1955 ゴジラの逆襲 • Godzilla Raids Again

Release Date: April 24, 1955
Producer: Tomoyuki Tanaka
Director: Motoyoshi Oda
Special Effect Director: Eiji Tsuburaya
Original Story by: Shigeru Kayama
Screenplay by: Takeo Murata & Shigeaki Hidaka
Musical Score: Masaro Sato

Godzilla . . . . . . . Haruo Nakajima
Anguirus . . . . . . . Katsumi Tezuka
Dr. Kyohei Yamane. . . Takeshi Shimura
Shoichi Tsukioka . . . Hiroshi Koizumi
Koji Kobayashi . . . . Minoru Chiaki
Hidemi Yamaji. . . . . Setsuko Wakayama
Kohei Yamaji . . . . . Yukio Kazama
Dr. Tadokoro . . . . . Masao Shimizu
Commander Terazawa . . Seijiro Onda
Tajima . . . . . . . . Yoshio Tsuchiya

1954 Shigeru Kayama
 `-+-1955 Takeo Murata & Shigeaki Hidaka First Draft
   | |
   | `-[Godzilla Raids Again]
   |   |
   |   `-+-+-+-[Godzilla Raids Again] (Reimei-sha Comic)
   |     | | |
   |     | | `-[Godzilla Raids Again] (Kodansha Comic)
   |     | |
   |     | `-+-[Rampage Godzilla]
   |     |   |
   |     |   `-1958 [Godzilla II: Anguirus Strikes Back]
   |     `-1957 [The Volcano Monsters]
   |       |
   |       `-1959 [Gigantis, the Fire Monster]
>---Shigeru Kayama's Gojira-+
                            `-1955 [Godzilla: Tokyo and Osaka Edition]

After the runaway success of Godzilla, Tanaka was approached by Iwao Mori and simply asked to "make another one." Godzilla Raids Again is a typical quicke-sequel, which isn't to say Tanaka and Tsuburaya weren't happy to make it, nor is it of exceedingly low quality, but it says a lot when you point out that all of the problems it has could have easily been worked out with nothing more complicated than one more draft and a little more time to shoot it.

Because of the lightning speed in which the film was pushed through (the fear was that if they took too long, they would lose momentum, which while maybe five months later is a tad extreme, isn't an unfounded one) there's barely any "development" process to talk about, which to me is a little disappointing because GRA is such a fascinating point in Godzilla's history. How Godzilla became a series, then a franchise, and finally into an epic mythic cycle, is worth of its own volume. Not merely the spread of an idea or a story, but the process of transitioning to supply and demand commercial sequels to an undying (well... you know) fixture of the post-modern world is such a wild thing to try and wrap your head around, but the early years in the 50's, trying to figure out just what a Godzilla sequel would be, where the true start of the "cycle" part of the Godzilla Cycle lies... I just want to know what these people were thinking so bad.

It appears, however, that not much thought was put into it at all. Going into it, there were was one major note: that Godzilla land in Kansai, the region of Japan probably most famous abroad for being the home of Osaka, which is exactly where Godzilla headed. There is oooooone other minor little change from the formula of the previous story, and I can't tell whose idea this was, but given what I know I'd have to assume it came from Kayama: the edition of a second monster in addition to Godzilla.

Abso-fucking-lutely genious. So simple, so obvious, so sublimely perfect in every way. Two monsters. You know, so they can fight.

 Kayama no Gyakushu
Shigeru Kayama was tapped to write the sequel, and he agreed, but he found himself in a weird emotional state. It can't really be said that the character of Godzilla in the original film is anything like a good guy, or even an anti-hero, but... well, how do you explain what makes Godzilla so... you know, that? There are shallow reasons and deeper reasons to love Godzilla no matter what the frame you're viewing him through looks like, but the thing is we, you know, love him. Or at least I do, things have become complicated as of late. And so in a turn that surprises no one, Kayama found himself being incredibly upset at being responsible for the first Godzilla's death, and swore to defeat Godzilla without killing him in the next story. I've read this same emotion occurred in U.S. audiences watching the Raymond Burr film during its theatrical release, being upset when Godzilla died despite there being no good reason to and every reason to look at him as an unstoppable menace rather than something to be pitied and loved, so the feeling is universal, and hopefully, to anyone reading this, I won't need to explain it any further.

Beyond this, there was also a question of how exactly to bring Godzilla back in the first, I am told, which while a totally sensible thing for a writer to be concerned about... doesn't illicit much of a mention at all in the finished film. Even at the end of the last movie Yamane made it clear in a very sequel hook-esque remark that the chances Godzilla was the absolute last of his kind were pretty slim. He probably wasn't Lonely George, and whatever it was that happened to Godzilla instead of dying after the nuclear test, there was also a chance that outcome would repeat. So it was that on December 20, 1954, at 17:30, Kayama slipped into the hot springs of the Japanese Inn he was holing himself up in just as Honda and Murata did before him, and the second Godzilla was born.

As mentioned earlier the short turn around time meant very little was changed in the story before the theatrical release. Because this isn't Godzilla, there's also not a lot of concern or attention paid to it. So while there is potentially more to the story, for the most part I've been left in the dark on this subject. However, there are some things I do know:

1. Kayama's major lightbulb moment was regarding how to resolve the story without killing Godzilla, meaning the artificial avalanche at the end of the film, meaning this element was absolutely there from the beginning.

2. Regarding Anguirus, he was originally imagined - in both the Kayama story and first draft - to possess the same thermonuclear breath as Godzilla. Perhaps this was cut out to make Godzilla appear more powerful that Anguirus, or maybe it just got lost in the shuffle of scenes.

3. Also about Anguirus, among the proposed names for the creature was one Yoshio Tsuchiya came up with was Gyottos. This name eventually did see the light of day in a promotional tie-in comic by Shigeru Sugiura called "Rampage Godzilla." Sugiura is an artist well known for his devotion to frivolity and whimsical images, which served him well in the market of children's comics during the 50's (he had already produced a comic based on Godzilla), and in his later career turned into a more surrealistic, avant-garde turn directed at adult audiences. "Gyottos" became a strange sort of amphibious armored hippo-like monster, and other new monsters introduced, Zottos, Sugon, and Osoros, may have also been based on names originally suggested for Anguirus.

4. In the film there is a sequence where the story essentially grinds to a halt for about 10 minutes just to set up a reason for the otherwise successful attempt to lure Godzilla away from the city with bright lights fails. This sequence, which begins as a dark and gritty prison escape in the midst of the chaos of a monster attack, gradually devolves into a boring chase scene and a goofy keystone cops slapstick routine before culminating in the accidental explosion of a bunch of fuel tanks, and almost seems like it came from a different movie. Takeo Murata explains that he wanted to add an element to the story (meaning this occurred in the first draft, not the Kayama original) of the kind of widespread looting and rioting that would occur in a situation like a monster attack. Murata was apparently way ahead of his time in this regard, as serious consideration of this angle in the Godzilla series didn't occur until much later, but due to time and other restrictions, all he was able to get into the final draft was this single scene.

5. It appears that there are only three drafts before filming, Kayama's story, the first draft which still had Anguirus' "hot wire" and a broader focus on looting, and the final draft. However, it might actually be that there is no "final" draft and revisions were made in pink and blue pages to the one script, instead of rewriting the whole thing just for some minor alterations. This info comes from me only being able to find a reference for a first draft of the screenplay, but no other drafts and, curiously, not a "final" one. They could have certainly existed and I just don't have that information, but this kind of "one and done" deal would make sense given the time frame.

Godzilla and Anguirus
While the new Godzilla would be based on the original suit, Anguirus was completely new, and so there was of course a phase of development for him which unfortunately also has been somewhat glossed over in the history books. Then again, this could always be chalked up to how little time the pre-production process lasted. Anguirus has one piece of known concept art, which actually appears in the film, pasted into a children's dinosaur picture book, and the very well known "Weird Angilas" marquette with what appear to be floppy armored plates, jostled around in the middle of a quick movement. Many western fans had come up with the idea that this was a still from an outtake, that it was an artifact of the way the suit was put together, and someone in the publicity department just thought it looked cool and so decided to use it for posters and such without realizing you weren't supposed to see Anguirus do that. But, no, this is a sculpture of the monster, not a mistake.

 The same team from Godzilla reprised their roles, Akira Watanabe sketched out the new monster Anguirus, Teizo Toshimitsu modeled him and helped sculpt the suit along with the Yagi brothers, and it seems like Eizo Kaimai was also involved. It appears as through three Anguirus sculptures were made, an "Angrylas" with a more detailed, almost demonic looking face that wouldn't look out of place in GMK, an "Armadillo Angilas" with a more layered, shield-like armor somewhat resembling Baragon and two "rocket launcher" style tall concave fixtures at the front of his dorsal shell which must have been made after "Angrylas" since there's actually there's a photo with Toshimitsu sculpting it with the finished "Angrylas" on the table, and of course the "Weird Angilas." I believe the "Weird Angilas" came last, both because it is the biggest departure from the only known piece of concept art and it is the one that most resembles the end result. As to what the hell that floppy carapace thing is about? No clue, although I have heard once or twice that this was going to be Anguirus' version of Godzilla's glowing spines, his carapace lifting up before he fired off his "hot wire" Atomic Ray. The '94-'95 Anguirus designs seem to interpret the feature as simply the shape of the armor, it isn't floppy but naturally curves upwards near the back, but then again this is a little ambiguous since that concept art may only be of the Barbaroi pretending to be Anguirus. However it seems that, based on what I've read on the suit construction, that perhaps Anguirus' carapace really was meant to be "floppy."

As I mentioned before, Godzilla wasn't redesigned, but rather the new suit was built using the Shodai-Goji as a reference, and it shows. Learning their lessons from last time, the crew made the suits from a base designed to fit their respective actors, rather than the ill-fitting sandpaper lining of the previous suits. With flexibility now keenly on their minds, especially since this time the monsters would have to be very active, the rest of the suit was simply made from latex-coated cloth, worn around the base like a shirt, giving the appearance of loose chicken-skin, although with a totally different texture. Which is... pretty accurate, actually. Overall the new Godzilla, nicknamed the Gyaku-Goji (although more popularly referred to as the "Gyakushu-Goji" in the west), looks like an emaciated version of the first Godzilla. His thinner frame and loose skin give the impression of a tall, gaunt creature, and while in certain angles, especially those from the side, can make the svelt Shodai-esque monster look quite fearsome and feral, too often it gets caught in the wrong light and the proportions look all wrong, giving it a goofy, large head among other things. For this reason the Gyaku-Goji has gone somewhat underappreciated over time compared to the other suits, but despite all its shortcomings, when you shoot it just right it really is a gorgeous monster. A large battery hidden in the tail powered the motorized mouth and eyes, making this the first Godzilla suit to feature any kind of mechanics or animatronics.

Anguirus was a complete mess. So the suit was originally made with the back plates in two sections, apparently to match the "Weird Angilas" marquette, but not only did they not "flip up," as they were far, far too heavy for anything like that, so heavy in fact that if the actor fell over they would have to be pulled back up by others, but the two pieces kept falling off, so they had to be joined together. The most obnoxious element of Anguirus' construction were of course the spikes. Each one was made of a wire mesh wrapped in washi paper, not exactly the most stable stuff in the world. These would constantly become squished or bent during the hectic, animalistic fight scenes, and as a result Anguirus basically had to be repaired all the damn time.

The Gyaku-Angi (a nickname of my own coinage, since it doesn't really have one otherwise) is widely regarded as the most convincing quadrupedal monster Toho has ever created, or at least the most convincing Showa monster, and a lot of this is chalked up to nothing much more complicated than hiding the actor's hind legs and only showing him "standing" when he reaching up towards Godzilla. There's another reason too, it seems the proportions are actually different here, the legs seem shorter than a human's and what I think is happening is a combination of the loose-fitting cloth skin and that the legs of Anguirus start further down the body than the actors, making a sort of triangle-shaped area the knee-bend can be hidden. I'm not really sure if this is what's happening or there's yet another optical illusion going on, because the development of this film is pretty poorly documented, but you can definitely tell just by a cursory glance between the '55 and '68 Anguiruseses that the hindlegs are built up differently, and I think it's an important part of what made the Gyaku-Angi so memorable.

As for Anguirus' design itself, it's an interesting combination thyreophoran traits whose exploration more appropriately belongs in his own article, but here I'll just cover that it seems as though the second time around Watanabe took a more conservative approach that is strikingly similar to Willis O'Brien's monsters. Unlike Godzilla, which is a mash-up of three totally different dinosaurs that ended up creating a whole ghost lineage, Anguirus appears to be a nodosaur with the head of what might be described as a parallel universe carnivorous ceratopsian. O'Brien's own thyreophoran monster, unnamed in '33 but called "Atercurisaurus" in World of Kong, is just a Stegosaurus/Kentrosaurus chimera. Other inhabitants of Skull Island include things like a Tyrannosaurus/Allosaurus, and a Pteranodon/Pteradactyl. Easily the strangest creature in the film is the Elasmosaurus/Snake thing which to this day doesn't have a proper name, but even that comes off as just a sea serpent. While Anguirus certainly has its Toho-style uniqueness, my point is that it's quite a break from Godzilla.

Besides the suits, hand puppets for each monster were constructed which, again, don't match the suits great, but they look closer this time. One last prop is especially interesting, a gutted mechanical walking penguin toy dressed up to look like Godzilla, which is used for overhead shots of Godzilla walking through the snow. Of course it isn't walking in those shots, but whether this is because it didn't work or Tsuburaya just didn't like the way it looked is unknown.

Motoyoshi Oda 
Ishiro Honda was already on his next film, but there was no time to wait on him, so it was up to Motoyoshi Oda to fill in the blanks. This was, it seems, basically what Oda's entire career was predicated on. He strikes me as a director whose professional attitude seemed in line with a Scott Aukerman bit. He says "action" when the scene starts, "cut" when it ends, probably mutters something about trodding the boards, and more than likely wore a beret. I know nothing of this man's personal life or even personality, instead everything I read about him hammers home this same point, that he was a staff member who existed to make sure movies got, technically, directed. Jack of all trades but master of none, he produced an enormous amount of output, including a damned Godzilla movie, but remains virtually unknown and mostly ignored by history and fans.

It is mused by Steve Ryfle that Godzilla Raids Again shows us a glimpse at what Godzilla might have been like if it weren't for Ishiro Honda, and I largely agree. Oda doesn't seem to care about... anything. Problems with the script are one thing, but GRA isn't a bad movie by any means as all the actors and crew put in their best efforts, the monsters are great, Tsuchiya and Chiaki are wonderful, and there are moments when the miserable tone of the original slips in as well. But over the top of what could be a really great movie is the guiding hand of someone who really just doesn't seem to care at all, or have much of an understanding of what he's dealing with. I don't think it's truly a look at a non-Honda G54, since of course at that point Godzilla had already been made and there's a precedent for the character, but there are several points during the film where it starts to feel like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, which is not fun.

 Masaru Sato
Akira Ifukube didn't come back either, and while I assume it was because of a scheduling conflict, the guy made like a million movies a year, and since GRA he's always made time for Godzilla, so I'm not totally sure what happened. Masaru Sato would, unlike Oda, go one to be a recurring staff member of the Godzilla team, and his later contributions have earned him a fair amount of Employee of the Month awards, but here, on his first Godzilla picture, the results are a little more uneven. By the time Ifukube scored Godzilla he was already a pretty huge deal, but Sato by comparison was relatively green, despite being so prolific even at this point. His style on GRA gives away his thought on the matter, that following in the footsteps of Ifukube made him a bit nervous, and as a result Sato does his best Ifukube impression throughout. It isn't bad, and for the purposes of this film it's pretty good at doing what it sets out to do, but it is transparently pastiche, sometimes cringingly so, and there's no hint of the kind of energy and vibrance that would define his later contributions to the series.

    Winter follows in Godzilla's wake as Tokyo slowly begins to rebuild. Elsewhere, in Osaka, life in post-war Japan continues merrily along and here is where we meet Tsukioka, Kobayashi, and Hidemi. The three work for a fishery owned by Hidemi's father, and are just the best of friends, as evidenced at the playful jabs and witty banter exchanged between them in a familiar tone. You can, early on, that these are our protagonists, and you're expected to care about them. Especially Kobayashi, who easily has the most personality of the three.

However an malfunction in Kobayashi's plane (he and Tsukioka were patrolling the skies, on the look out for schools of tuna which they would then radio coordinates down to the actual fishing boats) causes him to make an emergency landing at a deserted island - not much more than a big boulder - he and Tsukioka, responding to Kobayashi's distress call, witness something chilling. Despite apparently being completely disintegrated, Godzilla had returned, and what's worse, they found him engaged in a battle with another monster, just as gigantic and terrible as Godzilla. The two are brought before a panel consisting of Dr. Yamane, Dr. Tadokoro, and a number of military officials including JSDF commander Terazawa, and after sorting through a pile of 1950's paleoart successfully identify the second monster as being some sort of ankylosaur, and is given the nickname "Anguirus." Anguirus, Dr. Tadokoro tells us, has two "brains," which enable it to react quickly despite its size, and is likely to be extremely territorial and untrusting of intruders, especiall carnivores like Godzilla. Other than a simple strategy to lure Godzilla away with bright lights, there is no longer any sort of means to deal with the monsters, and an air of dread hangs over Japan as they wait for this new Godzilla to make his inevitable landfall.

A widespread air campaign manages to track Godzilla, alarmingly close to the coast of Shikoku, and begins making a beeline for Wakayama. Back in Osaka, our ol' pals breathe a sigh of relief as Godzilla seems to be headed in the complete opposite direction, and in fact suspicions weigh heavily that the monster will visit Tokyo. Of course this isn't what happens. Godzilla somehow slips into Osaka Bay undetected, with only barely enough time to evacuate the city and set up a defense line. When Godzilla does appear, Dr. Yamane's trick actually appears to work, with the entire city in a blackout and flares dropped from planes dotting a course out to sea. While the military is on the verge of success, a prisoner transport making its way through the deserted city throws a wrench into the plans. A successful escape attempt by the inmates has the lot scurrying into the darkness with the just a few pigs left to go after them, but they just so happen to luck into a chance meeting with Tsukioka and Kobayashi, who are heading towards the fish cannery to... "protect" it. In the ensuing low speed car chase, the vehicle hijacked by the prisoners flips, and inadvertently starts an enormous fire in Osaka's industrial sector which pulls not only Godzilla's attention away from the flares, but draws in the second monster, Anguirus, as well.

The monsters resume their battle amongst the deserted Osaka metropolis, lit only by the huge walls of flame. Their battle is fierce and bestial, clawing at each other like hungry rats. The two once ordinary animals now thrust into the position of gigantic monsters cause devastating collateral damage, taking out the fish cannery (oh no!) as well as landmarks like Osaka Castle. Eventually Godzilla gains an upper hand on Anguirus, clamping down on his neck and drawing blood (something man's modern weapons of war weren't able to accomplish on Godzilla), then tossing his body into the bay and scorching it with his Atomic Ray, causing the possible death of the monster. With a loud victory cry that fills the air, Godzilla leaves the rubble behind and swims back out to sea.

But humanity wasn't done with Godzilla. With our leads relocating to Hokkaido while the Osaka branch rebuilds, Godzilla starts sinking ships, this time up north... near Hokkaido. While military forces get back to work tracking the monster, Tsukioka and Kobayashi volunteer to help as well, using their tuna-spotting skills to try and "fish" out the monster's location. The bid works, and Tsukioka follows Godzilla coming ashore on a small, frozen island way up north. An elaborate plan is carried out, having oil drums create a "fire barrier" while the military drops bombs on Godzilla's head. It doesn't really work, and in a moment of foolhardy rage and frustration, Kobayashi comes a little too close to Godzilla, who lights the little seaplane ablaze. As Kobayashi's plane slams into a hillside, an avalanche is triggered, which gives Tsukioka an idea. After reloading, the planes redirect their bombs not to Godzilla himself, who is clearly impervious, but the ice and snow on the surrounding cliffs. After a period of steady bombardment, Godzilla is buried under the ice. It may not be lethal, but with Godzilla in the freezer, perhaps the grieving Tsukioka and Hidemi can learn to live a simple life of peace and happiness once again.

1955 Gigantis, the Fire Monster • 炎の大怪獣ジャイガンティス
Release Date: May 21, 1959
Producer: Paul Schreibman
Music Editor: Rex Lipton

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