Watching: Godzilla vs. Gigan


Fabulous 1972

Godzilla vs. Gigan may be working out to be one of my favorites of the Godzilla canon.  It’s definitely one of the trippier movies right up there with All Monsters Attack, but a bit more coherent and not pandering to children as much.  Premiering in the early seventies it even has a lazy hippy stereotype as a minor character.

Japanese Zeitgeist

I’ve been attempting to work through some of the themes of these movies as I go through them for the umpteenth time and figure out the differences between the Japanese, International and American versions. Hulu was good enough to stream a Japanese language version of the film, but I think it is the American version as it features some weird editing and lacks a feature I will mention in a minute.

The seventies are clearly a theme here and a deliberate attempt to play to a young, hip audience. The protagonist is a manga artist (Japanese comic books) for no other obvious reason I would guess except to pull a manga obsessed fan in. Once again the aliens are using a children’s focused shell corporation under the guise of peace, “World Children’s Land”, to forward their ends.

One of the themes I see in movies in the late sixties and seventies is this deep mistrust of the concept of peace, that any organization or group that advocates for peace (especially when it involves youth) must has some insidious ulterior motive. It is amusing to see this sentiment that I thought was just an American response to the Summer of Love make it all the way over into a mainstream Japanese film. At the very least the hippy isn’t a villain even though he is always hungry and lazy like Shaggy was in Scooby Doo. I find it amusing that a lot of the girly mags and pulp novels consumed mainly by the ‘grown ups’ criticizing this culture focused heavily on these stereotypes. Essentially older adults hated and feared youth culture, but they also fetishized it secretly. To be honest things haven’t changed much.

Kaiju for Dollars

We are absolutely getting our bang for our buck with monsters here.  Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Anguirus and the brand new Gigan all make appearances. Gigan would appear in the sequel in 1973, do a small bit on Japanese television and then would not appear on film again until 2004.

Gigan is a pretty nifty villain with cybernetic implants, retro futuristic night rider eye wear and curved blades for hands. Apparently giant monsters don’t need to perform any actions that would require opposable thumbs.

Godzilla vs. Gigan also has an ecological message, but many Godzilla films do and it is essentially a watered down version of the original film Gojira’s message of American nuclear apocalypse.

Bonus Round

I had heard that in the original Japanese cut of the film before American distribution that in the scenes were Godzilla ‘talks’ to Anguirus that they put in speech bubbles that were cut for the American version.  Since this movie is manga themed I have no reason to doubt it.  I found this odd clip that may be real, but having them speak in English is a little dubious, if true it would be fantastic, you can judge for yourself.  If there are any Japanese readers out there you can let me know if the dialogue even remotely matches the bubbles.