Frankenstein (フランケンシュタイン, otherwise known as Frankenstein's monster, is a creature from the 1818 horror novel Furankenshutain)Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.
A kaijin interpretation of the character appears in the 1965 Toho film, Frankenstein vs. Baragon. After the atomic bomb which destroyed Hiroshima irradiated his immortal heart, it slowly regrew into a feral boy, and eventually a giant. Frankenstein became an outcast, blamed for the crimes of the underground monster Baragon and hunted by the JSDF. Ultimately, he confronted and killed the monster before a sudden fissure sent him plummeting into Earth's depths, his fate unknown. Though referenced in The War of the Gargantuas as the ancestor of Sanda, Toho's Frankenstein has not appeared in any media since then.
Name[edit | edit source]
Frankenstein's name comes from the surname of his creator, Victor Frankenstein. In the original novel, as well as its earliest film adaptations by Edison Studios and Universal Pictures, the monster was referred to as "Frankenstein's Monster," "the Frankenstein Monster," or just "the Monster", but never "Frankenstein." The Monster began being commonly referred to as "Frankenstein" by audiences, and this became a popular name for the creature that is common to this day, despite not being technically accurate. The Monster is consistently referred to as "Frankenstein" in Frankenstein vs. Baragon, so in this context the name is nevertheless correct. The monster is, however, referred to in English as "Frankenstein's Monster" on the cover of Toho SFX Movies Authentic Visual Book Volume 47.
Development[edit | edit source]
Toho's idea for a film featuring Frankenstein's Monster originated with Willis O'Brien's story for King Kong vs. Frankenstein, which pit King Kong against a giant Frankenstein Monster created by Dr. Frankenstein's grandson in the Congo River region of Africa using the body parts of various African animals. This story was pitched to Toho by producer John Beck, and ultimately led to the production of King Kong vs. Godzilla. However, Toho was still interested in a Frankenstein film, and in 1963 Tomoyuki Tanaka greenlit Frankenstein vs. The Human Vapor, a sequel to the studio's previous film The Human Vapor. The story revolved around the Human Vapor, having survived the climax of the aforementioned film, learning of a scientist who has revived Frankenstein's Monster. He then seeks the scientist out, believing he may hold the secret to reviving his dead lover using the same technology. While a draft of the film's screenplay was completed by Shinichi Sekizawa, the film ultimately never came to fruition.
Toho's next idea involving Frankenstein's Monster was a follow-up to King Kong vs. Godzilla. Takeshi Kimura wrote a script for this film, which featured Godzilla battling Frankenstein's Monster, who has grown to gigantic size due to the effects of the atomic bomb. The story underwent numerous revisions, with Godzilla ultimately being replaced with the new monster Baragon and the film becoming Frankenstein vs. Baragon.
Director Ishiro Honda watched Universal Pictures' 1931 film adaptation of Frankenstein prior to beginning work on the film. He based his interpretation of the Monster on Boris Karloff's iconic portrayal of the creature, taking care to express the tragedy and sorrow of the character. Kaoru Mabuchi included many attempts to form sympathy for Frankenstein in his screenplay, with the character of Sueko Togami forming a motherly affection for the creature and James Bowen insisting that Frankenstein is a human being. In contrast to the original film, where the human characters fail to understand and sympathize with the Monster, in Honda's film the three protagonists are allies of Frankenstein by the end.
Special makeup was applied to actors Sumio Nakao and Koji Furuhata, who portrayed Frankenstein's young and mature forms in the film, respectively. Whereas the depictions of monsters in most of Toho's kaiju films were handled by the special effects department, Frankenstein's makeup was applied by a staff of makeup specialists. The actors wore special green-colored contact lens so their eyes would look more like those of Westerners, as Frankenstein was supposed to be German in the film. Furuhata wore skin-colored shoes as part of the adult Frankenstein's costume. Frankenstein's moving severed hand was realized using an elaborate scale model, consisting of five fully-moving fingers operated by a motor mechanism.
Design[edit | edit source]
Frankenstein's appearance is primarily derived from actor Boris Karloff's iconic portrayal of the creature in the 1931 film adaptation of the novel. Toho's Frankenstein features the tall lanky physique of Karloff's version, along with the trademark tall forehead and flat-topped angular head. Unlike most other interpretations, Toho's Frankenstein seems to have normal human-looking skin and no signs of physical decay on his body. Due to his size, Toho's Frankenstein also wears a large makeshift cloak presumably made of fur rather than normal clothing. In The Great Yokai War: Guardians, Frankenstein is human-sized and wears a trenchcoat, along with metal stitching on his face, much like traditional depictions of the character.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Frankenstein is portrayed as an innocent, childlike but still relatively intelligent creature, similar to the version of the Monster that appeared in Universal Pictures' films featuring the character. Toho's Frankenstein is mute and unable to speak, but does appear able to understand human speech. He is also somewhat feral, but is not hostile or dangerous towards humans so long as they do not try to harm him. Frankenstein shows compassion and loyalty towards Dr. Sueko Togami, the scientist that raised him. Even after escaping from the laboratory, Frankenstein visits Sueko's apartment. Frankenstein also takes it upon himself to fight Baragon when the creature threatens Sueko.
Origins[edit | edit source]
Many years ago, a German scientist named Victor Frankenstein created an artificial human from the pieces of several corpses and reanimated it using electricity. Though the creature appeared to die at several points over the next several decades, it always managed to return from the dead due to its immortal heart. By 1945, a scientist in Frankfurt, Germany, Dr. Liesendorf, was experimenting on the living heart of Frankenstein's Monster, only for Hitler's Nazis to seize it. The Nazis, hoping to use the heart's secrets to create an army of immortal super-soldiers, shipped the heart to Japan in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Allied forces. The heart was taken to a Hiroshima laboratory for study but was lost and seemingly destroyed when the United States dropped the atomic bomb Little Boy on the city. Fifteen years later, a wild boy was discovered wandering the streets of the city. Scientists eventually captured and studied him, discovering that he was regenerated from the lost heart of Frankenstein's Monster.
History[edit | edit source]
Towards the end of World War II, Nazi soldiers confiscated the living heart of Frankenstein's Monster from the scientist studying it, Dr. Riesendorf. They transported the heart to Hiroshima in the hopes that Japanese scientists could use it to create an army of immortal super-soldiers. Before they could make any breakthroughs, however, an American bomber destroyed the city with an atomic bomb.
Fifteen years later, the story of a boy eating animals and wandering the streets of the now-rebuilt city reached Dr. Sueko Togami, assistant to radiologist Dr. James Bowen. Soon after, they saw the boy fall victim to a hit-and-run, though he seemed unharmed, and Togami threw him a loaf of bread. After the police cornered him in a seaside cave, she was able to convince him to travel to their laboratory for study. Bowen was amazed to find that the boy had been exposed to radiation as an infant, yet exhibited no symptoms of radiation poisoning. With the help of the press, Dr. Bowen put out a plea for any information on the boy's parentage. Through the testimony of a sailor on the submarine that brought the heart to Japan, as well as that of Dr. Riesendorf, they learned of his possible connection to the Frankenstein Monster's heart. Riesendorf added that if the boy regrew a severed arm or leg, it would prove that he was indeed Frankenstein.
In the meantime, the boy had grown far larger than a normal human, forcing Bowen's team to house him in a cage. Bowen's other assistant, Dr. Kenichiro Kawaji, secretly attempted to remove the giant's hand to discover the truth, but he was interrupted by a TV crew who wanted to film Frankenstein. The crew purposely agitated Frankenstein for the sake of better footage, and ended up making him a killer as he broke out of the cage. After causing panic in the streets of Hiroshima, he visited Sueko one last time before fleeing the city.
In the aftermath of the attack, two reporters found a severed hand crawling in the cage, proving that the giant was indeed Frankenstein. The scientists attempted to keep it alive by bathing it in a protein solution, but it soon escaped and trapped itself under a grate, starving to death. Meanwhile, reports of destroyed farms and slain livestock throughout Japan convinced the police and military that Frankenstein must be destroyed. Still, no one actually reported a Frankenstein sighting until he briefly menaced a pleasure cruise ship in Byoko. Tanks pursued him across the countryside, but he escaped after one fell into a pitfall trap he had dug for a wild boar. When the military came upon a destroyed, desolate village, they assumed Frankenstein was responsible. In reality, it was the work of a subterranean reptilian monster called Baragon.
After Baragon attacked another village, two boys found Frankenstein hiding in an abandoned ammunition dump nearby. Army infantry opened fire on him, but Frankenstein was only frightened by their bullets and fled once more. Though Bowen's team was running low on funds, they continued dropping food parcels for him to retrieve. While they searched for him on foot, Kawaji revealed his plan to kill Frankenstein with explosives, as he was no longer confident that Sueko could tame the giant. Unfortunately, the first explosive he tested lured Baragon to the surface. Before the monster could devour Sueko, Frankenstein arrived to challenge him. Baragon retreated after a brief scuffle, allowing Frankenstein to rescue Kawaji and return him to his fellow scientists. As Baragon closed in on another village, Frankenstein again intervened, using hit-and-run tactics to lure the monster to his cave. There, he retrieved a pair of torches to continue the fight, accidentally starting a forest fire when he threw one. Ultimately, he was able to kill Baragon by snapping his neck. As he howled in triumph, a fissure opened up beneath his feet, swallowing up both monsters.
It was later discovered that some of the immortal cells left behind in Japan by Frankenstein regenerated and took on lives of their own. One of these Frankenstein spawns, Sanda, was raised from childhood by a team of kind scientists before escaping into the mountains. The other, Gaira, grew up underwater in the sea surrounded by dangerous creatures, and became a violent and hateful beast.
Frankenstein is an attendant of the Yokai Yummit, an international gathering of yokai.
Abilities[edit | edit source]
Strength[edit | edit source]
At his full size, Frankenstein was able to uproot trees, hurl massive boulders, and hold his own against Baragon in hand-to-hand combat.
Durability[edit | edit source]
Frankenstein was unaffected by machine gun fire or Baragon's flame breath, and shrugged off the monster's physical blows.
Regeneration[edit | edit source]
Frankenstein's healing capabilities were virtually limitless as long as he had a source of protein. Aside from the radiation resistance he developed in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, he was able to regrow his severed hand after a short period of time, and even regrew his entire body from just a heart after several years. In the manga adaptation of Frankenstein vs. Baragon by Asakazu Arikawa, this ability is even more dramatic: he instantly grows back his arms after ripping them off to escape his cage.
Intelligence[edit | edit source]
Frankenstein possesses caveman-like intelligence. The monster makes his own clothing, builds traps to hunt for food, and uses fire for both warmth and offense. He is harmless to humans unless cornered and disoriented, and even then the deaths he caused were accidental. He defended the scientists who cared for him against Baragon, even allowing the kaiju to escape in order to save Kawaji. In his second bout with Baragon, he lured him far away from the village he was menacing.
Selected filmography[edit | edit source]
- Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965)
- The War of the Gargantuas (1966) [mentioned]
- The Great Yokai War: Guardians (2021)
Comics[edit | edit source]
- Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965) - Adventure King (Akita Shoten)
- Film Story: Frankenstein vs. the Subterranean Monster (1965) - Bessatsu Shonen Magazine (Kodansha)
- The Great Yokai War: Guardians (2020-2021) - Monthly Shonen Ace (Kadokawa)
Gallery[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Frankenstein/Gallery.
Roar[edit | edit source]
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- In the alternate ending for Frankenstein vs. Baragon, after Frankenstein defeats Baragon, a Giant Octopus comes from the sea and fights Frankenstein. Frankenstein battles fiercely, but cannot compete with the Giant Octopus' numerous and powerful tentacles. The Giant Octopus drags Frankenstein into the water, with the characters offering the same closing dialogue as in the official ending. This ending was shot for the American version of the film, though AIP opted to use the original Japanese ending instead. Toho accidentally aired the film on television in Japan with this alternate ending attached, and DVD releases have since included it as a bonus feature.
- The American dub of The War of the Gargantuas by Glen Glenn Sound removed all references to Frankenstein, likely because Frankenstein Conquers the World had been released in the U.S. four years ago by a different company. In the film's international dub, recorded in Hong Kong, Frankenstein's name remains in the script.
- In Frankenstein vs. Baragon, Victor Frankenstein is referred to as "a German scientist." According to Mary Shelley's original novel, Victor Frankenstein was born in Naples, Italy, and was raised in Geneva.
- Frankenstein's name appears in the German titles of other kaiju films such as Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, The War of the Gargantuas, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Gamera vs. Gyaos, The X from Outer Space, Gappa, King Kong Escapes, Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, Gamera vs. Jiger, Godzilla vs. Hedorah, and Godzilla vs. Gigan. Contrary to popular belief, the German dubs do not alter the plots of these films to credit Dr. Frankenstein with creating the monsters, while the Japanese version of The War of the Gargantuas already established a connection between the Gargantuas and Frankenstein. However, there were a few unexplained, offhand references to Dr. Frankenstein throughout them, such as Goro Maki calling the Kamacuras "Frankenstein's monsters" in Son of Godzilla.
Video[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- While Frankenstein's weight is widely considered to be 200 metric tons by most sources, the 1993 and 2005 publications Encyclopedia of Godzilla (Mechagodzilla Edition) (page 103) and Godzilla Toho Giant Monster Pictorial Book (page 98) instead claim that Frankenstein weighs 1,000 and 11,000 metric tons, respectively.
References[edit | edit source]
This is a list of references for Frankenstein. 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: 
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