Kaiju Profile: Kiryu
A ～Redux～ version of the Kaiju Profile premiered on March 22, 2019; the 44th overall episode.
Hey kaiju fans, I'm Kyodai Kino, and today we're taking a look at the Millennium Mechagodzilla— Kiryu!
The third distinct incarnation of Mechagodzilla, Kiryu was introduced following the successful revival of Mothra and King Ghidorah in 2001, appearing in "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla" and "Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.," both directed by Masaaki Tezuka.
The Millennium version of the King of the Monsters' robotic double incorporates the genes and skeleton of the deceased, original Godzilla from 1954: this Mecha G isn't just an anti-Godzilla superweapon, but a self-aware and existentially conflicted one. Thanks to the DNA computers meant to improve his processing power, there's a literal ghost in this machine.
Kiryu's name is a compound of two kanji meaning "machine" (usually a large one) and "dragon," creating a descriptive yet distinctive moniker for this version of the robot. "Mechagodzilla" is only said twice in "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla," once apiece by Tokumitsu Yuhara and his daughter Sara, and never spoken at all in "Tokyo S.O.S." Kiryu also carries the military designation "Multipurpose Fighting System Type 3," following the JSDF convention of naming weapons after the year in which they were introduced. This full designation is often shortened to just "MFS-3" or "Type-3 Kiryu."
Artists Shinji Nishikawa, Yasushi Torisawa, and Hiroshi Maruyama submitted concept art for the new Mechagodzilla. Ultimately, Nishikawa's designs would win out, with Maruyama credited for additional design works. Nishikawa gave Kiryu's armor some of the qualities of bone, such as spine- and rib-like patterns, likening it to the Ultra Series monster Seabozu. His initial concept for the character even bore a yellow, bone-colored hue, though Masaaki Tezuka preferred a more traditional silver coloration. Nishikawa's fourth draft for Kiryu was briefly considered as the final concept, but he then altered the head's overall design. Special effects director Yuichi Kikuchi suggested that Kiryu's eyes shift from yellow to red when he's possessed by the spirit of the first Godzilla, intending for the red lines on his cheeks to resemble tears of blood. Shinji Nishikawa was also responsible for the design of Kiryu's back unit.
A 40 centimeter, 1/5-scale model of Kiryu with a detachable back unit was created as reference for the construction of the mecha's suit, based on Nishikawa's finalized design. It makes a cameo in the film itself on a table in the Defense Agency of Science & Technology. A team of modelers from Startrain, supervised by Shinichi Wakasa, created the suit. Creating Godzilla foes was old hat for this company, as they had already made Orga and Megaguirus. For stunt sequences too difficult to execute through suitmation, 1/2-scale Kiryu and Godzilla models were created. They appear in at least two scenes: Kiryu's "King Kong vs. Godzilla"-esque tail swing, for which they were attached to a spinning base, and the monsters' plummet into the ocean. A highly-detailed CG model of Kiryu's suit was also employed for several shots during his transport and descent into Shinagawa to create movement which was impossible for the suit or scale model. The close-ups of Kiryu's jet boosters in this scene are also purely CG.
Shinji Nishikawa returned for "Tokyo S.O.S." to design Kiryu's new weaponry. Startrain and Shinichi Wakasa partially remodeled the suit for the mech to reflect Nishikawa's final concepts. In light of difficulties with filming combat scenes in the previous film, the team attempted to reduce the weight of the suit with the new components. The suit was also repainted with a black tinge at the wishes of special effects director Eiichi Asada in order to give it a gunmetal finish. For the scene in which Yoshito Chujo is ejected from Kiryu's cockpit, a full-size model of its hatch was used, composited over bluescreen footage of the suit's backside.
Lastly, the "Tokyo S.O.S." suit returned for live-action segments of the pachinko game "CR Godzilla 3S-T Battle" in 2006.
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla: Although Dr. Serizawa gave his life to kill the original Godzilla in 1954 with the Oxygen Destroyer, Japan still found itself threatened by other monsters such as Mothra and Gaira over the following decades. In 1999, a second Godzilla landed in Tateyama and shrugged off the Japanese Xenomorph Self-Defense Force's most advanced weapons. Their Anti-Megalosaurus Force proposed dredging up the skeleton of the first Godzilla from Tokyo Bay and using it as a framework for constructing a robot to combat the new Godzilla. They inserted cloned DNA from the bones into the quasi-organic computer controls to take over subconscious motor control functions for the crew. Akane Yashiro, a former Maser Cannon operator who had been demoted after sideswiping her commanding officer during the Tateyama battle, was selected as the pilot.
Completed in 2003, the machine, nicknamed Kiryu, sortied when Godzilla surfaced at Hakkeijima. It was a one-sided fight, with Godzilla too bewildered to respond. Just before Akane could finish him off with the Absolute Zero Cannon, he bellowed a roar that shook Kiryu to the core, causing him to remember when he used to be Godzilla. As Godzilla slipped back into Tokyo Bay, Kiryu proceeded to trash Yokohama until he ran out of power.
Hastily recalled, Kiryu received quite a few weapon upgrades in addition to new computer control software routines. When Godzilla appeared in Tokyo a few days later, the JXSDF tried stopping him without Kiryu's help, but to no avail. With Akane at the mech's control again, Kiryu entered the battle in dramatic fashion.
The second battle went well until Godzilla diverted a blast of the Absolute Zero Cannon, damaging Kiryu's receiver in the process. After one of the White Herons replenished Kiryu's energy, Akane entered one of his maintenance hatches to pilot him from the inside. This time she flew Godzilla into Tokyo Bay, holding his mouth shut while charging the Absolute Zero Cannon. The resulting underwater blast destroyed the weapon and Godzilla retreated with a massive wound in his chest.
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.: In 2004, the JXSDF sent Akane to America for further flight training. Kyosuke Akiba took her place as Kiryu's pilot in case Godzilla reappeared. The mech underwent heavy repairs, including the replacement of nearly all of his weapon systems. This included the Absolute Zero Cannon, as the JXSDF was unable to procure an artificial diamond large enough to build a second one.
Mothra's tiny priestesses, the Shobijin, appeared to Professor Shinichi Chujo and claimed that building Kiryu using the bones of the original Godzilla was a violation of the natural order— and was also responsible for luring the current Godzilla to Japan. They offered Mothra's services to defend the country instead. Since Mothra had attacked Japan in 1961, Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi declined the Shobijin's offer when Chujo explained the situation to him. However, he vowed to end the project as soon as Kiryu destroyed Godzilla.
When Godzilla attacked Tokyo again, Mothra rushed into battle with him. When she began to falter, the Prime Minister ordered Kiryu to back her up. Mothra's twin larvae arrived on the scene as well. Nonetheless, Godzilla damaged Kiryu's transmitter and killed the adult Mothra. The enraged larvae and the JXSDF held him off long enough for Chujo's nephew, Kiryu mechanic Yoshito, to enter a maintenance hatch and make the necessary repairs. Before Kiryu returned to the fight, a blast of Godzilla's ray warped the door, leaving Yoshito trapped inside.
With a combination of his new Spiral Claw and Triple Hyper Maser, Kiryu defeated Godzilla by targeting his chest wound. When Akiba ordered him to finished to job, however, Kiryu broke free of his control and flew Godzilla out to sea instead. White Heron pilot Azusa Kisaragi shot open the maintenance hatch, and Kiryu rotated to allow Yoshito to escape, displaying a farewell message on one of his screens. He then plunged into the depths with his organic counterpart and shut down for good, allowing himself to finally rest in peace while ensuring Godzilla would survive.
Kiryu typically opened a fight with a hail of fire from his Back Unit. In "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla," it had Type 95 470 mm Multipurpose Guided Missiles loaded into its sides and Type 87 680mm Multiple Interlocking Rockets into its front cannons. In "Tokyo S.O.S." these were upgraded to Type 98 320 mm Missiles and Type 04 rockets, respectively. They had little effect on Godzilla, although they did a number on Yokohama when Kiryu went berserk. After Godzilla smashed its cannons, Akane launched the rest of the original Back Unit at him to gain some distance. The cannons on the second Back Unit could be launched individually. While Godzilla shot down the first, the second floored him with a massive explosion.
Kiryu had twin railguns attached to each of his wrists: Type 0s in "GXMG" and Type 4s in "Tokyo S.O.S." Like his Back Unit weapons, they excelled at urban destruction but not at damaging Godzilla. Kiryu's right-hand Type 0 Railgun was equipped with a Maser Blade which easily broke Godzilla's skin before delivering a powerful electric shock. Unfortunately, it didn't stand a chance against his atomic breath.
Kiryu had a Type 99 Double Maser Cannon, or Twin Maser Cannon, in his mouth. Aside from his chest-mounted weapons, it was Kiryu's most potent option against Godzilla at range, especially when fired at his eyes or chest scar.
Kiryu's ultimate weapon was the Type 3 Absolute Zero Cannon, which, as its name suggested, could freeze a target to absolute zero, effectively smashing its atoms. However, it required significant charging time, giving Godzilla an opening to attack the first time Akane successfully used it. The second blast, fired underwater, left Godzilla with a massive chest wound and led to his retreat. It also destroyed the massive artificial diamond powering the weapon, forcing the JXSDF to replace it with the Type 4 Triple Hyper Maser Cannon. Used in tandem with the Double Maser Cannon, it took all of the fight out of Godzilla, allowing the Mothra larvae to cover him in webbing.
In "Tokyo S.O.S.," Kiryu's right hand could transform into the Type 4 Anti-Beast Drilling Device, or Spiral Claw. Aimed at Godzilla's abdomen, it had a devastating effect on the monster, leaving him open to the Triple Hyper Maser Cannon.
Since Godzilla consistently let Kiryu make the first move, Akane and Hayama could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had just led with his most powerful weapons. Of course, their hesitancy likely had more to do with tokusatsu conventions than JXSDF combat doctrine. "Immediately using your finishing move is utter heresy!"
Aircraft called the White Herons or Shirasagi transported Kiryu to battles, replenished his energy with a microwave transmitter, and provided fire support. Akane and Hayama also piloted Kiryu from inside White Herons.
In "Tokyo S.O.S." and "Godzilla: Rulers of Earth," Kiryu could deploy extremely strong metal wire from his body to bind another monster in conjunction with the claws on his chest hatch, allowing him to transport them over long distances.
Kiryu was an extraordinary brawler. His repertoire included open-hand strikes, tail whips, powerful throws, and on one memorable occasion, a high-speed ram which left him completely unharmed. Kiryu was agile enough to duck under a blast of Godzilla's atomic breath, then leapt over his head to deliver a counterattack. His pilots also used his jet boosters to help execute a spinning throw and evade another atomic ray.
Though Kiryu was capable of flight, he had limited range and required the White Herons to transport him to Godzilla's location. Akane and Hayama rarely used his jets during battle, although Akane carried Godzilla out to Tokyo Bay and Kiryu flew far enough to sink both Godzilla and himself in the Pacific Ocean.
Weaknesses: Though resistant to Godzilla's physical blows, Kiryu was often knocked around by the monster's atomic breath, and damage to his control system prevented him from operating on two occasions. Though Akane was able to pilot Kiryu from the inside in 2003, and Chujo repaired it in 2004, the JXSDF had to sacrifice additional personnel to keep Godzilla distracted. Kiryu's energy reserves can only last for two hours of combat—or less if he uses the Absolute Zero Cannon. In addition, his DNA computers have a tendency to ignore kill orders against Godzilla and assume control of the machine.
"Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla," has a number of parallels to the acclaimed anime series "Neon Genesis Evangelion." The most obvious is the plan to divert Tokyo's electricity to revive Kiryu, which closely resembles Operation Yashima from episode 6 of "Evangelion," in which Japan's electricity is re-routed to a particle cannon operated as a sniper rifle by Eva Unit-01's pilot Shinji Ikari. Other parallels include Kiryu and the Evangelions both being cybernetically enhanced remains of giant creatures developed to fight those creatures, both mecha being prone to going berserk and having limited internal power reserves, a female pilot who feels that her only worth or purpose lies in piloting her mecha, a scene in which a female lead has to enter a mecha through a maintenance hatch on its exterior, and a motherless child whose father oversees the mecha's missions from the home base.
Kiryu has a split-second cameo in "Godzilla: Final Wars" in the form of an 8-inch Bandai figure. As with many of the kaiju in this scene, it's unclear whether a real Kiryu ever existed in this continuity.
Kiryu made his video game debut in 2002, with "Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee" for the GameCube and "Godzilla: Domination!" for the Game Boy Advance… if you lived in Japan. Elsewhere in the world, he was replaced with the Heisei Mechagodzilla, with the exception of the 2003 Xbox version, which featured both of them. He has since appeared in the rest of the Pipeworks Godzilla games, a trio of pachinko games, "Godzilla" for the PS3 and 4, "Godzilla: Kaiju Collection," and "City Shrouded in Shadow."
Kiryu was a prolific member of IDW Comics' kaiju roster, appearing in "Godzilla: Ongoing," "The Half-Century War," "Cataclysm," "Rulers of Earth," and "Oblivion." These versions appeared to be purely mechanical creations, though "Ongoing" and "Half-Century War" allude to his origin from the films by mentioning that he was built using skeletal schematics from Godzilla and possibly built with pieces of Godzilla inside of him, respectively. Kiryu and Godzilla had a shaky relationship throughout the various IDW continuities, sometimes fighting and sometimes teaming up against alien invaders. Their most unique battle took place in "Oblivion," with a miniature Kiryu Squadron taking on Godzilla in the Atlantic Ocean.
The idea of the original Godzilla battling his successor predates "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla." In 1994, following a proposal by Shogo Tomiyama, Kazuki Omori and Shinji Nishikawa wrote stories to end the Heisei series along those lines. Titled "Godzilla vs. Godzilla," "Godzilla vs. Ghost Godzilla," and "Godzilla vs. Baraguirus" at various points, they all featured the hostile spirit of the 1954 Godzilla, though the methods through which he took physical form varied. Ultimately, Toho decided that three consecutive opponents with "Godzilla" in their name would be overkill. A link to the original film would stay, however, with the Oxygen Destroyer spawning a new monster, Destoroyah. The title card for "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla" seems to allude to the Ghost Godzilla concept, briefly reading "Godzilla x Godzilla" before adding a "Mecha."
Kiryu shares some similarities with Cyber-Godzilla from "Godzilla: The Series," being a cybernetically-revived Godzilla forced to do battle with his living successor, though their roles are reversed with Cyber Godzilla being a villain and Kiryu being heroic. In Asahi Sonorama's tie-in book for "Tokyo S.O.S.", director Masaaki Tezuka and Shogo Tomiyama acknowledge the interpretation that Kiryu is the current Godzilla's father, although they stress that it's not necessarily canon.
While copyright-wise the character still falls under the "Mechagodzilla" mark, the name "Kiryu" is (or at least used to be) trademarked by Toho, as seen in the copyright information for the game "Godzilla: Unleashed." Peculiarly, a different version of the Mechagodzilla copyright icon using art of Kiryu is featured in the Japanese GameCube version of "Destroy All Monsters Melee." For the Xbox version, he was given a separate icon under the name "Mechagodzilla MFS-3," which was used once more for "Save the Earth" and never again. All official media since then simply use the default Mechagodzilla icon for Kiryu.
In Ernest Cline's 2011 novel "Ready Player One," a sinister CEO pilots a digital Kiryu during the final battle for control of the Oasis, the world's most popular virtual reality game. The protagonist, Wade Watts, handily defeats him by transforming into the original Ultraman. For the 2018 film adaptation, however, artist Jared Krichevsky designed a new Mechagodzilla, with Toho recommending that he base it on Noriyoshi Ohrai's teaser poster for "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II."
That's all there is for Kiryu. Thank you for watching!
Kiryu is the third incarnation of the Mechagodzilla character, first appearing in the 2002 film “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” and was created by Masaaki Tezuka. It stands 60 meters tall and weighs 36,000 metric tons by itself and 40,000 with its battle pack attached.
Kiryu’s name comes from the japanese words Ki and Ryu, which together mean “Machine Dragon.” Kiryu's primary legal name is simply "Mechagodzilla," while his official designation in the films is "MFS-3," which is short for "Multipurpose Fighting System Type-3." "Kiryu" is also trademarked by Toho, as seen in the copyright information for the game “Godzilla: Unleashed.”
Kiryu, being a robot version of Godzilla, naturally shares traits with the King of the Monsters. Kiryu’s most prominent design features are the detailed metal plates that comprise its external armor and the exposed cables at its articulation points. It sports three fin-like plates on the top of its head and bears yellow eyes with red scars below them. These scars light up when the original Godzilla’s spirit possesses the mech, and his eyes will go red if the spirit feels malevolent or will remain yellow if he is not. Kiryu may also wear a weapon attachment that latches onto its back consisting of two shoulder-mounted cannons.
Kiryu was created using the robotic and bio-engineering skill of scientist Tokumitsu Yuhara, who had previously worked on creating realistic trilobite replicas using the muscle structure of horseshoe crabs and a robotic exoskeleton. This attracted the attention of the JSXDF, who hired Yuhara to design an exoskeleton around the bones of the original Godzilla that was killed by the Oxygen Destroyer in 1954. The result of his work was Kiryu, nicknamed Mechagodzilla by his daughter, and it was designed to be the ultimate weapon against Godzilla.
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002): Following the appearance of a second Godzilla in the year 1999 in Tateyama, the JSXDF dredged up the original Godzilla’s bones from the bottom of Tokyo Bay and hired Yuhara to design a cybernetic body around them using “DNA Computers”.
Kiryu was finally completed in 2003, and was sent to defeat Godzilla when he resurfaced in Hakkeijima. There the Kiryu project went horribly wrong, as when Kiryu heard Godzilla’s roar, the spirit of the original Godzilla awakened inside the mech, possessing it and going on to destroy the city of its own accord while its pilot Akane Yashiro was helpless to stop it. It continued to wreak havoc on the city until its fuel was depleted and it had to be airlifted back to its dock.
With Kiryu undergoing extensive reworking to avoid a similar occurrence in the future, the JSXDF attempted to defeat Godzilla without it, but were ultimately unsuccessful, and ended up bringing Kiryu back onto the field. Kiryu battled Godzilla until its receiver was damaged, forcing its pilot Yashiro to enter the manual control room inside its head. Yashiro quickly decided to use Kiryu’s ultimate weapon, the Absolute Zero Cannon. While Kiryu’s final move did not destroy Godzilla, it was enough to drive him back into the ocean, while Yashiro watched from the now energy-depleted Kiryu’s shoulder.
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003): After a year of repairs and having its Absolute Zero Cannon removed, the improved “Modified Type-3 Kiryu” was nearing completion. However, around that time, Mothra and her priestesses, the Shobijin, came to Japan and declared Kiryu’s cyborg structure an abomination whose existence was attracting the thing it was built to repel: Godzilla. They demanded that Kiryu be destroyed in exchange for Mothra taking over its place as Japan’s defender but the government declined, remembering that Mothra had once attacked Japan in 1961, which was an event that led to Kiryu’s creation. Shortly afterward, Godzilla appeared, Mothra going in to battle him, followed shortly by Kiryu.
Despite their combined efforts, Mothra was killed and Kiryu’s transmitter was once again damaged, causing Kiryu’s chief engineer Yoshito Chujo to go inside it for repairs. After these were complete, Godzilla attacked Kiryu and damaged the exit hatches on Kiryu, trapping Chujo inside. Kiryu was then able to drive his new drill attachment into Godzilla’s chest and electrocute him with the masers that had replaced its Absolute Zero Cannon. Godzilla’s screams of pain triggered a flashback in Kiryu to when it was a Godzilla, but it did not last long as Mothra’s twin larvae wrapped Godzilla in their silk, keeping him from fighting back. Kiryu then received commands to terminate Godzilla, but it disobeyed and carried him out to sea, where it released Chujo to safety before displaying the message “Sayonara Yoshito” on one of its monitors. Kiryu then released Godzilla into the water and allowed itself to sink to the bottom.
Absolute Zero Weapon: Kiryu’s Absolute Zero Weapon, built into its chest, fires a beam which brings its target to the lowest theoretical temperature in existence: 0 degrees Kelvin, or Absolute Zero, at which point the atoms affected would cease all movement. Kiryu was able to cause entire buildings to disintegrate with this attack. In “Godzilla: Rulers of Earth,” Jet Jaguar had Kiryu use the weapon to freeze Destoroyah completely.
Maser Cannons: In addition to a mouth-based Maser cannon, Kiryu had his Absolute Zero weapon replaced with three chest-mounted Maser cannons called the Triple Hyper Maser Cannon, with each one capable of emitting blasts of electricity.
Weapons Attachment: Kiryu’s weapons attachment hosts a small arsenal of missiles and other projectiles, as well as two blades that extend from its two gauntlet pieces.
Agility: Kiryu is a well-balanced machine and the most agile Mechagodzilla to date.
Physical Capabilities: For close combat, a short blade can be extended from Kiryu's right wrist which was not only able to penetrate Godzilla's nearly impervious hide, but was also able to discharge a crippling electrical surge into his opponent's body. In “Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.,” Kiryu's arsenal was upgraded to allow its right hand to collapse into a revolving drill. Despite his agility, Kiryu is incredibly strong, being able to grab Godzilla by the tail and swing him around with ease.
Flight: Like the previous Mechagodzillas, Kiryu was also able to fly; although its limited energy reserves required the machine to be airlifted to the battlefield by two White Herons.
Weaknesses: Due to being constructed around the original Godzilla's remains, the first Godzilla's spirit is still attached to Kiryu, and has overridden all external control over the mech in two instances. Also, since it has limited power reserves, Kiryu can only be in action for at least two hours or less when the use of Absolute Zero is involved.
Kiryu was designed by Shinji Nishikawa, an artist who did concept art for most of the Heisei and Millennium Godzilla films.
The idea of having the original Godzilla come back to life was used for the cancelled “Godzilla vs. Ghost Godzilla”, originally intended to end the Heisei series. The title card for “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” may allude to this, as it initially reads "Godzilla vs. Godzilla" before displaying the film's true title, while the real title for what fans call “Godzilla vs. Ghost Godzilla” was actually also “Godzilla vs. Godzilla.”
In the international English dub for “Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.,” Kiryu is referred to as ‘Mecha G,’ presumably to avoid confusing viewers who had not seen “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla,” which explained the mecha's name was Kiryu. In the video games “Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee” and “Godzilla: Save the Earth,” Kiryu is called ‘Mechagodzilla 3,’ due to being the third distinct iteration of Mechagodzilla and to distinguish him from the other Mechagodzilla featured in the games. In the Godzilla comic series published by IDW, Kiryu is only ever referred to as ‘Mechagodzilla.’
As all of you probably know if you’re a Godzilla fan, many of Toho’s kaiju have their own copyright icons. All three Mechagodzillas--the Showa Mechagodzilla 1 and Mechagodzilla 2, plus the Heisei Mechagodzilla and Kiryu, all share the “Mechagodzilla” legal name and copyright icon. As mentioned before, Kiryu was also AT LEAST AT ONE POINT its own trademark, but in recent DVD and Blu-ray releases, Kiryu exclusively uses the Mechagodzilla name. Mysteriously, ONLY in “Godzilla: Save the Earth”’s opening disclaimers, Kiryu has his own copyright icon, labeled “Mechagodzilla MFS-3.” This copyright icon has never and was never used beyond that ever again.
That’s all we have for Kiryu. Thanks again for watching, and we’ll see you next time!