Godzilla Raids Again
Roasting anything in its path!
Year of Release: 1955
Also Known As: Gigantis, the Fire Monster
Genre: Science Fiction
Running Time: 82 minutes (1:22)
Director: Motoyoshi Oda
Hiroshi Koizumi ... Shoichi Tsukioka
Setsuko Wakayama ... Hidemi Yamaji - Koehi's Daughter
Minoru Chiaki ... Koji Kobayashi
Takashi Shimura ... Kyohei Yamane-hakase
Masao Shimizu ... Zoologist Dr. Tadokoro
Seijiro Onda ... Captain Terasawa of Osaka Defense Corps
Sonosuke Sawamura ... Hokkaido Branch Manager Shingo Shibeki
Haruo Nakajima ... Gojira
Katsumi Tezuka ... Angirasu
Godzilla is back, and this time he's not alone! While scouting the seas for schools of fish, young pilots Tsukioka and Kobayashi encounter Godzilla and the spiny monster Anguirus in heated battle on a small Japanese island. The two beasts tumble into the ocean and soon resurface in Osaka, laying waste to the city in a fight to the death. As the threat of destruction mounts, the two heroes muster their courage for the final showdown with Godzilla.
Godzilla Raids Again, remindin' us that unexpected kaiju incursions into your fish cannery invariably end with a nuclear smeltdown.
And speakin' of foreign water contaminants, some people got no respect for this planet of ours and I dunno how much longer I'm willin' to continue sharin' it with 'em. You prolly already know what I'm talkin' about. You prolly saw the protest out at Lake Gunkamucka and decided not to get involved 'cause you were afraid your parole officer might find out and have your bond revoked - yeah, I saw ya drive by pretendin' to block the sun with your hand at 1pm in the afternoon when it's directly overhead.
These people think that just 'cause 80% of the county's budget comes from their tax revenue that they can drive over here in their Nissan Leaves and start makin' exterior decoratin' decisions. That's right, it's Earth Day again, and you know what that means - the attack of the Pottery Barn ecosexuals.
They prolly woulda destroyed a local historical landmark if Billy Hilliard and me hadn't been out there nettin' bluegills to chop into fertilizer, but we were able to save Goodyear Chasm and the protective radial tire labyrinth that spawned the legendary Crudfin. Buncha whole wheat weenies wanted to take a modern marvel of aquatic architecture, painstakingly constructed over 95 years by four generations of lube technicians from Fred's Retreads, and dismantle it in the name of "nature reclamation." Apparently fish livin' inside an old Michelin is an affront to civilized society, but stuffin' 100 million people into high-rise buildings with a stunning view of rush hour traffic and hobos urinatin' in mailboxes is all part of God's plan.
Anyway, by the time Billy and me got over to the demonstration they were already rollin' their Khakis up to their knees and storin' their iPhones inside a biodegradable storage tote made outta hemp in advance of their eco-terrorism, so we hadda act fast.
"What do we want?" the chick with 14 facial piercings shouted into a megaphone.
"Environmental accountability!" chorused the doof troop.
"When do we want it?" she continued.
"Now!" bleated the flock.
"Five bucks says that if she goes under with all that steel in 'er face she never comes up again, you in?" I asked Billy loudly.
"Why don't you rednecks go back to your trailers and let us protect you from yourselves?" suggested the guy with the Celtic knot tattoo who looked like a community theater director from Tacoma.
"Ah who've gonna pro'vec' you?" Billy growled.
"Come on, Billy. You can't fight a vegan. That'd be like runnin' the Iditarod against a musher with a team of dachshunds," I snickered.
"You're nothing but bullies, and we won't be intimated!" barked the man wearin' sandals, socks, and a Che Guevara t-shirt.
"Man alive, you ever seen so many pissed off people in a cloud of weed exhaust this size?" I asked Billy, tryna cut through the fog of devil's lettuce before the contact high set in.
"We're doing this whether you like it or not, so please, stand aside," the iron maiden commanded.
"Be my guest," I shrugged. "But one of you really should stay on the bank and record this."
"And why is that?!" demanded an angry little gal with a pixie haircut and a bottle of probiotic green tea.
"Oh, no reason - hundred years of fish hooks, lures, broken beer bottles; Homer Krantz' Buick Riviera's still down there somewhere, too. Never could find it after he got trashed at Berenstain Beers one night in '79 and drove it off the dock... then there's the fish," I trailed off ominously.
"What about them?" the pixie chick persisted.
"Vey dunno 'bow Crudfin," Billy said gravely, playin' along.
"You don't scare us, we're going in," declared a balding pony-tailed douche who'd plainly been relieved of his Philosophy teachin' gig for inspecting the student bodies.
"W-what's Crudfin?" squeaked the gangling college Freshman with acne that somehow extended to his horn-rimmed glasses.
"Oh don't worry about that, he's dead. Good friend of ours by the name of Duke Tankersley got the best of 'im a few years back. I mean, yeah, mean ole bastard sunk our boat and durn near ate my legs, but the dynamite stunned 'im long enough for Duke to ram our anchor through his gills and..." I was sayin' till I looked up and noticed they were huddling to discuss their next move. .
"Keep 'em outta the water just a coupla minutes more, I'll be right back," I told Billy as I headed for the Topaz.
"Ah woul'n worry 'bow the fiff... leff'n you believe in a cwavy gene," Billy hollered into the conference, successfully derailin' the conversation and continuing to do so with progressively more frightening scenarios about the lake's unseen dangers until I'd returned.
"Wha' vat?" Billy asked, gesturing toward the coffee can I'd gone to retrieve.
"The best part of wakin' up, my man," I smirked.
"We're calling your bluff, neckbeards. Mother Nature needs our help, and we intend to undo the damage you've caused," the megaphoned harpy announced, and in they went.
Now, if you ain't been fishin' lately, the snow runoff did raise the water level from where it'd been last summer, but it's still pretty low, so I hadda wait till they were 15-20 feet out before the water was up to their necks. That seemed like the right moment to pitch my can of dog food into their midst.
About nine seconds later Goodyear Chasm burst to life as the catfish went for the Atta Boy, and three or four seconds after that came the first spiking incident.
"Something bit me!" squeaked the chunky, moon-faced dame who seemed to be there more for the possibility of meetin' a spunky female P.E. teacher than out of any genuine concern for the well-being of the local fauna.
"Stay calm!" the organizer screamed into the megaphone, but by then it was too late.
Turns out that tryna run an obstacle course gets a lot tougher when the tires're underwater, and by the time they'd all made it ashore everyone in the troupe'd been either punctured, kneed in the goodies, bound up in old fishin' line, or dunked mid-scream and forced to inhale a pint of pond moss.
"Check your shorts for leeches, folks! Sometimes the little boogers squirm up onto your taint and it's almost impossible to get 'em off!" I hollered as they hastily tossed their gear into their waiting Prii and tore off down the access road toward the freeway.
Whole situation caught me off guard a little 'cause I've never really been part of the whole "rah rah save the planet" crowd, but it actually feels pretty good knowin' I've done my part to ensure one of the Earth's last pristine wilderness areas'll be around for future generations to enjoy until the lake finally dries up completely and we turn it into a motocross track. Kinda makes me regret all those times I never tarped the trailer on my way to the dump. Oh well, live'n learn.
Havin' done our annual duty to preserve harmony between man and nature, Billy and me decided to head for the house and take in a Godzilla flick before the Grime Time opened - ya know, just to keep an open mind on the subject of atomic fallout and its cinematic silver lining. We're goin' all the way back to 1955 for this one. Back before Godzilla got too big for his scales and told the suits at Toho that if he couldn't play the leading man he'd just hang it up and wait 'em out on the bottom of the Pacific. Godzilla Raids Again is basically the bridge connectin' the original epic to the versus flicks that followed; so it's like Godzilla's awkward college phase where he's tryna decide what he wants to do when he grows up, only it's a lot harder to plot your future when you've got Japanese fighter planes firin' meat-seeking missiles atcha while ya do it. Pretty heavy stuff. 'Course his sufferin' doesn't hafta be for nothin' 'cause you can learn a lot from a 12-story atomic reptile with temporal displacement disorder, and if you'll bear with me a moment I'll show ya what I mean. First, don't assume that you can take the day off just because a 200' prehistoric fusion reactor destroyed your place of business. Second, employing the buddy system during a prison break can increase your odds of escape once the bullets start flyin'. And third, starin' at the distinguished service medal swayin' hypnotically from the sun visor of your Tuna Tracker floatplane day in and day out may result in irreparable liver damage.
The movie begins with a coupla Japanese fish finders (Tsukioka and Kobayashi) buzzin' the Pacific in search of whale pods so they can sell the coordinates to yakuza sushi poachers, only Kobayashi's plane sucks a gremlin into its intake manifold and he hasta set down next to a small island and hope Tsukioka can locate 'im before a tubby Englishman takes 'im into his House of Pain and turns 'im into a humanatee. Tsukioka's able to find 'im but they realize too late that they're trespassin' on Godzilla's timeshare rental and just about get monster mashed before His Zillness gets sucker-punched into the ocean by a 200' tall Kimono Dragon and generates a tsunami warning for Bismarck. Next thing, the Secretary of Cryptozoology in Osaka takes the pilots' description of the thing that Pearl Harbored the Grand Lizard and identifies it as Anguirus, before goin' on to explain that the second monster's small potatoes 'cause Godzilla's gonna pop their Cherry Blossom Festival by nightfall. Then everyone watches a series of archival Tik Tok videos of Godzilla turnin' Toyko into the world's biggest hibachi grill, and after a respectful period of somber brooding the brass decide to evacuate before the Sumosaurus makes landfall and starts banzai droppin' the baseball stadium. So the military sends a squadron of bombers to get a bead on Latex Rex and calculate a trajectory, only everybody on the Kaiju Containment Committee flunked Trig in high school, and instead of poppin' up next to some podunk fishin' village up north Godzilla surfaces in Osaka Bay and starts usin' all the squid boats for soccer practice.
Fortunately by the time he makes landfall he's trippin' balls due to the abundant crop of kelp hashish that grows wild in the Sea of Japan, and the military's able to distract the stoned monolith with illumination flares engineered to release the scent of Dorito powder as they burn. This last-second maneuver appears to've pulled the city's fugu outta the fryer, 'cept while all this's goin' on a group of prisoners en route to safer quarters overpower their guards and accidentally drive the stolen rice paddy wagon into an oil refinery that results in a rekindling of Godzilla's interest in Osaka and a rash of Joe Biden stickers appearin' on fuel pumps all across the country. The Tonka Defense Corps rolls in to stop the advance, but five minutes later the place looks like a Ukrainian salvage yard and Zilla, the Yokohama Thrilla, starts carvin' a Japanama Canal through downtown Osaka until Anguirus shows up and the two of 'em roughhouse all over the industrial park where Godzilla eventually gains the upper hand and opens up a Black Anguirus Steak House franchise. Then he trudges back into the Pacific to take a victory nap while the populace swallows a half dozen Prozac so it can go back to work and pretend like nothin' happened to prevent any evidence of emotional weakness that might bring shame to their families.
A few months pass and the national Kaiju Threat Level returns to Moderate, so while the Brawly Green Giant sleeps it off in the Dragon's Triangle, Tsukioka and Kobayashi get together with all their old Imperial Air Force buddies who didn't fly their planes onto the decks of American aircraft carriers to get bombed on kamikazes and lament the lack of karaoke technology. This goes on until the maitre d' starts gettin' complaints from the Kabuki theater next door and comes over to tell 'em that they've been cut off and that a ship's been sunk under atomic circumstances. The captain immediately mobilizes the Crazy Acey Aces to neutralize Godzilla and restore the flow of saki until Kobayashi finds Repto Bro pacin' around an island like his wife's in labor and the military decide to attack while he's grapplin' with the ethical implications of bringin' a new life into a world bristling with anti-reptilian bigotry. Godzilla's P.O.'d, and when Kobayashi flies a little too close he expresses his displeasure by meltin' Kobayashi's nosecone into T-1000 plasma, sendin' 'im crashin' into a mountain and temporarily buryin' Godzilla up to his saurian scrotum in ice. I'm gonna quit yappin' before I go spoilin' in the endin', but if I was him I'd get outta that snow before chilly Zilly gets a frostbitten willy.
Alrighty, so Godzilla rose from the depths to raid again despite unfavorable reviews of the first film written by his hometown critics who seemed to think that Science Fiction flicks shouldn't have subtext. That explanation for the dim view of the original Godzilla seems to ring true, as this first sequel has next to nothing in the way of undertones and fared much better. Nonetheless, it's also possible that having seen what a massive hit Toho had on its hands, the critics decided to swallow their pride and support any subsequent flicks with the potential to shine a spotlight on the Japanese film market. Either way, Godzilla's continued success in the sequel paved the way for new kaiju monsters like Rodan, Gamera, and Mothra, and also marked the last truly serious entry in the series until the Heisei Era began in 1984. For the next movie, King Kong vs. Godzilla, the script was given a more light-hearted treatment in an effort to appeal to children, and that pattern held true into the mid-'70s when the last Showa Era title, Terror of Mechagodzilla was released. There's really no discounting the fact that the original flick was the better picture, but you'd have to admit that the series probably owes its longevity to Godzilla Raids Again, because it was the first movie that pitted two sweaty guys inside heat stroke simulators against one another, and that formula turned out to be more popular and far cheaper to produce.
Ask 100 people which Godzilla film from the Showa Era has the best production values and 97 will say the original, but ask that same 100 people which one is their favorite and every entry'll get at least a few votes, and this is because of the constantly expanding roster of monsters and the increasingly absurd (but entertaining) plots that tackled everything from aliens and robots to the paternal habits of atomic prehistoric reptiles. 'Course in the states we didn't get our second Godzilla flick until 1959, and when we did it bore the name Gigantis, the Fire Monster. Fortunately, we were spared a second go-around with the deadpan narration of Raymond Burr (for a while, anyway), but it's similar in presentation to Godzilla, King of the Monsters, complete with tonally inconsistent dubbing (some of which was recorded by George Takei in his first showbiz gig) and voice-over narration that attempts to make it more accessible for the English audience. The difference in running times between the original Japanese and English versions varies by only three minutes, but like all foreign films, it's a hell of a lot better with subtitles, and unless you got so hammered at a bonfire earlier in the evening that the words resemble Wingdings, I'd recommend the Japanese version.
In any event, let's take a look at this stripped-down, allegory-free version of Godzilla and see if it's more fun when we don't hafta think about the fact that he's really just a cinematic manifestation of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during WWII. The plot is unwaveringly linear and lacks the depth of the first flick, and this can be viewed as a positive or negative depending upon your motivation for watching. If you're in it for a narrative illustrating the cruelty man inflicts upon himself, that ship has sailed. On the other hand, if you're watching to see Godzilla kick the crap outta office buildings until no amount of Build Back Better legislation could possibly salvage it, you might see this as a positive. Either way, with a running time 14 minutes short of the original and a significantly reduced budget, you're not gonna be anywhere near as entertained by Godzilla Raids Again as you were with the first flick, as it scales back on both character development and monster destruction and has the feel of a film that was rushed out to capitalize on its predecessor's popularity. The story is too simple and cautious to create any serious plot holes, and my only gripe is just how upbeat everyone is mere hours after Godzilla's trashed their place of employment - seemingly unconcerned that he could be back in ten minutes to finish the job. Essentially, the screenplay meets the absolute minimum requirements for competence while attempting to rehash the original film in a way that depoliticizes it - but it doesn't add anything new to compensate and comes across as a watered-down copy. In short, if this were a Friday the 13th sequel, it'd be perfect.
The acting, far as I can tell, is fine. Some Godzilla flicks struggle to find the right balance of screen time between the human cast and the monsters, and whether it be because of budget cuts or artistic choice, this first sequel spends too much time with its one-dimensional human characters. Much of the dialogue is stilted and unnatural by American standards and this may be due to a lack of suitable verbiage into which the original thoughts can be properly translated, but without any real basis of comparison it's impossible to say whether that's the case or whether it's awkward in any language. Minoru Chiaki plays the only character with any real personality - that of the doomed comic relief sidekick who must perish in order to give the protagonist the added motivation he needs to triumph over the seemingly invincible foe - and although he's very likable, the rest of the cast is incredibly dull. You'll likely gain a much better appreciation for the flick as a whole simply by watching the Japanese version and avoiding the predictably absurd dubbing of the English language track, but even so, don't expect to get emotionally invested in these folks' inter-personal relationships.
Here's who matters and why: Hiroshi Koizumi (Mothra, Matango, Atragon, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Dogora, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Godzilla 1985, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.), Minoru Chiaki (The Face of Another), Takashi Shimura (Nosatoradamusu no daiyogen, The Brides from Hades, Frankenstein Conquers the World, Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster, The Lost World of Sinbad, Mothra, The Mysterians, Gojira), Masao Shimizu (The Snow Woman), Seijiro Onda (Gojira), Yoshio Tsuchiya (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Space Amoeba, Destroy All Monsters, Son of Godzilla, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Frankenstein vs. Baragon, Matango, The Human Vapor, Battle in Outer Space, Varan, The Human Vapor, The Mysterians), Minosuke Yamada (The Human Vapor, Varan, The H-Man, The Mysterians, Rodan), Senkicki Omura (Frankenstein vs. Baragon, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Mothra vs. Godzilla, King Kong vs. Godzilla, The H-Man, The Mysterians, Half Human), Ren Yamamoto (Godzilla vs. Mothra, King Kong vs. Godzilla, The War of the Gargantuas, Frankenstein Conquers the World, Mothra, The Human Vapor, The H-Man, Rodan, Gojira), Shin Otomo (Frankenstein vs. Baragon, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Atragon, King Kong vs. Godzilla, The H-Man, The Mysterians), Shiro Tsuchiya (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Atragon, Mothra vs. Godzilla, The H-Man), Takeo Oikawa (Gojira, The Mysterians), Shoichi Hirose (House 1977, Terror of Mechagodzilla, King Kong Escapes, Ebirah Horror of the Deep, The War of the Gargantuas, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Frankenstein vs. Baragon, Dagora, Atragon, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Mothra, The Human Vapor, Varan, The H-Man, The Mysterians, Rodan, Half Human), Junpei Natsuki (My Soul is Slashed, Mothra, The Human Vapor, Gojira), Teruko Mita (Gojira, Mothra), Katsumi Tezuka (Matango, Godzilla Raids Again, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Atragon, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Gorath, Mothra, Battle in Outer Space, Varen the Unbelievable, The H-Man, The Mysterians, Rodan, Gojira).
Additionally: Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Yog: Monster from Space, Godzilla's Revenge, Destroy All Monsters, Son of Godzilla, King Kong Escapes, Ebirah Horror of the Deep, The War of the Gargantuas, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Frankenstein Conquers the World, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Matango, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Gorath, Mothra, The Human Vapor, Varan the Unbelievable, The H-Man, The Mysterians, Rodan, Gojira), Toku Ihara (Mothra, Matango, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Gorath, Varan, The H-Man, Half Human), Tazuko Kumagai (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Terror of Mechagodzilla, Dogora, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Atragon, Matango, Gorath, The Human Vapor, Battle in Outer Space, Varan, The H-Man, The Mysterians, Rodan, Half Human), Tadeo Nakamaru (Submersion of Japan, Terror of Mechagodzilla, The H-Man, The Mysterians), Keiji Sakakida (Gorath, Mothra, the Human Vapor, The H-Man, Gojira, Rodan), Akira Sera (Veran, The H-Man, Half Human), Hideo Shibuya (Destroy All Monsters, Ebirah Horror of the Deep, The War of the Gargantuas, Frankenstein vs. Baragon, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Dogora, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Atragon, Matango, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Gorath, Mothra, The Human Vapor, Varan, The H-Man), Shigemi Sunagawa (Mothra vs. Godzilla, Mothra, The H-Man, Rodan, Half Human), Masaaki Tachibana (Mothra, The H-Man, Rodan, Half Human), Koji Uno (Mothra, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Atragon, Gorath, Rodan).
Mainstream credits are as follows: Minoru Chiaki (Tahei in The Hidden Fortress, Yoshiaki Miki in Throne of Blood), Takashi Shimura (Kambei Shimada in Seven Samurai, Kanji Watanabe in Ikiru, Noriyasu Odagura in Throne of Blood), Masao Shimizu (Kihui in Sanjura, Masauji Taira in Sansho the Bailiff), Tadao Nakamaru (Dr. Shibato on Super Electronic Bioman).
The special effects are, by necessity, less ambitious than those of the first flick; in particular, the miniatures are less detailed and appear hastily constructed. That said, the Godzilla suit worn by Haruo Nakajima looks as good as or better than the original, and his experience acting in the first film provided insight that allowed the effects crew to build a second suit that was easier to work with. The Anguirus design is cool as well, although you kinda get the idea that they regretted the decision to make the monster quadrupedal given how few of their monsters would ultimately receive that trait. And yes, 65+ years later watching grown men wrestle inside molded rubber while risking heatstroke lacks some of the spectacle that it had in 1955, but the inherent silliness in no way diminishes the work ethic of the actors bringing the monsters to life, or the effects guys that made said rumbles possible. Probably woulda been better if the guy crankin' the camera had understood that undercranking increases the speed rather than slowing it as intended, but given that these films are frequently viewed for their camp value, that mistake has actually aged pretty well. Basically, these types of effects, along with stop motion animation, are a lost art in the sense that the film industry no longer has need of them, and although they were fine for their time, even devoted fans of the films are going to get the chuckles watching them in 2022 and beyond.
The sets are adequate, though largely forgettable and inconsequential to the movie given that such a high percentage of it takes place either on a sound stage covered with miniatures or in the cockpit of a plane being rocked back and forth by production assistants. Most of the monsterless sequences are shot so tightly that it gives the movie a feeling of claustrophobia, and depending upon your feelings about the finished product you could either attribute this to cheapskatery on the part of the studio, or the production manager's artistic vision in depicting man's significance growing smaller and smaller beneath the threat of a walking nuclear reactor. 'Course, somebody without an agenda might point out that most people livin' in Japanese cities are packed in like sardines even in a Godzilla-free universe and that there's really nothing unusual about their compact nature at all... but that'd be boring. I guess what I'm sayin' is - rarely have a film's sets and locations been less important than in this particular flick, and for that reason, the lackluster variety and overall level of insignificance don't hurt it the way it would, say, a Hammer film.
The soundtrack, while very dated, is more atmospheric and foreboding than those of most American science fiction films of the '50s. Unfortunately, it's no match for Akira Ifukube's score from the original Godzilla, and lacks the iconic Godzilla theme that would eventually become synonymous with the king of the monsters and a mainstay of the franchise. Still, there're some pretty dark tracks built around the bassoon and piano, and consequently, the composition feels more like a horror flick than a science fiction film. Admittedly, it's possible that these early Godzilla soundtracks may just *seem* special because there was so little competition for quality horror/science fiction scores in those days, but there's a uniqueness to them that's sorely lacking in Western compositions of the 1950s, and for that reason, they feel ahead of their time.
Overall, Godzilla Raids Again plays like a cut-rate rehash of the original flick and represents a point in the franchise where Toho was still trying to figure out exactly what to do with their newfound sensation. The introduction of Anguirus is an important step in the right direction, as it would lead to the subsequent versus films that eventually became the main staple of the series. Unfortunately, this first sequel is kinda stuck in limbo between the big budget epic that was the original, and the endearingly goofy fight flicks that were to follow; thus, it's one of the weaker entries in the series. There's nothing wrong with it exactly - it just suffers from middle child syndrome and gets lost in the shuffle. Fans of the original will likely still enjoy it despite the dropoff in production values, but if, like me, you feel the Showa Era peaked with absurdities like Invasion of the Astro-Monster, it may prove a bit unsatisfying.