The Shee

12.31.2020 (revised 1.24.2021)

Today I came across the iconic photo of Godzilla jumping up and down on Planet X having fought off King Ghidorah. Many of us just think of this as Godzilla dancing. But there is more. The pose Godzilla struck was called the “Shee.” Do you know where the “Shee” comes from?

“Shee” is the transliteration of the Japanese katakana「シェー」is a gag from Fujio Akatsuka’s manga work “Osomatsu-kun” that was popular at the time of theatrical release of Invasion of Astro Monster (怪獣大戦争, aka Monster Zero, 1966). In general, when one is very surprised, s/he would shout “Shee” while taking the following pose: 1) Raise your right or left arm vertically and bend your wrist at a right angle with your palm facing down. 2) Bend your elbows on the other arm, parallel your elbows to the floor, and point your palms to yourself or up. 3) At the same time, raise the left or right leg and bend the knee, bend the tip of the knee parallel to the floor or at an acute angle, and stand on the opposite leg. The arms that are raised vertically and the legs that bend the knees can be on the opposite side, on the same side, or on the left and right as a whole. (Source: Wikipedia)

『週刊少年サンデー』1963年(昭和38年)43号 "Weekly Shonen Sunday" No. 43, 1963 (Showa 38)
Iyami (イヤミ いやみ) was created by Fujio Akatsuka and Kenichiro Takai as a recurring character in Osomatsu-kun
週刊少年サンデー 1966年第2号 1月9日号 43号 "Weekly Shonen Sunday" No. 43, 1966
1966 New Year issue Shonen Sunday (1966年正月号少年サンデー) Source: @OXvjAl5sfXpfgal

The “Shee” first appeared in the episode of Osomatsu-kun in the spring of 1964 in which the character Iyami started doing the pose. However, even before that, similar poses existed. The earliest was “Osomatsu-kun” published in “Weekly Shonen Sunday” No. 43 (October 20th issue) in 1963 (Showa 38). The gag swept across Japan in the 1960s. In Invasion of Astro Monster, Godzilla does the “Shee” five times. It was the idea of Director Ishiro Honda and SPFX Director Eiji Tsuburaya. Cast members, Akira Takarada, Nick Adams, Keiko Sawai and Kunie Mizuno do the “Shee” along with Godzilla on marketing and promotional material.

In Invasion of Astro Monster, Godzilla does the “Shee” as he bounced up and down in the low gravity of Planet X. One Japanese Godzilla book calls is 「勝利のシェー」”the victory Shee!” It was the idea of SPFX Director Eiji Tsuburaya, who thought Godzilla should appeal to small children. The idea was met with protest by the staff. Godzilla suite actor Haruo Nakajima was against it as well. (Source: Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of “The Big G” by Steve Ryfle, p.124). Check out the moment in the theatrical trailer.

During my interviewed on TV Asahi (テレビ朝日) in 2019, the question was asked,「ゴジラがどんなギャグのポーズを取ったか知ってるかい?」”Do you know what gag pose Godzilla made?” I replied, 「正解は…シェー」”The answer is Shee!” Then I struck up the “Shee” pose.

There is always some important cultural context and background for what we see in Godzilla movies. The appearance of the “Shee” was a reflection of popular culture in Japan at the time and also marked a shift in tone in the Showa film series.