Manga: Kaiju King Godzilla

 

Kaiju King Godzilla


Japanese Comic Title

怪獣キングゴジラ
[Kaiju Kingu Gojira]

Authors:

Shinji Nishikawa

Pencils:
Inks:
Colors:
Language:
Release:
Publisher
:
Pages:

Shinji Nishikawa
Shinji Nishikawa
-
Japanese
2016
Kodansha
21

Cover:

※ The covers are for Terebi Magazine July 2016, August 2016, and September 2016, from left to right

Comic

Monsters

Godzilla
Godzilla
Anguirus
Godzilla (4th Form)
Varan
Anguirus
Gyottosu
Gigan
Zottosu
King Ghidorah
Sugon
Mothra
Osorosu
Little Godzilla
Osorosu
Gorosaurus
Osorosu
Baragon
Osorosu
Kamacuras
Osorosu
Battra
Osorosu
Biollante



Aliens, SDF & Misc.

Godzilla
Xilien



Review

By: Nicholas Driscoll

Shinji Nishikawa is one of the greatest artists ever to put pen to monster. He was the face behind many of the Heisei/VS and Millennium monster designs, including Biollante and Mecha-King Ghidorah and Megaguirus among others, as well as machine designs such as the Super X3, and more recently he was also one of the designers of the monsters in the delightful SSSS Gridman. What is even more inspiring for many is that he started out as a fan artist who did his own doujinshi (fan comics), most notably Godzilla: Legend—work which led to his first job as a monster designer with Toho!

  Manga: Kaiju King Godzilla  
  Godzilla gives Anguirus the boot.  

His story is an inspiring one for Godzilla fans around the world—and he has done a number of Godzilla and kaiju manga as well, beyond the doujinshi titles. One of those titles was published in translated form on Toho Kingdom’s website, but he also did adaptations of many of the Heisei Godzilla films, and several Ultraman comics. Perhaps of more interest to many than his straight adaptations, however, Nishikawa also worked on several original AND officially-published Godzilla manga titles, including a three-part original story featuring Godzilla and many other familiar monster faces back in 2016.

These three chapters were published under the title Kaiju Kingu Gojira, which I have translated here as Kaiju King Godzilla. Others have translated the title as Monster King Godzilla (including in our previous interview on Toho Kingdom, and the folks who worked on the Wikizilla entry), but given that “kaiju” has been accepted into the English lexicon, and given that we already have an original Godzilla manga translated as Monster King Godzilla but using different terms in Japanese (the title is actually Kaiju Ou Godzilla, also the title of the Japanese version of the American version of the original Godzilla from 1954), I decided it made more sense to tweak the title to Nishikawa’s work. It IS a different name, using the katakana word “kingu” instead of the Japanese term “ou.” It seems appropriate that the English title of Nishikawa’s work use a Japanese-origin word, as the Japanese title uses an English-origin word.

But anyway, what about the manga itself? Since it’s an original story, what are the contents of that story? Do we learn anything new about the kaiju, are there any interesting twists, good action, etc?

Well, the story is very simple—much along the lines of something like the Tomodachi serialized manga that was recently reprinted as a DVD pack-in, or the Godzilla, Monster of Justice short stories that I wrote up a piece on for my birthday. Kaiju King Godzilla opens with a young, male X-Seijin (never given a name) flying in to visit Monster Island. He is excited to see a bunch of monsters fighting—Angilas, Baragon, and Gorosaurus are throwing down, with Rodan and larva Mothra watching. Showa Gigan makes a dramatic entrance, to which the X-Seijin gives commentary. Gigan faces off against Angilas, defeating him soundly with his buzzsaw, and then menacing Little Godzilla and a Kamacuras. Godzilla appears from the sea with a roar, and Gigan blasts him with his eye laser. It has little effect, so the cyborg chicken flies and slices Godzilla’s shoulder ala Godzilla vs. Gigan. However, the Big G is still going strong, and for his counter-attack, he kicks Anguilas into the air, using his buddy’s dinosaurian buddy as a projectile to knock Gigan out of the sky. Godzilla then clobbers Gigan with his tail. The X-Seijin comments on how powerful Godzilla is, and that’s the end of the first chapter.

  Manga: Kaiju King Godzilla  
  Ghidorah gets ganged up upon by the other denizens of Monster Island.  

The second chapter starts with Godzilla standing over the fallen Gigan, with the X-Seijin from the previous chapter wondering who the next challenger will be. Then a Battra larva bursts from the ground beneath Godzilla’s feet. The X-Seijin boy doesn’t have any data on Battra on his father’s computer, so he has to resort to googling the monster to find out his name. Battra blasts Godzilla, and Godzilla burrows underground, emerges, grabs Battra by the tail, and swings the insect around. Apparently that’s enough to defeat the bug, but the fight seems to have awoken Biollante (in her second, monstrous form), who immediately wraps her vines around Godzilla. The Big G gets acid in the face, but then uses his spine charge-up to free himself from the vines, and basically blows up the plant monster with his breath. The X-Seijin comments that Godzilla is way too strong, and that there is just no other way than to have King Ghidorah face off against the kaiju king.

The third chapter opens with King Ghidorah blasting Monster Island, sending a Mothra larva skyward (ala the scene from Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster) and knocking over Godzilla with the blasts. KG rains terror on the other islands, sending Baragon, Gorosaurus, and Little running. Godzilla tries to take pot shots from the ground, but KG is fast and pulls a drop kick on the Big G. It looks like curtains for sure… but when KG tries to take off after the successful dive attack on Godzilla, he finds that he can’t… because Angilas is hanging on one leg, Gorosaurus biting the other, Little Godzilla grabbing his foot, and Baragon biting hold of his tail. This gives Godzilla a chance to stand up and blast the space dragon with his nuclear breath. The three-headed monster of terror runs away, and just then the X-Seijin boy’s dad arrives and scolds the youngster for using daddy’s monsters without his permission. The X-Seijin kid is grounded, and Monster Island’s host of critters watches as daddy X’s larger saucer captures his son’s smaller saucer and they fly off with KG towards space. The kid isn’t too upset, though, as he thinks he understands everything about Godzilla now and can defeat him next time…

But just as he says so, Shin Godzilla bursts from the water, terrifying the aliens. The son cries out, “Papa, is that Godzilla?” To which pops replies, “This is also the first time for Papa to see this monster! We will have to go to the movie theater to find out!”

The end.

  Manga: Kaiju King Godzilla  
  The X-Seijin father and son witness the appearance of Shin Godzilla  

On the basis of the story, we can say that Kaiju King Godzilla is very weak indeed. It barely has the rudiments of a story, which functions only to set up a series of largely unmotivated monster battles. Instead of Kennys from the Otomodachi and Monster of Justice stories, we have an X-Seijin kid commenting on the action, which is amusing, but there just isn’t much there. I like the humorous potential in the situation, but Nishikawa doesn’t get to do much with it in just 21 pages. There is a sense in the conclusion that the entire set-up was just a means to advertise for Shin Godzilla, which is kind of sad from a creative standpoint.

Still, there are some wonderfully silly moments. My favorite comes in the first episode where Angilas is kicked into the air by Godzilla. I love it because it is so ridiculous. The sequence in which all the monsters team up on Ghidorah is also heart-warming for an old-school G-fan like myself, and the various shout-outs to the films are appreciated.

Along with the story, Kaiju King Godzilla also features a series of informative columns/boxes along the sides with information about the monster foes that appear, their backstories, and the movies in which they starred. King Ghidorah gets multiple boxes, including one on his multiple cinematic variations. In the first chapter, there is a box detailing how Godzilla generally appears from the sea, and a box describing how Gigan is a mechanical creation ala Mechagodzilla. These columns and their content are extremely simple and seem obviously inspired by the many previous children’s kaiju comics, which also featured very similar informational texts. They aren’t especially interesting for older fans, but youngsters I can see enjoying them.

Of course the art is the real reason to read these comics, and Nishikawa is at the height of his craft. The monsters look utterly fantastic, even if the action can’t reach the violent levels often achieved in monster manga. Nevertheless each and every monster looks wonderful—I can’t complain as the monsters roar and blast and explode with drama and humor. My favorite images are when Nishikawa draws the monsters with humorous expressions—especially Angilas with his bug-eyed surprise.

These three chapters of manga are pretty underwhelming and probably not worth it for most collectors to track down if all you are interested in is original monster stories. If you are in it for the art, that’s a whole other matter, and of course fans of tokusatsu may also enjoy the magazines themselves. Terebi Magazine features cards, games, and toys with the issues, and Kamen Rider, Ultraman, and Super Sentai all make appearances. There are things like mazes, puzzles, image-searches, and more that have cute renditions of these tokusatsu heroes. There are also simple articles on the shows and heroes with full-color imagery. It’s all very child-oriented and probably not particularly fulfilling for most adult fans, but still, for the young at heart, fun can still be had, and it’s enjoyable just to get a glimpse into the entertainment world of Japan.