Iconic Godzilla


I lived the history of computers. And there was no better user-friendly computer than the Apple Macintosh. It changed the fledgling personal computer market in 1984. The MacOS was all about getting work done with the simple click of a mouse, the simple graphic-driven user interface applications and a smart end-user experience. A big part of that was the icon. Icons are everything to our technology. We take them for granted. But they are an important visual language. Godzilla left a footprint, albeit small, in that early history of computing and icons. Along with a few releases of software, Toho released a set of icons designed by Godzilla illustration Shinji Nishkawa for the Mac.

Shinji Nishikawa Design Godzilla Monster Icon Files

西川伸司デザイン ゴジラ怪獣アイコンファイル Shinji Nishikawa design(ed) Godzilla monster icon file | Macintosh用 ゴジラ 怪獣アイコン ファイル For the Macintosh Godzilla Monster Icon File(s) | これはコンピュータ用のソフトです。This is computer software. | ケームやデータ集ではありません。| 必要なシステム……Macintosh本体 Required system: Macintosh | システムソフトウフェア:漢字Talk以上 System software: Kanji Talk or higher | Macintosh®Apple Computer社の登録商標です。Macintosh® is a registered trademark of Apple Computer. | ©1995 TOHO•TOHO EIGA ©1995/SHINJI NISHIKAWA | 発売:東宝株式会社 ¥800 (税込) Release: Toho Co., Ltd. ¥800 (tax included)

Godzilla Illustrator Shinji Nishikawa and sample work

The legendary Japanese illustrator Shinji Nishikawa (西川伸司), who goes by the pen name MASH, designed for most of the Heisei and Millennium era Godzilla films. His work is well known and in wide distribution and published. His latest book, Shinji Nishikawa Godzilla Great Anatomical Picture Book (ゴジラ大解剖図鑑 西川伸司), will be released this August. I had the honor of meeting him in 2015.

Godzilla icons directory on MacBook screen
Godzilla icons directory on MacBook screen

I found this icon collection on Buyee Japan. And with big effort over several weeks and timely help from my friend John, I’ve recovered the digital files using my old MacBook and a recently-purchased external Mac drive purchased from Japan. The latest MacOS is unable to read and recognize the “icon” files. And the garbled Japanese file names have proven to be unreadable. But each icon is applied to its own directory from which it can be retrieved from the file information with copy and paste functions.

Screenshot of Godzilla Monster Icons designed by Shinji Nishkawa (actual size)
Screenshot of Godzilla Monster Icons designed by Shinji Nishkawa (actual size)

This is an amazing set of 62 icons from the Showa and Heisei eras that include Godzilla with his fellow ally and enemy kaiju, vehicles, human characters and the Toho logo. Each is 32×32 pixels designed for those old small computer monitor screen sizes and resolutions. The icons come on the classic 3.5-inch floppy diskette (1.4 MB, created Wednesday, November 22, 1995). They use a limited color palette but bright and fun representations.

Vectorized Godzilla Monster Icons designed by Shinji Nishkawa

With the recovered files, I carefully traced and recreated each icon pixel by pixel in Adobe Illustrator, creating perfect scalable vector-based graphics as demonstrated in the animated gif below.

Sample vectorization of Godzilla icon

Vectorized DesuGoji icon

Process of recreating icon in Adobe Illustrator and DesuGoji icon (svg)

This has been a deeply-satisfying experience of computer history full of nostalgia. Using MacOS X was like riding a bike again after 20 years. Godzilla software was few and far in between. But I’ve been able to put together a small collection worth sharing. Stay tuned for more.