Making of Gojira Tai Gigan

In light of the Plaza Atlanta’s showing of this film, I have decided to go ahead and edit this making of "Godzilla vs. Gigan". This was the most profitable films of the 70’s decade of Godzilla film and is one of the better attempts. The production notes go as fallowed…

Production on this film started before "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" was even released into theaters (technically by a couple of days). The origins of the story did not come from Shinichi Sekizawa but another writer by the name of Kaoru Mibuchi who wrote just one draft of a story called, "Godzilla vs. The Space Monsters: Global Security Order" or better known by it's short title, "Godzilla vs. The Space Monsters". The plot of the draft was as fallows:

"A plane going to Hadena Airport gets stuck into a mysterious storm which they see for a second the kaiju Gigan. One Gigan disappears, the storm stops and everyone in the plane is in shock. Later that night, the planes pilot (Okamoto) goes to a Science Center on top of a Godzilla Tower to find answers about the strange creature he saw. Telling no one, he enters the building at 1 AM and even though he told no one he was coming, a phone in the room rings saying, "I know you are there... I can answer all of your questions." Okamoto asks who is speaking with the voice confirming that his name is the Alien Miko and that he controls the skies over Japan from now on.

Days later, the JSDF encounters a UFO, none other than Gigan. But in an aerial chase, they also encounter the daikaiju Megalon. The fighter pilots left standing land their planes on a near by island. Megalon fallows the pilots to the island, till Anguirus comes and starts a rumble. Winning the fight, Anguirus seems to have the upper hand till Gigan comes. But after a while, Godzilla appears and Gigan and Megalon take off. But then the lead squadron pilot gets a message from the Alien Miko and says that King Ghidorah, who is flying overhead of the island, is his chariot and he controls the Japanese skies.

Once airline travel stops on an international level, all satellites in space are destroyed. Miko finally says that either let him have Earth, or water, gas, and electricity shall be shut off in Tokyo just as a first step. If an answer is not given soon, the kaiju will attack Tokyo. The Godzilla Tower in science land keeps tabs on the kaiju, till they find out that the kaiju are making a bee line to the Tokyo Tower, The kaiju mistaken the tower as the real Godzilla, only behind the kaiju is the real Godzilla and the main battle commences. But Gigan leaves with the other kaiju.

The Alien Miko announces that the first cities to be destroyed will be Tokyo, Moscow, and New York. A combined effort of Anguirus and the Military does not stop Gigan, and the other two kaiju are just attacked with planes and military - nothing making progress. Megalon and Ghidorah come to Gigan's aid and help kill Anguirus. But Godzilla shows up and the three space kaiju go without putting up a fight. Meanwhile, the Alien Miko makes himself seen and it turns out he is a gigantic brain (Note to reader: this reminds me of the character Carl-Brain from Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Aqua Teen Hunger Force). He blames Godzilla and the Japanese military for the damage done and basically said obey or die.

Wanting a less gruesome appearance, Miko wants to merge with the statue idol Majin-Tulo, an ancient Andes Mountain idol statue kept near the Godzilla Tower found in the Palace of the Gods. Legend has it that one the Palace is disturbed and the mountain destroyed, his eyes shall glow read and throw it's sword into the air, with the sword killing the evil beings and going back into his hand. Stupidly, Miko commands Gigan to cut the statue in half to insert himself into the statue. But Godzilla and Anguirus are there, ready to take on Gigan and the other two space monsters. But Gigan escapes to complete his mission, but the statue starts bleeding. Majin-Tulo finally comes alive and mortal wounds Gigan with his giant katana while throwing it through King Ghidorah. The three monsters leave, with Megalon getting beaten up by Godzilla and Anguirus before he gets to go away. Miko is cornered by the three good kaiju as Godzilla delivers the final blow onto Miko."

An interesting point is that in the artwork by Hurricane Ryu for this version of the story, Gigan's right claw was a spiked wrecking ball and not a regular claw. Some speculate that his right claw could change into a wrecking ball, but there is no true evidence that this art is accurate to the original script since Ryu came around long after the Showa series ended.

Later on, Shinichi Sekizawa got onto the story and wrote three drafts, the second draft turned in August 1971 and the third draft turned in on October 6, 1971. The many differences between Sekizawa's and Mibuchi's versions of the screenplay was that Angurirus and Majin-Tulo was replaced by Varan and Rodan and instead of Megalon, a monster named Mogul was to appear. But in the end, it would be with Angurius coming back, Rodan appearing only in stock footage, and Mogul not being used. All three drafts of the screenplay are remakes of Mibuchi's but still keep close to what would become the final product.

Shinchi Sekizawa's final script is actually one which many may like in that it deals with two subtexts: the economics of kaiju and why certain kaiju are still popular. Kaiju can be categorized into two sections: legendary icons and marketing tools - both stating kaiju's role in society. Godzilla is both - a marketing tool since people can’t stop buying merchandise and a legendary icon for being a versatile character able to fit into many sub-context over time, not just nuclear war. This becomes a major ideal in the beginning of the story when Gengo presents his characters Shukra and Momagon to an editor in chief of a local manga company. The main problem with these two characters is that they cannot be interpreted differently by different people for different reasons. Godzilla could be an anti-nuclear war symbol for humanitarian causes or a symbol of Japan against another country for political purposes. Shukra is only a monster against homework and all Momagon represents is a monster made of the hate of too strict mothers. Both symbols are negative and can easily be seen as only one thing: by what their creators meant them to be. Homework, in this century, is being added more and more to pupil's agendas and advertised as "fun" and strict mothers is something rare enough that one strict mother mention is worth of news time. Both are not versatile and unless they develop a cult will not be profitable. That is why Godzilla is popular and still making cash. Like Dr. William Tsutsui said, "...he is simply too big of a property."

Like all other scripts written in the 70's, the big problem with them is lack of originality in the scripts - mainly in the variety of scenarios. "Godzilla vs. Gigan" copies the "Invasion of Astro Monster" script in many ways. Aliens want to colonize Earth since their planet is uninhabitable, and use space monsters - usually one of them being Ghidorah - to try to defeat Godzilla. The screenplay also did what author David Kalat calls, "raids the history of Godzilla for it's presentation". The film's budget saving trademark was the extensive use of stock materials. The decision for stock music was Tomoyuki Tanaka's and for the stock footage, it was on Teruyoshi Nakano. The stock footage collection in this film came from the films "Rodan", "The Last War", "Atragon", "Mothra vs. Godzilla", "Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster", "Invasion of Astro Monster", "Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster", "Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira", "Destroy all Monsters", "All Monsters Attack", and "Godzilla vs. Hedorah". Music wise, cues from all of these films (all Akira Ifukube’s) including the famed "The Birth of the Japanese Islands" are present in their original edits, but is a thrill ride for die hard fans who can pick stuff out and think, "Wow, it is like the ultimate combination of all of these elements for this time period!"

Durring this time period, Toho actually started laying off some of their actors (most from the "Toho Actors Club") and other crew members, totaling 350. All of the acting in the film is enough to get you through. We get 2-D characterization - only details which are professional, nothing intimate or layered. Though this would be the last time that we see strong, human, female characters for the rest of the Showa series. The main one, Tomoko, is a ferocious, karate-skilled, smart woman who gets physical and is even called a "bitch" in the dub. If that isn't a strong female character for this kind of film in it's time, I do not what is.

Special effects, for another time, are taken over by Teruyoshi Nakano. But Nakano does nothing remarkable - it is all on Gigan. Originally designed by Noboyusi Yasumaru, the concept art depicted Gigan with a bigger head, shorter and skinnier tail, a larger, single horn on top of his head, larger mandibles, and his hand claws being skinnier and more curved in. The drawing was very bizarre compared to the final product. The suit's large redesigned claws and feet, however, proved to be a problem for the suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma. Satsuma, making his second appearance in kaiju eiga, decided to come back regardless of the horrible Hedorah experience because he became friends with Nakano and gained a certain respect for the art of siutmation from Haruo Nakajima. In the acclaimed book "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Godzilla", "That is Yasumaru for you. His priority is design, not the operation of the suit or the actor. The claws and feet were a solid piece of resin... incredibly heavy and almost impossible to move. Finally, Mr. Nakano agreed to intercede and he got Yasumaru to reluctantly hollow out the claws. Gigan had arms and legs specifically, and was easier to move in. You can do moves like brandishing the huge claws. You can think of how to play in a suit like that. But the feet were so big that they easily caught on other objects or on my opponent, and I tripped a lot." Gigan, though, was not complete. Wanting to sell monsters who were less threatening since they were more popular, Gigan's trademark beam would not be actually seen on film. The concept of it came from Teruyoshi Nakano. In an interview, Nakano said, "I very much was interested in the sixth sense of human beings at the time. I knew that many statues of Buddha had auras around their heads, and I had read an article about strange rays coming out of the foreheads of human beings. So, I originally intended to have a ray come out of Gigan's forehead. However, I changed my mind because the ability didn't seem to fit the cyborg. It fit only human beings. That's why I didn't use it. Gigan had a very strong and angular form. It was enough to express the great power of the monster. So, the laser beam wasn't needed." Gigan would become one of Toho's most popular monsters. A different suit would eventually be used for the next film and the TV series after that, with Satsuma only playing the kaiju again in the 1973 film.

Sadly though, this was the last time that Haruo Nakajima could play Godzilla. Along with being one of the 350 kicked out of the Toho Actors Club, his displeasure of working without Tsuburaya would have him to do his final role, which is not a disappointing one. He wipes his lip, beats his chest, talks to other kaiju, and even gets to be the first person to act inside the suit while Godzilla bleeds. He even smacks his head. The performance gives us a rather animated portrayal of Godzilla. Angurius makes one of his last appearances, before having a cameo in the 1973 film and "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla." This would be the last time the Soshingeki Goji suit would be used, in which was in dire need of repair and is to this day the second most used Godzilla suit ever, spanning five years of usage. Plus, it would be one of the final times that an actual suit would be use for promotional events. In some water scenes, the Musuko-Goji suit was used. Angurius is being played by Yukietsu Ina. Mr. Ina does a fairly energetic and eager version of the kaiju which Mr. Sekida did in "Destroy All Monsters" and "Godzilla Raids Again", along with being the first of many free lance actors who would do it just for the money for the rest of the Showa series. The Angurirus suit, sadly was also in need of repair, and even suffered discoloration when used in the water for the Sanami Bay sequence. King Ghidorah, also played by a freelance actor Kanta Ina, is not really active in the fighting - with only Tsuburaya-era Ghidorah from stock footage doing much fighting. The props at the beginning scene which are usually known for their stiffness, were never used again except for in Zone Fighter and Megalon, otherwise they were hung up in a back shed along with a Megalon prop and a Mechagodzilla prop.
"Godzilla vs. Gigan" was released during the period of time referred to as the Godzilla Champion Festival, in which all Godzilla films from 1969 to 1973 were accompanied by a re-edited version of a 60's kaiju film with the editing done by a not-so content Ishiro Honda, along with animated shorts like a Toho produced Pinocchio cartoon and an edited version of Disney's "Peter Pan". The film would be a double kill for Toho. The film brought in 40,000 - more people than the previous film "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" and with the budget being smaller than Hedorah, it was a double success. The film would be accompanied at the festival by a Pinocchio animated feature, another animated feature with the main character being an orphaned bumble bee, and something with some class: an episode of THE RETURN OF ULTRAMAN (and this is especially interesting as the character of Tomoko Tomoe was played by Yuriko Hishima, who played Ultra Garrison character Anne Yuri in Ultra Seven). An interesting thing to note about this theatrical release is that this may have been the time in which the first theater exclusive toy was released. A set of bouncy balls were released. 5 balls, with a picture of Gigan, King Ghidorah, Godzilla, Angurirus, and Mothra Larva in each ball. They came in a bag.

America's release of the film was rather different. Cinema Shares, a rather small company, did a poor job with publicity for the film. It is understandable though, since this film - released in 1977 in America - was released five months after the almost legally troubling US release of "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla". Sadly, no material from the release really survives this day except for in some long time and rich fan's collections. Though author Steve Ryfle did offer a quote from the film's TV Spot in his book "Japan's Biggest Mon-Star". The quote goes something like this:, "From beyond the stars came the most fearsome monsters in the galaxy! Only Godzilla stands in their way in GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND! Is even Godzilla strong enough to defeat the invaders? Matching unbelievable strength! Exchanging incredible detonating rays! Don't miss GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND!". The film would go on to be shown in grindhouse cinemas and drive in circuits. Cuts made to the film include the cutting out of the word "bitch", so as to leave the viewer with an awkward line, "You are a hard". Also cut is the part where Gigan cuts Angruius's snout. While the American print with the "On Monster Island" was released on a Canadian bootleg VHS release, Sci-Fi Channel did show this print of the film till 2002 when Sony/Tristar bought the rights to the film, where a clean, widescreen print would be shown. Though it should be noted that some times, the print of the film shown, is a dubbed version of the Japan version of the film. The difference between the International and Japanese versions of the film other than the credits and end card is that in the Japanese version, there are bubbles in Japanese which indirectly act as subtitles for what the monsters are saying. The international print of the film does not have this. The film would from 2002-2005 would be paired up with Godzilla vs. Hedorah and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla for yearly marathons usually on Labor Day or Memorial Day Marathons in the morning hours.

What is really mixed up is the film's releases in Europe. The Polish theatrical poster shows the Gyankushu-Goji suit on it along with a giant cockroach along with it. In Brittan, the film got a fourth title card. The film was retitled, "War of the Monsters". Though confusing informed fans as to if there was a relation to this film and the Showa Gamera film of the same name, the print did not confuse fans like the American credits which said the film was directed by "Jan" Fukuda. But the most bizarre part of the film's European release was Germany's dubbing, which has become notorious for completely mixing up the plot worse than an American dub made by Toho in Hong Kong or by the American distribution company itself. Apparently, the German dub says that Gigan was made by Dr. Frankenstein who for the Aliens before he died. Ghidorah though was said to be a pet/slave to the aliens. Other than that, the German dub keeps everything true to the original, including the monster's talking scenes.

Godzilla vs. Gigan is one of the smartest business-geared productions but yet one of the most unoriginal 70's era Godzilla films. To me, it is one of three Godzilla films which define the 70's Godzilla experience. If it was up to me, other than Mothra vs. Godzilla and Gojira, it is the best Showa Godzilla film. Nothing more can be said on the film, except I salute it for it's acomplishments and love the underlying theme of how to market kaiju.

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