BY DaMichael Jackson-Helm
InsidetheAcorn.com Staff Writer
Hello people of Tec, I am DaMichael Jackson-Helm and this is an introduction to series I will be working on through the school year for us to do on a regular basis. There are a multitude of subgenres in media that has a fanbase throughout the decades that fans enjoy with all their heart. Some of the different types of horror movies like the slasher genre focus on villains like Michael Myers or Leatherface as they go about killing their victims with all sorts of weapons that you could imagine. There are also your action/comedy films like Deadpool and Big Trouble in Little China that are all about action with bits of good humor for the audience to enjoy as they watch the numerous explosions, gun fights, and brawls that people enjoy.
One subgenre that is pretty popular thanks to the films, comics, television, and games that have been coming out in recent years is the kaiju or giant monster genre. What are they you may ask? We’ll to put it simply, the kaiju genre are plots that focus on giant monster, or known by the community as kaiju, as it is translated from japanese “strange beast”, that attacks after being awakened or created by atomic testing or serve as elite warriors for an alien invasion, or are just regular animals that normally live alongside humanity and don’t attack til they feel threatened by us.
The most popular example of a kaiju is Godzilla, who was the first official kaiju to be created for his film Gojira, which is just Godzilla’s japanese name. Other popular kaiju from Japan are Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Gamera, and America’s own Kong, the first kaiju to technically appear in any form of media. In America, some of the most popular kaiju to be featured include the Rhedosaurus, the Paleosaurus, Ymir, the Ant Colony from Them!, the Cloverfield monster, and the undersea monsters from Pacific Rim.
Kaiju are, as described by Ishiro Honda, creator of Godzilla, “tragic beings. They’re born too tall, too strong, and too heavy. They’re not evil by choice. That is their tragedy.” The word kaiju can also be used to describe the regular monsters from Universal like the Wolfman, Dracula, or Frankenstein’s Monster. Kaiju can also be called daikaiju, which is essentially a way of saying that they are bigger than normal kaiju. For the most part, all giant monster are called kaiju since it’s an easy term to use and there is very little difference. There is also a different term for kaiju that are purely robot is kikaiju or “mechanical beasts” or “Super Robot” with the most popular and famous example of this is Godzilla’s mechanical rival, MechaGodzilla.
There is also another term to describe a different race of kaiju known as choju from the Ultraman franchise. Choju are a race of monster created by the villain Yapool from the t.v. series Ultraman Ace to that can travel between dimensions and try to take over the Earth Their name is a translation for “super beasts”, as they are more powerful than kaiju and daikaiju as well. Not all kaiju are just limited to being created by Yapool as the kaiju, King of Mons, was a choju created by a boy who wanted to create the strongest kaiju ever to exist. That same choju was able to spawn two other choju in the form of Bajiris and Scylla.
Kaiju also aren’t typically bad or to some extent, evil as they react to a situation the best way they know. However, there are some exceptions to this rule with Godzilla being a clear example of this trope. While he may protect the world often from alien invasions or forces of nature that are punishing humanity, he has been shown to be a villain that has a motivation for attacking. In his first film, he attacks Japan after they scarred him from the attack bomb testing in the Pacific and purposely attacked humanity out of anger and pain. In another film, Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack, he was the original Godzilla created by the collective spirits of World War II victims that was actually evil, purposely attacking people and destroying places around Japan without mercy.
Other examples of Kaiju that mean no harm are Rodan, Anguirus, Mothra, and of the kaiju from the Ultra series, including Gomora, Gomess, and Earthtron. In these pieces of media, there are some kaiju that purposely attack humanity just to see destruction and cause chaos, like King Ghidorah, Gigan, Destoroyah, MechaGodzilla from the 1970’s, Battra, and multiple kaiju from the Ultra series like Zetton, Balton, Eleking, Tyrant, Kelbeam, and Vakishim.
Some kaiju are even depicted as beings protectors of Earth and risking their lives for humanity. Two popular examples of this are Mothra as she is a deity that goes to great lengths to defend Earth from all threats and actually likes humans. Another is Gamera, who despite being leveling most of Tokyo in his first film, saved a child from falling to his death and is referred to as the Friend to all Children.
In the trilogy series, he was a weapon created by Atlantis to combat their first failed experiment that takes the form of his nemesis, Gyaos. In this series, his subtitle is Guardian of the Universe and sees him protecting earth from Legion, a intergalactic beetle that came to Earth for the purpose of colonizing and Iris, a mutated Gyaos whose mission to kill Gamera by order of a girl that raised since he was a baby since Gamera killed her parent in the first movie Gamera Guardian of the Universe. Also to note that unlike the original series, Gamera is lot more destructive to humanity and sees them as the next biggest threat to Earth besides the Gyaos, Legion, and Iris. So, if time comes, he wil not hesitant to destroy them if they become a problem unlike before where he never went after them at all besides the first movie.
Others included Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah, who was a hero this time around, as the guardians of monsters Yamato and the spirits of earth, water, and air from GMK. Manda from the film Atragon was the protector of the ancient civilization known as Mu and King Caesar from Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla as the royal deity of the Azumi family.
Battra, who is Mothra’s darker and more aggressive counterpart in the film Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth. During that film, it shows that sometimes, a monster can go too far in protecting Earth as he wiped out an entire civilization for disturbing nature and forced Mothra to seal him away in the North Sea. This also shows that some kaiju can protect the planet but, no care about the inhabitants. Godzilla, again, is an example of this as he may protect the planet but, won’t defend the people of it along with Rodan, Anguirus, Gorosaurus, and others.
Kaiju aren’t also limited to just being movie or t.v. characters as they also have become popular in comic books as their own series. One of the more well-received comics is Godzilla: The Half -Century War, which talks about a 50 year war that pitted humanity against Godzilla, the kaiju that appeared from different parts of the world, and the kaiju that arrive from space like Monster X, Gigan, King Ghidorah, and Hedorah. Another one that was liked is Godzilla: Rulers of Earth, which focused on the kaiju as being forces of nature and how they been around since the dawn of the dinosaurs as well.
Kaiju also have been become mainstream in video games as the Godzilla franchise has over four titles in the last seventeen years with Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee, Godzilla: Save The Earth, Godzilla:Unleashed, and Godzilla Vs, which came out two years ago. Ultraman also has their fair share video games with their Fighting Evolution series and their Daikaiju Battle: Ultra Coliseum series that follows the Ultra Galaxy series format of people capturing kaiju and taming them as allies. This also was the first to focus on the kaiju instead of the Ultras. Not that we’re finished, be prepared as I give an introduction to the sub genre of Slasher films. So until next time everyone, take care.