A Beginner’s Gide to Tokusatsu. Part 1, Kaiju!

by Orville E. Wright

Hello everyone, I am Orville Evander Wright, son of Jagi and John C. Wright. I am a small Pokémon plush toy that was brought to life by mad science. I am here to tell you about one of my favorite types of TV shows, the Tokusatsu. This will be a four-to-five-part series about the different types of Tokusatsu going from the ones you are most likely to have heard of, to the most obscure type I know. This part will be about a type of tokusatsu called Kaiju, or giant monsters.

To start, what is tokusatsu? Tokusatsu is a type of Japanese TV show that uses costumes and special effects to create a live action fantasy. The shows are actions shows and directed young boys. While not as common here in the states, you have probably have heard of something from this genre. If you have ever watch ether Godzilla or Power Rangears, then you have seen a tokusatsu. It is here we will start, with Americas first taste of tokusatsu, Godzilla, and the Kaiju movie.

Godzilla was a dinosaur living under the South Pacific who was caught in the testing of the A-Bomb. After the explosion, like any good super hero, he gained super powers. Namely, he gained his signature atomic breath and, most likely, his height.

When Godzilla first appeared, however, he was evil. He was originally just a sea monster who was unstoppable by any weapon the Japanese military throw at him.

While he does not like humans, he will side with them over an alien monster like King Ghidorah, a three headed, lightning breathing space dragon who is Godzilla’s arch enemy, or Gigan, a one-eyed semi-mechanical space chicken thing with a buzzsaw for a chest. Thanks to this he has gained a reputation as a hero, when he is more of an anti-hero.

If you want heroic heroes, look no farther than Mothra. Mothra is a giant moth from an Island called Infant Island, which she protects. She has two small fairy priestesses who speak for her and calm her down if she goes on a rampage, which only happens when men do stupid things like kidnap her young.

Yes, young. Mothra is actually the name of a clan of giant moths that guard Infant Island. When the old Mothra is close to death, she lays an egg. This egg hatches in to a giant brown caterpillar that can spit string. Later it will form a cocoon on something, like Tokyo Tower, and grow into it’s giant moth form, and the cycle continues.

Some other of the generally good monsters include Rodan and Anguirus. Rodan is a gigantic, orangish Pteranodon that can create a hurricane-force wind with one flap of its wings. He was the first enemy Godzilla ever fought against rather than humans. They are friends now, unless the reboot says otherwise. Anguirus is a giant spiked lizard that walks on all fours, rolls up into a ball, and digs through the earth. He is Godzilla’s right-hand guy and was the monster that joined him in his second movie, Godzilla Raids Again. While I have never seen it, I do know that in it Anguirus and Godzilla team up to attack Tokyo and the humans do something to win the day.

Giant space chicken with buzz saw stomach

Speaking of the unimportant human characters, Godzilla’s real main enemy is space aliens. A generic Godzilla plot goes like this: Aliens come to earth, bringing some giant monster like King Ghidorah or Mecha Godzilla, which is exactly what it sounds like, a robot Godzilla. The aliens come up with some evil plan to take over the Earth, specifically sic their giant monster on earth until it gives. This gets the attention of Godzilla who, in the last act, beats up the monster with the help of whatever monster is helping him that movie. Meanwhile, the unimportant human characters get the focus of the movie and have to fight the evil aliens on the ground while Godzilla deals with the big bad.

Kaiju was the first type of Tokusatsu to ever reach American shores and it was a big hit. What little boy would not want to see a giant dinosaur fight? But, the interesting thing is, Godzilla came from over here, or rather the idea for him.

The Rhedosaurus

Godzilla’s progenitor was Rhedosaurus the star of the Ray Harryhausen’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. From what I have read, the plot is as follows. During a nuclear test in the arctic, the Rhedosaurus is woken up and kills everyone there excepted one scientist named Thomas Nesbitt. He escapes and makes it back to civilization with the monster taking its time in following him. He tries to get help, but no one believes him. That is until the Rhedosaurus makes its way down south and destroys a light house. It then moves to New York and starts killing people. The military try to kill it, but it turns out that its blood contains a deadly virus. To stop the virus and the Rhedosaurus the heroes comes up with the idea of shooting it with a radioactive isotope. When they find out that the Rhedosaurus is attacking Coney Island, they send a sniper up to the top of a roller coaster to kill the thing. After a tense scene of aiming, the sniper kills the beast and Coney Island goes up in flames.

It is interesting to see the parallels of Godzilla’s and Rhedosaurus’ reawakening. Godzilla got the better deal though, for he got both atomic flame breath and a career out of his rude awakening.

For those who wish to start watching this type of tokusatsu, here are some suggestions. First, the original Godzilla movie in Japanese. My dad saw it and said that it was a darn creepy movie. Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla. This is the arc atypical Godzilla Vs. movie. Godzilla Vs. Mothra. This on is mostly a Mothra movie with Godzilla only showing up half way through as the bad guy. Destroy All Monsters and Final Wars. These two are here together because Final War was inspired by Destroy All Monsters, and they both filled the same purpose in their respective series, namely, the end. They are both about aliens getting control of all the monsters on earth. The unimportant human characters need to beat them to save the world, while giant monsters fight each other. They are both good, but Final Wars Is better.

That’s all for now. Next Time is Power Rangers and its genre Sentai. Till then, my young friend, go forth and enjoy the worlds of Japanese Children’s Entertainment.

Part Two: Sentai

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Orville E. Wright, the son of L. Jagi Lamplighter and John C. Wright, is a small Pokémon plush toy brought to life by mad science.