Or Gojira, if you prefer. I think I read somewhere that it’s six of one, half a dozen of another as far as that translation goes. ANYWAY, the thing is, Godzilla, King of the Monsters was released in the US on this day in 1956! That’s a full two years after the original was released in Japan, but I’m happy we got it at all. My experience of Godzilla as a kid was mostly repeats of the Showa era films on cable, the Hanna-Barbara cartoon (and it’s damnably catchy theme song) and a cool-ass toy my brother had which would shoot its fist off at you. (Part of the Shogun Warriors toy line, and the best of the bunch.)
I didn’t really get to see the original film until my twenties, working at a comic shop. And I had no idea just how epic and serious that film was.
I’ve since grown to love and appreciate the big G in all his varied forms. I do have a certain fondness for the Heisei era films, which were slightly more serious in tone (my favorite – Godzilla vs Biollante), but even the goofiest Showa era wrassle-fest will elicit a smile. I even (don’t tell anybody) like the 1998 film, though I refuse to think of it as a Godzilla film and prefer to think of it as a remake of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (a film which probably inspired the original Godzilla film).
Godzilla is arguably the most influential of the giant monster films. While King Kong was first, Godzilla just outperforms the big ape just in sheer number of films as well as pop-culture presence. His pop-culture influence is undeniable, from toys to games to catchy rock songs. The current American version of Godzilla has had mixed results (I like ’em myself), but they’ve also performed well enough at the box office that it appears we’ll be getting another one. I find myself looking forward to his next Japanese film, though. I kinda want a continuation of Shin Godzilla…
This is a kinda short post – I’ll hopefully be finished with a Canon piece on the first film later this week. Hopefully. In the meantime – what’s your experience with Godzilla? And what’s your favorite film, if you have one?
Oh, and here’s an older sketch of the big guy – more Millenial era (which was my favorite look).