Director: Jun Fukuda
Starring: Hiroshi Ishikawa, Tomoko Umeda, Yuriko Hishimi
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: Gengo, an aspiring manga artist looking for work, is hired by the mysterious charity group looking to develop a theme park called World Children’s Land, with the goal of achieving “Absolute Peace”. Suspicious of the group, Gengo falls in league with Machiko and Shosaku, a pair of rebels trying to uncover the mystery behind this group, and release Machiko’s brother who has been held captive. Through strange tapes, the mysterious group can aggravate Godzilla and other Kaiju on Monster Island, and two space monsters who set a course for earth.
Our first review within the Showa period, Godzilla vs. Gigan, is an exemplary example of doing more with less. Set just after Toho’s experimental phase, which included Godzilla vs. Hedorah and All Monster Attack, Toho wanted to play it safe, both cutting their budget and green lighting a more streamlined story. While the film has an abundance of recycled footage from previous films and both Godzilla and King Ghidorah’s suits have seen better days, the film does a surprising decent job of keeping the Kaiju action exciting and the character stories engaging thanks to director, Jun Fukuda’s direction.
The narrative, typically zany for the Showa period, is aided by a great cast of quirky characters with plenty of eccentricities and significant moments of comedy and comaraderie. The villains play into the typical alien invader, global warming alarmists, but are given more depth than the majority of extraterrestrial antagonists in the series. The revelations that they are actually giant human sized cockroaches is a trivial, albeit fun revelation.
His first appearance in the franchise, Gigan, is just as strange and alien in terms of how his design has always been received. The double scythed, blade infused giant chicken has remained one of Toho’s most unique monster designs. His debut appearance is fantastic, laying the smack down to both goodwill and Anguirus. My only gripe is the appearance of King Ghidorah, which somewhat lessens Gigan’s impact and calls into question would the King of Monsters have really struggled without the triple headed Kaiju’s appearance.
The appearance of numerous monsters is a welcome addition. Anguirus and King Ghidorah play central roles as tag team partners for both Godzilla and his latest foe, Gigan. While Anguirus spends 90% of the film getting his ass beat, his interactions with Godzilla are a highlight of the film truly exemplifying their arc of enemies turned best mates. There’s even a few surprise cameos from Rodan, Kumonga, and even Kamacuras.
The fight scenes are pretty intense for the Showa era, each contender is essentially tearing lumps out of the other with a surprising amount of gore and blood; Godzilla gets an unmerciful beat down with both his eyes blasted and Gigan slicing up his face. The physicality of the monster scrap descends into an almost bar brawl with punches, slaps, and kicks to downed opponents. The choreography of the fights very much reflects the Shoot Wrestling style adopted by Japan.
The Showa period is the longest running series of Godzilla films and for me is a pretty mixed bag in terms of quality, but I’ve always been fascinated by the period’s creativity and wide cast of Godzilla villains but a little put off by childish entries and the poorest costume design for the G man. Godzilla vs. Gigan is one of my favourite of the Showa series because of its endearing characters and vicious Kaiju Battle Royale’s.
Shots of Sake