How the Showa Era molded the king of the monsters
The years between 1926 and 1989 were dubbed the Showa Era in Japan. This era was not only a revolutionary time for the world, but it also introduced the world to Godzilla, King of the Monsters. The original kaiju was introduced as a response to the post-war fears that came from the nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His initial film saw him as the villain, a terror to humanity who thought they could change the laws of nature.
Following his first film, the villainous creature feature didn’t remain that way for long. The kaiju genre exploded after Godzilla arrived, and in no time, viewers were greeted by the likes of Gamera, Anguirus, King Ghidorah and Mothra. Early into his tenure, Godzilla was marketed as a heroic monster. Rather than terrorizing innocents, he was protecting them from even more dangerous adversaries.
Watching the Showa Era of Godzilla can come across as a bit of a shock, especially if viewers are more accustomed to Godzilla’s current era. In these films, he is more goofy than terrifying. Less of a massive animal and more of a creature with a distinct personality. It gave some of the best and worst moments for the character during the era. But before covering the good, it’s important to talk about the bad, aka All Monsters Attack.
Imagine watching a film expecting Godzilla and instead getting a child’s fever dream that includes a haunting look at Godzilla’s first son, Minilla. While the most outrageous aspect is that it’s an entire film that doesn’t actually feature, its strangest aspect is that the monsters speak. Even Godzilla speaks in full sentences to his son, giving him the most personable look to date.
All Monsters Attack was a low. However, the Showa Era has also had some highs. The Showa Era introduced some classic and unique kaiju like Hedorah (The Smog Monster). It was also the first era to have a kaiju battle free for all titled Destroy All Monsters. The film was meant to end the Godzilla series but instead added more fuel to the fire and spawned more sequels.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla marked the end of the Showa Era and the end of the family-friendly Godzilla. Introducing Mechagodzilla represented an early look at how serious these movies could be. While the human aspect was still pretty corny, the threat of Mechagodzilla reminded viewers that these battles aren’t just fun to watch. They have stakes.
The Showa Era introduced a lot, from iconic monsters to the legendary tailslide. It was weird, corny, terrifying and fun. This iteration is not the Godzilla for everyone. This was the first series to see Godzilla terrorize and also be a dad. Kaiju fans would do well to give the era that introduced the original Godzilla vs. King Kong a chance. Compared to the future eras, the Showa Era represents a family-friendly kaiju series that isn’t afraid to have fun.
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