Godzilla (1954)

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Godzilla incarnations
Godzilla (1954)
Godzilla (Showa)
Godzilla® (1954) copyright icon
Godzilla® (1954)
Godzilla in Godzilla (1954)
Alternate names Gojira, King of the Monsters, Goji, ShodaiGoji, Shodai Godzilla,
First Generation Godzilla, Original Godzilla, Godzilla 1954, Godzilla-1st.GG
Subtitle(s) Giant Hydrogen Bomb Monster
(水爆大怪獣,   Suibaku Daikaijū)[1]
King of the Monsters (怪獣王,   Kaijū-Ō)
Species Irradiated prehistoric amphibious reptile
Height 50 meters[1][2]
Weight 20,000 metric tons[1][2]
Forms KiryuGXMG-GMMG
Place(s) of emergence Undersea cavern off Odo Island[3][note 1]
Controlled by JSDFGXMG-GMMG
Relations Deceased family[4]
Enemies Humans, Second GodzillaGXMG-GMMG
Conceived by Tomoyuki Tanaka, Eiji Tsuburaya
Written by Tomoyuki Tanaka, Shigeru Kayama,
Takeo Murata, Ishiro Honda
Designed by Wakuse Abe, Teizo Toshimitsu,
Akira Watanabe, Shinichi WakasaGXMG
Modeled by Teizo Toshimitsu, Eizo Kaimai,
Kanju Yagi, Yasuei Yagi,
Shinichi WakasaGXMG, Noriyoshi HondaGXMG
Played by Haruo Nakajima, Katsumi Tezuka,
Tsutomu KitagawaGXMG
First appearance Latest appearance
Godzilla (1954) Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
Design(s) ShodaiGoji
This creature, according to the folklore of Odo Island, is called Godzilla.

Kyohei Yamane (Godzilla)

The First Generation Godzilla (初代ゴジラ,   Shodai Gojira) is a kaiju that first appeared in the 1954 film, Godzilla.

The original Godzilla is a prehistoric amphibious sea creature that was disturbed and burned when an American hydrogen bomb test conducted in the Pacific Ocean destroyed his habitat and drew him to the surface. Godzilla took out his rage upon humanity, destroying any ships in his vicinity and eventually laying waste to Odo Island and the city of Tokyo. Daisuke Serizawa eventually used his invention, the Oxygen Destroyer, to kill Godzilla, while taking his own life to ensure the weapon could never be used again. Typically, in the various continuities of the Godzilla franchise, a second Godzilla appears sometime after this Godzilla's death. Despite only being the focus of one film, the 1954 Godzilla has been referenced to some degree in several entries in the series since. In the film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, the remains of this Godzilla were salvaged by the Japanese government and converted into a bio-robot dubbed Kiryu in order to battle against a second Godzilla. The original Godzilla's spirit remained attached to the machine, and at some points even took control of Kiryu and rebelled against its human masters.

Name[edit | edit source]

The name "Godzilla" is a transliteration of Gojira (ゴジラ), a combination of two Japanese words: gorira (ゴリラ), meaning gorilla, and kujira (鯨 or クジラ), meaning whale. At one planning stage, the concept of "Gojira" was described as "a cross between a gorilla and a whale." The two words "whale" and "gorilla" describe Godzilla's traditional characteristics. The word whale represents his aquatic lifestyle and his bulky size. The word gorilla represents his sheer strength and the strategic thinking he uses when fighting against other monsters.

Since Godzilla is neither a gorilla nor a whale, the name had to be devised in a different way for the original film's story. Godzilla's name was originally spelled in kanji as 呉爾羅 by the Odo Island natives. However, Toho chose these characters for sound only. In Shigeru Kayama's initial story draft for the film, Godzilla's name was instead spelled as Godzira (ゴヂラ).

Contrary to popular belief, the English name "Godzilla" was not the idea of the American distributors. Before Toho sold the film to US distributors, the company's international division had originally marketed an English-subtitled print under the title of Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, which was shown briefly in Japanese-American theaters. Toho devised "Godzilla" as an English transliteration of the name Gojira, which was later validated according to the Americans' Japanese-to-English translation standards of the 1950's.

Design[edit | edit source]

Main article: ShodaiGoji#Design.

Personality[edit | edit source]

The 1954 Godzilla is a creature whose underwater habitat was completely destroyed by a hydrogen bomb test which also killed his family and burned and scarred him. Enraged and driven from his home, Godzilla took out his anger upon humanity, destroying any boats that he encountered and later laying waste to the city of Tokyo.[4]

Origins[edit | edit source]

In the original Godzilla, it is proposed that Godzilla was a type of prehistoric intermediary reptile related to both land and sea reptiles that slept deep underwater for millions of years feeding on deep sea organisms before being disturbed and enhanced by an American hydrogen bomb test. Dr. Yamane proposes that the original Godzilla might have been living among others of his kind prior to the detonation, but the H-bomb completely destroyed his home and drew him out. This idea is supported by official artwork of the 1954 Godzilla living with other Godzillas underwater before a huge explosion destroys his habitat, killing his companions and burning and enraging Godzilla and drawing him to the surface.[4] After the original Godzilla is killed, Yamane proposes that other Godzillas may have survived to the present day and could be awakened by future nuclear tests. This explains how in the various continuities that encompass the series, multiple individual Godzillas have appeared.

History[edit | edit source]

Showa era[edit | edit source]

Godzilla (1954)[edit | edit source]

Following an American hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific Ocean, a giant prehistoric reptile was disturbed from its underwater slumber and heavily irradiated. The monster began attacking various ships in the waters off Japan, prompting a search party to be sent to Odo Island, where some of the survivors had washed ashore. The islanders believed the shipwrecks were caused by Godzilla, a giant sea monster from their folklore which they believed would come ashore to feed on humanity. One night, a typhoon struck the island, leaving it devastated. However, it was apparent most of the damage was caused by something other than a typhoon, as houses in the village appeared to have been crushed from above. A research team headed by Kyohei Yamane was sent to the island, and discovered a giant radioactive footprint on the island, with a Trilobite embedded in it. Suddenly, the monster that was responsible for the shipwrecks and the damage on the island appeared over a hill on the island. The people fled upon realizing the enormous presence of the 50-meter creature. Back in Japan, Yamane named the creature "Godzilla" after the monster from Odo Island folklore, and proposed it was a transitional organism from the Jurassic Period, related to both land-living and sea-dwelling reptiles. Yamane believed that Godzilla was exposed to a recent American H-bomb test, hence the radiation found in his footprint, and stressed the monster should be studied to see how he survived to this point. The JSDF sent battleships to destroy Godzilla with depth charges, declaring him dead. However, Godzilla soon surfaced in Tokyo Bay completely unharmed, plunging Japan and the international community into a state of emergency. One night, Godzilla came ashore in Tokyo, destroying the outskirts of the city before returning to the bay. In response, the JSDF erected a barrier of power lines around the heart of Tokyo, with 50,000 volts of electricity passing through them, in the hopes they would halt Godzilla. When Godzilla came ashore again another night, he tore through the power lines and melted them with a beam of radioactive heat fired from his mouth. The JSDF fired on Godzilla with artillery and tanks, but their weapons had no effect. Godzilla proceeded into downtown Tokyo, transforming the Japanese capital into a sea of flame overnight. With his rampage concluded, Godzilla returned to the bay, where he was attacked by F-86F Sabre fighter jets before finally disappearing beneath the waves.

In the aftermath of Godzilla's raid, Tokyo was an uninhabitable wasteland, burned to a crater and contaminated with deadly radiation. The Japanese government was at a loss in combating the monster and preventing future attacks. Scientist Daisuke Serizawa was approached by his former fiance Emiko Yamane and her boyfriend Hideto Ogata, who asked for him to use his experimental chemical weapon, the Oxygen Destroyer, against Godzilla. Serizawa was horrified by the idea of revealing his invention to the world and refused at first, but was convinced after watching a television program showing Japanese schoolchildren singing a song praying for peace. Serizawa burned his notes on the Oxygen Destroyer and handed it over to the JSDF A boat was sent to Tokyo Bay, using a Geiger counter to locate Godzilla underwater. Serizawa and Ogata donned diving suits to go underwater and detonate the device. Once they reached Godzilla, who was sitting on the ocean floor, Ogata was pulled to the surface while Serizawa severed his line and activated the device, sacrificing his own life to stop Godzilla and prevent his weapon from ever falling into the wrong hands. After a few moments, Godzilla rose to the surface and roared defiantly at the boat before sinking under the waves to his death. While the people on the boat both celebrated Godzilla's demise and mourned Serizawa's sacrifice, Dr. Yamane solemnly warned that it was unlikely Godzilla was the last member of his species, and that if mankind continued nuclear testing, another Godzilla would almost certainly appear.

Heisei era[edit | edit source]

The Return of Godzilla[edit | edit source]

When interviewing Hiroshi Okumura about the giant monster that supposedly attacked the fishing boat he was on, Doctor Hayashida showed him photographs taken of the original Godzilla's attack in 1954. After viewing the photographs, Okumura confirmed that the creature he saw was Godzilla.

Millennium era[edit | edit source]

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus[edit | edit source]

Disclaimer: While the Godzilla featured in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is stated to be the same Godzilla that attacked in 1954, it is treated as a separate incarnation of the character.
Main article: Godzilla/Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.

In 1954, Godzilla was awakened by nuclear testing, and immediately vented his rage against Tokyo, annihilating the entire city in one night. After leaving Tokyo in ruins, Godzilla slipped into Tokyo Bay and vanished. The damage was so great that the Japanese government was forced to move its capital to Osaka. Over the next decade, Japan began rebuilding and recovering from Godzilla's attack, embracing nuclear power in the process. However, in 1966, Godzilla returned to feed on the nuclear plant in Tokai, leading Japan to realize that the monster was attracted to nuclear power. Japan's nuclear program was shelved, but the nation struggled to find alternate energy sources over the next several decades. A breakthrough was made in the 1990's in the form of plasma energy, a renewable, efficient and non-nuclear energy source that had the potential to power Japan well into the future. However, Godzilla would choose to feed on this plasma energy in the absence of nuclear energy, and attacked a plasma reactor in Osaka in 1996.

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack[edit | edit source]

Main article: Godzilla/GMK.

In 1954, Japan suffered an attack from Godzilla. The monster laid waste to Tokyo, transforming the once-proud capital of Japan into ground zero of a nuclear disaster overnight. Godzilla was finally killed with an experimental chemical weapon, while the weapon's inventor took his own life to ensure it could never be used again. In order to avoid facing ridicule for failing to stop Godzilla and ensure the citizens of Japan they were safe from future attacks, the JSDF claimed credit for killing Godzilla. Over the next several decades, humanity gradually began to forget about Godzilla, with many assuming the creature never existed and was simply a legend. However, a second Godzilla emerged to seek horrible vengeance against Japan in 2002.

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla[edit | edit source]

Main article: Kiryu.

In 1954, Godzilla appeared and laid waste to Tokyo before being killed by Daisuke Serizawa's Oxygen Destroyer. In the decades that followed, Japan was frequently attacked by giant monsters, including Mothra and Gaira. The Anti-Megalosaurus Force (AMF) was formed to combat these creatures, armed with advanced space-age weapons known as Maser Cannons. In 1999, a second Godzilla suddenly came ashore at Tateyama during a typhoon. The AMF was deployed, with their new Type 90 Maser Cannons, to stop Godzilla's rampage. To the AMF's shock, Maser Cannons had no effect on Godzilla, and only served to further enrage him. Godzilla destroyed most of the Maser Cannons attacking him and roared victoriously into the air, with lightning striking his dorsal fins. In the aftermath of the attack, the Japanese government was scrambling to find a new way to fight Godzilla. When the first Godzilla's intact skeleton was discovered off Boso Peninsula, it was decided to use it to construct a mechanical Godzilla to fight the new one. By 2003, the anti-Godzilla weapon built around the first Godzilla's skeleton, codenamed Kiryu, was completed. However, the original Godzilla's restless spirit remained attached to the skeleton, and during Kiryu's first battle against the new Godzilla, it was reawakened upon hearing his roar. Kiryu then went berserk, believing itself to be Godzilla once again, and destroyed much of the surrounding area before powering down. Kiryu was repaired and reprogrammed afterward to prevent it from going berserk again, and was launched into battle against Godzilla once more. This time, Kiryu and Godzilla fought to a draw, with an injured Godzilla wading out to sea and Kiryu being left badly damaged.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.[edit | edit source]

Kiryu, built around the bones of the original Godzilla, in
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

Just one year after Godzilla and Kiryu's epic battle, Mothra's Shobijin appeared to Shinichi Chujo and warned him that the first Godzilla's bones must be returned to their resting place in the sea, and that it was blasphemous to use them as a weapon. The Shobijin stated that Mothra would have to declare war on humanity if the bones were not returned, and that she did not want to do that. Chujo spoke to the Japanese Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi, who stated that too many resources had been sunk into the Kiryu project for it to be scrapped now. He expressed his hope that Kiryu would one day kill the current Godzilla, after which the project could finally be scrapped. Meanwhile, Kiryu's former operator Akane Yashiro told one of the mecha's mechanics that she could sense that Kiryu no longer wanted to fight Godzilla. When Godzilla and Mothra both appeared in Tokyo, Kiryu was launched into battle once again. After Godzilla was subdued by the combined efforts of Kiryu and Mothra's larvae, Kiryu was ordered to finish Godzilla once and for all. However, the original Godzilla's spirit was awakened yet again and took control of Kiryu. Rather than kill Godzilla, Kiryu simply restrained him and flew out to sea, sinking itself along with Godzilla in the Japanese trench. As Kiryu sank into the trench, the first Godzilla's spirit was finally put at rest and Kiryu deactivated.

Abilities[edit | edit source]

Incandescent light[edit | edit source]

Godzilla sets Tokyo ablaze with his incandescent light

Godzilla can exhale a powerful radioactive incandescent light (白熱光,   hakunekkō, lit. white-hot light), or atomic breath (放射熱線,   hōsha nessen, lit. radioactive heat ray),[5] which takes the form of a white vapor that is hot enough to melt metal and also causes raging fires that can spread across entire city blocks.

Durability[edit | edit source]

The original Godzilla displayed an immunity to conventional weaponry, being virtually impervious to everything the JSDF threw at him. Dr. Yamane states that the very fact Godzilla survived exposure to a hydrogen bomb explosion is a testament to his durability.

Amphibiousness[edit | edit source]

Godzilla walks on the bottom of Tokyo Bay

Though technically a reptile and not an amphibian, Godzilla has an amphibious lifestyle. He spends half of his life in water and the other on land. Godzilla is capable of remaining completely submerged underwater for long periods of time, and it is suggested by Kyohei Yamane that he survived for millions of years living inside a deep underwater cavern. Godzilla's atomic breath is not impeded while underwater, shown when he obliterates boats with it while completely submerged underwater. While underwater, Godzilla can swim or simply march across the sea floor.

Physical abilities[edit | edit source]

Godzilla employed his tail, his fangs, and his sheer brute force while tearing through Tokyo.

Weaknesses[edit | edit source]

Oxygen Destroyer[edit | edit source]

Godzilla is killed and his remains are disintegrated by the Oxygen Destroyer

The 1954 Godzilla was eventually killed by the Oxygen Destroyer, a weapon that contained a chemical compound designed to remove all oxygen from water when put into contact with it, causing living creatures to die of asphyxiation as their remains are liquefied by the now-highly corrosive surrounding water. The Oxygen Destroyer was the first, and in many ways the only, weapon to defeat Godzilla, completely disintegrating him in the original film. In Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, the original film's ending is altered so that Godzilla's skeleton remained intact, with the monster's spirit still attached to it.

Filmography[edit | edit source]

Video games[edit | edit source]

Godzilla: Unleashed[edit | edit source]

Godzilla 1954 bio[edit | edit source]

"The original king of the monsters, this towering behemoth was the first post-war radioactive monster unleashed upon the world. Godzilla '54's atomic-powered body was so powerful that each footprint he left was a crater seeping with lethal radiation. The infamous day that Godzilla rose from the sea to conquer Tokyo will be remembered as the beginning of the humanity's epic struggle against the reign of giant monsters."

In the Wii version of Godzilla: Unleashed, all three Godzilla incarnations are playable, each with a few differences between them, but all are fairly alike. Godzilla is simple to control, and with many different fearsome attacks, he is able to easily floor multiple monsters at once. Although his combat ability might be lacking in some regards, he still retains the deadly atomic breath ray which is an easy attack to execute and deals a lot of damage.

In the Wii version of the game, Godzilla 2000 is the only incarnation that can be played in Story mode. Godzilla 1954 and Godzilla 1990's are only playable in Brawl mode, although Godzilla 1990's is playable in Story mode in the PlayStation 2 version of the game.

Godzilla (PlayStation 3 / PlayStation 4)[edit | edit source]

Kaiju Guide[edit | edit source]

Main article: Godzilla (2014 video game)/Kaiju_Guide#Godzilla (Showa Series).

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Main article: ShodaiGoji.

Sightings[edit | edit source]

Main article: Godzilla in popular culture.

Roar[edit | edit source]

Godzilla's roar is a famous sound effect. Over the years, it has changed considerably, sounding different almost every time and having many variations for the different emotions.

The sound effects team originally tried to create Godzilla's roar by using animal roars that had been edited. They sampled all kinds of birds and mammals, but nothing seemed to be the right match for the reptile-like noises a monster like Godzilla would make. Akira Ifukube, who was the film's composer, proposed stepping away from using animal samples. He took a string off of his contrabass and rubbed it with gloves soaked in pine tar. The sound that came from it was used as Godzilla's roar. This roar would later be altered for use as the roar of other monsters in the Showa era, including Varan, Baragon and Gorosaurus.

Godzilla's roar can be written in readable characters and has been done so in comics, and not only by a simple "roar." In Japanese, the official onomatopoeia for Godzilla's roar is "Gyaoon" (ギャオーン,   Gyaōn)--additional "o"s can be added to extend the roar.

Godzilla's roars in the 1954 film

Videos[edit | edit source]

Wikizilla: YouTube Kaiju Profile: Godzilla 1954

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Undersea cavern in the coastal waters of Odo Island / 大戸島近海の海底洞窟

References[edit | edit source]

This is a list of references for Godzilla/1954. 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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Godzilla 1954-1999 Super Complete Works. Shogakukan. 1 January 2000. p. 69. ISBN 978-4091014702. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.D. Lees, Marc Cerasini (24 March 1998). The Official Godzilla Compendium. Random House. p. 124. ISBN 0279888225 Check |isbn= value: checksum (help).
  3. Toho Special Effects All Monster Encyclopedia. Shogakukan. 23 July 2014. p. 8. ISBN 4-096-82090-3.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Definitive Edition Godzilla Introduction (14th Edition). Shogakukan. 20 November 1996. p. 54. ISBN 4-09-220142-7.
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  5. 5.0 5.1 Toho Special Effects Movie Complete Works. villagebooks. 28 September 2012. p. 6. ISBN 9784864910132.
  6. Definitive Edition Godzilla Introduction (14th Edition). Shogakukan. 20 November 1996. p. 18, 117. ISBN 4-09-220142-7.


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