The Mysterians (1957)

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Image gallery for The Mysterians
The Mysterians soundtrack

The Mysterians
The Japanese poster for The Mysterians
Alternate titles
Flagicon Japan.png Earth Defense Force (1957)
See alternate titles
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Producer(s) Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by Shigeru Kayama
Takeshi Kimura
Jojiro Okami
Music by Akira Ifukube
Distributor TohoJP
RKO Radio PicturesUS
Rating Unrated
Box office ¥193,000,000[1]
Running time 88 minutesJP
(1 hour, 28 minutes)
85 minutesUS
(1 hour, 25 minutes)
Aspect ratio 2.35:1
From behind the moon they come... To invade the Earth! Abduct its women! Level its cities!

American tagline

The Mysterians (地球防衛軍,   Chikyū Bōeigun, lit. Earth Defense Force) is a 1957 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho. It was released to Japanese theaters on December 28, 1957 and to American theaters on May 15, 1959.


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The films starts with Astrophysicist Ryoichi Shiraishi, his fiancee Hiroko, his sister Etsuko, and his friend Joji Atsumi witnessing a festival at a local village near Mount Fuji. Shiraishi then tells Atsumi that he has broken off his engagement with Hiroko but gives no reason other than an undisclosed obligation to remain in the village. A mysterious forest fire is then seen near them. Shiraishi rushes out to investigate and disappears during the confusion.

The next day, Atsumi is at the local observatory, where he meets the head astronomer, Tanjiro Adachi. He hands the doctor a report written by Shiraishi. The report concerns a newly-discovered asteroid that Shiraishi theorized was once a planet between Mars and Jupiter. He has named it Mysteroid. However, Adachi does not believe in his radical theory and also points out that the report is not complete.

Meanwhile, the village in which Shiraishi was staying is completely wiped out by a massive earthquake. While investigating the area, Atsumi and a group of police officers stumble upon a giant robot, Moguera. The robot then advances on a town near Koyama Bridge that night, and is met by heavy resistance from Japan's self-defense force. However, the conventional artillery and other weapons has no effect on the war machine, and the automaton continues its rampage until it tries to cross the Koyama Bridge, which is detonated sending the machine crashing down to the ground below, destroying it.

At the Diet Building, Atsumi briefs officials on what has been learned about the robot. The remains of the giant machine reveal that it was manufactured out of an unknown chemical compound. Shortly afterwards, astronomers witness activity in outer space around the moon. They alert the world to this discovery, and not long after the aliens emerge, their gigantic dome breaking through the Earth's crust near Mount Fuji.

A group of scientists are politely ushered into the dome, where the Mysterians, a scientifically advanced alien race, list their demands from the people of Earth: a two-mile radius strip of land and the right to marry women on Earth. The reason for this is that 100,000 years ago their planet Mysteroid, once the fifth planet from the sun, was destroyed by a nuclear war. Fortunately, some Mysterians were able to escape to Mars before their planet was rendered uninhabitable. However, due to the nuclear war, Strontium-90 has left 80 percent of the aliens' population deformed and crippled. The proposed interbreeding with women on Earth would produce healthier offspring and keep their race alive. The latter part of their demands is downplayed as they admit to already taking three women captive and reveal two others that they are interested in, one of which is Etsuko.

Japan quickly dismisses this request and begins the mobilization of its armed forces around Mount Fuji. It's also discovered that the missing Shiraishi has sided with the advance race due to their technological achievements. Japan wastes no time, though, and quickly launches a full-scale attack against the Mysterians' dome. However, the modern weaponry is no match for their technology, and Japan's forces are easily fought back.

Distraught by this setback, Japan sends their plea to other nations that they might join together to remove the threat of the Mysterians from Earth. The nations around the world answer the plea, and in no time issue another raid against the Mysterians' dome, this time utilizing the newly developed Alpha and Beta class airships. Sadly, this attack meets failure as well.

The Mysterians then increase their demand, asking for a 75-mile radius of land, as the Earth continues to develop a new method of attack. Earth's efforts in this matter pay off as the Markalite FAHP (Flying Atomic Heat Projector), a gigantic lens that can reflect the Mysterians’ weaponry, is designed. Meanwhile, the Mysterians kidnap Etsuko and Hiroko, causing Atsumi to search for, and locate, a back entrance to the Mysterians' dome.

In the meantime, the Markalite FAHP's are deployed by large Markalite GYRO rockets and the final battle against the Mysterians' base of operations commences. During the battle, one of FHAP was destroyed by flashing floods and another FAHP was destroyed by second Moguera which burrowed next to it, causing the cannon to fall on top of Moguera, destroying the robot. As Atsumi, later joined by Shirashi who sacrifices himself in a final attack on the Mysterians after learning of their true ambitions, attacks the base from the inside, the Markalite FAHP's assault the base from above ground. Together, the structure is finally destroyed, the kidnapped women are rescued, and the Mysterians expelled from Earth forever.


Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by   Ishiro Honda
  • Written by   Shigeru Kayama, Takeshi Kimura, and Jojiro Okami
  • Produced by   Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Music by   Akira Ifukube
  • Stock Music by   Hector Berlioz and Edvard Grieg
  • Cinematography by   Hajime Koizumi
  • Edited by   Koichi Iwashita
  • Production Design by   Teruaki Abe and Akira Watanabe
  • Assistant Directing by   Koji Kajita
  • Special Effects by   Eiji Tsuburaya


Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

Bang Zoom! Entertainment English dub

Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.



Weapons, Vehicles, and Races


Main article: The Mysterians/Gallery.


Main article: The Mysterians (Soundtrack).

Alternate Titles

  • Earth Defense Force (Literal Japanese Title)
  • The Barbarians Invade Earth (Los bárbaros invaden la Tierra; Argentina, Os Bárbaros Invadem a Terra; Brazil)
  • Space Beasts (Weltraum-Bestien; Austria, Germany)
  • Prisoners of the Martians (Prisonnières des Martiens; France)
  • Mars vs Earth (Άρης εναντίον Γης; Greece)
  • Invasion of the Moon (Εισβολή από τη Σελήνη; Greece)
  • Flying Saucers Hit Earth (Ιπτάμενοι δίσκοι χτυπούν τη Γη; Greece)
  • The Unknown (De ukjente; Norway)
  • Earth is Under Attack (Jorden angripes; Norway, Jorden anfalles; Sweden)
  • Mysterious Strangers (Tajemniczy przybysze; Poland)
  • Space Monsters (Monstros do Espaço; Portugal)
  • Phantom 7000 (Germany)

Theatrical Releases

Foreign Releases

A November 1, 1957 report states that Southeast Asian distribution rights to The Mysterians were sold to Shaw & Sons of Hong Kong for the highest amount paid for a Japanese film of that time. Rights to other parts of the world were sold for a record price for a Japanese film to Topaz Film Corporation in February of 1958.

U.S. Release

American The Mysterians Poster

The Mysterians was released theatrically in the United States by RKO Radio Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in May of 1959. The film was advertised as "The greatest science-fiction picture ever conceived by the mind of man." The film was later re-released in July. The U.S. version is notable, as it was the first Toho science fiction film to receive an English version without extensive re-editing. Only small edits were undertaken, and the English dialogue remains faithful to the Japanese script. This shortened 85 minute cut of the film was later distributed in European territories by the J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

After multiple VHS releases over the next half-century, Tokyo Shock released the full Japanese version of The Mysterians along with a new English dub by Bang Zoom! Entertainment on DVD in the U.S. This release also included various special features, including audio commentary from Koichi Kawakita and Shinji Higuchi.


In the United States, despite its successful theatrical run, The Mysterians was reviled by critics. The New York Times criticized the film as a generic alien invasion film with "runny color" and poor acting.

Nevertheless, The Mysterians proved to be an influential and important entry in Toho's library of science-fiction films, inspiring several more alien invasion and space-related films from director Ishiro Honda, including a sequel, Battle in Outer Space, and Gorath. Koichi Kawakita, later known as the special effects director for the Heisei Godzilla series and the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy, said he was thrilled when he saw this film while in junior high and it inspired him to work in special effects. Fans of the tokusatsu genre often praise the film for its special effects, the introduction of the monster Moguera, and its score from Akira Ifukube.


Main article: Battle in Outer Space.

Toho produced a sequel to The Mysterians, Battle in Outer Space, two years later in 1959. The film is set in 1965 and features some returning characters from The Mysterians, most of whom are played by different actors. This film features a new invading alien race, the Natarls, who engage in a war with humanity in outer space. Another sequel was planned, but was changed into a standalone film called The War in Space.

Video Releases

Toho DVD (2001)

  • Region: 2
  • Audio: Japanese

Tokyo Shock DVD (2005)[2]

  • Region: 1
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (5.1 Surround, Bang Zoom! dub), Spanish (2.0 Mono)
  • Special Features: Audio commentary by Koichi Kawakita and Shinji Higuchi (subtitled), "backround music only" audio track, photo gallery, concept art, trailers
  • Notes: Out of print. A 2007 release packages it with Varan and Matango.

Toho DVD (2007)[3]

  • Region: 2
  • Audio: Japanese

Toho Blu-ray (2010)[4]

  • Region: A/1
  • Audio: Japanese (LPCM Mono, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Remix)



Japanese The Mysterians trailer
American The Mysterians trailer
American The Mysterians DVD trailer
American The Mysterians opening and closing credits
French The Mysterians closing credits


  • The Mysterians is notable for being the first tokusatsu filmed in TohoScope and the first Toho film to use Perspecta stereophonic sound.
    • It is also known for its use of color, in particular its heavy use of day-for-night shots and bright alien costumes.
  • The Mysterians was the first Toho film to feature an alien race, as well as the first to feature a mecha.
  • In an interview conducted just before his death, Ishiro Honda stated that The Mysterians was his favorite film that he directed.[5]
  • In Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, special effects director Koichi Kawakita redesigned the giant robot Moguera into an anti-Godzilla mecha for the later film, called "M.O.G.U.E.R.A." (Mobile Operations Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aerotype).
  • The Earth Defense Force is also featured in Godzilla: Final Wars.
  • Moguera's inclusion was a last minute idea as producer Tomoyuki Tanaka felt the film needed a monster.
  • Moguera was originally conceptualized as a living breathing monster, however director Ishiro Honda reworked it into being a robot as a way to further demonstrate the technological power the Mysterians possessed.
    • Moguera's original concept can still be seen in story board stills, which depicted him as a half-mole half-reptilian monster. Though the design was never used, some key details were later used in the monster Baragon for the film Frankenstein vs. Baragon. Most notably was the monster's burrowing ability, heat ray, and a ridged back.

External Links


This is a list of references for The Mysterians. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. Steve Ryfle and Ed Godzizewski. Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film. Wesleyan University Press. p. 141. 2017. ISBN: 9780819577412.
  2. The Mysterians (2005) Tokyo Shock
  3. 地球防衛軍 (2007) 東宝
  4. The Mysterians (2010) Toho
  5. Ishiro Honda Interview

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