Godzilla: A 27 year love affair with a giant, irradiated legend

By Max

I love kaiju, giant monsters that terrorize Tokyo. This love has probably existed since my childhood infatuation of the Power Rangers TV series. I can’t recall the first time I saw Godzilla, it was probably on TV at some point around my early adolescence, but I do know that it ensnared my mind. I already had a love for science fiction and had seen many of the Universal monster movies and to watch a film with a monster that was enormous and could destroy whole cities at a time was simply amazing.

As with all of my interests growing up I quickly became obsessed with knowing everything I could about Godzilla and kaiju. It spread like wildfire growing from the Godzilla series into many of the other Toho films as well as tokusatsu TV series, the live action Japanese superheroes. I was surprised to find out during that time period that my beloved Power Rangers had been an adaptation of the Japanese Super Sentai series and found more in the same vain like Kamen Rider and Ultraman.

I won’t claim to be an expert, but I am a huge fan who loves and respects what Godzilla is and what it has meant to generations. Godzilla means many things to many people, but to me he’s a perfect image to remind myself that I don’t have to take myself too seriously and that even though I may be an adult I can still enjoy some childish fun.

This isn’t to say that Godzilla is never serious and only for children. To the contrary Godzilla, like much of science fiction has messages within the story to tell the world and the movies are easily enjoyed by everyone in the family.

With this love and my anticipation of upcoming films such as Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim and the new American Godzilla helmed by Gareth Edwards, I decided to take some time to sit down and watch the twenty eight films in the Godzilla franchise and to learn as much as I could about it. During this awesome journey I will chronicle my experience on Nerdstafari to share my love of the Japanese giant monster known as Godzilla.

And now to dive a little into the world that is Godzilla…

November 3, 1954 marked the beginning of the rise into mainstream culture of the icon known as Godzilla. Ishiro Honda conceived this behemoth, originally titled Gojira, an amalgamation of the Japanese words gorira (gorilla) and kujira (whale), and was inspired by the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the Hydrogen Bomb test at Bikini Atoll.

The movie spawned many sequels, spin-offs, and copies. Godzilla roared through twenty eight Toho produced films, one American film with another on the way, two cartoons, and a television show as well as making appearances in TV, books, comics, and video games.

Toho’s twenty eight films in the Godzilla franchise are officially broken into three series, Showa, Heisei, and Millennium. Each period is marked by style and tone differences and each series uses the original 1954 Godzilla to create an alternate continuities.

The Showa series consists of the first fifteen films, eight of which were directed by the creator Ishiro Honda. The films include Godzilla[1954], Godzilla Raids Again[1955], King Kong vs. Godzilla[1962], Mothra vs. Godzilla[1964], Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster[1964], Invasion of Astro-Monster[1965], Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster[1966], Son of Godzilla[1967], Destroy All Monsters[1968], All Monsters Attack[1969], Godzilla vs. Hedorah[1971], Godzilla vs. Gigan[1972], Godzilla vs. Megalon[1973], Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla[1974], and Terror of Mechagodzilla[1975]. The series gains its moniker from the Japanese Showa Era, the time between 1926 and 1989 in which Emperor Hirohito reigned.

The second of the three series, Heisei consists of the next seven films of the franchise: The Return of Godzilla[1984], Godzilla vs. Biollante[1989], Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah[1991], Godzilla vs. Mothra[1992], Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II[1993], Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla[1994], and Godzilla vs. Destroyah[1995]. This series is named for the Heisei Era, which followed the Showa era and is the modern era in Japan.

The final six movies: Godzilla 2000[1999], Godzilla vs. Megaguirus[2000], Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack[2001], Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla[2002], Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.[2003], and Godzilla: Final Wars[2004] make up the third series, Millennium. This series gains its namesake from the new millennium.

Godzilla’s legacy has left an impact on many people including many writers, filmmakers and countless fans of the franchise. Godzilla has become an icon and household name.

Next in the series I will delve into the movie that started it all.

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