Some years ago, I did an extensive review of Godzilla Manga Collection 1954-1958, and while I was really surprised at the content of some of the manga and adaptations therein, by far the little nugget that captured my imagination the most was a tiny sideways mention in an essay tucked in the back of the volume. That essay mentioned a title called Beastman Gorion which was to be made into a Toho film back in 1955 but which never came to fruition… but which was written by Godzilla scribe Shigeru Kayama, and which was serialized in Shonen Club magazine with illustrations by Tetsu Shirai (I can confirm now that that is indeed the reading of the artist’s name). At the time I was able to dig up a bit more information about the title, though not much. I knew that the title was originally Beastman Gorion and eventually that was changed to King Gorion (or rather Ruler of the Jungle Gorion) and was one of any number of illustrated monster tales from Kayama. However, I couldn’t find any information about how far along the production of the film ever progressed, nor if an name (such as a possible director or actors) had ever been attached to the lost film. I also couldn’t find any synopses, nor any reprints of the tale, despite the existence of a set of volumes that ostensibly collected all of Kayama’s written works (when I scoured the books’ table of contents, I couldn’t find the title listed). When I asked other scholars about the title, no one seemed to know anything, and while I could find a few images online, the details were extremely scarce.

Until last year, when I finally managed to secure one chapter of the story in a copy of the original Shonen Club magazine—specifically the June 1955 issue. The title includes adverts for the Bokura manga adaptation of Godzilla Raids Again, as well as various gag comics, adventure stories, and a variety of often gorgeously illustrated tales which I haven’t gotten around to properly perusing yet. But I was most interested in the chapter of Gorion inside, which proved a pivotal one—it was the issue where the title changed over from “Beastman” to “King.” (Half Human, which sported the Japanese title Juujin Yuki Otoko, would be released just two months later, so perhaps the similarity in the title prompted the change.) At any rate, at the beginning of the chapter (which runs from page 218-225), we get this text:

“Beastman Gorion” is changing its title to “King Gorion” and will be increasingly becoming active here on out.

The chapter also includes a synopsis of what has happened thus far in the story, though it is not at all detailed:

Gorion is a ruler of the desert. He lives inside a Sphinx within the Sahara Desert with a monster bird named Zaza. A young man named Kawashima, Shizuko, and Tamio—as well as a bad guy named Danburo—are aiming for the Sphinx. Well, what’s going to happen next?

There are also a pair of sidebars in the chapter that confirm that the story was planned to be released, apparently that very same year! The two sidebar texts can be translated as follows:

Ruler of the Jungle King Gorion has finally been decided to be released as a Toho film!

“Gorion” is set to be released as a film this fall. At Toho Studios, preparations are well underway.

Note the wording of the first sidebar—it has finally been decided. Presumably this chapter was the first to announce that the movie was underway with Toho (I found an earlier image online that showed that a movie had been announced, but didn’t mention studios), and perhaps the title change was meant to reflect the planned title of the film. The second sidebar announces that the movie was planned to be released that fall! Given that the chapter was published in June, that would only give Toho a scant few months to make the movie and release it within the fall season—at most, four months! How far along was this movie? Did they have a script, were the main characters cast, did they have a director decided? If the movie was planned for release in just a few months’ time, surely it had to have been in preproduction at the very least. And yet there seems to be next to nothing known about the lost film—I have never seen it mentioned in a lost film book (there are unproduced Godzilla film concepts being unearthed all the time), nor have I seen any mentions of possible cast members—though on page 222 of the magazine, we get one more side text: “When Gorion is made into a movie, who is going to play Tamio? Let’s look forward to it from now on!”

If we poke around on the Internet for more information these days, we can find a post by Undersea Battleship Cabinet Minister (or 海軍大臣 on X/Twitter) in which we can read a small publication from an unnamed contemporary source which also announces the Gorion production, but which erroneously identifies the movie as an adaptation of Shunro Oshikawa’s “Kaijin Tettou”. Now, Shunro Oshikawa was the author of the Undersea Battleship adventure stories which partially became the basis for Toho’s Atragon film, but I am guessing that “Kaijin Tettou” (in the article, written as怪人鉄) must be referencing “The Monster of the Steel Tower” or 鉄塔の怪人, which was an Edogawa Rampo mystery thriller from 1954. Rampo’s mystery story has nothing whatsoever to do with the Gorion story, and rather appears to be a tale of detectives, kidnapping, and… men in beetle armor?

At any rate, I have translated the fifth chapter of King Gorion below, and scanned a few pictures to go along with the text. Given that Kayama’s Godzilla novels were recently officially translated into English, I don’t think it would be right to translate any more of this text into English for free, but maybe one chapter as a taste for a hopeful future official translation would be acceptable. Enjoy!

“Help me!”

Faintly Shizuko’s screaming voice crying for help could be heard. But that voice could only be heard for a moment. Shizuko, who was being held in the claws of monster bird Saza, seemed to have lost consciousness. It was unclear just what Saza was thinking as she once again climbed higher into the sky. Oh dear, what is going to happen to Shizuko?


Although holding up a firearm, he found he could not fire. The young man Kawashima could only groan. Even if he could manage to shoot down the monster bird Saza, Shizuko would just fall along with the creature, and be splattered to bits on the top of the sphinx.

The boy Tamio pulled out a pair of binoculars from Kawashima’s pocket and adjusted the focus.


Even though the boy Tamio released a scream without thinking, it was not impossible what he was seeing. Saza’s talons were hooked in the collar of Shizuko’s clothing, and she was in grave danger of perishing!

Finally, Shizuko separated from Zaza’s talons. Ah! It cannot be that Shizuko is bound to be dashed upon the head of the sphinx?!

“Aahh, it’s all over!”

Without thinking, and just at the moment the eyes were covered, Gorion spread out his great hands to catch Shizuko. Gorion with great dexterity and with his great arms managed to catch Shizuko, and he then lumbered with her in tow and disappeared inside the room within the Sphinx’s eye.

Ruler of the Jungle King Gorion Chapter 5 Translation

“Thank you, Gorion.”

At any rate, Shizuko’s life was saved.

“We can’t waste any time. We have to get up to the eye of the Sphinx right away.”

While Shizuko may have been survived, she still needed rescue from Gorion’s paws.

“Tamio, hurry!”

The young man Kawashima readjusted his ammo belt firmly around his waist, fastened his rifle to his back, and then began climbing the Sphinx with Tamio.

“Be careful. There are a lot of scorpions.”

“Mr. Kawashima, you be careful, too. More of those venomous lizards like the ones that just got Daburo earlier may be around here somewhere.”

It was at that point that the pair of them had climbed onto the back of the Sphinx’s clawed food. Bam, bam, bam! Huge boulders came crashing in on the two climbers.

“Darn! Gorion has taken notice of us! One after another, like the rushing of water they keep falling in on us!”

“Too bad, we are going to have to turn back.”

Gorion, celebrating his successful job of running off the intruders, pounded his chest with great joy, and he released a great cry. Zaza flapped his wings in unison with the war cry.

The two of them returned to the camp and looked around, dumbfounded. The tent was smashed to pieces, and the indigenous people who had carried the luggage were strewn about, collapsed on the sand, having been forced to sniff chloroform.

Ruler of the Jungle King Gorion Chapter 5 Translation

Danburo was nowhere to be seen, and the small monkey Kikki alone was screaming in sadness.

“This had to be the work of Danburo and his gang!”

As they looked, they saw far in the distance the shadowy figures of several dozen men riding camels speeding away like so many arrows.

“How in the world were their buddies hiding somewhere in the great desert out here? We can’t let our guard down, Tamio. For now, let’s fix the tent back up.”

In the alcove of King Kamenhof’s treasure, Shizuko regained consciousness.


Her eyes dazzled by the jewel-encrusted room, Shizuko could only stare in wonder for a time before she suddenly remembered the monster bird Zaza that had kidnapped her, and, shivering with fear, she bolted from the chamber.

The Sphinx’s enormous head was a precipice from which no one but Gorion could descend.

“Mr. Kawashima! Tamio!”

Shizuko cried out as loud as she could at the camp that looked so tiny far below. But there was no way they could hear her. All she heard back was an empty echo.

Suddenly Shizuko was pulled away from behind.

Ah! It’s Gorion!

Gorion roughly shoved Shizuko back into the room, then closed up the entrance with a massive stone. Afterwards, he slumped across the closed door and fell asleep. The boulder he had moved in place featured the crest of King Kamenhof carved into its face.

The evening quietly grew late. Inside the tent, neither the young man Kawashima nor Tamio could fall asleep.

“I wonder how the young lady is doing.”

“Yeah, I don’t think Gorion does stuff like killing people, but…”

Next to the tent, there was a loud rustling sound. Surprised, Tamio burst outside.

“What?! You’re Zaza, aren’t you?”

As far as Zaza was concerned, he hadn’t done anything wrong by kidnapping Shizuko. Now the big bird had just come to meet Tamio and play.

“Mr. Kawashima, it’s because you were also there that Gorion got mad.”

Tamio said, showing a strong sort of conviction.

“So this time I am going to go by myself to save the young lady!”

“How do you think you, by yourself…”

“I’m going to have Zaza take me.”

“Zaza? How are you going to get him to do that?”

“I’m going to ride on his back. All the way to the top of the Sphinx. Hey, Zaza, you’ll let me climb on you and fly me up there, right?”

Ruler of the Jungle King Gorion Chapter 5 Translation

Nimbly, Tamio sprang onto Zaza’s back. Zaza, appearing quite happy, spread his great wings and prepared to take off.

To be continued!

Shonen Club June 1955 Cover

Shonen Club June 1955 Cover