Kaiju Profile: Mechagodzilla (Heisei) / Super Mechagodzilla
Hey kaiju fans, I'm Koopa, and today we're taking a look at a pair of anti-Godzilla superweapons that almost went the distance—the Heisei Mechagodzilla and Garuda!
Following the successful revivals of Mothra and King Ghidorah in the third and fourth films of the Heisei series, Toho decided to bring back another of Godzilla's classic foes in 1993: Mechagodzilla. With the King of the Monsters once again a threat to mankind rather than a hero like in the 70's films, a role reversal was necessary: instead of an alien war machine, Mecha G became a weapon built by humans to defend Japan from Godzilla. Their study of technology recovered from the remains of Mecha-King Ghidorah made this huge technological leap possible.
Koichi Kawakita first proposed pitting Godzilla against a mecha in the Heisei series in 1991: specifically a redesigned Mechani-Kong. However, problems obtaining the likeness of King Kong or Mechani-Kong from Turner Entertainment prevented it from becoming a reality. The first story proposal was a 14-page draft entitled "Godzilla vs. Berserk," written by anime designer Yutaka Izubuchi. Here, Mechagodzilla—dubbed "Berserk"—originated as a metallic alien organism which arrived on Earth inside a meteorite and began growing by assimilating machinery into itself. Recognizing Godzilla as the dominant lifeform on the planet, Berserk configured itself into a robotic duplicate of the King of the Monsters. Concept sketches were provided of Berserk's initial and Mechagodzilla forms, but the novel alien invader angle was quickly dropped.
According to Kawakita, a draft entitled "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla: Metallic Battle," possibly written by Shinji Nishikawa, featured a human-built MG injecting a team of humans inside of the Big G to battle him from within, an idea inspired by the film "Fantastic Voyage" and recycled from Kawakita's "Godzilla vs. Mechani-Kong" proposals. Toho brought on Wataru Mimura to write a series of drafts for the looming "Godzilla 5," which threw Rodan into the mix. One draft introduced a version of Mechagodzilla composed of seven vehicles which could join together and separate, accompanied by the independent flying machine Garuda. It fought a pair of Rodans on Adonoa Island, killing the male and knocking the female into the ocean. During the final battle, the mech killed Godzilla using its G-Crusher weapon. Garuda's unstable nuclear reactor exploded and revived the Big G, who destroyed Mechagodzilla piece by piece. Worried about the logistics of realizing the seven vehicles onscreen, Kawakita simplified them into a tank called the Gundalva and a watercraft called the Naga, with the Garuda now able to attach to Mecha G's back. In Mimura's next draft, the Gundalva now battled two Pteranodons on Adonoa Island. Otherwise, Mechagodzilla's role in the story remained the same.
Shinji Nishikawa, Minoru Yoshida, and "Hurricane" Ryu Hariken prepared concept art for Mechagodzilla. Many of their designs attempted to emulate the square, angular design of the Showa version. Noriyoshi Ohrai included one of Nishikawa's designs, along with his female Rodan, on the advance poster artwork for "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II." In the end, Kawakita requested Katsushi Murakami of Bandai to step in; he favored a futuristic curved and shiny silver appearance in place of a gritty angular look. Most critically, Murakami's design lacked a transformation gimmick. Minoru Yoshida drew concept art of this rendition. Kawakita, feeling the monster could not be adequately visualized through a two dimensional medium, recruited Shuichi Murakami to sculpt a small model of Mechagodzilla upon which its suit would be based.
A team from Cosmo Productions made the suit. They sculpted the head in clay, while its body was prototyped with styrofoam so that molds could be created. The final product was cast in fiber-reinforced plastic, a rigid yet lightweight material which gave the illusion of a metallic surface. Because the suit took a great deal of time and effort to be repaired, the filmmakers avoided filming scenes involving intense physical combat with the suit so that it would not get scratched. This translated onscreen to Mechagodzilla's reliance on ranged combat and aversion to fighting in close quarters. Nonetheless, Godzilla popped his head off during filming of the final battle, an accidental homage to the machine's previous films. Mechagodzilla was portrayed by Wataru Fukuda, who had previously played the Godzillasaurus and would go on to play MOGUERA in the following film.
Masaharu Ogawa and his company Ogawa Modeling created and designed the Garuda. As with Mechagodzilla, small reference models were created to aid in the production of the props. They created three at 1:1 scale: one with its cannons extended for hangar and flying scenes, one with the ability to fold the cannons down, and a lighter one with the cannons fully folded to attach to the back of the MG suit. The 1:1-scale flying prop, which measured about 38 cm, was equipped with a Freon gas assembly to spray streams of gas from its jets. At least one 1/2-scale prop was produced. A flying miniature was also used for Mechagodzilla, created by Ogawa.
Two of the flying Garuda props returned in the Sanrio Puroland short, "Monster Planet of Godzilla," modified to become the ships Earth and Planet. Early drafts for "Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla" included a new second Garuda, but it evolved into the Star Falcon. Kawakita's team considered remodeling the Earth miniature again, but decided to create a new prop entirely.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993): In 1992, the UN formed the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center and its military branch G-Force to combat the threat posed to humanity by Godzilla. The first weapon completed by the organization was an aerial warcraft called the Garuda. However, its firepower was limited: a far more powerful machine was required to stand up to the King of Monsters. A breakthrough came when the UNGCC salvaged the remnants of Mecha-King Ghidorah—a cyborg constructed in the 23rd century—and reverse-engineered its technology to build a powerful new robot in Godzilla's image. Dubbed Mechagodzilla, it was completed in 1994. Kazuma Aoki, a robotics engineer who helped build the Garuda, was assigned to be part of the mech's crew, led by Captain Takuya Sasaki. When Godzilla surfaced at Yokkaichi, Aoki was in Kyoto attending to the newly-hatched Godzillasaurus at a scientific institute there, requiring a backup pilot to be assigned to the mech. Mecha G engaged Godzilla in the countryside, and seemed to have the upper hand, absorbing and redirecting his atomic breath. The robot speared Godzilla with its Shock Anchor cables, releasing a crippling electrical discharge into the beast. However, he managed to reverse the flow of energy, causing Mechagodzilla to short-circuit and cease functioning. The kaiju knocked his mechanical double to the ground and continued on his way to Kyoto, dispatching the other military units G-Force sent his way.
With Mechagodzilla undergoing heavy repairs, Aoki was stripped of his position on the machine's crew and assigned to the UNGCC parking garage. In his spare time, he developed several potential modifications to the Garuda and showed them to Dr. Leo Asimov, the lead robotics professor on Mechagodzilla; Asimov concluded they would work. Aoki was promptly reassigned, while G-Force made an important discovery: the infant Godzillasaurus held by the UNGCC, named BabyGodzilla, had a secondary brain in his hip area which controlled motor function in his lower body. No doubt Godzilla possessed this structure as well. A plan codenamed "G-Crusher" was drafted to use Baby to lure the Big G to the remote Ogasawara Islands, where Mechagodzilla would use its shock anchors to target the monster's secondary brain and cripple him from the waist down. G-Force saw Miki Saegusa's psychic abilities as essential, though she was reluctant to play a part in the monster's destruction. No sooner had Baby and his caretaker Azusa Gojo taken flight than the revived Fire Rodan intercepted the canister holding them and touched down in the Makuhari Bay area, trying to break it open. Mechagodzilla sortied against the winged monster, with Aoki providing support in the Garuda. Though Rodan managed to knock Garuda out of the sky and deal some damage to Mecha G up close, the machine's Plasma Grenade mortally wounded him.
As Rodan fell, Godzilla surfaced from the bay to challenge his counterpart. The two behemoths fired their beam weapons at each other, which locked in midair and exploded. Stunned by the explosion, Mecha G was helpless as the Big G pummeled it. Aoki managed to repair Garuda and got Godzilla off MG's back. The mech combined with Garuda, forming Super Mechagodzilla. As it kept the Monster King off-balance with its expanded arsenal, Miki hesitated before targeting and firing its shock anchors into his second brain, shattering it and making him collapse to the ground. The robot attempted to finish him off by firing all of its weapons, but the onslaught made BabyGodzilla cry out to the wounded Rodan. The pteranodon flew overhead and was shot down by MG's Mega Buster, falling on top of Godzilla. Rodan miraculously began transferring his energy into the dying Godzilla, reconstituting his brain and completely revitalizing him. The King of the Monsters stood up and started emitting intense waves of heat that melted Mechagodzilla's artificial diamond armor. It prepared for a desperate final clash, firing its Mega Buster to counter Godzilla's new red spiral Uranium Hyper Heat Ray. The beams clashed and exploded, this time with Goji triumphant. He unleashed his heat ray at Mechagodzilla, knocking it into a building before it finally exploded. Despite the onboard A.I. saying otherwise, all of Mechagodzilla's crew survived unharmed.
Beyond that, the robot turned up in the television series "Adventure! Godzilland 2," which began airing two months before the movie hit theaters, and "Godzilla Island," where it was operated by the monster protection organization G-Guard. The "Godziban" team made a puppet of it, but it hasn't turned up in the show at the time of writing.
Mechagodzilla's Mega Buster was a rainbow-colored beam fired from its mouth equal in power to Godzilla's atomic breath. The weapon was prone to overheating if fired for too long; it became temporarily unusable following a 10-second beam lock, but was made operational again after Mechagodzilla combined with Garuda.
Mechagodzilla's eyes were armed with twin Laser Cannons, which it strangely only used during its first battle against Godzilla. It lost the ability to fire from the right eye after Fire Rodan damaged it with his beak, but the cannon was restored once Mechagodzilla combined with Garuda.
Mechagodzilla had two Shock Anchor harpoons loaded into its arms, which were fired into a target and used to deliver a powerful electrical surge. Effective against Godzilla at first, they proved to be Mecha G's undoing in their first battle as the King of the Monsters managed to reverse the flow of energy into his opponent. The Shock Anchors were later upgraded into the more powerful G-Crusher system, which delivered a shock in excess of the original Shock Anchor's voltage, and was designed specifically to target and destroy Godzilla's secondary brain, requiring the psychic guidance of Miki Saegusa. It was successful in doing so, nearly allowing Mechagodzilla to kill the King of Monsters before Rodan's intervention.
Mechagodzilla fired Paralyzer Missiles from two three-cell rocket launchers on its shoulders, each able to hold 60 missiles at a time. These stunned Godzilla during their first battle before the Shock Anchors were utilized. The robot could also fire Tranquilizer Missiles laced with anesthetics and tranquilizers from ports on both of its hips.
The Diamond Coating over Mechagodzilla's NT-1 alloy armor rendered Godzilla's atomic breath and Fire Rodan's Uranium heat ray effectively harmless. The mech absorbed their energy and converted it into plasma, then stored and amplified it in a port in its abdomen before unleashing it in an attack called the Plasma Grenade. Tremendously powerful, it knocked Godzilla down and mortally wounded Fire Rodan. Since this weapon generated a tremendous amount of heat, it couldn't be fired continuously and had to be treated with an extremely potent coolant. After the robot's Diamond Coating melted, it became unable to absorb enemy attacks and use the Plasma Grenade.
Though Mechagodzilla could fly at Mach 1, during combat it mostly used its jets to keep its distance from its enemies, in a maneuver known as the Hover Attack. Upon becoming Super MG, its flight speed can reach up to Mach 2. On its own, the Garuda's top flight speed was Mach 3.
Garuda was armed only with a pair of High Power Maser Beam Cannons, which became mounted on Super Mechagodzilla's shoulders. They were sufficient to get Fire Rodan and Godzilla's attention, but lacked the power for Garuda to survive such an encounter without Mechagodzilla's support.
Weaknesses: For all of its powerful weapons, Mechagodzilla lacked any real hand-to-hand capabilities, only managing a single jet-powered ram against Godzilla. Before it became Super Mechagodzilla, unexpected malfunctions caused it to shut down twice, allowing Godzilla to savage the machine up close. In addition, its Diamond Coating melted from exposure to the incredible heat given off by the Big G after he absorbed Rodan's energy—leaving it defenseless against his Uranium Hyper Atomic Heat Ray, which obliterated it in a few hits.
Poster Mechagodzilla: Shinji Nishikawa's Heisei Mechagodzilla design is a rare case of a scrapped monster receiving official attention after it was abandoned, all thanks to the late Noriyoshi Ohrai immortalizing it on the advance poster for "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II." Tamashii Nations turned it into an S.H.MonsterArts figure in 2017 that came with the ability to split apart into the Garuda, Gundalva and Naga, and included a manga by Nishikawa documenting the process behind the design. A year later, it reached even greater heights as the base for the look of the Mechagodzilla in the movie adaptation of "Ready Player One."
Just Like the Simulations: This version of the robot jumped into the video game world immediately, appearing in four games from 1993. And it made quite an impression: Toho Kingdom described it as "the best character in 'Godzilla: Battle Legends'" and "mostly broken" in "Kaiju Daikessen." It had a glorified cameo in the "Godzilla" arcade game, popping up opposite Godzilla after completion of the VS mode - seemingly as a teaser for the then-upcoming movie. In "Super Godzilla," it was the second boss monster, but only in the Japanese version, being replaced with the Showa Mechagodzilla overseas. A derivative character named SMG-IInd takes the place of the VS series Mechagodzilla as a boss in "Godzilla Generations: Maximum Impact." An unmanned combat mech controlled by the artificial intelligence "BH-3", SMG-IInd is a sleek machine. Capable of travel at speeds of 330 kilometers per hour, it sports huge gatling guns in place of hands, and the "Garuda armaments" - as they were - are incorporated into its shoulders. Among other appearances, the Heisei MG is playable in the Pipeworks trilogy, "Godzilla: Domination!," and the PS4 "Godzilla" game. More regional differences abound: the Japanese releases of "Domination" and the GameCube version of "Destroy All Monsters Melee" replace it with Kiryu. Its stage intro and taunt in the Pipeworks games comes from a deleted scene in "GVMGII" where it smashes its closed fists together before taking to the air.
Control System: Mechagodzilla's artificial intelligence system is named REIKO, a reference to director Takao Okawara's first big project: the 1991 psychic horror movie "Reiko, the Psyche Resurrected". Okawara spoke briefly on the reference, clarifying in a 1993 interview: "That wasn't my idea. [Masaaki] Tezuka directed the sequence in which the name of the computer system is shown, and he is the one who came up with the idea." The Garuda's control system also has a name, ARISA—which it shares with "Reiko" lead actress Alisa Mizuki.
Creative Liberties: The Shogakukan manga adaptation of "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II" expanded upon the robot's connection to Mecha-King Ghidorah. After MG defeated Godzilla, MKG's old code took over - its objective a simple one: KILL GODZILLA. The pilots could only watch as it gruesomely assaulted him, culminating in a near-beheading. As in the movie, Rodan brought the Big G back to life, but Mecha G put up more of a fight afterwards.. Rather than a barrage of Uranium Hyper Heat Rays, Godzilla beat it the old-fashioned way... but then! - the headless, armless mech got back up, bound itself to the giant beast, and self-destructed. As the smoke cleared, it was evident the King of Monsters had triumphed. G-Force rebuilt it in Shogakukan's "Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla" adaptation sent it after MOGUERA, which had been stolen by Akira Yuki. He easily repelled its attack with a beam barrier, then tore it apart with MOGUERA's hand drills.
Kodansha's manga adaptation isn't as gory as the Shogakukan version but has its share of miscellaneous differences throughout. MG's upper body ejects at the end of the battle at the open field and the lower half self-destructs, to a predictable result. Most noteworthy is that after its escort of Baby's carrier is ambushed by both Rodan and Godzilla, the robot wields a Mega Maser Cannon against G in what's called its "Megacannon Mode."
Made in Detroit: The Heisei MG appears in two of Random House's Godzilla books. In "Godzilla on Monster Island," humans try to use it to recover Mothra's egg, but the Big G sends it packing. In "Godzilla vs. The Robot Monsters," it's a joint U.S.-Japan project piloted by paraplegic hacker Michael Sullivan through the power of VR. Despite the cover, he doesn't actually fight Godzilla, but teams up with him and MOGUERA against Mecha-King Ghidorah. Super Mechagodzilla has also featured extensively in IDW's Godzilla comics, first appearing in "Kingdom of Monsters" as an ultra-patriotic anti-kaiju weapon. Since then, it's been a mothballed superweapon made useful again in "Gangsters and Goliaths," teamed up with Godzilla against Hedorah in "Legends," and faced both Godzilla and SpaceGodzilla in "The Half-Century War." Like Kiryu, a pair of planes flew him to the battlefield, though the real inspiration seemed to have been concept art from "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II."
That wraps up Wikizilla's Kaiju Profile on the Heisei Mechagodzilla. As always, thank you for watching.