The Difference A Draft Makes

The Difference A Draft Makes

The Godzilla vs Biollante Script


Godzilla vs Biollante (December 16, 1989) was an impressive installment in the Godzilla movie series. As the continuation of the story of Godzilla’s return in 1984, Godzilla vs Biollante was the first of the Godzilla Heisei Era with the passing of the death of Emperor Showa.1 The film stands out for many reasons such as its music and especially its story. Biollante is a story about the monstrous consequences when a father’s love for his dying daughter dangerously crosses moral and ethical boundaries of biotechnology fixated on exploiting Godzilla cells. This is a repeating storyline in Godzilla films worth revisiting. My favorite scene is the moment when Dr. Genichiro Shiragami, played by Koji Takahash, looks up at Biollante descending and says, 「ビオランテが… 進化している」 “Biollante is… evolving.” Like his monster, Shiragami evolves too. But an important moment in his personal transformation was lost in an early draft of the movie scenario.

Dr. Shiragami gazing at Biollante descend from the sky in its final form. (01:30:54 mark)

After Godzilla descends into the mouth of Mt. Mihara at the end of Godzilla (1984), there was a scramble among Japan, the United States and the Republic of Saradia to collect Godzilla cells in order to harness their power. Dr. Shiragami, an authority on genetic engineering, assisted by his accomplished daughter Erika (played by Yasuko Sawaguchi), comes to Saradia Institute of Biotechnology to conduct the genetic research not permitted by Japan. His plan is to transform the vast desert into granaries. His daughter was successfully in cross breeding a new type of wheat from wheat and cactus cells that can grow in the desert if combined with Godzilla cells forming a super plant. But then, Erika tragically dies in a bombing of their laboratory by the American company Bio-Major. In order to preserve her life, he combines her cells with that of a rose. Five years later, Asuka Okochi (Yoshiko Tanaka), daughter of Seido Okochi, founder of the Okochi Foundation, introduces her friend Miki Saegusa (Megumi Odaka) from the Mental Science Exploration Center to Dr. Shiragami at his Lake Ashinoko lab. Miki has the psychic ability to hear Erika whose voice is increasingly heard and understood. Scientist Kazuhito Kirishima (Kunihiko Mitamura), of Life Sciences Laboratory and boyfriend of Asuka, goes to Okochi to obtain Godzilla cells in order to create Anti Nuclear-Energy Bacteria (ANB) to stop Godzilla who will be awakened by a Bio-Major bomb planted used to extort Japan for the ANB. Major Sho Kuroki (Masanobu Takashima) and Lieutenant Goro Gondo (Toru Minegishi) of the JSDF, approach Shiragami to assist Japan in making ANB. At first he refuses because Erika died because of his work with them, but then when his daughter’s rose was on the verge of dying, he agreed so he could secretly combine Godzilla cells with her cells. And Biollante, Godzilla’s alter-ego, a “chimera” as Kirishima described, was created. Shiragami’s secret only becomes known when Biollante evolves into a gigantic rose in Lake Ashinoko for all the world to see. Godzilla is drawn to Biollante in their first confrontation; he consumes her in fire from his atomic breath. Despite the best efforts of the Super X2 and Miki, Godzilla heads towards Osaka. He is drawn by Biollante who reappears from the sky in its final monstrous form. A fierce battle between Godzilla and Biollante ensues. But once again Biollante succumbs a blast of Godzilla’s breath into her mouth. As Biollante ascends, Erika appears. Godzilla falls into the sea as the result of the ANB. Suddenly Shiragami is killed by the Saradia Secret Service agent SSS9 (Manjot Bedi). The film closes with Shiragami’s body lying on a stretcher and then Erika speaks her final words and message.

Godzilla battles Biollante in its final form.

“Godzilla 2,” as it was called, was four years in the making. It was delayed for various obstacles. One challenge was the story that went through a seven steps of development: 1) Public recruitment (October 23, 1985), 2) Omori’s Memo, 3) “Godzilla 2” Long Long Synopsis, 4) Omori’s Chart, 5) “Godzilla 2” Review Draft (October 10, 1986), 5) “Godzilla 2 Godzilla vs Biollante” Third Draft (January 17, 1987), 6) “GODZILLA Godzilla vs Biollante” Production Preparation Draft (July 7, 1989), and 7) “Godzilla vs Biollante” Final Draft (July 24, 1989). Immediately after the return of Godzilla in 1984, Toho was ready to produce the sequel to Godzilla (1984). Tomoyuki Tanaka wanted “recruiting stories from the general public.” So for the first time, Toho petitioned the general public in newspapers and Toho movie theaters to submit original unpublished stories from 40 to 50 sheets of 200-character manuscript paper. The deadline was June 10, 1985. Winners would receive prizes totaling 3,000,000 yen.2

Flyers distributed at theaters: ゴジラストーリー募集! Godzilla Story Recruitment! | 「ゴジラ」復活第2弾の製作にむけてストーリーを募集致します We are looking for stories for the production of the second “Godzilla” revival | 賞金 3,000,000円 Prize money 3,000,000 yen (Source: ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 81)

Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 7, 1988, that early scoop on the fact that production was decided: 歯科医師がストーリー Dentist Story | 東宝、「ゴジラ」最新作 Toho, “Godzilla” latest work | 公募作品、初の採用 Open call for entries, first adoption. Read More (Source: ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 86)

Two months later, Godzilla fans shared what Godzilla they wanted to see. Toho received 5025 submissions from all over Japan from ages 6 to 78 years old. The majority of submissions came from those in their 20s who would have been influenced by the Toho Champion Festival as children and Asahi Sonorama books during the monster boom. Toho executives and the Godzilla Committee screened and judged the submissions. In the end, four winners were selected for Honorable Mention, Semi-Honorable Mention and Special Prizes. Recipients received prize money and gifts. Winners were announced in evening papers, advertisements, and in Uchusen magazine.3

Official Japanese Godzilla vs Biollante theatrical release poster

Official Japanese Godzilla vs Biollante poster by Noriyoshi Ohrai

First prize and Honorable Mention was awarded to Shinichiro Kobayashi (小林晋一郎). Kobayashi was a dentist who loved special effects and story writing.4 He devised the original story of Godzilla vs Biollante. Interestingly, he created episode 34, “Unforgivable Life” for The Return of Ultraman (1971). He went by his pen name Shun Kogure but began using his real name as seen in the closing credits of Biollante. His story was highly prized by the judges. Later, Kobayashi wrote a 120-page second draft followed by a larger third draft of 320 sheets of manuscript paper.5

Shinichiro Kobayashi’s name as it appears in the closing movie credits: ゴジラストーリー応募作品 Godzilla Story Submission | 「ゴジラ対ビオランテ」 “Godzilla vs Biollante” | 小林晋一郎•作うより Shinichiro Kobayashi: From Making

In Kobayashi’s story, Godzilla battled two monsters, the plant monster Biollante and Deuterious, a synthetic monster made by fusion with fish. But Deuterons was cut because it was too expensive.6 There was no concept of G-cells as of yet. Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka introduced this idea later. Miki Saegusa also had not been introduced until Kobayashi’s second draft. Her name was Nozomi Saegusa, a supernatural girl who could hear Biollante’s voice. Originally Miki was Erika’s sister!7 A Saradian secret organization, the CIA, and Lake Ashinoko also appeared. Unfortunately, when Kobayashi expanded the story into an enormous third draft, it was met with disappointment from Tanaka, who lamented, “Every time he writes, it gets worse.”8 It was at that time, Tanaka appointed Kazuki Omori to both write and direct the film.

Rough sketch「デューテリオス」”Deuterios” (Source: ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 74)

Director Omori decided to write the scenario story from scratch. He set the main elements such as motifs and backgrounds, along with the characters and their relationships, as well as other things such as the storyline while making the most of the winning works from the Godzilla story recruitment.9. In Omori’s “Long Long Synopsis,” it appears that Dr. Shirakami doesn’t die! But rather, he is last seen aboard a military helicopter, where Miki says, 「姉さんが、サヨナラを言ってます」“Sister is saying goodbye.” Dr. Shirakami replies, 「さよなら、英理加」”Goodbye, Erika.” Kirishima has the last word:「今度こそ、やすらかに」”This time, be at peace.” The story ends Godzilla wrapped in Biollante’s flower sinks deep into the sea.10 He went on to write and direct future Heisei Godzilla films.

Godzilla 2 Long Long Synopsis (ゴジラ2検討用ロングロングシノプシス, ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 98) in which Omori developed Kobayashi’s story and the notes he had written. He wrote “long long synopsis.”

“Godzilla 2” Review Draft (「ゴジラ2」検討稿, 10/1/86, コンプリーション, p 108) is the first bound version with 278 scenes today. The storyline is almost complete but there are still unique sequences, such as a helicopter attack on Godzilla right after he was resurrected on Oshima.

“Godzilla 2 Godzilla vs Biollante” Third Draft (「ゴジラ2 ゴジラvsビオランテ」第三稿, 1/17/87, コンプリーション, p 120) with the official title on the cover for the first time. Dr. Shirakami himself speaks in the final monologue. This was not published in the next draft.

“GODZILLA Godzilla vs Biollante” Production Preparation Draft (「GODZILLA ゴジラvsビオランテ」製作準備稿, 7/7/89, コンプリーション, p 120) with Godzilla over Lake Ashi attacked by a branch which is found Ohrai’s poster. Only b&w cover with unused William Stout’s U.S. Godzilla.

However, In Omori’s “Godzilla 2” review draft (「ゴジラ2」検討稿), there is no reference to Erika’s appearance when Biollante ascends. Shiragami is startled and surprised when Miki says, “Goodbye Papa.” “Erika…” he says, calling her. Then Okochi wants Dr. Shiragami to make more anti-nuclear bacteria. But Shiragami rebuking replies, “I won’t make anti-nuclear bacteria or Biollante anymore! Erika is looking at me.” Then suddenly he is fatally shot by the SSS9 agent. While being held by Kirishima, Shirakami smiles and says to him, 「桐島君。神への道を歩みはじめたと思った時から、我我のまちがいが始まったようだ……。神から見れば、我我のやっていることなど、子供の積木遊びのようなものだ」“Mr. Kirishima. It seems that my mistake started when [I/we] thought [I/we] started walking the path to God… From God’s point of view, what we are doing is like a child playing with building blocks.” Miki hugs Asuka and cries. And Shirakami dies. Then Shirakami’s monologue was to be laid on the screen: 白神の声「英理加。見守っていてくれ、地球の子供達が愚かなことをこれ以上しないように」”Erika. Please watch over so that the children of the earth don’t do stupid things anymore.”11

Watch and hear Erika’s Message at the end of Godzilla vs Biollante.

Is this Shiragami’s personal confession? “I/we” are inserted and placed in brackets because in Japanese personal pronouns are often omitted. They are simply implied from context. From the perspective of an individualistic culture and context, “I” would be fitting, suggesting a personal confession of wrongdoing and would complete the story arc in which he comes to see the error of his ways. After Godzilla and Biollante’s battle comes to an end, Shirakami says,「ゴジラでも、ビオランテでもない。ほんとうの怪獣はお前たちを作った人間だ」”Neither Godzilla nor Biollante. The real monsters are the humans who created you.” He is a distraught father who wants to save his daughter, but he is also an arrogant scientist who has gone too far and made decisions that only God should make. Like Dr. Frankenstein, he made a monster, a creature that natural evolution had not created. He contrasts with Dr Serizawa in Godzilla (1954), who wrestled with the decision to reveal and use the Oxygen Destroyer. Unlike Shiragami, Serizawa sacrificed his life to save many. Shiragami and Erika is a father and daughter tragedy like that of Dr. Mafune and his daughter in Terror of MechaGodzilla (1975). In seeking eternal life and immortality like a god, the mortal man only brought more death. For Erika her father’s choices are part of a long history of misguided humanity. He lost everything because of his bad choices. His selfish choices not only led to his daughter’s death but also to the loss of innocent lives, and eventually his own. Only in death does he realize his tragic errors. His dying wish is for his departing daughter to protect the earth from such stupid decisions in the future.

Erika Shiragami appears in the disappearing Biollante (01:36:07 mark)

Now compare Shiragami’s words and monologue with that of Erika in the final draft: 「いつから私たちはまちがってしまったのでしょう?多分、神へ歩みはじめたと思った時から……。もう一度、あの時にもどって思い出して下さい……」”Since when did we go wrong? Probably when we thought we started walking towards God… Please go back to that time and remember…” (「ゴジラ対ビオランテ」決定稿, p 132) Rather than her father’s confession, it is Erika who articulates confession, a collective confession. Note the use of the plural form of the first person pronoun, 私たち “watashitachi.” She says, “we” went wrong and “we” wanted to be God. Without Erika’s closing message, her voice would never have been heard and she would never had been clearly heard and understood. Throughout the film her voice is only heard by Miki and her message is muted. Throughout the film, Erika is crying out for help. She calls her friend Asuka. Even the Biollante rose cries. But as Biollante evolves, Miki can no longer sense her which suggests Biollante has taken over completely and Erika is trapped. In the end, as she is released and ascends into the sky, she says, “Thank you.”

Scenario journal (Feb, 1990) with Dr. Shiragami’s monologue in scene 253 (p 55): 白神の声「神への道を歩みはじめたと思った時から、我々のまちがいが始まったようだ……。神から見れば、我々のやっていることなど、子供の積木遊びのようなものかもしれない……。」Shirakami’s Voice “From the moment we thought we were on the path to becoming God, it seems that our mistakes began… From the point of view of the gods, what we are doing may be like a child playing with building blocks……”

Note, in the English subtitled version, Erika says, “How long have we been living in such an age? Maybe it started when man first stepped out of the Garden of Eden, and left his innocence behind. Man would do well to remember this day, forever.” Although it may be implied, there is no mention of the Garden of Eden in Japanese: 「いつから私たちはこんな時代に生きるようになったのでしょう。神に回かって一歩 歩み出した日から。それは始まったのかもしれません。思い出した下さい もう一度。」 A more accurate and literal translation would be, “When did we start living in this era? It may have started from the day we turned to God and took a step forward. Please remember again.” But also notice the similarity but difference between the words in the script and in the film. In the film, when Erika has been set free to rest in peace, seemingly smiling, she articulates their collective human error of trying to be God and to perpetuate life for eternity. She says explicitly, “we turned to God.” And then she admonishes humanity to remember what has happened.

My copy of the final script and Erika’s voice and final words highlighted in scene 229 (Montage) on page 137.

Ancient stories tell of the human desire to be like God, all knowing, all powerful and immortal. In the biblical tradition, it started the day Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. God forbade the eating of its fruit because it belonged to him exclusively. The tree represents the knowledge of everything from good to evil, that is, from A to Z. From where did the desire come? Adam borrowed his wife’s desire, who in turn borrowed the serpent’s desire, which is said to desire to be like God in Ezekiel 28 and the prophecy against the King of Tyre. Godzilla cells were an opportunity for immortality. They were going to be a fountain of life. But like the disastrous consequences of Adam’s choice, rivalry, destruction and death ensued. The remaining biblical stories await the birth of an obedient Adam, but only tell how the first man’s fall and failure were repeated. Like God who creates the heavens and earth, for seven days in his lab, Dr. Shiragami creates an unnatural monster out of his daughter and Godzilla cells. But also like Adam, Shiragami, full of hubris and overestimation, sins and falls.

The Character Arc and Evolution of Dr. Shiragami in Godzilla vs Biollante (1989)

7:57 (Talking to the head of Saradia Institute of Biotechnology) My daughter, Erika, has succeeded in cross breeding a new type of wheat and cactus cell. This wheat can be grown in the desert. If we add self-reproduction genetic information from the Godzilla cell and an indestructive super plant will be completed.

[Erika is killed in the lab by an explosion planted by Bio-Major.]

10:53 (Talking with Akusa) You see, those same kinds of attitudes forced me to leave the country. Some things haven’t changed in five years.

19:14 (Talking to Col. Goro Gondo and Major Sho Kuroki) I will never touch Godzilla cells again. I chose my daughter, who is more important than my country, for Godzilla cells. I have nothing left to protect. Thank you, but I must refuse.

22:55 [Eruptions at Mt Mihara and earthquakes near Shiragami’s lab] At this rate, Erika will die.

[Shiragami agrees to create ANE but with one condition that he will keep the Godzilla cells in his lab for seven days.]

25:39 [Talking with Okochi and Kirishima] If you look at what humans have done so far, that is… [Kirishima,] I don’t think you understand science yet.

28:08 [In the lab] It’s horrifying.

30:58 [In the lab, Biollante kills Bio-Major agents and escapes] During the experiment, I thought I created an immortal plant species. I gave it self-reproducing abilities using Godzilla cells. I think I may have made a mistake.

33:30 [Back in the lab] Science is nothing more than a political tool.

34:42 [At Lake Ashinoko] That plant…it’s not just any plant. It’s Biollante… A plant spirit from Norse mythology. But that plant has a human heart.

[Kirishima asks, “Is this what you call science?” Shiragami turns in silence.]

[Godzilla awakens due to detonation of Bio-Major bomb]

47:26 [On a pier at the lake replying to a reporter] You always object [to scientific experiments] only because you don’t understand them. Without thinking about the future… [Suddenly Biollante tentacle breaks the pier]

48:03 [Talking to Miki who says it is no longer Erika’s spirit] What about Biollante?

52:54 [Godzilla’s first confrontation with Biollante] Godzilla may have approached him knowing that it was a creature made from his own cells. Not siblings. It’s a literal alter ego. Same cells, one animal and one plant. Cell division may have been abnormally stimulated by opening Godzilla’s heat rays.

[Shiragami assists the JSDF in the deployment of the ANB.]

1:29:45 [Biollante descends] Biollante…
1:30:54 Biollante… is evolving!

[Godzilla fires his breath into Biollante’s mouth. Godzilla falls into the sea because of the ANB.]

1:35:02 [Okochi congratulations Shiragami, shaking his hands. He wants to continue using of Godzilla cells. Shiragami pushes his hands down away from him.] I no longer make anti-nuclear bacteria or biollante…

1:35:31 [Staring down at Okochi] The real monster, not Godzilla or Biollante, is the human who created it.

1:36:36 [Biollante ascends and Erika appears. Miki says “Thank you… [from] Biollante.”] Erika!

1:36:49 [Shiragami is shot and killed by SSS9.]

After considering Dr. Shiragami’s evolution, his transformation would have been completely expressed if allowed to offer his final monologue in the third draft. If Shiragami’s monologue remains, he appears to be immortal, which seems inappropriate given the harm he has caused. If Erika’s final words are removed, then there is no clarity about her fate and destiny. There is no closure. But, in the end, both Dr. Shiragami and his daughter Erika hope humanity would remember their story and not repeat the sins of their fathers.


1. ゴジラ最強読本, p 101
2. 第一章 ストーリー, ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 81
3. Ibid, p 81.
4. Today’s GODZILLA October 23 小林晋一郎/ゴジラvsビオランテ/Godzilla vs Biollante| Learn more
5. シナリオ完成までの流れ, ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 94.
6. ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 94
7. ゴジラ2検討用ロングロングシノプシス, ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 98
8. シナリオ完成までの流れ, ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 94.
9. 大森メモ (仮), ゴジラ最強読本, ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 101
10. ゴジラ2検討用ロングロングシノプシス, ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 105).
11. 「ゴジラ2」検討稿, ゴジラvsビオランテコンプリーション, p 120


Wikipedia: Godzilla vs Biollante
Wikizilla: Godzilla vs Biollante
Markalite: The Magazine of Japanese Fantasy (Vol.1, Summer 1990)
Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of “The Big G” by Steve Ryfle