The Cultural History of Godzilla – Pt 65


「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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After Godzilla


Chapter 7
Footsteps of Godzilla after that

一九五四年には『ゴジラ』人気を生みだす社会的文化的な文脈が整っていたせいで、初代のゴジラ 映画の売り上げは年間の八位になるほどだった、そこで東宝はさっそく続編の『ゴジラの逆襲』を作 り、翌年の四月には公開された。さらに一九六二年の『キングコング対ゴジラ」をへて、ゴジラは 次々とシリーズ化されることになっていく。

In 1954, the social and cultural context for Godzilla’s popularity was in place, and the first Godzilla movie was the eighth highest-grossing movie of the year, so Toho was quick to launch a sequel, Godzilla Raids Again,” which was released in April of the following year. Furthermore, after 1962’s “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” Godzilla was serialized one after another.

そこには一つの事情があった。『ゴジラ』以降、昭和時代に単独の怪獣が新しく活躍する映画とし て、『空の大怪獣ラドン』(一九五六年)、『大怪獣バラン』(一九五八年)、『モスラ』(一九六二年)、『宇宙大怪 獣ドゴラ』(一九六四年)と続いてきた。けれども、最後のドゴラという炭素をねらう不定形の宇宙生物を 持ち出してきて、おなじ炭素だからといってダイヤ強盗団と北九州の石炭産業を結びつけるだけでは、 人気を回復することはできず、結局は怪獣として初代のゴジラが何度も呼び出されることになる。

There was one thing. After “Godzilla,” films in the Showa era in which a single monster was active in new ways include “The Sky Monster Rodan” (1956), “The Great Monster Varan” (1958), and “Mothra” (1962) and Dogora the Great Space Monster (1964). However, bringing out the final Dogora, an amorphous space creature that hunts for carbon, and linking the diamond robbers to the coal industry in Kitakyushu just because it is the same carbon, would not restore its popularity, and in the end it would become the first generation monster. Godzilla will be summoned many times.

最初は数年の間隔をあけて制作されていたが、しだいにゴジラ人気のせいで毎年のようにゴジラ映 画が作られることになった。しかも、対抗する怪獣として、ラドンやモスラのような既存の怪獣だけ でなく、金星からやってくるキングギドラやメカゴジラのような新しい敵役が登場する。

At first, they were produced at intervals of several years, but gradually, due to the popularity of Godzilla, a Godzilla movie was made almost every year. What’s more, as monsters to compete against him, not only existing monsters such as Rodan and Mothra, but also new villains such as King Ghidorah and MechaGodzilla coming from Venus will appear.

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There are invaders from outer space such as “X Aliens,” and Godzilla inevitably fights against alien forces, so he often becomes an ally of mankind, and battles between monsters become a selling point. As a result, the number of titles gradually increased from “Mothra vs. Godzilla” where two monsters clash, to “Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster,” “Destroy All Monsters,” and “Godzilla’s Revenge.” Fighting between monsters became the highlight of the movie, as if learned from professional wrestling, which has not only one-on-one battles but also all-out battles.


From the latter half of the 1960s, it became difficult to create an hour-and-a-half movie with the charm of a new single monster. sending out monsters. Even though large screens and powerful sound effects were available in those times, audiences were no longer satisfied with just seeing the monsters several times a year. When it becomes difficult to gain popularity as a single idol singer, it seems that it will lead to grouping with units and groups in the plan of the entertainment side.


However, the increase in the number of main characters is also a feature of popular culture that has led to the series’ longevity. Elderly people will think of the movie and TV “Mito Komon,” and young people will think of the manga and anime “ONE PIECE.” As the series progresses, more and more subordinates, friends and enemies will become regulars. , and became very active on the screen. Each character has its own fans, so the production side also puts in the effort to create a highlight. And when it becomes saturated, it restructures and cuts off unnecessary elements.

Mito Kōmon is a Japanese jidaigeki or period drama that was on prime-time television from 1969 to 2011, making it the longest-running jidaigeki in Japanese television history. The title character is the historic Tokugawa Mitsukuni, former vice-shogun and retired second daimyō of the Mito Domain. (Source: Wikipedia)


“** edition” is a mark of the repartition. Such expansion and arrangement can be said to be the secret to keeping the story going for a long time.


Twenty-eight Godzilla movies were made by Toho in half a century. It is divided into three major groups of works, which are named ‘Showa,’ ‘Heisei’ and ‘Millennium.’ With each new series, there is a repartition, and the shape of Godzilla changes with each work, and the connection and positioning with the previous work also changes.

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Multiple Godzilla statues portraits, and it is often understood that each one has a different view of the world.


Thanks to that, Godzilla’s appearance is wide and varied, from mankind’s enemies to allies, from round-headed to flat-headed, from sharp-eyed serious and ferocious to somewhat playful, round-eyed. Many goods such as sofubi (soft vinyl) and plastic dolls have been produced. Godzilla, which swings between “scary” and “cute,” is a “kitty version of Godzilla” or “degeneration,” and many commentators lament the fact that he has become a mascot or character, but this is nothing but proof of his popularity.


As a movie aimed at families with children, it became the centerpiece of the ‘Toho Champion Festival’ during the Showa period. It is a group of works that are not very popular with fans because they are shortened versions of old works and new ones are low-budget movies. Personally, I think that “Godzilla vs. Hedorah” (1971) and other ideas here should be re-evaluated, but for that purpose it will be difficult with the evaluation criteria of superiority and inferiority of modeling and special effects technology. The Heisei series also changed its route to be aimed at children in the middle, and once-popular monsters such as King Ghidorah were revived. History just repeats itself. The same is true for the Millennium series, which was screened simultaneously as a double feature with the anime “Hamtaro.” Of course, parents and children can sell twice as many as couples, and even if children’s fees are half price, sales will increase.


Partly due to the conflict between the marketing and speculation of the sales department and the creation of the work on the part of the producer, the inconsistent image of Godzilla varies from movie to movie, which is actually one of the reasons for its popularity. There are many fans who are happy to find differences in the modeling of Godzilla in each work, calling it “** Godzilla.”

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Tracing the meaning of each movie would be like looking back over half a century of Japanese history, and it would be far beyond the scope of this book. However, it would be unnatural not to mention Godzilla’s aftermath at all, so I would like to say something about it.


In connection with “Godzilla,” I have already touched on “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” but here I would like to pay attention to the relationship with three other Godzilla movies.

They are the sequel “Godzilla Raids Again,” which was also written by Shigeru Kayama, “Godzilla” (1984), which was the starting point of Heisei Godzilla, and “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah” (1995), the final version of the Heisei series, in which another Godzilla died. For the time being, by comparing it with the three works up to the 1998 American version of “Godzilla,” the characteristics of the original Godzilla should come to the fore.