screenshots from the films Godzilla, The Return of Godzilla and Godzilla 2000
|First appearance:||Godzilla (1954)|
|Latest appearance:||Godzilla Final Wars (2004)|
|Created by:||Tomoyuki Tanaka|
|Height:||50â100 meters (164â328 feet)|
|Portrayed by:||ShÅwa Series:
Godzilla (ã´ã¸ã© Gojira ) (pron.: //; [É¡oêdÊiÉ½a] ( listen)) is a Kaiju (monster), first appearing in IshirÅ Honda's 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd.. The monster has appeared in numerous other media incarnations including video games, novels, comic books, and television series. A 1998 American reimagining was produced and a second American version is currently undergoing principal photography.
With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Daigo FukuryÅ« Maru incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear detonations and a metaphor for nuclear weapons in general. As the film series expanded, some stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla as a hero while other plots still portrayed him as a destructive monster; sometimes the lesser of two threats who plays the defender by default but is still a danger to humanity.
Gojira (ã´ã¸ã©) is a portmanteau of the Japanese words: gorira (ã´ãªã©?, "gorilla"), and kujira (é¯¨ï¼ã¯ã¸ã©ï¼?, "whale"), which is fitting because in one planning stage, Godzilla was described as "a cross between a gorilla and a whale", alluding to his size, power and aquatic origin. A popular story is that "Gojira" was actually the nickname of a corpulent stagehand at Toho Studio. The story has not been verified, however, and in the nearly sixty years since the film's original release, no one claiming to be the rumored employee has ever stepped forward and no photographs have ever surfaced. Kimi Honda (the widow of Ishiro Honda) always suspected that the man never existed as she mentioned in a 1998 interview that "the backstage boys at Toho loved to joke around with tall stories".
Godzilla's name was written in man'yÅgana as Gojira (åç¾ç¾ ?), where the kanji are used for phonetic value and not for meaning. Many Japanese books on Godzilla have referenced this curious fact, including B Media Books Special: Gojira GahÃ´, published by Take-Shobo in three different editions (1993, 1998, and 1999).
The Japanese pronunciation of the name is [É¡odÊiÉ½a] ( listen); the Anglicized form is pron.: //, with the first syllable pronounced like the word "god", and the rest rhyming with "gorilla". 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 [dzi]; in the Hepburn romanization system, Godzilla's name would have been rendered as "Gojira", whereas in the Kunrei romanization system it would have been rendered as "Gozira".
Character Overview and Development 
Although the specific details of Godzilla's attributes have varied slightly over the years, certain aspects have remained consistent. His design is that of a reptilian sea monster, based around the loose concept of a dinosaur with an erect standing posture, scaly skin, an anthropomorphic torso with muscular arms, spikes on his back and tail and a furrowed brow. Art director Akira Watanabe combined attributes of a Tyrannosaurus, an Iguanodon, a Stegosaurus and an alligator to form a sort of blended chimera, inspired by illustrations gleaned from an issue of Time Magazine. Godzilla's appearance has traditionally been portrayed in the films by an actor wearing a latex costume, though the character has also been rendered in animatronic, stop-motion and computer animated form. Godzillaâs vaguely humanoid appearance and strained, lumbering movements endeared him to Japanese audiences, who could relate to him as a sympathetic character in spite of his wrathful portrayal in the films. Godzilla has distinctive roar, which was created by composer Akira Ifukube, who produced the sound by rubbing a resin coated glove along the string of a contrabass and then slowing down the playback. Over the years, the roar has become an instantly recognizable icon of the Godzilla franchise, to the point where Toho has copyrighted it.
Godzilla's gender has been a subject of confusion for American audiences. In the original Japanese films, Godzilla and all the other monsters are referred to with gender-neutral pronouns such as "it", while in the English dubs, Godzilla is explicitly described as a male, such as in the title of the English dub of the original film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (This American version was subsequently released in Japan under the title "Monster King Gojira", effectively canonizing Godzilla's gender in Japan.) The confusion over Godzilla's gender likely stems from the 1998 American remake, in which the character Zilla (referred to at the time as "Godzilla") was depicted as a female capable of parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction practiced by some species of lizards.
Within the context of the films, Godzilla's exact origins vary, but he is generally depicted as an enormous, violent, prehistoric sea monster awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation. His signature weapon is his atomic breath; a concentrated stream of blue or red radioactive fire that is unleashed from his jaws while his dorsal fins glow. Tohoâs special effects department has used various techniques to render the breath, from physical gas-powered flames to hand drawn or computer animated fire. Godzilla is shown to posess immense physical strength and athleticism. Haruo Nakajima, the actor who played Godzilla in the original films, was black belt in Judo and used his expertise to choreograph the battle sequences. Godzilla is described in the original film by the character Dr. Yamane as being a transitional form between a marine and a terrestrial reptile, capable of breathing underwater. Godzilla is shown to be neigh indestructible, rendering him immune to conventional weapons, with the film Godzilla 2000 attributing this durability to Godzillaâs advanced regenerative capabilities. Various films, television shows, comics and games have depicted Godzilla with additional powers such as an atomic pulse, magnetism, precognition, fireballs, an electric bite, superhuman speed, eyebeams and even flight.
Throughout the various stories he's featured in, Godzilla has fought many opponents, such as the JSDF, recurring enemies like King Ghidorah, Gigan and Mechagodzilla, and one-shot characters like Megalon, Biollante and Megaguirus. He is also shown to have allies, such as Mothra, Rodan and Anguirus (though these characters were initially portrayed as Godzilla's rivals,) and children, such as Minilla. He's even fought against fictional characters from other franchises in crossover media, such as King Kong and the Fantastic Four.
Movie appearances 
Television and printed media 
In Japan, Godzilla was a frequent guest star on the tokusatsu series Zone Fighter. In it, Godzilla occasionally fought alongside the protagonist against other monsters, including the space monsters King Ghidorah and Gigan.
Godzilla made his American series debut in the 1978 Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning show Godzilla. In this series, Godzilla had a cousin, Godzooky. In addition to his trademark atomic breath, which simply changed to fire, he was given heat vision similar to the DC Comics hero Superman. Godzilla could be summoned by sea-explorers on the USS Calico with a signaling device or by the cry of Godzooky. The series ran until 1981.
A second series, based on TriStar Godzilla, aired on Fox Kids. The series featured the surviving baby Godzilla from the end of the film, which quickly grows to full size. Similar to the original animated series, Godzilla travels around the world with a special anti-monster team called HEAT, including scientist Nick Tatopoulos. Throughout the show the creators intended Godzilla's powers and abilities to reflect those of the Toho version, such as giving him atomic flame breath, which was noticeably absent in the film.
Godzilla has been featured in comic books, most often in American publications. Marvel Comics published the character in their lucrative universe in the late 1970s, Dark Horse Comics sporadically in the 1980s and 1990s, and most recently IDW Publishing in several miniseries and series of miniseries. Japanese manga in Godzilla's home country have also been published, sometimes adaptations of feature films.
Between 1996 and 1998 Random House published four books by Marc Cerasini featuring Godzilla and other kaiju of the Toho franchise: Godzilla Returns, Godzilla 2000 (unrelated to the film of the same name), Godzilla at World's End, and Godzilla vs. the Robot Monsters. The release of a fifth book, Godzilla and the Lost Continent was canceled when Random House's license for Godzilla expired.
On September 23, 2004 Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters by William M. Tsutsui was released by Palgrave Macmillan. The book was released to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Godzilla and looks into some of the ways Godzilla has become a simple part of everyday life for fans.
In 2010, IDW Publishing announced that they gained the rights for the license to Godzilla, and released a new series titled Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters in March 2011.[dated info] Eric Powell and Tracy Marsh co-wrote Kingdom of Monsters, but were replaced with Jason Ciaramella at issue 9. Phil Hester supplied the art, but was replaced with Victor Dos Santos at issue 5. Artist Matt Frank also supplied variant covers for each issue, each focused on a specific monster. Other covers were drawn by Eric Powell, Jeff Zornow, Alex Ross, and David Messina.
The first issue was released in March 2011 and focused on introducing Godzilla, who destroys Japan, and the Japanese Prime Minister even orders for nuclear weapons to be dropped on him, causing his trademark atomic ray. The first issue sold out within its first day, ranking 16th for the month. The series went on for 12 issues, the last being released in February. The series was widely criticized by fans for being unfaithful to the series, as well as having misleading covers, poor art, and too many plot threads to keep track of.
DW began publishing a new series, simply titled "Godzilla" in May 2012, written by Duane Swierczynski and with art by Simon Gane. The current 13-issue ongoing acts as a "soft reboot" of the previous Kingdom of Monsters, showcasing a monster ravaged world where humanity must struggle to survive.
IDW has also released five issue mini-series outside of the main continuity. Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths focuses on a disgraced cop trying to rid Tokyo of a gang lord with the help of Mothra and her twin fairies. The anthology Godzilla Legends was done by different writers and artists, with each issue featuring a specific character from Godzilla's vast history. Godzilla: Half Century War chronicles a soldier's fifty year battle against Godzilla and his reluctant acceptance of the monster.
The recently announced Godzilla: Rulers of Earth continues the story began with Kingdom of the Monsters and the simply titled Godzilla.
Cultural impact 
Godzilla is one of the most recognizable 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, 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.
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 world from external threats and other times as a bringer of destruction. Godzilla remains one of the greatest fictional heroes in the history of film, and is also the second of only three fictional characters to have won the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award, which was awarded in 1996.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society christened a vessel Gojira. Its purpose is to target and harass Japanese whalers in defence of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The Gojira was renamed MV Brigitte Bardot in May 2011 after complaints of copyright infringement by the owners of the "Gojira" copyright.
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- Steve Ryfle. Japan's Favorite Mon-Star. ECW Press, 1998. Pg.22
- "Gojira Media". Godzila Gojimm. Toho Co., Ltd. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
- Steve Ryfle. Pg.23
- B Media Books Special: The Godzilla Chronicles Ver. 2: The History of Toho Fantastic Movies, 1935â1998. Japan: Take-Shobo. 1998. ISBN 4-8124-0408-8.
- Godzilla First, 1954 ~ 1955, Osamu Kishikawa, 1994
- William M. Tsutsui (2003). Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 23.
- Tadao Sato, Godzilla Criterion Collection Blu-Ray special featurette
- Godzilla on my Mind, William Tsutsui, page 12
- Haruo Nakajima, Godzilla Criterion Collection Blu-Ray special featurette
- An Anatomical Guide to Monsters, Shoji Otomo, 1967
- CR Godzilla Pachinko cutscene
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- Sharp, Jasper (2011). Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 67. ISBN 9780810857957.
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- The Monster That Morphed Into a Metaphor, By Terrence Rafferty, May 2, 2004, NYTimes
- "Godzilla Wins The MTV Lifetime Achievement Award In 1996 â Godzilla video". Fanpop. 1954-11-03. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
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