Saturday, November 29, 2008


At K-Mart this weekend I bought two figures from the latest Ban Dai Godzilla toy line: a figure of the 1968 Godzilla from Destroy All Monsters and a figure of the Millennium Godzilla from Godzilla 2000 (yes, the Japanese were making Godzilla movies into the 2000s). I now have eleven 6" daikaiju figures (daikaiju is the Japanese term for "giant monster"); six figures are variations of Godzilla himself. I also have several 2" figures, half of which reside on my desk at work (I thought it would be funny to have figures of radioactive monsters on my desk given the nature of my work).

After years of waiting, I was happy that this latest line of figures has the Millennium Godzilla, which is my favorite version of the character. My wife claims that she can't really tell the difference between any of the versions of Godzilla, much in the same way she can't tell the difference between the starships on Star Trek. So of course she thinks it's silly that I keep buying toys that all look the same.

Godzilla is another arcane hobby of mine that was recently resurrected from my childhood. The first Godzilla movie I ever saw was King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), which my father remembered from his childhood. After that first exposure, I would watch any Godzilla movie that happened to be showing on TV. While I was in college many of the Godzilla movies were released/re-released on DVD for Godzilla's 50th anniversary. Well, I ended up buying quite a few of them. I now own 17 out of the 28 Godzilla movies made since 1954, most of them in Japanese with English subtitles (the best way to watch a Godzilla movie)!

For the most part, the Godzilla movies are goofy fun, particularly those made during the late '60s and early '70s when Godzilla movies were actually produced for children. However, the first movie made in 1954 and 2001's Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidora: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (often abbreviated as GMK; the title suffers from the direct translation) are actually rather serious in tone, presenting Godzilla as the embodiment of nuclear war. For example, during one of Godzilla's initial rampages in GMK, Godzilla's spines begin to emit the classic blue glow as he prepares to fire his radioactive breath on a plaza of fleeing people. The camera then cuts to a classroom miles away where the teacher is interrupted by the scene of a mushroom cloud rising in the distance. This was the most obvious reference to the original symbolism of Godzilla in 47 years.

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