Godzilla Continuity part 2: Showa times is good times for all

So the last thing I wrote was to set some ground rules about how the only confusion in the timelines is created by overzealous fans and unscrupulous americans.

I will stick by this, even though the Showa timeline includes... the two King Kongs. Don't worry, you'll see that this isn't a problem soon.

Now, the way I'm going to do this is first go over what material is considered part of a given timeline, how it affects the other material, and and then just up and list the events of the timeline in chronological order. Simple enough. Here we go:

First thing we need to make clear for the Showa timeline is which non-Godzilla movies count? Well, all of them, but that requires a little clarification. First, let's pretend we're a Japanese kid living in a big city, let's say Tokyo, in the summer of 1969. At this point, seven different monsters that originated outside the Godzilla franchise have been sucked into the timeline, and most of the time direct reference to a previous appearance, or failing that at least an indication that the monster is already known is stated in said film. The logical thing for us school boys to decide, in a time when "multiple timelines" aren't even considered mainstream in the real world, let alone a fictional one, we should simply assume that all the other Toho films count. There is simply no other reason to think so.

And it's the same from the perspective of the studio at the time. Remember, until 1978, it was unthinkable that any multiple timelines could ever exist. As far as Tomoyuki Tanaka was concerned, and and all kaiju that appeared in other Toho media were a canidate for Godzilla's next foe. This creates an odd state where each non-Godzilla toho monster/scifi film exists as a stand-alone work in and of itself, but is never truly isolated. If at any time Toho had pit Godzilla against Dogora, no mending was needed because that film always existed in the "background" of the Godzilla series anyways, just waiting to be called off the bench and really shine.

This was standard up until the dissolution of the studio system in the late 1960's/1970's (specifically 1970 for Toho, but you know what I mean). After that, we get stuff like the vampire trilogy, Prophecies of Nostradamus, and some wierd movie about a cartoon phoenix. Do these count? It's debateable, but as far as I'm concerned, the attitude towards these movies that enabled them to have their characters recycled in any other Toho kaiju flick at any moment was dependent on the system that existed prior to 1970, and the loss of that changed the content of the movies in ways that affected more than just Godzilla. Thus, from the 70's, only Space Amoeba and War in Space have ever really been close to Godzilla series in the same way as, say, Frankenstein Conquers the World.

Now that that's out of the way, we can actually stand to narrow it down even more. While the space trilogy and two 70's films mentioned above are undoubtedly part of the over-arching "Showa Toho Timeline," they don't necessarily have anything to do with the events of the main Godzilla series. To make things less complicated, we'll focus only on those that do. These are: Rodan, Varan, Mothra, Atragon, Frankestein Conquers the World, War of the Gargantuas, and King Kong Escapes. Again, I'm not saying The Mysterians or Dogora don't count, but they don't directly deal with the topic at hand, so we're going to skip them.

Most of these films take place in the year they are made, and only a few have any "ancient" backstory. All of these rules will change with the Heisei series due to some degree of concious timeline construction, but the situation here is that each film is intended to be watchable without having any understanding of the rest of them. Godzilla vs. Mothra is not dependent on Mothra for viewers to enjoy or understand it, and, to be honest, it was a while before I even knew Mothra HAD a movie before she fought Godzilla. So, the majority of these films are just localized events that connect to the other films simply by using the same monsters.

So, I'm only going to address the exceptions in detail. In the 1950's, we have four monster attacks. Two Godzillas, one living on Lagos (possibly where the Angilosaur was) and one living near Odo Island were mutated as a result of the Castle Bravo nuclear test on the Bikini Atoll. The first Godzilla is decisively killed by the Oxygen Destroyer, while the second, Lagos Godzilla only appears a year later (too soon for many), and is merely buried under ice. Two Rodans, mutants again but this time Pterosaurs and not Dinosaurs, are found living under the surface around Osaka, somehow being "preserved." One of them, the female if they are a pair, since Rodan is always refered to as a male from here on out, is never seen again, and so dies. Varan, who I can't think of as anything other that a Varan (for obvious reasons), even though the resemblance is pretty iffy, is presented as some sort of mountain god, before being uncovered as an actual giant monster, no one ever figures out what it is, and then it swallows explosives and dies.

I really, REALLY hate Varan. He and his movie (his GORGEOUS movie, however) make no sense to me, and I'm still not entirely convinced that his appearance in DAM was anything other than a mistake. Even Baragon gets several shoutouts, and has a suit actor portray him for new footage. I'm not discussing him any further until I get some sort of explanation as to what the hell he's supposed to be and why one second of a terrible prop counts as an "appearance."

Early 60's. Mothra 1 hatches, turns into adult, retrieves fairies, goes home. Godzilla 2 breaks out of the ice just in time for the Toho iteration of King Kong to be sponsored by a pharmacuetical company. They fight, bets are continuously made, and in the end everyone is dissapointed.

ATRAGON: This movies presents of with some actual dates to screw around with. The events of the film still happen in the year it was made, but it has some additional backstory. We are told the Mu civilization went underwater around 12,000bce, and immediately began building it's subterranean city. Atragon has it's own deep past, as it was the... I wanna say fourth (right? because the third prototype supersub is the one the Muvians stole, correct?) in a series of super subs designed to turn the tide of battle in WWII. Well, by the time the Atragon had actually begun construction, the war was already over. Captain Jinguji, however, continued to build the thing because either he believed the war was still going on, or he was too stubborn to accept surrender. Either way, construcition of the Atragon occured between 1945 and 1963.

In 1964, we have this big monster opera where Godzilla 2 finally shows himself after the fight with King Kong (KK also wades into the sunset for a very open-ended fate), and now there is literally nothing left to stop him. Since the whole sponsored monster fight thing seemed to get rid of him for a couple years, why not do it with a monster you know you can trust, like Mothra? That's what happens, and in the process Mothra I dies, Mothra II and III are born, and one of the newborn larva dies from mysterious circumstances that were probably made explicit in the original version, but it isn't important enough for me to go back and check now. Godzilla is sent off again, but this time for LESS than a year, returning at the same time as the surviving Rodan, and the arrival of the worst of them all: King Ghidorah.

KING GHIDORAH: Much has been said of his origins. He is often regarded as a mysterious loner who travels through space destroying anything and everything simply because he can. Well, this is his persona, and certainly the vibe he gives off for most of his starring roles, but he does in fact have a definite origin. I don't want to spoil it yet, so I'll just say the information that was given to us in his first film: all we know at this point is that he completely wiped out the civilization on Venus in 3000bce, and has finally made his way back into this side of the galaxy (or wherever he was all that time) just in time to his ass handed to him by the combined forces of Godzilla, Rodan, and the remaining Mothra, who has convinced the other two to fight.

FRANKENSTEIN: Now we have a film directly connected to the showa Godzilla series that does not take place in the year it was made. FCTW begins in 1945, where we see Nazi officers reposses the heart of Frankenstein (let's just say this means the heart that the doctor created as opposed to any specific monster), which was being used for the scientific research of Dr. Reisendorf, who came into possession of the heart... somehow. The best part of this is that you can fill in whatever Frankenstein continuity you want, Universal, Hammer, or even the Andy Warhol one. The only events that need to occur is the creation of at least one Frankenstein monster, the recovery of the monster's heart, and the possession of that heart by Dr. Reisendorf before August 6, 1945.
In the events of FCTW, the action takes place 15 years after the Hiroshima bombing, meaning 1960, not 1965. Furthermore, this gives a total of 6 years for the monsters Gaira and Sanda to finish growing from the cells of... let's call him Frankenstein 2, for lack of an overtly stated number. It's been a while since I've seen WOTG, but I'm sure Sanda didn't live with that scientist for over 6 years, it doesn't take that long for those monsters to grow. Baragon and Oodako also appear. Both seem to die, but I'm betting neither did, even though we never see Oodako after his fight with Gaira.

Godzilla fills out 1965 and 1966 by turning his relationship with Rodan and King Ghidorah into a more "we aren't the best of friends" thing rather than pure utter hatred, and then somehow winding up in a King Kong movie where Akihiko Hirata blows up an island, but not before the surviving Mothra, in adult form, saves the human cast from it. Ookondru also shows up, then dies.

Next time: Destroy All Monsters, the whole mess about the two King Kongs (trust me, it will make sense), and me gripping about the continued willful ignorance of just how important Zone Fighter is to the Showa timeline. It's extremely important. And, if I don't ramble too much, the actual timeline.


Godzilla Continuity part 1: What's so confusing?

"Continuity within the Godzilla franchise is often bemoaned by fans as being confusing and at times inconsistent with itself."

This statement, a paraphasing of something I continue to hear, makes no sense on the surface. Outside the millennium series, all Godzilla films (and many non-Godzilla toho kaiju films) have a very clear and obvious continuity that they strictly adhere to. Whats more, this continuity is, for the most part, not complicated in the least. In fact, (and I'm going to elaborate on this in a little bit) the most connection the films have to each other is "where did each monster go at the end of the film?" Most of the time, the answers are "Godzilla went back to the sea, Biollante to the sky, King Ghidorah back to space, Rodan and Anguirus back to monster island, and Mothra to infant island." This is not hard to remember, and is even harder to contradict.

So why then, do some fans have such a hard time understanding why everyone remembers Godzilla in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah if he was supposed to be erased from the past? Well, he wasn't, but the real reason behind this is dubbing.

It's very simple: Westerners, and Americans in particular (again, I'm getting to this) have a very deep cultural expectation of what movies should be. We really need plots or else we can't enjoy the movie, in fact, even when a film has no plot, we (this is more a human thing, but it's reinforces my point, so shut up) will project our own interpretation of a series of events onto the images, even if that imagined story doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
They also had a very xenophobic attitude following World War II, and to this day have a bizarre superiority complex in which we view our movies as "more important" than those from other countries. What's more, there is an idea that movies that are imaginative are synonomous with "nonsensical fantasy for children." This last one is quite apparent to anyone who was seen both an American slasher movie and a Japanese ghost movie. One of them takes itself seriously.
These are, of course, generalizations, but many of the individuals actually involved in the "Americanization" of the Godzilla films actually do think this way.

Case in point: Godzilla 2000. This is a great example because there is a commentary track on the region 1 dvd by the team that ruined that particular film. I say "ruined" because I mean it. They had a failing attitude from the start. The plan was not to simply dub the film, but drastically re-edit it for American audiences. They said this, not me, you can listen to them yourself. This film was brought here in 2000, and they were still being "movie-racist." They composed new music which replaced Hattori's, replaced Orga's roar, and changed the name of Godzilla's regenerating ability, making Orga's name make no sense. They also chose to perpetuate the idea that Godzilla can never be anything but campy by staying true to the "spirit" of Godzilla, whatever the hell thats supposed to mean, and actually adding in corny sound effects, melodramatic lines and readings, and other crap I don't care to dwell on.

And that's mild. Godzilla vs. King Kong was completely gutted, and having the oppurtunity of getting the original version, I know understand why everyone says it's the funniest Godzilla... because it is.

Is all the confusion over Godzilla continuity because of the Americanized edits? No, but most of it is. Consider that even in the dubbed Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, which Ishiro Honda even followed himself when he recut the film for the Toho Champion Festival, (or whatever it was called), turned the Venusian into a Martian. One of the few times continuity carries between shows in the Showa timeline, and even that gets screwed up. At least Zone Fighter never saw a U.S. release, so there's that. Is there something that was present in the original films to blame for the confusion of so many fans? Perhaps, and it has to do with expectations of the audience rather than the loopers.

But here's the other thing: American sequels are dangerously dependent on the previous films, making the notion of "continuity" in American films something directly opposed to the kind seen in Japanese monster movies, especially in the showa Toho films.

Examples: If you haven't seen the first Jurassic Park, the first Underworld, the first Alien, the first Tremors, the first Terminator, or really the first anything, you will be entirely out of the loop watching the sequels. The sequels can not stand on their own, they are only entertaining if you've seen the original.
Compare to the Toho Frankenstein films. The first continues the story of "a Frankenstein monster," it never specifies if it follows the Universal series, Hammer series, or just the book, and it doesn't have any need to as all these timelines end well before 1945, giving ample time for the doctors to disappear, and the heart, the last remaining piece of any of the monsters, to come into the possession of a Nazi scientist of ambiguous relationship to the Frankensteins.
The sequel to this film, War of the Gargantuas, is often cited to be only "loosely connected" to the first film and not a genuine sequel.


It is a direct sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World, and the action that takes place in WotG is dependent on FCTW. However, if you have not seen the first one, you aren't going to be confused or lost, becuase the only connection the two films have: what happened to the monsters, is told to the audience several times in order to make sure everyone understands that Frankenstein has regenerated and mutated into these two new giant monsters. Gaira and Sanda are even identified (and this is in the original movie, not the dub) as "green Frankenstein" and "brown Frankenstein," respectively.
So, I don't know how it happened, but somehow the idea that the films aren't dependent on one another enough has been transmuted into them having no relation whatsoever.

And the wierdest part of this phenomenon is that it happens quite frequently. I've even read in an article that said because the technology didn't seem any more advanced than the other 60's Godzilla movies, that Destroy All Monsters must be lying and actually takes place in the year it was made, 1968, rather then what is directly stated.


It seems that, to an American audience, there is a threshold of dependency, and if a sequel is dependent enough, then all refenerances to previous films are simply ignored. It's unbelievable to me, but it does happen, and more often than you would think.

Anyways, this is just a preliminary article trying to make clear that all these misconceptions about the Godzilla timeline are just that: misconceptions. The films do have a clear continuity, and only the purposeful reinterpretations by fans or butcher-happy film editors can screw it up.

Thats why, next time I write one of these, which could today or a week from now, I'm going to set some records straight, as well as do some wild mass guessing that, for the first time, doesn't contradict what is actually said in the films.

So, until then, get out of my house.