kaiju genre, does an excellent job staying true to its horror roots. Throughout the whole film, there’s this vaguely disturbing undertone… Particularly in regards to death and mutilation. There are some dead animals, questions of cutting off the monster’s limbs… and let’s just say Baragon wasn’t too friendly in his first romp. Frankenstein vs. Baragon is one ride that will have you on the edge of your seat to the end, and a definite must watch for any kaiju, OR Franky fans.
3. Varan (1958)
When Nicholas initially suggested I make my own list of recommendations, I was hesitant, as I wasn’t sure if I could come up with five like he did… but then I remembered Varan. I will fully admit that Varan isn’t the best made kaiju movie ever, but it’s always been something of a favorite of mine. You see, while Varan may not have the best acting or highest budget, it has something that almost makes up for it, and makes it perfect for the Halloween season: Atmosphere. Everything about this movie feels so memorable to me, from the chilling statues of Baradagi, to the foreboding exploration of the jungle, to the mysterious natives. It all oozes an atmosphere that makes you feel the location, the setting, and the danger. All of it scored by Akira Ifukube at his finest. I don’t care whether you like the movie or not, I think this soundtrack belongs in the maestro’s top five greatest! Atmosphere is one of the most difficult things to describe in cinema, so you’ll forgive me if that’s a little vague. Suffice to say, I think Varan is a film that makes you FEEL what’s on screen which is where its true strength lies.
4. “Haunted School” Series aka Gakkou no Kaidan
Alright… This one is a bit of a cheat. But if Nick can recommend the Western version of Ring and Anthony the The “Bloodthirsty” Trilogy, I’d like to mention the “Haunted School” series, although in particular the Gakkou no Kaidan anime, which is based on the same book series as the film. The series is best known for its strange English localization, which opted to turn the series into a raunchy adult comedy. Legend has it that since the series performed poorly in Japan, the English localization team were told to do whatever they thought would make the series sell better. Due to this, I often see anime critics call it a “bad anime saved by the dub” which I feel is a bit unfair. I genuinely like the how the series portrays the monsters, which are always depicted as very real threats (even in the dub). Furthermore, all of the monsters have excellent designs that, along with the appealing set pieces, let the show keep a great creepy feeling. And just to cover my basis… I’ll also recommend the first Toho film.
5. Sweet Home (1989)
And here we have it. My all-time favorite horror movie, the criminally underrated Sweet Home! This film is probably best known for the video game tie in by Capcom, which was a massive influence on the Biohazard (or Resident Evil) franchise. What many people don’t realize however is that the film had a great influence on the iconic survival horror game as well! If you’re a huge fan of the original game like me, more than a few things might look familiar to you However, the film is great in its own right as well. We are given a tight plot, likable characters, appealing special effects, and great setting. Unfortunately, this film is pretty hard to come by. It has yet to receive any disc release, in any region and Japanese VHS tapes go for upwards of 300 dollars. Overall, Toho should just give a Blu-Ray or DVD release already! (Maybe Shout Factory could do something over here?) Regardless, if you see this one don’t hesitate! It’s a great film that is well worth your time.
This article was first published on October 27th, 2018.General // October 31, 2018
Excited about the latest Godzilla trailer? Maybe curious how the staff of Toho Kingdom felt as well? If so, read on for the staff’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters trailer reactions, both from those at Comic Con where it was unveiled and those of us who saw it for the first time at home.
Also, be sure to leave your own reactions to the trailer in the comments section.
On July 21st, I was fortunate to be invited to Warner Bros. Hall H panel at San Diego Comic Con with the goal of covering the panel and checking out the new trailer. When the time came and the lights went low, the energy in the room went up and the room was filled with cheers and applause (the guy next to me was going crazy with every reveal) and when the trailer finished, it left everyone in the room hyped up for the film.
The trailer for me was more of a slow burn for me. I had to watch it a few times later to really appreciate how great it was. My initial reaction to Claude Debussy’s Clair De Lune was one of a small groan-not because there’s anything wrong with the piece, it’s just that it’s the “save game” music from games “Evil Within” parts 1 and 2. I heard that music so much when I played the games (which was a lot) that it would just pop into my head at random times when I wasn’t playing.
What I did really enjoy is how the music goes off into majestic epicness which really gets the goosebumps going. It’s pretty cool.
Incidentally, this is NOT the first time the piece has been used in an official capacity. It was also used in a café scene in Terror of MechaGodzilla (1975). Skip to 41:14 to hear it in the film. Here it is by itself (Thank you Spacehunter M!)
I don’t think it was intentional on the part of the marketing dept. Just a happy accident.
Further impressions of the trailer show the movie to be very colorful. Quite a bit of blue in this one and it looks great cinematography wise. Outside of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah are mostly shown either obscured by water/shadows or in quick flashes to great effect. The film seems to be aimed at the younger fans while keeping a more epic visual style that both current Godzilla fans and future Godzilla fans will greatly enjoy which I feel is the way for this film to go. For any franchise to continue its life, it’s always the younger fan that gets the torch passed to them to carry on and to pass down to future generations.
If there’s one nitpick for the trailer, it’s this mysterious guy with glasses at 1:21 and upon a glance, would look like he was smiling. But, it’s not a “smile” that a living person can do. He even moves a little weird and it’s a little distracting once you notice him. He almost seems like he’s placed in there as an Easter Egg or something. Hopefully I’ll get my answer in the film.
All in all, it’s a great trailer and I’ve seen quite a bit of positiveness and excitement about the film. Awesome job to everyone at Legendary and Warner Bros. and I can’t wait to see the final film!
For me, this trailer couldn’t have come at a better time. Off the heels of the newly released Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018) via Netflix, which I had an initially strong mixed reaction on, this SDCC trailer felt like a much needed adrenaline shot in the arm. A reminder that we may have potentially some of the best Godzilla material waiting for us after the release of the last anime movie and that there will be a healthy and diverse future for the King of the Monsters. Needless to say, I’m psyched. The trailer shows just enough, but also leaves a lot open as what exactly will happen, as any good trailer should. The footage shown, the dialogue choice, the music piece… All finely brewed into what I personally consider to be the best (Godzilla) trailer ever made. It’ll be a very interesting beast once it’s released in theaters, and hoping the story is more fleshed out compared to (rumored) initial screenings. I recall hearing back when Legendary had acquired the rights for Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah… I had my worries that putting those three into one movie would be too much of a gamble or too stuffed with plotlines only serving as a means of setting up future entries in the MonsterVerse (worst case examples I can think off of the top of my head are Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the infamous 2017 reboot of The Mummy). But after seeing the trailer, many of those qualms have been put to rest. I now personally have faith in Dougherty that he and his crew will be able to create a balanced movie that offers both the explosive monster action and emotional human drama that ties things together. It’s ambitious, daring even. It’s no easy feat to pull something like that off, so we’ll see what the results will yield come 2019.
Naturally, with the trailers comes what’s shown; and that obviously means monster talk. Already satisfied with the design seen in Godzilla (2014), I was happy to see that most of Godzilla’s base characteristics remained relatively untouched (and any alterations helped improve the design, even if minuscule). I will say, the elongated dorsal spikes really help evoke something seen in a classic Godzilla while still maintaining a fresh look at the same time. The additional blue light around his neck and eyes when charging / firing his atomic breath are also very much welcomed changes.
Rodan, from what can be seen, almost reminds me of his Heisei-era counterpart in a lot of ways, all while being nowhere nearly as stiff and a lot more fleshed out in terms of mobility and ferocity. The glowing embers tattered across his wings are also a superb touch that harks to the volcanic-dwelling nature from the original Showa-era Rodan (maybe even a call-back to Fire Rodan?). But from what’s demonstrated in the trailer, we’re easily looking at a Rodan with the same sense of fear-instilling dread that’s gone unseen since the original Rodan (1956), so it’s incredibly exciting to see Rodan come back, full force in a way that hasn’t been quite seen in any of the Godzilla movies.
Mothra and Ghidorah, admittedly, are harder to comment on in terms of design (as most of their shots have them obscured by a waterfall, mist, or storm clouds), but the silhouettes very much promise a faithful yet Americanized interpretation of these two. Even so, the trailer promises the two are going to see a nice bit of action; for me personally, I’m really curious to see how well Mothra competes with the other three and see if the Larva (seen in the bit where Millie Bobbie Brown’s character, Madison, is about to touch her) gets any significant screen time or not (I personally have doubts, but one can never know for sure).The rest… I already said it. The song choice of Claire de Lune fits perfectly (and an interesting continuation of using classical pieces for the MonsterVerse Godzilla movies, much like how 2014 used Requiem for Soprano famously used in 1968 space epic 2001: A Space Odyssey), the actors are stellar, the imagery is both beautiful and apocalyptic… I’ve already sung my praises for this trailer enough already. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to watch the trailer until the next anime movie comes along!
My initial viewing of the new Godzilla King of the Monsters trailer was actually negative. I was not a big fan of the 2014 Godzilla and given that the new film will be written by the same screenwriter, I immediately felt skeptical when I heard the lines about “rightful rulers” and humans as an infection and so on. Vera Farmiga’s speech just didn’t make any sense. So humans are an infection, and the world has a defense system, and that defense system is the Titans, so we have to wake up the Titans to save everyone? Didn’t you just say that the Titans were going to KILL everyone? Listening to her rant, I was getting flashbacks to the equally nonsensical stuff about Godzilla trying to establish balance in the first movie, and the terrible writing in the Godzilla Awakening graphic novel.
Still, I think it is dangerous to judge the story too hastily from a teaser trailer. Furthermore, as some have pointed out, Vera Farmiga’s character seems to be given a villainous depiction. Perhaps she even wants to destroy all of humankind. I frankly don’t want to guess too much–I would prefer to watch the final film and judge from that.
Perhaps more important than narrative nuggets are the appearances of the monsters. I thought the monster scenes were surprisingly gorgeous. Not just impressive special effects, but truly gorgeous in composition and lighting and angle. The ghostly hues, shimmering lights, sweeping wings, and bursting blasts of energy are fantastic! I remember being impressed by Rodan’s stylish entrance in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), but this new burning Rodan takes the style and ratchets it up with his stunning shot astride an active volcano. Each of the shots of Rodan as well seem to be referencing the classics, from the jet fight to the volcano home. Mothra’s entrance, if anything, seems even more beautiful, and King Ghidorah remains mostly shrouded in shadow and mystery–as he should be this early in the game.
Based on the trailer, Godzilla and Mothra seem to be situated as the hero monsters, with King Ghidorah and Rodan situated as the evil ones (just from the color-coded scenes alone these alliances seem apparent). Personally, I am happy to see Godzilla taking a more direct hero role, and if he is actually using something like Morse code with his backfins–hey, I approve. I love that stuff.
The human characters seem a bit cliched still, as Millie Bobby Brown seems to be playing a special girl who can maybe communicate with Mothra hedging her a bit close to Eleven territory again. I really like Kyle Chandler, but I sure hope his character is more interesting than the one he played in King Kong (2005). I’ve been a minor fan of Chandler’s ever since Early Edition, and while I don’t expect he will be receiving any magical newspapers in this movie (though I would love to see that), I hope to see some likable heroics from him. And I do hope Zhang Ziyi has more than just a glorified cameo and a few awkward scenes to bring in the Chinese audience.
As for the music, at first I hated it. It seemed to contrast too much with the action going on and I just wanted to roll my eyes. Now I can kind of appreciate the music a bit more as it underscores the sense of wonder the monsters create, but the song is not very memorable. The final score, which I hear will incorporate some Ifukube, I trust will be much better..
So far, so good. I can see that Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah are all three really appearing in the movie, which is more than I can say for a particular monster film I won’t name here. I am still worried about the story, but the movie looks really beautiful, and I am hoping for the best. The trailer, I think, puts a pretty good food forward.
Though… am I the only one who kind of wishes the main character from the first movie should make some kind of reappearance here? Ford may have been kind of bland in the first film, but having a bit of human continuity would add interest to the movie I think. Maybe Milly Bobby Brown can add that if she becomes the new Miki Saegusa or something!
Overall, positive, but with my usual set of caveats!
During the build-up to this trailer’s release, there was a lot speculation and rumor. Probably the most interesting information that was found during this time was when people began looking into the official website for Godzilla King of the Monsters, and found a thumbnail for a “redband trailer.” This idea, to me, didn’t seem too far fetched, given Michael Dougherty’s history in the horror genre, and the possibilities of a new R-rated Godzilla had me excited.
Suffice to say though, that isn’t what we got. In fact, I’d say we got the opposite…
This trailer sucks. It opens upon weirdly apocalyptic imagery as a woman rants about how the “Titans” are earth’s rightful rulers. Personally, I find this very tonally clashing, as I felt Godzilla 2014 and Kong Skull Island did a very good job establishing a mysterious, conspiratory tone for the monsters in the Monsterverse. For me personally, that tone was one of the things I liked in those movies.
But hey, this is a different movie that needs to stand on it’s own, right? Right, however any hopes that this film could be interesting are soon thrown out the window with the rest of the trailer… in particular when the little girl says presumably to Vera Farmiga’s character, “you’re a monster!” Implying that the humans were the real monsters all along. Not like we’ve been hearing that moral since the early 1900’s!
One thing that particularly stands out to me is the god awful color palette. Say what you will about Godzilla 2014’s awful DVD transfer, but one of the things that movie did well was its color palette. As I stated above, the film presents the monsters in a very cryptozoological way, and the palette reflects this. Most of the time, we see the monsters at night with a lot of black, and day sequences are usually gray, and very rainy. In addition to being associated with mystery or intrigue, these are very neutral colors that don’t distract from something colorful happening on screen like guns or flares being fired. This film on the other hand? When Godzilla’s on screen EVERYTHING’S BLUE. When Rodan is on screen, EVERYTHING’S RED. Any of the monster shots are monotone, because GODZILLA’S COLOR IS BLUE, DO YOU GET IT? It looks stupid, and actively distracts from something like Godzilla’s atomic ray, which simply blends in with its surroundings. Personally, I think one of the things that makes Godzilla’s ray so cool is how visually exciting it is. It’s sudden burst of neon blue against a mundane city or forestscape. Heck, seeing the tracking shot of blue rising through the darkness as Godzilla unleashed it was what made it so exciting in Godzilla 2014!
I suppose that leads us to the monsters themselves. As far as special effects are concerned, I feel the CGI is average. Nothing bad, but nothing good either. It will probably look dated in a few years. In terms of designs, I can’t say I’m a fan of Godzilla’s beer belly. Mothra looks fine, though I don’t think we see enough of her to judge too concretely. Rodan looks like the Fire Bird from Hanna-Barbera’s which I’m okay with, as I think the Fire Bird is easily the coolest monster from that series.
The music is probably my least favorite thing about the trailer. The trailer is all about how humanity’s at the brink of extinction, and monsters being earth’s rightful rulers, but the music sounds like it’s about the wonder of discovering something bigger than you. To say it clashes is an understatement! Even if taken completely out of context from the film, it just sounds like a sappy soundtrack trying way too hard to be John Williams. It’s composition is uninteresting, and the chorus doesn’t even sound real. Very sad, as I felt Alexandre Desplat’s score was easily a highlight of Godzilla (2014), with an excellent main theme, and eerie foreboding chorus work.
Also, gotta love the Marvel-esque one liner of “Long live the king,” in case you forgot those movies were successful. Shame too, as with better execution that could be an excellent line in a Godzilla film.
Overall, this is just a trailer which doesn’t always represent the final film, and I will not judge the film until I see it. However, as a trailer it has dumb dialogue, awful music, and overall looks far less professional than Godzilla 2014. Couple this with an editing error in a teaser released on twitter where a camera was visible in the background of one shot, and my expectations for this film have plummeted immensely.
After months of anticipation, the trailer for the next Godzilla movie has arrived – and it delivered a visual feast I’ve found myself indulging in over and over again. The haunting tune in the background sets the mood wonderfully as I find myself becoming wholly engrossed in this brief but very effective preview. Seeing familiar actors and actresses alongside their monstrous co-stars put a smile on my face, particularly Millie Bobby Brown and Ken Watanabe, but the monsters themselves easily steal the show. From Godzilla firing his atomic ray skyward, to Mothra spreading her vivid wings, to the giant silhouette of King Ghidorah – I just can’t get enough of it all. Rodan easily stood out among the crowd for me, its fiery wings and teased aerial battles with the military mesmerizing me every time. I feel like I spot something new with every rewatch of this trailer, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what Mike Dougherty and company have in store!
I thought Godzilla (2014) was excellent and I liked Kong: Skull Island (2017) even more. So, when I heard the news that Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus) signed on to direct the next installment in the cinematic MonsterVerse, I thought Godzilla was in good hands. I was spending time with my family when this monster-of-a-trailer hit the internet and, no joke, I kept my cool. Seriously. I was perfectly calm and subdued the whole time. I mean, it’s just Godzilla. No big deal, right?
OK, so I made loud, chaotic noises that sounded like one of King Ghidorah’s mad cackles. I have no regrets because what I saw was fantastic.
Where to begin? Let’s start with the implementation of Claude Debussy’s Clair De Lune. It single-handedly elevated the trailer for me. It’s one of those melodies that you never thought would describe the kaiju eiga, yet it does and it’s beautiful. It showed mainstream audiences that there’s more to these giant creatures than being instruments of mindless destruction; it artfully demonstrated that they, like their human counterparts, are important characters, too.
Speaking of Godzilla, he looks fantastic. That part where he lit up the sky with his signature Atomic Breath? Epic. I’m looking forward to seeing my childhood hero show the world what we’ve known most of our lives: Godzilla is awesome.
But he isn’t alone! Godzilla brought friends (and an arch-nemesis). Rodan and Mothra might have stolen the show for me; Rodan, having been described by the film’s director as a “winged A-bomb,” might prove to be more destructive than the King of the Monsters himself. Having been treated to only a few quick cuts of the giant pterodactyl, I have a good feeling about this Rodan. As for Mothra, who has the distinction of being a divine monster, she is treated very well here. Like Rodan, we don’t see as much of her as we’d like, but there’s no question that Mothra will play a unique role in this film.
Then there’s King Ghidorah. His obscured appearance deliberately invoked a feeling of wonder and dread. Though we didn’t see much of him, we could most certainly see the apocalyptic effect he was having on the world.
I’m excited to see the monsters in all their glory; they are the main reason why I’ll be in theaters opening night (and every night, I imagine). But you know what? The human characters are a vital component to the storytelling process. We need them to be play a vital role and, as far as I can tell, they won’t disappoint. I’m thankful to have such a talented group of people share the screen with the King of the Monsters.
As a dinosaur loving child (and later adult), I often searched long and hard for movies about them and their prehistoric ilk. There was just something entrancing about that lost world; there was something new and mysterious to discover each time, some new wonder to bear witness to. And that is what the trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters fills me with: Wonder. The very premise fills me with it! The world has changed, the titans have risen up from the depths and the world is put in danger. Ancient ruins are uncovered, revealing remnants of prehistoric civilizations that worshiped these massive beasts. Worse yet, there are others who are awakening. Fantastical kaiju like Mothra, Rodan, and dreaded Monster Zero… Before this announcement of Kong and Godzilla having a rematch in 2020, this would have been my pick for the culmination of Legendary’s MonsterVerse. Scenes of apocalyptic destruction abound, showing a world reeling from the attacks of Rodan and King Ghidorah, a powerful looking Godzilla advancing into battle followed by human forces.I found it visually stunning, especially thanks to what will surely soon be iconic images (Godzilla firing his atomic breath skyward, Mothra behind the waterfall, etc). I was speechless and teary eyed following the trailer, even after multiple viewings.
In short, the trailer was breathtaking. It cultivated a sense of mystery with its various teases and the spectacular choice of music, feeding into the expanding scope of the MonsterVerse. I am again filled with that same sense of childlike wonder the first Godzilla gave me so long ago. I can’t wait to see where it all goes from here!
After a middling reaction to the latest Anime features with the character, I was ready to get excited for something Godzilla related again… and the trailer delivered. While I wasn’t overly thrilled with the human component, this trailer played to what many stated as a weakness with the 2014 movie by doubling down on the monster action. …and boy did we get monsters. One of my fears is that, with four Toho heavyweights in the same film, some would get treated as minor characters. While that still could be the case, the trailer gave no impression of that. Mothra, King Ghidorah, Godzilla and, most pleasantly for me, Rodan were all highlighted well.
I make it no secret that I love Rodan, one of my all time favorite characters and one who hasn’t been in the limelight in a truly great role since the 1960’s. That’s perhaps what made the trailer all the more memorable, as he got amble screen time here, while it was also great to see his shockwave brought to life in the manner it was.
While there are certain things I didn’t care for, the use of color filters gave me flashbacks to Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), I can say I’m the most excited I have been for something Godzilla related in a long, long time… and that’s a very welcome feeling.
As a member of Tohokingdom, I couldn’t help but take notice of the rumors swirling around a possible Godzilla: King of the Monsters trailer. Speculation on what may be teased passed from member to member, but I felt a sense of worry abound as Comic Con neared. Would this movie ruin the classic designs of Ghidorah, Mothra & Rodan? Could the story be compelling? And my biggest fear probably to the shock of many, what overblown action score would surely accompany the trailer? I felt all these worries and more vanish as I watched the trailer.
The biggest take away from this trailer, compared to others, is the sense of beauty and scale associated with every new monster to the Legendary franchise. Each has its own element, figuratively and literally, with a dazzling color scheme to match. Mothra’s mystifying blues contrast the sharp golden flashes of Ghidorah or the fierce fires that linger off of Rodan’s form. While not fully revealing every monster, these flashes help establish the essence of each creature and showcase a relatively new but satisfying modern design. While Ghidorah, Mothra & Rodan steal the show in their own respect, I felt Godzilla was lacking his own unique element. His larger spines and more powerful breath did make me form a grin, but I will admit my excitement for the new trio do far exceed the King of the Monsters himself.
While the monsters and the shots used were overall fantastic, there were plenty of other great aspects across the trailer. The piano, choir and drums used to uplift the action was far from what I expected in regards to score, but in my mind were used fantastically. The suspected plot, one of worshiping the monsters and of the results that follow, looks interesting and the minor dialogue of the characters displayed sounded solid though definitely below Bryan Cranston’s “Stone Age” speech of the first trailer.
Overall, I watched the Godzilla: King of the Monsters trailer with major reservations and while my expectations were dashed, I can definitely saw I was surprised and excited by the final result. Compared to the animated Godzilla trilogy we’ve been receiving or Shin Godzilla, I’ve overall felt disappointed with the recent fare of Godzilla media. After watching this trailer, I felt an excitement I haven’t felt in a while, so I can do nothing but look with positive anticipation for when the King of the Monsters returns in May 2019.
Bonus: Jason Liles
Jason Liles, with other credits including a performance as George from 2018’s Rampage, did motion capture work for Godzilla: King of the Monsters. In fact, he did performances for both Rodan and King Ghidorah’s central head. To make this article a little unique, below are his thoughts and reactions to the trailer based on the film he himself worked on.
Saturday, July 21st, I was walking down the street to meet up with my publicist when I got a text from Alan Maxson and Richard Dorton, the other two King Ghidorah heads. The trailer was online and Hall H had just exploded from seeing it. The only way I’d be able to watch the trailer until I got home to our TV the following night was going to be on my iPhone with earbuds. It would have to do as there was no way I was waiting to watch this. I had no idea how blown away I was about to be.
I literally had tears in my eyes after seeing it. It was so moving, so beautiful, so epic. I had to watch it again. I was floored. I saw director Mike Dougherty later that night at the EW party. He lovingly gave me crap, “You watched it on your phone?!” But like I said, I wasn’t about to wait 24-48 hours to watch it. I knew once home that I’d watch it dozens of times.
As soon as my girlfriend Allie and I got home to Glendale, we spent a couple hours watching reaction videos on YouTube. We couldn’t get enough of it. It sent chills down my entire body every single time. It’s an emotional, visual, and musical roller coaster edited together perfectly. We wanted to hop back on and ride it just one more time, again and again. It’s like that one song you love that doesn’t ever get old. And to see fans responding so incredibly well to it through these videos? That’s one of the most enjoyable parts of making a film for me, outside of the process of actually being on set making it. To see fans flip out like we were was just amazing. Allie and I have watched reaction videos to it every single day the last week since we got back home. We’ve probably watched about 50 of them. Basically, if you made a reaction to it and put it on YouTube, there’s a great chance that Allie and I have watched it. Or will soon.
It’s rare that I get taken by a trailer in such a way how this trailer has taken me. To see fan polls and articles unanimously agreeing that it’s the best trailer to come out of SDCC 2018 is just surreal. To see the excitement fans have to see these creatures that I was lucky enough to help bring to life return to the big screen is a literal dream come true. This is the kind of project that I dreamt of being a part of when I was a kid. I couldn’t be more proud and more honored to be a part of it all. I’m so so thankful to my fried Mike Dougherty for bringing me on and giving me the chance to play such iconic characters in film history. It’s been at least several years since I’ve been this damn excited for a big summer release and we get to all anticipate it and enjoy the hype together. I’ll be there hiding in plain sight with all my fellow fans on opening night next May and probably at least half a dozen times the following week or two. Can’t wait to scream and cheer on this wild ride in the movie theater with you all!
In case you missed it, you can also check out the highest quality version of the trailer that can be found online below:General // August 2, 2018
Today marks the day that Toho is releasing their latest Godzilla film, and their first theatrical animated feature on the King of the Monsters. To celebrate, the Toho Kingdom staff is sitting down and giving their thoughts on the latest look for the nuclear menace.
Like we did in our Reactions to the Look of Godzilla 2016 thread, thoughts are boiled down into a single rating at the end. This will note if the overall response was positive, negative or mixed.
Note, we are just critiquing the visual appearance of the character. There are no spoilers on the events of the movie, nor does this factor into anyone’s view on the design and execution.
For years I have enjoyed calling Godzilla “the Big Green Guy” or similar nicknames, regardless of the fact that Godzilla (usually) is not green. Indeed as a child, my image of Godzilla was always as a giant green monster that breathes flames—which is doubly inaccurate when compared to most of the movie versions. So it is with some amusement that I welcome “Anigoji”—the first animated Godzilla to star in his own movie. He has become, in some ways, closer to that childhood image I had of him all along. At any rate, he is greenish, and certainly Anigoji is metaphorically “green” now. (Curiously, the OTHER Anigoji from the animated educational OVAs from the 90s as well as the American Godzilla from the 70s animated were also green—emphatically so.) Despite the new Godzilla being dramatically different in some marked ways, my first impression of him was that he was kind of unremarkable.
When I first saw the silhouette of the new Godzilla that appeared on an early movie poster, I felt that the monster looked incredibly generic—almost like a knock-off Godzilla akin to the sort of faux-zilla action figures you could buy in the USA back in the 1980s. They retained much of Godzilla’s familiar silhouette, but were always missing something, and of course appeared clunky and stiff. The new Godzilla looks much that way to me, and has even less personality in the face than the 2016 Shin Godzilla design.
However, my suspicion is that this personality-wipe was intentional. As has been widely publicized, the new Godzilla is apparently a plant—or perhaps half-plant—and indeed he looks it. Inevitably taking some cues from Biollante—herself a Goji-plant-clone—the new Godzilla is actually one of the more unique re-imaginings that have appeared in the films. (Perhaps in a meeting Urobuchi made a joke—”What if Godzilla’s back plates really WERE maple leaves?” And they took him seriously.) Coupled with the fact that this Godzilla will apparently be the biggest yet, we are left with what appears to be the most alien, least anthropomorphic Godzilla of recent memory. While Legendary has gone to some lengths to make Garethzilla relatable, Toho seems to be going in the opposite direction. Anigoji has the facial expression of a block of wood—and that is not even a joke. His face looks like it is quite literally a block of wood, cracked and jagged not with teeth, but with thorn-like protuberances where the ivories should be. If anything, Anigoji’s tree-stump face has less personality than Biollante’s fierce dental-nightmare maw. While ShinGoji is all tortured flesh and snaggle teeth, Anigoji is bark and thorns and chunky sinew. If Shin Godzilla is John Carpenter’s The Thing, then Anigoji is The Thing from Another World, for better or for worse.
I think the reason for all of this—the size, the plant-origins, the lack of personality, even the recent reveal of his bizarre incarnation of his nuclear “breath”—is to more align Godzilla with the power of nature. Anigoji seems to be a part of earth itself, and is the guardian and master of the world—a sort of avatar of nature that expunges the polluting, exploitative human race, and reclaims the land with primordial forests and armies of dinosaurian beasts. To take on that role, he has grown in size, taken on a hue more in tune with ecology than nuclear mutation, and sheared off most of his anthropomorphism to be replaced by cold, emotionless-but-relentless life. The nuclear blast, too, seems to emerge from an electric atmosphere that crackles around him like an atmospheric storm, suggesting that he is like planet earth itself. Further, Anigoji’s face has no space for tears, for mercy, for understanding—or even for rage. To me, it appears that Anigoji more truly embodies the force of nature metaphor that has often been applied to Godzilla all along.
But I tend to be more emotional, and I like Godzilla being emotional, too. While I am excited that the Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017) team are branching out and taking Godzilla in a fertile new direction, I mostly find the new design to be a little flat and dull. I am quite stoked to see the world’s first animated Godzilla movie spring to life on the screen, but I am a little worried that I might find myself pining for the nuclear snarl of yesteryear.
When the first photo reveals for the new anime Godzilla began flooding in, I was left more confused than enthralled. His legs were oddly lanky for his wide body, the arms were brawny but rather short, and the face appeared to lack even the most basic features such as teeth, with the beaked maw giving off the appearance of a turtle. My initial impressions were closer to negative than positive, especially after hearing how this Godzilla would have to carry an entire trilogy of movies! How could this monster possibly fight against anything with a design like that?
However, as time went on and more information behind the film was released, I became accustomed to the extremely aged look of the anime Godzilla. While small, the weary eyes seem to harbor a certain sentience that not many previous versions of Godzilla carried. The extraordinarily toned body is so well defined with the visible muscle fibers, an unusual design choice but one I liked even before Godzilla was fully revealed. The back plates are probably my favorite feature, the almost leaf-like structure of the spines reminding me somewhat of Legendary Godzilla’s, but with a more traditional twist. I almost feel pity for the oddly-proportioned monster; it looks like all he wants to do is live alone in peace without having to deal with the inevitable encounter with the human characters.
As much as I enjoy certain aspects of this incarnation, my overall impressions are still somewhat mixed. I now love the rugged, almost ancient appearance, but from certain angles the design still looks less than stellar. But I’m more than willing to give this Godzilla a chance to impress me in its debut movie, and I hope the team behind the film has a blast making this new Godzilla pull off plenty of impressive and unconventional tricks that the animation medium allows.
When I heard news of an animated feature coming from Japan featuring Godzilla, I instantly grew excited. My mind raced with the gorgeous animation on display in such films as Your Name. I couldn’t wait for any details on the film and finally a trailer revealed the movie and… in time it showed Godzilla…
The Godzilla on display appears to be based on Legendary’s version with a twist, that being this Godzilla is somehow plant like. The first thing to catch my eye are the spine’s which are unique with the leaf-like style. I will also say the tremendous size of Godzilla makes him imposing, but these features can’t help hide what looks to be a bland creation. The color pallet appears to be all but gone, rendering most of Godzilla’s features almost indistinguishable from one another in regards to color. The skin across his body has little detail, and his forehead protrudes far too long, creating an almost depressed look from every angle. While these negative views could be from over-analyzing the few angles we’ve seen of him, my negative feelings only increase with the realization that the film uses a 3-D animation style instead of a 2-D one.
While many may have cried foul when Shin Godzilla’s design emerged, I can definitely say that movie attempted to make a unique Godzilla to benefit the film. In regards to Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017), I feel this the reverse. The design was created to lower costs, ensure the monster was easy to place on screen, and guarantee he would have little movement as again not to increase costs. Because of these things, I can’t imagine many people clinging to this design with views of positivity and I can’t see myself enjoying it when I finally watch the film.
I hope to be wrong and enjoy this new world when it finally arrives, but unlike my hopes when hearing of this film, my instincts urge me this Godzilla will be a pale comparison to all that has come before.
My initial reaction to seeing this newest Godzilla design was one of excitement and shock. Given the success of Shin-Godzilla, Godzilla Resurgence (2016), I had wondered if we would get a more traditional design to counteract the previous year’s exotic take on the King of the Monster’s appearance. What I did not expect to see was a design that seemed to resonate so deeply with the 2014 take on the monster king. I simply love the similarity of this design to the Legendary Godzilla’s design. Not to wax too heavily on the Legendary monster, but the sheer mass of it brings to mind a sense of overwhelming natural power and strength. I believe it is undeniably Godzilla, and so too is this design. It brings that same mass and strength to this new Godzilla that the 2014 design has. Truly a look befitting the king of a monster planet. And yet, I also feel a hint of Shin-Godzilla; the odd anatomy doll like texture of the body brings to mind the gourd like skin of that monster, accentuated by the 5 rows of dorsal plates and strange eyes (though the newer design has a heavy brow like most of his predecessors).
Because I like each design of Godzilla for one reason or another, I often talk to my friends to see what their thoughts are as well. Though none of them are fans to the degree that I am, the common theme from them seemed to revolve around the similarities of this appearance to his 2014 counterpart. I recall showing it to my younger brother for the first time and he asked why “…they’re just using the Legendary one?” Each of them enjoyed the similarity, and I was happy to hear it. In some ways, it brings to my mind the use of the Mire-Goji suit as a conceptual basis for 4 of the 6 millennium films. Could we be entering a phase where the Legendary design acts as a bedrock for other designs to come from Toho? I’m skeptical, but I would like to see that! But whether that comes true or not, I’m very excited to see this glorious looking fellow in action!
If someone had told me back in 2012 or 2013 that Gen Urobuchi, the mastermind behind the TV anime series Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero, was going to be involved in making a Godzilla movie, I would have been overly enthused at the prospect (and that’s putting it lightly). I very much relish in the dark, tragic twists and nihilistic themes that pervade through his works, so I hold some semblance of expectation when I hear more and more about Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017). That said, much like most fans, I can’t really fancy myself a huge fan of taking Godzilla in the 3D route; much would’ve preferred either 2D or a mix of both (Studio Rikka and TRIGGER’s Power Plant No. 33 from director Yasuhiro Yoshiura is undeniably the finest example of how a modern kaiju anime should be handled, even if the robot effects are kinda subpar). While I’ll try and reserve my personal judgments until I see the film, let’s get onto that design now, shall we?
I think the design, on its own accord holds up nicely. The literal plant theme that sprouts from this design I think allows Godzilla to explore different kinds of textures we wouldn’t see with other Godzillas. Seeing roots and tree bark for skin is most certainly fascinating, and it gives the musculature a distinct and unique vibe. Perhaps my favorite tidbit is that the iconic dorsal fins can now literally be described as maple-leaf. My only complaint, and it’s really only a nitpick, is that there should have been some kind of secondary color to him. He just seems too monochrome. Maybe some highlights on the maple-leaf spines like past Godzilla designs, or even on other parts of the body like the tail, would’ve been helpful.
On another note, it would seem that either Toho or people heavily known for their anime works (Gen Urobuchi, Hideaki Anno) really love the precise, laser-styled look for the signature Atomic Ray. I’m more than happy to see the beam returning to the classic blue after the experimental purple for Godzilla Resurgence (2016), though it seems that (at least for Japan) Godzilla is going to be rocking a more narrow beam. It’s something I can personally live with. What I’m currently in love with about the Atomic Ray isn’t the beam itself, but rather the charging of the beam, and everything that builds up to the discharge. Sparks bouncing in between the plates, the gathering of energy to the mouth in the vein of Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)… If there’s anything that makes the narrow beam tolerable, it’s identifier of when it’s coming.
For me, I don’t want to be confined to seeing the same kind of Godzilla over and over again. I understand the nature of tradition, but Godzilla’s always felt like he can be more versatile and serve purpose to the story you create with him. So long as some of his core components are left intact and is treated with respect, unlike TriStar’s infamous GODZILLA (1998), I’d love to see a very different approach to Godzilla–be it by way of a Godzilla Resurgence (2016) sequel or a Millennium Series 2.0 that takes more risks. If you’re looking for something more traditional, I think Legendary Pictures has our back in that department.
I believe that most versions of Godzilla usually fall into one of three categories: Pure Evil, Force of Nature, and Earth Defender. Looking at this design gives the impression that someone might have taken the force of nature concept a little too literally…
His coloration is primarily green, and his flesh has a very wooden looking texture to it. He has small teeth that seem to be carved into his mouth separation, adding to this wooden look. His muscular definition is extremely exaggerated, which gives a very root like appearance.
Personally, I don’t particularly care for this direction in design. For starters, I feel that his muscular definition is far too exaggerated, to the point of almost looking like he has no skin. Also, despite all that muscle, this is one of the fattest versions of Big G we’ve ever seen. Almost all of his mass is in the central body, giving him a tiny head, and twigs for lower arms and legs. These proportions make him look like he’s an overweight alcoholic! Finally, his constantly half-shut eyes, and plant-like aesthetic have earned him the nickname Weedzilla in more than one place on the net. Which brings up a good question…
Why design Godzilla like a plant? One could argue for the sake of experimentation, and to bring new concepts to franchise that’s over 60 years old, but that’s the thing: Despite the strange choice in aesthetic, there’s virtually nothing unique about this Godzilla. At a distance, one could easily mistake this for Godzilla 2014’s design.
When you think about it, the base design of Godzilla is just one head, two arms with four fingers, two legs, a tail, and a body with a row of spines down its back. Love ’em or hate ’em, designs like Godzilla 1998 and Shin Godzilla actually are experimental, because they are built around this base, and experiment by giving it different form. This design seems built around a more concrete base, and gives it a different aesthetical treatment to differentiate it.
Reportedly, the studio was given free reigns to design Godzilla as they wish, and part of me wonders if they didn’t begin animating with a model of Godzilla 2014, and built their design around that. Somehow, it just feels like something done out of obligation rather than passion.
But overall, I can look past a concept as meager as a design if the film ends up being good. Though in this aspect, I am still apprehensive towards this film. What I find most disappointing about this whole situation is that a proper Godzilla anime is something I have wanted for a long time, but I don’t feel this is it. From the 3D animation, to the James Cameron Avatar looking Backgrounds, to this strange plant-like Godzilla, nothing says “anime” to me. I would’ve hoped for something more akin to Neon Genesis Evangelion, or Go Nagai’s Maoh Dante in that regard, which still contain fantastic elements like giant demon monsters, or super robots, but have a basis in reality that makes it more relatable. However I intend to keep an open mind, and try to look at this film with as unbiased lenses that I can.
I love that Toho is taking chances with Godzilla. What really hurt the previous Toho Godzilla films and even the Legendary film to a certain extant was the repetitiveness between the films. Shin Godzilla’s design was something fresh and new and I loved it. Monster Planet’s Godzilla design is also new, but I’m not sure it works for me as well as Shin Godzilla did. On the surface it looks almost exactly like Legendary’s design. Similar body shape and mass with identical back plates. However the ripped muscles across Godzilla’s body really make this design stand out as does the new head design that almost gives Godzilla a permanent grin. I’ve seen fans refer to this design as Old Man Godzilla and I think it fits. This Godzilla manages to appear more ancient than previous versions but still looks as powerful as the King of the Monsters should. Ultimately what really matters is how well this design is executed on screen and considering that a 3D animated film is completely new territory for Godzilla this design may be able to allow Godzilla to pull off new feats that we’ve never seen before.
It’s strange to think that the latest Godzilla movie is here, and yet I have found myself rather indifferent to it. A lot of this actually stems from the design of the titular character this go around. While the look of the King of the Monsters in Godzilla Resurgence (2016) got a strong reaction from me, initially negative in nature, this take on the character did not. Yes it tried new things, but falters in evoking an iconic look or experimenting in a way that makes the character jarring to an audience. I actually liked the design when used as a black and white sketch, as seen below, and so had some initial excitement after the poster reveal. This is because it focuses on the strengths, such as the nice dorsal fin design, and hides some of the weaknesses, such as the bland colors. Naturally, though, that excitement faded as more was seen of the character, especially the lackluster face. The mouth in particular just feels so docile. Ultimately what the design generates from me is utter indifference, and some times that’s an even worse emotion to leave people with than getting them riled up over something.General // November 17, 2017
August 7th, 2017 marked the passing of a true legend. Best known for being the suit actor for the original 1954 Godzilla, Haruo Nakajima demonstrated his talents on the big screen in an unforgettable performance that would live on in the hearts and minds of people the world over. Nakajima would go on to bring to life even more iconic Toho movie monsters, such as the original Rodan, Varan, Gaira, Baragon, and King Kong, and even appear on the silver screen in acting roles, though his outing as Godzilla would remain one of his finest endeavors.
From August 10th to the 15th, Toho Kingdom opened its doors to fans to share their first impressions, fondest memories, and pictures of the late Nakajima, which have been collected below. While many mourn the passing of a great man, many more celebrate the life he lived, and the enduring legacy he leaves behind.
Note that some submissions may have been edited for space or modified for other reasons.
I had the pleasure to meet him several times and it was always a great honor and privilege to spend time with him and hear all the stories about his pioneering work. I am currently on the set of Godzilla 2 and on behalf of the entire team, would like to send out our condolences to his family.
– Brian Rogers, Producer: Godzilla (2014), Godzilla 2 (2019)
In my hearing the news, I started posting photos of Haruo Nakajima I had taken in 2011 and 2014 on my Facebook page and on the Toho Kingdom Twitter, and after seeing the reactions to the photos, I made the following post which I feel sums up my feelings perfectly.
“I don’t normally make posts like this but from the amount of reactions on here and on Twitter of the photos I took of Haruo Nakajima, it makes me feel proud of my work in the sense that people seem to be using them to mourn, reminisce, and even to heal. Haruo Nakajima was by far my favorite subject to photograph because he was up for anything and trusted my eye. Many of my photos would go on to represent him in the exhibits dedicated to him in Japan. I’m proud of my work because HE was proud of it. I got his seal of approval and that means the world to me.
I shot with him over the period of 4 days in April 2011 and day 4 (thank you August Ragone for allowing me to go on the journey with you, Sonoe Nakajima, Brad Thompson, David Chapple, and Jason Varney) was spent going to various places. We went out to dinner and on the way back, I remember sitting in the back of David’s SUV, with Mr. Nakajima in the seat in front of me. I remember, for some reason, just looking at the back of his head and it hit me that this little old man, was the embodiment of not only the childhood memories of watching his work, but also the creative inspirations that came from it.
I didn’t get the chance to tell him how much his work meant to myself and others but today I realized that I didn’t have to. He knew. That’s why he kept coming back time after time. To see all of you. He loved each and every one of you. He didn’t just change your lives, you also changed his.
Goodbye Haruo Nakajima. Your work will carry on for generations to come and the effects and inspirations of which will last even longer. You are now immortal.”
– Chris Mirjahangir
Words cannot begin to express the amount of respect and gratitude I have for you. In my youth, all I saw was Godzilla, this unstoppable force of nature that was larger than life. Whether he was the hero or he was the villain, his destructive power knew no equal, and his fighting abilities always left me in awe.
Now, all these years later, I can finally see both sides of the coin equally: Godzilla, the invincible destroyer and protector, and you, the man who brought him to life. Hearing the trials you went through in your early career in suitmation, then learning of your travels to visit fans from across the globe, left an indescribable impression on me. Your commitment, passion, and your love for the many fans of your craft knew no bounds.
Thank you for all you have done, for becoming larger than life yourself, and for bringing so much happiness to countless people. Your legacy will endure eternally.
God bless you, Haruo Nakajima.
– Joshua Sudomerski
It was love at first sight, me and Godzilla. It was sometime in the mid eighties, I don’t know when exactly. It was probably courtesy of TBS’ “Super Scary Saturday”, where Al “Grampa Munster” Lewis would show an old monster/horror movie on Saturday mornings; Toho films among them. I think the first movie was King Kong vs Godzilla, one I love to this day. Obsessed with dinosaurs as I was, like most boys my age, regardless of the storyline, Godzilla was always “the good guy” to me. I cheered him on no matter what. For those who didn’t grow up at the same time I did, they may find it hard to believe that liking so many things that are popular today such as superheroes, professional wrestling, and Godzilla movies were a one way ticket to being unpopular as a kid. That was assuming you even found another kid who knew who Godzilla was. Me, the greatest feeling in the world was running to the back of Blockbuster to the horror/sci-fi section to look for new Godzilla movies I hadn’t seen yet. Thirty years later, and so many iterations of Godzilla, the “O.G.” is still my favorite. I’m very picky about what I accept as “my” Godzilla. I’ve never been a fan of the “mindless force of nature”, because MY Godzilla did a victory dance on Planet X, my Godzilla had a crush on Kumi Mizuno, when he wasn’t crushing invading monsters from outer space. And it wasn’t just because of the script, but because of the magic, the spirit, and the wonder breathed into the monster by his suit actor Haruo Nakajima.
I met Mr. Nakajima a few years ago at a convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. A friend and I had made our own suits for Godzilla and the Gargantuas and were eager to show them to the master suit actor. He greeted us, and all fans, with a wide grin. It was evident he was pleased to see the appreciation that we had for Godzilla and his friends and foes. I went through the line a couple times to get him to sign a few different things. Though obviously tired, in his mid eighties at the time, his enthusiasm never wavered. One of the items I had him sign was a print of Godzilla 1954 taking on a gigantic Elvis Presley. He “oooohed” and “ahhhhed” appropriately and then said to me “Cowabunga! America!” which is about the most rock and roll thing I’ve ever witnessed. I’ll leave you with my favorite part of the Q&A I attended with the master. He was asked about a well known accident during the filming of Rodan where the wires holding Mr. Nakajima inside the giant pterodactyl aloft snapped and he plummeted down into the pool below. He said something along the lines of “I was not scared at all. After all, I was Rodan, and Rodan can fly.”
Fearless. Imaginative. Inspirational. Legendary. All the things a hero should be, Haruo Nakajima embodied…and because of him, so did Godzilla.
Long Live the King
– Steve Johnson
I wish I could so wonderfully or succinctly summarize my feelings at the news of Haruo Nakajima’s passing as others have. As a fan who never got to meet Mr. Nakajima or shake his hand, who never got to tell him just how much his work meant, I share in that sadness. By all accounts he was a good man, and a fine friend. And though I do not know any better myself, it makes me that much more sad to know that a good person has gone to ground.
My first Godzilla was Mr. Nakajima’s first as well; Godzilla, King of the Monsters! was the first kaiju movie that I ever saw, Toho or otherwise. I was pulled in immediately, as so many children were before me, and as so many more will continue to be for all time. From that first movie, to Ghidorah and Monster Zero, to his last hurrah in Gigan, Mr. Nakajima imbued Godzilla with a personality and presence that few could ever hope to match, and something that I firmly believe has been imprinted on the character forever.
My favorite quote from Godzilla 1985 comes to mind:
“For now Godzilla, that strangely innocent and tragic monster has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not, or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain.”
And though he may indeed be gone, the films he made for us and the joy that they bring us will remain. And in that, I take solace. Mr. Nakajima was Godzilla, and will remain a part of him forever. So though I feel sad at the passing of a truly wonderful actor and an amazing man, I’ve found one more reason to love Godzilla even more.
– Jack Jordan
While I regret never meeting Mr. Nakajima, his performance as Godzilla sparked my imagination at a young age. I imitated his movements, fathomed that I, too, was larger than life. I never realized how much confidence it gave me to stand up against my own bullies and to overcome them, because after all, Godzilla did. His legacy isn’t only in his work, but the incredible impact it has had on those who’ve watched him in wonder and awe.
I attended Mad Monster Party in New Jersey as an artist, and had a terrible time getting there, which included my car almost exploding. But Nakajima was going to be there, so I rented a car and continued my journey.
When I finally got to meet him, I presented him with an original piece of art I designed myself. It featured toys representing many of the Godzilla roles he played, including the action figure of himself and the Gargantua, because I knew he loved playing the role since everyone finally got to see his eyes.
He put his pen down before signing it and traced each face with his fingertips. He signed it happily, and the event organizer used his own phone to take a picture for me since I had left mine in the dealer’s room.
On the last day I saw him and his friends sitting in the lobby, and shortly left. I sprinted over to sit in the seat Godzilla had sat in.
I never regretted my decision to push forward to meet him even with everything trying to prevent me from going.
– Sean McGuinness
Thank you for giving life to Godzilla and giving joy to my life.
– Ian Castillo
I became a Godzilla fan when I was only 4 years old. It wasn’t until many years later (16-ish) when I first saw an image of Mr. Nakajima on the set of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, smiling at the camera with a cigarette in his hand and Godzilla suit in tow. He was such an interesting looking character that when I saw that picture, I thought: “I need to know more about this man!”
I learned so much about Mr. Nakajima from the way people described their interactions with him. He loved the fandom dearly. Haruo Nakajima was the soul of Godzilla for 18 years. He was Godzilla. The old saying rings true: Legends NEVER die. They live in the hearts and minds of the people who loved them. There is no denying that Nakajima-san was a legend, and he will be dearly missed by millions of people. May he rest in peace.
– Adam Striker
To my only hero, Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla), I am grateful to have met you three times (G-FEST 2000, Chiller Theater 2014, and Anime Boston 2015) and being able to share many memories in my life from the movies to the conventions which lead to friendships across the globe. You have always enjoyed meeting your fans and the last time we met was in my hometown in Boston where I had the privilege to be your “Minya” at the Hynes Convention Center. Without you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I have always looked up to you. You kept me living, fighting, and striving to be the best that I can, going up against all odds and never giving up. Thank you for being my God, my hero, and a good friend. May you rest in peace knowing your legacy will continue to live on. GODZILLA FOREVER!
Andrew Wong, G-Forever
The Godzilla franchise has been one of the biggest influences on my life since before I could walk, and it may not have been that way without Haruo Nakajima bringing all those monsters to life all those years ago.
Freshly into adulthood (I’m 21 as of May), I’m interested in creating things through art and writing, and the magic this man brought to the screen was one of things that planted those seeds.
Rest in Peace, Nakajima-san, and thank you for everything.
As a fan of Godzilla and all Kaiju that Haruo had brought to life, my heart sank when I learned of his passing. As a child, I never knew that he was even in a rubber suit that was the first Godzilla or any of the Godzilla faces that came after. I actually thought that it was a real monster back then. Many suit actors for monsters would be inspired by how Haruo brought the monsters that Toho creates to life. To a legend that was and will always be Haruo Nakajima, I wish him good luck on the after life. And I wish his family and friends good fortune for the future endeavors.
– Chanz Foster
To be honest I never really knew about him until his death was announced all over the web. Soon as I found out that not only did he play my favorite and the most famous of all Kaiju, Godzilla, up until 1972, he also played other famous monsters which were Rodan, Varan, Gaira, and my second favorite Kaiju, Baragon. I really enjoyed all his performances for a good majority of the Showa era. The movements he made with these monsters sometimes felt so life like. Like they were actual animals moving around. And there were many times where he really knew how to show off Godzilla either being a rampaging monster or hero just through simple movements. Most people would say they could do what he did in a heartbeat with barely any effort. I could only laugh, if they said that, because what Haruo Nakajima did wasn’t just campy monster movie acting. It was art. Art that only us Kaiju fans can truly appreciate. The greatest regret I have was not ever getting the chance to meet this actual legend, but I’m even more ashamed that I never really learned his name or what he’s done till now. I can’t any other way to honor and give thanks to him than to give pictures of my two favorite Kaiju that he’s performed as.
Rest In Peace Haruo Nakajima
– Ben Mayer
Haruo Nakajima was someone I never met. I admired his work, and was impressed by it, but he personally never captivated me the way he did to other fans.
And weird as it may sound, THAT is one of highest compliments I could possible give him. Allow me to explain.
Godzilla is one of the most important things in my life, and I take it very seriously. The music, the themes, and above all Godzilla himself. Godzilla’s design, mannerisms, power, and different interpretations culminate to make him the best thing ever. To me, Godzilla is far more than a movie, a character, a franchise, or even a concept. And he is certainly more than a “man in a suit.” Godzilla is too real for me to concerned with the special effects that bring him to life.
Which is a testament to how amazing a suit actor Nakajima was. Not only was he able to move around in some super uncomfortable suits, he actually ACTED in them, because he’s a suit ACTOR. It takes genuine talent to bring anything to life, and if you actually look at different examples of suit acting you’d see how amazing Nakajima’s performance is opposed to whoever was in the suits in Unknown Island. Nakajima pioneered suit acting as an art, and it’s extremely sad he died in a world where his art was replaced by CGI, and most of the world doesn’t even think it’s art.
So to Nakajima, I am sorry. You deserved better than this. I hope you rest in peace.
– Marc Finnish
R.I.P Haruo Nakajima, 88
The Man That Made The Legend
As long as Godzilla’s name exists so will Haruo Nakajima’s name. Thank you for the memories and the inspiration. We all will miss you but as long as there is a copy of Gojira in existence, we will see you every time we watch it. He will live on as the heart of our greatest and beloved monster.
– Christian Lawson
R.I.P Haruo Nakajima.
What you did for Godzilla, and the daikaiju genre as a whole will forever be remembered and treasured by us all. your body may be gone, but your spirit will forever live on in all of those who have been touched and influenced by your work. In the words of Shinota: Godzilla’s inside each one of us.
I wish I had gotten to know the man through conventions, as someone who always seemed to be stuck here in Minnesota and unable to travel. I wish I had gotten his autograph and talk and laugh about our stories and his time as various kaiju. I wish I had gotten to take a selfie with him. I wish I gotten to talk with him about his time with the other G-4 gang as I call them and how they acted and their ideas.
It seems anything could change in an instant, and if by chance I meet him in the afterlife I hope I can correct this wish and make it a reality
God Bless you Haruo Nakajima
Joel “Dai-Man” Endrizzi
I never forget him. He will be our heart for bringing classic monsters to life. Thank You.
– Jayson Rogoz
It really hurts to hear that Haruo Nakajima has sadly passed away. I’m glad that I able to meet Nakajima-san at Comic-con two years ago, it was honor being able to meet him & its a moment that I’ll never forget. Thoughts & Prayers go to his Family & Friends. RIP Gojira-san.
– Andrew Cross
Haruo Nakajima! What a name and what a man!
My name is Henning and I am a fan of Godzilla and Japanese science fiction since childhood. I am German, therefore please excuse my sloppy English!
I was introduced to Godzilla in the age of six by watching the German-dubbed version of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962) in 1992, little while I was watching the anime THE FANTASTIC ADVENTURES OF UNICO, based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka, my personal premiere to the world of anime and manga. Still Godzilla and the kaiju conquered my heart and soul at this point completely and a love was born that lasts until today. It was around the premiere of the ill-ridden first Hollywood attempt of GODZILLA; G.I.N.O.; when I learned first of the name + the man Haruo Nakajima and his life. I was virtually speechless what he did, what difficulties and accidents he endured, but foremost that he bore everything with iron will without lamenting! I found an icon, a human, which I could look up!
Since my personal life was and is not always easy Godzilla was and is the help to flee from reality for a brief amount of time, and to return to reality with new found strength. Nakajima was providing this strength through his acting to me! To bear the unbearable found it’s pure human incarnation in Nakajima and his fellow colleagues in suit acting, but it was Nakajima who founded this tradition and spirituality, which keeps me alive in figurative sense spoken.
To wake up very early, to work and to return to home; without the willpower of Nakajima and Godzilla; absolute impossible for me! With Nakajima’s passing I felt very sad, but I also feel very proud. The hours of watching Toho kaiju movies and TV series like ULTRAMAN, where he also participated as a kaiju and as an instructor for Ultraman’s actor; Satoshi Bin Furuya, had been great – yes! And watching again and again will create the same situation all over again! This will also make me happy and strong enough for the future to come.
Nakajima made who I am and although he was truly one-of-a-kind, his legacy will live on. With the help of us fans and the movies and TV series he worked on. He lived so long to experience 62 years of Godzilla, among the over-amazing rebirth in Hideaki Anno’s and Shinji Higuchi’s SHIN GODZILLA (2016). This is quite an achievement! Who can say this also? Not to forget the also now-good second attempt and now success of an Hollywood movie-adaptation by Gareth Edwards’ GODZILLA (2014).
I am confident that his daughter Sonoe, will also have the same strength as her father for the coming years. She will overcome the current sadness and will honor the name of her father with pride. My thoughts are with her. He is now with his wife in a place, where is no worry and sadness, only happiness, peace and prosperity.
The only possible “regret” is that I never met him in person, only in video footage and on pictures, but this was, is and will be enough! Thank you for everything what you did Nakajima!
In deepest respect I am bowing to you; domo arigato gozaimasu, Nakajima-sensei!
In eternal loving memory your fan,
Haruo Nakajima to me is one of the greatest actor in film history, although his face was mostly unseen everyone knows him for bringing to life a vast majority of Kaiju’s including the legendary kaiju ‘Gojira’ known world wide as Godzilla. I got hooked onto Godzilla after I watched my first movie ‘Ebirah, Horror of the Deep’ and I am also a fan favourite of one of the other founding Fathers of Godzilla. And that is the work of Eiji Tsuburaya’s Ultraman franchise. The two of them will be greatly mist but their legacy will live on in the work that they made and in future works made in their wake, like Legendary Pictures Godzilla 2 and TOHO CO. Godzilla Planet Monsters. R.I.P. Nakajima.
– Wayne Walker
Thank you for all the great memories you have given me through Godzilla. Since childhood, you changed my life for the better through your work. You will always be loved and remembered in our home for generations to come.
Love and respect,
I got the news while watching “Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster,” and it rocked me to my core. He was a great man, very professional, very brave, and a big part of my life. I’ve loved Godzilla most of my life, and it’s a shame to see that the man who first brought him, along with so many other beloved kaiju, to life is gone. He was a big inspiration for me, and so were his films. God bless him, and his loved ones. I wish I could thank him for all the entertainment and happiness he brought to my life.
– Bobby Dunakin
I love godzilla
– George Schroeded
August 7th marked the first day that I had cried since I was 12, (19 now). I first started watching Godzilla films when I was in kindergarten. I appreciated the charm and the lighter tone of the Showa era films as opposed to the films following it. Haruo Nakajima has always been my favorite Godzilla suit actor due to the amount of range and character that he was able to give Godzilla in his movements. One film he could stockily be seen destroying a city and the next he could be jumping up and down in victory. Haruo Nakajima has been a huge figure in my childhood and helped shape me into the person who I am today. He will continue to live on through his films and the countless people they have thrilled, entertained, and inspired. Rest in peace and God bless, the OG King of the Monsters himself, Haruo Nakajima.
– Joseppi Harding
When it is was Monday morning, I heard that Haruo Nakajima had passed away at the age of 88, he was known as playing the original Gojira (Godzilla) and that he was a part of my childhood. Not only did he play Godzilla, but he also played other kaijus and he was one of the first people to start using “Suitmation” which is a filmmaking techinque developed by Eiji Tsuburaya.
It’s sad that I won’t be able to see him and that he was such a big part of my childhood, as well as getting me into Godzilla, I send my condolence to the Nakajima family and that I hope they feel better. Sayonara Nakajima-San, may your spirit rest in peace for your legacy will never die and that you have become an inspiration towards me, you will never be forgotten as well as your performances.
R.I.P. Haruo Nakajima (1929-2017), we’ll miss you.
– Noah Bearden
Ever since I saw the very first film, I fell in love with the monster that would inspire me to pursue filmmaking, storytelling, and soul. Thank you, Nakajima-san, for giving me the fire to pursue my dreams, as well as the spark to ignite my passions. RIP
– Tre McNeill
I just wanted to say a quick & heartfelt Thank You to Haruo Nakakjima for bringing my hero Godzilla to life.
My thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends.
May he Rest In Peace…
A Lifelong Godzilla fan because of Mr Nakajima
Haruo brought many distinct memories.
Ever since he put on the G54 suit, giant monster movies have never been the same, for he portrayed the fear we should all understand of nuclear weapons.
And yet he become a superhero dinosaur to many and made many children smile.
My niece isn’t even five and I had already planned to show her “vs. Hedorah”, when she’s older, before Nakajima was lost. I still will and hope she likes seeing the dinosaur save the day from “Mr. Yuck”.
While Nakajima didn’t return for the Kiryu subseries, I still imagine it was him reprising his famous role as G54, through Kiryu.
May he rest in peace and his work be remembered.
– Charles Ziese
Thanks Nakajima for giving life to the great Godzilla and do my childhood awesome. Rest in peace.
I am 23 years old and Godzilla has been an inspiration to me as long as I can remember. My dad got me an photograph autographed by Haruo Nakajima when I was a kid and I still have it. Haruo Nakajima was a great man who inspired millions of kids around the world and he will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace.
– Luke Williams
I was very sad to learn of the passing of Naruto Nakajima. After all, he was the first main suit actor in all of Toho sci-fi, playing Godzilla, Rodan, Gaila the Green Gargantua, etc. His unique grasp of what it took to act inside those monster suits made him, in the words of a favorite pro wrestler of mine, “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.”
Rest in peace, Nakajima-dai-sensei, and thank you for all the memories.
I first saw Godzilla when I was small, always into dinosaurs, a VHS I owned about trex, suddenly spirals into a mini Goji clipshow, of godzilla and rodan fighting ghidorah…then godzilla fighting rodan in ghidorah. I was always watching that part…now I’ve seen all the films, multiple times over and not much can beat Nakajimas energy in the latter films, especially in DAM and vs hedorah, and now I feel the need to watch his other suited appearances in other movies and shows, like space amoeba, varan, ultra Q and so on…attached to this is a picture of every monster toy and memorabilia that Nakajima has played, I never met him but am lucky to own thus autographed picture….to the very first king of the monsters, the hero of earth, Godzilla, and all other rolls, Sayonara, Mr Nakajima
– Samuel Carpenter
My interaction with Haruo Nakajima during his lifetime has been minimal. Back in 2015, I drove up to Boston to meet him and his co-star, Akira Takarada at that year’s Anime Boston convention. Thanks to Tim Bean, I had the opportunity to meet two of my biggest childhood heroes. Meeting the two was an experience I’ll never forget. Although, I deeply regret never being able to tell Haruo how much his work meant to me all my life. I have illustrated his first role as Godzilla in his honor, and will continue to honor his legacy for years to come.
– Christopher Chickenman Conde
I never had the honor of meeting Nakajima-san in person. However, his work had a glorious affect on me as a child. One that continues to resonate with me to this very day.
May God bless your soul, Nakajima-san, wherever you may be.
Robert J Laurich
My daughter and I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Nakajima back in August of 2015. While my daughter, Ava, was getting this photo taken and his autograph, I was talking with his interpreter. I mentioned to her that Ava was trying to learn Japanese. She asked if she could say anything to him in Japanese. Well, she thought about it for a few seconds and said in Japanese…”It is an honor to meet you”. At that moment he stopped signing the picture, put the marker down and with a huge smile, he started clapping. Tsutomu Kitagawa and Bin Furuya also started to clap which caused the other fans in line to start clapping. So anytime I talk about this picture, I begin by saying, “Did I ever tell you about the time my daughter made Godzilla smile and clap”.
Thanks for allowing me to tell you this story. I have been a fan since I was little and got my first Godzilla movie in 8mm form back in the early 70’s. I introduced my daughter to this legend when she was still a baby and she’s been a fan ever since. It was one of the coolest things that ever happened to me…meeting my childhood hero. He will be missed.
As I sit at my desk trying to figure out what to write and say something that hasn’t been said about Nakajima-san, I realize everything that has already been said is correct about the man. He’s a legend and has truly become immortal now. While I personally never got a chance to meet him and tell him how much he meant to me, I think deep down inside he already knew how much he meant to not just me but to the Godzilla fandom both current and future. One of my most treasured Godzilla collectibles is an autograph that my good friend Chris Mirjahangir got for me when he had the opportunity to meet him, this is something that I’ll always treasure. So l guess I’ll just end this here and I want to tell you Nakajima-san that like many fans of doctor who have their favorite Doctor incarnation, you where my Godzilla. Thank you for all you’ve done for the fandom and for being my hero.
Thomas R VanSlambrouck
Haruo Nakajima may be gone, but the characters he brought to life have stood the test of time and will continue to carry on his legacy, I cannot thank Mr. Nakajima enough for being such a big part of something that has not only been my childhood, but my life as a whole, as I’m sure many others can agree. Here’s to you good sir, may the characters you played continue to be a part of many more childhoods.
I have been a fan of Godzilla and all his monstrous friends and foes for as long as I can remember, and have so many happy memories of watching the Big G menace cities or save the day with my family on television and home video, none of which would have been possible if not for the efforts of the man inside the suit for much of the Showa Era, Haruo Nakajima. As a child I was ignorant of his name, Godzilla was simply Godzilla to me, much like most children who do not dwell on the identities of the voice actors behind their favorite cartoon characters, or the individuals who don the capes and tights of their favorite superheroes until later in life. As an adult however, I would come to know his name, and be grateful for all the hard work he put into portraying a radioactive reptile for the entertainment of fans like me of all ages across the globe. Playing the role of a giant monster is no easy feat. It requires both skill and endurance to pull off successfully, especially back in the early days of Tokusatsu entertainment when safety features inside the hot, heavy suits were few to say the least, and yet Mr. Nakajima managed to excel and triumph despite all obstacles, much like his first and most iconic kaiju role, Godzilla himself. One of the greatest experiences of my life was when I met Mr. Nakajima in person during Anime Boston 2015, the theme was kaiju and mecha that year and I had been beyond delighted to learn that both he and Akira Takarada would be attending the con as celebrity guests of honor! This was a once in a lifetime experience for me, and I was equally nervous and excited at the same time, finally getting to meet my childhood hero, shake his hand, and tell him how much his performances meant to me well into adulthood. He was so friendly and patient with me and all the American fans who met him during the convention even though he could not speak English and needed a translator by his side to interpret what he said. We hung on his every word later during a panel prior to a screening of Gojira. It was fascinating to learn from the man himself that he studied animals at the zoo to give him an idea of how a massive creature like Godzilla would move and behave. It was an experience I shall never forget. He did all this for us, his fans, despite being 86 years old at the time and far away from home, and yet he still traveled all that way just to tell us stories about his time as the original King of the Monsters, and I will always remember and respect him for it.
Sayonara Nakajima-san, thank you for sparking my imagination, and for giving life to my favorite monster.
Daniel B. Roach
Haruo Nakajima brought some of our favorite monsters to live in both movies and television shows. He helped bring the likes of Godzilla, Jiras, Varan, Gaira, Rodan, Gomess, Baragon, and Neronga to name a few into the spotlight and giving us memorable kaiju. While his time in this world has passed, his legacy and portrayal of Godzilla and many other kaiju will never leave be forgotten.
The original Godzilla is gone. He set the gold standard for Kaiju actors that can never be topped. His attitude towards the job made a non-glamorous job seem wonderful. While I never had the chance to meet him; his devotion to the fans and the monster himself is something I always appreciated and admired. You will be greatly missed, Mr. Nakajima. RIP and Godspeed.
Thanks for the memories.
I met Nakajima-san at least four times since he first began appearing at US conventions. He was always kind, gracious and excited to meet his fans around the world. The first time I met him was at his first US appearance at G-Fest 1996. I remember that at this time several of us got together to offer up a drunken rendition of “Save The Earth” in the hotel bar, which impressed Mr. Nakajima to no end.
I was in a hotel room with Nakajima and Ken Satsuma in NYC when the news came that Princess Diana had died. We all found out at the same time.
One time at a convention party, some really incredibly nasty liquor was being passed around. I had already had a sip of the stuff and knew it was vile. Mr. Nakajima tried giving me some more (because he didn’t want his). I waved it away and said “Das ist nicht gut”. When he heard me speaking German he went into an exited diatribe about how the father of one well-known tokusatsu actor had been a fervent nazi during the second world war. This included vehement foot stomping which made Satsuma, who was sitting next to him, fear for the safety of his own feet.
Photos include Nakajima, Satsuma and Yoshio Tsuchiya. Some of them were taken at the dinosaur exhibit at the NYC museum of science and history.
– Michael Keller
The original and best Godzilla, who helped give the character an imposing presence and a personality.
Throughout our world’s history, there have been many legends that have made their mark within society. Some have left their emblems of awe and adoration within the ever expanding field of knowledge, while others have decided to express their gifts within products of cinema. These iconic individuals have, in their own unique ways, touched the hearts of millions across the world. Thus, this very email has a designated intent to recognize one such individual who has touched my heart for many years. This incredible individual, in terms of identity, was none other than Haruo Nakajima. To this day, he has continued to amaze me with the many contributions that he imprinted into Japanese cimena. It was because of his capabilities that the process of suitmation became a favorable method of creating films all over the world, especially within the science fiction genre. Whether it was Neronga from the original Tsuburaya Productions television show called Ultraman or the green Gargantua known as Gaira from Toho Studios’ War of the Gargantuas, Nakajima gave life to each creature once the suit was put on and the cameras began filming. However, the one creature that Nakajima portrayed via suitmation has become a beloved cinema icon to millions of fans worldwide, including myself. A powerful metaphor for the horrors of nuclear energy, this creature set the stage for a whole new genre of films known as kaiju filmography. Taking the entire world by storm in 1954, Haruo Nakajima brought life into the many suits over the years of perhaps the most famous giant monster of film history. This monster was none other than Godzilla. Having been a huge Godzilla and kaiju fan for many years, I have always appreciated and honored those that took to the challenge of portraying the King of the Monsters. Haruo Nakajima was one such man. Whenever I shall watch a Godzilla film from the original Showa series in the future, I will always remember who it was that Godzilla appear to be so lifelike and real. My condolences go out to the family of Mr. Nakajima, for I shall always remember who truly was the king of daikaiju suitmation. God bless Mr. Nakajima, and may he rest in eternal peace.
– Zach Naugle
Haruo Nakajima is an unsung icon who helped revolutionize the film industry. People like Honda and Tsuburaya are worthy of praise for giving this series and genre of film life, but having outlasted both men in the franchise (for the most part), it was Nakajima who gave perhaps the biggest helping hand in giving this series the longevity it had and the recognition it rightfully deserves. So many lessons were learned from his experiences and passed down to later suit actors, and so many new ideas were brought to fruition by his performances from people outside of Toho and the Toku Genre. Meet this man in person in 2008 was an absolute honor and even though I didn’t meet him outside of a costume, in many ways, it felt suitable that I was in one when I did meet him as it felt like it was paying respect to a man who made a living out of doing so, a man who brought joy, sadness, fear, and above all else, true cinematic entertainment, to everyone for all of the world to see. Haruo Nakajima will truly be missed by all and without a doubt, he truly is KING of the Monsters.
When you have a hero in life, you think that they will always be there, but to you that special hero is invincible. Even when they grow older with time, you never stop to think about if they will still be there the next day. Because you don’t want to acknowledge that their days are numbered, that there is a mortality behind that invincibility.
Godzilla is always this giant monster that is unstoppable, never-ending, and tough. Even when he has been defeated or gone away, he will always come back, bigger and more powerful than before. I always saw Haruo Nakajima that way, he was tough, bigger than life, and always came back into the world with a bigger heart and brighter smile. Nakajima and his Godzilla were both my childhood, his performance gave the icon a certain life and charisma that made me a eternal fan to the franchise. First captivating me at the age of four in the movies “Godzilla, King of the Monsters” and “King Kong vs. Godzilla”. Two grand VHS tapes gifted to me by my grandfather, my family’s first and original Godzilla fan before me.
Back then it wasn’t popular to have a hero who wore a giant rubber monster suit and toppled beautiful modeled cities of Japan. Nah back then, your hero had to either wear a flowing cape, crawl like a spider, or wear a human-sized costume for a human-scale person. You weren’t allowed to like heroes who weren’t ordinary, commonly popular, or domestically created. But that just made Nakajima and his films all that more amazing and special to me, because he was something that I felt connected to that no one else around me understood. Godzilla isn’t natural, he doesn’t fit within today’s world, he’s otherworldly and something of an outcast to the realm of nature and its laws. So through Nakajima’s performance, hard-work, and investment into the franchise and its monsters, I found something that I could relate to through the icons that he brought to life.
Seeing Nakajima tower over Japan as Godzilla, Rodan, and other colossal beasts, seeing how he brought them to life and took on the world within their films. He was a man who inspired me to become the individual that I am today. To be someone who doesn’t back down, to be someone who isn’t afraid to reach the skies that he loomed over. To be someone who will always get back up after falling down.
I owe a lot to this man, for the strength he has given me, and the memories of amazement, laughter, and joy. It sucks waking each day knowing that he is no longer with us. It sucks knowing that your hero is gone. The pain of his passing will never leave me, but neither will the days that his films had brighten throughout my entire life.
His presence will be greatly missed, but the memories he has made within the hearts of many. The days he had brighten across various generations, in both the past and over. Haruo Nakajima is a great man who will live on forever, both in the hearts that he has touched, and the immortality of his eternal films. Rest in peace old King, long live forever loved and unforgotten. Haruo Nakajima, a great performer and beloved actor. He will always be my hero, and will always be our destroyer of worlds.
– R.D.Davis (Gormaru/Gormaru Omega), Gormaru Island
Haruo Nakajima, the man who brought Godzilla to life. Thanks to his time and effort he put into the movie productions, Nakajima brought the Godzilla franchise to millions around the world. Without Haruo Nakajima Godzilla wouldn’t be the pop culture icon he is now.
R.I.P. Haruo Nakajima, you will be missed by many.
– Ethan Stine
I would like to say ‘thank you’ to Mr. Nakajima for his work as Godzilla and other kaiju, which brought joy to my life as a fan of Toho sci-fi from the time I was little kid. R.I.P. and Sayonara.
– Matt Bowyer
My name is Jake and I’ve been a Godzilla fan for almost my whole life. I love everything from the movies, to the monsters and Godzilla himself. But the character might not feel alive had it not been for one man and that it the man behind the monster, Haruo Nakajima. I first became aware of Mr. Nakajima thanks to an old Chestwood Monster book I borrowed (and never returned 🙂 from my local library. I remember seeing his picture for the first time in a Fangoria magazine talking about the 1998 film. I was too young to appreciate the talent, but I grew to really love it as I got older. One of the things I loved about Godzilla as a character was his ability to convey emotion through body language and Mr. Nakajima pulled it off greatly. Many of favorite actions of Godzilla came from Mr. Nakajima in the original films. Such as the iconic victory dance from “Monster Zero.” Another great moment that most fans forget is Godzilla scratching his nose after fighting the giant Condor in “Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster,” it’s such a small but an amazing display of Godzilla’s attitude. I also loved Godzilla taunting Ebirah with his own claw after getting it torn off. All of those actions were amazingly brought to life thanks to Haruo Nakajima!! He help make Godzilla more than just a monster, he made Godzilla an amazing character. With his passing, it marks an end of a time when movies were made with more love and was like magic. Thank you Mr. Nakajima, you are the heart of Godzilla!!!
– Jacob F.
From the start, Godzilla wasn’t just any old monster. As a young viewer, I rooted for him, cheered for him – even in the films where he was the antagonist, which made for some awkward viewing experiences of the original film, Mothra vs. Godzilla, et al. This is because he had a personality – a soul. And it is Nakajima Haruo’s bravura performance that started this trend.
To all the monsters he played, Nakajima brought a special spark. Even when they are villains, we feel sympathy for Godzilla and Rodan when they meet their fates in their debut films. We feel Godzilla’s frustration and confusion when he slams into Osaka Castle; his determination, bafflement, and cunning when he faces off against Hedorah; his sternness as he coaches Minilla against his bullies; his playfulness and triumph as he scores blows against Kong, Rodan, Ebirah, and especially King Ghidorah. What other creative team than Nakajima and Tsuburaya would have created something so gloriously silly as the Godzilla victory dance, the moment we have to thank for all the wonderfully goofy moments to come? You wouldn’t catch King Kong or Giger’s Alien dead performing that!
Nakajima was never just the guy in the suit. He was a performer and actor…and his performances were a delight, plain and simple, worthy of consideration with any human cast.
Rest in peace, Mr. Nakajima. Perpetual thanks for all the joy you brought us, and for giving me my favorite heroes: Godzilla, Rodan, Baragon, and more.
– Christopher Brown
I didn’t make this, the original image is by DecayingArt, but it emphasizes my undying love for Haruo Nakajima and Godzilla as a whole.
Meeting Haruo Nakajima in my home state of Indiana was a memory I’ll cherish forever. Getting to meet the man who brought my childhood hero Godzilla to life was a dream come true. Not only did he bring Godzilla to life but also many of my other favorite monsters including, Rodan, King Kong, Mothra, Baragon, Green Gargantua and so many others. Nakajima was truly the best to ever do it and he will be extremely missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. RIP Haruo Nakajima and thank you again for everything.
For a long time, I’ve always appreciated Toho’s science fiction and fantasy films, whether they were good or bad. Even if the films didn’t stand up to scrutiny, I could always count on the monster appearances to deliver. The suits were never convincing by themselves, but the performances that were brought out through them have entertained me all my life and made me forget the effects method used. Most notably in the Showa series, they were used to portray both forces of destruction and warfare, or characters that showed what we could do at our best. And Haruo Nakajima was one of the men behind that. He set the standard for Japanese monster performances, making some unforgettable characters, despite the heavy suits and setbacks involved. Everybody can remember Godzilla suddenly rising from the dirt, Gaira terrorizing an airport, or Rodan landing onto the train station. I’m grateful that moments like this are ingrained in the minds of millions, and I will never forget the man who was inside the suits. While I never knew who was in the suits growing up, the moment I knew the name attached to the man who brought some of them to life, I knew who to thank. Thank you, Haruo Nakajima, for all of your hard work in making some of my favorite films come to life.
The main credits for Toho’s iconic special effects films naturally highlight both the talented production team that worked to bring so many of these films together so quickly, as well as the leading actors seen throughout. The true leading man of Toho’s monster films, however, has always been Haruo Nakajima. Hired and credited as a stuntman, Nakajima humbly endured dangerous work – from suits made of not rubber, but concrete, to suffering stomach injuries from fake bombs on set, to nearly drowning on multiple occasions and rarely being able to breathe well in the heavy suits. Nakajima’s efforts went well beyond performing stuntwork, however – he studied real animals at the zoo and helped choreograph fight scenes with other stuntmen.
One of the reasons Toho’s kaiju films have endured so long has been because every monster retains a distinct character. While it would be easy to manipulate every puppet and suit along the same basic idea, Toho’s monsters retain personality, much of it imbued by men such as Nakajima, as well as those who worked alongside him and those who have followed in his enormous footsteps ever since. Nakajima overcame the pressure and stress of the hot and heavy suits to nonetheless convey meaning and lend expression to dozens of creatures, and his work brought to life dozens of monsters, from Baragon to Varan. Rather than a two-dimensional mass of monsters, Nakajima could make viewers just as easily fear the bloodthirsty Gaira as to cheer on and empathize with the lovable Kong, or feel both emotions and more in a dozen films as the King of the Monsters, Godzilla, his most famous creation.
More than the fine and dedicated stuntman, special effects pioneer, or the incredibly humble man he nonetheless was, Haruo Nakajima was an actor, a skilled performer working on a bigger stage, able to impress, terrify, delight, and make us feel, working through the skin of the suits, and a lot of blood, sweat, tears, to develop surprisingly memorable characters who will continue to capture the attention of audiences for generations to come. As long as there are people around the world who enjoy kaiju films, Nakajima-san’s memory will still be with us.
– John R. VoylesGeneral // August 22, 2017
Toho choose a poster to unveil their new look for Godzilla, in the upcoming film Godzilla Resurgence or known as “シン・ゴジラ” aka Shin Godzilla in Japan. The internet, as it often does, has erupted into opinions on Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi‘s new look for the creature.
Being hardcore Godzilla fans, the staff of Toho Kingdom weighs in as well with our own reactions to the look of Godzilla 2016. Our thoughts are presented in order of seniority on the site, although the founder’s is included at the end as a summary. Staff weighs in solely on what is available, which in this case is a shoulder-up view of the new Godzilla as shown on the poster.
In Rotten Tomatoes fashion, the thoughts are consolidated into a Positive, Mixed or Negative reaction based on an interpretation by the owner.
The new Shin-Godzilla design is terrifying. It’s like seeing a lifelong friend damaged by a traumatic experience. That defeated look in their eye confirms they will never be the same. Which is ironic, considering the meaning of Shin-Godzilla translates to True Godzilla. This new design tells us exactly what direction the filmmakers are taking. Throughout the decades, Godzilla has changed with the times. Godzilla has played the part of the majestic hero, the mighty protector, the insidious villain, etc. But what is Godzilla really? What does the King of the Monsters truly represent?
What truly makes Godzilla an iconic character is how he represents so many fundamental messages at once. But at the core of Godzilla’s character, he is and always will be a metaphor of humankind’s hubris. Before nuclear weapons, humankind never posed a threat to all life on Earth. After the inception of nuclear weapons, humankind now has the ability to transform the planet into a lifeless, radioactive husk. Godzilla’s presentation in the original 1954 classic was meant as a warning to humanity, to inspire us to curb our destructive ambitions and desires. And that is what I think makes this new Godzilla so terrifying. It not only looks like we ignored the message, but we are now destined (or damned) to bear witness to what Godzilla truly is. My fear is Godzilla, at his core, has no meaning, no purpose. Godzilla is not here to maintain balance, or help humanity discover its place in the world. When I look into his eyes, I don’t see the Godzilla we once knew. I don’t see the dark side of humanity made manifest; I don’t see the personification of nature’s retribution.
When I look into Shin-Godzilla’s eyes, I don’t see a damaged victim. I see an uncaring, cancerous god staring right back at me.
And I’m totally digging it!
I believe both the strength and the weakness of the new Godzilla design, based on what little we have seen of it, is that the beast evokes a kind of speechless and wild horror. It creates this effect by focusing the design on mutation and the grotesque. One can see this in perhaps the most controversial aspect of the new design—the uncomfortably tiny staring eye. That eye appears all outside of proportion to the rest of the grossly bloated and misshapen head, as if, through the mutation process, the eye did not grow at the same rate as the tumorous flesh about the skull. Even the new Godzilla appears to be surprised at the form he has found himself in—or perhaps in this new form Godzilla has no eyelids, perhaps they were scorched off in the heat of the radiation so that now he has no choice but to stare in wild rage. It’s really too early to say, but the initial image is evocative and hideous.
That hideousness, that sense of mutated deformity extends to just about everything we see in this new design. His mouth, too, appears to have been torn and twisted in the radioactive fires—any cheek or lip tissue scorched away, and the teeth (which perhaps normally would have stood in regulated rows for effective clutching and crushing power) are now more like spines or spikes, emerging at random angles, growing in abundance like thorns piercing his maw. In this picture, too, his nose looks somewhat indistinct, emerging from irregular, lumpy, scarred skin that hearkens back to the design of the original Godzilla and its keloid-inspired texture. The ears, meanwhile, seem to have been swallowed up in bulging, tortured flesh. Even the back plates appear to have received some mutation. Usually, in previous incarnations, the spines were largely maple-leaf designed, with the protuberances poking out along the edges, but more or less “flat.” That is to say, the bony spines of the back plates only jutted out along one plane like a throwing star or a leaf. Here, the spines appear to be poking out more unevenly in several directions like a spiked mace.
What gives me pause about this design is that, while the monster looks ferocious and horrific, the design does not lend itself to personality. With no lips, Godzilla can’t even snarl—his expression is fixed into that one mutated gawping expression. The first American Godzilla had a similar problem—she had no lips, either. Just enormous teeth that jutted out. She could not snarl or convey much emotion with her face, but at least she had large eyes that could show her sorrow and rage. The new Godzilla’s eyes look largely emotionless in this picture, although the looming eyebrow may be used to show more emotion. Perhaps it sounds strange to complain about a rigid face design given that Godzilla through the years has often had very little in the way of facial expressions, but the best Godzilla designs (in my opinion) show personality in the suit designs. I love the King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) suit for its kind of playful demeanor, or the stern and powerful look of the Heisei Godzilla design. To me, just based off of the first picture, this Godzilla looks less like a main character as it does kind of a soulless background beast that shows up to scare everyone, but doesn’t have the stage presence to carry the show. It’s way too early to say, really, and I admire the commitment to trying something new and horrifying. I just hope the “Shin Godzilla” also is just… interesting.
The new Godzilla from Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi’s upcoming Godzilla: Resurgence (2016), to me immediately evokes the original classic 1954 design. The dead eyes are evocative of the iconic image of Shodai-Goji, and also evoke his design from The Return of Godzilla (1984), particularly the famous Cybot Godzilla. The jaw is nice and wide and almost hinged. The ridge up his back also evokes several Showa designs including the iconic Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) reptilian look and I also like how pronounced the trademark charcoal grey skin tone is. The charred skin design evokes Bio-Goji, as well as Powered Red King from Ultraman Powered, and seems to be bringing back the “burn victim” inherent in the original’s design. Although in my humble opinion, the eyes need to be a tad bigger and more emphasized, but overall very nightmarish and fitting for Higuchi and Anno’s vision of revisiting the roots of the franchise. Can’t wait to see it in action.
Overall I’m very positive about the new design and enthusiastic that Higuchi and his team will bring it to life in the best way possible!
As far as first impressions are concerned, I’m mixed. On the one hand, I do like that Anno and Higuchi are harking back to the cold, fearsome design of the original 1954 Godzilla—particularly with the nice touch of the eye gazing down, probably upon hapless victims. And based on what little we can see of them in this poster, Godzilla will be brandishing those classic maple leaf spines once more. And I’m curious to see in what manner these spines will glow when the King’s preparing to unleash his atomic breath! I also like the thorn-like teeth. On the negative side of things, though, I must admit I’m not especially enthusiastic about the shape of the head. The backwards sloping brow, the blocky knob at the base of the skull, the way the snout transitions into the forehead—I just don’t feel the sheer sense of menace the filmmakers are aiming for. Also: not really a fan of the way Godzilla’s throat seems to fuse into the center of his mandible. Perhaps this is one of those designs that will grow on me with age. Perhaps it will look much better in the context of a full-body shot.
But here’s a hypothetical worst-case scenario: a film like Son of Godzilla (1967) or Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II (1993), where I don’t care for Godzilla’s physical appearance but still find plenty to like about his character and the movie around him.
When I look to the near future and think of Godzilla 2016, I hold child like anticipation of one of my favorite franchises returning, but still plenty of skepticism due to the previous entry in 2004. These thoughts however altered slightly as the new poster for the film was revealed.
The original Gojira is not one of my favorite films, but I recognize its importance to the franchise, and with this note I feel slightly disappointed by the design of “Shin Godzilla.” From what I can see the monster is well detailed, focuses on the burns and mutations that came with its creation, and is far more… creepier in execution. Horror is definitely the route I see this Godzilla following, and I will hold final judgement on its execution until the film’s release but at the moment I am not thoroughly impressed.
My hope is this film is something akin to GMK, which also held a Godzilla that was not as pleasing to the eyes as others, but was executed extremely well though only time will tell on the final result. In the meantime, I will try to avoid making direct eye contact with the newest interpretation of everyone’s favorite lizard.
When the poster for Godzilla Resurgence/Shin Gojira was released, I was very excited. I shared the same picture on my personal Facebook page at least three times. Nonetheless, when I took a good look at what I was presented I had slightly mixed feelings.
The first thing that grabbed me was that maw. I LOVE the teeth design, but I didn’t really care for how far back into the head the jawline receded. I also thought the eyes were too far forward in his head. It just didn’t look badass. I showed it to my friends the same evening, and they loved it… and I have to say I actually agree with them now.
Looking back at Godzilla (1954)’s design, there’s one thing that makes it very different from almost every other suit. It was hand made, and is therefor very unsymmetrical. And on a black and white screen set at night, it looks very realistic, and even terrifying… well, maybe not to us, as we watch it on DVD, but it’s easy to imagine why everyone in the movie is screaming.
What this suit does is capture that same realism that the 1954 suit had… and mixes it with imagery that is actually terrifying to look at. The sharp teeth, the uneven skin texture, the scarecrow like grin… it’s creepy. Imagine looking 389 feet into the air, and seeing that weirdly human eye staring directly at YOU. That would be horrific.
Looking at every Godzilla design from 1999, to 2014, they’re all badasses. Emphasizing Godzilla’s strength, endurance, and sheer power levels. Even in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), where we the how cruel Godzilla actually can be, it still looks like the design is meant to be super cool. This Godzilla doesn’t have to be badass. This movie is Japan vs. Godzilla, and he knows he can win. This Godzilla simply wants to be cruel, not cool.
My first reaction to the design was negative. Not overwhelmingly so, but to the point where I didn’t care much for it. I was a bit shocked as well compared to my expectations. Toho had been on a Heisei series splurge of late. They recently created a moving statue of the Godzilla from Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) on the top of the Toho Cinemas Shinjuku theater. Meanwhile, the King of the Monsters in the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 game Godzilla was also dedicated to this era. Going further back, we also have the toy line S.H. MonsterArts, which started with a 1990’s slant, and all the Heisei series films were also the first to hit Blu-ray in Japan over the other eras.
Heck, the first image surrounding the film, seen to the right, had a very Heisei vibe to it. So I was bracing for something that evoked that look, a fan favorite and mine as well. What we got was something totally unlike any Godzilla seen to date. As others here have touched on in this article, the look is horrific. The King of the Monsters never struck me as scary. His opponents, in particular Hedorah, terrified me as a kid, but Godzilla himself never caused that reaction.
Given that, it’s easy to see why they did not evoke a look similar to the 1990’s series run. That Godzilla looked bad ass, but scary is not a reaction anyone would have to it.
All that said… as things often do, my feelings toward it warmed as I looked at it more. While there are elements I still don’t like, in particular the incredibly small eye, I am more open to it. I have the luxury of reading the other staff’s thoughts before giving my own, and must say Nicholas Driscoll summed up the mutated angle way more succinctly than I could have hoped to.
While reactions here are mixed, none are negative and some quite positive. The unusual look is certainly getting people talking as well, which is helpful for any film versus a sentiment of indifference. So I would be willing to say Toho did right by the design even if most fans aren’t ecstatic toward it. If the company follows through on giving us a film suited for the look, the entry will certainly stand out in the franchise. At the very least it will prove a large counterpoint to the more heroic Godzilla seen in Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla(2014), which may or may not have been intentional on Toho’s part.
Thoughts of your own on the design? Weigh in yourself in the comments section for your reactions to the look of Godzilla 2016.General // December 15, 2015