Kaiju Profile: Mothra and King Ghidorah (GMK)
Hello kaiju fans, I'm Kyodai Kino, and today we'll be covering the two titular Guardian Monsters from "GMK"... Mothra and King Ghidorah!
Two of Godzilla's most popular foes, Mothra and King Ghidorah were brought back for the third entry of the Millennium series, "Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack," directed by the Gamera Trilogy's Shusuke Kaneko. Keeping with that series' mythical sensibilities, they were reinvented as ancient Guardian Monsters who arise in modern-day Japan to defend the nation from Godzilla, the God of Destruction seeking vengeance for the Pacific War. For the first and so far only time, Mothra and King Ghidorah fought alongside each other. If you want to learn more about the third Guardian Monster, Baragon, watch our Kaiju Profile on him from last year.
When Toho hired Shusuke Kaneko to direct a Godzilla film, he considering pitting Godzilla against Kamacuras or a mutated astronaut before settling on a trio of Showa-era reptiles. Kaneko wrote a story titled "Godzilla [Against] Varan, Baragon and Anguirus: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" with assistance from Keiichi Hasegawa and Masahiro Yokotani. Producer Shogo Tomiyama approved the story, but Toho chairman Isao Matsuoka requested that Kaneko work in the more popular Mothra and King Ghidorah to increase the film's marquee value. They replaced Anguirus and Varan, respectively, while Baragon was retained in a reduced role. Said producer Shogo Tomiyama, "When I heard we had to change the monsters, I was probably more disappointed than Kaneko himself. But afterwards I thought, just like Hollywood stars act different characters every time, so too with King Ghidorah and Mothra." The suits and props for both monsters were designed and modeled by Fuyuki Shinada, who had previously sculpted several kaiju including Biollante, Legion, and Iris.
As Mothra's larval stage was only needed for a single shot, she was portrayed using a refurbished Mothra Leo larva prop left over from "Rebirth of Mothra." Her imago stage, however, underwent a heavy redesign, with more anatomically-accurate insect body proportions. In order to give Mothra an especially feminine appearance, she was given purple eyes and feather-shaped antennae. The advance poster for the film, however, used her Heisei design.
To emphasize Godzilla's overwhelming power, this King Ghidorah was the first version of the character to be shorter than his rival. The three-headed monster was played by Akira Ohashi, who had previously embodied Gamera in "Gamera 2" and Iris and Trauma Gamera in "Gamera 3." This was his second time facing a larger kaiju played by Mizuho Yoshida, who was the front half of the Mother Legion in "Gamera 2." "My idea of this Ghidorah was that it was like a teenager, powerful but not mature. So purposely my moves were not smooth. When it threw a punch, rather than go right away, I added some movement first."
Shinada designed King Ghidorah with larger wings relative to his body, with visible claws on them. While in the past King Ghidorah's wings were always fully extended, this version's wings were initially undeveloped and kept folded at his sides. His feet were modeled after birds, with three clawed digits in front and a single smaller one on his heels. Disappointed that Varan, his all-time favorite monster, wouldn't be in the film, Shinada compensated by sculpting Varan-esque facial fins onto King Ghidorah's heads. Two sets of right and left necks were created for the suit and used depending on the scene. Longer necks were operated by wires, while Ohashi operated a shorter pair with his arms. For the scene where King Ghidorah is discovered sleeping in ice underground in Aokigahara, large models of his necks were created.
Both Mothra and King Ghidorah were portrayed in some shots using computer-generated imagery. Examples include Mothra intercepting a blast of Godzilla's atomic breath, and Ghidorah taking flight after Mothra's energy revives him. Interestingly, during a single, brief CG shot showing Godzilla and King Ghidorah being scanned via thermal imaging during their underwater fight, Ghidorah's heads used their design from "Rebirth of Mothra III."
Sensing that Godzilla was about to return to Japan to seek vengeance for the souls lost at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Military during the Second World War, the ghost of Professor Hirotoshi Isayama began trying to awaken the three Guardian Monsters to stop him. These monsters were slain by ancient Japanese warriors, who laid the beasts to rest and prayed for their souls to one day return to save the nation in its time of need. Isayama destroyed ancient stone statues which contained the souls of Japan's honorable dead, releasing the souls so that they flowed into the monsters to empower and awaken them. A motorcycle gang casually destroyed one of the statues, awakening Baragon, the God of the Earth. A group of college students vacationing at Lake Ikeda awakened the God of the Sea, Mothra, by moving one of the statues in their attempt to drown a dog who was irritating them. Mothra's larval stage arose from the lake, rescuing the dog and drowning the youths and wrapping their bodies in a cocoon. Isayama was caught destroying the artifacts by police and arr ested before he could finish his work and awaken the last Guardian: Ghidorah, the God of the Sky. However, a suicidal man attempted to hang himself in the Aokigahara "suicide forest" around Mt. Fuji, standing atop one of the statues. The ground beneath him collapsed and he fell into an icy chamber where Ghidorah was sleeping. In ancient times, Ghidorah was known as Yamata no Orochi, an eight-headed dragon, but by this point had only rested long enough to grow back three heads.
Baragon freed Isayama from his prison cell. The God of the Earth went on to fight Godzilla, but the vengeful Monster King easily prevailed. Isayama found Ghidorah's chamber and awakened him, while Mothra's imago stage emerged from a gigantic cocoon on the surface of Lake Ikeda. Mothra intercepted Godzilla in Yokohama, assailing him with her venomous stingers and avoiding blasts of his atomic breath. Ghidorah arrived in the city to back up Mothra, but was overwhelmed by Godzilla, who bit down on his neck, drawing blood, then threw him into a building and blasted him with his atomic breath. Mothra protected Ghidorah from another stream of atomic breath, sending her crashing into the city streets. With his both of his kaiju enemies seemingly down for the count, Godzilla turned his wrath toward the JSDF. Before he could obliterate the final ship in Yokohama Bay, Mothra tried to surprise him from behind, but he quickly turned and incinerated her with a point-blank blast of his atomic breath. Mothra's spirit flowed into the unconscious Ghidorah, reviving him as the Thousand-Year-Old Dragon, King Ghidorah. King Ghidorah flew into the air, with his energy shield absorbing Godzilla's atomic breath. King Ghidorah launched the shield at Godzilla, hurling him into the bay and leaving a wound on his neck. He flew over the bay and kicked Godzilla as he surfaced, only to be pulled underwater. As the monsters continued their battle, two submarines entered Yokohama Bay—one, the Satsuma, piloted by Admiral Taizo Tachibana, and the other by Commander Yutaka Hirose. Hirose fired a D-03 Missile at Godzilla, targeting his neck wound. The monster had anticipated the attack and pulled one of King Ghidorah's heads into the missile's path, knocking it unconscious on the seafloor. A stray blast of the Big G's atomic breath had struck the Yokohama Bay Bridge earlier in the battle, causing Tachibana's daughter Yuri and her assistant, who were filming a live report, to fall into the water below. Fortunately, King Ghidorah was revitalized by an ancient stone from his shrine that Yuri was carrying. After saving them, he flew out of the water to continue the fight. He began spitting gravity beams, which struck Godzilla and caused him visible pain. But after repeated hits, Godzilla absorbed the beams' energy and combined it with his atomic breath in a powerful spiral-wrapped beam that instantly destroyed King Ghidorah. The battle was not lost, as the spirits of all three Guardian Monsters flowed inside Godzilla's body and dragged him underwater. The monster swallowed the Satsuma on the way down, allowing Tachibana to fire a D-03 Missile from inside his body. When Godzilla surfaced again, the missile burst through his shoulder, causing his atomic breath to fire through the wound when he attempted to use it. He sank underwater again, enabling the Satsuma's escape as Godzilla's atomic energy built to critical levels until he finally exploded. When Tachibana came back ashore, he told Yuri and Takeda that he wasn't the one to thank for defeating Godzilla; rather it was those who gave their lives in the battle, including the Guardian Monsters.
In addition to swimming, Mothra can spit silk in her larval stage; the latter ability being used offscreen to envelop her victims and build her cocoon.
After metamorphosing into her imago stage and emerging from her cocoon, Mothra became capable of flight at Mach 1. She evaded sustained fire from Godzilla, who earlier had shot down a squadron of fighter jets with ease.
When in close proximity to Godzilla, Mothra latched onto his head with her claws and held him still until Ghidorah arrived.
Mothra can fire venomous stingers from her abdomen, which injured Godzilla and caused him to briefly fall over. She successfully used this ability only once; her second attempt was foiled by a surprise tail swing. Early storyboards show her firing the stingers from her face instead. In another board, she spits venom from her mouth.
After Godzilla killed Mothra, her spirit flowed into Ghidorah's body and revitalized him as King Ghidorah, allowing him to continue the fight against Godzilla.
In his new state, King Ghidorah gained the ability to fly swiftly at speeds of up to Mach 3.
Ghidorah first attacked Godzilla by discharging electricity through his bite, a technique called the Thunder Spark. These shocks were able to stun Godzilla and cause him pain, though they didn't keep him at bay for long..
When Godzilla first attempted to fire his atomic breath at King Ghidorah, he deflected it with an energy shield, which he proceeded to launch at Godzilla with explosive force. This demolished the harbor and launched him into Yokohama Bay, leaving a wound on his neck.
King Ghidorah attempted to use a flying kick attack to injure Godzilla, but was grabbed by his enemy and dragged underwater.
Unveiled once revitalized by a sacred stone from his shrine, King Ghidorah's Gravity Beams made Godzilla recoil as the electrical energy shocked his entire body. Apparently effective against him at first, the God of Destruction unfortunately absorbed the energy and turned it against the God of the Sky by combining it with his atomic breath.
Like Mothra, King Ghidorah's soul was released after his death. Theirs, combined with Baragon's, flowed into Godzilla, dragging him underwater and allowing Tachibana to fire the missile that led to his defeat.
>During the scene where Godzilla first surfaces at Yaizu Harbor, King Ghidorah's suit actor Akira Ohashi appears as one of the workers in the harbor office, along with Baragon's suit actress Rie Ota. The suicidal man who stumbles upon Ghidorah sleeping is played by Yukijiro Hotaru, well-known to kaiju fans as Tsutomu Osako from the Gamera trilogy.
While Mothra's Shobijin don't make an appearance in "GMK," they are referenced in the form of two women who watch Mothra fly overhead in Yokohama, played by sisters Ai and Aki Maeda. Aki Maeda appeared in a small role in "Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion" as a little girl in Sendai who watches Gamera's revival, while her older sister Ai played the character Ayana Hirasaka in "Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris," in which Aki played the character in flashback sequences. Additionally, Godzilla's suit actor Mizuho Yoshida cameos as a man who sees Mothra fly overhead in Kagoshima.
>Perhaps due to their uncharacteristic portrayals, the "GMK" versions of Mothra and King Ghidorah have few appearances in non-film media. In the American version of the Game Boy Advance game "Godzilla: Domination!," Mothra's design is influenced by the 2001 design, though her abilities are quite different. The 2003 Japanese release recolored her sprite to more accurately reflect her appearance in "Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S." In the Wii version of "Godzilla: Unleashed," King Ghidorah's in-game model appears to be a hybrid of his 1991 and 2001 designs. However, he possesses the Showa and Heisei incarnations' roars, is portrayed as an alien monster just like the Showa version, and is taller than Godzilla in-game. Most recently, both monsters made appearances in the mobile game "Godzilla Defense Force," controlled by the Xiliens and released in Arizona and New York City, respectively.
The Ghidorah suit from "GMK" has been reused for live-action footage featured in the "CR Godzilla" Pachinko games, where Ghidorah was once again an evil space monster rather than a benevolent guardian.
>The first Godzilla comic series from IDW, "Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters," made the decision to base King Ghidorah's design and role on "GMK." In the seventh issue, a monk awakens King Ghidorah from an Asian temple in order to stop Godzilla. They battle in Washington, D.C., before Mechagodzilla interrupts them - electrocuting King Ghidorah until he is knocked unconscious. For the comic's second sequel series, "Godzilla: Rulers of Earth," Ghidorah was retconned into possessing his 1991 design, due to his transformation into Mecha-King Ghidorah, and is implied by Rhizon to have originated from outer space.
That's all there is for the GMK Mothra and Ghidorah. I'm Kyodai Kino, signing off!