Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
Startup - Resonance - Smashed Ice (起動・共鳴・氷砕)
— Japanese tagline
Fight 'til crumbled!
— International tagline
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (ゴジラ
Yet another reboot to the Godzilla continuity, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla reintroduces Godzilla's popular foe Mechagodzilla for the Millennium series. When a second Godzilla attacks Japan in 1999, the Japanese government dredges up the bones of the first Godzilla from 1954 and uses them to construct an anti-Godzilla weapon codenamed Kiryu. Kiryu is completed in 2003, when Godzilla returns to menace Yokohama. Kiryu is sent to combat Godzilla, but the monster's roar awakens the first Godzilla's soul within the cyborg, causing Kiryu to go berserk. Kiryu's lead scientist Tokumitsu Yuhara races to rectify this error in the cyborg before Godzilla makes landfall again. But even if Kiryu is fixed, the question remains if the government would willingly launch it again.
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was followed by a direct sequel, Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, in 2003.
In 1999, a typhoon strikes Tateyama in Chiba Prefecture. Residents are shocked to see that it is no ordinary storm when a second Godzilla appears from the raging sea and comes ashore. The Anti-Megalosaurus Force (AMF) scrambles tanks and Type 90 Maser Cannons to intercept the beast. Godzilla is unharmed by the AMF's assault and annihilates the attacking forces with his atomic breath. Maser operator Akane Yashiro attempts to evade Godzilla's advance but accidentally backs into another vehicle, sending her commanding officer and its other occupants straight into Godzilla's path. Akane watches in horror as Godzilla steps on the vehicle, killing its occupants, before striking her Maser vehicle with his tail. She watches helplessly as Godzilla roars into the sky, lightning striking his dorsal fins. In the aftermath of the disaster, Japan's Prime Minister Machiko Tsuge meets with Minister of Science and Technology Hayato Igarashi to discuss countermeasures. They recall how the country was helpless in the wake of the first Godzilla's attack on Tokyo in 1954 before Dr. Daisuke Serizawa used his invention, the Oxygen Destroyer, to kill the monster along with himself to ensure that it could never be used again. Godzilla would prove to be the first of many monsters to raid Japan in the ensuing years, with Mothra attacking Tokyo seven years later in 1961. The JSDF used experimental Atomic Heat Ray Guns loaned by the Rolisican military to combat her, and by 1966 adapted this technology into the Type 66 Maser Cannon which it used in its battle with Gaira. With the appearance of a new Godzilla, and the more advanced Type 90 Maser Cannon ineffective against him, Tsuge and Igarashi both realize the necessity of developing a new weapon to defend the people of Japan.
Igarashi gathers the most brilliant scientific minds in Japan to help develop a new anti-Godzilla weapon. Among them is Professor Tokumitsu Yuhara, who has successfully recreated the extinct Trilobite using a combination of robotics and living components controlled by DNA computers. Igarashi shows them the skeletal remains of the first Godzilla, which were discovered off the Boso Peninsula. He asks Yuhara if he can extract a spinal cell from the skeleton, with Yuhara wondering if Igarashi intends to create a Godzilla clone. Igarashi explains that they are going to develop a bio-robot, a mechanical Godzilla created using the skeleton and DNA of the first Godzilla. Yuhara initially refuses to join the project out of a desire to spend more time with his daughter Sara, but changes his mind when the government allows her to stay with him at the development facility. Following an investigation into the accident that claimed the lives of her comrades, the AMF demotes Akane to a desk job. During this time, Akane continues to train rigorously, intent on working her way back into active duty.
By 2003, development on the AMF's anti-Godzilla cyborg, designated Kiryu, is complete. Lieutenant Togashi is assigned to lead the Kiryu Squad operating the machine, and he selects Akane to serve as its primary pilot. Kiryu is operated remotely from an accompanying fleet of AC-3 White Herons which transport him and can supply him with more energy using a large microwave dish. One member of the Kiryu Squad, Lieutenant Susumu Hayama, is distrustful and hostile toward Akane, blaming her for his brother's death in 1999. Dr. Yuhara is attracted to Akane and clumsily attempts to hit on her, but notices how distant she seems from her comrades. Akane begins to form a friendship with Sara, sharing her feelings of loneliness and isolation. Yuhara says he will buy Akane dinner if Kiryu beats Godzilla, but also says he will buy her dinner if Kiryu loses as consolation. The AMF soon formally reveals Kiryu to the world at large, demonstrating his capabilities and weapons. His most powerful weapon, the Absolute Zero Cannon, emits light at a temperature of 0 kelvin, instantly freezing and smashing the atoms of its target. During the presentation, the AMF detects Godzilla approaching Tokyo Bay. Kiryu is scrambled and intercepts Godzilla near Yokohama, bombarding him with volleys of rockets and missiles and the Maser beam fired from his mouth. As Godzilla is pushed back by Kiryu's onslaught, he lets out a roar that awakens the first Godzilla's consciousness which is still attached to the skeletal remains within Kiryu. Akane attempts to activate the Absolute Zero Cannon, but finds that she can no longer control Kiryu. Godzilla uses the opportunity to escape back into Tokyo Bay. As the White Herons close in to transport Kiryu, he opens fire at Hayama's aircraft with his wrist-mounted railgun. Kiryu begins destroying the surrounding area with his weapons, acting as if he was Godzilla. Hayama tries to draw Kiryu away from the city, but he shoots down his White Heron. Akane rushes into the downed White Heron and rescues Hayama before it explodes, prompting him to ask why she bothered to save him. The AMF's operators are unable to remotely shut down Kiryu, making their only option to wait until he runs out of energy in about an hour. After walking through a building, Kiryu finally shuts down as his energy reserves are completely depleted.
In the aftermath, Igarashi accepts public responsibility for Kiryu running wild and says he rushed the project. The AMF rushes to find the cause of Kiryu going berserk, with Yuhara eventually realizing that Godzilla's roar activated the original Godzilla's consciousness and allowed it to possess the machine. He implements preventative countermeasures to prevent it from happening again, but Igarashi is hesitant to allow Kiryu to be launched again. Sara feels pity for Kiryu, believing he is a living being with his own dignity who is being forced to fight Godzilla against his will. She tells her father and Akane that humans were responsible for awakening the first Godzilla in 1954 with the H-bomb, and their tampering with his remains have drawn the wrath of the current Godzilla. Akane feels sorry for Kiryu as well, saying his life is worthless like hers. This attitude upsets Sara and she storms off. Yuhara explains to Akane that when Sara was four, her mother became ill while pregnant with his child. The doctor said he could only save her or their child, with Yuhara asking to save his wife. His wife wanted the baby saved instead, and Sara wanted them both to live. Ultimately, both passed away, and ever since Sara has been sensitive about life and death. Akane finds Sara sitting on the roof and tries to talk to her, and again mentions how worthless she feels. Sara says that no life is worthless, even Akane's. Hayama later confronts Akane, angry that she saved his life. However, Akane's squadmates come to her defense, and she begins to realize that she isn't as isolated and alone as she previously thought.
Godzilla is detected by a submarine's sonar, and begins approaching Tokyo. Conventional forces and Maser Cannons are deployed to intercept him, but just as before their weapons are useless against him. With evacuations in Shinagawa still underway, Togashi goes to the Prime Minister's office to ask Igarashi to give the order to deploy Kiryu. Igarashi is still hesitant despite Togashi's insistence that Kiryu will not run wild again, but ultimately gives the order. As Akane and the rest of the Kiryu Squad prepare to go into battle, Sara holds her hand out to Akane in support. Kiryu is launched and flown over Tokyo, but with Godzilla closing in on evacuating civilians, Akane releases him from the White Heron's cables. Kiryu uses his boosters to fly toward the ground and ram into Godzilla before he can fire his atomic breath at the evacuees and the soldiers escorting them. Kiryu engages Godzilla once again, blasting him with his weapons from a distance before getting in close and fighting him hand-to-hand. Godzilla damages Kiryu's back unit and railguns, forcing him to jettison them. The battle rages on, with Kiryu finally gaining the upper hand and throwing Godzilla by the tail. Weakened by Kiryu's onslaught, Godzilla collapses to the ground. With Kiryu's energy reserves waning, the AMF order Akane to finish Godzilla with the Absolute Zero Cannon. Just as the weapon charges, Godzilla uses his atomic breath to knock Kiryu backward, causing the weapon to misfire and vaporize several buildings. Kiryu's control system is damaged by Godzilla's atomic breath, rendering him inoperable from the White Heron. Akane volunteers to board Kiryu and pilot him manually. The AMF uses its ground units to distract Akane long enough to enter the cockpit inside of Kiryu. The local power companies compile their power and allow the AMF to transmit it into Kiryu, rendering him operational once more.
Akane speaks to Kiryu, saying they understand each other, and uses the manual controls to make him stand back up. Godzilla blasts Kiryu in the back with his atomic breath, knocking him to the ground once again. Akane briefly loses consciousness, but is inspired by the support of her squadmates, Sara, and Yuhara, and quickly recovers. Seeing Godzilla about to fire his atomic breath again, Hayama forces his copilot to eject and flies his White Heron into the path of the blast. The blast destroys the White Heron's wing and it crashes into Godzilla's mouth. Hayama tells Akane to fire the Absolute Zero while Godzilla cannot fire his beam and to ignore him. Instead, Akane flies Kiryu into Godzilla while the Absolute Zero Cannon charges, tears the White Heron out of his mouth so that Hayama can safely eject, and carries Godzilla over Tokyo Bay. Kiryu and Godzilla crash into the bay, and Akane activates the Absolute Zero Cannon underwater. A huge blast of water erupts from the bay and promptly freezes solid before finally shattering. After a few moments, Godzilla rises from the water, with a bloody gaping wound in his chest. He weakly turns around and begins making his way out to sea as the damaged Kiryu rises from the water behind him. With Kiryu missing an arm, out of power, and his Absolute Zero Cannon destroyed, Akane reports that she is unable to pursue Godzilla. Yuhara reassures Akane that she did a great job, and Togashi tells her that a White Heron is coming to rescue her. Igarashi remarks that although Kiryu did not kill Godzilla, he managed to drive him away. Japan finally has a weapon more powerful than Godzilla, which he says represents a great victory. Akane stands atop Kiryu's shoulder and watches Godzilla disappear into the horizon.
Following the battle, Akane observes Kiryu as he undergoes repairs in an AMF hangar. Yuhara and Sara come to greet her, with Akane thanking Sara for teaching her the value of her own life. Yuhara says he will take Akane to dinner since Kiryu won, but she tells him that it was a draw. In that case, she says, she will treat him to dinner instead. Just before exiting the hangar, Akane turns and salutes Kiryu.
- Main article: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Masaaki Tezuka
- Written by Wataru Mimura
- Executive producer Shogo Tomiyama
- Co-executive producer Takahide Morichi
- Associate producer Ritsuko Suzuki
- Music by Michiru Oshima
- Cinematography by Masahiro Kishimoto
- Edited by Shinichi Fushima
- Production design by Yukiharu Seshimo
- 1st assistant director Atsushi Kaneshige
- Director of special effects Yuichi Kikuchi
- 1st assistant director of special effects Shorei Noma
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla/Gallery.
- Main article: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla/Soundtrack.
- Godzilla × Mechagodzilla (literal Japanese title)
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (alternate translation)
- GXMG (abbreviated title)
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (III) (Australia / New Zealand DVD title)
- The Return of Mechagodzilla (Powrót Mechagodzilli; Poland)
View all posters for the film here.
Columbia TriStar Home Video released Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla to DVD in the United States on March 24, 2004. TriStar used Toho's uncut international print of the film, including both the English dub and the original Japanese audio. Its U.S. theatrical premiere took place on June 24 the same year at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, as part of a series commemorating Godzilla's 50th birthday.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brought Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla to Blu-ray in 2014, paired with Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. The film played in select U.S. theaters for one day only on November 3, 2022, in celebration of Godzilla's birthday, through Fathom Events. It was shown in Japanese with English subtitles and prefaced by the 2021 Godzilla vs. Hedorah short film, a behind-the-scenes featurette for that short, and a special message from Toho's Chief Godzilla Officer, Keiji Ota. While the movie did not receive a rating from the MPA for its previous home video releases, it was given a PG rating for this screening.
Budgeted at roughly $8,500,000, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla opened in Japan on December 13, 2002, and earned $2,253,231 in its opening weekend. It went on to gross approximately $16,000,000 in Japan, making it the second biggest of the Millennium Godzilla films at the box office. It sold approximately 1,700,000 admissions.
The U.S. Fathom Events screenings of the film on November 3, 2022 grossed $335,000, placing fifth among films that Thursday.
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is generally liked by Godzilla fans for introducing what some consider the best incarnation of Mechagodzilla.
Mike Pinsky of DVD Talk gave the film three stars out of five, saying: "While I did have some minor complaints, [this is] a fine entry in the series." Pinsky said "the plot is more interesting than most giant monster movies," and "the battle scenes, which are the main reason anyone watches these films to begin with, were great." Matt Paprocki of Blog Critics said the film is "pretty flawed, [but] those of us who still love seeing Japan get trampled are in for a treat." Stomp Tokyo praised the "great monster fight action" but criticized the "uncompelling non-monster scenes." Giving the film a "B+" score, Mark Zimmer of Digitally Obsessed said that it was "a good deal of fun and one of the better entries in the series." Digital Monster Island gave the film a "B" rating, calling it "a fun and exciting film that should please most kaiju fans."
Toho DVD (2003)
- Region: 2
- Audio: Japanese
Universal Laser & Video DVD (2003)
- Region: 3
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono), Cantonese (2.0 Surround and DTS)
- Special features: Japanese trailers for Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
- Notes: Includes traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles. Out of print.
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Special features: Trailers
Madman DVD (2004)
- Region: 4
Sony Blu-ray (2014)
- Region: A/1
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
- Special features: Teaser for Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack and trailer for Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
- Notes: Packaged with Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.
- The continuity of what has been dubbed the "Kiryu series" reaches beyond the continuity of the Godzilla series; Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla makes reference to the events of such classic Toho tokusatsu kaiju films as Mothra and The War of the Gargantuas, with the film's theater program even alluding to the events of Rodan and Varan. The sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, also makes reference to Space Amoeba, and even includes Kamoebas in the monster cast. The tie-in book Fantastic Collection - Godzilla: Tokyo SOS lays out a timeline of monster attacks which occurred in the Kiryu series' continuity. Included in the timeline are the monsters Rodan, Meganulon, Varan, Mothra, Maguma, Manda, Dogora, Frankenstein, Baragon, the Giant Octopus, Sanda, Gaira, King Kong, Gorosaurus, the Giant Sea Serpent, and the other two monsters from Space Amoeba, Gezora and Ganimes. Despite appearing alongside King Kong, Gorosaurus, and the Giant Sea Serpent in King Kong Escapes, Mechani-Kong is omitted from the timeline.
- Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui, whose nickname is "Godzilla," makes a cameo in this film. 2002 was Matsui's last year playing in Nippon Professional Baseball; he signed with the New York Yankees six days after Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was released.
- Hamtaro, Godzilla's theatrical partner at the time, is referenced in the film with one of Sara's classmates being dressed as Hamtaro's owner Laura Haruna and carrying a hamster resembling Hamtaro.
- Misato Tanaka, Toshiyuki Nagashima, and Shosuke Tanihara, all of whom starred in Masaaki Tezuka's previous Godzilla film Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, make cameo appearances in this film. Each of their characters, Tsujimori, Miyagawa, and Kudo respectively, share their names with the characters they played in the aforementioned film.
- Takehiro Murata, known for his roles in the Godzilla series such as Kenji Ando in Godzilla vs. Mothra and Yuji Shinoda in Godzilla 2000: Millennium, makes a cameo in this film as the convenience store clerk picking up cans in Tateyama who witnesses several Type 90 Maser Cannons drive past.
- Director Masaaki Tezuka cameos in the film's post-credits scene as an AMF officer. Several other staff members who worked on the film or other prior entries in the franchise, including concept artist Shinji Nishikawa, special effects director Kenji Suzuki, writer Wataru Mimura, and many others also make cameo appearances.
- Suit actors Tsutomu Kitagawa (Godzilla) and Hirofumi Ishigaki (Kiryu) both cameo as Maser Cannon crew members in the film, along with Kenji Suzuki.
- A partial replica of the ShodaiGoji suit was constructed for this film to portray the original Godzilla during flashback scenes. It was worn by Tsutomu Kitagawa.
- In the film's screenplay, the initial Prime Minister of Japan was a man, but was changed to a woman when Kumi Mizuno was cast for the role.
- According to the book Godzilla X Mechagodzilla 2003 (Toho SF Special Effects Film Series SPECIAL EDITION), Anguirus was originally planned to appear in this film and battle Kiryu, but was scrapped. Anguirus was also considered to appear as a carcass in the film's sequel, Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, before being replaced by Kamoebas.
- Akane Yashiro, Tokumitsu Yuhara, and his daughter Sara appear in the reference-filled end credits of Godzilla Singular Point.
- Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is one of three Godzilla films to reuse a shot from the 1975 Toho film Conflagration of an oil refinery explosion, along with Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla Final Wars. In this instance, Kiryu's missiles were added to the shot.
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