Complete History of Bagan
Written by The King of the Monsters, Titanollante, SuperGodzillaGaming
Narrated by SuperGodzillaGaming
Hello kaiju fans, I'm SuperGodzillaGaming, and we'll be taking a comprehensive look at the Demon Beast... Bagan!
The mysterious Ancient God Bagan (also known as Bakan for his first intended appearance), is a monster whose only official appearances were as the final boss in the 1993 Super Nintendo game "Super Godzilla" and the 1998 PC game "Godzilla Movie Studio Tour." Bagan was a personal favorite of Godzilla creator Tomoyuki Tanaka, and is particularly well-known among the Godzilla fandom for his numerous planned but ultimately scrapped film roles throughout the 80's and 90's.
RESURRECTION OF GODZILLA (1980): The first proposed appearance of Bagan, or maybe actually Bakan—we'll go into the name confusion in the Trivia section, but for now let's just refer to this incarnation as Bakan—was in "Resurrection of Godzilla," a project which existed as a 47-page proposal by Tomoyuki Tanaka in 1980 as a revival of the Godzilla franchise. No concept art exists for Bakan.
The 1980 Bakan was an ancient shape-shifting god monster that took three different forms. It started out in its Monkey Beast form, but after being wounded it morphed into the Dragon Beast form, and later dove into the water and turned into its Water Beast form. After Godzilla was awakened by nuclear dumping in the Pacific and drawn to Japan in search of more nuclear fuel, he fought and defeated Bagan.
Sadly, the project was dropped by Toho because of concerns that it would be too risky to produce such a big budget film, even with Godzilla's name attached (Bakan's transformations being the source of the concerns).
RESURRECTION OF GODZILLA (1983): Unknown to most however, there are multiple versions of this project; the second major version the one to actually introduce the famous "Totem Bakan" concept commonly associated with the "Resurrection of Godzilla" title. In 1983, Akira Murao and Hideichi Nagahara collaborated on a revised script for "Resurrection of Godzilla," which while very close to Tanaka's 1980 proposal, differed in a few ways. This time, each time Bakan changed form, it healed itself. Also when it ran into Godzilla, finding that it couldn't defeat him in any single form, it transformed into a towering combination of its three forms. Bakan managed to temporarily defeat Godzilla in this stage, though it soon found out that it could no longer change shape, meaning it could no longer heal itself. This allowed a Godzilla revitalized by nuclear energy to rise back up and defeat the exhausted Bakan, who would die out at sea.
As more revisions were made to the story, Bakan and other elements were removed altogether. Ultimately, the idea was replaced by what would become "The Return of Godzilla."
The art most commonly associated with the so-called "Totem Bakan" was artwork made by suit actor Hurricane "Ryu" Hariken and published in the "Encyclopedia of Godzilla (Mechagodzilla Edition)."
MOTHRA VS. BAGAN: Two more versions of Bakan, whose name was modified to Bagan now, were proposed for the 1990 film "Mothra vs. Bagan," a movie starring Mothra that would have been set in the same universe as the Heisei Godzilla series.
Bakan's "three-form monster" concept would briefly live on in the first version of the new Bagan, now in the forms of a Spirit God Beast (the Monkey God Beast equivalent), a Dragon God Beast (a mix of Bakan's Dragon God Beast and Water God Beast forms), and a Demon God Beast (a replacement of the Water God Beast). As development continued, special effects director Koichi Kawakita thought the shape-shifting element was unnecessary, and so removed it.
An ancient demonic beast that destroyed the world's forests, Bagan was sealed away in the Himalayas long ago by a clan of Mothra, only to be reawakened in the modern day by global warming. He began his savage attack against humanity, destroying some remote villages and the city of Calcutta, but was eventually confronted by Mothra. As the fight between the two monsters took them to Bangkok, Mothra's egg hatched and the larva arrived to help its parent, and with their combined powers they were able to end Bagan's reign of terror. A mortally wounded Mothra then carries Bagan's unconscious body out to sea and seals him away again before perishing.
While the storyboards featured a Bagan with an appearance ("Design B") similar to the canonical Bagan look ("Design A") it turns out these were placeholders, as Bagan's look had not yet been finalized. This demonic-looking concept created by Yasushi Nirasawa was the one intended for the final film, had it been made.
Unfortunately, after "Godzilla vs. Biollante" did not perform as well at the box office as Toho had hoped, they decided not to risk making another movie with another new monster, and so the movie was canceled.
GODZILLA 3: This same version of Bagan was planned to go on to face Godzilla in the tentatively titled third entry of the Heisei series, "Godzilla 3," since as was mentioned earlier, "Mothra vs. Bagan" was going to share continuity with "Godzilla vs. Biollante" and "The Return of Godzilla."
Continuing right after "vs. Biollante" and where "Mothra vs. Bagan" would have ended, it's learned that Bagan was allegedly created by aliens who were also responsible for the ruins of the Nazca civilization in Peru. Aside from this, there's not much to say; once "Mothra vs. Bagan" was thrown out, so was "Godzilla 3."
MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (1990): When "Mothra vs. Bagan" was scrapped, writer and director Kazuki Omori briefly thought about adding Bagan to "Mothra vs. Godzilla," a proposed movie that would have had Godzilla fight Mothra. However, fear that Mothra's appeal would not be enough to draw in audiences meant that this idea ended up being shelved. The concept of having Mothra fight the King of the Monsters would be revived later however, and elements from "Mothra vs. Bagan"'s script would be thrown in along with Battra for what would become the 1992 "Godzilla vs. Mothra."
GODZILLA VS. BAGAN (1991): Bagan was to face Godzilla in one of Kazuki Omori's earliest scripts for a "Godzilla vs. Biollante" sequel. In a July 2006 Vantage Point interview, Omori mentioned that "Godzilla vs. Bagan" was one of many drafts where Godzilla was pitted against a variety of different foes and that it was "another year that went by" after the cancellation of "Mothra vs. Bagan" before he wrote the script for "Godzilla vs. Bagan." However, with King Ghidorah turning out one of the most popular monsters in polls among Japanese audiences and Toho's 60th anniversary rapidly approaching, "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" ended up being made instead.
GODZILLA VS. BAGAN (1995): Bagan was potentially considered for another film, also titled "Godzilla vs. Bagan," which according to Takao Okawara was an early version of "Godzilla vs. Destoroyah." —"I heard about GODZILLA VS. BAGAN while GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH was being planned, but I didn't hear anything about its plot." Rumors at the time suggested the story would be very much like "Godzilla vs. Giant Monster Varan"—in which Varan is described as being a "harbinger for the end of the world," awakening in 1999 and dead set on ending all life, but ends up being defeated by Godzilla and Little Godzilla—though not set in the future. Bagan took the place of Varan, with Mothra and the Gotengo from "Atragon" set to appear as well. Ultimately, the shape-shifting monster Barubaroi would be favored, and that concept would eventually transform into "Godzilla vs. Destoroyah."
REBIRTH OF MOTHRA (SERIES): Not outright discarding the idea years earlier of having Mothra face off against Bagan, the monster was also considered by special effects director Koichi Kawakita to appear in the "Rebirth of Mothra" movies. Nothing ever came of it, however, and no further details are known.
YAMATO TAKERU II: Bagan's last proposed appearance was "Yamato Takeru II," an unmade 1997 sequel to Toho's 1994 fantasy film "Yamato Takeru," also suggested by Kawakita. According to the book "Heisei Godzilla Perfection," Bagan was to play a role in the movie alongside Orochi. It went unproduced apparently after Shogo Tomiyama delayed production to 1997 following the first movie's not-too-impressive box office performance, as well as director Takao Okawara apparently having read the script and saying that it simply "was no good."
SUPER GODZILLA: Bagan received a starring role as the final boss in the 1993 video game "Super Godzilla," starting off in its Energy Form but soon transmogrifying into a familiar form. Born in a super-ancient China and supercharged by cells from Godzilla and King Ghidorah that his unnamed alien commanders had spliced into him, Bagan is easily the most powerful foe in the game. Generally, he is seen as impossible to defeat as normal Godzilla, and still seen as a difficult opponent as Super Godzilla.
This version of Bagan possessed very high physical strength and durability, and his array of attacks were the strongest used by any enemy in the game. Additionally, he had the most health out of any enemy, and regular Godzilla's attacks would only cause a very small amount of damage, making it necessary to transform into Super Godzilla to defeat Bagan.
Also, according to LeMay's "The Lost Films," the unnamed alien antagonist from SNES Super Godzilla is actually a recycled version of alien Miko from the unmade 1972 "Godzilla vs. the Space Monsters." Pretty interesting!
GODZILLA MOVIE STUDIO TOUR: Bagan's last appearance was in the 1998 "Godzilla Movie Studio Tour" alongside Godzilla and Dogolas (a monster who only ever appeared in this game) in the Publicity Dep., a game mode where players can create and even print out mock posters for their custom movie. He also appears in the Kid's Shop in the form of a printable "Sumo Wrestling" tabletop game, with his opponent being Godzilla. Thus, with this, ends the legacy of Bagan…
The Bakan from "Resurrection of Godzilla" had three separate forms: an ape-like Sacred Monkey Beast, a fish-like Sacred Water Beast, and a winged Sacred Dragon Beast. Each form could only be used on land, in the sea, and in the air, respectively. Also, each form was individually said to be a different color, with only the Sacred Water Beast's color being known through its description of having "green slimy skin all over its body, a face somewhat reptile-like with a wide-opening mouth, and hands with fish-like fins for swimming." For the 1983 draft, an additional fourth, totem-like form was written in. No official, contemporary concept art exists of any of these forms.
When Bakan, now Bagan, was revived for the first version of "Mothra vs. Bagan," it had three distinct forms, like the original. According to "Shinji Nishikawa: Drawing Book of Godzilla," the only form which was specifically described was the Spirit God Beast (equivalent to the original Monkey Beast), which was mentioned as having "a figure like an elephant." In addition, there were the Dragon God Beast (a mix of the Dragon Beast and Water Beast forms) and Demon God Beast forms (a replacement of the Water Beast). Widely varying concepts were submitted by Shinji Nishikawa, Minoru Yoshida, Hiroto Aragaki, and Takashi Sonoyama, though little about these pieces seem to have been carried over to later designs.
As development continued however, special effects director Koichi Kawakita decided that Bagan would have only a single form. For this second version, Nishikawa and Yoshida continued submitting art with the addition of Yasushi Nirasawa. Yoshida and Nirasawa steered the direction of the monster's look, with one of Yoshida's concepts ("Design B") being used in storyboards, while Nirasawa's demonic-looking concept was decided upon as being the final design. Down the road, this rejected taupe and red concept by Yoshida, dubbed "Design A", would end up becoming Bagan's 'canonical design.'
"Design A" artwork would go on to be commonly placed alongside information regarding the "Super Godzilla" Bagan (and even recolored to more accurately match the video game's sprite in "Super Godzilla Official Guide Book"), though it's not actually the exact source of the video game Bagan's appearance. Another piece of concept art by Minoru Yoshida was recycled for Bagan's final form in Super Godzilla. Differences between the game design and the "Design A" Bagan, aside from coloration, include the lack of bulbous orbs in Bagan's legs, back and shoulders, and the shoulder and tail protrusions being more akin to spikes. Bagan's Energy Form is a tangled mass that pulsates green, bearing some resemblance to Biollante's nucleus.
The "Movie Studio Tour" Bagan's design, in reality a poseable character model created by the toy company Kaiyodo, is based off the "Design A" Bagan, though it has a gray armor coloration with dark brown horns and spikes, purple orbs, and no hairy tail tip.
Shape-Shifting: The version of Bagan in the 1980 version of Resurrection of Godzilla was capable of shape-shifting while it was in contact with the correct elements, meaning it could only be in its flight-based form in the sky, its water-based form in the sea, and its land-based form on dry land. The Bagan from the 1983 version also had the added ability to heal himself when changing form, and an additional fourth form which lacked the ability to heal.
In Super Godzilla, Bagan starts out in its Energy Form. Once Godzilla approached it for battle, it emanated bursts of white light and transmogrified into its final form.
Flame Attacks: Bagan's Sacred Monkey Beast form in "Resurrection of Godzilla" possessed a Flame breath attack.
Electric & Light Attacks: The original Sacred Dragon Beast could blast lightning from its mouth.
In the second version of "Mothra vs. Bagan," Bagan could fire invisible energy from his claws, likely a precursor to the Super Godzilla incarnation's "Slasher Claw" attack. This ability is mentioned in scene 15 of the story draft where he crumbles a monastery just by pointing at it. He also fires a Light Ray from his forehead horn, and another beam from his mouth in a storyboard.
In "Super Godzilla," Bagan fires a Mouth Beam or Plasma Beam, he can launch "arrows" of sharp energy from his claws, an ability known as the Arrow Attack or Slasher Claw, and he could shoot white star-like objects from his horns, an ability known as either the Horn Laser or Diamond Storm. This Bagan also has an unused ability called the Beam Horn, fired from his prominent nasal horn.
Water Abilities: The original Sacred Water Beast could fire a Liquid Ray; literally a stream of water. Meanwhile, the second version of the 1990 Bagan could create whirlpools when rising from the ocean. The original Water Beast, first version 1990 Dragon God Beast, and second version 1990 Bagan are all adept swimmers.
Flight: The original Sacred Dragon Beast and both the Demon God Beast from the first version and "Decided Design" from the second version of "Mothra vs. Bagan" all possess physical wings, giving them the ability to fly. Storyboards for "Mothra vs. Bagan" depicted the monster projecting wings of light from his back, also used to fly. This ability was carried over but left unused for Bagan's canonical "Design A." Bagan's Energy Form in "Super Godzilla" is also able to levitate.
Body Spores: Energy Form Bagan can spawn four small, fleshy body spores, which he used to easily destroy Tokyo.
Physical Abilities: The original Sacred Monkey Beast form was mentioned to be an extraordinary jumper. Also, both "Design A" and "Design B" Bagans possessed extendable claws, movable horns, and a whip-like tail. The video game iteration possessed these abilities as well, but they were left unused in the game. The video game Bagan additionally possessed very high physical strength and durability, including an ability called "forceful tackle." Bagan's attacks were the strongest used by any enemy in the game.
Defensive Capabilities: In the 1983 "Resurrection of Godzilla" draft, Bakan could heal when changing forms, though could no longer change form and heal once it entered its Demon Beast form. Bagan's "Decided Design" from the second version of Mothra vs. Bagan had black armor, which was highly resilient to physical attacks.
The "Super Godzilla" Bagan had the most health out of any enemy in the game. Normal Godzilla's attacks would only cause a very small amount of damage thanks to Bagan's Hard Skin: bone-like hardened skin that covers the entirety of his body, making it necessary to transform into Super Godzilla to complete the game. He could also generate a Force Field to block incoming attacks.
Weaknesses: The 1983 Bakan could no longer change form (and thus heal) once it morphed into his final Demon Beast form, allowing Godzilla to defeat him, while the 1990 Bagan was weakened by Mothra's poisonous powder.
Did you know that Bagan, standing 150 meters tall, is the tallest monster in the Heisei series? Well, depending on the source, he's tied with the Heisei King Ghidorah and Mecha-King Ghidorah, who are sometimes said to have a 150-meter stature, though mostly they are said to be 140. It's kind of complicated. Check out this video explaining it. On that note, at 280,000 metric tons, Bagan is the second heaviest monster in the entire Godzilla series as of this video's release.
Several of Bagan's unused concept looks would be repurposed for other monsters. This includes the Ultraman monsters Kilazee and Rebuilt Birugamera, and potentially the "Godzilla: Trading Battle" monster Balkzardan, who has lightning-based abilities similar to Bagan. Shinji Nishikawa and Minoru Yoshida, who did many preliminary drawings of Bagan, also worked on the show "Super Star Fleet Sazer-X," meaning one of them could have designed the Bagan-lookalike Reizaus. Reizaus is a space monster that bears a striking resemblance to the God of Darkness, and he is featured in a hoax video that is often incorrectly passed off as cut footage of Bagan in "Godzilla: Final Wars." Reizaus's true design inspirations aren't known, but it's possible that the similarities are more than just coincidence.
Finally, let's talk about the "Bakan" and "Bagan" name debacle. If you aren't aware of it, allow me to fill you in: A majority of sources talking about the Bakan from "Resurrection of Godzilla" have the creature named after its 1990's reinterpretation, Bagan. While Bagan was meant to be a revival of the 1980 concept, Bakan's name was slightly altered and seemingly retconned to "Bagan" ever since. While material containing Bakan's original name is scarce, three sources exist that specifically mention it. While the reason for the Bakan name change is unknown, it's possible that it was because the name contained "baka" in it, which translates from Japanese as "idiot." Another reason was that both monsters were regarded as being the same thing by Toho, so it would've been easier to just call both of them "Bagan."
Oh, and, in a peculiar coincidence, "Bagan" translates from Indonesian as 'blueprint' or 'draft', an interesting thing to note considering that none of the proposed films involving him were ever made.
That's all there is for Bagan. Thank you for watching!
- Resurrection of Godzilla (1980 draft)
- Resurrection of Godzilla (1983 draft)
- Mothra vs. Bagan
- Super Godzilla