- This article is about the 1954 Godzilla design. For the Godzilla incarnation, see Godzilla (1954).
The ShodaiGoji (初代ゴジ) is the Godzilla suit design used in the 1954 Godzilla film, Godzilla. The original onscreen design for the character, the ShodaiGoji heavily inspired all designs that followed and remains one of the most popular looks for Godzilla.
The ShodaiGoji's name comes from shodai (初代), meaning "first generation," and Goji, which comes from Godzilla's Japanese name, Gojira (ゴジラ). This design is also known as HatsuGoji, which comes from hatsu (初), meaning "first," and Gojira.
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The ShodaiGoji suit was modeled by Teizo Toshimitsu, Kanju and Yasuei Yagi, and Eizo Kaimai. Two suits were actually made, with the first suit, designated "No. 1," proving too heavy to perform in. As such, a lighter No. 2 suit was quickly created, though it still weighed 100 kilograms. The No. 1 suit was divided at the waist, with its lower body being used for close-ups of Godzilla's legs as he walked around Ginza and Shinagawa stations.
A hand-operated Guignol of Godzilla's upper body was employed for close-ups to convey facial expressions and perform scenes such as Godzilla biting down on a steel tower. A 2-shaku (Japanese foot) clay model modeled with plaster and coated in rubber was used for reference when modeling the Guignol. Still, the design and appearance of the Guignol were noticeably different from those of the suit. An uncredited Fumio Nakashiro operated the Guignol. When operating it, Nakashiro laid on his back so his head would not appear on camera. The Godzilla skeleton prop used at the film's climax was created by Teizo Toshimitsu by applying rubber to a wire model.
As the film was in black-and-white, Godzilla's body color was unclear onscreen, though Eizo Kaimai stated "The body surface is gray with oil-based paint sprayed on white rubber, and the inside of the mouth is painted bright red to make a difference in color." Conversely, Sadamasa Arikawa stated that "The body color was red-black and not gray" and modeling assistant Yoshio Suzuki testified that "It was gray or brown, and it was a dull color."
To create the rubber skin of the ShodaiGoji suit, a block of raw rubber was soaked overnight in water so that it became soft by the next morning. It was mixed with a batter of vaseline, clay, and gypsum. The rubber skin was then heated and dried at a temperature of 250 degrees Celsius in a special baking kiln created by arranging infrared lamps inside of it. The rubber material was stated to be very expensive. Kanju and Yasuei Yagi, brothers who had experience as craftsmen working on amusement park attractions, applied the rubber skin to the No. 1 suit in a papier-mache technique, with hard-kneaded rubber applied to the surface to create folds. However, the rubber was initially not sufficiently kneaded and as such the skin tore as soon as the suit moved. After much trial-and-error with kneading the rubber, the No. 1 Godzilla suit was completed and was extremely hard, weighing over 150 kilograms. The suit fell over immediately during filming, and it was impossible for the actor to get back up.
According to Kaimai, there was no urethane foam or sponge material available at the time, and so the interior of the suit was sewn with cotton stuffed inside a cloth bag, which further increased its weight. A hook was used rather than a zipper on the back of the suit, and during filming the back was closed and tied shut with fishing wire. Rather than boots, the actor in the suit wore clogs. The eyeballs of the suit were created by the woodworking department, who modeled small egg-shaped wooden balls. The eyeballs and mouth were connected by brake wire from a motorcycle, which ran through the suit and exited through the back of the tail, where an external apparatus was used to move them. The fangs of the suit were made from rubber, as they were said to not appear convincing when made with wood. The dorsal fins were created by placing paper over a wire mesh core and applying rubber over this. The suit's left arm was joined with the body at the elbow, reflecting the clay prototype for both suits and making it impossible for the suit actor to move this arm.
A prototype model was created for reference when modeling the suits. It had a very large head, walked upright on two legs, and featured a crocodile-like round face and and snake-like scales over its body. The appearance of this prototype was very different from the finished suits, featuring simple raised dorsal fins and three-fingered hands. Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishiro Honda, and Eiji Tsuburaya wanted Godzilla to appear as a living organism, and so many changes were made from the prototype model, such as the keloid-scar-inspired burned skin. Aspects of gorillas were also adapted into the design, in combination with existing inspiration from reptiles and amphibians. As such, the final Godzilla suits looked more mammalian than the prototype model.
Katsumi Tezuka, a former professional baseball player, was persuaded by Ishiro Honda to serve as Godzilla's suit actor. However, Eiji Tsuburaya replaced Tezuka as Godzilla's main actor with Haruo Nakajima, an actor who usually played bit roles in Toho's films. The actors' field of vision inside the suit was very narrow, and they could only see their feet. Tezuka shined a flashlight on Nakajima's feet to guide him when he wore the suit. While filming in Toho's special effects pool, a power cable under the water accidentally leaked, shocking Nakajima and causing him to faint. Tsuburaya taught Godzilla's roar and movement to Tezuka and Nakajima every day with direct gestures. Tsuburaya encouraged the men to "learn to walk again" in order to convey Godzilla's different method of movement. Nakajima stated that he based Godzilla's walk on the intimidating presence of a lion, the upright movement of a bear, and the leg movement of an elephant at the zoo.
48 years later, in 2002, a reproduction of the upper half of the ShodaiGoji suit was created for a flashback sequence showing the original Godzilla's demise at the hands of the Oxygen Destroyer. This partial suit was modeled by Shinichi Wakasa's company MONSTERS, and worn by primary Godzilla suit actor Tsutomu Kitagawa.
A complete recreation of the ShodaiGoji was created and exhibited at Godzilla Festival 2018 on November 3 in Hibiya, Tokyo. This same suit was used in the short film Dream Challenge: Godzilla Appears in Sukagawa which was exhibited at the Eiji Tsuburaya Museum in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture. This reproduction was modeled by the company up.art, based on a 3-D scan of a garage kit of the ShodaiGoji created by Yuji Sakai. Sakai himself was responsible for finishing the suit's head.
As the first official design, the ShodaiGoji suit would set the basic template for nearly all Godzilla designs to come. That is, a gigantic, bipedal reptilian creature with rough, bumpy, usually charcoal gray scales with a keloid scar or tree bark-like texture; a fairly small head with prominent eyebrow-like ridges over the eyes; moderately long, humanoid arms with four fingers including an opposable thumb; thick, muscular legs; a long, powerful, segmented tail; and three rows of generally bone-white dorsal plates.
The ShodaiGoji suit has a reptilian, wedge-shaped head with a large, wide mouth attached to a fairly short, serpentine neck. The face is round and lumpy with a large upper jaw and a thin lower jaw, and the nose is similar to that of a crocodilian or Chinese dragon. The cranium is small relative to the rest of the head, and resembles the sagittal crest found on gorillas. The head also sports a pair of small, pointed, ears. The eyes are round and have white sclera with large black pupils that are painted to look in a downward direction. When viewed from a frontward direction, the pupils on each eye point in the opposite direction of each other. The teeth are conical in shape and, with the exception of a pair of large fangs on the upper jaw, they are all uniform in size.
This design also has a barrel-shaped upper body with wide shoulders and a prominent sternum accompanied by a concave collarbone. The biceps are quite large and roughly twice as wide as the forearms. The hands are considerably wider than the wrists and sport four semi-webbed digits each. The legs on this design are fairly short, columnar, and quite muscular, and sport prominent knees. The feet are plantigrade and very wide, being comparable in thickness with the legs themselves. Like the hands, the ShodaiGoji's feet also sport four clawed semi-webbed digits each. This suit's tail is fairly short in proportion to its body, having a rough underside, a pointed tip, and faint tail segments that aren't as prominent as those of later suits. Unlike most of the later designs, the ShodaiGoji suit's dorsal fins were staggered and uneven in appearance. They also curved slightly forward, whereas most of the later suits would have plates that didn't curve in any particular direction.
For close-up shots, a hand-held puppet and a prototype ShodaiGoji suit were used. The puppet primarily differed from the suit in that it had a much larger head with a wider and puffier face with a very flat, almost nonexistent cranium and forehead and a shorter, thicker neck. Additionally, it also had much smaller and thinner arms and hands, giving it a less humanoid and more dinosaurian appearance. The teeth on the puppet version were uneven and had a needle-like appearance to them. A separate partial suit consisting only of Godzilla's lower body was employed for shots of just Godzilla's feet and legs.
It is unknown what color the ShodaiGoji suit was painted, as the film it appeared in was shot in black-and-white. Rumors frequently suggest that the suit was painted brown, although most later designs have opted for a charcoal gray or black coloration.
A partial ShodaiGoji suit was constructed for flashback scenes in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla in 2002, in order to recreate the original Godzilla's attack on Tokyo in 1954 and to emphasize the fact that, in this continuity, the monster was merely reduced to a skeleton by the Oxygen Destroyer instead of being completely disintegrated. Production photos reveal that this half-suit's body and dorsal fins were painted a bluish-gray, the claws were painted white, the teeth were painted yellowish-orange, and the inside of the mouth was painted a bright pink. None of these color choices are visible on film, though, as the flashback scenes featuring this suit were filmed in black-and-white.
The ShodaiGoji was the first of its kind - a suit fully operated by a man inside of it. As there were no established procedures on how to build or operate a suit like the original Godzilla suit, Godzilla special effects artist Eiji Tsuburaya and the production staff had to pioneer a new technique later known as suitmation. The ShodaiGoji suit and the original prototype suit were built by Eizo Kaimai.
The ShodaiGoji was primarily worn by Haruo Nakajima, who would go to portray Godzilla in every subsequent film up to Godzilla vs. Gigan. Nakajima said that he based Godzilla's walk on an Indian elephant named "Indira" that was living at Ueno Park in Tokyo around the time of production of Godzilla. He specifically focused on the way each foot came to a complete rest on the ground before it moved again. The result projected strength and the illusion of size. He also paid attention to the arm motions of bears and the head movements of birds. According to Nakajima, temperatures inside the suit reached up to 60 degrees Celsius, and he couldn't move the suit's left hand at all.
Use in other media
- Godziban (TV 2019-) [episodes 14 and 20]
- CinemaScope Adventure: Godzilla (1984)
- Godzilla Generations (1998)
- Godzilla: Trading Battle (1998)
- Godzilla: Unleashed (2007) [Wii version only]
- Monster Strike (2013)
- Godzilla: Kaiju Collection (2015)
- Kai-Ri-Sei Million Arthur (2016)
- Godzilla Defense Force (2019)
- The Faceless Star (2019) [BOSS Coffee]
The cover for the soundtrack of Godzilla
Godzilla: High Grade Set 3 Godzilla '54
Godzilla: High Grade Shin Godzilla Set Godzilla 1954
Bandai 2001 Movie Monster Series Godzilla 1954
Bandai Godzilla 50th Anniversary Memorial Box Godzilla 1954
Bandai 2005 Movie Monster Series Godzilla 1954
ShodaiGoji head from the Godzilla Final Box
Bandai America Godzilla 1954
Super Deformed X-Plus Godzilla 1954
X-Plus 30cm Godzilla 1954 figure
X-Plus 30cm Godzilla 1954 monochrome version
X-Plus 30cm Yuji Sakai Modeling Collection Godzilla 1954
X-Plus 30cm Godzilla 1954 with train in mouth (Monochrome Version)
X-Plus 30cm Godzilla 1954 with train in mouth (Color Version)
X-Plus Gigantic Series Godzilla 1954
X-Plus 25cm Godzilla 1954
NECA Godzilla 1954
S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla 1954
Cast Godzilla 1954 ornament
Cast Godzilla 1954 dying from the Oxygen Destroyer ornament
Bandai Japan Godzilla 1954 finger puppet
NECA Wizkids Godzilla 1954
Bandai Japan remote controlled Godzilla 1954
Bandai Japan Real Action Godzilla 1954
Bandai Museum Godzilla 1954
Hazawa-Gumi Godzilla 1954
Bandai Japan Hyper Godzilla Godzilla 1954 (painted version)
Bandai Japan Hyper Godzilla Godzilla 1954
Bandai Japan Hyper Godzilla +1 Godzilla 1954
Bandai Japan Best of Godzilla Godzilla 1954 with Mothra Larva
Bandai Japan Godzilla Complete Works Godzilla 1954
Bandai Japan Godzilla Complete Works Godzilla 1954 (B&W Version)
Bandai Japan Natsukashi Kaiju Godzilla 1954
Bandai Japan Godzilla World Godzilla 1954 (Version A)
Bandai Japan Godzilla World Godzilla 1954 (Version B)
Bandai Japan Godzilla 1954 Netsuke keychain
Battle Spirits BSC26 Godzilla (1954) card
- The ShodaiGoji suit was 6.5 feet tall and weighed 200 pounds.
- The ShodaiGoji heavily influenced later Godzilla designs, most noticeably the 84Goji, GMKGoji, ShinGoji, and DougheGoji.
- In the film Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, the ShodaiGoji was digitally replaced by the MireGoji in stock footage from the original film.
- The ShodaiGoji was made of "ready-mixed concrete," because rubber and plastics were hard to come by in post-war Japan. 
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