Kaiju Profile: King Caesar
Hey kaiju fans, I'm Koopa, and today we'll be taking a look at the lovable guardian of the Azumis: King Caesar!
KING CAESAR, The Guardian of Okinawa
Aliases: King Shisa, King Seeser, King Seesaw, Seasar
Height: 50 meters (Showa)
100 meters (Millennium)
Weight: 30,000 metric tons (Showa)
50,000 metric tons (Millennium)
King Caesar debuted in the 1974 film "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" as the slumbering, mountain-dwelling guardian deity of Okinawa who helped Godzilla even the odds against his mechanical doppelgänger. He was brought back as part of the ensemble monster cast of the Big G's 50th anniversary movie "Godzilla Final Wars," as a pawn of the Xiliens who coordinated with Rodan and Anguirus for a kaiju-sized soccer match.
With his prismatic eyes and brick-like skin, anatomical drawings of King Caesar published in licensed materials over the decades disagree on whether he is an organic creature or an artificial one. For instance, this diagram - translated for Toho Kingdom - describes his body as being made up of golden bones and "concrete brick-like body reinforcements," with energy crystals as an apparent power source. The video game "Godzilla: Unleashed" seems to concur, describing its version of Caesar as a living "capacitor" with "internal batteries" that run on solar power and the energy absorbed from the beams of his opponents.
King Caesar's primary inspiration is the shīsā, after which he is named: guardian lion statues of Okinawan mythology said to ward off evil spirits. "Toho SFX Movies Authentic Visual Book" volume 44 asserts that within the context of the Showa Godzilla films, the shīsā may have been based on Caesar in-universe. Their connection is a little lost in translation, however. Toho originally went for the English name King "Seeser" before arriving on "Caesar," taking advantage of the fact that its rendering in Japanese is only one character off from shīsā.
King Caesar was adapted from an earlier character, King Balgan, proposed by Hiroyasu Yamaura and Jun Fukuda in their 1973 draft for "Showdown in Zanpamisaki: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla." Described as glowing bronze and having golden scales and dog-like ears, most of Caesar's traits were in place from his inception. Akihiko Iguchi, who also designed Mechagodzilla, solidified King Caesar's design, referencing images of shīsā. While real shīsā are traditionally depicted on all-fours, Iguchi decided to make King Caesar bipedal instead.
King Caesar was portrayed by Kinichi Kusumi (under the stage name Mamoru Kusumi), who also played Anguirus in the film. Nobuyuki Yasumaru was in charge of making the King Caesar suit, with his apprentice Tomoki Kobayashi sculpting the head. While the suit mostly stayed true to Iguchi's design, the scales on his thighs were extended to cover his whole legs, which Iguchi felt missed the point of using them as accents. Goat mohair ordered from a specialty shop was used for Caesar's fur, while his eyes were made from car tail lights. A mechanism was installed in the head to allow the monster's ears to move up and down, eliminating the need for them to be controlled by wires. A small prop of a sitting King Caesar was also built, and seems to be used in wide shots of him sleeping.
Three decades later in 2004, King Caesar returned to the big screen for "Godzilla Final Wars." A favorite of director Ryuhei Kitamura, the monster was lightly redesigned by Shinji Nishikawa. Nishikawa drew Caesar's head larger at the request of Kitamura, though this was not kept in his onscreen appearance; of the finished product, Nishikawa commented he found its head to be "surprisingly small." The new King Caesar suit was produced by Kakusei Fujiwara of modeling company MONSTERS, Inc. under the supervision of its president, Shinichi Wakasa. A jaw mechanism was installed to allow actor Motokuni Nakagawa to open the suit's mouth, and like its predecessor, it was given the ability to perk up its ears. As with the other suits in the film, King Caesar was made to be lightweight, allowing for more dynamic fight choreography. Storyboards show Godzilla killing Caesar, Anguirus, and Rodan with atomic breath, but he spares them in the final cut—likely a nod to these characters' previous roles as some of the King of the Monsters' closest allies during the Showa series.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974): When a hidden cave was unearthed in Okinawa, archaeologist Saeko Kanagasuku was sent to investigate and discovered a statue of King Caesar, once the guardian of the royal family of the Azumi tribe in the kingdom of Ryukyu. Furthermore, she found that the walls of the cave displayed a prophecy: “When a black mountain appears above the clouds, a monster will come forth to destroy the world. But when the red moon sets and the sun rises in the west, two monsters will appear to save the people.” Little did Saeko know that the evil Black Hole Planet 3 Aliens had sent their agent Yanagawa to recover the statue before it could be used to awaken King Caesar. Yanagawa twice tried to steal the statue, only to be foiled by Keisuke Shimizu and finally shot and killed by INTERPOL agent Nanbara. When Saeko and Shimizu realized the statue's purpose, they traveled to Cape Manzamo to awaken the guardian monster. They were nearly forced to hand the statue over to the aliens, who had taken Azumi descendant Nami and her grandfather hostage, but Nanbara's partner Tamura quickly arrived and gunned down the aliens. The statue was placed on a rooftop as the sun appeared to rise in the west via a mirage, after which sunlight shone on it and it fired a beam that blasted open a hole in a cliffside. Inside of the cliff rested King Caesar, who had to be awoken by a direct descendant of the Azumi family. Nami approached the beach and sang “Miyarabi's Prayer,” after which the guardian beast burst free of the cliff.
Mechagodzilla had just been launched by the aliens, and was ordered to destroy King Caesar. The guardian monster fought bravely against the mechanical dreadnought, but was soon outmatched. Fortunately, Godzilla surfaced from the sea and came ashore for a rematch with his mechanical duplicate. Together, Godzilla and Caesar were able to withstand Mechagodzilla's onslaught of weapons and deal damage to the machine. Mechagodzilla attempted to retreat, but Godzilla called upon his newfound magnetic powers to pull his doppelganger to him. The guardian monster delivered a series of strikes as Godzilla held Mechagodzilla still. With the machine helpless, Godzilla proceeded to rip its head off and destroy it. Mechagodzilla soon self-destructed along with the aliens' base. His purpose served, King Caesar promptly sealed himself back inside his resting place, while his statue was returned to the Azumi family.
Godzilla Final Wars (2004): In the year 20XX, giant monsters began suddenly appearing in key locations across the globe. King Caesar attacked Okinawa, but was captured by a UFO—revealed to be that of the Xiliens, who sought to "save" humanity from the attacks. However, as the aliens' true colors were revealed, their newly appointed controller unleashed the monsters upon humanity. After Douglas Gordon freed Godzilla from his icy tomb in Antarctica, the King of the Monsters fought the Xiliens' pawns across the globe, eventually ending up at the foot of Mount Fuji. There, the UFOs Alpha, Beta and Gamma deployed King Caesar along with Rodan and Anguirus to face Godzilla in a tag-team fight. The ancient guardian used his agility to his advantage, performing a dynamic team attack with his comrades and kicking Anguirus through the air like a football. Ultimately, despite just witnessing Godzilla knock out his comrades simultaneously, Caesar met his defeat after he unwisely decided to charge the King of the Monsters on his own. He was flung head-first into a nearby cliff, landing on top of the other monsters. Having opted to spare the trio instead of destroying them, Godzilla continued on his way.
King Caesar additionally appeared in "Godzilla Island." Caesar lives up to his mystical reputation in this show, training Godzilla to defeat Gigan through meditation and exorcizing the ghost of SpaceGodzilla from his body with a giant ofuda. his son Young Caesar and daughter Miyarabi, are also recurring characters in the web series "Godziban." Harkening back to "Final Wars," Young Caesar is introduced competing with Godzilla-kun in soccer—but Miyarabi turns out to be a better kicker than either of them. She has a mutual crush on Godzilla-kun, much to Young Caesar's despair...
King Caesar sports the unique ability to amplify and reflect beam attacks back at his opponent, using his Prism Eyes. He was able to catch Mechagodzilla's Space Beams with his right eye before firing them back out of his left—the reflected beam being an order of magnitude stronger. This ability was a holdover from King Balgan, who could also deflect attacks with his scales and fire a golden magma breath from his mouth.
Since the Prism Eyes only work under incredibly specific circumstances, some more recent pieces of media have modified them or given him more traditional beam attacks. Caesar has breath weapons in "Godzilla Island" and the mobile game "Godzilla Defense Force," and solar-powered Laser Eyes in "Godzilla: Unleashed." His bio in "Unleashed" suggests he has more wide-ranging energy-absorption abilities, but that isn't reflected in gameplay—the mechanic was just too glitchy. However, it ended up describing the Caesar in "Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors - All Hail the King" pretty well.
Physical capabilities: King Caesar otherwise tends to fight tooth-and-nail, and possesses incredible agility. According to the PC game "Godzilla Movie Studio Tour," the Showa Caesar could jump up to 1,000 meters into the air, though this is not displayed in the film. In "Godzilla Final Wars," he leaps through the air, kicks the 60,000 ton Anguirus into the air with ease, and performs impressive flips off of nearby rock formations. His signature abilities in the film are a tackle called the Tackle Break and a scissor kick called the Flying Caesar Attack. In "Unleashed," he gains a slew of other acrobatic techniques, including Scissor Kick, Roundhouse, Lightning Kick, Handstand and Backflip. He can also perform a Tail Combo, using his tail as an additional weapon.
Also…Kuronuma remarks during "GVMG" that Caesar "could rouse other monsters too" if he's allowed to awaken. In the English dub, this line is changed to: "We'll be in trouble if King Caesar brings other monsters to life." Either way, this ability is never elaborated upon.
In comics & books: A very lanky King Caesar appears in the "Monthly Shonen Champion" manga adaptation of "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla," intervening in Godzilla's second bout with Mechagodzilla at a pivotal moment and destroying the Black Hole Planet 3 aliens' base himself. Aside from that… there's like… a cameo in Ryu Hariken's "Monster Warrior Godzilla" story from 1990… and a couple Godzilla comic strips around '93. There's more love for him across the pond, as he prominently featured in the final story arc of "Rulers of Earth." Earlier, he was introduced via a flashback witnessed by the character Lucy Casprell, which demonstrated how he once acted as the ancient guardian of mankind, only to fall into conflict with Megalon. Megalon and Caesar's battle destroyed the ancient world, and Caesar disappeared. In the present day, he was awakened by members of the Counter-Kaiju Reaction Forces at the behest of the Shobijin in response to the onslaught of the alien Trilopods. Upon his awakening, Caesar was confronted by Battra before several Trilopods arrived. Battra retreated, leaving the guardian beast at their mercy. He managed to kill a few of the creatures before allowing himself to be captured and imprisoned inside their hive, along with many of Earth's other monsters. King Caesar was the only one of the captured monsters not to be imitated by the Trilopods, possibly due to his inorganic nature. When Godzilla battled the Trilopods in Los Angeles, Caesar led the Earth monsters in escaping from the hive and launching a counterattack against the invaders. He was one of the monsters to confront the colossal Magita after the Trilopods were destroyed, though it was Godzilla who finally slew the behemoth. With the Earth saved, Caesar and the other monsters followed the victorious Godzilla as he swam out to sea…
King Caesar was also one of the monsters inhabiting an alternate dimension in the miniseries "Godzilla: Oblivion," who was released into the primary dimension via a portal. While the other monsters fought and caused destruction, he decided to wander off and built himself a throne out of some destroyed buildings to sit on. In the final issue of "Godzilla: Rage Across Time," he fought Gorosaurus during a worldwide monster war 136 million years ago. A more substantial appearance came in "Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors - All Hail the King," where he joined forces with Godzilla to drive off King Ghidorah. In a twist on the usual kaiju team-up, Godzilla and Caesar then began fighting, as two of the kids they were linked to psychically couldn't stand each other. It all ended happily, of course.
Caesar is part of a select group of trademarked Toho kaiju who had zero novel appearances until the GODZILLA anime prequels came along. In his case, he was in "Project Mechagodzilla." Once again the guardian of Okinawa, he suddenly appeared to confront Megalon when the insect kaiju invaded his homeland in 2029. The two monsters fought at Blue Beach, with both ultimately perishing.
In video games: King Caesar made his video game debut in the 1992 Super Nintendo crossover game "Battle Soccer: Champions of the Field," and was a fairly regular presence in Godzilla games for the rest of the decade. His two biggest roles in 21st century games have been "Godzilla: Unleashed," where he was a member of the Earth Defenders (and looked like a hybrid of his 1974 and 2004 designs), and "Godzilla Battle Line," where his absurdly powerful rushing attack makes him a menace to most land units. "Godzilla Kaiju Collection" and "Godzilla Defense Force" are also notable for including both his Showa and Millennium incarnations.
Toy tidbits: We already mentioned derivative characters Young Caesar and Miyarabi from "Godziban," but there are two more, hailing from the early Heisei-era Godzilla Wars "TOY CARD" series of collectible gift cards. It featured super-deformed, often-oddly-colored illustrations of Toho tokusatsu characters… along with some, I guess you could call 'em "OCs" such as "Full-Metal Gigan" and "MechaMegalon." Anyways, King Caesar Two and Armor King Caesar are the relevant derivatives for this profile - coming in at 65 and 55 meters tall respectively. Kinda cool, eh? ….. …… Yeah… there's nothing else to say about them. Despite the name "TOY CARD," these didn't come with figures or anything of the like. They were manufactured by IMS rather than, say, Bandai. But Bandai Japan (naturally) did release an 8-inch King Caesar soft vinyl figure back in 1993, as part of "The Godzilla Collection" line. But…this sofubi kinda looks off-model, doesn't it? Yeah… (At least it's not as hideously off-model as "The Godzilla Collection" Gigan. Yikes.) This mold would be shrunk down and reissued for Bandai's "Toho Kaiju," "Godzilla Island" and "Movie Monster Series" lines between '97 and 2003, but remained pretty much unaltered aside from different paint jobs. Thankfully Bandai America came to the rescue of toy collectors everywhere by releasing a figure of the Guardian Monster in 2013 with a much better sculpt. Sadly, this would be the LAST new mold for a classic G-kaiju that the American division of Bandai would manufacture before they basically gave up and started spamming reissues for the rest of time. As we all know, by 2020 Playmates would take up the mantle of making new classic Godzilla toys over in the States, while the 2014 movie made Bandai Japan resurrect their "Movie Monster Series" which had been in hiatus since 2007. They even re-released Bandai America's "King Caesar" sculpt for the "Movie Monster EX" subline.
TsuPro's Shisa: 44 years after the release of "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla," Tsuburaya Productions would create their own shisa kaiju as a sort of homage to King Caesar in the form of Gukulushisa, who debuted in "Ultraman Geed the Movie: Connect the Wishes!" Like King Caesar, Gukulushisa is depicted as the guardian of Okinawa, but is of alien origin, having been sent to Earth to protect the mysterious Red Steel. He even has a modified King Caesar roar, and spends most of his screentime fighting off the Galactrons, an army of alien robots that look like dinosaurs. Since his first appearance, he's gone on to become somewhat of a minor recurring hero in the Ultra Series, playing an important side role in "The Absolute Conspiracy" as a member of the Intergalactic Defense Force.
Given Toho's newfound love of celebrating monsters' 50th birthdays, we can expect some love for King Caesar next year—but for now, that's his story. Thanks for watching!