I had lunch with Godzilla

Lunch with Godzilla

A Trip to Setagaya Literary Museum

11.24.2023 (revised 12.20.2023)

This year my trips to Japan were all about encountering Godzilla in as many ways and places as possible. Japan offers so many ways to do that. Godzilla seems to be hiding around every corner and right in plain sight. This year I’ve voyaged to Shinjuku to see the Godzilla Head. I’ve taken a selfie with the Heisei Godzilla statue and mural in front of Toho Studios. I sought out pop Godzilla exhibits in Tokyo and traveled to remote areas of Japan to find mysterious Godzilla places like Odo Island. My fellow Godzilla friend gave me a peek inside the Godzilla Room at Hotel Gracery. To top my last visit to Japan this year I had lunch with Godzilla in Setagaya Literary Museum (世田谷文学館), a comprehensive museum of modern literature originated from the area. It serves as a library, museum and archive.1 Knowing that Toho Studios is in Setagaya, a short bus ride and walk from the museum, it makes sense that a Godzilla suit would be housed and on exhibit there.

My trip to Setagaya Literary Museum for lunch with Godzilla

The Godzilla 1999 (ゴジラ2000 ミレニアム, aka MireGoji) suit can be found on the first floor at Cafe Donguri. The fan-favorite suit was created by Monster builder Shinichi Wakasa (若狭 新一), who has worked on every Godzilla film since 1993. When there’s a Godzilla or kaiju suit to be made, Sensei Wakasa is called upon. His recent work includes Jet Jaguar (2023) and Gigan (2022) debut at Godzilla Fes, respectively. I first learned of him in the Monsters Catalog in 3D published in 1984. I wasn’t sure if this MoreGoji suit was used in the making of the millennium movie that was streamed live on the internet in 1999.

Shinichi Wakasa walks through the process of restoring MireGoji in the Godzilla Store TV Episode 22

This MireGoji suit is the second made for the film. It was pretty durable because it was used with gunpowder and fire. But it was quite damaged when it when on display at the museum. By the end of shooting it was very black. The skin was redone using latex from the original mold. Most of it is still the same as back then. Most damage occurred where the suit had movement. Parts were replaced with new ones. The nails are the same. They were made of FPR resign. Then the teeth were also made of hard material, but from Megaguirus onwards all the materials were soft.2

Godzilla 1999 suit at Cafe Donguri in Setagaya Literary Museum, Tokyo. Sign: Godzilla has been reborn while respecting tradition. Godzilla Costume: Millennium Godzilla 1999 (Toho Film Deposit) | The suit actually used in the 23rd “Godzilla” series, “Godzilla 2000 Millennium” (Toho, 1999). | The Heisei Godzilla series, which began with “Godzilla’ (1984) and ended with “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah” (1995), emphasized continuity and consistency between works. However, Shogo Toyama, who served as producer, has started a new series with this work, which was revived for the first time in four years after the Hollywood version of “GODZILLA” (1998). | The film’s director, Takao Okawara, said, “That’s something that everyone, including Toyama Producer, was very particular about. We wanted to create Godzilla with a new form, so we changed the shape of the dorsal fin, the overall balance, and the height. That’s why, at first, I was working on solidifying the scenario while also examining Godzilla’s design.” | Godzilla’s appearance has changed from the upright posture of “Heisei Godzilla” to a slightly forward leaning posture, and his mouth and eyes have been sculpted larger, making him look more like a reptile. In the final scene of the film, the monster does not disappear into the crater or the sea, but instead emits light from its dorsal fin and spits out orange radiant heat rays, continuing to destroy the entire city before the curtain closes. Although the appearance has changed, the story itself returns to its origins with Godzilla as an object of fear, reminiscent of the first Godzilla movie (54). The director’s enthusiasm for “Godzilla’s overwhelming presence” and “I want to show Godzilla’s very existence in a symbolic way” captivated the audience. | *1 “Me and Godzilla” “February 9, 2018 6th Director Takao Okawara (Part 2)” | Godzilla Costume

Sensei Wakasa has restored Godzilla’s dropping head2 and poor condition so that the suit looks as good as it did in 1999. This MireGoji suit back on display in Setagaya will soon be on display on the shelves of fans and collectors. Announced and presented several months ago on the Godzilla Store TV, a special 30cm replica vinyl figure has been made from high resolution 3D scans to capture all the suit’s intricate details. This is the Godzilla Store Limited Super Toho 30cm Series Godzilla (1999) [ゴジラ・ストア限定 スーパー東宝30cmシリーズ ゴジラ (1999)]. Preordering is available for ¥33,000 and the release date is 12/31/2023.

Godzilla Store Limited Super Toho 30cm Series Godzilla (1999). Description: Godzilla and other Toho monsters have been depicted in movies using suits from their first appearance in 1954 to the Heisei VS series and Millennium series. The Godzilla suit was created by professional modeling staff with all their heart and soul, and excited many audiences. Now, together with the original Godzilla sculptor, we have launched the “Super Toho 30cm Series,” a super-detailed figure that pays special attention to appearance, shape, texture, and pose, making full use of cutting-edge 3D scanning technology. Scanning technology supplements details that are difficult to reproduce manually, and the film staff at the time complements poses and coloring that cannot be reproduced by scanning technology alone. This was a dream-like collaboration in which we aimed to recreate Godzilla as it appeared in the movie. The first project was the Godzilla suit from the 1999 movie Godzilla 2000 (Millennium). The existing Millennium Godzilla suit, which was restored for the exhibition, has been 3D modeled under the supervision of Shinichi Wakasa. The coloring was done exactly as it was by Mr. Shigemasa Yoshida, who was actually in charge of the coloring when the suit was made. The suit made for the photo shoot will be turned into a soft vinyl figure using modern cutting-edge technology and those involved in the production at the time, aiming to create a product that is as close to the real thing as possible.

Shinichi Wakasa with the X-Plus Super Toho 30cm Godzilla (1999) at Cafe Donguri in Setagaya Literary Museum
Shinichi Wakasa with the X-Plus Super Toho 30cm Godzilla (1999) at Cafe Donguri in Setagaya Literary Museum (Source: Hobby Dengeki)

All of this makes my visit to the Setagaya museum all the more special. I had seen and shared pictures of MireGoji many times on social media. And I always wonder where the suit was and when I could visit it. As soon as the figure went up for sale I preordered it. So when my decision was made to go back to Japan, going to the museum was on my must-do list. When my time in Japan had come to its final hours, I received a notification that my flight back to the U.S. had been delayed. That gave me the morning and early afternoon to get to the museum. MyGoji didn’t disappoint. I’m stoked for the arrival of MireGoji’s mini-me in December.