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002: SoraRabbit Loves Godzilla

Posted By SoraRabbit77 978 days ago on Entertainment - Welcome back, everyone. I’m very pleased and flattered at the response to my first entry. It will take some time to gather a following, but so far I’ve had more readers than I expected. Now the trick will be in keeping you all coming back.I mentioned last time that this blog will not just be about video games, but rather about anything and everything that catches my interest. This means that quite often there will be some entries that are entirely self-indulgent. (Such as this one.) But hey, that’s what makes it fun for me. And I’ll try to keep it just as fun for all of you. Now, if we’re talking self-indulgence, there would be no better focus for this entry than this. I always used to tell people that Godzilla was my hero. I also told people I wanted to be Godzilla when I grow up. I wonder sometimes how seriously people take me. I'm pretty strange. But it's all right. It's who I am.And one of the many things I am is a huge die-hard fan of Godzilla. He seemed like a good subject for my next post. Especially since this past Friday the 13th Cocoashade and I rewatched Godzilla: King of the Monsters on Blu-Ray. I wanted to keep that entry a little more focused. Partly to show you that I have the ability to focus on things, and partly to show you that... ooo, what's that over there?Must... have... shiny...Er, where was I? Oh yeah, I wanted to keep that entry focused and I have five pages of notes for that post, so it will take me a bit to work through it. This one will be more of an overview of the franchise and my history with it so that I can get all that established and out of the way. Buckle in-- this one is going to be long. But it will, by no means, be a complete picture. There's too much to cover for one post.Besides, Godzilla deserves multiple posts. I mean, come on. Look at this majesty:

Dance, buddy, dance. (Credit: Toho)

So what is it about this giant goofy lizard that I love? It's hard to say. The roots of it probably go back to adolescence... being a gawky, lonely teenager watching monster movies on cable with my dad. I have many fond memories of that. I taped several Godzilla movies off the SciFi channel (that's how they spelled it in those days) and watched them with my friends. (I also got a few Gamera movies, but he's a different post.)Nostalgia aside, I think the bottom line is that Godzilla movies are fun. They're familiar, you know what you're going to get, and they're just pure entertainment. You can shut off your brain for a time and just watch ridiculous monsters destroy stuff.Not that it's all about destruction. Godzilla, depending on the era, has evolved from a mindless force of nature, to a comical hero, to a full-on villain, then back to a force of nature (although a tad more benevolent now.)And this brings me a small history lesson for those who may not be familiar. The first Godzilla movie premiered in 1954 and started an entire category of monster movies. Kaiju is the Japanese word for strange beasts, but also refers to giant monsters. Most of the kaiju are depicted by men in suits. The movies are split into what are called eras, usually named for the Emperor in power at the time. The first was the Showa Era, and it consisted mostly of Godzilla facing off against one or more evil kaiju and preventing them from destroying Japan. This era lasted until 1975 when the series went on hiatus.The Heisei era began in 1984 with The Return of Godzilla. This movie essentially rebooted the series, serving as a direct sequel to the 1954 film, and scrapping all continuity after that. This era was notable for bringing Godzilla back to his villainous destroyer roots, introducing the G Force (a militant team of humans driven to destroy Godzilla), and much tighter continuity. There was also a really cute Godzilla Junior. This era ended with Godzilla Vs. Destroyah, which saw our hero consume too much radiation, melt down, and die. Godzilla Junior became the new Godzilla and the circle of kaiju was complete. (Or something.)

Godzilla Junior, in a simpler time. (Credit: Toho)

What followed was another hiatus and then the Millennium era. There was another reboot, using the original film as the launching point. These movies were glossy and fast-paced, and had less continuity. This era ended with Godzilla: Final Wars, which needs to be seen to be believed. Seriously... I'll probably make that movie its own entry later on. It's completely bonkers.Another hiatus followed, and then the Reiwa era began. Legendary's Godzilla in 2014 (the first entry in the Monsterverse), a trilogy of anime movies on Netflix, and Shin Godzilla. This latter was the most recent Japanese entry to the series and it featured a crazy redesign which made the familiar lizard look like a demon. It was also more a political satire and social commentary on bureaucracy than a straight-forward kaiju movie, but there was still plenty on monster action. The latest movie is the subject of my next entry: King of the Monsters. More on that next time.If there's interest, I may do a series of posts some day that break down each movie (probably split up by era), but for now, that's enough background. All in all there are 32 entries to the Japanese film series, and 2 in the Monsterverse. That doesn't count any comic books, video games, cartoons (aside from the anime), and television shows. I also don't acknowledge the 1996 Tristar movie. (I'll talk about that one a bit next time.) It is a franchise that has endured for 65 years and counting. Godzilla has become a very recognized character, and is actually the Japanese Tourism Ambassador. Oh, and little known fact: Godzilla is actually a part of the Marvel Universe. It's canon.

We need a comic where Spidey rides Godzilla into battle. Someone make this happen. (Credit: Marvel Comics)

So what else do these movies offer besides the big green radioactive beast? Quite a bit. There are always human characters and depending on the version they can be very poorly dubbed. Often they're over the top and silly, following their own plotlines that pad out the film's run time. I'm sure they were meant to bring stakes to the struggle and give us people to root for, but I always rooted for Godzilla. Whether he was bad or good, I cheered for him. Over the years I've grown to appreciate what the humans bring to these films, but when I was younger they just annoyed me. I wanted them to get their silly drama off the screen so we could get back to monster fights. Also starring in these movies are Godzilla's various friends. Mothra is one of the most recognizable recurring characters. At times the two have fought, but usually Mothra serves as the voice of reason and ally to Godzilla. Mothra was popular enough to get four of her own movies... even though three of them were actually about her son, Mothra Leo. She also appeared in ten Godzilla movies. One odd thing about Mothra is that there have actually been several Mothra... she dies a lot. Poor bug.

I think it would be fun to ride a Mothra. (Credit: Toho)

Godzilla's other friends include Anguirus, his adopted son Minilla, King Caesar (who is a weird lion statue thing), and Jet Jaguar. Yes, Godzilla has a giant robot buddy. A giant robot buddy with his own theme song.

Yeah, I got no caption for this. Just... enjoy. (Credit: Toho)

Another friend (sometimes) is a Pteranodon-thing named Rodan. One thing you need to know, though, is that Rodan cannot be trusted. Rodan is a dick.

Rodan, being a dick. (Credit: Toho)

Straight up dick. He doesn't really even have a reason for it. He fights dirty, wrecks shit with his wings for fun, and generally spreads chaos. (Maybe he's pissed he only got one solo movie?) The only one who managed to talk sense into him was Mothra, who acted as a mediator in Destroy All Monsters. She somehow managed to convince Rodan and Godzilla to set aside their differences and team up to fight a common threat, King Ghidorah.Which brings us to one of the other fun features of these movies... Godzilla's expansive cast of enemies. This is where the creativity of the movies are really showcased. For most of the series, Godzilla battles a revolving series of baddies. He's battled dinosaurs, bugs, aliens, robots, mutant flowers, a misshapen lump of toxic waste... you name it. Arguably the worst of his villains is King Ghidorah. At least he's the most used. Also known as Monster Zero, Ghidorah is a massive golden three-headed dragon. He can fly, shoot electric beams from all three of his heads, and once was a cyborg. He's always bigger and meaner than Godzilla, providing a threat that usually requires him to team up with others in order to stop him. Plus, in my opinion, his design is pretty cool.

So cool. Note Larval Mothra photobombing in the corner. (Credit: Toho)

In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah they made a weird retcon that Ghidorah was actually three weird alien fairy Pokemon-looking things that got merged together in a hydrogen bomb testing during a time travel mishap as part of an evil future plot to take over the world.

What the hell, Japan? (Credit: Toho)

The most common of Godzilla's enemies, however, is man. Godzilla, at its heart, is an allegory on the atomic age... the mistakes of mankind coming back to stomp us into a memory. Nowhere is this more clear than in the very first movie. In the 1954 Godzilla, we learn of the hydrogen bomb testing that awakened and mutated a prehistoric creature. Nothing we throw at it stops its rampage. The only way we can think to stop it is to unleash an even worse weapon on the world... the Oxygen Destroyer. This could, conceivably, destroy all water on Earth, causing an environmental disaster that could wipe out all life on the planet. The potential for this invention to be used as a weapon is great, a fact that haunts its creator, Dr. Serizawa. Mankind has clearly gone too far scientifically and cannot control or intelligently wield its own discoveries.So in order to destroy the greatest threat in our history, we must risk causing a greater threat. And yet, ultimately, it does no good. No matter what we do, Godzilla returns to curse us again and again. To rend asunder all that we have built. He is our judge, our executioner, and a product of our hubris.Not bad for a silly monster movie, right?Back when I was a teenager, Godzilla was relatively obscure, so it makes me happy that as the decades have passed, he's gotten more attention and become more mainstream. As such, I've been able to collect all sorts of things. I have action figures, video games, tee shirts... my wallet. Even a bottle opener shaped like Mechagodzilla. Many of those items were gifts.

My family knows me so well.

Over the years I've lost or discarded the original movies I taped off cable. I still have my store-bought VHS of Destroy All Monsters. (A VHS, for you younglings, was an ancient form of media.) Luckily a few years ago they re-released a lot of the series and I went on a spree, gathering up all the DVDs. The newer ones I have on Blu-Ray. My collection is mostly complete. I'm only missing Son of Godzilla, which was out of print on my last investigation. (I have a digital copy, though.) I watched through all of them a few years ago, including several I'd never gotten the chance to see before. That was my Friday night ritual for a time. I got to share some of them with Cocoashade so far, which is great. I plan to introduce our future daughter to them someday too. These movies are even more fun when you share them.I hope that my lengthy fanboy gushing has expanded your knowledge of the franchise and appreciation of the character. I have plenty more I can say, so let me know in the comments or via email if you're interested in more posts about giant Japanese lizard monsters. You would make my day. This entry was a blast. (Get it? Blast? Atomic blast? Bud dum dum.) I'll be back soon with my review of King of the Monsters, once I get it organized.Thank you for reading. I leave you with one final thought. Never forget... Rodan is a dick.

Can you imagine a more dick move? (Credit: Toho)

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