The Cultural History of Godzilla – Pt 37


「ゴジラの精神史」The Cultural History of Godzilla 1954 by Shuntaro Ono (2014)
「ゴジラの精神史」The Cultural History of Godzilla 1954 by Shuntaro Ono (2014)

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Dr. Serizawa and Chemical Weapons


What, then, is the small amount of substance that an individual can create in a lab to become a viable weapon to defeat Godzilla? Considering that Dr. Serizawa is a chemist, it is highly possible that it was something other than the atomic bomb, given his ability to “take oxygen out of water.” It is a sarin-like poison gas made famous by the Aum attack in 1995. Poison gas could have been used not only for laboratory experiments, but also for practical production.

The Tokyo subway sarin attack (地下鉄サリン事件, Chikatetsu Sarin Jiken, “Subway Sarin Incident”) was an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated on 20 March 1995, in Tokyo, Japan, by members of the cult movement Aum Shinrikyo. (Source: Wikipedia)


However, it later materialized that the world would be destroyed by a toxic atmosphere (although ether proved to be non-existent). Tear gas was used at the outbreak of World War I, and later poison gases such as chlorine gas were used by Germany. The image of gas has changed significantly, from being used for lighting and fuel to something that can be used for killing, and from being used for peaceful purposes to being a chemical weapon for warfare. The bubbles coming out of the Oxygen Destroyer that finally defeated Godzilla show water-soluble poison gas as a chemical weapon. If so, Dr. Serizawa’s old friend, “the German whom the Swiss correspondent listened to,” may also be a chemist linked to the Nazi German gas chambers that allegedly killed prisoners of war Soviet soldiers and Jews in concentration camps.


Moreover, it is impossible that Kayama, who was a fan of Conan Doyle’s sci-fi novels, did not read Poison Gas Belt (1913). This was a simulation novel about the destruction of the world when a belt of toxic ether passes through the earth. Professor Challenger senses the damage caused in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island (again, in the South Seas), prepares oxygen cylinders, and tries to see the end of the world. However, for the Earth, or rather for Britain, it actually ends up harmless.

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle KStJ DL was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Sherlock Holmes stories are milestones in the field of crime fiction. (Source: Wikipedia


In the movie, he turned 27, just like the actor who played him, but as I mentioned earlier, Dr. Serizawa was 40 years old in the “G work review script.”

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Furthermore, judging from his relationship with the continent, where he was at Peking University and also went to Manchuria, it may be possible to read his connection with Unit 731. Dr. Serizawa’s laboratory is located deep in Tokyo, not near the coast like Dr. Yamane’s house where you can hear Godzilla’s footsteps. It somehow reminds me of the Army Noborito Research Institute in Kawasaki, which borders Tokyo. There, they developed biochemical weapons as well as special attack weapons such as human torpedoes. Part of the building still remains today as the Noborito Research Institute for Peace Education Museum of Meiji University.

Unit 731, short for Manshu Detachment 731 and also known as the Kamo Detachment and the Ishii Unit, was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese. (Source: Wikipedia)


Of all the poison gases actually developed by the Army, the closest thing to an “oxygen destroyer” would be phosgene, a suffocating gas codenamed a “breathing agent.” It was used extensively by the Germans in World War I, causing pulmonary edema and death from respiratory failure. If it acts on the cornea of the eye, it causes blindness. In that case, Dr. Serizawa’s eye scar caused by the eye patch may have been caused by an accident during the experiment of this “green agent.”


However, according to Kayama’s explanation that it was a wound when he was attacked by a wolf, in the original work, the physical cause was considered to be the last. However, from Ogata’s explanation in the movie, “If it hadn’t been for the war, I wouldn’t have been hurt so badly,” it could be interpreted that he was involved in chemical weapons such as poison gas. The atomic bomb may be physics, but this is Dr. Serizawa’s specialty, chemistry. Unlike his teacher, Dr. Yamane, who has established himself in the public domain, Dr. Serizawa is living half underground because he was involved in the development and production of these chemical weapons. It may be because he was expelled from public office.


Dr. Yamane specializes in paleontology, which deals with dead organisms, so it appears harmless and safe, but when it comes to chemical weapons that destroy living organisms, public pursuit is unavoidable.

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In the 1948 Teigin Incident, in which potassium cyanide was used to steal money, former members of the 731st Unit were said to have been involved in the poisoning, but GHQ ordered the investigation to be terminated. Then, the culprit was narrowed down to a painter named Sadamichi Hirasawa. During the interview, he denied that he had a friendship with a German, so when Hagiwara, a newspaper reporter, asked, “What are you currently researching?” I don’t think so,” he said, perhaps because he didn’t want to be misled by such connections. There is no mistake in the nameplate “Serizawa Science Laboratory” at the entrance, but it seems to hide the specialty “Chemistry” somewhere.

Sadamichi Hirasawa (平沢 貞通, Hirasawa Sadamichi, February 18, 1892 – May 10, 1987) was a Japanese tempera painter. He was convicted of mass poisoning and sentenced to death. Due to strong suspicions that he was innocent, no justice minister ever signed his death warrant. (Source: Wikipedia)


The Oxygen Destroyer is often explained as a chemical weapon, like water-soluble poisonous gases. Dr. Serizawa was able to manufacture it in his basement laboratory without the help of his assistants, put on black gloves to set it up in the tank, and hugged Emiko when she tried to peer into the tank because it was dangerous. I was wary of the toxicity of the bubbles that it didn’t have. What he sees as the devil’s invention may be the fact that the production of Oxygen Destroyers can be easily done by laymen, given the idea and the procedure. Chemical weapons are also called “poor man’s nuclear weapons,” and the subway sarin attack proves that chemical weapons can be produced at smaller facilities compared to the development of atomic and hydrogen bombs. Compared to atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs, which require large-scale national projects, they are secret weapons that even Japan in 1954 could produce.