Godzilla

Godzilla

nihongo|Godzilla|ゴジラ|Gojira is a kaijū (fictional Japanese monster) from the "Godzilla" series of science fiction films. He was first seen in the 1954 film "Godzilla" and, to date, has appeared in 28 films, all of which were produced by Toho Co. Ltd. Being one of the most iconic characters in film history, Godzilla has also appeared in numerous comic books, video games, novels, and in popular culture.

In 1998, TriStar Pictures produced a remake set in New York City. The film's name was simply "Godzilla"; however, the character had been completely redesigned and only had superficial characteristics in common with the original Godzilla. The remake was met with mainly negative reception by long-time Godzilla fans and film critics alike. The American remake monster was later identified by Toho as Zilla in "".

Etymology

Name

"Godzilla" nihongo|"Gojira"|ゴジラ is a combination of two Japanese words: nihongo|"gorira"|ゴリラ|lit. "gorilla" and nihongo|"kujira"|鯨 (くじら)|lit. "whale". At one planning stage, Godzilla was described as "a cross between a gorilla and a whale,"Steve Ryfle. "Japan's Favourite Mon-Star". ECW Press, 1998. Pg.22] alluding to his size, power and aquatic origin. A popular story is that "Gojira" was actually the nickname of a hulking stagehand at Toho Studio. [ [http://www.godzillaondvd.com/mediapageloads/still05.html] Gojira Media. Retrieved 2006-09-23] The story has not been verified, however, because in the more than 50 years since the film's original release, no one claiming to be the employee has ever stepped forward, and no photographs of him have ever surfaced.

Godzilla's name, from the Oto Island legend, was spelled in kanji (呉爾羅), but for sound only. [Many Japanese books on Godzilla have referenced this, including "B Media Books Special: Gojira Gahô", published by Take-Shobo in three different editions (1993, 1998 cite book
year = 1998
title = "B Media Books Special: The Godzilla Chronicles Ver. 2: The History of Toho Fantastic Movies, 1935-1998"
location = Japan
publisher = Take-Shobo
id = ISBN 4-8124-0408-8
, and 1999)
]

There is disagreement as to how the monster's name should be pronounced. Purists use the Japanese pronunciation IPA| [godʲʑira] "Audio|Godzilla.ogg|listen," most favor the anglicized rendering of its name, IPA| [gɑd'zɪlə] (with the first syllable pronounced like the word "god", and the rest rhyming with "vanilla"). When Godzilla was created (and Japanese-to-English transliteration was less familiar) it is likely that the kana representing the second syllable was misinterpreted as IPA| [dzi] . Had the Hepburn romanization system been used, Godzilla's name would have been rendered as "Gojira". This argument receives a nod in the TriStar "Godzilla" film when a newscast of a Japanese sailor's "Gojira" is Anglicized to "Godzilla" in the very next frame by an American news reporter. Watching the newscast in a local bar, another reporter shouts, "It's "Gojira", you moron!"

Design

Godzilla's character has changed. To date, there have been eight distinctive versions of the monster (12 if Hanna-Barbera's Godzilla, Marvel's Godzilla, Dark Horse's Godzilla, and TriStar's Godzilla are taken into account as well). These non-Japanese incarnations of Godzilla are not widely recognised as being canonical. His iconic design is composed of various species of dinosaurs; the body structure of a "Tyrannosaurus rex", the dorsal plates of a "Stegosaurus", and the arms of an "Iguanodon". ["Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of the Monsters", by William Tsutsui]

Appearances

Godzilla is the primary anti-hero, and hero, in all of the "Godzilla" films, though there are numerous different incarnations of the monster. The silver screen is not the only place Godzilla has appeared; there have been literary sources that have expanded the universe of Godzilla. The Godzilla universe, and the character himself have also starred in comic books, manga and a cartoon series.

Films

howa Era

Godzilla made his first appearance in the 1954 film "Godzilla". Godzilla is awakened and mutated as a result of testing the atomic bomb. Godzilla rampages through Odo Island, causing the deaths of natives when scientists' inquiry into a boat incident lead them there.cite video|people=Takeo Murata (writer) and Ishirō Honda (writer/director)|title="Godzilla"|medium=DVD|publisher=Classic Media|year=2006] The American version, "Godzilla, King of the Monsters!", contained scenes from the Japanese film with narration by and reshot footage of Raymond Burr's character Steve Martin.cite video|people=Al C. Ward (writer) and Ishirō Honda, Terry Morse (writers/directors)|title="Godzilla, King of the Monsters!"|medium=DVD|publisher=Classic Media|year=2006]

Godzilla reappeared in "Godzilla Raids Again". This is the first film in which Godzilla battled another monster, Anguirus. He played an anti-hero in "King Kong vs. Godzilla" and "Mothra vs. Godzilla", but in "Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster", Godzilla took on the heroic personality which he would wear for the remainder of the series. A translated conversation between Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan in the film reveals that Godzilla's anger towards humanity is due to what he perceives as unprovoked attacks towards "him". He teamed up with Mothra, Rodan, Anguirus, Baragon, Kumonga, Manda, Varan, King Caesar, Jet Jaguar, and Gorosaurus to battle Ebirah, Kamacuras, Hedorah, Gigan, Megalon, Mechagodzilla, Titanosaurus, Gabara and King Ghidorah. He even gained a son in the form of Minilla [Mini-lla(also known as Minya)] . The series ended with "Terror of Mechagodzilla" in 1975, though the last movie according to the plot is "Destroy All Monsters".

Heisei Era

In the Heisei era, Godzilla not only returns after more than a decade's absence, but marks a transition between the Shōwa era (the reign of Hirohito) to the Heisei era (the reign of Akihito). This would be the first of many times the "Godzilla" film series would see a continuity reboot. In "The Return of Godzilla", all "Godzilla" films through "Godzilla Raids Again" and "Terror of Mechagodzilla" would be retconned, with "The Return of Godzilla" being a direct sequel to the original film and featuring the original Godzilla, though much larger and with a much modern appearance than previously seen. The Godzilla of the Heisei era would be portrayed in a less anthropomorphic manner than the Showa Godzilla, as a violent, insatiable force of nature and the personification of the Atomic Bomb rather than a campy superhero. However, Godzilla would continue to fight other monsters, battling Biollante, King Ghidorah, Mecha-King Ghidorah, Mothra, Battra, Rodan, Mechagodzilla, Spacegodzilla, Moguera, and Destoroyah over the course of the series, and had a son named Godzilla Junior. Heisei Godzilla would eventually meet his demise in the final film of the series, "Godzilla vs. Destoroyah", melting down after defeating the titular villain, with Godzilla Junior mutating to full-size to carry on his legacy.

Millennium series

The Millennium series comprised a number of discrete narratives, using the original "Godzilla" film as a backdrop. The Millennium series consisted of "Godzilla 2000", "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus", ', "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla", ' and "". Each film featured its own incarnation of Godzilla. Throughout the series, Godzilla fought both new opponents such as Orga and Megaguirus and classic opponents such as Mothra and Mechagodzilla. Inspired by the suit used in King Kong vs. Godzilla, the new Godzilla design had a wilder appearance, with spikier skin, more massive, jagged dorsal fins, longer arms, and a milder less saurian face than the Heisei series. Due to the disconnected nature of the Millennium series, some films depicted him as a sympathetic and heroic character ("Godzilla 2000", "Godzilla vs Megaguirus", and "Godzilla: Final Wars"), and others as pure destructive force ("GMK", "Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla", and "Godzilla: Tokyo SOS".)

Overall, Godzilla has starred in 28 films (excluding the American remake). Toho had planned to revive the Godzilla franchise in 2013-14 (around Godzilla's 60th anniversary). However, a film called "Godzilla 3D to the MAX", is rumored to be set for release in "IMAX" theaters in early 2009. The poster shows the design of Godzilla used in "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla", but other sources suggest the new film will use the design from "Godzilla: Final Wars".

Television

In Japan, Godzilla was a guest star on the tokusatsu series "Zone Fighter". He fought alongside the titular hero against other kaiju, including Gigan and King Ghidorah. Toho hasFact|date=August 2008 said that the events in "Zone Fighter" are part of the Showa series, taking place between "Godzilla vs Megalon" and "Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla".

Godzilla made his American series debut in the 1978 Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning show "The Godzilla Power Hour", in which he gained a sidekick, Godzooky. In addition to his trademark atomic breath, he was given the power to shoot laser beams out of his eyes. He was summoned by his human friends, sea-explorers on the ship USS "Calico", with a signaling device or by the cry of Godzooky. "Godzilla" cartoons were paired with cartoons featuring "Jana of the Jungle". The series ran, both as part of the hour and with the "Godzilla" segments airing as a separate half-hour show, until 1981.

In the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Godzilla's roar was not his trademark roar. It was provided by Ted Cassidy.

The second cartoon series, which aired on Fox Kids, was based on the events of the 1998 American movie. "" featured a juvenile Godzilla from the 1998 American remake which had grown to full size. Godzilla traveled around the world with a group of humans called H.E.A.T, including scientist Nick Tatopoulos (which the new Godzilla believed to be its parent), battling monsters. The offspring had the abilities and physical forms of his parent, but the creators of the show gave him even more powers and attitude more resembling the Japanese Godzilla.

Literature

Godzilla has been featured in comic books, most often in American production (from Marvel Comics in the mid-1970s and from Dark Horse Comics in the 1980s and 1990s). Japanese Godzilla comics do exist.

The Marvel series told original stories and attempted to fit into the official Toho continuity and avoid referencing it directly. It integrated Godzilla into the Marvel Universe. It was published from 1977 to 1979, fitting between the Showa Period movies and the Heisei Era. This series described the adventures and confrontations of Godzilla in the United States.

The general situations of the series were similar to those of the Showa Period movies, but other than Godzilla, all characters were new creations, albeit in familiar roles. Likewise, the JSDF are absent, but S.H.I.E.L.D. fills its role in the story, complete with a "Behemoth IV" Helicarrier in an eerie foreshadowing of the "Super X".

Characteristics

Godzilla's appearance has changed over the years, but many of his characteristics have remained constant. His roar has remained the same, as has his approximate appearance--a giant, mutant dinosaur with rough, bumpy charcoal gray scales, charcoal gray skin and a long powerful tail, and jagged, bone colored dorsal plates. Although his origins vary somewhat from film to film, he is always described as a prehistoric monster or dinosaur, who first appeared and attacked Japan at the beginning of the Atomic Age. In particular, mutation due to atomic radiation is presented as an explanation for his size and powers.

Godzilla has abilities granted to him as a result of his irradiation and subsequent mutation. He is considered the most powerful of kaiju. Godzilla's atomic breath is his most powerful and distinctive weapon. When he uses it, Godzilla's dorsal plates glow, and then he releases a concentrated blast of radiation from his mouth, which can vary in intensity from a superheated vapor to a breath with concussive and explosive properties. Godzilla is also depicted as being resistant to damage thanks to a tough hide and an advanced healing factor. He is strong and dextrous, utilizing martial arts techniques in combat. Described as a transitional form between aquatic and terrestrial vertebrates by Doctor Yamane in the original film, Godzilla is able to survive in the ocean for extended periods of time and is as adept a fighter underwater as he is on land.

These particular abilities are portrayed consistently among Godzilla's many incarnations, though he also possesses skills, often employed as weapons of last resort that are only seen on rare occasions, such as his red spiral atomic breath, nuclear pulse, magnetic powers, and even the ability to fly.

In popular culture

Godzilla is one of the most recognizable action/fictional symbols of Japanese popular culture worldwide and remains an important facet of Japanese films, embodying the kaiju subset of the tokusatsu genre. He has been considered a filmographic metaphor for the United States, as well as an allegory of nuclear weapons in general. The earlier "Godzilla" films, especially the original "Godzilla", portrayed Godzilla as a frightening, nuclear monster. Godzilla represented the fears that many Japanese held about the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the possibility of recurrence. [ [http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/popcult/handouts/metaphor/godzilla/godzilla.html] "The Monster That Morphed Into a Metaphor", By Terrence Rafferty, May 2, 2004, NYTimes] As the series progressed, so did Godzilla, changing into a less destructive and more heroic character as the films became geared towards children. Since then, the character has fallen somewhere in the middle, sometimes portrayed as a protector of the Earth (notably Japan) from external threats and other times as a bringer of destruction. Godzilla is also the second of only three fictional characters to have won the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award, which was awarded in 1996. [cite web|url=http://members.aol.com/reedyb/oscar/awards/mtv96.htm|title=Godzilla wins MTV's Lifetime Achievement Award|publisher=AOL.com|accessdate=2008-03-29]

Pharoahe Monch Controversy

Rapper Pharoahe Monch created a controversy when his album Internal Affairs featured the song Simon Says. The song illegally samples the Godzilla theme song. Because of the legal matters, the album was removed from production.

ee also

* King Kong
* Gamera
* Clover

References

External links

* [http://www.toho.co.jp/ Official Website] of Toho
* [http://www.godzilla.co.jp Godzilla Official Website (Japan)]
*
* [http://www.cultreviews.com/the-uncut-gojira-essay.html The Art of Stomping] Gojira essay
* [http://www.altfg.com/blog/film-reviews/gojira-godzilla-1954-dvd-review/ DVD review of "Godzilla" and "Gojira"]
* at the [http://godzilla.wikia.com Wikizilla]


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