Kaiju Profile: Maguma (+ Making of a KAIJU PROFILE)

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The Maguma kaiju profile and 100,000 subscriber special video is the 50th episode of Wikizilla's Kaiju Profiles video series. It was uploaded on September 8, 2019.

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Wikizilla: YouTube Kaiju Profile: Maguma

Profile transcript

Kaiju Profile Maguma.png
KP Stats Maguma.png

Hey kaiju fans, I'm The Boy Who Cried Godzilla, and today we'll be covering the Antarctic Monster, Maguma! And afterwards, when this profile ends at around the 7-minute mark, we're giving you a look behind-the-scenes at what goes into making a kaiju profile, in celebration of 100k subs. So stick around for that if you're interested. In any case, Maguma —

A prehistoric reptile with an uncanny resemblance to a walrus, Maguma was awakened from his slumber in Antarctica by jet pipes placed there by the United Nations to propel the Earth out of the path of the rogue star Gorath. The monster lashed out, but a United Nations VTOL quickly dealt with him. Though his role in "Gorath" was widely viewed as superfluous, Maguma has managed to escape complete obscurity as part of Toho's daikaiju catalog, landing a handful of appearances in Godzilla-related media.

Design

Years after its release, director Ishiro Honda called "Gorath" his "top favorite film, except for that monster." Maguma owes his existence to producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, who felt the inclusion of a kaiju, any kaiju, would improve the movie's box office gross. Though never spoken in the film, his name, the Japanese approximation of "magma," was determined by a public poll. Takeshi Kimura's script simply described Maguma as a dinosaur, but Honda objected to another Godzilla-like monster. We're not sure who came up with the idea of a walrus, but the design was locked in by the time assistant special effects art director Yasuyuki Inoue starting storyboarding the film. The movie still contains a trace of Kimura's original idea, with Dr. Sonoda calling Maguma a reptile.

Teizo Toshimitsu modeled Maguma's head, while the Yagi brothers, Kanju and Yasuei, handled his body. Keizo Murase sculpted Maguma's tusks from FRP, his first-ever time using the material. The suit was painted brown, with an apparatus installed in its eyes to allow them to glow blue. Fire-retardant material was applied to the suit in order to prevent the flames given off by the jet pipes from igniting it during filming. A 2-shaku (Japanese foot) Guignol, or hand-operated puppet, of Maguma was employed for close-ups and fine movement. This Guignol was operated by modeling staff member Eizo Kaimai.

Assistant director of special effects Teruyoshi Nakano recalled that Katsumi Tezuka played Maguma in most of his scenes, while Haruo Nakajima wore the suit during the scene where the creature is surrounded by the jet pipes. However, Nakajima himself didn't remember playing Maguma at all. Since both men provided these accounts for books published about fifty years after "Gorath"'s release, we may never know the truth.

Thwarting Tanaka's theory, "Gorath" did rather poorly at the box office, but this wouldn't be the end for Maguma: Tsuburaya Productions borrowed the suit to depict Todora in episode 27 of their 1966 show, "Ultra Q." Whiskers were added to the costume's face and its eyes no longer glowed.

History

Gorath (1962): With the super-dense star Gorath on a collision course with the Earth, the United Nations formulated a desperate plan to shift the planet's orbit out of its path. The UN constructed a series of massive jet pipes in Antarctica, which released blasts of fire in order to propel the entire planet out of its orbit. The sudden change in climate awakened the prehistoric reptile known as Maguma, who proceeded to attack the UN's Antarctic facility. The UN sent a VTOL to deal with the monster before further complications arose. Dr. Kensuke Sonoda and the scientists accompanying him on the mission pitied Maguma, believing he simply wanted the surrounding temperatures to return back to normal. The UN attempted to spare the monster by strafing a canyon surrounding Maguma with its laser, hoping to bury the creature under rubble until the operation was finished. Unfortunately, Maguma broke free, forcing the VTOL to kill him with direct hits from its laser.

Abilities

Physical Capabilities: Maguma uses his large flipper-like forelimbs to damage a jet pipe power station. He also shrugged being completely buried by a large avalanche, easily freeing himself from the rubble. Maguma is never seen using his massive tusks in combat during his film appearance, but he does use them to bite military units in the game "Godzilla Defense Force." Finally, according to "Godzilla Monsters All Overall Encyclopedia," Maguma is capable of swimming at speeds up to an impressive 200 kilometers per hour.

Durability: For a kaiju, Maguma is not particularly resistant against human weaponry. In his sole film appearance, he is easily killed by a direct hit from the VTOL's laser, while in the novel "GODZILLA: Monster Apocalypse," he is eliminated by a nuclear strike.

Trivia

When Brenco Pictures brought "Gorath" to the United States, they tried to mold Maguma into a more menacing monster. A version of the film shown to test audiences coated his scenes in fog and gave him Rodan's roar. When they still found Maguma laughable, Brenco decided to remove him from the film—but for some reason, they wanted to retain part of the sequence. So after a strange disaster at a key location in Antarctica, the VTOL responds by... firing its laser at nothing. Ironically, you can still glimpse Maguma's corpse afterwards.

In recent years, a lot of vintage kaiju art from Asahi Sonorama books has made the rounds online. Packaged with flexi discs, these books often depicted kaiju showdowns that never happened in the films. In 1966, Maguma teamed up with a horde of Earth monsters to fight King Ghidorah, Dogora, and Moguera for "Giant Monster Battle: 30 Monsters Rampage!!" He also caused quite a ruckus in the tenth book of the "Toho Kaiju Picture Book" series, "Monster Olympics." We're not sure of the year on this one, but Gezora's presence means it must have been 1970 or later.

In an early version of "Destroy All Monsters" titled "All Monsters Attack Directive," Maguma and Baragon defended the Kilaak base in Izu from the JSDF instead of Godzilla and Anguirus. The final draft called for Maguma to attack Paris, but Baragon replaced him prior to filming, only to be replaced himself by Gorosaurus.

Maguma made a small cameo in an episode of the 1993 show "Adventure! Godzilland 2"... in the form of a still drawing, alongside Mechani-Kong and a couple of penguins at the North Pole. Incredibly, Mechani-Kong is the only one who actually belongs there. He turned up even farther from Antarctica in the "Monster Warrior Godzilla" segment of the 1990 anthology manga, "The Godzilla Comic" - where he was one of many kaiju who lived on their own planet.

In a reversal of Maguma's treatment by Brenco Pictures, the official timeline for the Kiryu Saga includes the creature's attack on humanity but seemingly ditches Gorath, which destroyed the Moon at the end of the film. While the movie "Gorath" takes place in 1980, this timeline places Maguma's emergence in 1962 - the year the film was released.

Maguma returned in the first prequel novel for the anime "GODZILLA" trilogy, where he laid waste to North Korea in 2024. Before he could reach South Korea, however, the United States killed him with a tactical nuclear weapon; the first ever used against a kaiju.

Maguma joined the ensemble casts of three Godzilla games from 1998: "Godzilla: Trading Battle" for the PlayStation, "Godzilla: Generations" on the Dreamcast, and the Dreamcast VMU game "Collect Godzilla: Giant Monster Assembly." Twenty-one years later, Maguma showed up in the mobile game "Godzilla Defense Force," where he confronts the player in New York City.

That's all there is for Maguma.

Special video transcript

AND NOW - hello from beyond the profile! I'm Titanollante;

I'm Astounding Beyond Belief [ABB];

I'm The King of the Monsters [TKOTM];

I'm Les;

...and we're here to welcome you to Wikizilla's 100,000 subscriber special video! We're gonna give y'all a look at the process of making a Kaiju Profile. Chosen for this was an obscure monster with a surprising amount of background info - Maguma. Maybe not the most exciting kaiju... and indeed Maguma is exceptionally lame. However, the magic of these videos is going in on their development, discovering fun trivia surrounding them, and of course relaying their specs. Let's begin!

T: First of all, let's talk about deciding which monster to make a video of. It's not exactly "who is the most requested?" that determines (in order) who we'll do next, though that has some influence in who we will prioritize in the future. In this regard, the recent poll we held has given us some helpful data. With that said… up to now the monster selection has been pretty random aside from a few themed months and checking off major monsters. We have a general internal schedule of which monsters we want to do soon but that's always subject to change if anything happens: whether a major release approaches, we get behind schedule, or we simply lose interest. It's kind of volatile that way. There's multiple scripts always on the table with substantial work done ahead of time, as putting the videos together takes much more time .... Then comes the scriptwriting process! Start a new Google Doc in our shared folder, lay out the basic sections, and it all begins!

Intro

TKOTM: The first thing any video needs is an intro, which I usually write. The intro section for Kaiju Profiles follows a pretty standard structure. What follows is typically a brief overview of the kaiju being discussed, usually naming the film or films in which it has appeared followed by a very short description of its role and relevance. The intro is usually the shortest and easiest section to write, and doesn't require much work or research.

T: I mostly go over the script as it's being put together as well as once it's "finished" and reword things, maybe cutting some stuff out if there's no practical way to put visuals to it - usually with Design. All of the content cut from the script still exists on the Wikizilla.org article so it's not like it's "lost forever" or anything. Often while doing the actual video editing I cut a few bits out here and there and slightly rearrange things in a way that no re-records are necessary. ABB also does some tweaks and re-writes here and there.

Design

Les: I typically help in writing for the Design sections, starting with making transcriptions from our collection of Japanese books. Sometimes, the sections will be adapted from information already written on our site, as was the case this time around:

TKOTM: A great place to start looking for resources containing interesting design info about kaiju is Japanese Wikipedia. Many of its kaiju articles contain a wealth of behind-the-scenes information, with citations providing the names and pages of the books this info comes from. Between all of our contributors we have quite a collection of Japanese nonfiction books and publications about kaiju films, and oftentimes we have the exact books being cited in these Japanese Wikipedia articles. We then track down the pages for the information, and Titano or Les will transcribe and translate the relevant text. Typically I will add this information to the "Development" sections on Wikizilla's kaiju articles. Oftentimes the books all of this behind-the-scenes info comes from will contain relevant pictures such as concept art and photographs of the suits and props being modeled, which we can scan and share with our viewers through the video.

ABB: Unlike my fellow writers, I focus on collecting kaiju publications in English. My focus while revising the Design section was checking those books and fanzines for contradictions or new information. "Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film" gave me a great quote and some insights into Honda and Tomoyuki Tanaka's thinking. Since we didn't have any info on who actually designed Maguma, I jumped on a storyboard in my hardcover copy of "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" credited to Akinori Takagi. However, Les discovered that the newer paperback edition credited Yasuyuki Inoue instead. I also noticed that Keizo Murase told a slightly different story about Maguma's tusks in a recent interview than the version on Japanese Wikipedia. Since the latter didn't cite any sources, and Les found corroborating information in "All Toho Monsters Pictorial Book," I went with the interview. A claim on Japanese Wikipedia proved more difficult to resolve. Its "Ultraman" page provided a list of unused episode ideas, one calling for the return of the Maguma suit to depict another walrus monster named Todogon. Again, there was no citation. This time, we couldn't turn to our Ultraman books to figure out the truth, because we didn't have any that explored the series in such depth. Even the Ultraman Discord I reached out to didn't know where the information had come from. Les and The King of the Monsters wanted to include it anyway, since the site had been so useful for us in the past, but I was against it. Titano ultimately sided with me, and that was that. If you were hoping for some behind-the-scenes drama, I'm sorry to disappoint. Debating minutia like this, for both the site and the channel, is pretty routine for us by now.

Les: Sometimes nearing the end of writing, new information can be discovered through some last-second research. Additions included more specifics on the construction of Maguma's suit, and the decision of the monster's name.

History

T: The History section is to cover the main media the character is from. 99% of the time this is movies.

TKOTM: I own all of the Godzilla movies as well as most other Toho and Kadokawa kaiju films on Blu-ray or DVD, so when I need to write the history section for a Kaiju Profile I just sit down and watch the relevant film or films. Then, I summarize the kaiju's role in these films in the history section.

T: Sometimes if the monster's minor enough and has a big enough role in a TV series, that can go there, such as with Fake Godzilla.

TKOTM: It's important to condense down the information to only the most important points while trying not to leave out key details. For Maguma in this case, this was especially easy given his very brief and isolated role in "Gorath."

T: Shin Godzilla is an example of a movie where the monster is bound so tightly with the events of the movie that basically the whole film's plot had to be relayed. I think most people, or those who have access to the films anyway, would agree that History sections aren't really the best part of the Kaiju Profiles. They are simple recaps of the roles the kaiju played in movies, after all. However, as these videos are essentially adaptations of Wikizilla articles, they're an important thing to have. Also: this is why we include a table of contents at the beginning of videos. Skip to the Abilities or Trivia sections if you don't want to sit through that.

Abilities

TKOTM: This section, simply enough, boils down to laying out and describing what physical feats, powers, and, well, abilities the character displays. If they're brought up at all, attacks like kicks, punches, tusks and whatnot mostly get lumped under "Physical Capabilities" if they're unremarkable enough and/or if aren't given any fancy names in official books. Video games and comics are a good source for unique powers such as Titanosaurus' sonic wave beam from "Godzilla: Unleashed," while books provide ability names and even reveal canonical abilities that weren't used on-screen. The latter is where Maguma's insane, nearly 110-knot swimming speed comes from.

Trivia

ABB: Coming up with trivia topics for Maguma was fairly straightforward: he has a few appearances in other media and nearly showed up in "Destroy All Monsters." However, writing about his deletion from the U.S. version of his own movie required a bit of a deep dive. The most detailed version of this story comes from a "Gorath" retrospective in issue 14 of "The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal," which was published in 1982 but mercifully preserved on archive.org. How did I remember this? Well, I didn't, but I remembered the Facebook group where I first read about it.

Audio

Boy: Typically, at sometime during the production of a script, the team will figure out who is going to record the audio for an episode. Sometimes, someone asks to do a specific monster, or team members will suggest a guest narrator. Then, we, in this case I, look at the script and typically cold read it, which often leads to bloopers that some editors find more amusing than others… [nervous laughing]

T: Cutting down the audio is perhaps one of the more 'grueling' aspects of the process. The raw recording for a 15 minute video is maybe on average twice that length, and you'll have to sit through that and meticulously clean up the audio, and it'll take a couple of hours minimum.

Les: Once a narrator's audio has been recorded, I listen through and cut it down using Audacity. Flubs and misreadings are removed, with only the best takes left to be put together. Breathing between sentences is also cut. Sometimes, parts of separate takes will be most desirable, so I will stitch them together, trying to maintain fluidity of the sentence. Still, the occasional error may slip by without another take, in which case the text will simply be highlighted green on the script for our narrator to re-record.

T: None of us are professional voice actors so 'getting it right the first time' is not as easy as it might initially appear. Either way, recently Les has been the one to handle the initial trimming down of the raw recordings. I give a listen-through of the cut-down audio and do my own tweaking in Audition.

Editing

T: This section's going to be all me! Hold onto your butts!

On the opening screen: on the right you'll see the timestamps for the sections of the video; the narrator's portrait on the left is usually artwork, some photoshopped thing, a picture of their toys, whatever; and there's one or two links on the bottom right pointing the viewer to the monster's page on Wikizilla.org.

The splash screen is done in Photoshop, always built off a previous one. The stats and subtitles are taken from their infoboxes on Wikizilla.org, which in turn came from the references attached. The aliases are tricky… some are alternate spellings, maybe their Japanese name, some have funny origins, etcetera. On the right side there's at least one image of the kaiju. There's already a video on this channel showing me making one of these for Anguirus, but it boils down to using layer masks and erasing the background. These PNGs get used not only in the appropriate video, but also in other videos and in thumbnails. Thumbnails are kind of difficult to get to look "good." Simple thumbnails or clickbait do the job for most, but I feel like I've locked Wikizilla into using this style of thumbnail. For monsters like Maguma, who there's not many good photos to choose from, and whose name isn't used in any kind of poster or anything (in English), it's harder to produce something that looks good. You can see me experimenting a bit here. Ultimately the best choice was the cover of a Godzilla Store exclusive book. The process is usually not this quick and easy, taking up to 1 or 2 hours.

Before laying down edited material in Sony Vegas, I spend a night sifting through the movie(s), dividing them up by "relevant" shots. With all these shots nicely separated, it's only a matter of finding and dragging them to the correct spots in the Kaiju Profile. Normally, the footage is sped up to between 1.2x or 1.5x speed. This may or may not help with content-ID matches, but the real reason I do it is because the final exported video will be 60 frames per second, so speeding that up will make it look more fluid. However, sometimes the footage needs to be slowed down because the shot doesn't last long enough… which might look jarring but oh well!

Half the time there's a cute little montage set to some cool music right after the splash screen. The tricky part here is making it so the video doesn't get copyright-claimed over the music being played, which is a problem when using music from movies. For this reason I put sound effects in and don't let these run too long. I try to put footage here which isn't elsewhere in the video, this being a challenge when there's not much 'diverse' footage of the monsters to begin with.

I normally edit all of the sections out of order: History first, Abilities second, and after that it's a tossup between the intro and Trivia. Design is always the last section to be put together.

The graphics used on screen throughout the video - form names, the names of referenced staff, movie splashes as well as the logos and ability names that persist throughout segments, interview excerpts, and trivia panels are virtually all done in Photoshop - and are reused in future videos if they come up again. They're all straightforward to make, except for movie logos. When starting out, movie titles were simply written in Impact font and looked hideous. At some point it changed, so they're either scrubbed from posters or home video releases, taken from somewhere (such as the 2019 "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" logos taken right off the official site), or they're recreated vector images I spent a day or two making in Adobe Illustrator. There's a video showing me making one of these vector files of the international logo for "Godzilla vs. Megalon" which you can check out here.

Now for music selection. The soundtracks of the relevant movies are always a base, especially music that plays during their scenes or their specially-crafted themes. So "Shin Godzilla" music for Shin Godzilla, "Space Amoeba" for Gezora, all the movies the Showa Rodan was in for the Showa Rodan. The Abilities section tends to use video game music. Fan remixes done by SUPERTOHOREMIX (who does mash-ups) and Kweer Kaiju (who does synth covers) have been used in videos as well.

Okay, okay, that was a LOT to take in. We haven't even started talking about the actual laying-down of footage! That part is actually exceptionally simple though. For History, it's put the relevant clips down on the timeline to match the voice over. The same principle applies to talking about TV shows and comics in Trivia, though for comics… I have to either scan them (mostly the case for manga), somehow find some pictures of them online, or take screenshots of them in fullscreen mode on ComiXology. The Abilities section operates similarly to History, but there's usually more footage to choose from (not exactly the case for powerless monsters like Maguma though). This makes things less linear, since naturally I want to include as much varied footage showcasing the ability as possible. If there's little to show for a certain ability then slow the footage down, loop it, or show the page of the book it comes from and hold on that. Oh by the way, upon watching our older videos, you might notice a lack of persisting movie logos and wordmarks. They pop up on screen, sure, but they don't persist throughout the section like they do now. Ability words started persisting with the "Godzilla 2017" video back in early 2018, but I don't remember when it began for History.

The aspects of the Intro, Design and Trivia which aren't simple "lay footage down" are the most time-consuming part of editing the videos. Since these sections are very widely varied, the set-up times for these alone usually tallies up a couple of hours, which includes downloading videos and pictures that will be used. Excluding set-up work, whereas the History and Abilities sections of Maguma (which combined add up to under 2 minutes) took me barely over an hour to edit, the 3-minute Trivia section took over 3 dedicated hours. And this is for a relatively short and straightforward Maguma video; for colossal videos like the Heisei Gamera ones, or heavily-edited vids like the MonsterVerse timeline, it can get tiring.

We've already touched on re-recordings, but to reiterate real quick: While editing the video, I'll realize that something needs re-recording for whatever reason. Sometimes new juicy information might appear at the 11th hour which needs to be fitted in.

When a section is finished, it will be rendered and uploaded (unlisted) to YouTube for the rest of the crew to watch and scrutinize; I'll go ahead and make adjustments from there, sometimes on my own (things which no one mentioned) but certainly if the others bring up something that's a real issue. The team doesn't always find the time to watch each individual preview, and as a result, errors can slip by. We have a video correcting some of those.

At the same time the closed captions for the videos are made—which, by the way, takes up a couple hours—the description and tags are put in place; the transcript page for the video is created on Wikizilla.org; and, well, the video is either scheduled to be premiered or made live immediately… closing out its development.

There you have it folks… the making of a Wikizilla kaiju profile. We thank you all for 100,000 subscribers. Thanks for sticking around to the very end.

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