Rebirth of Mothra (1996)
War, in order to protect! (守るために、戦う！)
Rebirth of Mothra (モスラ is a Mosura, lit. Mothra)1996 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho, and the first entry in the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 14, 1996.
A giant, mysterious rock is discovered by the Houkoku logging company in Hokkaido. Embedded in the rock is a symbol, which when tampered with by an employee breaks a magical seal that traps the ancient three-headed kaiju Desghidorah. The Elias twins Moll and Lora are immediately aware of this, and their evil sister Belvera is too. The twins call upon Fairy, a small moth, to help them retrieve the seal and stop Desghidorah from being freed by Belvera, who plans to take the seal for herself and make the evil kaiju destroy humanity.
Meanwhile, Yuichi Goto, one of the logging company workers, returns home late and gives the seal to his daughter Wakaba, unaware of its importance. He is scolded by Makiko Goto, and it is evident that their family isn’t stable due to his working hours. That night, Belvera visits Wakaba, who’s wearing the seal on a necklace, and hypnotizes her. Imbued with psychic powers, Wakaba terrorizes her brother Taiki the following morning and throws him around the room before he eventually escapes to leave for school. Yuichi Goto leaves for work in Hokkaido at some point. Worried about his sister, Taiki decides to return home, and encounters Belvera and her pet dragon Garugaru, who sends a dog she’s controlling at him. Makiko is currently tied up inside the house and Wakaba is mindlessly watching television and eating snacks. Moll and Lora eventually arrive on the scene and save Taiki from the dog, and they decide to help each other infiltrate the house and stop Belvera.
Belvera discovers the location of Desghidorah’s tomb in Hokkaido from watching the television, but is distracted by Garugaru finding Taiki. An extended battle sequence between Moll, Lora, and Belvera ensues, the Goto family caught in the middle of it. The fight ends with Fairy being wounded and Belvera escaping with the seal, and Wakaba is broken from her mind control. Moll and Lora explain to the family that Desghidorah is of extra-terrestrial origin and came to Earth 65 million years ago to absorb its energy, but was defeated by the Elias and sealed inside a giant rock in Hokkaido. Unable to reach Hokkaido with Fairy, the Goto family agrees to help the twins get there.
Meanwhile at the Hokkaido construction site, a spontaneous explosion occurs that reveals the giant, jagged rock Desghidorah is sealed in. Yuichi, mind-controlled by Belvera, commandeers a caterpillar vehicle packed with dynamite and drives towards the rock structure. A sudden movement causes him to fly out of the vehicle, which continues to drive towards the rock and explodes with the help of Garugaru’s energy blast. Makiko Goto arrives, but it’s already too late, as Belvera uses the seal to awaken Desghidorah from his slumber. Moll and Lora hitch a ride on a kite controlled by Taiki and knock Belvera out of the sky. They retrieve the seal, which they use to restore Fairy. Makiko finds and wakes up an unconscious Yuichi and helps him get away. Having absorbed enough energy from the surrounding area, Desghidorah emerges from the giant rock and goes on a rampage through the forest valley. With no other choice, Moll and Lora decide to call Mothra, although they worry that she may be unable to stop Desghidorah without the aid of her species.
Mothra, sitting atop a giant egg, responds to the Elias’ song and sets off to battle Desghidorah. Meanwhile, the Goto family search for each other amidst Desghidorah’s rampage. Mothra arrives on the scene and immediately attacks Desghidorah, but the Elias’ worst fears are confirmed when Mothra begins to struggle. Across the sea, the egg Mothra had laid hatches and a larva emerges, who sets out to save its mother. Meanwhile, Belvera attacks Wakaba and Taiki, but are saved by a downed Mothra. The two successfully use the seal to restore Mothra’s strength, and the larva finally arrives on the battlefield. The larva’s attacks have no effect on Desghidorah, and the evil three-headed dragon tortures it until Mothra intervenes. The Goto family reunites during the battle.
Despite their combined strength, Mothra and her larva are no match for Desghidorah, both getting blown away by its attacks. Mothra tricks Desghidorah into destroying a dam, the ensuing torrent of water engulfing the evil space dragon and distracting it enough for Mothra to use the last of her energy to carry the larva away from the fight. Mothra, dying, interacts with the larva one more time. Moll, Lora, and the Goto family watch on in horror as Mothra sinks into the water, leaving the larva as the only one capable of stopping Desghidorah. Motivated by the loss of its mother, the larva goes off to cocoon itself.
Hundreds are injured in Desghidorah’s rampage, and the Goto family watches the developments from the television in the hospital. Startlingly, it is reported that Desghidorah has sprouted wings and is now airborne. Elsewhere, the larva has found an ancient 10,000-year-old tree to cocoon itself under. The morning comes and, one musical sequence later, Mothra Leo emerges from the cocoon as a swarm of butterflies that form together into one giant moth, fueled with the energy from the ancient tree. Leo immediately sets out to face Desghidorah, and the two clash in an airborne battle, Belvera and the Elias twins caught in the middle. Leo bombards Desghidorah with a variety of multi-colored energy attacks, and for once it seems as though he has the upper-hand instead of the other way around. During the fight, the Elias save Belvera from one of Desghidorah’s attacks. In a climactic final move, Mothra Leo circles Desghidorah from above and forms a circle-shaped energy and, with the help of Taiki throwing the seal, the energy forms a symbol similar to the one on the seal and Desghidorah is defeated once and for all.
With the great evil gone, Belvera warns Moll and Lora that if they continue to trust humans then they will eventually meet their destruction, and she flees. Taiki and Wakaba are given a ride on Mothra Leo, Yuichi and Makiko reconcile and wonder how humanity’s effect on the environment could affect the planet. Mothra Leo restores color to the forest that Desghidorah stole energy from, leaves returning to dead trees and flowers blooming. Taiki and Wakaba are returned to their parents, and they say their farewells as the Elias and Mothra Leo take off. The kids wave goodbye as Mothra Leo disappears into the distance.
- Main article: Rebirth of Mothra/Credits#Ending Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Okihiro Yoneda
- Written by Masumi Suetani
- Based on a story by Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Organized by Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Executive producer Shogo Tomiyama
- Produced by Hiroaki Kitayama
- Associate producer Ritsuko Suzuki
- Music by Toshiyuki Watanabe, Akiko Yano
- "Mothra's Song" composed by Yuji Koseki
- Cinematography by Yoshinori Sekiguchi
- Edited by Nobuo Ogawa
- Production design by Kyoko Heya
- 1st assistant director Kunio Miyoshi
- Director of special effects Koichi Kawakita
- 1st assistant director of special effects Kenji Suzuki
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Sayaka Yamaguchi as Lora
- Megumi Kobayashi as Moll
- Aki Hano as Belvera
- Kazuki Futami as Taiki Goto
- Maya Fujisawa as Wakaba Goto
- Hitomi Takahashi as Makiko Goto
- Kenjiro Nashimoto as Yuichi Goto
- Nagare Hagiwara as Yoshinori Tagawa
- Hiroko Tanaka as Madoka Shiraishi
- Kyokei Arakawa as Masayuki Kichijoji
- Akira Terao as Doctor
- Sudo Mariko as Stewardess
- Ishiro Honda as Man in photo at the Goto house (uncredited)
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Rebirth of Mothra/Gallery.
- Main article: Rebirth of Mothra/Soundtrack.
- Mothra (Mosura; literal Japanese title)
- Mothra: The Queen of Monsters (Japanese VHS and Laserdisc title)
- Mothra: The Seal of the Elias (Mothra: Das Siegel der Elias; Germany)
- Mothra's Rebirth (Mothras återfödelse; Sweden)
- Japan - December 14, 1996
Rebirth of Mothra was dubbed into English by Omni Productions of Hong Kong in late 1997. In the U.S., this English version of the film was released on VHS and DVD by Columbia TriStar Home Video in 2000, with the DVD packaging the film with Rebirth of Mothra 2. It made its cable TV premiere on the Sci-Fi Channel on May 31, 2003, the same day as the other two films in the trilogy. All three films were included in a 2014 Sony Blu-ray set, which finally made the Japanese language track available in the U.S.
The film grossed approximately $10,000,000 at the box office.
This film is widely praised by both Godzilla and Mothra fans alike.
TriStar DVD (2000)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
- Special features: None
- Notes: Packaged with Rebirth of Mothra 2.
Toho DVD (2006, 2013, 2015)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special features: Audio commentary by director Okihiro Yoneda and cinematographer Yoshinori Sekiguchi, scans of the theatrical pamphlet, making-of featurette, trailers and TV spots, booklet
Sony Pictures Blu-ray + Digital HD (2014)
- Region: A/1
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0)
- Subtitles: English, French
- Special features: Four trailers for Rebirth of Mothra, four trailers for Rebirth of Mothra 2, three trailers for Rebirth of Mothra 3
- Notes: Packaged with Rebirth of Mothra 2 and Rebirth of Mothra 3. Subtitles correspond to the script of the English dub, not the original Japanese dialogue.
Toho Blu-ray (2017)
- Region: A/1
- Discs: 3
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special features: Audio commentary by director Okihiro Yoneda and cinematographer Yoshinori Sekiguchi, scans of the theatrical pamphlet, making-of featurette, trailers and TV spots, booklet, image gallery
- Notes: Packaged with Rebirth of Mothra 2 and Rebirth of Mothra 3.
- This film marks the first time that a kaiju who previously appeared in a Godzilla film went on to later appear in a standalone film without Godzilla. This would be repeated with King Ghidorah's appearance in Rebirth of Mothra 3.
- Stock footage of Mothra from this film was later used in early trailers for Godzilla: Tokyo SOS.
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