Huge thanks to MIB for introducing me to SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, and sharing his collection of them with me! MIB has also released a video on this topic as well.

Over the years I have been really excited to dig into and help share information about the sillier side of Godzilla, perhaps most notably in my very long Many Loves of Godzilla article, in which I dug REALLY deep into obscure Godzilla stuff and found lots and lots and lots of Godzilla’s girlfriends, flings, and wives that have appeared over the years, often in officially Toho-sanctioned materials (come to think of it, that article is in serious need of updating). I remember at the time I published the first version of the article in 2015, I was stunned to discover not only Gojirin (who was not nearly as well-known then as she is now) from the Let’s Go! Godzilland educational videos, but also Godzilla girlfriend Bijira from the Japanese version of the Game Boy Godzilla game—a game that was called “Godzilla-Kun: Giant Monsters Big Decisive Battle” (or something like that). At the time, I didn’t dream that there was a manga upon which the game was at least partially based. It didn’t seem possible, because there was no record of that manga that I knew of (not even the ones I could find in Japanese, which seemed comprehensive), and there was no collected version. I guess I figured if an original Godzilla manga was popular enough to warrant a game adaptation, there would be some kind of information about that manga easily available, since any property that managed to garner a video game adaptation would by definition have to have received a certain level of success. And any manga that successful would SURELY have had a collected version like Monster King Godzilla did in 1992. Right? Right?

Wrong. There WAS a manga tied to that video game, and it was called SD Godzilla World: Godzilla-Kun (“SD” here means “super-deformed” and is basically another way to denote “chibi” designs—the whole “big head, tiny body” aesthetic seen in cute anime and manga). Yes, the Godzilla-Kun manga featured Godzilla’s girlfriend Bijira, as well as a group of other Godzillas (Majira, Pajira, etc) and their comical adventures. How exactly that manga was related to the game, though, and the precise string of inspiration, so to speak, is a bit complicated to sus out, however. You see there were two versions of the manga, and only one featured the other Godzillas. Information about these manga, however, has been scarce. I have searched for Godzilla manga for years and never knew about this title, and the only reason I found out about it and its history was through Monster Island Buddies and a publication by Pancake Temple.

Let’s just… why don’t we back up a bit.

History of Godzilla Kun

Pancake Temple is a doujinshi circle that produces various publications about tokusatsu, more recently about Ultraman. (For those unaware, a doujinshi is a fan publication—often a manga, but not always—and a circle in this case would be a group of individuals who work together to create these publications.

Pancake TempleSometimes these circles even go pro, perhaps most famously with the manga group CLAMP.) Pancake Temple have a blog, and a series of three publications which they sold at Comiket (short for Comic Market, a massive fan-comic event—I had an article about my own visit there a few years ago) which included reviews of just about every Godzilla and Godzilla-adjacent comic published in the USA and Japan—including Godzilla-Kun. Pancake Temple reviewed all the original run of Godzilla-Kun, as well as a second version of the manga. This review is going to cover two issues from the original run which I manages to procure myself, and the entire run of the rebooted version which Monster Island Buddies was kind enough to share with me. Much like with my review of Godzilla World, I want to go into considerable detail about the manga because I don’t think anyone else is going to take the time to do so, and I just… I love this stuff. I love it so much. I am also including a translation of Pancake Temple’s review in an appendix to this article, and short translations of their synopses of the other episodes that I couldn’t cover.

Before jumping into the review proper, let’s walk through the origins of the manga and its twisty publication history. What eventually became the Godzilla-Kun manga I think started with the Godzilland merchandise run. Monster Island Buddies really blew the doors open on this merchandise line with two videos released back in November 2021 and January 2022, digging deep into Godzilland merch from the 1980s and the 1990s respectively. I don’t have time to cover all that was in those videos, so if you haven’t seen them, I highly suggest taking a look. The short version is that Godzilland began as a label for a series of cute Godzilla-themed goods released in 1984 as part of the promotion surrounding The Return of Godzilla (1984) and continued for more than ten years, with dozens of branded goods, a board game, at least one video game, and even several TV shows.

So, what does Godzilland have to do with the comic we are discussing today? Well, the title Godzilla-Kun began as a puzzle action game back in 1985 on the MSX home computer, and that puzzle game later was adapted into the Gameboy game, Godzilla-Kun: Big Decisive Battle. THAT game used characters and art assets from the first version of SD Godzilla World: Godzilla-Kun.

Thus, the manga we are discussing today is the mutated child of a cute Godzilla merchandise line, an old video game, and the ideas of a manga artist named Yukio Sawada. Oh, and Super Mario Bros. No, seriously.

Yukio Sawada and Godzilla Kun

Yukio Sawada ismost well-known for his mangaadaptations of Mario video games. He did adaptations of Super Mario Bros 2 (presumably the Japanese version) all the way back in 1986, but later became especially well-known for his ridiculous Super Mario Kun, a comic series that has run in multiple magazines since 1990 and currently has 57 collected volumes for sale in Japanese—and I think he STILL draws the comic to this day. The first volume of Super Mario Kun sold so well that it has had over 60 printings, with over 500,000 copies sold altogether—not to mention English and Spanish translated versions. And it began the same year as Sawada’s Godzilla-Kun manga. Apparently Super Mario Kun started in November of 1990, and the first version of Godzilla-Kun began serialization in May of 1990. Yes, Sawada did a Mario manga first, but of his two “kun” adaptations, Godzilla came first, probably taking its name from the MSX game from 1985. So there is a possibility that the longest-running, best-selling Mario manga from Japan at least partially took inspiration for its name and possibly even some of its content from Godzilla—more on that later. (It’s worth mentioning that two other manga artists who worked on Godzilla manga ALSO did Mario comics—Gen Sato and Kazuki Motoyama.)

After the Godzilla-Kun manga began serialization with the May issue from 1990 (which came out in April, as magazines usually come out the month BEFORE their cover date), the MSX Godzilla-Kun game was adapted for the Gameboy in the USA first (at least according to Wikipedia—I wasn’t able to confirm the timing of release independently) in October of the same year, without the manga connections. Then two months later the game was released in Japan (I can confirm this as I have found an advertisement for the game), with Sawada’s Godzilla characters added (for example, in the original American version, Godzilla is saving Minilla—but in the Japanese version, he is saving Bijira). According to Pancake Temple, the original run of Sawada’s Godzilla manga ran until January of 1991, just two months after the release of the video game. That version of the manga died with the expiration of the magazine in which it was being published at the time, Monthly Hero Magazine. Godzilla-Kun was picked up again, however, the very next month in a new format, in TV Magazine, running for ten chapters from February to November of 1991 before being canceled again—for good this time. (Note: Given the actual dates of publication, the January issue of Monthly Hero Magazine was officially released in December of 1990, and the February issue of TV Magazine ended up being published that very same month, meaning the reboot of Godzilla-Kun appeared in print the same month the previous version died.)

Monthly Hero Magazine

Monthly Hero Magazine—the September and November issues from 1990. The November issue has a new manga beginning called “Fruit Warrior Strawberry Number 1,” which just… makes me so sad, since the magazine was cancelled two issues later.

As mentioned above, I was able to secure two issues of Monthly Hero Magazine recently that contained an episode each of the earlier version of Godzilla-Kun. I cannot write with authority on the entire run, but I can at least make a few comments. I bought the September 1990 issue, which has a 16-page Godzilla-Kun episode as well as two yonkoma strips featuring the character, and the November 1990 issue. The November issue has a Godzilla-Kun adventure that runs 17 pages, as well as a huge guide to (supposedly) all the characters that have appeared in the series to date—including DOZENS of Godzillas. Out of 51 characters listed, only twelve are non-Godzillas. All the others are his family members, friends, and fellow residents of his monster community who share the Godzilla race. Most of them have ridiculous pun-based names (Majira for his mother, Pajira for his father, Sujira for a sumo wrestler Godzilla, Gyanjira for a gang member Godzilla). This character guide was published as a promotional tool to allow fans to vote for their favorite character from the manga—fans of Shonen Jump will know they have similar promotions, with lists of the most popular characters appearing even in republished “tankobon” collections. I imagine this promotion was done in the November issue because the Gameboy game released the same month; three lucky individuals who participated in the voting could win a copy of the game, and the results would be published in the January issue.

The January issue. You know… the last issue of Monthly Hero Magazine, in which the last episode of the original run of the comic would be printed, and the last time most of those characters that the fans were voting on would appear in the comics. Given that in both the issues I purchased, fan illustrations of Godzilla-Kun and one fan letter wishing for Godzilla-Kun merch were published on the letters page, it just seems incredibly sad that the comic would be essentially canceled at the pinnacle of its success, when the fans seemed primed to want more, only to have the thing rebooted into a lesser version of itself. I am really curious what the results were from that poll. Maybe the original Godzilla family of characters were less popular than the old-school kaiju and that’s why they were dropped from the newer reboot. It should perhaps be noted, though, that while the various Godzillas do not appear in the stories from the TV Magazine publications, occasionally some of them will appear on a contents page or two—with no explanation.

I have read through the two episodes of the older version of the manga, and given that the stories are roughly three times as long as the individual chapters from the reboot versions, they certainly feel more fleshed out, if no less ridiculous. I will include reviews of them in this article as well.

For my reviews, I will start with a summary of the story from the chapter, and then I will add a comments section after the summary. In the comments, I will make notes about cultural references and explain some of the puns. I also will make reference to how Godzilla-Kun and Super Mario Kun seem to feed off of each other all the time, with often nearly identical gags and even characterizations of the protagonists. Let’s get started.

Godzilla Kun Character Guide

Before we get into the comics and other material properly, it’s probably worth going over the cast. As mentioned previously, there are dozens of new characters, and in the November issue, a character guide was published with illustrations of the majority of the new characters and brief descriptions of who they are. Since it will be redundant to explain who they are in the stories from the September issue, only to have them fully introduced via guide from the November issue afterwards, I want to include the guide here first, with a bit of commentary—such as an explanation of the endless puns which are part of their names.

Godzilla Kun Characters

1. Godzilla Kun—”Our main character. Very energetic and a good guy.”

2. Kanjira—”He is a Gokkondo master. He is very strict.”

3. Bijira—”Godzilla’s girlfriend. Even though she is beautiful, she is strong!?”

Notes: As mentioned previously in my article on the various loves of Godzilla, Bijira’s name is just a combination of “Godzilla” and “bijin” or beautiful person. Apparently there is some question or measure of surprise about whether or not she is beautiful and strong at the same time. Kanjira’s name, meanwhile, is a bit of a mystery to me. If it is a pun, I don’t get it. “Gokkondo” presumably is a combination of “Godzilla” and “taekwondo” or “aikido,” etc. “Do” in the name of a martial art means something like “way,” so “Gokkondo” means “The way of Gokkon.” Make of that what you will.

Godzilla Kun Characters

4. Pajira—”Godzilla’s dad. He is a sea captain.”

5. Jijira—”Godzilla’s grandfather. He is a weird inventor.”

6. Majira—”Godzilla’s mom. She is good at fire food.”

7. Bajira—”Godzilla’s grandmother. She knows old stories well.”

Notes: The names of the monsters here are all simple puns. Of course “Pajira” and “Majira” are both obvious, stemming from the borrowed terms “papa” and “mama”—presumably from English. (In Japanese, there are other terms used for parents.) “Jijira” combines “Godzilla” with probably “jiji” or “ojiisan,” the former being an informal term for grandfather, and the latter a more formal version. Same thing with “Bajira”—it’s coming from either the informal “baba” or “obaasan” for grandmother. Note that I am not sure what the “fire food” referenced in Majira’s description means, but presumably it’s a joke involving food created from fire. I’m curious if it’s radioactive or not.

Godzilla Kun Characters

8. Varan-Kun—”He is a fun friend from Infant Island and can fly.”

9. Sunglasses Gigan—”Lives on Zolgel Island. He works with Ghidorah.”

10 Delinquent Youth Ghidorah—”Bad guy boss from Sollgel Island.”

Notes: One aspect of the first version of Godzilla-Kun which is dropped for the sequel is that there are multiple islands, and so individual monsters are known for living on specific islands. Solgell Island (from Son of Godzilla [1967]) is where the villainous monsters hang out. Personally, I would have thought the “villainous” island would be Letchi Island, since that was where the Red Bamboo had their base—it’s even sometimes referred to as “Devil’s Island.” Interestingly, I really noticed for the first time that in Japanese, “Solgell” is written “Zorugeru”, which seems more than a little strange. Interesting, too, that “kun” seems mostly reserved for “good” characters, while the two villainous monsters here are given prefixes to their names—Gigan is associated with sunglasses (a frequent indicator of a bad guy in Japanese media), and Ghidorah is outright called a delinquent. Also, with these three monsters, the designs from the guide look very different from how the monsters are represented in the comic proper. For example, in the comic proper, Gigan sports a mohawk, and Ghidorah’s “hand heads” both have sunglasses (of different styles) and pompadour “regent” hairstyles. His tails, too, look different in the comic proper, with the tip of his right tail ending in a spiked, ball-shaped club instead of the traditional tail tip.

Godzilla Kun Characters

11. Matango-Kun—”Very delicious human mushroom. But if hit with radiation he can change into a dangerous version.”

12. Edible Ebirah—”Can be caught in the water off of Letchi island, and Godzilla-Kun’s favorite food.”

13. Oodako—”Lives in the water off of Faro Island. A very delicious Giant Octopus that can be used as an ingredient for barbecue.”

Notes: Of course, in Japan, seafood is part of everyday life—and shrimp, octopus, and mushrooms are used as mainstay ingredients in many of the most common Japanese dishes. Here, several Japanese monsters are explicitly positioned as living food ingredients. In Godzilla’s gag comics, this theme recurs several times from different authors (more on this later), but Oodako’s deliciousness became “canon” when Kong ate a version of him in Kong: Skull Island (2017)—and come to think of it, a crab monster became dinner as far back as Mysterious Island (1961). The most sustained version of this kind of joke must be Monster Seafood Wars (2020) from director Minoru Kawasaki—a movie about a plate of seafood being transformed into a monstrous threat. Kawasaki also has contributed two official Godzilla comics to the world in The Godzilla Comic and The Godzilla Comic Raids Again. Note that Edible Ebirah lives off Letchi Island, where the original Ebirah appeared in Ebirah, Horror from the Deep (1966), and Oodako is listed as living near Faro Island, where he appeared in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). I suspect that the gag about Godzilla eating his kaiju opponents here is most likely inspired by Super Mario Kun—in particular Yoshi, who is constantly eating his opponents in the comic, with multitudes of jokes about how delicious they are, etc. Of course, that gag comes from the gameplay in Super Mario World and how Yoshi consumes enemies in that game as well, so it makes more sense in Sawada’s Mario comic.

Godzilla Kun Characters

14. Mothra-Chan—”A child Mothra. For some reason she likes Godzilla-Kun.”

15. Mothra-San—”Lives on Infant Island and owns the place. We don’t understand what she is thinking.”

16. Rodan Kun—”Lives on Infant Island and is a fun friend.”

Notes: Rodan looks very dapper here, with a rather dashing outfit which I have never seen him wear in the actual comic. Curiously, even though the twin Mothra larva appeared in the September issue of Monthly Hero Magazine, they are not listed here and are instead replaced by Mothra-Chan, who did not appear in either of the issues I own. According to the Pancake Temple review, she becomes the replacement for Bijira in the rebooted version of the comic, and I had assumed she debuted in the newer version. What precisely happened to the twin larvae remains mysterious.

Godzilla Kun Characters

17. Goro-Chan—”Lives on Letchi Island and is good at farming.”

18. Titano-Kun—”Works as a fisherman at Letchi Island. Good at swimming.”

19. Anguirus-Kun—”Lives on Infant island. Godzilla-Kun’s friend.”

Notes: Given that Gorosaurus is given the “chan” suffix instead of “kun,” which often indicates a female persuasion, the way in which the character is portrayed and drawn in the comics I have access to seems to indicate that the monster is male. “Chan” is not used strictly for females, and it can be used as a diminutive, a cute addition to even a male name. I have been called “Nick-Chan” by ladies at church and by nurses at the doctor’s office, for example. In the reboot version, the monster’s chosen island living spaces and jobs all disappear, which is too bad—it’s a charming touch to make the burrowing Gorosaurus into a farmer.

Godzilla Kun Characters

20. Hajira—”Godzilla-Kun’s classmate. The type of person who cares about his appearance.”

21. Yojira—”Hajira’s three-year-old kid brother. He likes Godzilla-Kun.”

22. Dojira—”A classmate. Very stupid guy.”

23. Bujira—”Godzilla Kun’s best friend, and a mischievous guy.”

Notes: Some of these, I am not sure if their names have a pun-meaning. Perhaps Hajira could be a pun on “handsome,” which is a borrowed word in Japanese. Yojira may be a pun from the kanji 幼, which means infant, and can be read as “you.” “Dojira” may be a pun on “donkan”, which means “thick-headed,” or possibly is using the prefix 度, which can be read as “do” and has as one of its possible meanings “stupid.” (Luckily, in English, we can just think of him as D’ohzilla). Finally, Bujira, given that he is fat, may be a pun on “buta” (pig) plus “Godzilla.” However, when Bujira appears in the comic, he loses his girth—at least in the two episodes I have.

Godzilla Kun Characters

24. Hikejira—”Shojira’s son, he looks up to old school firefighters.”

25. Nejira—”The nouveau rich mayor’s son–a nasty guy.”

26. Dodgejira—”Comes from a famous family of dodgeball players, he is Godzilla-Kun’s rival.

27. Itajira—”A necromancer who lives near the mouth of Godzilland’s volcano.”

Notes: “Hikejira” must be a pun for “Hikeshi” (Edo-era fireman) and “Godzilla.” “Nejira” I am assuming is a combination of “nezumi” (rat, or mouse) and “Godzilla”, given his rodent features. “Dodgejira” is just as it says. “Itajira” is a pun on “itako” (necromancer) and “Godzilla.” She (?) is one of two characters named Itajira.

Godzilla Kun Characters

28. Torajira—”Godzilland Island’s tradesman in charge, he is really good at being a cheap merchant.”

29. Miharijira—”A life guard who saves folks from drowning at Godzilland beach.”

30. The Sea Man—”Godzilla’s uncle who wanders around. Godzilla looks up to him.”

31. Furuujira—”He lives in Godzilland’s expansive poods, and he is a horticulturist. He is good with a pair of scissors.”

Tora-SanNotes: Torajira is almost certainly a parody of Tora-San, the beloved main character from the “Tora-San” series of comedic-drama films about a traveling salesman who constantly falls in love with a new beautiful woman in each film, but never finds true lasting romance. The Tora-San series is a touchstone of Japanese media, and it holds a Guinness Record for the number of films in a series starring one actor (48 movies), and has 50 movies altogether under its belt. Everything from his name to his hat to his face to the way he wears that coat screams Tora-San, as can be seen from this promotional still to the right.

“Miharijira” combines “mihari” (guard, lookout) with “Godzilla,” which fits a lifeguard figure. The man from the sea is not given a name, so we are left without a pun to satisfy us. He is just called “Umi no Otoko.” Finally, we have Furuujira, with an extended vowel sound. With this one, Sawada provides an explanation of the pun, writing 古ジラ next to his name, thus indicating that “furu” comes from the kanji for “old.” I guess he didn’t want us to think he was Fruitszilla.

Godzilla Kun Characters

32. Dokujira—”Godzilland Island’s only doctor. He is really a quack.”

33. Anjira—”Jijira’s good friend. He is a weird scientist.”

34. Sashijira—”A dude who is a fisherman. He likes energetic kids like Godzilla-Kun, and is a friendly guy.”

35. Itajira–He is a good chef. He is responsible for the fall special food Godzillan Stew.

Notes: Obviously “Dokujira” is a pun for “Doctorzilla” given his job. “Anjira” strikes me as unclear. “An” when written as 案 can mean a plan or proposal, so maybe that’s what Sawada was going for. “Sashijira” I am assuming is a pun on “sashimi” (raw fish) and “Godzilla.” “Itajira” (the second time this name has appeared) comes from “itamae,” which can mean “chef”. There are other terms that can mean chef or cook, though, so I am surprised Sawada went with a name that was already used. Maybe it was a joke where the characters get confused about who is the chef and who was the necromancer… that could be funny. Note that he makes Godzillan Stew in the fall—perhaps because fall is known as a time when people have a good appetite in Japan.

Godzilla Kun Characters

36. Sujira—”He is a sumo wrestler. He is strong.”

37. Joujira—”He is the steam locomotive engineer. He is a stubborn guy.”

38. Koujira—”He is the director of civil engineering. Despite his threatening appearance, he is a nice guy.”

39. Shojira—”He is the firefighter of the island, and Hikejira’s father.”

Notes: Obviously “Sujira” combines “sumo” with “Godzilla,” though I would argue it doesn’t work as well in English—it immediately makes me think of the name “Sue,” like “Suezilla.” “Joujira” is probably a pun from “jouki kikansha,” which means “steam locomotive” in Japanese—with the “jou” meaning specifically “steam.” “Koujira” most likely comes from “kouji” (engineering). Finally, I think “Shojira” is a pun on “shouboushi”—the modern term for firefighter, which sets his modern name against his son’s old-school firefighter-inspired name.

Godzilla Kun Characters

40. Wajira—”One of three police on Godzilland Island.”

41. Pujira—”A policeman with a lot of guts and you can depend on him.”

42. Rijira—”A policeman who wears glasses, he is popular amongst children.”

43. Gyanjira—”A hated guy and a gangster. He does bad and nasty stuff.”

Notes: I honestly don’t know what the three policemen characters might be riffing off of. Given that almost all the characters have pun-filled names, I assume these three do, too, but they don’t seem related to the word “policeman” or “cop” or “patrol” or “law” in Japanese. “Gyanjira,” on the other hand, is blaringly obviously—his name means “Gangzilla.”

Godzilla Kun Characters

44. Fujira—”The owner of the Goji Burger restaurant.”

45. Sujira—”She works at the convenience store, Gojiri Mart.”

46. Tejira—”Works at Goji Burger, she is nice.”

47. Kojira—”He also works at Gojiri Mart and is friends with Sujira.”

Notes: At this point, I can’t help but be surprised they are even listing these guys as main characters to vote on! The name origins, too, are becoming more obscure. “Fujira” may just be a pun on “Food”—“Foodzilla.”“Tejira” may be a pun on “tenin,” or “clerk/employee.” Sujira and Kojira, though? Why do we have a second Sujira? Is he also into sumo wrestling? Are they related? Kojira, too, has me scratching my head. “Kojira” was, as I understand it, a sort of write-in name for Minilla before they chose his final name via contest, but I don’t think there is any relation here.

Godzilla Kun Characters

48. Bokujira—”He is the pastor from the Saint Gojiran Church on the island.”

49. Pojira—”He works on the Queen Gojiran Go ship that Pajira rides.”

50. Zujira—”A lady who works at a bar.”

51. Mijira—”A sexy lady who works at the same bar with Zujira.”

Notes: “Bokujira” is the most obvious, being a pun on “bokushi” (pastor)—and man do I want to see what the Saint Gojiran Church looks like! The other three are not as clear. I would have expected “Pojira” to be the name of one of the police characters. “Zujira” too has me baffled, though I wonder if “Mijira” might be a pun on “miryoku”—which means something like “charming.”

Given that I haven’t read the entire original run of Godzilla-Kun, this character guide gave me a long view of what Sawada’s vision for the series was like—and while the naming convention for the characters was perhaps a little too simplistic (despite my love of puns), I love the idea of an entire community of Godzillas. It’s new, it’s different, it’s utterly insane. A Godzilla police force, church, burger restaurant, even a Godzilla-themed convenience store? Godzillas doing sumo wrestling and dodgeball and necromancy? I like it a lot. While the rebooted version often feels like nothing but a reskin of Super Mario Kun (to an alarming extent—you’ll see why in my review), part of that is probably because the originality that Sawada brought to the Godzilla universe was largely in his Godzilla world from the title—a world he had populated with surprising speed, given that he had created a cast of dozens of Godzillas in the space of six months. Even with my misgivings about the series, I wish so hard that Sawada could have pursued his original vision longer.

Can you imagine what his Godzilla manga world would be like if he had had a chance to pursue it across 57 volumes of manga like he did with Super Mario Kun?

A Super Mario Kun collected volume has about 14 episodes in it. Sawada had a collection of 51 characters in his Godzilla manga after six episodes. Assuming a steady increase in characters had the manga continued (which is pretty unlikely even if the manga had run for years, but it’s fun to imagine), one volume would have over one hundred characters in it—and 57 volumes would have over 5,700 characters.

Can you imagine 5,700 Godzillas? I can’t… but I really want to.

Godzilla Kun Guide

Note on the guide below: While I don’t have any but the September and November episodes of the first version of Godzilla-Kun, Pancake Temple includes the titles and brief information about the other episodes, which I used to compile and translate the information below.

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 1, chapter 1

Monthly Hero Magazine, May 1990

Translated synopsis: “Today Godzilla-Kun of Godzilland Island once more receives training in Gokkondo from Master Kanjira”

Two-tone colored pages

Fourteen pages

Review and Comments: TBA

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 1, chapter 2

Monthly Hero Magazine, June 1990

Translated synopsis: “Under orders from Nejira, Gyanjira kidpans Bijira”

Twenty-four pages

Also includes a guide to Godzilland Island on pages 33-39

Review and Comments: TBA

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 1, chapter 3

Monthly Hero Magazine, July 1990

Translated synopsis: “It looks as if Godzilla-Kun will be late to the school dodgeball tournament.”

Eighteen pages

Also includes an additional Godzilla-related publication titled “One Day of Driving Training” on pages 9-23

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun version one, chapter 4

Monthly Hero Magazine, August 1990

Translated synopsis: Summer special number: Adventure Cruise 2! Having returned from his cruise, Godzilla-Kun makes his own boat and heads out on another cruise.

Sixteen pages

Also includes a special Adventure Cruise scroll or volume from pages 11-17.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 1, chapter 5

Monthly Hero Magazine, September 1990

Doesn’t this look like some kid took a black crayon to the page?

Doesn’t this look like some kid took a black crayon to the page?

Before the story, in an earlier section of the magazine there is an image of many of the heroes and characters from the sundry serialized stories of Monthly Hero Magazine, and Godzilla-Kun is amongst them. As with many youth-oriented publications at the time, this magazine also ran various pieces of puzzle art (like mazes or searches), but this particular “game” is a little bit unique. The idea of the image is that you are supposed to find the drawing with the thick black lines that goes over the other images on the page (I thought some dumb kid had drawn all over my comic).

I would like to imagine that smiley crab is Ebirah’s relative.

I would like to imagine that smiley crab is Ebirah’s relative.

Then there is a two-page spread of the Godzilla-Kun characters. This was the closest I got to confirming whether or not Godzilla-Kun is part of the Godzilland line of goods that started in the 1980s, since it says on the page “Welcome to Godzilland!” The spread has a BUNCH of the Godzillas, but curiously none of them are named in the spread–just the other kaiju, such as Mosura-Kun, Oodako, Titano-Kun, and Anguirus Kun, as well as the villain, Delinquent Ghidorah. Godzilla Kun and Bijira are posing in one of those touristy standees where you can put your head through an image and see your face as if it were pasted on the body of someone else. In this case, it’s Godzilla’s head on a beach babe, Bijira’s head on hairy muscle man.A lot is happening on the beach–including Oodako getting chopped up for Takoyaki! As he is still alive! One of the Godzillas is eating him, too—I believe it’s Bujira. The Godzilla selling the Takoyaki is the cheapskate salesman Torajira.  There is also the Christian pastor Godzilla named Bokujira who is praying over Anguirus buried in the sand, apparently mistaking the spiky guy for having died (to which Anguirus protests).Titanosaurus is washing himself with soap in the sea while Miharijira the lifeguard Godzilla yells at him, and we have appearances from Yojira, Nejira (impressed by a fish with Godzilla’s face—a reference to a really stupid joke from this issue’s main episode.), I believe Majira (who is worried another Godzilla might be drowning), and a few more.

Yonkoma

This issue has two yonkoma comics. The first is a parody of the long-running drama Mito Komon, which I have never watched, but which was an enormously popular jidaigeki drama—the longest-running of its kind, stretching across 42 seasons, with over one thousand episodes. I have talked with my coworkers about the show sometimes; my understanding is that the main character is a retired high official who travels around, meets people in trouble, and helps them—and I have heard that the main character basically traveled to every area of Japan by the end of the series, and they needed to either start making up villages, or have Mito Komon revisit the same areas over again. In this parody comic, basically, a monster that looks a lot like Baragon appears and Gojimon is asked to help. Gojimon goes to confront the monster and shows off his key holder, with the face of Godzilla Kun on it. Then the Baragon-lite monster stomps on Gojimon because he doesn’t care about key holders. In Mito Komon, because the main character is a high official in disguise, during the climactic action he often pulls out his identification (carried in an inro, which was a fancy Japanese carrying case) to help him overcome various issues as he investigates problems in cities around Japan. The key holder is a stand-in parody version of those credentials.

An image from Mito Komon—note the main character and his distinct similarity to Gojimon.

An image from Mito Komon—note the main character and his distinct similarity to Gojimon.

The second one is a Kamen Rider spoof, but it’s Kamen Gojida. Here we see Kamen Gojida jumping into action and attacking his off-screen foe as he yells out the names of his attacks. Gojida Kick! Gojida Punch! And his final attack, a light ray! We finally see what he is fighting in the final panel—and it is just a roach. Maybe it’s one of the M Space Hunter Nebula aliens from Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), but at any rate, Bijira proclaims that Godzilla overdid it.

Didn’t you always want a Godzilla superhero? Godzillaman is here!

Didn’t you always want a Godzilla superhero? Godzillaman is here!

Story:

The September chapter of Godzilla-Kun proper is called the “Summer Break Special Number 2,” and seems to continue from an ongoing story. Delinquent Ghidorah is on Solgell Island and is plotting to kidnap Mothra with Gigan. In this version, Ghidorah speaks with each of his heads, and it causes Gigan to get confused. Apparently Gigan already tried to kidnap Mothra (I would assume in the previous episode) and failed, and Ghidorah is chastising him.

Anyway, we find out that Ghidorah wants to kidnap Mothra so he can use her thread to make underpants/panties. Each of the heads, though, has a different style of underwear that he wants to make, and they get into a fight about it. Over on Infant Island, Mothra-San has prepared a giant cabbage to feed her guests–Godzilla, Bijira, three-year-old Yojira, Jijira the grandfather, and Godzilla’s friend Bujira. Godzilla is already in the water, and has been attacked by a shark.There is an extended joke about Bujira thinking that Godzilla has turned into a shark-mermaid. Titanosaurus shows up and bonks the shark on the head. Jijira thinks they have discovered a fish with a Godzilla face. Finally Godzilla is freed and Ghidorah and Gigan arrive.Gigan hypes up Ghidorah as a total tough guy, bragging he can fly at mach 3 and shoot gravity beams and (joke time) he is really good at the Dojou Sukui dance (see comments).

Next, Ghidorah beats up Gigan for messing up the hype. And he demands access to Mothra (the larva, of which there are two here—no Mothra-Chan). Godzilla says there is only one thing to do, and dresses up Bujira in a costume of Mothra and pushes him forward to be kidnapped. Godzilla and Ghidorah menace each other. Ghidorah makes to charge Godzilla but one of his head’s is distracted by Bijira’s beauty. Somehow that distraction causes Ghidorah to crash or something and hurt himself. That display of ineptness then inspires Titanosaurus to ask whether Ghidorah is indeed strong. Ghidorah answers that question by zapping Titanosaurus. Yukio Sawada appears in the comic to explain that Ghidorah’s gravity beams reduce gravity to zero when they zap things (which doesn’t explain why that would hurt anyone I don’t think—wouldn’t that just make them floaty?) but Titano is toast.

Godzillaman transformation!

Godzillaman transformation!

Godzilla asks his grandfather to give him a power up, and Jijira gives him “Hero Power Regain Tipe”, which is comically labeled as being copyright Sankyo—a real Japanese pharmaceutical company. Godzilla drinks the potion and becomes Godzillaman (or Godzillaaaaaaaaaman)–apparently not for the first time. Now he can fly around with his cape and superhero costume. Ghidorah tries to blast him and misses, raining boulders on Godzilla’s friends. Godzilla finds them buried and asks them what happened, and it’s supposed to be funny because he helped cause the accident. Godzilla starts flying again and Ghidorah hits him out of the air with a big fly swatter, and sprays him with fly spray, then grabs a larva with one mouth.

Mothra jumps into action, spraying her poison scales. Those scales hit the Godzillas, and their effect is to turn everyone stupid. It has no effect on Godzilla, though, because it is determined that he is already stupid. Finally, Ghidorah blasts Godzillaman with his gravity beams. For some reason, this causes Godzillaman to split into a ton of smaller Godzillamen. The tiny Godzillamen bite and blast Ghidorah before creating an arrow formation and targeting the area where Ghidorah’s two tales split, which is his weak spot (basically his anus I guess). They smash into it, and Ghidorah is down for the count. There is a celebration then at the victory. Finally, Anguirus, Rodan, and Gorosaurus appear to save the day, but they find Ghidorah already defeated, and accidentally tromp all over the mini Godzillamen. The end.

Comments:

One aspect of this episode that surprised me was that Ghidorah and Gigan are after the twin larvae and not Bijira, since she was the one put in danger in the Game Boy outing, and the description of the manga from Pancake Temple also suggested that Bijira essentially played the damsel-in-distress role. Instead, she plays an even less-important part as a sort of backup character along with Bujira and Yojira, none of whom do much in this episode.

The Dojou Sukui dance performed by Ghidorah, and a corresponding free illustration thereof from the website Irasutoya.

The Dojou Sukui dance performed by Ghidorah, and a corresponding free illustration thereof from the website Irasutoya.

The early gag about Dojou Sukui is confusing, but is part of a pattern with Sawada—namely, lots of cultural references. Kevin Derendorf helped me find this reference, as he had seen it in other anime before—Dojou Sukui is a famous humorous dance from Yasugi City in Shimane prefecture that imitates a method of scooping fresh water fish (called loach) with baskets, and is performed with exaggerated movements and idiotic expressions, apparently to the song “Yasugi Bushi,” which tends to be sung by a woman. In the comic, Ghidorah is making singing with full humorous effect, and looks quite ridiculous—though why he would be proficient in a dance from Shimane prefecture is not made clear. For example, when Ghidorah arrived on the earth back in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1965), he landed on Mt. Kurodate, which is far away in Hokkaido prefecture—not Shimane.

As with the other Sawada comics I have read, Godzilla-Kun is crude and rude, with many jokes aimed at the lowest common denominator. Jokes about panties and crotch-shots fit right in with Sawada’s Mario works, and both also rely heavily on their hero consuming power-ups and changing form/costumes. Mario of course has many set costumes, like the tanuki costume, and the cape that makes him appear like a superhero… which was from Super Mario World, and which Sawada would be relying on for many of his Mario gags.

Mario could transform into a superhero in Sawada’s comics, too—and crotches were not safe in his Nintendo-inspired world, either.

Mario could transform into a superhero in Sawada’s comics, too—and crotches were not safe in his Nintendo-inspired world, either.

One final comment: I personally really enjoy that Godzilla’s grandfather, Jijira, is an inventor who comes up with weapons that help Godzilla to transform and take out his opponents. It stands in contrast to Godzilla’s past, where he has had to fight against various inventors and their weapons, bombs, and robots. This time, it’s a Godzilla doing the inventing.

The fan art page from the September issue includes two pieces of Godzilla-Kun fan art.

The fan art page from the September issue includes two pieces of Godzilla-Kun fan art.

In the back of the issue they have fan art and letters that were sent in, including fan art of Godzilla Kun, and a letter from a fan who wishes that there were toys of Godzilla Kun—though the writer seems more interested in Mothra!

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla-Kun, version 1, chapter 6

Monthly Hero Magazine, October 1990

Translated synopsis: “Godzilla-Kun can’t give his all to his training in Dokkondo due to a foolish mindset brought on by summer vacation. His master orders him to perform special training in a forest of learning.

Seventeen pages

Also includes a festival of delicious food on pages 33-39

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla-Kun, version 1,chapter 7

Monthly Hero Magazine, November 1990

Story:

This issue of the magazine was released the same month as the Gameboy Godzilla-Kun: Big Decisive Battle, so naturally the magazine included an advertisement for the game, which I will include below. Basically, the advertisement is plastered with images of characters from the game and manga. According to MIB who has posted a review of the Japanese version of the game, most of the minor Godzilla-variant characters do not appear in the game itself, and that only Pajira, Majira, Bijira, Yojira, Itajira (the necromancer), and Kanjira are in the game. However, in the print advertisement I have, even smaller characters like Torajira, Furuujira the police Zillas, and others appear. The advertisement describes the mechanics of the game, including information about how the enemies operate, and how Bijira is captured by “bad guy monsters,” and the power-up item, the “nuclear nut,” which plays a big part in the Godzilla-Kun manga as well. The nuclear nut is what powers up Godzilla’s atomic breath in the game—I had read that Godzilla consumed spicy curry to achieve his signature breath attack in the game, but that information was wrong—rendering many of my comments in things like my Godzilla curry reviews mistaken.

Godzilla-Kun: Big Decisive Battle on Gameboy Japan advertisement—“Save Bijira!”

Godzilla-Kun: Big Decisive Battle on Gameboy Japan advertisement—“Save Bijira!”

How many times has Godzilla played as a great detective? Counting this one, at least three.

How many times has Godzilla played as a great detective? Counting this one, at least three.

Title: “Let’s Go! Famous Detective!?”

Kanejira, the nouveau rich mayor, is running around looking for a famous detective to solve his case. He stumbles on a big mansion-like building that advertises itself as Shergoji Holmes Detective Office. He tries the front door and finds that it is just a fake–the entire facade of the building collapses on him to reveal a small house behind it where Bijira and Godzilla (wearing a Sherlock outfit) are waiting. Kanejira notices right away that it’s really Godzilla and decides to leave, but Godzilla captures Kanejira in a cage and forces him to choose from his menu of three options–ten jira (see comments) to just listen to his plight, 100 to offer a solution, and 1000 to take responsibility and arrest the culprit (cake and coffee included). Kanejira chooses the ten jira option, but Godzilla pushes a button and the cage becomes smaller, crushing Kanejira until he agrees to pay the full 1000 jira (what a hero, am I right?). Kanejira reveals a secret note that was given to him, passing it over to Godzilla. He accidentally gives the wrong letter, though–a fan letter asking the idol Mipojira for an autograph. The real note is a cypher or a code, which turns out to be an elaborate gag (see comments).

After solving the code, the letter reads “Tomorrow I am going to steal the diamond.” There are a series of jokes about Godzilla misunderstanding “diamond” to mean something else (again, see comments). Then they go to Kanejira’s house to protect the diamond, which is called the Tear of Godzilla. Legend has it that the diamond came from the hero Godzilla’s tears upon losing his lover, and that the gem possesses limitless power and is worth millions of jira. Godzilla tries to steal the diamond, but then Godzilla, Bijira, Yojira, and Bujira decide to guard it instead. Suddenly the lights go out, and when Bujira turns them back on, the diamond is gone (which they notice only after they catch Godzilla raiding the fridge).

Godzilla quickly identifies Kanejira as the crook. When Kanejira reacts, Godzilla says, “I knew it was you! You reacted!” Kanejira says anyone would react to being suddenly accused like that and beats up Godzilla, who bites Kanejira’s coat while asking for a second chance. He accidentally rips the coat, and out of the ripped pocket falls the Tear of Godzilla. Godzilla and his friends accuse Kanejira again, and suddenly Ghidorah appears! It turns out he was wearing a costume and just pretending to be Kanejira the whole time! The tri-headed terror grabs the diamond and flies out through the roof with the heroes chasing after. When Ghidorah looks back he accidentally drops the diamond. It falls on the ground, and both Ghidorah and Godzilla charge for it, smashing into each other so Yojira can grab it and run away. (Somewhere in all this chaos they also find the real Kanejira tied up.). Ghidorah punches Yojira with one of his faces (see comments). Bujira grabs the diamond that Yojira dropped and runs, and Ghidorah punches him, then finally grabs the diamond once more and flies off again. Godzilla flies after him with that patented atomic breath. Ghidorah kicks him away, and the head holding the diamond calls Godzilla a fool, accidentally dropping the prize.

Godzilla-Kun in jewel form takes out Ghidorah with his “Gojiran Jewel Beam.”

Godzilla-Kun in jewel form takes out Ghidorah with his “Gojiran Jewel Beam.”

Godzilla catches the diamond in his mouth, which changes him, combining the jewel and his face, and giving him a jewel beam power that takes out Ghidorah in one hit. There is a big celebration, but now that Godzilla IS the Tear of Godzilla, he is put on display in Kanejira’s house instead of the diamond by itself—which prompts Godzilla-Kun to cry real tears. The end.

Comments:

Detective fiction has been massively popular in Japan for over a hundred years, with celebrated author Edogawa Rampo providing some of the earliest Japanese examples of detective fiction (many of his stories are available in English editions), and more recent Japanese super-detectives including the various iterations of Detective Kindaichi, Keigo Higashino’s Detective Galileo, and (of course) the seemingly endless adventures of manga and anime star Detective Conan. Godzilla, too, has become a detective three times at least in the world of gag comics—two detective Godzillas appeared in the 1993 manga collection Godzilla World, and perhaps they were both inspired by Sawada’s effort here.

Kanejira, the mayor of Godzilland Island.

Kanejira, the mayor of Godzilland Island.

The first character to appear in today’s episode is Kanejira—a Godzilla-variant character who strangely was not illustrated in the character guide, even though he is mentioned. Kanejira is described as the nouveau rich mayor—and in the character guide, his son Nejira is included. Perhaps this is the first time Kanejira himself has appeared in the series, despite his son appearing before? Like the other zilla variants, Kanejira’s name is a pun. His name essentially means “Moneyzilla.” Ultraman fans might recognize the word “kane” from the infamous money-scarfing monster Kanegon. Same root word here. Kanejira is apparently a fan of an idol singer zilla named Mipojira, who unfortunately does not make an appearance in this episode. My guess is that the name is a reference to actress and idol singer Miho Nakayama, who became active from 1985 and so would have been well-known at the time—she had a studio album released that same year, as well as a role in the drama Suteki na Kataomoi. Her nickname was Miporin, hence Mipojira. As with many idol singers in Japan, Mipojira apparently had creepy middle-aged men as fans.

Shergoji Holmes has a payment system based off of traditional Japanese restaurant menus.

Shergoji Holmes has a payment system based off of traditional Japanese restaurant menus.

Early in the comic, Shergoji gives Kanejira a chance to purchase his detective services, which come in three levels on his official “menu”. This menu is based on traditional restaurant menus in Japan, and includes a ranking for quality or expense from “ume” (plum) for the cheapest, “take” (or bamboo) for the middling quality, and “matsu” (or pine tree) for the highest quality. I have seen these rankings compared before to one star, three star, and five star restaurant or hotel rankings, though I think maybe a better comparison might be to a light snack, a regular meal, and a full-course meal. As with anything in a Sawada comic, the joke is to take the traditional Japanese system and make it extreme, with each level ten times more expensive than the previous one—and the comparison to a restaurant menu made even more explicit with the inclusion of cake and coffee at the highest price point. I also love that Godzilla money is called “jira,” which sounds like it could be a real currency given how close the pronunciation is to the Turkish lira.

Godzilla-Kun and Super Mario Kun both have similar puns about tires.

Godzilla-Kun and Super Mario Kun both have similar puns about tires.

After solving the code, Godzilla misinterprets what is to be stolen. In Japanese, “diamond” can be written as “daiya” or だいや, which Godzilla initially believes the target is a tire, or taiya (タイヤ) in Japanese. The pun is stretched even thinner when Godzilla then thinks maybe the message meant an outfielder (“gaiya” in Japanese) or a stepping stool/stand (or “dai,” prompting Bujira to proclaim “dai ya”—“it’s not a stand”). Now, I love puns, but Sawada really pushes the limits of punning with his comic here. He uses a similar joke in one of his Super Mario Kun episodes, in which Mario and Luigi work together to throw fire balls at their opponent—and Yoshi tries to play along, but misinterprets and throws a tire instead.

Altogether, the November episode of Godzilla-Kun feels pretty standard for a Sawada adventure, with Godzilla again portrayed as a pretty questionable hero, puns galore, and quite a few jokes that dig into Japanese culture. This series, were it translated into another language, would be very challenging to adapt for a foreign audience. I also think the eventual use of the Tear of Godzilla as a weapon that transforms or combines with Godzilla feels cheap. At this point I can’t help but compare everything in these comics to a video game powerup, but that’s exactly what it feels like here. Given that when Godzilla charges up here, the resulting power up is just another beam attack, it feels creatively bankrupt or just downright boring. Still, as mentioned previously, I enjoyed the code joke, and I liked how in the conclusion Godzilla-Kun is actually crying, creating a double-meaning for “Tear of Godzilla” (kind of a cruel joke, really). Overall, a funny, but not great, episode.

There are a couple more fan drawings in the letters section in this issue as well.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 1,chapter 8

Translated synopsis: “Bijira-Chan is sucked into a Game Bozu, and Godzilla-Kun goes into the game to save her.”

Fourteen pages

Also includes “Let’s play with Godzilla-Kun!” on pages 24-31.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 1,chapter 9

Translated synopsis: Ghidorah and Gigan try to make it snow on Godzilland Island. Godzilla-Kun then goes to make the volcano erupt.”

Fourteen pages.

Also includes “It’s New Year’s! Fun Land” on pages 93-96.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 1

TV Magazine, February 1991

Godzilla, Titanosaurus, and Gorosaurus get ready to have a snowball fight.

Godzilla, Titanosaurus, and Gorosaurus get ready to have a snowball fight.

“A New Hero Appears”

Story:

In this episode, Godzilla-Kun, Goro-Chan, and Titano-Kun are enjoying the recent snow. They decide to have a snowball fight, and Gorosaurus dodges an attack by digging suddenly into the snow. But just as the monsters are starting to play, Sunglasses Gigan and Delinquent Youth Ghidorah arrive and want to join in. Godzilla-Kun and his pals allow Gigan and Ghidorah to play with one caveat—that the dastardly duo promise not to do anything underhanded during the game. Ghidorah then brains Godzilla with a rock covered in snow, followed up by a wild barrage of many snowballs thrown at once. Godzilla manages to deflect the snowball barrage back at Ghidorah with a deft application of his tail. This inspires Ghidorah to procure a giant snowball to throw at Godzilla, and lifts it above his head, ready to strike. At this point, Rodan-Kun arrives, landing on the giant snowball and crushing Ghidorah under its weight (all on accident, as apparently Rodan is not too bright). At first Ghidorah is upset, but then he realizes he is now part of the giant snowball, and charges Godzilla whilst still encased in snow. At the last minute before Ghiddy can flatten Godzilla, Mothra-San (the adult Mothra, who is known for thinking strange things in this continuity) plucks Godzilla out of danger and encourages our hero to melt the snow away. Godzilla obliges with a blast of his nuclear breath—but the blaze is so powerful that it creates an instant hot spring bath, and roasts Ghidorah but good. The end.

Godzilla burps in Ultraman’s face. Note the stretchy mochi coming from Kamen Rider 1’s chopsticks.

Godzilla burps in Ultraman’s face. Note the stretchy mochi coming from Kamen Rider 1’s chopsticks.

In the same issue, we get a special feature—a “Surprising Panorama Heroes New Year’s”by Yuuji Hosoi (an extremely prolific manga artist who did Kamen Rider, Kikaider, Kaiju Booska, Gundam, and Ultraman Kids manga, among others). Hosoi provides a series of illustrations featuring Godzilla, Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Gundam characters, Super Sentai characters, and more as they gallivant about doing various Japanese New Year’s activities. On the first spread, the heroes are eating ozooni (a mochi soup consumed around New Years) in a very messy fashion. Godzilla, after eating a massive bowl of the stuff, belches fire into Ultraman’s face. (If you’re not familiar with mochi, it’s like this glutinous rice cake, and lots of different kinds of foods can be made with it, both sweet and savory—I love the stuff. In the second spread, about “Surprising Heroes: First Shrine Visit of the Year,” Godzilla and Mazinger Z are putting giant coins in the collection box. Many heroes are gathered, and even Gegege no Kitaro and Spider-Man make appearances.

Comments:

The first episode is fast-paced and chaotic, and filled with gags. We get a curious glimpse at Godzilland Island, too, which appears to have a scary-looking mountain as part of the natural features, as well as a volcano or two, and forests. The illustration reminds me of a video game. The snow that arrives at the beginning suggests the closing events of Son of Godzilla (1967), but here does not freeze the main characters into hibernation. The episode includes quick introductions of each of the principal characters with identifying characteristics, such as Goro-Chan’s burrowing ability, and Titanosaurus’ excellence in swimming. Gigan (wearing sunglasses, perhaps inspired by his appearance in Shinji Nishikawa’s doujinshi Godzilla Legend from 1986) and Ghidorah (boasting pompadour haircuts, the classic delinquent hairstyle of Japan, sometimes called the “regent” hairstyle) are quickly introduced as villains, retaining their buddy status from Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)—though here, Gigan does basically nothing. Rodan is depicted as an oblivious idiot, which doesn’t directly reference his personality from the movies, but may reflect how ridiculous he looked in the Showa redesign from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)—he arguably looked like an idiot there. Pleasingly, Gorosaurus can dig as in Destroy All Monsters (1968). One other curious touch: the adult Mothra is described as an obtuse, confusing monster… Given that Mothra is portrayed as a parent in future episodes, perhaps this strangeness is a positioning of Mothra as a quirky, nebulous parent figure and is meant to show that children often just don’t understand adults well.

One aspect of the first chapter that may have been influenced by Sawada’s Mario comics is the sequence in which Godzilla deflects the snowball barrage back at Ghidorah. A similar event took place in the second chapter of Super Mario Kun, where Mario faces off against a piranha plant. The piranha plant spits dozens of seeds at Mario, who deftly knocks them away with his Super Nintendo controller num-chuks. Unfortunately, when Mario does so, he accidentally diverts the seeds’ trajectory right into his brother Luigi, establishing a running gag that becomes familiar in both series: blocked or deflected attacks that then hurt allies, sometimes on purpose.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 2

TV Magazine, March 1991

Godzilla arrives at Mothra’s cocoon house ready for some holiday cheer.

Godzilla arrives at Mothra’s cocoon house ready for some holiday cheer.

Story:

Godzilla is on his way to Mothra-Chan’s house, as he has been invited over for a Hinamatsuri event. When Godzilla arrives at Mothra’s house, which looks like a giant cocoon, nobody answers the door at first. Suddenly Mothra-San (Mothra-Chan’s mother) pops out of the top of the house, informing Godzilla that the front door is a fake, and prompting the kaiju king to question if this is a ninja house. Mothra-San is concerned that Godzilla looks very sweaty, and so flaps her wings to cool him down, inadvertently coating him with her poisonous powder and causing our hero much discomfort and frustration. He finds hina-arare crackers on display, and partakes of the crackers, eating them ravenously before Mothra-Chan arrives and tells him they are poisoned and were set out to drive away bad monsters. Mothra-San then appears again, announcing that she has a giant cabbage for them to eat together. Everyone begins chowing down, and Godzilla thinks he might turn into a bug. At this point, Godzilla asks where the Hinamatsuri dolls are, to which Mothra-Chan responds that there are none. Godzilla understandably is nonplussed, but Mothra-San explains that Godzilla is to be made into one of the dolls. Mothra-Chan sprays Godzilla with webbing and makes him into a bulbous, roughly cocoon-shaped doll, and she herself dresses up to play the female doll role. Mothra-San comments that the outfits compliment them well. The end.

After the story, the magazine also includes “Godzilla-Kun Special Corner: Gojilland Island’s Friends”, which has brief profiles of many of the monsters that appear in the series. Godzilla is said to have a mostly empty-but-hard head. He is said to be learning the martial art of “gokkondo” (no mention of his teacher), but that he is not very strong in it. Godzilla is said to be poor at fighting, but good at rock-paper-scissors, and that his tail can be used as a weapon or as a toy for Mothra-Chan (what the frick? Possibly a reference to how Minilla plays with Godzilla’s tail in Son of Godzilla [1967] I suppose.). He can also use his flame breath to fly. Mothra-San, Mothra-Chan, Rodan, Titanosaurus, Gorosaurus, Ghidorah, Gigan, and Anguirus all get brief bios, each with minimal details like “Mothra-Chan is cute and loves Godzilla,” or “Anguirus is powerful and a kind friend.” The art is more detailed than found in the comics proper, and each character is wearing clothing for some reason. Much of the same art used from the character guide covered previously in this article is used, but the monsters’ jobs and home islands are no longer designated.

Comments:

This episode draws heavily on Japanese traditions, and so may be confusing to readers from other cultures. The Japanese Hinamatsuri, or Girls’ Day, is one of five holidays which seem to have come to Japan from China and are based on the Gregorian calendar rather than the lunar calendar we use in the West. Now the holiday falls on March 3rd, and the holiday is a celebration for daughters specifically. The various activities, decorations, and special foods are meant to drive away bad luck and give blessings to the daughters in the household. Part of the festivities is that heirloom dolls (which can cost even up to several thousand dollars for the fancier set ups) are displayed in the house sometime in February until March 3rd, and then taken down immediately so as not to cause the girls in the household to have delayed marriages. The dolls, then, are of a man and a woman in traditional wedding regalia, and they are supposed to take with them any evil fortune that the human daughters might otherwise have received from fate. It’s ironic, then, that Mothra-Chan, in the story, actually becomes one of these dolls for her party, and Godzilla with her, since they would then be positioning themselves in the way of misfortune (which is probably how Godzilla sees it especially, given what happens in the episode). The dolls are also meant to represent the emperor and the empress of Japan. As Godzilla is often called the king of the monsters, and increasingly Mothra is called the queen, this matchup seems appropriate.

Godzilla and Mothra as dolls, and real Hinamatsuri dolls with a similar design (credit: Live Japan)

Godzilla and Mothra as dolls, and real Hinamatsuri dolls with a similar design (credit: Live Japan)

From my reading, there are a number of festivals in regional areas of Japan, as well as specific foods that are eaten as part of the Hinamatsuri celebrations, which are carried on each year of a daughter’s life until they turn ten years of age. The foods of Hinamatsuri can include chirashizushi (in which, rather than bite-sized squeezed sushi, the vinegared rice is served in a circular vessel with seafood, vegetables, and egg topings scattered on top), hishi mochi (three colored mochi meant to be like a prayer for blessings on the child), and hina-arare crackers, which appear in the story. The hina-arare crackers are, according to my dictionary, meant to be an offering, and come in four colors, generally green, pink, yellow, and white, to represent the four seasons. Girls apparently throw parties for their friends at this time of year, which becomes the inciting incident for this episode’s story. Also, I was curious whether cabbage is eaten for the festival, and found at least one website that stated that cabbage ramen salad is one of the traditional meals. I think probably the cabbage was more of a reference to cabbage moths, however—of all the plants, peaches are most representative of Hinamatsuri, to the point that some think Princess Peach of Mario fame is a reference to the holiday.

poisoned hina arare snack that Godzilla eats, and real hina arare from Japan (credit: iStock)

The poisoned hina arare snack that Godzilla eats, and real hina arare from Japan (credit: iStock)

Interestingly, Mothra uses her scale attack inadvertently on Godzilla in this episode, and it has a different effect than it did in the earlier version of Godzilla-Kun. Remember back in the September issue of Monthly Hero Magazine Godzilla and other kaiju were hit by Mothra’s scales, but Godzilla came out unscathed because the scales’ effect was to make people stupid—and Godzilla was already stupid. Now, in the rebooted version, the scales affect Godzilla, apparently giving him something like hayfever.

The actual story is built on Godzilla’s misery, with bad event followed by bad event, culminating in his transformation into a doll. Misfortune upon others is a common comedic trope, and Godzilla famously was defeated by Mothra larvae via silk thread in Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), so the events have precedent. The fact that Godzilla’s “defeat” this time is shown as him transformed into a doll that is shaped like a cocoon (some hina dolls take that shape) gives an ironic, amusing flavor to the climactic joke.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 3

TV Magazine, April 1991

Godzilla, Mothra-Chan, and Anguirus go out to see the flowers

Godzilla, Mothra-Chan, and Anguirus go out to see the flowers

Story:

At the beginning of this episode, Godzilla-Kun is going out for cherry-blossom-viewing with his friends Titano-kun, Goro-chan, Mothra-San, and Mothra-Chan. Goro-Chan makes a mistake, thinking that Godzilla said they are going to view gravestones (see comments), and Godzilla is disgusted with his misunderstanding. A noticeably human ghost amongst the graves is comically scared of the kaiju. Then Godzilla notices something—a popular spot for viewing cherry blossoms on Godziland Island. Mothra-Chan expresses delight at getting to eat their packed box lunches under the cherry blossom trees. In response, Anguirus-Kun (who did not appear in the previous panels) appears carrying one of the trees on his back so that his friends can eat under it. They have a brief verbal sparring, with Godzilla and Mothra chastising Anguirus, and Anguirus upset that he had gone to the trouble of carrying the tree for them all this way, and this is the thanks he gets. Mothra-Chan sees a sign underneath a nearby tree that announces that the spot was reserved for Godzilla and his friends. They wonder who could have reserved the spot for them and settle down to start eating. Suddenly someone or something swipes Godzilla, Mothra, and Gorosaurus’ boxed lunches (I can almost see Goro lamenting, “Look what happened!”). It appears as if the tree itself is eating their lunches, but when Godzilla investigates, we discover that Ghidorah was simply wearing a tree disguise as a ruse to steal their food. When Godzilla confronts Ghidorah, the three-headed dragon blasts him with gravity beams, laying him out burnt and frazzled on the ground. Mothra-Chan feeds him a nuclear nut (see comments), and Godzilla powers up. He then pounds Ghidorah in the snout before a series of puns are given about the similarity between the Japanese word for “flower” and “nose,” as our heroes sit under Ghidorah and “admire” his swollen noses. The end.

Comments:

Generally, towards the end of March and the beginning of April, Japanese news tracks the cherry blossom trees as they bloom, and the Japanese plan to get out and party while it lasts. The end of March and beginning of April are a special time for Japanese people; new jobs tend to start at that time, as well as new school years. It’s a time of big changes, and with the blooming of cherry blossoms symbolizing the transitory nature of life, Japanese people take the opportunity to gather friends, food, and alcohol, and celebrate in parks with picnic spreads and food stands and outdoor games. Episode three is Godzilla-Kun’s raucous take on the practice.

Ghidorah diabolically dresses himself as a tree in order to fill his belly

Ghidorah diabolically dresses himself as a tree in order to fill his belly

One theme we have carried over from the previous version of Godzilla-Kun is Ghidorah’s use of disguises to steal things. Last time he dressed up as the mayor Kanejira to steal the Tear of Godzilla diamond; here, he dresses up as a tree to steal food. Both costumes, of course, are utterly ridiculous—which is by no means a bad thing!

One of Sawada’s trademarks across his comics is a reliance on puns, as has been abundantly clear from the many puns already explained in this article. Well, we have more of them here, folks!At the beginning of this story, Goro-Chan mistakes their planned party as a gravestone-viewing party (ohakami) instead of a flower-viewing party (ohanami)—note that nobody gets together with their friends for a raucous time picnicking amongst the gravestones in Japan. This is just a ridiculous pun, and a continuation of the funny misunderstanding trend of humor that also makes up a big part of Sawada’s jokes (see also Rodan’s accidental vanquishing of Ghidorah in episode one, and Anguirus misunderstanding that his friends would want him to carry a tree for them to sit under rather than just finding their own tree without actually ripping it out of the ground.) The episode also ends with an extended gag about viewing Ghidorah’s bruised schnoz. The word “nose” and the word “flower” are identical in Japanese, so they have a “nose-viewing” party, including a snide comment from Mothra-San that the “noses aren’t very pretty.”

We also have the introduction of the nuclear nut power up. Though this powerup must have been part of the earlier version of Godzilla-Kun, this is the first time I encountered it in any of Sawada’s tales. The nuclear nut is a video game powerup and is used as such (and so betraying Sawada’s reliance on tropes that carry over from his Mario-Kun franchise, where Mario is always finding fire flowers and capes and other power ups to save the day at the last minute), the nuclear nut (or fruit or seed) is something Godzilla can eat to regain his strength. However, unlike how the nut operated in the Godzilla-Kun game as something like fuel for his atomic breath, here it gives him strength to punch and battle and overcome his enemies. Unfortunately, this literal power-up sometimes just becomes an easy way to tie up some of Godzilla-Kun’s adventures, with little explanation or set-up. It reminds me of how I used to draw comics, get bored, and just end them with an introduction of a bomb that would just blow everything to smithereens. The difference being I was a dumb kid drawing comics for fun, and these are professional comics from a professional artist being paid for his work. This reliance on formula does not mean the comics are without charm, but they do get a little repetitive.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 4

TV Magazine, May 1991

Varan approaches Godzilla with a special message from Ghidorah written on his membranes

Varan approaches Godzilla with a special message from Ghidorah written on his membranes

Story:

At the beginning of this episode, Varan-Kun approaches, and we see the triphibian monster has a large bump on his head. Varan complains that Ghidorah beat him up, then gave him a letter to pass on to Godzilla. When Godzilla asks where the letter is, Varan spreads his arms to reveal the letter written on his gliding membranes. When Godzilla complains that Ghidorah’s handwriting is difficult to read, someone reads the text out loud. It says that Ghidorah will be waiting to fight Godzilla by the warrior statue (see comments). Godzilla is impressed that Varan can read the writing, but then it is revealed that Ghidorah read it, as he is standing right there, rendering the whole membrane-letter enterprise nonsensical.

The warrior statue comes to life with the application of a nuclear nut to the head

The warrior statue comes to life with the application of a nuclear nut to the head

Soon Godzilla and Ghidorah meet at the warrior statue, and Godzilla produces a nuclear nut he is planning to eat to achieve victory. Ghidorah issues a flying kick that sends the nut spinning through the air before Godzilla can eat it. The nut strikes the warrior statue, which not only brings the statue to life, but makes it grow several times its previous size. The warrior statue proceeds to flatten Ghidorah into a monster pancake and then rampage across the island, threatening to destroy everything. Godzilla eats a second nuclear nut and breathes flames on the stone giant. However, before the flames can touch the giant, it blows a great wind from its mouth so that Godzilla’s fire breath is turned on himself. As Godzilla sits, burnt to a crisp, Varan comes running carrying a hammer to fight the stone giant. Varan throws the hammer to Godzilla, who accidentally swallows it, and the hammer lodges in his tail. He then uses his new hammer-tail to execute an “Ultra Tail Hammer Chop” that shatters the warrior statue into a bunch of tiny versions of himself. Meanwhile, Ghidorah, covered in bruises and bandages, calls for the continuation of the fight while Gigan tries to calm him down.

Comments:

This episode, too, is in color, albeit primarily in shades of gray and red. Godzilla is mostly white and gray, Varan is a sort of salmon pink, Ghidorah several shades of darker pink and red, the warrior statue a striking gray, and Gigan a lighter gray with red sunglasses.

We see the return already of the nuclear nut, though at least here it is used to create a new enemy—the warrior statue. Even still, Godzilla tries to use a nuclear nut to solve his problems, and the text of the comic chastises him at the end for his overreliance on the power-up. Sawada knew it was a crutch even this early in the game.

This episode has several gags that seem to have migrated over from Super Mario Kun. The reflected fire in the face that Godzilla goes through has its correlate in chapter 14 of Super Mario Kun when Mario blasts King Koopa with a fireball and has it bounced back in his face. But much more surprisingly, the bizarre sequence where Godzilla eats a hammer also seems to come from Super Mario Kun, this time from chapter 10. In that episode, one of the hammer brothers is throwing many hammers at Mario and Yoshi (who has been changed into a shield), and Yoshi ends up getting one of them stuck in his mouth right before Mario defeats the hammer bro. The fact that both manga feature eating a hammer (and the hammers are drawn mostly the same in each comic) as part of the defeat of a significant bad guy feels pretty cheap.

Hammer time! Strangely, both Super Mario Kun and Godzilla-Kun feature the consumption of hammers as a plot point.

Hammer time! Strangely, both Super Mario Kun and Godzilla-Kun feature the consumption of hammers as a plot point.

Returning to Godzilla, the warrior statue, in Japanese, is called a “musha jizou.” “Musha” can be translated as “warrior,” but “jizou” is a little bit more difficult. My dictionary translates it as “Kshitigarbha,” which is a “bodhisattva who looks over children, travellers (sic), and the underworld.” The word “jizou” (or “jizo”) is a combination of “earth” and “storehouse” and can be translated as “womb of the earth.” I found another explanation over on OkuJapan that the jizo are a representation of Jizo Bosatsu, a guardian of travelers and of children. You can see these statues all over Japan, especially near trails, and they tend to be very small, often covered in moss, open to the elements. As an act of charity and mercy and as a means to gain credit in the afterlife, Japanese will pile stones next to the jizo statues, as well as dress them in bibs and hats. There are fairy tails about jizo, and they feature several times in the Usagi Yojimbo comics as well—Stan Sakai’s comics are a great way to familiarize oneself in an easy, entertaining, yet respectful way with various aspects of Japanese culture. You can also see them appear in My Neighbor Totoro, where they seem to help little Mei when she gets lost.

Which begs the question—why the heck did Sawada include a warrior jizou statue? Jizou statues are made to look like a monk, or a Buddhist deity, not a warrior. When I googled “musha jizou” in Japanese, no jizou statue variants that look like warriors cropped up. Equally strange, the musha jizou in the comic seems to match the size of Godzilla, whereas legitimate jizou statues are quite small—not even reaching knee-height on an average human. The actual size of the kaiju in Godzilla-Kun is debatable, but they seem human sized—when Goro-Chan visited the graves in the previous comic, the grave seemed to be a human grave with a human ghost, and Goro seemed about human size. So why is the musha jizou the size of Godzilla? (There is also the fact that, sigh, Mario has a jizou statue power-up, so this might just be another borrowing from Super Mario Kun.)

The warrior statue, Daimajin, and Gekido Jin side-by-side

The warrior statue, Daimajin, and Gekido Jin side-by-side

I can only guess what Sawada was thinking, but it seems most likely that the warrior statue, much like Gekido-Jin from Dark Horse’s Godzilla Color Special, is a stand-in for Daiei’s Daimajin, and an excuse to get Godzilla and the legendary protector god-statue to cross paths. Like Daimajin, the warrior statue is awakened, is huge, and goes on a rampage—although the statue doesn’t have Daimajin’s monstrous face. It’s funny that Godzilla-Kun ends up using a hammer on the warrior statue, since Gekido-Jin the very next year would be equipped with a massive hammer that it uses to bash Godzilla. Could Arthur Adams have read this comic and garnered inspiration somehow? They both have the same helmet, too!

Probably not. And despite the use of the nuclear nut here, I like this episode a lot. Bringing in a new opponent for Godzilla is wonderful fun, for one thing, but the sheer absurdity of Godzilla swallowing a hammer that becomes a weapon imbedded in his tail (ala an ankylosaurus) is dumb-delightful. A stupid-fun read.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 5

TV Magazine, June 1991

Godzilla faces off against a mysterious foe!

Godzilla faces off against a mysterious foe!

Story:

Godzilland Island has a big rainstorm which floods much of the island. In the aftermath, the kaiju discuss the mess they are in, since the floods washed away a lot of their food as well (Titanosaurus complains he is hungry). Godzilla notes that the floods also washed up lots of stuff, and finds a strange item in the refuse and mud. Mothra claims it as her inflatable swimming ring. Then Godzilla is shocked to discover Ghidorah frozen in ice floating in the water. When Godzilla wonders aloud what happened to the kaiju villain, a giant squid appears, claiming responsibility for the attack, and calls himself “Giant Squid Monster Gezzoora” (see comments).

Anguirus comments that Gezzoora was washed down by the floods, and Titanosaurus warns that touching the giant squid could get Godzilla frozen. Titanosaurus then consults a kaiju information book to discover that Gezzoora is weak to heat. Godzilla triumphantly claims he will use his fire breath to take out the squid, but then finds because he is hungry he doesn’t have the gumption to produce the flames. In lieu of his fire attack, Godzilla produces a marker and draws all over Gezzoora, making him look like Mamo (see comments). Gezzoora becomes really upset and grabs Godzilla, freezing him in ice and tossing him in the water to get carried away by the waves. The giant squid then threatens the other monsters on the island, proclaiming his intention to freeze them all. As Godzilla is floating through the flood waters, he happens upon a nuclear nut that was also washed up by the waves. Godzilla quickly consumes the nut, turns into “Power Up Fire Godzilla” (in which he appears to be in flames), and jumps Gezzoora, roasting the monster mollusk alive. The final scene shows the monsters of Godziland Island eating Gezzoora, who is now thrust through with a spit—and is conscious, bemoaning his sad state. The end.

After the main story, two extra pages are included, titled “Godzilla-Kun: Five Secrets” (no relation to the astonishingly awful book I reviewed years ago). The five secrets, each illustrated, are that Godzilla-Kun powers up upon eating nuclear nuts; that he has a powerful tail attack; that he can fly (albeit slowly); that his head is empty (and hard); and that he roars loudly(and snores even louder).

Cute art work of three Metal Heroes sporting way too many balloons. Illustrations by Tetsupei Takanashi.

Cute art work of three Metal Heroes sporting way too many balloons. Illustrations by Tetsupei Takanashi.

Finally, one additional art activity page featuring Godzilla is also in this issue. In this illustration, SolJeanne, SolBraver, and SolDozer from Toei’s Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain are each holding a set of balloons with various character’s faces on them, such as Gundam characters, Mario, Super Sentai, and Ultraman. Each character mostly is holding balloons that the other characters also possess, but also one that is unique, and the reader is tasked with finding the unique balloon in each Metal Hero’s hands. The art is cute and cheerful, but I would lose this one right away as I am not sure I can identify who the heroes on the balloons actually are!

Comments:

In Japan, in addition to the four seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter, there is the dreaded “tsuyu” or rainy season, which occurs sometime between May and July, and kind of shifts around depending on region and year. Some years are much worse than others, but basically, during rainy season, it rains frequently—though not usually every day. Japan also deals with frequent typhoons, which are the eastern equivalent of a hurricane. I have lived through numerous typhoons in my almost ten years abroad, and they tend to disrupt trains and bus scheduleswith wild winds, torrential rains, and general drama—though the ones I have witnessed usually haven’t caused extensive damage. Typhoon season overlaps with the rainy season, and can stretch from May to October.

This episode was in the June issue of TV Magazine, so the flooding theme coincides with the frustrations of rainy and typhoon seasons, continuing Sawada’s close attention to the Japanese calendar and season-appropriate settings.

Gezzoora appears!

Gezzoora appears!

Sawada also continues a theme from the previous episode—the oversized monster baddie, Gezzoora, who appears larger than the other monsters in the same way the supersized warrior statue did in the previous issue. Gezzoora is a take on Gezora, from Space Amoeba (1970)—though why the change in his name, I really can’t say. The original Gezora also had freezing-temperature abilities, though they weren’t portrayed as dramatically in the film—and Gezora has rarely been depicted as a formidable foe. Perhaps Sawada opted for a longer name to suggest a separate identity for the kaiju. Curiously, in Skreonk! Skreonk! Me Godzilla!, a version of Gezora also appeared, in 1994—and that version was named “Gesura.” There are citations from an interview with Teruyoshi Nakano back in 2004 that he was unhappy with Gezora’s name—is it possible that such dissatisfaction could have led to alternate names being applied?

At any rate, Gezzoora’s grisly demise is surprisingly extreme. The spit reflects how grilled squid is often served in Japan, especially from food stands—poked through on a stick and cooked up with cross cuts for even cooking. Such an ending for Gezzoora is appropriate given his name, which stems from the word “geso,” a term used for squid or octopus legs served to eat (I ate some just recently). Gezora as well as Ganimes were also considered for soup ingredients in the manga “Godzilla and His Happy Friends” by Gen Satou (who incidentally also did gag Mario comics), and Gezora (with other seafood monsters) is killed by Godzilla for Minilla’s lunch in “GoGo! Monster World” by Tetsugyo Yasuda, both included in Godzilla World, so it’s not such a strange joke.

Speaking of strange jokes, what was with Godzilla drawing on Gezzoora to make him look like Mamo? The best I can figure, Mamo here is referring to the Lupin the 3rd character and antagonist from Lupin the 3rd and the Secret of Mamo (1978), which I reviewed many years ago. A version of Mamo appears in Godzilla-Kun in the panel with the gag so we can understand it, and when comparing official art of the character with the joke drawing, they do look similar, particularly the curly hair. It seems like a joke that kids wouldn’t get, given that the movie was quite old even at the time Godzilla-Kun was published. Still, drawing goofy faces on enemies is also a running gag that was carried over from Super Mario Kun (or possibly vice versa)—I found several instances in the first volume I bought. What is astonishing, however, is that Super Mario Kun also had a joke in which Yoshi doodles Mamo’s face on an underwater enemy—in this case a bony fish!

Lupin III’s evil mastermind Mamo, and his likeness scribbled out on undersea baddies both in Godzilla-Kun and in Super Mario Kun

Lupin III’s evil mastermind Mamo on the right, and his likeness scribbled out on undersea baddies both in Godzilla-Kun (top) and in Super Mario Kun (bottom)

Note that, using the nuclear nut, Godzilla turns into a powered-up fire Godzilla a good four years before Burning Godzilla would appear in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995). Incredibly, this sequence, too, feels like a direct retread from Super Mario Kun, from chapter five, wherein Mario amps up his fire powers until he becomes “Fire Ball Mario,” and his whole body bursts into flames. Mario then crashes into a giant spiky blowfish, burning the enemy to a crisp… and then Yoshi eats the cooked undersea monster. It’s strange to consider that there might be a direct line from Mario to Burning Godzilla. Even the frozen Godzilla thawed by fire echoes chapter four from Super Mario Kun, where Magikoopa freezes Mario, and Yoshi then burns away the ice with his fire breath.

Sawada reuses another joke nearly beat-for-beat, showing a seafood enemy getting roasted by the hero in fire-mode, and then consumed as a snack in the next panel.

Sawada reuses another joke nearly beat-for-beat, showing a seafood enemy getting roasted by the hero in fire-mode, and then consumed as a snack in the next panel

In the additional material at the end, Godzilla-Kun is shown to have an “empty head,” recalling Dr. Arnold Johnson from King Kong vs. Godzilla lecturing on the tiny size of Godzilla’s brain. What is especially amusing is that Godzilla here is shown to be unable to count. Titanosaurus asks Godzilla if he has five apples and six mikan oranges, how many does he have in total? Godzilla’s answer? “A lot!” In 1996, in the Let’s Go! Godzilland” OVA series, Godzilla would “teach” addition and subtraction. In the addition OVA, Godzilla shows off his ability to add pancakes (three plus two equals five!) and tells of how he learned how to add while living on Godziland—presumably after the events of this episode.

Note, too, that the one who points out that Godzilla snores so loudly on the same page is… Mothra-Chan. Why the heck would she know that? You sly dog, Godzilla!

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 6

TV Magazine, July 1991

Godzilla and Anguirus follow what they think is a treasure map

Godzilla and Anguirus follow what they think is a treasure map

Story:

At the beginning of this episode, Anguirus approaches Godzilla with a mysterious map that he has procured by means unexplained. Godzilla immediately assumes it’s a treasure map, which inspires a pun/misunderstanding joke from Anguirus (see comments). Godzilla, Mothra-Chan, and Anguirus then travel together to the indicated cave on the map to search for the treasure. As the monsters venture deep into the cave, Mothra-Chan expresses concern that they are going to get lost, to which Godzilla responds that he has been leaving a trail of biscuits that will lead them back the way they came. However, Anguirus has been eating all of the biscuits that Godzilla has been laying down. Godzilla decides there is nothing for it but to go forward. Then he feels something cold. It’s Ghidorah frozen in ice from the previous issue. Godzilla decides to leave him be instead of defrosting him, much to Ghidorah’s dismay. Then Godzilla and the others find a giant door, which proves difficult to open. Godzilla tries his flame breath, but in the close quarters of the cave, the fire washes back over our heroes, charring their skin. Mothra tries her silk, but to no avail. Godzilla then attempts to smash through the door, but causes a minor cave-in instead. Anguirus wishes that there was some manner of incantation that might open the door, and so Godzilla cries out, “Hey, open up!” Much to their surprise, the door DOES open, revealing… Gorosaurus and a pile of trash. It is soon revealed that Gorosaurus had accidentally lost the map which Godzilla and Anguirus thought was a treasure map, and that he had drawn it in order not to forget the way to his trash heap. Godzilla gets really mad and beats up Gorosaurus, who is quite confused as to what happened.

Comments:

At the beginning of the adventure, Godzilla tells Anguirus that piece of paper he is carrying is a treasure map (or “takara no chizu”). Anguirus mishears him, and thinks he said “cheese made from tofu dregs” (or “okara no chiizu”—there is an extended vowel that differentiates “map” and “cheese” in Japanese). Note that, just as with last time when Gorosaurus thought that everyone was going “gravestone-watching,” like with that phantom practice, I don’t think “tofu dreg cheese” exists.

This episode feels like a throwback to the first two chapters. There is no villainous character, and no use of the nuclear nut crutch. It’s just a silly story of the monsters making a series of dumb mistakes and hurting themselves. Sawada’s repertoire of jokes again feels thin at best, with more recycling of attacks backfiring and absurd misunderstandings and puns, but we do also get a fourth-wall breaking comment from Mothra-Chan where she notes that Ghidorah was frozen in the previous month’s issue, which at least brings some innovation into the humor.

Frozen Ghidorah appears, and Mothra comments that he was washed up here since the events from last month’s issue.

Frozen Ghidorah appears, and Mothra comments that he was washed up here since the events from last month’s issue.

I think it’s too bad that the monsters have so little personality up to this point. Anguirus and Gorosaurus feel interchangeable—they are both very stupid and always misunderstand what is going on, but are generally good-natured, and that’s about it. Titanosaurus and Varan, too, do not display much in the way of personality. These limitations constrain the humor to a relatively low common denominator.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 7

TV Magazine August 1991

Godzilla dresses as a flower—a possible reference to Biollante?

Godzilla dresses as a flower—a possible reference to Biollante?

Story:

In this episode, Godzilla and friends go to the forest to hunt for bugs, and the Big G is packing a handheld net and has dressed himself as a giant flower. The flower, however, just attracts bees, and so Godzilla soon abandons the costume. Anguirus finds a patch of tall grass and dives in searching for bugsbut comes out with a scary face covered in bumps and swollen bits (even on his nose horn). Anguirus’ swollen visage frightens Godzilla, but only for a moment. Then Anguirus shows what bugs he caught in the grass—caterpillars, poisonous insects, and mosquitos, which Godzilla zaps with bug spray (getting Anguirus in the crossfire). Butterflies flying high above the monsters’ heads, taunt them, and Godzilla tries to catch the fluttering pretties with a giant net, but manages to only ensnare several nearby trees and uproot them. Suddenly Megalon appears, chastising our heroes for smashing up the forest because he is the Lord of the Forest. He tries to punish Godzilla, but ends up smashing up the trees even more, then zaps Godzilla with his head horn. The butterflies, watching, realize that if they just let Megalon be, they are going to be next in line, so they descend on Megalon and hold him still so Godzilla can attack the guy. Godzilla does so with an Atomic Headbutt to the groin, which puts Megalon down for the count. Godzilla then thanks the butterflies for helping him out… and then proceeds, along with Anguirus, to resume trying to catch them, thus engendering cries of dismay from the butterflies, and an apology from Mothra-Chan to her oppressed distant cousins. The end.

An illustrated game featuring six heroes and many, many rings. Two are not attached to the other three. Can you find them?

An illustrated game featuring six heroes and many, many rings. Two are not attached to the other three. Can you find them?

This issue also includes a couple additional illustrated games in which Godzilla appears alongside a variety of fellow tokusatsu and gaming stars. In the first of these games, Godzilla along with the other heroes are holding dozens of interconnected rings. The reader is given the job of determining which two heroes are holding rings which are not connected to the other four heroes. The heroes featured include Mario, Red Hawk from Choujin Sentai Jetman, Ultraman G or Ultraman Great from Ultraman: Towards the Future, SolBraver from the previously mentioned Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain, and Rider RX from Kamen Rider Black RX—the series that was adapted by Saban for the USA. The second game show an apartment building populated by heroes before and after three of the characters move out. Readers must find who has moved out, and who has moved in to take their place, which is made more difficult because most everyone also changed rooms. This time there are many more characters, and their names are not attached, so I am not sure of some of them. However, we get examples of characters from the Mario universe, Godzilla-Kun, Gundam, Ultraman, Metal Heroes, Super Sentai, etc.

Comments:

Catching insects is a popular pastime in Japan amongst children, as in any country, though with children in Japan, often the insects in question are not butterflies, but large beetles—such as the Japanese rhinoceros beetle. While I haven’t personally taken part in beetle searches, I have seen youngsters hunting them and talking about strategies to catch them effectively. Catching beetles (and having them battle) has been depicted in video game form (see Mushi King for one)—and the pastime famously was even part of what inspired the Pokemon franchise.

Megalon, Lord of the Forest, appears

Megalon, Lord of the Forest, appears

It’s appropriate, then, that when Godzilla-Kun goes hunting for bugs (albeit mostly butterflies this time), he encounters Megalon, who opposes his destruction of his home, and was partially based on rhinoceros beetles of Japan. Megalon, in his initial appearance in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), was also defending his home from destructive invaders, so it feels right to have him play a similar role here—even though Megalon is double-crossed by his own constituents. The story ends on an anarchic note, as Godzilla proves dishonorable, and Sawada again shows that good intentions can lead to bad ends on Godzilland Island. (Heroes betraying small fry who help them is ALSO a theme that comes directly from Super Mario Kun; in one episode, a group of dolphins helps Mario and the gang, and Yoshi directly afterwards tries to eat them. In the case of Super Mario Kun, this plot point comes from the game—the dolphins help players navigate the Vanilla Secret 3 stage, but Yoshi (in the Japanese version, but not the American one) can eat them just the same.As mentioned earlier, headbutting in the groin comes right from Super Mario Kun, too, again in the first volume, wherein a Koopa Trooper headbutts Luigi in the junk.)

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 8

TV Magazine, September 1991

Going to the beach again!

Going to the beach again!

Story:

Godzilla, Anguirus, and Mothra-Chan decide to go to the ocean to beat the heat. Mothra shows off her swimming suit, which covers most of her body, and which Godzilla thinks is too long. Anguirus shows off his, which is actually a diving suit. When criticized by Godzilla for his choice of swimming gear, Anguirus admits he can’t swim, and Mothra points out that Godzilla himself has no right to mock Anguirus given that the Big G is also wearing lots of inflatables, which betrays his own lack of swimming prowess. Mothra suggests that everyone partake in a watermelon splitting game (see comments), and Godzilla readily agrees. Anguirus finds what he thinks is a watermelon, but it’s really a bomb, which soon explodes. Godzilla asks who could have set them up with a bomb, and Megalon bursts from the sand, claiming responsibility. Megalon says he is mad about all the pain they caused him in the previous issue, and that this month he wants to get his revenge. He launches a drill attack, and Godzilla blocks it by grabbing Anguirus and putting him in harm’s way. Megalon then uses his lightning attack from his antler/horn, driving Godzilla up a nearby palm tree. In the tree, Godzilla finds what he thinks are nuclear nuts, and eats one—but it turns out they are laughing nuts, and it causes Godzilla to laugh uncontrollably. Megalon thinks that he has the advantage, and zaps Godzilla, but the monster king just keeps laughing. Megalon redoubles the attack, launching napalm bombs (which look like missiles here) from his mouth. However, even with the napalm attack, Godzilla keeps right on laughing, this time with a missile up his nose. Megalon is creeped out and runs away, but Godzilla is troubled that he is still laughing. Mothra gives him a weeping nut to try to balance things out, but when Godzilla eats it, half of his face starts crying, while the other half continues to laugh, giving even Mothra the shivers. The end.

Once again, we get some activity pages in this issue that feature Godzilla, too. Continuing the beach theme, the activity spread is a two-part maze. Part one, out in the water are four heroes—Mario, Rider RX, Ultraman, and Red Hawk. They are in a maze of waves, and only one of them can reach the island—you  need to figure out who it is. Next, once you reach the island, you can choose to take the role of Godzilla-Kun or SolBraver and wind your way to the top of a beachside mountain, encountering Jetman characters, Yoshi, Ultraman Taro, and others on the way. However, the task is to see which character—SolBraver or Godzilla-Kun—can invite the most friends along the way, as their paths cross different sets of heroes. Who wins, SolBraver or Godzilla-Kun?

Comments:

Putting Anguirus in a diving suit could be a reference to Dr. Serizawa in the original Godzilla (1954), though if so, the connection is not made explicit. Still, despite the addition of spikes on the top of the helmet, Anguirus’ diving suit strongly resembles Serizawa’s, as both are quite old fashioned and include a breathing tube feeding air into the suit itself.

Anguirus dressed as Dr. Serizawa?

Anguirus dressed as Dr. Serizawa?

Megalon arrives again, giving a stronger sense of continuity, and seemingly replacing Ghidorah as the formal heavy. As in the previous issue, he is wearing a Seatopian toga with belt, which is a nice touch—if only he had the king of Seatopia’s mustache. Godzilla proves himself a jerk again in fighting Megalon, sacrificing Anguirus by forcing his friend to take the brunt of the beetle-monster’s attack. This gag presages a 2016 Shinji Nishikawa comic, Kaiju King Godzilla, wherein Godzilla bodily kicks Anguirus into Gigan to defeat the bird-like cyborg.

Sawada thankfully does not fall completely into his reliance on nuclear nuts, and instead introduces two new kinds of power ups—laughing nuts and weeping nuts, kind of like how Superman had a wide variety of kyptonites that each had a different effect on him. These nuts have surprising effects on Godzilla, and create a new, non-violent means to end the conflict—proving Megalon to be a particularly weak foe.

As an aside, the beach episode is one of the most common tropes in anime and manga series (this is the second beach trip depicted, as the September issue of Monthly Hero Magazine also had a beach illustration with the Godzilland denizens from that derivation of the comic), and this month’s chapter is poking fun at some of the common elements of those summery specials—particularly the “sexy” outfits that often feature, given that Mothra-Chan is going against the expectation, and Godzilla is openly dissatisfied. In Japan, too, there really is a game of splitting watermelons, called “suikawari,” in which contestants try to whack a watermelon with a bat while blindfolded, and gain points for how evenly they manage to “cut” the fruit. If it breaks in two with even parts, they get a higher score, for example. The previous beach episode also featured suikawari, but in that one, one of the Godzillas used his tail to split the melon.

Japan celebrates Sea Day on July 17th of each year, and traditionally it is after Sea Day that Japanese go to enjoy beach activities. August is also home to Obon holidays, a time to recognize and celebrate ancestors—but also a time to enjoy summer with friends, which often includes beach activities and fireworks (Megalon’s bomb could be interpreted as fireworks gone wrong). Once again, Sawada is timing his stories with Japanese holidays and events, even if the tales themselves may lack much in the way of subtly.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 9

TV Magazine October 1991

Godzilla and company encounter enormous fruit

Godzilla and company encounter enormous fruit

Story:

Godzilla excitedly calls on everyone to go together to Mt. Goji, and Mothra-Chan likes the idea since it’s now fall and there will be a lot of food to eat there. Godzilla, Mothra-Chan, and Anguirus arrive on the mountain, and they find what appears to be a giant rock in their way. Godzilla decides to destroy the rock, and punches it without thinking. The “giant rock” bursts, spraying Godzilla with juice, and he discovers that what he thought was stone is actually a giant grape, and that there are many more where that came from. Anguirus then cries out, and we see that he is being crushed by a giant persimmon. Godzilla and the others are impressed at the size of the fruit, but Ghidorah appears, claiming that he came first and that all of the food is therefore his. When Godzilla and Anguirus protest, Ghidorah beans Godzilla in the head with a spiky Japanese chestnut. Godzilla is frustrated and tries to throw the chestnut back, but accidentally throws Anguirus instead. Ghidorah then blasts Godzilla’s friend with his gravity beams. Godzilla calls Ghidorah a nasty guy, but Anguirus feels Godzilla is just about as bad. Mothra-Chan calls out to her friends that she has found a giant potato (it looks like a sweet potato), and the three friends happily start chowing down on the thing (which is larger than all three of them put together). Ghidorah becomes annoyed and wants to claim the potato for himself, and when they start fighting, Mothra-Chan’s mother, Mothra-San, interrupts, telling them to stop messing around next to her cabbage patch. When Mothra-San notices the giant potato, she realizes that the fertilizer she had used on her cabbage patch made all the surrounding fruits and vegetables giant as well. She tells the younger monsters that there is enough for everyone to enjoy the food together, to which even Ghidorah finally agrees. But just when peace seems to have returned to Mt. Goji, the ground starts shaking, and an enormous mole (several times bigger than any of the kaiju) bursts from the ground, sending everyone running as they realize the fertilizer had an effect on more than just the plants. A comment on the side claims that the earthworms and mole crickets would also have been affected by the monster fertilizer. The end.

This month’s issue featured Godzilla-Kun in many activity pages, too. Let’s run through each of them quickly.

The first is a depiction of the usual heroes from the magazine taking part in a sports day festival. (In Japan, children are expected to participate in a special day in which many different sports events take place, usually wherein the student body is separated into two competing teams. My coworker’s middle-school aged daughter was recently forced to go to one of these on a weekend, much to her chagrin, but as a trade off she received a weekday vacation.)

Godzilla in the park maze—are those sideburns???

Godzilla in the park maze—are those sideburns???

Another activity is another maze, this time taking place in a park/grape garden. Readers lead SolJeanne on the paths, and many other heroes are walking around them, too. In addition to finding the way to the goal, readers are supposed to count how many heroes they meet who are facing the start and how many heroes they meet who are facing the goal. Finally, inside the grapevine trellis, there are several hero characters hiding that you are supposed to find. This illustration is one of my favorites so far, as it just feels so cheerful and breezy—but Godzilla looks awful.

A third activity features nine heroes, and readers must separate the nine heroes using two squares of varying sizes. This one confuses me a bit, as I am not sure I understand the instructions—apparently readers draw two squares to separate the heroes one-by-one, but I am not sure precisely what that means. Godzilla is one of those heroes.

The last activity is an illustration of various pairs of heroes in a park—Mario and Yoshi, Godzilla and Mothra, SolJeanne and SolBraver, etc. As the reader, you have to find a way to draw a line between each pair without the lines crossing each other. A pretty standard activity.

Comments:

A popular saying in Japan can be roughly translated as “good appetite in the fall” or “fall gives us a good appetite”—I have used it many times in my conversations, and it can almost be used like a warning. Basically, watch out, don’t eat too much. Because of this common attitude, and because so many foods are harvested in the fall, Sawada again chooses his topic according to seasonal events and trends in Japan. The foods he chooses for this episode are also popular ones in Japan; where I live now, we have persimmon trees in my current city, and they are a popular snack. Sweet potatoes are also a common treat in Japan, and I often buy freshly-cooked sweet potatoes called “ishiyaki imo,” or “stone-grilled potatoes” here—I just had one yesterday. Chestnuts, too, are a common snack in Japan and one can buy them even at convenience stores; I have a package of them in my kitchen, ready for a quick bite. Finally, once again, Mothra-San is seen exhibiting an interest in cabbage. Why cabbage specifically, though, I am not sure. Mothra’s design was reportedly based on giant silk moths, which do not primarily consume cabbage.

Ghidorah must have finally defrosted on his own and returns to bully the other monsters, this time without his sidekick, Gigan. He isn’t given any real motivation other than his role as a bully, though it is interesting that he so quickly bends to Mothra-San’s chastisement. In this universe, he is just a kid, and Mothra-San is the adult who makes the rules.

Perhaps the strangest part of the story is the origin of the gigantic fruits and vegetables, which stems from Mothra-San’s use of fertilizer. We never learn anything about the fertilizer that she is using, but generally in old school giant monster films (including Godzilla), radiation and nuclear bombs seem to cause monsters to grow. Could it be that Mothra-San is using nuclear-powered kaiju poop to make her vegetables big? It’s a little surprising Biollante once again makes no appearance here, and instead we get a giant mole!

The giant mole that appears in Godzilla-Kun, and the friendly Mega Mole from Super Mario Ku

The giant mole that appears in Godzilla-Kun (left), and the friendly Mega Mole from Super Mario Kun (right)

The giant mole was likely inspired by Sawada’s work on Super Mario-Kun(again). Super Mario World included a new enemy called Monty Moles, including a giant version called a Mega Mole, one of which played a prominent role in Sawada’s Mario comic. In chapter 9, Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi befriend a Mega Mole who helps them in their fight against a Blargg, or giant lava dinosaur. Sawada draws the Mega Mole in a nearly identical fashion to how he draws the giant mole that attacks Godzilla at the end of this chapter—the main difference being that the giant mole from Godzilla-Kun has more defined claws.

 

SD Godzilla World: Godzilla Kun, version 2, chapter 10

TV Magazine, November 1991

Don't eat those mushrooms, Anguirus!

Don’t eat those mushrooms, Anguirus!

Story:

Anguirus is walking about Godzilland Island by himself, feeling peckish. He suddenly sees a field of large mushrooms and is delighted at the prospect of filling his stomach. He immediately starts gobbling thefungi down, missing a huge sign that says that anyone who eats these mushrooms will become a mushroom monster, and thus forbidding their consumption. When he sees the sign, he tries to barf the mushrooms up, but it’s too late, and in the very next panel he has become a mushroom monster with a multitude of mushrooms growing out of his head. Soon Mothra-Chan rushes to warn Godzilla that a mushroom monster is running amok on Godziland Island. They see Anguirus in his new mushroom form blasting apart rocks with some kind of energy beam from his mouth and making incoherent noises (he can’t talk now that he is a mushroom, although he tries, and we readers get the translations of his garbled speech—here he is saying that he doesn’t like his new looks). Anguirus sees Godzilla coming and is overjoyed, running to greet his friend. All that Godzilla hears, though, are his grunting cries, and Anguirus uncontrollably blasts the kaiju king with that aforementioned energy beam from his mouth.

Matanguirus appears!

Matanguirus appears!

Anguirus is distressed to see his friend friedand tries to explain that his body did it outside of his own control. Then he bows in apology, with the consequence that the massive mushrooms growing from his head smash into Godzilla’s face. Mothra-Chan is distressed to see Godzilla defeated by the mushroom monster, but Ghidorah is much less concerned. Ghidorah makes a charging attack, and Anguirus is pleased to see even his enemy, hoping that Ghidorah can do something to help. But in trying to talk to Ghidorah, he again accidentally blasts the flying hydra, and when Anguirus tries to apologize he ends up inadvertently kicking KG. Anguirus is in a panic now, crying out for someone to help him, but he just ends up further devastating the countryside with his beam attacks. Godzilla realizes that, if this keeps up, the entire island is in danger, and thus he teams up with Ghidorah for a team attack. With their combined beam attacks, they manage to take down Anguirus. Godzilla and Ghidorah are thrilled and suggest working together to protect the island, but when Godzilla goes to shake hands with Ghidorah, Ghidorah’s left mouth bites him instead. Meanwhile, Mothra-Chan investigates Anguirus’ charred body, who seems to have had the mushrooms burnt off of him, and she realizes it was her friend all along. The end.

Comments:

This, the final episode of Godzilla-Kun, is a deliberate reference to the Matango (1963) film—the second Matango parody episode in the Godzilla-Kun series. The first was included in the initial run in Monthly Hero Magazinein chapter six, before the comic underwent its rebirth minus the Godzilla-family characters. The original Matango parody issue directly mentions Matango, with Godzilla becoming Matangodzilla—the design being very similar to Anguirus’ transformation, but with Godzilla apparently retaining his ability to speak. I have not read the initial Matango parody, but an image was reprinted in the Pancake Temple review. Curiously, when Anguirus eats the mushrooms, they appear spotted like proper matango mushrooms, but when they sprout from his head, they lose their spots and look like a batch of shimeji mushrooms.

Matanguirus goes on a rampage

Matanguirus goes on a rampage

The story takes the Matango conceit of the monster mushrooms making men into mushroom monsters with twisted minds (say that five times fast), and changes it to monster mushrooms making monsters into more dangerous monsters—but retaining their minds, and just losing their ability to communicate while uncontrollably emitting dangerous blasting rays. Presumably the only way Sawada could think to make a monster into a more dangerous monster was to make them lose bodily control of some kind of beam attack. It is funny seeing poor Anguirus, who normally has no beam or long-range attack capabilities, suddenly gain such fighting power, but be completely unable to use it effectively. At the end, apparently Anguirus loses his zappy ability with the mushrooms burnt off of him. Maybe most disappointingly, given that Godzilla had an encounter with matango mushrooms before, he has no memory of the experience, and the pre-reboot events don’t seem to be referenced here (though if I could read the older story, maybe some echoes remain outside of just the mushroom monster design—and perhaps Godzilla was made to forget the older attack. It’s impossible to know without reading it.)

The end

The end

Given that there really was no ongoing story to speak of, Sawada does not really end the series as just arbitrarily stop it. Godzilla and Ghidorah almost mend their relationship, which would at least provide closure in that sense, but Sawada undermines even that possibility with the underhanded bite attack in the final panel. The only reason readers know this is the final episode is that the comic does not announce when the next episode is being published, and instead includes “the end” after the final panel. It’s a disappointing way to end the comic, but not surprising, since the main thrust of Sawada’s rebooted manga was never a story, but mostly self-contained gags hung on insubstantial narrative frames built mostly on seasonal and holiday themes. It isn’t surprising that the comic couldn’t sustain itself long with that structure.

Final thoughts: SD Godzilla World: Godzilla-Kun is a crazy and stupid comic without a lot of artistic merit or innovative gags. Many of its jokes seem to just be slightly repolished versions of scenarios and jokes from Super Mario Kun—often jokes that are used over and over again. I only read two volumes of the Super Mario Kun manga and found the connections in the reviews above—I wasn’t trying to read through them all and scan for connections. Pancake Temple, in his review of Godzilla-Kun, called Super Mario Kun “infamous,” and gave a very short and partial retelling of one story from Godzilla-Kun, finding the stories so dumb as to not merit much analysis. Almost all of their words are very critical of the series. I… can’t bring myself to hate it near so much. I realize that Godzilla-Kun is far from a masterpiece, but the audacity and silliness and wild history of the comic made me kind of love it, and I just feel so happy that I could read the dang thing. I love that it has some deep cuts from Toho lore and even brings in a version of Daimajin, and it doesn’t make Godzilla into some invincible god, but rather portrays him as a kind of mischievous dummy who stumbles his way to victory more often than not. Even more than the depictions of Godzilla himself, what I have read of the original run of Godzilla-Kun fascinates me with its cast of alternate Punzillas, which finally makes sense of the title “Godzilla World,” and the name of the island—of course it’s Godzilland Island if the inhabitants are all Godzillas! In a strange way, given that the original Godzilla (1954) included a scene where Dr. Yamane hypothesized that Godzilla lived in a small community of his kind before the bomb blew them all up, Sawada’s crazy Godzilla-filled vision feels like a fulfillment of that idea. Still,I don’t think this comic would be very popular with fans if it was released in English today, but I love it anyway. Hopefully I can read Skreonk SkreonkMe Godzilla in its entirety next—it would be a perfect follow-up, as THAT manga was done by a manga artist most popular for his Kirby manga adaptations! Oh, Godzilla and Nintendo! Who knew they would go so well together?

 

Appendix 1:

Pancake Temple’s SD Godzilla World Godzilla Kun review translation

Monthly Hero Magazine May 1990 to January 1991

Terebi Magazine February 1991 to November monthly publication

B5 sized paper. Altogether 19 episodes, each 5-24 pages. No collected version published.

Design and collaboration: Kouji Yokoi and Shinichi Kageyama, layup

Contents:

The long-awaited gag comic. The author was Yukio Sawada. He was the author of the infamous Super Mario Kun manga. Given that reputation, as you can expect this manga is also high energy, nonsensical, and a gag manga aimed at a young audience that serially unfolded across each of the proceeding issues.

The manga was serialized by Kodansha inMonthly Hero Magazine, which itself started publishing in 1989 as a manga magazine of hero comics aimed at youngsters. Unfortunately, after two years, the magazine’s publication was suspended. The Godzilla-Kun comic was more or less continued as a centerpiece of Terebi Magazine after the previous publication’s suspension so that altogether the manga was published for a year and a half. It’s just that the comic was never sold in a collected format as a tankobon, and thus largely has become a phantom work.

Story:  Gyanjira, part of a hired gang, is working for the nouveau rich mayor’s son Nejira. Nejira wants to get a date with Bijira, and so orders Gyanjira to kidnap her. Hearing her screams, Godzilla comes running with Bujira, and they find Bijira imprisoned. They start a fight with Gyanjira, and… (the rest of the story is cut out)

This opening to the story is representative of the typical tale from these comics. It would be fruitless to try to explain the story beat by beat; in reality there is a ratio of about one stupid gag for every two panels. Example: “Hey, you scaredy worm (yowamushi)!” “What did you call me?!?!” ßhe turned into a bug. Whether it actually serves to push the story forward or not, we get a flurry of lazy puns. This is typical of the Corocoro style of manga. Pretty much every time a battle unfolds, Godzilla gets a nuclear nut and eats it and powers up. Is that really a good way to make a story?

The characters that appear in the story, as you might roughly surmise from their names, are mostly Godzilla’s relatives. (All their names are like something-something-jira, or zilla.) The heroine is named Bijira, from “beautiful woman + zilla; the mother is named Majira (Mama + zilla), the chef is named Chefjira(itamae (chef) + jira), etc. So their names are easy to understand, but just looking at their faces should be enough, so it’s honestly puzzling why they did both.

The story takes place on Godziland Island. That is to say, this work is part of the super-deformed character series Gojilland that started in 1984. You can see evidence linking the manga to Gojilland—apart from the comic, there are also serialized illustrations, and Godzilla Kun goes with his friends to a training institute, and so on. I want to make special mention of the story from the August 1990 issue, “The Tale of the Adventure Cruise.” In this story, they visit Infant Island and Solgell Island and other islands (from the Godzilla universe). However, Yukio Sawada, much to this author’s annoyance, just up and freely continued the story in parts, with Adventure Cruise two in another issue, and Godzilla visiting more islands, and the next month with Adventure Cruise three! Don’t you hate this sort of thing?

Then, with the cancellation of Hero Magazine, the comic was moved to TV Magazine. The number of pages (of each episode) were reduced, and the Godzilland serialization also ended. The style of the comic changed from the previous comics, too—though the spirit remained exactly the same. The heroine role changed from Bijira to Mothra San; whereas before guest characters appeared, now delinquent Ghidorah and Gigan became the main villains. Rather than the something-something-zilla characters, all of that family were erased and replaced with a variety of other monsters that made appearances instead. It’s a bit too bad, but perhaps they wanted to distance themselves a little from the Godzilland line and make a more distinct manga.

In passing, during the latter half of the comic’s run, Varan and Gezora and other relatively minor monsters make appearances. Matango appears twice, in the sixth story, and the 19th, so perhaps the author had an interest in him. At the same time, Godzilla Kun’s personality became that of a loser, Ghidorah gets a swollen nose with a gag about viewing flowers, when Gezora is defeated his body is made into a fried squid, and so on. Ahhh, THIS is the feeling of a Yukio Sawada comic.