Godzilla (1954) ゴジラ [Showa]

Godzilla (1954)
Godzilla (1954)

Height : 50 meters
Mass : 20,000 tons

Powers / Weapons

Atomic ray; super regenerative power


Godzilla (1954); Godzilla Raids Again (stock footage); Varan (stock footage mistake); Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (stock footage); Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla; Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (stock footage); Godzilla: Final Wars (stock footage)

Series // Showa

Sound Effect


August 13th, 1954: the 7,500 ton Eiko-maru freighter, belonging to the South Seas Shipping company, lost contact with the Japanese mainland after sending an SOS. Not long after, the Bingo-maru approached the same area and also lost communication with the mainland. Worried of the situation, the company invested in sending two more ships and a helicopter as a search party.

Meanwhile, three survivors were picked up by a fishing boat near the area. One survivor recalled how the water exploded after a burst of light, engulfing the ship in flames. The fishing vessel planed to return to Odo island, its destination port, but was met with the same fate and lost further communication with mainland Japan. While the ship never reached its destination, Masaji, one of the fisherman, floated to the island on a crude raft from the wreckage. His account was short, stating just that "it" got them too.

Facing what appeared to be a mounting death toll, a helicopter from Japan arrived on Odo Island to investigate further. The elders there were convinced the incidents and the lack of fish in the area are signs of Godzilla, a giant monster feared by the islanders. In years past, the island used to send out young girls as sacrifices during times of poor fishing to appease the beast. However, the more barbaric traditions were abandoned, leaving only an exorcism dance.

That night, during a harsh storm, the sound of unearthly thunder crashed. Rather than thunder, though, the noise disturbance appeared to be footsteps. During the incident, a house was completely destroyed, killing with it Masaji and his wife. Along with the destruction of parts of the village, the helicopter was also crushed under immense force.

Godzilla (1954)With the death toll continuing to rise, a large expedition party was sent by boat to Odo Island. After arriving, the team found, to their surprise, a huge footprint. The imprint reeked of radioactivity, with the isotope strontium 90 discovered. In addition, the footprint housed a prehistoric arthropod known as a trilobite. Their questions were just leaving their lips of what could have caused this when the town was suddenly thrown into panic. Emergency gongs warned of the impending danger, as the villagers ran to the hills armed with pitchforks and whatever they could find. However, they were unwittingly walking right into danger. Lifting its massive scaly face over the cliffs, Godzilla screamed its malevolent cry to the world. The roar shook those unlucky enough to hear it, as the villagers quickly retreated. Just as soon as it appeared, though, the creature dove back into the sea.

Returning to Japan, the expedition tried to convince the skeptical public. However, government debates turned toward the economy, diplomatic relations and averting panic, rather than tackling the severity of the discovery. As the devastation offshore continued to rise, with Godzilla claiming 17 ships, a disaster response center was established. The center planned to combat the monster at sea, dedicating a frigate squadron to the task. By the time the squadron was sent, 20 ships had been claimed by the creature. Eager to end its reign, depth charges were launched all through out the vicinity, upturning water in a violent display.

The attacks did little to stop the beast, though, as he appeared in Tokyo bay that night, dangerously close to city civilians. Looking to amplify their attacks, the government brought in experts the next day to discuss how to kill the monster. Godzilla was theorized to be a relict oceanic reptile whose exposure to thermonuclear testing transformed it into the current monster that plagued the waters. Having already been bathed in the extreme heats of the hydrogen bomb, though, nothing was presented as a strategic option to combat it, but instead with a plea to allow science to study how the creature survived such a traumatic event.

That night, the nuclear menace appeared once again in the waters right outside Japan. Machine guns were fixed on the creature, but it did little to deter the beast from making his first landfall. Ripping train cars apart, flipping a bridge, and trampling innocent lives, Godzilla left death in its path. As quickly as the creature had made landfall, though, the monster returned to the water.

The next day, Japan summoned research teams on an international scale to discuss how to protect the country and destroy the monster. From these talks, the Japanese prepared a defense matrix of power lines around the heart of the city. Meanwhile, the coast guard and self defense force evacuated everyone living within 1,600 feet of the waters edge, and issued evacuation notices for all residents of the Minato, Shinagawa and Ota wards. By nightfall, the electrical blockade was tested and ready in anticipation of the creature's return. The wait was not a long one, as the nuclear giant made his way back to Tokyo that night. Tearing through the towers and tanks, the monster waded through the city with terrible force. Nothing survived its wrath, and everything was reduced to rubble. Not even the unleashed missiles from the Japanese Self Defense Force could kill the beast. Diving beneath the waves once again, the monster took the hope and dreams of millions with it.

The aftermath left death everywhere. Those who were fortunate enough to live through Godzilla's rampage died soon after from radiation poisoning. Only one option was left: a new weapon of devastating potential that was engineered by Dr. Serizawa. Called the Oxygen Destroyer, the device split and liquefied cells, essentially disintegrating those who came in contact with it. The doctor immediately realized the danger the weapon possessed, hoping never to have to use it. However, the threat of Godzilla was too great. Ignoring the plaguing thoughts of his weapons, Dr. Serizawa detonated his Oxygen Destroyer in the ocean. Godzilla was caught and reduced to nothing in a matter of minutes from the weapon. Unfortunately, the doctor took his own life as well, ensuring the secret of the weapon never fell into the wrong hands.

Powers / Weapons
Atomic Ray

Atomic Ray

Following a brief period of his dorsal fins glowing, Godzilla could unleash an atomic ray from his mouth.

This ray would appear as a jet stream. The blast would either ignite or melt objects that came into contact with it due to the exposure of the immense heat. Radioactive fallout was also left by the weapon, infecting unlucky civilians who were close to the blast zone and later were brought to the hospital.

Super Regenerative Power

Super Regenerative Power

The King of the Monsters was durable enough to withstand conventional weaponry that was utilized against it. This included a 50,000 voltage electric blockade and being shelled by the 155mm Howitzer M1 and M24 Chaffee Tank.

Modern weaponry was not able to pierce Godzilla's hide, though, so the extent of the power was never on full display. It was ill equipped, though, to counteract the effects of the Oxygen Destroyer, which split and liquefied the oxygen cells. This first disintegrated Godzilla's body before also destroying the skeletal remains.

Background and Trivia
  • The King of the Monsters was portrayed by suit actor Haruo Nakajima. Through the course of filming, the actor lost 20 pounds and was said to be covered in blisters from his work inside the suit. The suit itself was 2 meters high and weighed 220 pounds. This information can be found in the 1997 book Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • Seeing its first use in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002), an "upper body suit" based off the first generation Godzilla was constructed. It was used to replicate the Oxygen Destroyer death scene from Godzilla (1954). However, this time only Godzilla's body is destroyed. The skeletal remains are not liquefied, leading to that film's story behind the creation of Kiryu. The waist suit prototype was sculpted by Shigeaki Ito of MONSTERS, while the part was played by Tsutomu Kitagawa, and the size of the suit was made to match up with Kitagawa's height. This information is found in Godzilla X Mechagodzilla Completion (ISBN: 9784798613536).
  • Akira Ifukube created Godzilla's roar in the film. Recordist Hisashi Shimonga and Fumio Yanoguchi were originally tasked with this. Many experiments with wildlife cries were tried, including the alteration of the exotic cry of the night heron bird. However, nothing delivered the result they were looking for. In the end, Ifukube utilized a contrabass. For this task, he had Sei Ikeno, Ifukube's pupil and future composer, wear a coarse leather glove coated with resin. Ikeno then rubbed the glove against the strings of the contrabass to achieve the effect. Shimonga then applied echo-chamber mixing to achieve the final effect. This account of events is noted in the publication Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • In the 2000 publication The Giant Picture Encyclopedia of Godzilla: Toho Special Effects Movie World (ISBN: 4873765587), the original Godzilla's powers are listed as "Thermal Radiation Heat Ray" (放射熱線 - Hosha Nessen), "Super Strength" (怪力 - Kairiki) and his "Tail" (尻尾 - Shippo).
  • Suit actor Haruo Nakajima could only spend about three minutes in the Godzilla suit due to the heat, both from the suit itself and the hot film lights that lit the stage. After those three minutes staff would help remove him from the suit, via an opening in the back that was obscured by the removable dorsal fins. The staff would then give Nakajima hot tea and salted water while they attempted to remove his sweat from the suit, which sometimes would amount to a full cup. This recollection is cited in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • Godzilla (1954)Very few sources cite the regenerative properties of the 1954 Godzilla. One publication that does reference this ability for the original Godzilla is The Official Godzilla Compendium (ISBN: 0679888225). The movie makes no mention of this ability, though; in fact, the Godzilla film series only first referenced this ability starting in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) with the Heisei series Godzilla.
  • Although hard to verify, director Ishiro Honda has noted several times that the name Gojira came from a nickname given to a large fellow who worked in Toho's publicity department. Some noted him as being as large as a gorilla, while others took it further to being as large as a whale. Eventually the two names were combined into a singular nickname, which producer Tomoyuki Tanaka liked and wanted to use as the name of the title character in his film. The real name and position of the man nicknamed "Gojira", from where the monster's name was meant to have originated from, has never turned up. This gives the story, even though widely circulated and noted by many of the staff involved in the 1954 film, a large probability that it's false and has become more of a well known legend around the name. Researching this and the follow up with the story can be found in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • The original Godzilla is shown in still photographs during the course of The Return of Godzilla (1984).
  • Katsumi Tezuka originally appealed to producer Tomoyuki Tanaka to be the suit actor for Godzilla, attempting to beat out special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya's choice for the role, Haruo Nakajima. Nakajima eventually was awarded the role, although Tezuka was cast as the alternate suit actor after Shoichi Hirose declined the role. The entire incident created a rift between Nakajima and Tezuka. This account is found in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • Although initially part of the "Showa series", the original Godzilla is connected to the Heisei series, Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999), Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003). The events from the film are also reflected in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000), but it's not the same character. These connections are mentioned in New Godzilla Walker - The New Legend of the King of the Monsters (ISBN: 9784048956321).
  • Eye and mouth movements of Godzilla were controlled by three wires that extended from the back of the suit. Staff member Eizo Kaimai was in charge of making the mouth open and close through squeezing bicycle handles rigged at the end of the wires. This information is from Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • The sound effects for Godzilla's footsteps were the result of a box with several coils inside that was attached to an amplifier and speaker. This sound effect was, like the roar, also created by composer Akira Ifukube. This fact is listed in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • Shigeru Komaya's first plot outline, submitted on May 2nd of 1954, had the primary motivation for Godzilla being to feed. This included a sequence of the creature attacking a tanker full of live stock. This detail is referenced in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • A leg only version of the suit was created, which was worn with suspenders by the suit actor and only featured a costume that was created from the waist down. This "half suit" was used for close up shots of Godzilla stomping through the city. During Varan (1958), sequences from the 1954 Godzilla movie are used as brief segments of stock footage. These scenes include the "half suit" destroying buildings, which are used in a manner where it's supposed to represent Varan instead.
  • The first Godzilla suit that was created for the film was too heavy and a second was created for the production. This is noted in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • For the American version of The Return of Godzilla (1984), known as Godzilla 1985, stock footage from the 1954 Godzilla film was added to the new footage created for this version. This includes a stock footage appearance of the original Godzilla in this cut of the movie.