Manga: Movie Comics - Godzilla, Ebirah, Mothra: Big Duel in the South Seas

 

Movie Comics: Godzilla, Ebirah, Mothra: Big Duel in the South Seas


Japanese Comic Title

MOVIE コミックス: ゴジラ・エビラ・モスラ: 南海の大決闘
[Movie Komikkusu: Gojira, Ebira, Mosura: Nankai no Daiketto]

Authors:

Yukio Yamashita

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Japanese
1984
Akita Shoten
157

Covers:

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Comic

Review

By: Nicholas Driscoll

One of my favorite Godzilla movies has long been Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), and so perhaps it’s not surprising that I enjoyed the movie comic version of the tale more than I did for the movie comic version of The Return of Godzilla as Movie Comics: Godzilla. The book still has a lot of the same problems as the adaptation of The Return of Godzilla and presumably the other three Movie Comics adaptations (released around the time when Toho was rereleasing classic Godzilla films in theaters, much like how A Lovely Day for a Godzilla Sandwich was published at this time), but the high adventure of the Jun Fukuda-directed classic fits the comic format more readily than the comparatively talky reboot film.

Retelling the story of brotherly affection, an evil army on a secret island, a giant irradiated shrimp, and lots of fast-paced and nonsensical action, the movie comic version—given that it is composed of repurposed screenshots taken from the movie—cannot take all of the narrative departures that the more traditional manga adaptation did back in the 1960s. While that version had additional action scenes as well as changes to the personalities of some of the cast, the movie comic version is essentially the same as the movie—and luckily still retains the giant condor, which the older manga version excised. And a lot of the high-seas sense of fun adventure remains in the movie comic version. It’s still, for me, a fairly fun story to revisit.

But the general problems of this style of comic remain. Just like with The Return of Godzilla, there are sequences where I was baffled as to what exactly was going on because the reproduced photograph was so blurry, or the sequence was badly put together on the page. I am pretty familiar with the original film, so I could often decipher the action pretty easily, though, even when it wasn’t so clear what was happening—such as when Dayo steals the copper wire. We don’t clearly see what she is taking in the movie comic version, so when she happens to be carrying copper wire later, it seems a bit more… convenient. One scene that is even worse, though, is when Ryouta gets tangled in the balloon ropes and is flown to Infant Island. Even moreso than in the movie, it is just confusing trying to figure out what happened.

Perhaps the most amusing sequence in the movie comic is right at the end when Godzilla jumps away from the island. In the comic, it looks like the island explodes just as Godzilla jumps. And when our heroes cheer because they see Godzilla in the water afterwards, all we see is a shot of the ocean with an unclear splash of water—we can’t see Godzilla at all! Did he survive? Our heroes think so, but the reader is left with a sense that they are delusional!

There are still nonsensically colored word balloons here, still ugly panel layouts, still smudgy and unclear stills used. This isn’t exactly a great way to experience the film, but given the source material, I found it charming enough, and for those curious, it can be amusing to see how the editor (a Mr. Yamashita this time) put together the stills. And the quality of the paper is higher than a lot of manga reprints. Not recommended, but a mildly pleasant affair.