Kaiju Profile: Ghogo
Before Furby, there was Ghogo. Hey kaiju fans, I'm Les, here to profile the treasure of the Nilai-Kanai: Ghogo!
GHOGO, Legendary Beast
Aliases: Gōgo, Gorgo
Height: 20 centimeters
Weight: 0.9 kilograms
This fuzzy water fairy spent most of "Rebirth of Mothra 2" being carried by children and/or fleeing from a pair of greedy fishermen and the tiny woman on a cybernetic dragon bossing them around. But he came clutch in the film's climax, sacrificing himself to allow Mothra Leo to attain two more powerful forms and destroy the evil sea monster Dagahra.
Ghogo was designed by anime and picture book artist Yasuko Ambiru, with Shinji Nishikawa contributing at least one idea for a legless version. Unlike a lot of Heisei era monsters, there aren't any especially wild pieces of concept art; Ambiru seemed to have grokked the right look pretty quickly. Kyoji Maeda of Up-Art produced nine total props for Ghogo, including a radio-controlled closeup prop, a remote-controlled closeup prop, and seven "action" props. The two closeup props consisted of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) cores, fitted with mechanisms to remotely control their eyes. The props were covered with a Japanese fabric called boa, often used for plush toy stuffing.
Rebirth of Mothra 2 (1997): Shortly after a strange red starfish attacked a fisherman off the coast of Okinawa, two other local fishermen, Mikio Kotani and Junichi Nagase, encountered a small fuzzy creature. He leapt at Mikio, who swatted him back into the water, causing him to drop a gold ring. Believing they'd discovered a new species, the two resolved to capture it.
A young girl, Shiori, encountered the fuzzy creature while picking flowers. Both were equally terrified at first, but she managed to befriend him. She soon ran afoul of two school bullies, Kōhei and Yoji. Just as they caught her, Belvera, wicked sister of Mothra's priestesses Moll and Lora, appeared on Garugaru. She informed them that the creature was called Ghogo—and of course, demanded that Shiori hand him over. Shiori gave her the basket containing Ghogo, only to slip him out and run away. As Belvera and the boys gave chase, Moll and Lora arrived on Fairy. As the laser beams flew, Belvera revealed to her sisters that she planned to use Ghogo to obtain the miraculous treasure of Nilai-Kanai. Shiori and the boys tossed Ghogo to each other, keeping Belvera at bay long enough to reach a heavily populated beach, and she retreated. Ghogo, seeing that Yoji injured his knee during the chase, healed it with… water.
Moll and Lora formally introduced themselves to the kids. At their school, they researched Nilai-Kanai, which according to Okinawan legend was a magical kingdom that sank into the Pacific Ocean 12,000 years ago, also known as Mu. Translating Ghogo's conversation with Fairy, Moll and Lora learned that Dagahra, a monster created by Nilai-Kanai to consume pollution, had returned, with the Barem he produced threatening to choke the world's oceans. The Elias vowed to stop him using Nilai-Kanai's treasure. Commandeering the computer, Ghogo instructed them to take him to the coast of Ishigaki Island.
That night, Shiori and the boys stole their teacher's canoe and set sail, with the fishermen, now in Belvera's employ, following them on a water scooter. After they found the submerged ruins of the Nilai-Kanai pyramid, Ghogo dove into a small opening, causing a beam of green light to shoot into the sky and pulling the kids into a water tunnel, which ended inside a room with a stone lion. Suddenly, the entire pyramid rose to the surface, allowing Fairy to enter and blast one of the Barem that followed them in. Dagahra arrived to attack the pyramid, but rays from the stone statues flanking it drove him off. Moll and Lora flew off to summon Mothra Leo, tasking the kids with finding the treasure.
The fishermen abducted Shiori and Ghogo, only to lose both of them after Ghogo… scratched Junichi's hand. Bouncing through the temple with determination, Ghogo led Shiori across an invisible bridge, and they soon reunited with the boys. Meanwhile, Mothra Leo engaged Dagahra, seeming to gain the upper hand with repeated blasts of his Sparkling Pileload. Dagahra retaliated from underwater with a Thundering Toxic Crimson Vortex which enveloped Leo and left him covered in Barem. With the pyramid's aid, the guardian managed to collapse on top of the structure.
The fishermen tracked down the kids and Ghogo again, but Moll and Lora intervened, destroying their spear gun. Cowed, they apologized, only for Mikio to grab Kōhei and Garugaru to shoot down Fairy. The door in front of them all suddenly opened. Inside they found massive statues, two with impressive orange gems on their foreheads. Mikio and Belvera retrieved them… causing the doors to close. An enormous, regal hologram of Princess Yuna took form at the center of the room and wordlessly sent Junichi flying with a blast of lightning. The Elias made their cases for possession of the treasure: Belvera wanting to use it to wipe out humanity, Moll and Lora striving to save it. Yuna explained that long ago, both Nilai-Kanai and Dagahra were buried by an earthquake just as the civilization's greatest scientists created a treasure to protect it. That treasure was not an object, however, but Ghogo. Belvera lunged for him, but a force field stopped her. Having crawled on top of the pyramid, Dagahra tried to finish Leo. His weight quickly caused the structure to crumble. Yuna instructed Shiori to bring Ghogo to Mothra, then stopped a statue from falling on them with a force field. The humans resolved to put their differences aside to escape, with Shiori using Ghogo to heal Mikio after he was injured by rubble. They crossed a bridge which shattered immediately afterwards, triggering a firestorm. As more doors closed, they seemed to be trapped, but Garugaru tripped a switch at the last moment, shutting another door and saving them. Belvera acknowledged her sisters before flying off. As they made it outside, the statues and Yuna granted Leo another burst of energy to knock back Dagahra, giving Shiori time to present Ghogo to him. The little creature started glowing and floated above Leo, bestowing his life force to transform him into Rainbow Mothra.
Dagahra was no match for this new form, his rays reflecting off an invisible shield, but found no solace underwater either, as Rainbow Mothra transformed into AquaMothra to ravage him from the inside. Reverting to Rainbow Mothra, he dropped Dagahra on top of the pyramid, then liquefied them both. The humans, having safely made it to the shore, heard the voice of the hologram, reminding them that the future is in their hands. Shiori revealed the gift Ghogo left her: a single pearl she imagined as the Earth.
Physical abilities: Though hardly a fighter, Ghogo struck Junichi hard enough for him to let the water spirit and Shiori escape. Like a lot of the small-scale violence in this movie, it happens off camera; it could have been a scratch, since his claws were right there, or it could have been a bite, which seems to have been the intent of the sound effect. Ghogo, of course, doesn't have an obvious mouth with all that fur, but he did have one sculpted in at least one stage of prototyping.
Swimming: Ghogo can move through the water with surprising speed given his tiny claws.
Extraordinary jumper: Ghogo is able to leap several times his own height, allowing him to quickly travel through the halls of the Nilai-Kanai pyramid. He's not always the most graceful creature, at one point seeming to just hurl himself down a flight of stairs. He also levitated briefly.
Durability: Ghogo survives some serious punishment for such a little thing during the chase in the forest. Shiori accidentally throws him into a tree, and Yoji lands on top of him when he flies onto the beach. Earlier in the film, he also seemingly shrugged off a whack from a fishing spear.
Cartoon eyes: During his first encounter with Shiori, Ghogo's eyes bugged out to cartoonish proportions as he did a backflip in fright. This moment probably wasn't meant to be taken literally, but whatever, this section needed padding.
Telepathy: Ghogo was able to communicate telepathically with Fairy and generate images on a Power Macintosh 7600/200. No word on if he's compatible with Windows or Linux.
Ghogo's far-and-away most memorable feat was to, uh… secrete what official sources describe as Hopeful Water. This "water" healed a scrape on Yoji's knee, as well as more extensive injuries to Mikio—who crackled with energy afterwards! And yes, according to "Rebirth of Mothra 2 Super Complete Works," his sacrifice to transform Mothra Leo into Rainbow Mothra was also a use of this ability. … Yeah.
Noteworthy stamp: If you're a Godzilla fan in the West, especially if you were brought up in the 90s through early 2010s, you're probably aware of Toho's trademark icons. You know, these. Not every Toho monster has one - there aren't ones for Maguma, Matango, the "Yamato Takeru" creatures… and until IDW got their hands on them, there weren't ones for Sanda or Gaira either. Would you be surprised to find out then, that both the BAREM and GHOGO have official icons? Yep. Ghogo's was used at least once on licensed merchandise back in 2003, though it's seemingly never been used since. Kinda odd, huh?
Like Nothing You've Ever Seen Before: The English dub of "Rebirth of Mothra 2" pronounces Ghogo's name as "Gorgo," which happens to be the name of the titular character from a 1961 giant monster film. Both Gorgos are doggedly pursued by two seamen hoping for fame and fortune, but the resemblances end there, to put it mildly. Although "Gorgo" is set in the UK and many British expats were involved in the dubbing of Toho's films in Hong Kong, it probably wasn't an intentional reference, as several Japanese books use the name as well.
Not much merch: You'd think Ghogo was designed specifically to sell kids life-sized plushies, but in fact the only toy of his released contemporary to "Rebirth of Mothra 2" was a finger puppet included in the Bandai figure set. Cast also made an ornament of him in 2012, and another in 2021 with Ghogo peeing—*cough* err, uh… releasing Hopeful Water.
Non-film stints: Aside from those ornaments, Toho has basically forgotten that Ghogo exists in the 21st century. He did put in a few appearances in non-film media before then though. The digest manga included in the "Mothra 2" Special Graphix book has the Elias and Shiori spot his visage on Mothra's wing, indicating he (or his spirit) 'lives on' within the divine moth. Meanwhile, the Bessatsu CoroCoro Comic Special manga adaptation reimagined him as an even more cutesy thing, but he's reduced from main character to mere MacGuffin. Princess Yuna's ghost presents him as the treasure of Nilai-Kanai and explains that his heart is able to grant "only one wish." Kohei, here the main character, reeeeeally wants to bring back his…dead, I guess?...mother, but ultimately asks for the near-death Mothra to be revitalized. As a little 'extra,' Ghogo either transforms into or conjures the spirit of Kōhei's mom and they then fly out "Dragon Ball Z"-style. Upon colliding with the lepidopteran, AquaMothra is born and Dagahra is subsequently torn to shreds. Ghogo was also the only major monster to emerge from the Tentomushi Comics "Mothra" manga with a scrap of dignity, although the poor thing was introduced trapped inside a claw machine. His antenna is quite versatile here, able to pick locks and extend to form a hoop. On the video game front, he was naturally one of the available pets in the '97 "Mothra" Tamagotchi game. He evolves from Fairy, if you can believe it, who in turn evolves from a Mothra or Battra grub. Finally, he's in the similar "Mothra: Dream Battle" for the Dreamcast VMU, and an effect card in the PlayStation game "Godzilla Trading Battle," there called "Fairy Ghogo."
Until Heisei era nostalgia finally includes the "Rebirth of Mothra" trilogy, that's all we have for Ghogo. Now go watch "Chibi Godzilla Raids Again"!