Godzilla Tower

Godzilla meets his doppelganger


Godzilla movies have popularize many places across Japan. Godzilla movies are known for the famous places that our favorite monsters stomped to the ground. Since 1954, Godzilla has trashed many landmarks such as the Wako building in Ginza, the National Diet Building and Nagoya Castle. Godzilla also brought down many famous towers such as Nagoya TV Tower, Sapporo TV Tower. Mothra made her cocoon on Tokyo Tower. But of all the famous towers in Japan, my favorite is the fictitious Godzilla Tower in Godzilla vs Gigan (1972). It was no ordinary tower and unlike the others it knocked Godzilla down.

Godzilla approaches Godzilla Tower in Godzilla vs Gigan (1972; released in the US as Godzilla on Monster Island).

Saturday marked 50 years since Gigan’s first appearance. And today is the anniversary of Terror of MechaGodzilla (1975). Gigan’s birthday was well celebrated by the fandom and on social media. Toho has been spearheading celebrations for their famous monsters. Last year, Toho celebrated Hedorah’s 50th anniversary. Godzilla vs Gigan (1972) is Toho’s second 70s Godzilla movie. The golden era of the 60s was long gone. And theater attendance was on the decline as televisions made their way into Japanese homes. To attract moviegoers back to the theater Toho started the Toho Champion Festival that offered hours of entertainment for children whose moms dropped them off. The movie lineup included anime, Ultraman, teen flicks and of course Godzilla.

TOHO Cinemas Kinshicho Rakutenchi (TOHOシネマズ 錦糸町楽天地) and Toho Champion Festival (東宝チャンピオンまつり) Godzilla vs Gigan (1972) playing along with Ultraman Returns, Mirrorman, The Adventures of Hutch the Honeybee, Pinocchio: The Serie and Tensai Bakabon (Photo source: @5451Sm070277)

Fans and critics have pointed out the flaws with Godzilla vs Gigan, such as the use of stock footage and other Toho scores. But this film is at home in the 70s and reflects the times and budget constraints. It arguably has the best tag-team fight of any Godzilla film. As a child I loved it more than others because of the friendship between Godzilla and Angilas, who talked for the first time in the series. I never missed it when aired on local TV and took every opportunity to record it on audio and video cassette.

Clips of Godzilla on Monster Island on Philadelphia WTAF TV 29 Theater Bizarre

Godzilla vs Gigan continued the theme of alien conquest over the world picking up where the 60s film Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) left off. But Gigan (1972) lacked the star-studded casts of its predecessors. Rather, the 70s films feature raising young actors and actresses, who flourished in their own right. Godzilla vs Gigan also departed from the approach of Eiji Tsuburaya who would not show the monsters bleeding. The SoshingekiGoji suit (used in the 1968, 1969 and 1971) makes its fourth appearance and its wear shows. This incarnation of Godzilla is among my favorites.

Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)

Godzilla vs Gigan (1972)

Terror of MechaGodzilla (1975)

Center to the plot is the fictitious World Children’s Land (世界子供ランド), where the M Space Hunter Nebula Aliens promote and pursue their insidious plan for “prefect peace” (完全な平和). The plan to destroy all the monster imprisoned on Monster Island including Godzilla. They construct the fifty-meter Godzilla Tower (ゴジラタワー) overlooking the park as part of their plan. The tower is a 15-story building with 13 floors above ground and 2 floors below ground. An elevator takes visitors to Godzilla’s head, where materials of monsters from ancient times is found.1 Visitors can see the scenery from Godzilla’s point of view at the observatory. The tower also functions as an aviation lighthouse and space observation facility. But this is a coverup. From atop the tower, the aliens execute their plan with action tapes, which summons Gigan and King Ghidorah to destroy the earth and to battle Godzilla and Angilas. In addition, Godzilla Tower is equipped with a deadly blue ray.

Although Godzilla Tower poses as an attraction, it is really designed to disguise a deadly ray to destroy Godzilla. The Tower becomes a template and pattern for future films. It should be understood as a precursor and predecessor of the Godzilla Imposter, MechaGodzilla (1974), which is built and disguised as Godzilla by the Aliens from the Third Planet from the Black Hole. Its second incarnation in Terror of MechaGodzilla (1975) has a similar secret ray beam awaiting Godzilla who tries to destroy it by decapitating it again as he did its forerunner. When Godzilla sees Godzilla Tower, he is bewildered as one seeing his double and look-alike. Godzilla is taken aback when he encounters the Imposter for the first time at the oil refinery. Both Godzilla Tower and MechaGodzilla take Godzilla down unto the point of death. In both situations, Godzilla needs the help of the young heroes and heroines to save the day and take down his evil counterparts and opponents. Gigan and Ghidorah throw Godzilla into the defunct tower finishing it off. Godzilla clinging to it reminds me of Godzilla standing beside the decapitated MechaGodzilla I when they fall together into the sea.

The actual design of Godzilla Tower is the work of Toho monster modeling artist and sculptor Nobuyuki Yasumaru (安丸信行 Yasumaru Nobuyuki), who served as chief modeler between 1971 and 1991. Godzilla Tower was made of plaster and a life-size foot was constructed. Yaumaru would later design MegaloGoji for Godzilla vs Megalon (1973). Perhaps, there are stylistic connections between that suit design and the tower. The tower design is more simplified than a suit. The skin follows a pleasing pattern. Godzilla has large eyes and stylized dorsal fins that would be appealing to children. Godzilla Tower is perfect for making toys and collectibles. Unfortunately, there are not many and the few are difficult to acquire.

Cast and staff at the tower’s full-scale foot set

If World Children’s Land was real, then I would have gone there to see Godzilla Tower like Space Mountain was for my family trip to Disney World in 1979. Ghidorah and Gigan flying around the tower remind me of the planes that flew around the King Kong ride at WildWoods, New Jersey, back in the 70s. The entire concept would make an amazing theme park and attraction today.

Godzilla Tower is a great representation of the late Godzilla Showa era design and storytelling. The Heisei Godzilla atop Gracery Hotel is very reminiscent of this tower. Perhaps, one day a replica tower will find a home like the Shin Godzilla Ride on Awaji Island or like the Godzilla slide in Flower Park in Yokosuka. Godzilla Tower is a fan favorite and would be a worthy attraction of any Godzilla place.

1 ゴジラタワー
代ゴジラタワー?vs. 元祖ゴジラタワー