Godzilla Countdown: Day 3

I left so much of the last post undone before I went to sleep that I'm only getting started on this at 17. I just finished watching Destroy All Monsters a second ago, so I'm planning on trying to keep at a pace of writing the impressions from one movie while I'm watching the other. This should also help me curb my obsessive compulsive screenshot taking, as I generated over 800 from yesterday, so I gotta calm down in that regard. These movies are just too gorgeous, it's not my fault. :c

Feeling a little pressure, and not, uh, well. I can't really describe it. But I'm not real happy about the way this is going. My sister's family called today, since it's mother's day apparently. I have nothing at all to say to them, and my nephew just... what, he's winning at dominos? And then what? I tell him "that's cool" but he just goes quiet. I start asking my mom about if she's going to be off on the 16th and I forget I'm even on the phone until I hear my sister in the background talking about something or another. I'm so far past caring.

I was working on the post for yesterday so much that I ended up only paying attention to DAM just enough as necessary. My eyes are kind of starting to glaze over at this point, because as I type this I'm watching All Monsters Attack or "Godzilla's Revenge" as we used to call it back in the day, and holy shit this movie is annoying. Well let's move on.
9. Destroy All Monsters • 怪獣 総進撃  (1968)
This was originally meant to be the last Godzilla movie, and it won't be the last "last" one. As such, it is an epic story of an alien invasion that turns all of Earth's monsters against mankind and sends them off to every corner of the world. Its scope makes G3HM look like a joke. It was, and still is, considered the climax of both the Showa series, a summation of everything that has come before it and the final hurrah for the golden age of Toho. There were still good times ahead, but this movie is so lofty in its ambitions that it was not until 36 years later that anything close was even attempted.

It's another alien invasion movie, and like the last it takes place in the future, but this time much further in the year 1999, but like all Tohoverse flicks tend to do, it keeps it classy by not making the future out to be the Jetsons but rather... pretty much 1968. Modest, but not entirely inaccurate. Earth's monsters (the original intention was for it to include 'all' of them, but aside from the 10 that are at least seen only Maguma and Ebirah are known to be included in the original draft) have been rounded up and are living together peacefully in the Ogasawara Islands. In addition to the monsters, an underwater area designed for genetically engineering and crossbreeding various sealife, including the dual-finned Ogasawara Whales, which exist in such an abundance that the monsters are free to eat as much as they choose. We see Rodan doing as much. The Kilaakians are from probably Ceres, and are some sort of metal-based, worm-like lifeform that and pull itself up into a sphere and hibernate indefinitely until temperatures are hot enough for it to revive. Why anything living on Ceres is partial to heat is beyond me, though. They use the same magnetic waves to control the monsters, and do it with little metallic spheres placed all over the world.

As far as the future is plotted out to us, Jun Tazaki tells us (in the same scene that the dubbed version talks about a typhoon or something) that they began rounding up monsters 20 years ago, and installed the security systems 10 years ago. 1979 and 1989 to be exact. The island itself contains, notably, Godzilla, Anguirus, Rodan, Mothra, Gorosaurus, "Minilla," Manda, and Kumonga. Baragon and Varan are also supposed to be in the movie, but we never really see either. Varan pops up for about a second at the very end, but Baragon is alluded to a few times, and we see him for slightly more than one second.

Where did all these monsters come from? What happened between then and now? It's a subject on which official word has flip flopped and fanon has been even weirder about. For Anguirus, Baragon, Varan, and Manda, it has been said at various times by various sources that we're seeing a second one. The mechanics of Showa continuity don't necessarily require this to be the case in order for any of them to survive, but since lip service has been paid to it, let's examine. Varan was blown to smithereens at the end of his movie, so it pretty much has to be a second one. Toho Kingdom, that wonderful pile of half-truths and unsourced wackiness, even goes so far as to say it's an infant Varan that's only 10 meters tall. Based on... ? Oh right, nothing. Baragon has his neck broken, and Anguirus got bit in the neck, fell lifelessly into the water, and was then set on fire, so the case for it being a second one of these is pretty strong. It seems reasonable to expect them to "get better" since this isn't too egregious an injury to recover from for a daikaiju. Manda is not only sometimes said to be a second, but also a female, which I guess is the explanation for the lack of horns. This is actually pretty cool, but the original Manda isn't even killed, just frozen. Like I said, official word on this changes a lot, so you can believe whatever you want, but honestly to me it doesn't make much of a difference.

The climactic battle at the end is astonishing. While it certainly falls short of the 10 on 1 battle I was expecting, it is ~6 on 1, which is still pretty intense. What's more, even though the choreography utilizes a minimum of monsters to keep things from getting too chaotic, at most we've still got Godzilla, Anguirus, Gorosaurus, Rodan, Minilla, Mothra, Kumonga, and King Ghidorah all on the same set at the same time, and just imagining all the work put into making this whole sequence work gives me a headache. I've seen this thing so many times, it's just so damn cool. What makes it particularly interesting is that Rodan actually takes off early on, and Gorosaurus actually steps in to take care of business. Anguirus, too, but not only is Gorosaurus a break from past films, but we never see him take such an active role as an ally of Godzilla again. Anguirus from this film out becomes the new Rodan or Mothra, but it's worth saying that at this point in the real world this is a new role for him as well. Even more incredible is Kumonga, the mysterious gigantic spider who has is at least as old as Godzilla takes a break from being a weird, creepy monster to protect the Earth from King Ghidorah. You get the sense that Kumonga has a complicated personality that's akin to Godzilla himself and, again, I find myself being pretty upset no one ever seems to care and he just ends up being some dumb spider that keeps getting ignored. Manda, while not playing a role in the fight with King Ghidorah, plays a role in the destruction of Tokyo along with the more established Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra. Manda's a bit slow on land and doesn't seem to do much damage, but this part of movie is really famous for the deleted scene where Godzilla and Manda duke it out briefly, an amazing head trip of a concept that got cut because it wouldn't have made since for two monsters under alien control to fight each other.

This was my holy grail for a long time. It wasn't until about 1998 that I actually saw it, cutting it pretty close with the timing there. I don't know what the hell the problem was, but it was far more rare than even the Heisei films, which by then I had, for the most part, seen in both original and subbed forms. The only current movie that I still hadn't seen after DAM was GvsMGII. The hype was built up to almost unimaginable levels. Varan, a monster I had never seen nor heard of before and only knew from the Trendmasters toy that never ended up getting released (I think), was the biggest mystery for me. I also wanted to know exactly which cities all the monsters were dispatched too. The movie disappointed me on both fronts, as Varan isn't even in the damn thing, and the list of locations I had been seeing was all that we're told in the film, and it's pretty clear that the Kilaakians were never really using all 10 monsters at once, nor did they ever really use Varan or Kumonga or Minilla. But even with these disappointments the movie still delivered big time, and it holds up in a big way.

10. All Monsters Attack • オール 怪獣 大進撃 (1969)

Then there's this fucking thing. Said by Richard Pusateri to be controversial among fans who can't decide if it's the worst Godzilla movie or the second worse Godzilla movie, I'm coming out right now in favor of the later, since nothing can save GvsSG. This opinion comes from the fact that this isn't a real Godzilla movie. AMA is basically a best of, clip show sort of thing composed of stock footage of the south seas films intended, primarily, for the audience of the Champion Festival, with a framing story about the life of a latch key kid in modern Tokyo that screams of what Ishiro Honda would be doing if it weren't for Godzilla. At the time it probably went over well, since this was before you could just watch whatever you wanted to, and this movie gave you the chance to not only see something new, but relive past matches as well. But in an age of home video the novelty of a compilation film is outdated and pointless, and pair that with pure, unadulterated Honda author tacts and you get something that's not really worth your time.

When I first saw this movie, I picked it out of the store by the cover, which depicted Minilla and Kamacuras. I thought I had found Son of Godzilla, which is great because at the time I didn't own it, and that one in particular became extremely hard for me to come by for a long time, even when the Sony DVD came out. I only have it now thanks to netflix. As much as I loved that movie and how difficult it was for me to track down you can probably imagine how upset I was when I saw... this... thing. Minilla talks and can shrink, the plot is about some fucking kid, and most of it is a dream about a bunch of other movies. Ever since I laid eyes on this abomination it was my least favroite of the bunch, and that didn't change until much later.

The story, being that it's about a kid's dream, doesn't even take place in the Tohoverse, instead this is a kid who's familiar with the Godzilla movies, not Godzilla himself. That's right, this takes place in the "real" world and Godzilla and every other monster we see isn't real, except as the stock footage from the movies that exist within this movie that we see. With regards to other movies, I lump it with the "Shodai" timeline, a concept I more or less invented but which in practice isn't really a new idea. It starts from the realization that 4 of the 5 timelines the films take place in use the original movie as the starting point, and the 5th uses a version of those events. Because of this, the original movie can't really be said to take place in any one timeline, since it is relevant to all of them. There are a few, not many but a few pieces of the Toho canon that don't really fit anywhere else either, and one common thread that can be used to unite them is that Godzilla exists as a film character. Other than AMA, this also features into Always 2 (which I might watch for this), Sayonara Jupiter, and the 20th Century Boys trilogy. Two of these are outright sci-fi films, which to me means that just because some parts of the Tohoverse are fictional doesn't mean they all are. So the "Shodai" timeline concept kind of evolved into a world where the original Godzilla still happened, there is no second one, Godzilla appears in people's dreams and later sci-fi happenings still occur, so it's not really the real world. There's no official statement about any real connection between these movies, but since AMA and Always 2 don't really feature the monsters in real life, they also don't factor into the continuity of the two sci-fi films anwyas, so there doesn't need to be for it to make sense. Oh, also Gabara exists.

What the hell is Gabara? According to the Toho Movie Studio Tour, he's a frog mutated by radioactivity. He looks like a traditional Japanese Oni. He also only seems to exist in dreams. None of these connect to each other and there's just no conclusion to be had here. What significance the character of Gabara may have in a larger context is completely unknown and the monster is never used again, leading us all to believe it should be considered completely fictional even in-universe and that we should all forget he even existed in the first place. Which is kinda lame because I quite like him. He's weird and cool and is dripping with personality, but his status as a dream monster makes him kind of mysterious worthy of investigation. IDW put an effigy of him in issue #9 of Rulers of Earth, but they didn't bother crediting it, so I don't know if that's intentional or not. Ganime got the same treatment, it might have something to do with how they're only represented through "abstract" forms, cave paintings and effigies, rather than directly present. Maybe.

11. Godzilla vs. Hedorah • ゴジラ 対 ヘドラ (1971)
The Godzilla series up to this point has followed a trend and a design philosophy that is pretty much solid across the whole picture. Details differ but there a certain expectation one would have of what Godzilla is supposed to be if all you've seen are the films of the 50's and 60's. The style and pacing was dictated by Honda, Sekizawa, Tsuburaya, and Ifukube. Any time these names aren't in the credits you can still bet to see the film in question follow the plan, Sekizawa only coming in at the third movie but his writing style defines most of the then 10 films so I can't just ignore him. However now it is the 70's and things are changing. There's an oil crisis for one, and Japanese television is becoming huge, making the dynamic of the film industry in Japan change from studio vs. studio to all studios vs. the very idea of television. "Counter culture" is now just culture, and the dynamism of the 60's that originally pushed social reforms (at least in America, I can't speak for other first world countries but I somehow doubt institutionalized racism and sexism were quite as bad as there were here, if they were there at all) are now seen and heard in every facet of mainstream culture.

Who can make the new Godzilla for the 1970's? Enter Yoshimitsu Banno. Looking back at the sequels we've seen so far they're all variations on a few themes, more or less artistically consistent with each other, but the original film stands out from the rest, even from its quickie sequel, by having its motivation be pure. It was a film by Ishiro Honda, made for a purpose and by a person with a particular vision in mind. Godzilla was made to be Godzilla, not "a Godzilla movie." With Yoshimitsu Banno we find the same motivation, and Godzilla vs. Hedorah feels, for the first time since 1954, to be a movie in and of itself that exists for its own reasons, and by the will of Banno, carrying his intent. This is, in summation, and entirely different kind of movie, and it makes its own damn rules.

I'm pretty emotional about this movie, as it's my third favroite one (above or below the original Godzilla? I can't say for sure, how heretical is that?), and it's hard to talk about without just saying "I love it" over and over again. The music fucking rocks. Riichiro Manabe isn't the best of the Godzilla composers, but his music blends with the vibe of the 70's films really well, but more importantly are the pieces "Give Back the Sun!" and "Save the Earth!" or, as I like to call it since I haven't seen the non-international dubbed version since childhood, "God is Dead" since that's what the Japanese lyrics sound like. It's psychedelic as fuck, featuring strange and beautiful composition choices, cartoon interstitials, and music video-esque bizarre visual experiments that turn the film from "a depiction of things that are happening" to true high art. This is the real, in your face kind of Godzilla who has something to say and makes damn sure you're paying attention. The movie is completely unique in this way, and in the whole of Toho canon anticipates only House in style, and of course House only ended up like that because the director happened to be cut from a similar cloth as Banno. Also Godzilla flies.

It's also a movie that had an impression on my biological father as well, the same one who thought King Kong was better. The movie quite surprised him (as it would anyone) and even years later he would refer to it as the only other Godzilla movie that truly impressed him. We found it at a video rental store, as I did so many of the Showa films that weren't on Danny's tape, and after I saw it in maybe 1994, it wouldn't be until it came on tv in 1999 that I ever saw it again. It simply wasn't for sale, and this, combined with its unique and incredible nature, made me grow attached to the film even more. Like Son of Godzilla it was a bit of a white whale, although this was the you can remove the "a bit of" from the analogy.

The significance it has to me, I've realized, is that it's my first brush with hauntology. If you've come here at all I shouldn't have to explain that, and I'm not going to, but it might strike you as odd that something from 1971 can be hauntology. Well, IT isn't, but the way this movie makes me feel is the same, and it probably has to do with the timeless nature of Godzilla. It also not insignificantly has to do with my feelings about late 70's Godzilla, which we'll get into some tomorrow. The visuals give me a very strange sense of faux-nostalgia and false memories, even stranger being that I have real memories and nostalgia from the movie. I've had a lot of dreams about Godzilla movies that don't exist in the real world, and large part of their visuals are drawn from the base ambush scene in DAM, all of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, and some of Godzilla vs. Gigan, which I'm watching now. These tie directly into my late 70's obsession as well, but I might was well talk a little bit about them now. The idea was, as explained to me in the dreams, that they were actually south Asian bootlegs made from pieced together footage from older films, of course that didn't pan out in theory as what I was seeing was all new, but that gets a pass because, you know, dream logic. Plots converged on a point, with a variety of Earth monsters and space monsters clashing in the same open night time battle grounds that we see in the final battle of Hedorah and that one scene in DAM. Casting includes the Soshingeki-Goji Godzilla, '68 Anguirus, Gorosaurus, Rodan, Manda, and Baragon on Earth's side, and the space monsters King Ghidorah, Gigan, Megalon, and some surprises. Surprises like a floating, glowing, faceted green orb with a strange name that began with an X or Z who's closest real world equivalent might be Gororin or Balgaras. Speaking of Zone Fighter, also prominent and recurring was Moguranda, who I remember clearly years before I knew the show existed, let alone seen the damn thing. It has to have been that after I knew of Moguranda the image of the monster became clearer or more like him, however I only remember this happening in a dream once with this new info, and my memory of the creature from the years, or really decades before that, is fairly fuzzy, so I couldn't tell you how much of a monster prophet I really am.

Some things: There are a couple of visual parallels to the original movie that are pretty bold during a part in the bay and with a fish tank. The kid claims to be able to "sense" Godzilla, a claim that is back up by him never being wrong with his predictions. Is he psychic? Are we seeing a prototype for Miki Saegusa? This is the first movie where houndstooth is present. Why is Toho so fucking terrible at day for night shots? It's been a consistent problem ever since the "day 4 day" nonsense in The Mysterians, but in Hedorah it's gotten so bad that the scene cuts between late evening and the dead of night with absolutely no regard for continuity whatsoever.

The movie is fucking grim as hell. People die gruesomely, there's that cat, and Godzilla gets fucked up big time. For the first time since King Ghidorah came to Earth, Godzilla is fighting with purpose and resolve, as well as fighting for his life. Hedorah is a serious threat and the shit has gotten real. Godzilla's eye and right hand take the worst damage, though, and when I was younger I was under the impression that the flesh melted off and it was just a skeleton hand. When Hedorah is finally destoryed, Godzilla's little victory roar/dance never comes. In fact, after glaring at some nearby humans, Godzilla walks away looking tired and defeated. He realizes that nothing has actually changed, another parallel to the original film, where Yamane realizes that the source of the problem still exists. While Godzilla may be a personification of the punctuation of mankind's eventual extinction, Hedorah is the personification of the root problem, the disease the infects the world which endangers the sustainability of the ecosystem, and any competition that results from that over food and water will end up being the cause of the last war. Not really prophesizing here, global flooding as a result of our pollution of the air is going to create a food crisis, that's just how it is. It would be nice to imagine a perfect world where humanity somehow doesn't end up tearing itself apart over even the slightest bit of inconvenience, but that's just not the way that the real world functions. A global food crisis WILL create wars, and if humanity is going to have some finality to it it'll be by virtue of these wars. A slow die-off of humans probably won't take hold over time, people will live in smaller populations, require less food, and gradually repopulate. No, if we're going extinct altogether it'll be because of the bomb and weaponized pathogens. Well, that and time.

But these are long term arcs I'm talking about here. Godzilla vs. Hedorah is  story about now, or 1971 to be technical, born out of the fears of the time. While we can look back now and say these fears were a little bit alarmist, they certainly weren't wrong, it's just going to take longer than we thought. Current estimates on when London will be underwater and a more sensible "we can't really tell" and so I could, right now, take an alarmist point of view and say the world will end in 50 years, but what I'm saying is that fear of an immediate future isn't the important part, what's important is that we can actually view the mechanism of our own extinction, and it's because of Hedorah. Whether Banno was scared of the immediate crisis or of the lingering issues that aren't going anywhere I don't know, but given the ending of the film it kind of seems like the latter. As I mentioned the ending teases a second Hedorah, and that's exactly what Banno was planning on doing next, Godzilla vs. Hedorah, but also in Africa. He also wanted to do a starfish-Hedorah, which sounds interesting. Tomoyuki Tanaka was incensed when he saw the finished film, however, and claimed Banno ruined Godzilla, meaning he basically got blacklisted and hasn't worked on Godzilla since.

He did attempt GvsH2 again, though, in the form of "Godzilla 3D to the Max." The original plan for the 29th Godzilla movie, which would have been a relatively short 3D IMAX movie released internationally, was a flick with effects by the incredibly talented Eiichi Asada, using the Kiryu-Goji suit against a new monster called Deathla who is basically Hedorah but not. Deathla took 3 forms, a swarm of locusts, a giant mushroom, and his final bipedal form with a skull like face, and he was also supposed to be red. This symbiotic Matango-Hedorah creature recalls the pink Neo Hedorah monster from the late 90's series Godzilla Island, where the Matango connection was explicit, and would later see some form of exposure as "Deathball" and "Neo Deathball" in episodes 14 through 18 of Sazer-X. No Matango, but we do get a red Hedorah. Yoshimitsu Banno came up with this plan independent of Toho, and this was to be a licensed movie. However, while he did eventually get the license, the pressures of movie making and his search for an outside investor led him to hollywood's doorstep, where we are now, and where we have to face Godzilla's funeral. So in the end Tanaka was right, and it really was Banno who ruined Godzilla.

12. Godzilla vs. Gigan • ゴジラ 対 ガイガン (1972)
Godzilla vs. Hedorah didn't just break the mold of the past films, but it also stands out from the following ones. Godzilla vs. Gigan established the new mold that the 70's films would follow, and while the tone varies between them the movies do have a kinship with each other like the ones from the 60's did. Godzilla vs. Gigan itself is a comic book styled movie, and hangs on to the enviromental message of the last movie, although it's nowhere near as effective or central to the plot.

This is another one where I can't remember exactly when I first saw it. All I do remember is that I saw it after Megalon, and that it was hella cool. Gigan is one of the most beautiful monsters there is, and at the time I had only known him from the '73 suit, which was fat and had a wide ugly face, so seeing the original Gigan in addition to him being the primary antagonist, and therefore getting a ton of screentime, was a treat. The movie is soaked in style, unfortunate stock footage aside and the straight up coolest looking movie yet. The emphasis on visual flair and especially bright, bold colors seems to be taken from the comic book influence.

Speaking of the comic book influence, there's two things I want to mention here. The first is Shukra and Momagon. Do they count? The monsters are technically as real as Gabara, only they happen to exist in the mainstream Showa timeline. I remember when Matt Frank was still doing his Godzilla Neo thing, one of the last, if not THE last entry he did had a description mentioning his desire to do Shukra, but he didn't because... well, because. I guess. I think it would be interesting to use these creatures in some way myself. The other big thing is that Godzilla and Anguirus talk. Now, I unfortunately only have the international version and the dub thereof, so there's no screencap, but in the original movie Godzilla and Anguirus communicated via word bubbles, which looks pretty awesome. All other versions nix this and just have him talk, but the undubbed international version, which is what I watched, has neither. So that's lame.

Monster Island is a thing now, and we know Godzilla and Anguirus (and Rodan, and probably Minilla) live there. We see stock footage from DAM with Gorosaurus and Kumonga, but I can't tell if I'm supposed to take that at face value, especially considering it also shows Kamacuras, who is, you know, dead. This is between 1967 and 1979, a period where Monster Island is a thing, but no one's collecting the monsters yet. So this is probably Ogasawara, which would be a great reason to set up Monsterland there, if monsters already started calling it home. Anguirus has returned, and this time it really is the first we've seen of him since 1955, and there's no real explanation for it. Given that Godzilla has calmed down and returned to his more carefree mindset, it's not unusual that a recovered Anguirus would do the same, and that they, having grown into the life of a kaiju rather than just another animal, have "squashed the beef" as it were. Or, you know, it could be a second Anguirus, as I mentioned earlier.

The bad guys here are the aliens from Nebula M (M-1 according to Megalon) Space Hunter, which is just a bunch of word salad nonsense. A "Nebula" isn't a planet, M or no. And Space Hunter implies they're, you know, space... hunters. But they're not hunting, they're trying to colonize the planet. So the story goes that for 2 billion (!) years there was an advanced human-like civilization on their homeworld, but after going extinct due to altering their environment too much, a race of cockroach-like creatures from the same planet evolved to take its place. That's all 100 million years in the past. These time tables are too fucking long for civilizations, they must be talking about evolutionary history, I simply can't suspend disbelief enough to believe a technological civilization lasted 2 billion years, never developed the ability to travel through space, and killed themselves off with pollution. That's not a thing that's possible. As for Gigan, we're not even told that he's a cyborg, something that made me really fucking mad when the Trendmasters toy referred to him as such without citing their sources. Of course, he is a cyborg, and that means he's part organic. He has golden scales similar to King Ghidorah, and is paired with him, leading me to believe that the two are related. Perhaps Gigan's organic base was also the genetic base for the Garoga's most powerful creation? What did Gigan originally look like? There's a toy made by imperial that's a kind of royalty free Gigan that looks something like what we might expect. Two organic eyes, two fingers per hand, and one dorsal sail are amonf the differences. I never had this toy as a kid, but I did see it, it was in the cafeteria of the elementary school I went to in Grapevine for some reason, and it made my heart nearly explode with jealousy. I WANTED that thing so bad... and I actually still do. It's pretty cool, especially with its implications about organic Gigan. For its Godzilla Legends series, someone at IDW wanted to do a Gigan issue exploring how he came to be this way. The story went that he was originally much like Godzilla is for his homeworld, a protector against various threats, I'm assuming threats like Hedorah. Over time, he was gradually augmented with more and more cybernetic parts in order to improve himself. The info I read on it makes it sound like it was totally Gigan's idea, like he was the metal fetishist or something sticking bars in his arm, but I think it was probably meant to be the Nebulans that were doing this. As a consequence, the extreme body modification made him lose a grip on his mind and when he get to him in the present, he's a psychotic killer.

Gigan's personality seems a little confused, though. He certainly has one, but it's not "psychotic" by any stretch of the imagination. He spends most of this movie following the plan of the special action tapes, but when those are destroyed he stops moving completely. It takes him a while to come to his senses and realize what's going on, and when he does he's no longer the evil alien invader the Nebulans wanted him to be, but rather similar to Godzilla in the 1960's, itching for a fight because that's what monsters do. It's pretty clear from their actions that at this point Gigan, and even King Ghidorah, are no longer taking any of this seriously, particularly well illustrated at one point where they stop in the middle of the battle and actually have a conversation with each other while Godzilla and Anguirus plan a surprise attack. Surprise because Gigan's not paying attention. In Megalon he's not under any control tape's plan, and he acts in a pretty similar way, although he definitely has a goal in mind. He's not being directly controlled in Zone Fighter either, but he has, interestingly, been given a modification, and he seems a lot more single-minded in his efforts.

13. Godzilla vs. Megalon • ゴジラ 対 メガロ (1973)
A movie that people seem to love to hate, unabashed and peerless camp, which served as the subject for one of my favroite MST3K episodes. It's not great, but it's lovable, and ubiquitous among both fans and non-fans because of its widespread continuous availability on various forms of home video. The movie was originally intended to be a vehicle for Jet Jaguar, then Red Alone, the winner of a contest for kids to send in their designs for their own super hero, as Toho was gearing up to compete with Ultraman. Jet Jaguar's opponent was to be Megalon, originally conceived for one of the drafts of Godzilla vs. Gigan as one of the space monsters fighting alongside Gigan and King Ghidorah against Godzilla, Anguirus, and a giant statue named Majin-Toul who was inteded to be Toho's answer to Daimajin. It ended up being a Godzilla movie because Toho didn't have enough confidence in a Jet Jaguar movie, and focused their attempts on confronting Ultraman on his home turf, television.

Godzilla vs. Megalon was one of the ones I can't remember being new. I remember the box the vhs was in, it had little clouds on it. This one was definitely a staple, and it was also one of the few Godzilla anything any of the other kids at school knew anything about. I remember playing Godzilla vs. Megalon in kindergarten almost as much as power rangers. I played Gigan because he's awesome ;o My own feelings towards this movie are basically the same as the majority here, it's campy and pretty stupid but still fun, and I've got a nostalgic fondness for it at least if not a more substantial one. EDIT: I can't believe I forgot to mention this. I'm currently on day 5 right now, and I just posted the day 4 entry, for context. Because I saw this movie before Godzilla vs. Gigan, and I didn't make the connection to Antonio saying "Gigan" and that being the name of the monster, I seriously believed that Gigan's name was "Closealltheexitparts." And I mean for a while. Don't ask me why I thought "Close all the exit parts" was a name, I couldn't tell you. But it was weird, and people (rightly) made fun of me for it.

The bad guys are sort of a cross between alien invaders and the Muvians of Atragon. Backstory tells us that 3mya there were two lost continents, Lemuria in the Indian Ocean, and Mu in the Pacific Ocean which we already knew about, and as I've mentioned before is probably synonymous with Zealandia. Whatever Lemuria was, though, it's long gone with no trace, as its inhabitants fled not simply underwater, but underground as well, being Toho's version of the hollow Earth with an artificial sun and everything. There's also a connection made to the mysterious statues of Easter Island, but the explanation here just upsets me, as, like with the last movie, the characters talk about a span of millions of years as if they have it in the textbook to their history class. No human or human-like species has a civilization that lasts that fucking long. Sorry, that's not how it works. Civilization as we know it is only, what, 12,000 years old or so? And think of how many empires have risen and fallen, how many disparate philosophies and modes of government and economics have come and gone, how many distinct cultures and societies have formed, evolved, and died during that incredibly brief period of less than one tenth of a million years. The people of Seatopia three MILLION years ago were completely different from the current generation in every conceivable way, and I simply refuse to accept this Antonio character has any idea what he's talking about in regards to the history of Seatopia. Their evil agents Oscar Wilde and Bret Gelman probably know more than that guy. Whatever Easter Island's connection to Seatopia is, it's largely irrelevant now.

A curious plot point is the red sand that the agents track into the inventor's home, which is said to come from deep sea sediments found only near Easter Island. Now that sounds suspiciously like what we're told in the original Godzilla, about red sand being found on the trilobite. What's weird about this is that Oscar Wilde's buttons on his jacket are actually made of the same sand. Why do they make buttons out of compacted sand? There's also a bit of ancient aliens shenanigans going on as we see that the Seatopians have a route of open communication and negotiation with the Nebulans. It's easy to speculate that Megalon is somehow a product of this, that Nebulans visiting the planet before in the ancient past, possibly the source of space travel technology that caused ancient colonies to seek colonies on other worlds such as Mysteroid, were somehow involved in the creation of Megalon, who the Seatopians worship as a god, which would explain the extreme similarity between the two monsters. I've heard Toho Kingdom say that Megalon is a beetle mutated by living so far underground it was altered by the Earth's magnetic field or something like that, and that's cool, but being that it comes from Toho Kingdom its pretty iffy. Megalon doesn't seem to be a cyborg, though, in that he hasn't been called that since 1973, so it's probably best not to assume as much.

Jet Jaguar starts the movie out as just a proof of concept robot that was built in order to try to build it. Its functions include: walking, seeing things, and getting out of your way. Later, he becomes a real boy and learns emotions and can speak monster sign language and can program himself to grow to kaiju size. How? Why? No answers are forthcoming, only that his inventor has a special device that he can use to control JJ (by... voice?) that overrides the main computer. He also then later says JJ is programed with a survival instinct. So not only do you have a robot that understands Japanese and can interpret vague commands and understand intent, but he also just up and decide to completely ignore you if he thinks he's in danger, which is now a thing he's capable of inferring under his own judgement, also, he'll get out of your way automatically. The Seatopians briefly gaining control of it doesn't explain it since we're told he is programmed to do some of this anomalous behavior, so he really was just built to be a super hero the whole time. Iiiiiiii don't get it. JJ's the real centerpiece of this camp masterpiece, but holy shit does this not make any sense at all. His name suits him.

13.5. Zone Fighter • 流星人間 ゾーン (1973) #4, 11, 15, 21, & 25
Zone Fighter is the last great frontier of Godzilla. It was never dubbed or subbed in any form (including in the era of fansubs, which is just fucking insulting), and until the mid 90's no one even really knew it existed. At least in the west. That's something that's going to confuse me forever, the notion that Japan's pop culture phenomenons which have already made them millions overseas are totally okay to just ignore and hide from the rest of the world. I suppose this has more to do with Japan's general xenophobic attitude but what we're talking about here isn't some obscure horror movie that's "too Japanese," it's fucking GODZILLA. Every motherfucking on the face of the planet loves Godzilla, he doesn't belong to Japan he belongs to the entire world, and an important lesson learned from the past is that time and time again money has spoken far louder than Japan's cultural bias and borderline racism. When Power Rangers is "cancelled" Toei says "no fuck that you're not doing that power rangers is how 90% of the world sees our show and it's where all our money comes from." But, and as we'll see more starting from the 80's onwards, the primary media of the Godzilla series doesn't ever seem to be a priority. In this case, we have a live action tv show that is Toho's answer to Ultraman where Godzilla, Gigan, and King Ghidorah all appear, and is in continuity with the films, and yet no one in the 41 since its production in a position of power has lifted a finger to move DVD's of brand new never before seen 26 episodes of holy shit it's fucking Godzilla that no one in half of the world has ever seen before what the fuck is wrong with you people?

From what I've seen of the show, one full episode without subs and clips of all the monster scenes on dailymotion, it seems pretty awesome. It's your standard Ultraman formula with the monster team replaced with a Honda-esque focus on a family of refugees from the planet Peaceland Of the six family members, three of them have morphed forms, and one of them has a giant hero form. Apparently original concepts for the show had all three siblings transforming, but I guess they thought that would be too awesome. Godzilla is a recurring additional hero, sort of like a second Ultra or sixth ranger, Gigan is a monster of the week (and dies), and King Ghidorah is a two parter cliffhanger monster. The production is about on par with Megalon, ever so slightly dampened by tv budgets, but while Megalon isn't the best looking Godzilla movie by any means, it's still a movie and competent, something that Ultraman can't say about itself. On top of that, Koichi Kawakita gets his start as a sfx director here, and the end result is that this super hero children's tv show which should by all accounts look like trash is actually really well done for what it is, far better looking than Ultraman.

If I sound angry at Ultraman its because I am. When I was a kid we had two cartoon movies composed of four episodes of 1979's The Ultraman each, and the Australian series that I knew everything about and loved to death but never actually saw. Ultraman was beyond rare, he was fucking Ancient Mew, nobody had seen him or heard of him, you catch a glimpse of the end of a promo on tv, maybe one second of it, then you ask questions about who this giant monster is that isn't Godzilla or Gamera that you haven't heard of until now, but you get no answer and he's always simply never there. Fun fact: kids love monsters. You present a kid the opportunity to see a show with giant monsters, they, I guarantee you, will do whatever it takes to pursue that opportunity. Do you know what's not going to make you money? Having giant monsters, and an audience that will eat that shit up, but then never giving them the time of day. What I did see was pretty awesome, and I did eventually see the Australian series, but this is a consistent problem. I know there was some sort of long running legal case for a while, but this isn't an isolated incident and it persists throughout the entire history of the franchise. Tsuburaya (the company) doesn't WANT the rest of the world to see Ultraman in any form, ever.They're a bunch of fucking dirty rat bastards and they can all burn in hell like the filthy heartless scumbags they are. Fuck them. Fuck them and their stupid shitty show. Oh yeah did I not mention that? Ultraman is really, REALLY fucking terrible. Except of course for the aforementioned Australian and cartoon series, those are pretty cool. That the giant "city destruction" playset played a part in the most magical decemberween I've ever had influences my opinion of it somewhat.

Let's talk a little bit about the monsters of Zone Fighter, the original ones. Zone Fighter himself is your standard giant alien super hero guy, but the rest of the Garoga rogues gallery are just plain weird. For starters, their designs or off the charts insane. Most of them are down right hideous but when when it works it works pretty well, see Balgaras, Grotogauros, Wargilgar, and Zandolla in particular. They're also really big, Wargilgar is actually the largest monster in the Showa Godzilla series topping King Ghidorah at 108m tall. That's heavy! There's also an emphasis in the show on smoke/fog/mist based attacks, Godzilla even going back to his spray nozzle representation from the first couple of films, and the effects and color and names change, but among the Godzilla episodes three of the monsters are seen spraying colored cmoke around, and Moguranda also uses a (purple) smog in his first appearance. Monsters do use drawn-in effect throughout the series, so I'm not really sure why this decision was made.

Because the show was never released anywhere else besides Japan, none of these monsters have English names, and while that's not a problem in most cases there are a couple of bizarre names which seem like they're actually supposed to be something else. カブトギラー (KaBuToGiRaa), a vaguely beetle-ish monster with sword hands, possesses a carried vowel sound and the end of his name, which often translates into an "r" at the end, which if is the intent here would mean the monster's name in English is Kabutogirar or Kabutogilar. The little marks of the "Gi" kana chage the consonant part of of the sound, which here changes it from "Ki" to "Gi." That's really interesting, because if that mark wasn't there the name would clearly be "Kabuto Killer." It really seems like that's the intention, as sometimes the little consonant altering marks aren't meant in quite the same way as it would be for the English translation, so it's possible, but without any sort of official word it's too speculative to suggest that Toho spelled the name of its own monster wrong. The opposite problem exists with カスタムジェラー (KaSuTaMu JeRaa), the second Jellar created when Godzilla rips one of its arms off and it grows into a new individual. Kasutamu sounds a little like "custom," but what I think it that it's supposed to be "cast-arm" but is missing a carried vowel symbol. See, typically when a monster's name is preceded by something, and it's different somehow, this is an indication that it's a different form of the same monster, like Terrestrial Hedorah or Rose Biollante, and that's obviously what's happening here as "Kastam Jellar" is the same monster, just a new individual born via regeneration. And the monster is born in this way after, you know Godzilla "casts his arm" away. I don't know if that's the intention but like Kabuto Killer it's extremely hard for me to ignore. One last name to mention, as far as the monsters in Godzilla's episodes go, is Spideros. There's no issue with his name, its pronounced "Spideros" which is a sensible name for a spider monster, but the way its spelled in kana is スパイダウロス (SuPaIDaURoSu), which has confused a lot of people. If you just say it, it comes out "Spy-daur-os" which is a perfectly acceptable way to phonetically spell Spideros in Japanese, but the "u" kana in there throws people off and it's not hard to find the monster referred to as "Spider Uros," and that's silly.

Last thing I'll say is that the series is regarded as "unfinished." It was cancelled, which implies that more that 26 episodes were planned, which is fucking insane, and the final episode doesn't have Zone Fighter defeating the Garoga once and for all. The final episode does, however, have a pretty powerful monster that looks basically like a giant Garoga who is made out of a team of five elite Garoga soldiers called the X Squadron, Grotogauros, and it feels final to me in a sense. What I think the "unfinished" part is actually talking about, though, is the offensively large number of episodes in series like Ultraman or Power Rangers which, I kid you not, are literally year round with 52 weekly episodes. There is never a break. In Japan, if you want to follow a show, you have to devote your entire life to it because if you slip up for one week ever in your entire life then you're fucked. In addition to pointing out that Japan doesn't seem to have any sort of labor code or unions, it's also not a thing that you can watch. The year-round episode set up means when a series is finished there's just not time to go back. No one can watch 52 episodes of anything, that's inhuman and patently absurd to even suggest. No one has this kind of time, people have shit to do, we can't just sit around and watch Ultraman all day. Even if I wanted to watch an entire season of the original sentai, I can't, because even I don't have that kind of time. And I don't do anything but drink and take pills, and 52 episodes is still far too much of a commitment for me, or any other living creature. It's cruel and evil and it has to stop.

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