Cyclopaedia 18:

Welcome to Cyclopaedia 18: KaijuCyclopaedia is a monthly article on the InnRoads Ministries website as part of the Resources series.

I vividly remember seeing my first Godzilla movie as a kid during a Saturday creature feature marathon, Godzilla Raids Again. I was instantly hooked watching the giant monsters do battle and had to see more! I pleaded with my parents who relented after watching one Godzilla movie with me. They saw the movie has kooky looking and harmless, while I was awed by the thought of giant monsters fighting it out for the fate of the planet. At the time, I had not heard the word Kaiju nor knew of the history of the genre. I just know that I could spend afternoons when I was a kid watching Godzilla and Gamera marathons with glee. When Pacific Rim was released, it was as if I was reliving my childhood again…and I loved it. The giant monsters of the Kaiju genre have been a favorite of mine whether they are heroes, villains, or fighting giant robots. And if you are like me, you have a great song by Blue Öyster Cult in your head now, “Oh no, they say he’s got to go go go Godzilla“!

If you have questions about this article or topics you would like me to consider researching for future Cyclopaedia articles, please leave a comment below.


Overview

Kaijū derives from the Japanese for “strange beast” but in more common vernacular these are giant monster stories. Giant monsters attacking cities (especially Tokyo), the military defending the city, giant monsters fighting each other, and secret societies or aliens betting involved. These were all trademarks of the kaiju genre.

Gojira (translated as Godzilla in the US) receives credit for being the first ever kaiju film. Released in 1954, it is considered the first kaiju film but it is not the first giant monster movie. King Kong and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms were hits in the US and Japan, so Gojira was the Japanese cinematic response to those popular films. Tomoyuki Tanaka of Toho Studios combined the Hollywood giant monster concept with the growing fear of atomic weapons in Japan. The movie was a huge success in Japan, spawning the kaiju movie genre. The movie was so popular in Japan it was brought to the US as Godzilla, King of Monsters.

In the US, the Create Double Feature matinee and Mystery Science Theater 3000 developed a massive following for these kaiju movies from Japan. Other countries started creating their own giant monster movies or reimagining the Japanese stories. Genres started merging with mecha fighting kaiju, superheroes fighting kaiju, kaiju being heroes defending our planet, and the ever popular kaiju fighting kaiju.

Kaiju have made a comeback recently both in the US and Japan, with new movies and games being released to captivate audiences.

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Time Travel Paradoxes?

Some debate which are the greatest of the Kaiju. The top quartet are easy to choose (Gamera, Godzilla, King Kong, and Mothra). The most commonly discussed and with the most screen time include…

  • Destroyah
  • Gamera
  • Godzilla
  • King Ghidorah
  • King Kong
  • MechaGodzilla
  • Mothra
  • Rodan

Following are sources of information pertaining to Kaiju to assist prospective game masters, game designers, writers, and storytellers in knowing where to start their research.

 

ARTICLES

Godzilla: why the Japanese original is no joke
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10788996/Godzilla-why-the-Japanese-original-is-no-joke.html

What’s In A Roar? Crafting Godzilla’s Iconic Sound
http://www.npr.org/2014/05/18/312839612/whats-in-a-roar-crafting-godzillas-iconic-sound

 

BOOKS

Atomic Dreams and the Nuclear Nightmare: The Making of Godzilla (1954)
By Brothers, Peter

Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman, Godzilla, and Friends in the Golden Age of Japanese Science Fiction Film
By Ragone, August

Gamera the Guardian of the Universe (Comic)
By Dark Horse Comics

Godzilla
By Cerasini, Marc

Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters
By Tsutsui, William

Godzilla: Rulers of Earth (Comic)
By IDW

The Handbook for Surviving a Giant Monster Attack
By Wendel, Anthony

Hakaiju (Manga)

Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa
By Ryfle, Steve

Kaiju Apocalypse
By Brown, Eric

Kaiju Winter
By Bible, Jake

The Kaiju Film: A Critical Study of Cinema’s Biggest Monsters
By Barr, Jason

Killer Kaiju Monsters: Strange Beasts of Japanese Film
By Vartanian, Ivan

The Mammoth Book of Kaiju
By Wallace, Sean

Mayday: A Kaiju Thriller
By Strange, Chris

Monster Madness
By Zito, Zach and Neuhaus, Mel

Monster Magnitude 9
By Yamamoto, Hiroshi

Murder World: Kaiju Dawn
By Cordova, Jason

Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization
By Irvine, Alex

Project 731
By Robinson, Jeremy

Project Nemesis
By Robinson, Jeremy

Shambling Towards Hiroshima
By Morrow, James K.

Turtle Talkin’: Soaring through the Films of Gamera
By Kirkland, Travis

Ultraman (Manga)
By VIZ Media LLC

 

GAMES

The Creature That Ate Sheboygan – Tabletop Game
Daikaijuu Battle: Ultra Coliseum – Computer Game
Gammarauders – Tabletop Game
Gamera 2000 – Computer Game
Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe – Computer Game
Gaurodan – Computer Game
Giant Monster Rampage – Tabletop Game
Global Defense Force – Computer Game
Godzilla – Computer Game
Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee – Computer Game
Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars – Tabletop Game
Godzilla: Save the Earth – Computer Game
Godzilla: Strike Zone – Computer Game
Godzilla: Unleashed – Computer Game
Godzilla Vs – Computer Game
Karju – RPG
Kaiju City – Tabletop Game
Kaiju Conquest – Tabletop Game
Kaiju Crush – Tabletop Game
Kaiju: Giant Monster Boardgame – Tabletop Game
Kaiju Incorporated – Tabletop Game
Kaiju Incorporated: The RPG – RPG
Kaujuland Battles – Computer Game
K-Day: Kaiju War! – Tabletop Game
King of New York – Tabletop Game
King of Tokyo – Tabletop Game
Mecha vs Kaiju – RPG
Monster Island – Tabletop Game
Monsters Menace America – Tabletop Game
Monsters Ravage America – Tabletop Game
Monsterpocalypse – Tabletop Game
Pacific Rim: The Video Game – Computer Game
Peter Jackson’s King Kong – Computer Game
Rampage – Computer Game
Rampage: Total Destruction – Computer Game
RARRR!! – Tabletop Game
Terror in Meeple City/Rampage – Tabletop Game
Ticket to Ride: Alvin & Dexter – Tabletop Game
Ultraman Fighting Evolution – Computer Game

 

CINEMA

All Monsters Attack
Atragon
Bambi Meets Godzilla
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
Cloverfield
Colossal
Destroy All Monsters
Dogora
Frankenstien Conquers the World
Gamera: The Giant Monster
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Gamera vs. (Barugon, Guiron, Gyaos, Hedorah, Jiger, Viras, Zigra)
Gappa: The Colossal Beast
Garuda
Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster
The Giant Claw
The Giant Gila Monster
Giant Robo – TV
Gojira
Godzilla
Godzilla – TV Cartoon
Godzilla: The Series – TV Cartoon
Godzilla 1985
Godzilla 2000
Godzilla: Final Wars
Godzilla Island – TV
Godzilla, King of Monsters!
Godzilla: Monster Planet
Godzilla vs. (Biollante, Destroyah, Gigan, Hedorah, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, Mechagodzilla II, Megalon, Megaguirus, Mothra, The Sea Monster, SpaceGodzilla)
Godzilla Raids Again
Gorgo
Great Monster Yongary
The Host
Invasion of the Astro-Monster
Kaiju Booska – TV
King Kong
King Kong Escapes
King Kong vs. Godzilla
Kong: Skull Island
Kraa! The Sea Monster
Kumonga
Manda
The Mist
M.O.G.U.E.R.A.
Mothra
Mothra vs. Godzilla
The Mysterians
Mysterious Island
Pacific Rim
Reptilicus
The Return of Godzilla
Rodan
Son of Godzilla
Space Amoeba/Yog, The Monster from Space
SpaceGodzilla
Super 8
Super Sentai – TV
Terror of Mechagodzilla
THEM!
Ultraman – TV
Ultra Q – TV
The War of the Gargantuas
Wasei Kingu Kongu
The X from Outer Space
Zarkorr! The Invader

 

LOCATIONS

Godzilla Hotel
http://shinjuku.gracery.com/

Kaiju Sakaba
http://kaiju-sakaba.com/

Tokyo
http://www.gotokyo.org/en/tourists/attractions/index.html

 

PEOPLE

Teruo Aragaki
Kurt Carley
Hirofumi Fukuzawa
‘Hurricane’ Ryu Hariken
Shoichi Hirose
Umenosuke Izumi
Tsutomu Kitagawa
Naoaki Manabe
Haruo Nakajima
Akira Ohashi
Seiji Onaka
Rie Ota
Toshinori Sasaki
Kenpachiro Satsuma
Yu Sekida
Fuyuki Shinada
TJ Storm
Jun Suzuki
Shinji Takagi
Ryosaku Takasugi
Tomoyuki Tanaka
Katsumi Tezuka
Kazuhiro Yoshida
Mizuho Yoshida
Isao Zushi


I hope you find these resources informative and inspiring for your adventures, storytelling, or game design.

Stay Creative!

T.R. Knight

( If you would like to save this list of resources as a convenient PDF for later reference, you can find that HERE )

 

Knight BusinessWHO IS T.R. KNIGHT?
He is a freelance editor, proofreader, and writer in the game industry. He is also a Husband and Caregiver to his wife Angie, Father of Twins Emily and Rachel, Foodie and Hobby Chef, and IT Director at Taylor University. You can learn more about T.R. at his blog http://www.freelanceknight.com.

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