The Mysterians (1957)
- For the alien race, see Mysterians.
— Japanese tagline
— American tagline
The Mysterians (地球防衛軍 is a Chikyū Bōeigun, lit. "The Earth Defense Force")1957 tokusatsu science fiction film directed by Ishiro Honda and written by Shigeru Kayama, Takeshi Kimura, and Jojiro Okami, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Produced by Toho, it was the company's first alien invasion film. It stars Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa, Momoko Kochi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura, Susumu Fujita, and Hisaya Ito. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 28, 1957. An English-dubbed version of the film was prepared by RKO Radio Pictures and released to American theaters by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on May 27, 1959.
A raging fire suddenly consumes a forest near Mount Fuji, followed by a violent landslide that completely wipes out a village. Authorities investigating the incidents are suddenly attacked by a huge robot, which makes its way to another village where the JSDF finally stops it. The robot is revealed to be of extraterrestrial origin, just as a huge dome surfaces from the ground near Fuji. The occupants of the dome, calling themselves Mysterians, claim to come in peace and only desire a small tract of land and the ability to marry Earth women. However, humanity sees through the Mysterians' seemingly innocuous requests and realizes they are mobilizing a war machine capable of wiping out human civilization so they can conquer the Earth. All of the planet's militaries combine their efforts into the Earth Defense Force and begin a desperate war against the Mysterians. But can even the most advanced weapons of mankind stand up to the Mysterians' incredible technology? The Mysterians was followed by a loose sequel, Battle in Outer Space, in 1959.
The astrophysicist Ryoichi Shiraishi is acting peculiarly. He has called off his engagement to Hiroko Iwamoto and moved to a small village near Mount Fuji, estranging himself from his friends and colleagues. Prior to his seclusion, Shiraishi had been working on a series of fantastic reports for his mentor, Dr. Adachi, on a former planet he calls Mysteroid. According to this theory, the asteroid belt beyond Mars was once a singular planet. Adachi notes that the latest report surprisingly is incomplete at the time of its submission. Mystery follows Shiraishi to his new home: one summer night, a forest near the town erupts in a brilliant blaze in which the source of the radioactive flames is underground. Within days of this event, tragedy again strikes the village as a sudden and violent landslide annihilates the small town and seemingly all of its residents, including Ryoichi.
Joji Atsumi, a fellow scientist, joins the official investigation. Atsumi and several policemen are investigating radiation levels in the vicinity of the former village when a giant monster emerges from the side of a hill. The survivors of the attack retreat to alert the authorities, but by nightfall the monster has already reached the nearby city. The Defense Force is summoned to help evacuate the populace and defeat the kaiju. During this evacuation, Atsumi and Etsuko – his lover, and Ryoichi's sister – observe what appear to be flying saucers in the night sky, although the advance of the monster gives them little time to process this. Despite the monster's incredible destructive force, it is killed in the JSDF's destruction of the Koyama Bridge.
An analysis of the creature's remains determines it to be a robot, although the presence of unknown elements suggests its origin is extraterrestrial. After reevaluating the Mysteroid report, Adachi's observatory sights alien activity near the Moon, and after hearing Atsumi's testimony about the saucers over Fuji, the doctor publicly announces the findings. A team of scientists, including Atsumi and Adachi, investigate the region highlighted in Shiraishi's report. A large artificial dome rises from the ground and an alien voice greets and requests the presence of the scientific party. Inside the Dome, the aliens introduce themselves as Mysterians, the last survivors of the planet Mysteroid, annihilated in an atomic war hundreds of thousands of years ago. Fearing retaliation would lead to another nuclear war on Earth between man and the Mysterians, they launched their robot, Moguera, to demonstrate that man's technology was no match for their own. They request to immigrate to Earth and occupy the three kilometers surrounding their dome. Furthermore, the fallout from their wars has poisoned their bodies, resulting in 80% of them born with severe abnormalities. In the hopes of continuing their race, the Leader also appeals for the right to intermarry with human women. Five have already been chosen, he says, and Etsuko and Hiroko are among them.
The Ministry of Defense officially declines these requests, citing the Mysterians' hostile acts, and prepares countermeasures against the Dome. Police protection is arranged for Etsuko and Hiroko, and during a visit with Atsumi, the three are contacted by Ryoichi over the television. He declares that he had joined the Mysterians prior to his disappearance to study their sciences, and he asks Atsumi to have the impending attack cancelled, suggesting it will only lead to useless bloodshed. The attack ultimately proceeds on schedule, however, and the JSDF forces are predictably eliminated by the alien invaders. Development begins on a powerful electron gun to counter the Mysterians' own superweapons.
The Japanese government requests foreign aid and the United Nations is called to session to establish an international coalition against the threat. An assault on the Dome by the airships Alpha and Beta is undertaken to test rockets with warheads capable of producing 3,000 degrees of heat, although the weapon proves unsuccessful in combat, and the Dome's heat ray results in the destruction of the Beta. In retaliation to this attack, the Mysterians announce the occupation of a 120-kilometer radius and, privately, the Mysterian Leader tells Ryoichi that they will soon be capable of controlling all of Japan. The United States introduces a new technology, dubbed the Markalite F.A.H.P., which has the ability to reflect the Mysterian heat ray to its source. A decisive assault is planned using the new weapon in concert with the Alpha, with the reconstructed Beta No. 2 following with the completed electron gun.
Etsuko and Hiroko are kidnapped on the eve of battle and taken to the Dome. Incapable of convincing Dr. Adachi to stall the offensive to mount a rescue effort, Atsumi, having previously found an obscured underground tunnel to the Dome, descends into the alien base. The Alpha, shielded by the new technology, distracts the Mysterians while the Markalite Cannons are dropped via rocket into the battlefield. With the heat ray's destructive effects now mostly neutralized, the tide of the war turns in favor of humanity. In a final effort, the Mysterians induce a tidal wave to destroy one Markalite, while a second Moguera is sacrificed to destroy another cannon from below. Meanwhile, Atsumi is captured and silently led back to the cave where the Earth women are waiting. His captor reveals himself to be Ryoichi Shiraishi. Finding himself in disagreement with the Mysterians' plans for conquest, he allows his friends to escape with his final report while he heroically returns to the Dome to sabotage the invaders' efforts from the inside.
Now facing certain defeat, the Mysterian Leader orders a retreat to their orbiting space station. The Beta No. 2 arrives to finish the assault with the electron gun, and the Dome explodes, ending the alien occupation. The Beta No. 2 pursues the escaping saucers, destroying three, but the U.N. forces allow the rest to disappear into the cosmos. Dr. Adachi notes that humanity must not repeat the Mysterians' mistakes. The groundwork has been laid for a united world: now its nations must continue working together to achieve lasting peace.
- Main article: The Mysterians/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Takeshi Kimura
- Based on a story by Jojiro Okami
- Adapted by Shigeru Kayama
- Executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Stock music by Hector Berlioz, Edvard Grieg
- Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Koichi Iwashita
- Production design by Teruaki Abe
- 1st assistant director Koji Kajita
- Director of special effects Eiji Tsuburaya
- 1st assistant director of special effects Masakatsu Asai
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Kenji Sahara as Joji Atsumi
- Yumi Shirakawa as Etsuko Shiraishi
- Momoko Kochi as Hiroko Iwamoto
- Akihiko Hirata as Ryoichi Shiraishi
- Takashi Shimura as Dr. Kenjiro Adachi
- Susumu Fujita as General Morita
- Hisaya Ito as Captain Seki
- Yoshio Kosugi as Commander Sugimoto
- Fuyuki Murakami as Dr. Nobuo Kawanami
- Tetsu Nakamura as Dr. Koda
- Harold Conway as Dr. Immelman
- George Furness as Dr. Richardson
- Heihachiro Okawa as Director of Foreign Affairs
- Takeo Oikawa as Saburo Nozawa, TV commentator
- Toyohiko Sata as Miyamoto, police inspector
- Haruya Kato as villager
- Senkichi Omura as villager
- Yoshio Tsuchiya as Mysterian Leader
- Haruo Nakajima as Moguera / JSDF officer / soldier leaping from tank / Mysterian
- Katsumi Tezuka as Moguera / villager
American Dubbing Co. English dub
- George Gonneau as Jyoji Atsumi
- Anthony La Penna as General Morita / Director of Foreign Affairs
- Bret Morrison as Dr. Koda
- Earl Hammond as Police Chief Togawa
- Ralph Bell as Dr. Svenson
Bang Zoom! Entertainment English dub
- Alfred Thor as Commander Sugimoto
- Chris Kent as Yamamoto
- Dave Mallow as Mysterian Leader
- David Lelyveld as Joji Atsumi
- Doug Stone as Dr. Nobuo Kawanami
- Erik Blackthorn as Immerman
- Joey Capps as Commander
- John Smallberries as Miyamoto
- Lesli Todd as Etsuko Shiraishi
- Melodee M. Spevack as Etsuko's Mother
- Michael McConnohie as Dr. Kenjiro Adachi
- Michelle Ruff as Hiroko
- Sparky Thornton as Ryoichi Shiraishi
- Steve Kramer as General Morita
- William Frederick as Hanamoto
- Main article: The Mysterians/Gallery.
- Main article: The Mysterians/Soundtrack.
- The Earth Defense Force (literal Japanese title)
- The Barbarians Invade Earth (Los bárbaros invaden la Tierra; Argentina, Os Bárbaros Invadem a Terra; Brazil)
- Space Beasts (Weltraum-Bestien; Austria, West Germany)
- Prisoners of the Martians (Prisonnières des Martiens; France)
- Mysterians (French video title)
- Mars vs. Earth (Άρης εναντίον Γης Áris enantíon Gis; Greece)
- Invasion of the Moon (Εισβολή από τη Σελήνη Eisvolí apó tu Selíni; Greece)
- Flying Saucers Hit Earth (Ιπτάμενοι δίσκοι χτυπούν τη Γη Iptámenoi thíokoi chtipoón ti Gi; Greece)
- The Unknown (De ukjente; Norway)
- Earth is Under Attack (Jorden angripes; Norway, Jorden anfalles; Sweden)
- Mysterious Strangers (Tajemniczy przybysze; Poland)
- Space Monsters (Monstros do Espaço; Portugal)
- Phantom 7000 (Germany; re-issue title)
- The Extraterrestrials (Los extraterrestres; Spain)
- Mysteries of Space (Misterios del Espacio; Mexico)
- Japan - December 28, 1957; March 18, 1978 (Toho Champion Festival)
- United States - May 27, 1959
- Canada - May 29, 1959
- United Kingdom - 1959
- Brazil - October 12, 1959
- France - December 2, 1959
- Yugoslavia - 1959
- Sweden - February 1, 1960
- West Germany - February 5, 1960
- Portugal - July 29, 1960
- Belgium - 1960
- Norway - 1960
- Denmark - March 2, 1961
- Mexico - 1960s
- Italy - 1973 (re-release)
A November 1, 1957, report stated that Southeast Asian distribution rights to The Mysterians were sold to Shaw & Sons of Hong Kong for the highest amount paid for a Japanese film of that time. Rights to other parts of the world were sold for a record price for a Japanese film to Topaz Film Corporation in February of 1958.
The Mysterians was prepared for American theatrical release by RKO Radio Pictures. The English-dubbed version was recorded in New York by American Dubbing Co. under the supervision of Peter Riethof and Carlos Montalbán. Notably, it was the first Toho science fiction film to receive an English version without extensive re-editing. Only small edits were undertaken, and the English dialogue remains faithful to the Japanese script.
By 1959, however, RKO's studio had closed and all yet-unreleased films were sold off to Hollywood's other studios. Thus, the American version of The Mysterians was released theatrically in the United States by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in May of 1959, advertised as the "greatest science-fiction picture ever conceived by the mind of man." RKO's version was subsequently distributed in European territories by the J. Arthur Rank Organisation.
The American version of The Mysterians was twice released on VHS in the United States, by VCI Home Video in 1983 and by Star Classics in 1989. On January 25, 2005, Tokyo Shock released the full Japanese version of The Mysterians along with a new English dub by Bang Zoom! Entertainment on DVD in the U.S. This release also included various special features ported over from Toho's Region 2 DVD, including an audio commentary by Koichi Kawakita and Shinji Higuchi.
In the United States, despite its successful theatrical run, critical reception to The Mysterians was mixed. The New York Times criticized the film as a generic alien invasion film with "runny color" and poor acting. "Ron," who reviewed the film for Variety at a May 15 preview screening, praised the special effects, writing, "[the special effects] are realistically accomplished, proving the facility with which the Japanese filmmakers deal in miniatures," but ultimately thought all but young audiences would "laugh their heads off." In a summary of trade reviews for the film, however, Boxoffice determined that overall reception was good, with only Parents' Magazine contributing a review rated "fair."[note 1]
Nevertheless, The Mysterians proved to be an influential and important entry in Toho's library of science fiction films, inspiring several more alien invasion and space-related films from director Ishiro Honda, including a sequel, Battle in Outer Space, and Gorath. Koichi Kawakita, later known as the special effects director for the Heisei Godzilla series and the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy, said he was thrilled when he saw this film while in junior high school and it inspired him to work in special effects. Fans of the tokusatsu genre often praise the film for its special effects, the introduction of the monster Moguera, and its score from Akira Ifukube.
- Main article: Battle in Outer Space.
Toho produced a loose sequel to The Mysterians, Battle in Outer Space, two years later in 1959. The film is set in 1965 and features some returning characters from The Mysterians, most of whom are played by different actors. This film features a new invading alien race, the Natarls, who engage in a war with humanity in outer space.
- Region: 2
- Audio: Japanese
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1 and mono), English (Dolby Digital 5.1; Bang Zoom! dub), Spanish (Dolby Digital mono)
- Special features: Audio commentary by Koichi Kawakita and Shinji Higuchi (subtitled), "background music only" audio track, photo gallery, concept art, trailers
- Notes: Out of print. A 2007 re-release in a Tokyo Shock box set called Toho Pack packaged it with the Tokyo Shock DVD releases of Varan and Matango. The box set is also out of print.
BFI DVD (2006)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Theatrical trailer; booklet with biographies and notes by author Kim Newman; galleries of production designs, artwork, storyboards, posters, and stills.
- Region: 2
- Audio: Japanese
- Region: A/1
- Audio: Japanese (LPCM Mono, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Remix)
- The Mysterians was theatrically released in Japan as a double feature with the film Sazae's Youth.
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer packaged The Mysterians together with First Man into Space (1959) for both films' original U.S. theatrical release in 1959. For the film's first run in the New York City area in July of that year, it was booked at 96 theaters mostly alongside MGM's Watusi (1959).
- The Mysterians is notable for being the first tokusatsu to be filmed in TohoScope and released in Perspecta Stereophonic Sound.
- It is also known for its use of color, in particular its heavy use of day-for-night shots and bright alien costumes.
- The Mysterians was the first Toho film to feature an alien race, as well as the first to feature a mecha.
- In an interview conducted just before his death, Ishiro Honda stated that The Mysterians was his favorite film that he directed.
- In Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, special effects director Koichi Kawakita redesigned the giant robot Moguera into an anti-Godzilla mecha for the later film, called "MOGUERA" (Mobile Operations Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aero-type).
- The 1994 book Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla Super Complete Works states that MOGUERA was built using records of the original Moguera left behind from the Mysterians' 1957 invasion of Earth, suggesting that The Mysterians is canon to the Heisei Godzilla series.
- The Earth Defense Force is also featured in Godzilla Final Wars.
- Moguera's inclusion was a last-minute idea, as producer Tomoyuki Tanaka felt the film needed a monster.
- Moguera was originally conceptualized as a living, breathing monster; however, director Ishiro Honda reworked it into being a robot as a way to further demonstrate the technological power the Mysterians possessed.
- Moguera's original concept can still be seen in storyboard stills, which depicted him as a half-mole, half-reptilian monster. Though the design was never used, some key details were later used in the monster Baragon for the film Frankenstein vs. Baragon. Most notable was the monster's burrowing ability, heat ray, and ridged back.
- The Mysterians was re-released on March 18, 1978 as part of the Spring Toho Champion Festival, alongside Lupin III: The Venice Super Express, New Star of the Giants: The Walk-On, Player Caught in a Storm, Nobody's Boy: Remi - My First Friend, Grace, and Japanese Folklore Tales: Princess Kaguya. This was the last Toho Champion Festival event.
- This particular edition of the Boxoffice BookinGuide Review Digest collected and analyzed reviews from Boxoffice, The Film Daily, Harrison's Reports, The Hollywood Reporter, the New York Daily News, Parents' Magazine, and Variety. Boxoffice determined the reviews in most of these publications were rated "good," with Harrison's Reports and Parents' Magazine contributing "very good" and "fair" reviews, respectively."
This is a list of references for The Mysterians. 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: 
- Motoyama, Sho; Matsunomoto, Kazuhiro; Asai, Kazuyasu; Suzuki, Nobutaka; Kato, Masashi (28 September 2012). Toho Special Effects Movie Complete Works (1st ed.). villagebooks. ISBN 978-4864910132.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Ryfle, Steve; Godziszewski, Ed (3 October 2017). Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 9780819577412.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- "Los Angeles". Boxoffice. Boxoffice Media LP. 11 May 1959.
- Warren, Bill (1986). Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties. Volume II: 1958-1962. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 0786404795.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- "Carlos Montalbam Partner in AM. Dub". Variety. 2 July 1958.
- "Film Reviews: The Mysterians". Variety. 27 May 1959.
- "BookinGuide: Review Digest and Alphabetical Index". Boxoffice. Boxoffice Media LP. 25 January 1960.
- Abe, Katsu, ed. (23 May 2014). Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla Super Complete Works (Kindle ed.). Shogakukan. ISBN 978-4-09-101444-3.
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