Kaiju Profile: Heisei King Ghidorah / Mecha-King Ghidorah
Written by Astounding Beyond Belief, Les, The King of the Monsters, Titanollante, Surf Kaiju, Koopa
Edited by Titanollante
Narrated by Koopa
Hey kaiju fans, I'm Koopa, and today we will be looking at the Super Dragon Monster: the Heisei King Ghidorah!
After the middling box office returns of "Godzilla vs. Biollante," Toho decided to bring back one of the Monster King's most famous adversaries for "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah." Instead of a space monster, this new King Ghidorah was created by time-traveling terrorists from the year 2204 to bring Japan to its knees in 1992 before it could become a corrupt economic superpower. After Godzilla left him for dead and began his own rampage across Japan, the turncoat Futurian Emmy Kano revived the monster with 23rd-century technology and confronted Godzilla in Tokyo as the pilot of Mecha-King Ghidorah. At first, Toho spelled the English name of this version of KingGhidora as one camelCased word without an h at the end. This was carried over to the TriStar VHS release as well, though it would later be corrected to the trademarked name.
The Heisei King Ghidorah begins life as three adorable 23rd-century pets called Dorats. Kazuki Omori's script simply described them as "synthetic organism[s] resembling a cross between a bat and a cat." Some of Shinji Nishikawa's concept art focused on the animal-hybrid angle, while his final cartoonish design emphasized their artificiality. Three models were created to portray the Dorats, along with a hand puppet operated by Anna Nakagawa, who played Emmy Kano.
Nishikawa also designed King Ghidorah and Mecha-King Ghidorah. He kept the monster's appearance from the Showa series more or less intact, but based the heads on Western dragons instead of Eastern dragons. This was partially a practical decision: the special effects staff found it too difficult to rotoscope every individual hair on his manes over footage of people fleeing. Koichi Kawakita initially wanted each of King Ghidorah's heads to have differently colored gravity beams, which can be seen in some test footage and Noriyoshi Ohrai's advance poster for the film. A similar idea would end up being used for Mecha-King Ghidorah, as the mechanical central head's gravity beam switches colors back and forth between a purple/light blue mix and a light green/red mix.
The Shiki Theatre Company modeled King Ghidorah's suit, supervised by Keizo Murase, who worked on the original costume. Mecha-King Ghidorah was a completely separate suit, incorporating fiber-reinforced plastic. One-third scale King Ghidorah and Mecha-King Ghidorah props were created for flying scenes, while a Bandai figure was used to cast shadows on the miniature city sets when King Ghidorah was supposed to be flying overhead.
"Hurricane" Ryu Hariken wore the King Ghidorah suit, aided by 16 piano wires and nine puppeteers, but the 200-kilogram Mecha-King Ghidorah suit snapped the eighteen wires holding it up so frequently the crew decided it was "too dangerous to put a person inside." Its plunges still proved hazardous for the miniatures. For the scene of Mecha-King Ghidorah flying over the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the prop was hung from a crane and filmed on an open set.
Godzilla vs King Ghidorah: Planning to prevent Japan from becoming a corrupt economic superpower by the 23rd century, a group of time-traveling terrorists known as the Futurians journeyed to 1992 and claimed that Godzilla would return to destroy Japan in the near future, rendering the nation uninhabitable. They assembled a team of Japanese citizens to go back to Lagos Island in 1944, as they believed the Godzillasaurus there would be exposed to an H-bomb test conducted at nearby Bikini Atoll ten years later and transform into Godzilla. The Futurians teleported the Godzillasaurus to the Bering Sea, where they believed it would die, and in its place secretly left behind three genetically-engineered creatures called Dorats. When exposed to the H-bomb, they merged together into King Ghidorah, who the Futurians unleashed on Japan in 1992. He first attacked Fukuoka, tearing the metropolis apart with his gravity beams. The Futurians demanded that the Japanese government surrender to them and follow their demands for rebuilding the country. Godzilla, who had not been erased from history at all, threw a wrench into their plans. The Futurians sent King Ghidorah to kill him, and the two titans duked it out near Hokkaido. Although Godzilla had recently absorbed energy from a nuclear submarine, increasing his height to 100 meters, King Ghidorah still had the edge in maneuverability and firepower.
By then, Emmy Kano and the android M11 had defected from the Futurians. Helped by the writer Terasawa, they assaulted their comrades' ship MOTHER and destroyed the computer controlling King Ghidorah. The severed connection stunned the three-headed dragon, giving Godzilla time to recover. Though King Ghidorah nearly suffocated him, Godzilla knocked his enemy back with a nuclear pulse, then severed his middle neck with his Spiral Heat Ray. Emmy used the subship KIDS to teleport MOTHER and the other Futurians in front of Godzilla, who promptly obliterated them. The wounded King Ghidorah tried to fly away, but Godzilla targeted his left wing next, sending him plummeting into the North Sea. With his competition eliminated, Godzilla began his own rampage across Japan. Emmy believed that King Ghidorah could be revived with technology from her time so long as his corpse was preserved by the cold water, and traveled back to 2204 in KIDS.
As Godzilla tore through Tokyo's Shinjuku ward, Mecha-King Ghidorah materialized in a flash of pulsing energy. Piloted by Emmy and reinforced with several robotic segments, Mecha-King Ghidorah wasted little time in launching an all-out assault. Still, the cybernetics were vulnerable to Godzilla's atomic breath, and the cyborg seemed doomed. Just before Godzilla could deal a fatal blow, Emmy activated Mecha-King Ghidorah's Giant Claws and Machine Hand, allowing her to carry him out to sea. Godzilla's ongoing attacks sent them both crashing into the waves, but Emmy and M11 escaped in KIDS. Though the King of the Monsters survived, Japan was safe for the time being.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II / Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla: After its battle with Godzilla, the U.N. organization G-Force salvaged Mecha-King Ghidorah's remains from the bottom of the sea for analysis. Its 23rd-century robotics were essential in the construction of Mechagodzilla. A training simulator for the machine's pilots appeared to put them at the controls of Mecha-King Ghidorah during its battle with Godzilla in Shinjuku. After Mechagodzilla was destroyed, the technology was further developed for the construction of M.O.G.U.E.R.A.
Ghidorah is able to fire Gravity Beams, or Plasma Gravity Beams, from each of his three mouths. The beams fluctuate in power, dealing only minor damage to some buildings while easily blasting others to pieces. Mecha-King Ghidorah's center head is outfitted with a Gravity Laser Cannon, which projects Laser Beams roughly as potent as his Gravity Beams. A storyboard for "vs. King Ghidorah" shows Mecha-King Ghidorah combining his rays into a single, powerful blast against Godzilla. The entry for the cyborg in the video game "Godzilla Movie Studio Tour" seems to reference this, calling the attack a "Triple Plasma Ray Beam."
King Ghidorah and Mecha-King Ghidorah can achieve flight at speeds of up to Mach 4, allowing them to easily outpace F-15J fighter jets. Ghidorah is able to generate shockwaves powerful enough to damage buildings and bridges. Mecha-King Ghidorah actually flies by way of anti-gravity propulsion devices installed in the armor around his ankles. His wings function only as solar panels, which is how he was able to complete his mission even after Godzilla damaged them.
Mecha-King Ghidorah possesses four giant claws and the massive Machine Hand within its chest. Designed specifically for Godzilla, these cables held steady as he attempted to break free and supported his 60,000-ton mass in the air. They also delivered electric shocks to him as soon as they connected.
As KIDS is stored onboard Mecha-King Ghidorah, the cyborg is able to perform time warps to travel through time and space.
According to Emmy, the Dorats can sense human emotions through microwave impulses and react accordingly.
Physical Abilities: King Ghidorah was able to knock Godzilla off his feet with a flying kick, then pressed his advantage with a series of powerful stomps. Later in their fight, King Ghidorah strangled Godzilla using his center neck. When piloting Mecha-King Ghidorah, Emmy preferred to attack at a distance, though she rammed Godzilla into a building and directed the cyborg's organic heads to bite him.
Durability: King Ghidorah was unaffected by missiles fired by F-15J fighter jets and even shrugged off Godzilla's atomic breath early in their fight.
Weaknesses: However, after Godzilla buffeted him with a nuclear pulse, his more powerful spiral ray was able to sever King Ghidorah's middle neck while his standard atomic breath blasted a hole through his left wing. Mecha-King Ghidorah's cybernetic parts were also vulnerable to his atomic breath. King Ghidorah was stunned after the Futurians lost control over him, collapsing to the ground. Mecha-King Ghidorah is completely reliant on its pilot to function, and was helpless when Godzilla's attacks briefly knocked Emmy unconscious. The Dorats, of course, have no weaknesses. Who would want to fight them anyway?
As we discussed in our Inconsistent Kaiju Stats Volume 1, the Heisei Ghidorah and MKG do not have consistent height and wingspan stats. At the time, we concluded that the 140-meter height given in the majority of official sources, and even used in a pre-production scaling chart for "vs. King Ghidorah," are the easiest to accept. However, it turns out that we overlooked something! For a brief moment during the opening of "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II," Mecha-King Ghidorah's height is displayed as 150 meters. Stapling that to the corresponding 175 meter wingspan, these are the stats we now go with for the super dragon monsters.
Although "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" wasn't legally available in the U.S. until 1998, Trendmasters still featured Mecha-King Ghidorah heavily in their Godzilla toy line from 1994 onward. In their one-shot comic, he does a number on Godzilla before the King of the Monsters throws Mechagodzilla into him. Random House had better timing—they published "Godzilla vs. The Robot Monsters," in which a Mongolian warlord uses Mecha-King Ghidorah to terrorize the world, three months after TriStar released the film on VHS.
While "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" abandoned the three-headed monster's extraterrestrial origin, an early idea for the film had the three Dorats which mutate into the golden dragon engineered from DNA recovered from the carcass of an alien King Ghidorah found on Venus. Though this didn't make it into the movie, Fumio Tanaka kept it in his novelization. Toho was interested enough in this idea to consider a sequel titled "The Return of King Ghidorah," in which the alien Ghidorah turned out to be alive and faced off against Godzilla. In the end, they chose to bring back Mothra instead, who its polling showed was the most popular monster among women. Stock footage of both Mothra and Ghidorah appeared in a G-Force training simulation that was shot for, but ultimately cut from, "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II."
An early concept for the sixth Heisei G-film also featured an alien named Emperor Ghidorah as the villain, but since Orochi was already starring in "Yamato Takeru" that same year, the monster was dropped and ultimately SpaceGodzilla took its place, who retained its gravity-manipulating beams. By the way - the concept for Emperor Ghidorah is remarkably similar to Keizer Ghidorah 10 years later, isn't it?
In the TV series "Godzilla Island," King Ghidorah is one of the first monsters the Xilien Zagres sends to attack the Earth. He is portrayed by a repainted 8-inch Bandai of his 1991 design. In later episodes, Zagres receives Mecha-King Ghidorah and a variant of him called Hyper Mecha-King Ghidorah from a Monster Vending Machine situated conveniently in outer space. Strangely, Bandai never produced figures of those two.
The Heisei Ghidorah and his cybernetic counterpart have appeared in over a dozen video games. You can pit them against each other in the 1993 "Godzilla" arcade game, "Battle Legends," "Trading Battle," and "Godzilla" for the PS4—and you don't even have to worry about a time paradox if Mecha-King Ghidorah wins.
The cyborg also appears in all three of the Pipeworks Godzilla games, sporting an energy shield which can either convert ranged attacks into health, or damage the monsters using those attacks. In "Godzilla: Domination!" and "Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash," he grows to truly massive size to serve as a final boss and a level boss, respectively. The Dorats, meanwhile, only show up in the Game Boy "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" and the mobile game "Kaiju Collection."
Shinji Nishikawa wrote and illustrated a parody of "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" called "Miss Kano's Disgrace," published in the 1992 anthology "The Godzilla Comic Raids Again." If you've ever seen that drawing of a Biollante-Ghidorah hybrid, this is what it's from. In this story, King Ghidorah is sent by the Xiliens on a mission to attack Earth, but encounters Biollante in the Asteroid Belt. A battle ensues in which Biollante morphs into the hybrid under the effects of Ghidorah’s gravity beams, but King Ghidorah is still victorious. In the Shogakukan adaptation of "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II," using Mecha-King Ghidorah's computer system to help build Mechagodzilla comes with a price; the cyborg’s programming assumes direct control of the robot during the finale, kills Godzilla, and nearly does the same to BabyGodzilla. As in the movie, Rodan sacrifices himself to revive Godzilla, who triumphs over the mech.
Although Toho limited IDW's ability to explain their monsters' origins, they still managed to get Mecha-King Ghidorah into "Godzilla: Oblivion" and "Rulers of Earth." In "Oblivion," humanity recovers King Ghidorah after hitting him with a nuclear weapon and mechanizes him using technology from an alternate universe where kaiju dominate the planet. Unfortunately, the humans from that universe try to unload the rest of their kaiju onto ours, leaving Mecha-King Ghidorah and his pilot Ridley hopelessly outnumbered. They manage to hold off the monster army long enough for much of humanity to be evacuated to the other dimension, but it costs them their lives. In "Rulers of Earth," the Cryogs used Gigan to chop off King Ghidorah's middle head before making him into a cyborg. Mecha-King Ghidorah, piloted by the psychic twins Minette and Mallory, fought Godzilla and Anguirus in Russia alongside two Mechagodzillas. Despite the long odds, the two Earth monsters prevailed, destroying MKG's control device in the process. After that, he retreated back into space.
That's pretty much it for the Heisei Ghidorah. Thank you for watching!