King Ghidorah (Millennium)
|King Ghidorah incarnations|
Thousand-Year-Old Dragon... King Ghidorah.
The Millennium King Ghidorah is unique among other King Ghidorah incarnations in that he is portrayed as a benevolent guardian monster that defends Japan against Godzilla. King Ghidorah was one of the three Guardian Monsters, and in ancient times was known as Yamata no Orochi. After being slain by ancient Japanese warriors, Ghidorah was laid to rest under the Aokigahara, where the warriors hoped he would remain until returning one day to save Japan. Ghidorah was awakened in 2002 by Hirotoshi Isayama to battle Godzilla, and aided fellow Guardian Monster Mothra against Godzilla in Yokohama. Mothra was killed in the fight, but imparted her energy into Ghidorah and allowed him to become King Ghidorah. King Ghidorah fought Godzilla in an intense battle, and though he ultimately perished, he managed to open a wound on Godzilla's neck that would prove critical in his eventual defeat at the hands of Admiral Tachibana.
The "Ghidorah" (ギドラ part of King Ghidorah's name comes from the Japanese word for "hydra" Gidora) (ヒドラ, which shares two of its three katakana characters with "Ghidorah." It also, coincidentally or not, sounds very similar to the Hidora)Russian pronunciation of "hydra" (Гидра, ˈɡʲidrə).
This incarnation of King Ghidorah is initially given the subtitle Holy Guardian Beast (護国聖獣. Among the three Gokoku Seijū)Guardian Monsters, King Ghidorah is known as the God of the Sky (空の神. Within the context of the film, King Ghidorah is initially known only as Ghidorah Sora no Kami) (魏怒羅, with his name spelled in kanji, rather than katakana, characters. After absorbing Gidora)Mothra's spirit, he finally becomes known as King Ghidorah (キングギドラ, and is given the subtitle Thousand-Year-Old Dragon Kingu Gidora) (千年竜王. Sennen Ryū Ō, lit. Thousand-Year Dragon King)
According to the character Mitsuaki Takeda, King Ghidorah was known in ancient times as Yamata no Orochi (八岐の大蛇, an eight-headed dragon featured in Yamata no Orochi, lit. Big Snake of Eight Branches)Japanese mythology.
When director Shusuke Kaneko finally decided on the desired concept for his Godzilla film, he wrote a story featuring Godzilla battling against three Guardian Monsters. He chose Varan, Baragon, and Anguirus as the three Guardian Monsters, as all three were depicted as much smaller and weaker than Godzilla. Kaneko's story, Godzilla X Varan, Baragon and Anguirus: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, was approved by producer Shogo Tomiyama and pitched to Toho. Toho chairman Isao Matsuoka requested that Kaneko work in the more popular Mothra and King Ghidorah to increase the film's marquee value, replacing Varan and Anguirus respectively.
To accommodate his new role as a heroic Guardian Monster, King Ghidorah had to be revamped and redesigned. While in the past the character had always been portrayed as being 50 meters taller than Godzilla, this version of King Ghidorah would have to be smaller than him to fit with Kaneko's vision of three smaller and weaker monsters taking on Godzilla. King Ghidorah was scaled to be 49 meters (rounded up to 50 meters in most sources) tall, compared to a 60 meter tall Godzilla. As such, the new King Ghidorah suit was the smallest suit ever made for the character. Fuyuki Shinada was responsible for modeling the suits and props of all four monsters in the film. King Ghidorah was given much larger wings in comparison to his body, with pronounced claws on their tips. His feet were modeled after those of birds, with three claws in front and a single claw on the heel. Shinada, disappointed that his all-time favorite monster Varan wouldn't be in the film, compensated by sculpting Varan's facial fins onto King Ghidorah's heads. The King Ghidorah suit was worn by Akira Ohashi, a veteran of Kaneko's kaiju films who had played Gamera in Gamera 2: Attack of Legion and Iris and Trauma Gamera in Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris. Two sets of necks were created for the suit and used depending on the scene. The longer necks were operated by wires, while a shorter set of necks was sometimes attached to the suit, allowing Ohashi to place his arms in the left and right necks and control them himself. A large, 1/10-scale model of King Ghidorah's head was used for scenes of him sleeping in ice in Aokigahara. A close-up photograph of this model was used for the image of King Ghidorah's scales in the film's opening credits.
Filming takes place for the underwater battle between Godzilla and King Ghidorah.
King Ghidorah was portrayed in some shots using computer-generated imagery: after being revived by Mothra's energy and subsequently taking flight, and flying toward Godzilla after the latter was launched into Tokyo Bay by an energy blast from Ghidorah. During a single brief computer-generated shot showing Godzilla and King Ghidorah being scanned via thermal imaging during their underwater fight, King Ghidorah's heads used their design from Rebirth of Mothra 3.
The 2001 King Ghidorah suit was refurbished several times for use in the CR Godzilla Pachinko games, where the monster was portrayed as an evil space monster rather than a benevolent guardian. In 2023, the King Ghidorah suit was again refurbished for use in the Marubeni commercial "Share the Challenge", given slightly longer necks and touches of black on the horns. In the commercial, Ghidorah interrupts a battle between two samurai factions and a zombie army, inspiring them to join against him, only for a giant meteor heading for the Earth to result in all four groups teaming up. It appeared later that year at the end of the short film Fest Godzilla 4: Operation Jet Jaguar, this time prompting the warring Godzilla and Jet Jaguar to team up.
The 2001 King Ghidorah suit, refurbished for use in CR Godzilla 3S-T Battle
This incarnation of King Ghidorah returns primarily to the appearance of the Showa King Ghidorah, with light gold skin, two curved horns and a crescent on each head, and two pronounced fangs in each of his mouths. Like the previous two King Ghidorah incarnations though, this version lacks the manes of hair on his heads. This King Ghidorah bears many unique physical characteristics of his own, notably his smaller stature. This King Ghidorah has wings that are somewhat larger in comparison to the rest of his body which he initially folds at his sides, and his necks are rarely fully outstretched. While past King Ghidorah incarnations have towered over Godzilla, this King Ghidorah stands ten meters shorter than the film's version of Godzilla. This King Ghidorah possesses more reptilian or bird-like feet, with a vestigial claw on his heel. This King Ghidorah's faces are made to look more benign and less threatening, to match this incarnation's heroic role. His faces also feature Varan-inspired facial fins on their cheeks. King Ghidorah's eyes are red with yellow, human-like pupils.
In ancient drawings, this King Ghidorah is shown with four legs, though in the film he possesses only two.
This King Ghidorah stands apart from other incarnations in that he is a protagonist for the first, and so far only time. While past King Ghidorah incarnations have destroyed everything in their path, either under mind control or out of their own free will, this King Ghidorah is a guardian monster that fights alongside Mothra to stop Godzilla from destroying Japan.
In ancient times, King Ghidorah was an eight-headed dragon known as the Yamata no Orochi. When King Ghidorah was slain by ancient Japanese warriors, he was laid to rest under the Aokigahara near Mount Fuji. The warriors began to pray for the beast's soul, in the hope that he and the other two Guardian Monsters would return to defend Japan someday. Empowered by the souls of Japan's honorable dead, King Ghidorah regenerated for thousands of years, but was awakened before he could grow back all eight of his heads, instead growing only three.
Thousands of years ago, King Ghidorah, an eight-headed dragon known as a Yamata no Orochi, was slain by ancient Japanese warriors and laid to rest in the Aokigahara forest around Mount Fuji, with the warriors praying for his soul so that he would rise again one day to defend Japan. In 2002, the still-regenerating Ghidorah, who had only grown back three of his eight heads, was discovered dormant underground by a suicidal man. Hirotoshi Isayama, a prophet attempting to revive Japan's ancient Guardian Monsters to stop Godzilla, traveled to Ghidorah's grave and channeled the souls of Japan's honorable dead to revive him. Ghidorah rose and traveled to Yokohama, where his fellow guardian Mothra was battling Godzilla. Ghidorah arrived and bit Godzilla, electrocuting him through his bite. Godzilla swatted Mothra aside with his tail and bit down on Ghidorah's necks before slamming him onto a building. Before Godzilla could finish Ghidorah with his atomic breath, Mothra flew in front of the beam and was blasted away. Godzilla turned his attention to the JSDF, attempting to wipe out their battleships with his atomic breath. Mothra tried to surprise Godzilla from behind, but was vaporized by his atomic breath.
Mothra's energy flowed into the unconscious Ghidorah, reviving him as the Thousand-Year-Old Dragon, King Ghidorah. King Ghidorah took flight and surrounded himself with an energy shield, which deflected Godzilla's atomic breath. King Ghidorah launched his energy shield at Godzilla, blasting him out of the harbor and into the ocean. King Ghidorah flew over the water and kicked Godzilla when he surfaced, only for Godzilla to drag him underwater. As the monsters battled beneath the waves, Commander Yutaka Hirose fired a D-03 Missile aimed at a wound on Godzilla's neck. However, Godzilla saw the missile coming towards him and pulled King Ghidorah in the path of the missile, knocking the dragon unconscious on the sea floor. Godzilla then surfaced, destroying the Yokohama Bay Bridge and sending Yuri Tachibana and Mitsuaki Takeda falling into the water. Yuri dropped a sacred stone into the water, which revitalized King Ghidorah and allowed him to fly out of the water. King Ghidorah blasted Godzilla with his golden gravity beams, but Godzilla managed to absorb them into his dorsal fins. Godzilla fired a powerful blast of atomic breath wrapped in a golden spiral, which obliterated King Ghidorah in a single hit. King Ghidorah's spirit, along with the spirits of Mothra and Baragon, flowed into Godzilla and caused him to sink. Godzilla swallowed the submarine Taizo Tachibana was piloting, the Satsuma, whole, which then fired a D-03 Missile from inside the monster that expanded the neck wound. When Godzilla surfaced and fired his atomic breath, it fired out of the wound and caused him to fall back underwater. As the Satsuma floated out of Godzilla, Godzilla charged his beam one more time, only for it to cause him to explode. When the Satsuma surfaced, Taizo Tachibana exited the submarine and saluted the sacrifices of the JSDF soldiers and the Guardian Monsters that had died to stop Godzilla.
After absorbing Mothra's energy, King Ghidorah's wings unfold and he gains the ability of flight.
This King Ghidorah retains the character's trademark golden Gravity Beams (引力光線, but can only use them after absorbing Inryoku Kōsen)Mothra's energy. They are shown to cause Godzilla pain, however he is eventually able to absorb their power after repeated hits and turn it against King Ghidorah.
Like Mothra and Baragon, King Ghidorah's soul was released after his death. His, combined with Mothra and Baragon's, flowed into Godzilla, dragging him underwater and allowing Taizo Tachibana to fire the missile that led to his defeat.
This King Ghidorah's durability is somewhat reduced compared to previous incarnations, but he still survives being knocked out by Godzilla multiple times and withstands multiple blasts from his atomic breath.
Ghidorah can release a strong electric shock through his bite, known as Thunder Spark (サンダースパーク. Sandā Supāku) After absorbing Mothra's power and becoming King Ghidorah, this ability is replaced by his traditional Gravity Beams.
After absorbing Mothra's energy, King Ghidorah can form a golden round energy shield that deflects Godzilla's atomic breath. King Ghidorah can release this energy shield and send it colliding with the ground, which will cause a massive explosion. This attack is called Big Spark Ball (ビッグスパークボール, Biggu Supāku Bōru) and is the first weapon to pierce Godzilla's skin in the entire film, opening a small wound on his neck that later proves instrumental in defeating him.
King Ghidorah attempted to use a flying kick attack to injure Godzilla, but was grabbed by his enemy and dragged underwater.
Smaller and weaker than Godzilla, King Ghidorah is easily overpowered by his foe in close combat. In both instances where he attempts to battle Godzilla up close, King Ghidorah is knocked unconscious. King Ghidorah's skin is easily penetrated by Godzilla's teeth, drawing blood and seriously injuring him. In addition, Godzilla is capable of absorbing King Ghidorah's Gravity Beams, and combines them with his own atomic breath to produce a beam that destroys King Ghidorah in a single strike.
- Main article: King Ghidorah/Gallery.
The GMK King Ghidorah's roar is made to sound like the Showa King Ghidorah's, a cackling screech at a different pitch for each head. The GMK King Ghidorah's roars sound like they are at least partially adapted from elk sounds.
- This King Ghidorah was portrayed by suit actor Akira Ohashi, who previously played Gamera in Gamera 2: Attack of Legion and Iris in Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, both directed by Shusuke Kaneko. Ohashi also makes a cameo in the film alongside Baragon suit actress Rie Ota as a man inside the harbor office when Godzilla surfaces at Yaizu.
- Not counting Cretaceous King Ghidorah, the GMK King Ghidorah is the smallest incarnation of the character, as well as the only one to be shorter than the Godzilla incarnation it appeared with.
- While this King Ghidorah's suit was reused in footage for the two CR Godzilla games, where he also possesses the GMK incarnation's roars and abilities, he is depicted as an evil space monster like his Showa incarnation.
- Much like the other two Guardian Monsters, whose resting places are associated with creatures from local folklore, the forested areas surrounding Mount Fuji where Ghidorah is discovered in GMK are associated with various accounts of dragon gods. As mentioned previously, this incarnation of Ghidorah is also tied to Yamata no Orochi, the legendary eight-headed dragon of ancient Japanese folklore.
- Even though Ghidorah is stated to have originally possessed eight heads rather than three, the ancient illustration of him included in Hirotoshi Isayama's book The Biography of the Guardian Monsters depicts him with only three heads.
- Concept size charts included in the 2001 book GMK Super Complete Works list King Ghidorah's height at 49 meters from the ground to the top of the middle head, though most sources, including the very book this size chart originates from, round it up to 50 meters.
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