Welcome to Tokusatsu Gesundheit, where I was moved by the snow to start marathoning the Heisei Godzilla series! We begin with the starting point of the series, 1984’s Return of Godzilla.
Thirty or so years after Godzilla’s original attack on Japan, the fishing boat Yahata Maru goes missing at sea. Reporter Goro Maki locates the vessel and rescues its sole survivor, college student Hiroshi Okumura, from the mutant sea louse Shockirus. Okumura reveals that Godzilla attacks the boat, prompting the whole world to gird itself for a new battle with the King of Monsters.
This series was an attempt by Toho, percolating since 1980, to revive the Godzilla franchise (which had ended with 1975’s The Terror of Mechagodzilla). It was fairly successful, being directly followed up in 1989 with Godzilla Vs. Biollante.
- This flick introduced the flying anti-kaiju battleship Super X to the franchise. It’s destroyed by the film’s end, but would have neutralized Godzilla had the USSR not fired a nuke at him and basically defibrillated his nuclear heart. It inspired two direct successors and made human-piloted super vehicles a standard in the Heisei and Millennium Godzilla series.
- The reporter Goro Maki is a reboot of a similar character who appeared in 1967’s Son of Godzilla. The name would be used again for an unrelated posthumous character in Shin Godzilla.
- This is the first Godzilla movie since the original not to feature the King of Monsters battling other kaiju and the last one to do so until 2016’s Shin Godzilla (since the 1998 Godzilla flick is canon and the title monster is now known as Zilla, it doesn’t count).
- Shockirus is a uniquely terrifying monster, in as much as it is only “giant” in relation to its original form (a couple of feet long rather than a couple inches) and can completely drain human beings of their blood. To Godzilla, he’s a minor parasite. To the crew of the Yahata Maru, he is death personified.
While I overall prefer Godzilla flicks with more monsters, this one serves as a fine sequel to the original and a great starting point for the Heisei series. I love that humanity takes a proactive role in fighting Godzilla and his kind using vehicles like Super X I-III and robots like MOGEURA and Mechagodzilla in the Heisei series rather than relying on benevolent monsters, and that trend starts with a bang right here.
Come Back Next Week for a New Installment of Strange Times & Places!