Kaijū (怪獣 kaijū, from Japanese "strange beast") is a Japanese film genre that features giant monsters, usually attacking major cities and engaging the military and other monsters in battle. It is a subgenre of tokusatsu entertainment. This word originated from the Chinese Classic of Mountains and Seas. In Legendary Pictures' modern MonsterVerse, the in-universe organization Monarch refers to Kaiju as "Titans".
Kaiju originally referred to monsters and creatures from ancient Japanese legends. The word "Kaiju" first appears in Classic of Mountains and Seas. After Sakoku, opening Japan to foreign relations, Japanese came to use the term kaiju to express concepts from paleontology and legendary creatures from around the world. For example, in 1908, during the Meiji period, it was suggested that the extinct Ceratosaurus was alive in Alaska, referred to as kaiju. However, there are no traditional depictions of kaiju or kaiju-like creatures in Japanese folklore but rather the origins of kaiju are found in film. The title of the first film with the name of the Kaiju is an atomic Kaiju appears (原子怪獣現れる Genshi Kaiju ga Arawareru), the title of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in Japan. Gojira (transliterated to Godzilla) is regarded as the first kaiju film and was released in 1954. Tomoyuki Tanaka, a producer for Toho Studios in Tokyo, needed a film to release after his previous project was halted and upon seeing how well American Hollywood giant monster movie genre films King Kong and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms had done in the box offices of Japan, as well as personally being a fan of the films, Tomoyuki Tanaka set out to make a new movie based on those American giant monster movies and created Godzilla. Tomoyuki Tanaka aimed to combine Hollywood giant monster movies with the re-emerged Japanese fears of atomic weapons, which came about due to the Daigo Fukuryū Maru fishing boat incident, and so he put a team together and created the concept of a radioactive giant creature emerging from the depths of the ocean which would become the iconic monster Godzilla. Godzilla was initially met with commercial success in Japan, inspiring an entire genre that came to be known as kaiju movies.
The term kaiju translates to "strange beast". It is a science fiction and fantasy giant creature that often takes the role of either antagonist, protagonist, or force of nature. Godzilla is an example of a kaiju; others include Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, King Kong, Gamera, Gyaos, Daimajin, Gappa, Guilala and Yonggary. The term ultra-kaiju is longhand for kaiju in the Ultra Series.
Daikaiju (大怪獣 large kaiju) roughly translates as "large strange beast" and refers to the larger monsters. The literal translation is about a size difference between a kaiju and a daikaiju, with the implication that the daikaiju is the greater of the two types. The exact definition of what determines a kaiju from a daikaiju is debated. This term is used for the most powerful kaiju, the prefix dai- emphasizing great power or status. The first appearance of daikaiju is in the Japanese title of Rodan, Sora no Daikaijū Radon (空の大怪獣 ラドン, "Radon, Giant Monster of the Sky"). Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra are the san daikaiju, the three great kaiju. An example of the term exists in a 1908 book.
Seijin (星人 star beings) is a Japanese suffixal term for extraterrestrial aliens, such as "Kaseijin (火星人)", which means "Martian". Aliens can also be called "Uchujin" (宇宙人) which means "space beings".
Toho has produced a variety of kaiju films over the years (many of which featured Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra) but other Japanese studios contributed to expanding the genre in Japan by producing films and shows of their own, including Daiei Film a.k.a. Kadokawa Pictures, Tsuburaya Productions, and Shochiku and Nikkatsu Studios.
A technique that was developed to portray the kaiju. An actor plays the part of the kaiju while in an articulated costume.
Eiji Tsubaraya, who was in charge of the special effects for Gojira, developed a technique to animate the kaiju that became known colloquially as suitmation. Where Western monster movies often utilized a technique known as stop motion to animate the monsters, Tsubaraya decided to attempt to create suits, referred to as a creature suit, for a human (suit actor) to wear and act in. This was combined with the use of miniature models and scaled down city sets to create the illusion of a giant creature in a city. Due to the extreme stiffness of the latex or rubber suits often filming would be done at double speed, so that when the film was shown, the monster was smoother and slower than the original shot. Kaiju films also utilized a form of puppetry interwoven between suitmation scenes which served to have shots that were physically impossible for the actor to perform in the suit. Later computer-generated imagery (CGI) was used for certain special sequences and monsters, but overall, the suitmation technique has been present in an overwhelming majority of kaiju films produced in Japan of all eras. American produced kaiju films strayed from suitmation to focus on CGI in western releases starting with the 1998 release of Godzilla. These suitmation techniques were adapted by almost all kaiju films and continue even in modern Japanese kaiju films and tokusatsu although more stop motion and CGI are utilized.
All Monsters Attack, released in Japan as Gojira-Minira-Gabara: Ōru Kaijū Daishingeki (ゴジラ・ミニラ・ガバラ オール怪獣大進撃, lit. Godzilla, Minilla, and Gabara: All Monsters Attack), is a 1969 Japanese science fiction kaiju film featuring Godzilla, produced and distributed by Toho. The film is directed by Ishirō Honda with special effects directed by Honda and Teruyoshi Nakano and stars Tomonori Yazaki, Hideyo Amamoto, and Kenji Sahara, with Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla, Marchan the Dwarf as Minilla, and Yasuhiko Kakuyuki as Gabara. It is tenth film in the Godzilla franchise and Shōwa series.
The film was released in Japan on December 20, 1969 and theatrically in the United States in the winter of 1971 by Maron Films as Godzilla's Revenge, where it was paired up nationwide on a double bill with Night of the Big Heat.Destoroyah
Destoroyah (Japanese: デストロイア, Hepburn: Desutoroia) is a kaiju who first appeared in Toho's 1995 film Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.Destroy All Monsters
Destroy All Monsters (怪獣総進撃, Kaijū Sōshingeki) is a 1968 Japanese science fiction kaiju film featuring Godzilla, produced and distributed by Toho. The film is directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects by Sadamasa Arikawa with supervision by Eiji Tsuburaya and stars Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Yukiko Kobayashi and Yoshio Tsuchiya. It is the 9th entry in the Godzilla franchise and Shōwa series.
The film story features aliens known as Kilaaks, who have released the giant monsters from Monsterland and have planted mind-control devices on the monsters to control them. The monsters are eventually freed from the mind control, which leads the aliens to release King Ghidorah from space to challenge them.
The film was written by Honda and Takeshi Kimura who introduced the concept of Monster Island into the Godzilla film series. The film featured some complete new costumes for monsters such as Godzilla and some that were altered since their appearance in previous films. The film was released in Japan on August 1, 1968.Invasion of Astro-Monster
Invasion of Astro-Monster (怪獣大戦争, Kaijū Daisensō, lit. The Giant Monster War) is a 1965 science fiction kaiju film featuring Godzilla, directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. The film stars Akira Takarada, Nick Adams, Kumi Mizuno, Akira Kubo, and Yoshio Tsuchiya, with Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla, Masaki Shinohara as Rodan, and Shoichi Hirose as King Ghidorah. It is the sixth film in the Godzilla franchise and Shōwa series. The film was a Japanese-American co-production; it was the second collaboration between Toho and UPA.Invasion of Astro-Monster was released in Japan on December 19, 1965 and was given a theatrical release in the United States on July 29, 1970, on a double bill with The War of the Gargantuas.Kaiju Big Battel
Kaiju Big Battel [sic] is a performance by the Boston, Massachusetts based performance entertainment troupe Studio Kaiju created by Rand Borden and David Borden. The performances are parodies of both professional wrestling and the tokusatsu kaiju kaiju eiga films of Japan. These Battels are presented in the style of professional wrestling events, with the costumed performers playing the roles of giant, city-crushing monsters similar to Godzilla and Gamera.
The misspelling of "Battel" is intentional. Originally, Rand Borden misspelled the word "battle" on a T-shirt design. People thought it was funny, so it was left that way. In-jokes are plentiful and are aimed towards fans of professional wrestling (especially Mexican wrestling), superhero comic books and Japanese popular culture. Many of the names of the characters are in mock Spanish or mock Japanese, and Engrish is used liberally for comedic effect.Kaiju Club
Kaiju Club (怪獣倶楽部〜空想特撮青春記〜, Kaijū Kurabu Kūsō Tokusatsu Seishunki, lt. "Monster Club: Fictional Special Effects Youth Chronicle") is a four-episode late night Japanese television drama series. The series receive collaboration with Tsuburaya Productions for the production and appearance of Ultra Monsters in the series.The series took place in mid-1970s and focuses on club members who have devoted to the Kaiju of Tokusatsu shows while trying to self-publish a magazine that deals with the topic. Each episodes feature the guest appearance of monsters from Ultra Series.Kaiju Girls
Kaiju Girls (怪獣娘 (かいじゅうがーるず), Kaijū Musume (Kaijū Gārūzu)) is an ongoing series of web anime shorts that first aired September 27, 2016, provided by the Docomo Anime Store service. These shorts are part of the Ultra Monsters Anthropomorphic Project (ウルトラ怪獣擬人化計画, Ultra Kaijū Gijinka Keikaku), a moe anthropomorphism project made by Tsuburaya Productions based on past monsters/aliens that have appeared in Ultra Series. Other than the short series, a manga series, a novel series and other projects are being considered in development. A second season premiered in 2018. A sequel film, titled Kaijuu Girls (Black), was released on November 23, 2018.List of Godzilla games
This is a chronological list of games in the Godzilla franchise initially created by the Japanese company Toho. From the early 1980s to the present, a variety of video games (ranging from mobile, online and console games) based upon the Godzilla franchise have been developed and released on various consoles. The majority of the available games saw an original or exclusive release in Japan and were later introduced in international countries, whereas other games have been developed in the US.
Platforms: Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, MSX, FM-7, PC-X1, Apple II, Commodore 16, Commodore Plus/4, Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, NEC PC-9801, Arcade, Turbo Duo, Sega Pico, Sega Saturn, Game Gear, CD-ROM, Online, LCD, Pinball, PlayStation, Dreamcast, Game Boy Color, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Xbox, PlayStation 2, Pachinko, Pachislot, Wii, Nintendo DS, iOS, AVP Slot, Android, Mobile, Online, Web browser, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Nintendo SwitchList of films featuring giant monsters
This is an alphabetical list of films featuring giant monsters, known in Japan as kaiju. One of the first films involving giant monsters was the 1933 classic King Kong, as developments in cinema and animation enabled the creation of realistic giant creatures. The film influenced many giant-monster films in its wake, including many produced in Japan, starting with the adaptation King Kong Appears in Edo in 1938, which is now presumed to be a lost film. The visual effects in King Kong, created by Willis O'Brien, inspired future monster film effects artists such as Ray Harryhausen and Dennis Muren. Early giant-monster films often had themes of adventure and exploration of unknown regions, and incorporated fights with giant monsters as a climactic element.
The development of atomic weaponry in the 1940s gave rise to its involvement in popular themes. The 1953 American film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms featured a giant dinosaur that awakens due to nuclear tests in the Arctic. The 1954 film Them! involved giant irradiated ants. Later in 1954, the Japanese film Godzilla was released. This was followed by an ongoing trend of giant reptiles created by nuclear radiation. Japan continued with a giant moth in Mothra, a turtle in Gamera, and many more that followed. Other countries have their own giant monster movies such as the United Kingdom with Gorgo in 1961.
Films featuring Godzilla and Gamera were made into the 1970s, and a King Kong remake was released in 1976. Awareness of toxic waste in the 1970s inspired the release of various horror films, and the giant monster subgenre saw the release of 1971's Godzilla vs. Hedorah. Godzilla received a 1998 remake by TriStar Pictures, and King Kong received a 2005 remake by Universal Pictures. 2008 saw the release of the successful Cloverfield, which some critics have claimed inspiration from the September 11 attacks. Pacific Rim, a film featuring giant mecha battling with kaiju, was released in 2013, and the following year Legendary reinterpreted Godzilla for a new generation of audiences in the series' 30th film. The latest entry in the Godzilla series, Shin Godzilla, premiered in Japan in July 2016. A reboot of King Kong known as Kong: Skull Island was released in March 2017.Manda (kaiju)
Manda (マンダ) is a kaiju film monster which first appeared in Toho's 1963 film Atragon. Manda is based on a Japanese dragon. Manda does not have any special weapons, but can wrap its body around an enemy and crush them in the manner of a constrictor snake. Manda can also swim very fast and breathe underwater. Manda's roars were created through recordings of lions bellowing.MonsterVerse
The MonsterVerse is an American media franchise and shared fictional universe that is centered on a series of monster films featuring Godzilla and King Kong, produced by Legendary Entertainment and co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros. The first installment was Godzilla (2014), a reboot of the Godzilla franchise, which was followed by Kong: Skull Island (2017), a reboot of the King Kong franchise. The next film to be released will be Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), followed by Godzilla vs. Kong (2020). With two films released to date, the series has grossed over $1 billion worldwide.Mothra
Mothra (モスラ, Mosura) is a kaiju that first appeared in Toho's 1961 film Mothra. Mothra has appeared in several Toho tokusatsu films, most often as a recurring character in the Godzilla franchise. She is typically portrayed as a colossal sentient larva (caterpillar) or imago (moth), accompanied by two miniature female humanoids speaking on her behalf. Unlike other Toho monsters, Mothra is a largely heroic character, having been variously portrayed as a protector of her own island culture, the Earth and Japan. Though identified as a kind of moth, the character's design is more evocative of a European peacock butterfly and has caddisfly-like mandibles rather than a proboscis. The character is often depicted hatching offspring (in some cases, twins) when approaching death, a nod to the Saṃsāra doctrine of numerous Indian religions.Mothra is one of Toho’s most popular monsters and second only to Godzilla in its total number of film appearances. Polls taken during the early 1990s indicated that Mothra was particularly popular among women who were, at the time, the largest demographic among Japan's movie-going audience, a fact that prompted the filming of 1992's Godzilla vs. Mothra, which was the best-attended Toho film since King Kong vs. Godzilla. IGN listed Mothra as #3 on their "Top 10 Japanese Movie Monsters" list, while Complex listed the character as #7 on its "The 15 Most Badass Kaiju Monsters of All Time" list.Pacific Rim (film)
Pacific Rim is a 2013 American science fiction monster film directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, and Ron Perlman. The screenplay was written by Travis Beacham and del Toro from a story by Beacham. The film is set in the future, when Earth is at war with the Kaiju, colossal sea monsters which have emerged from an interdimensional portal on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. To combat the monsters, humanity unites to create the Jaegers, gigantic humanoid mechas, each controlled by at least two pilots, whose minds are joined by a mental link. Focusing on the war's later days, the story follows Raleigh Becket, a washed-up Jaeger pilot called out of retirement and teamed with rookie pilot Mako Mori as part of a last-ditch effort to defeat the Kaiju.
Principal photography began on November 14, 2011, in Toronto and lasted through April 2012. The film was produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Warner Bros. It was released on July 12, 2013, in 3D and IMAX 3D, receiving generally positive reviews; the visual effects, action sequences, and nostalgic style were highly praised. While it underperformed at the box office in the United States, it was highly successful in other markets. It earned a worldwide total of more than $411 million—$114 million in China alone, its largest market—becoming Del Toro's most commercially successful film to date. The film is considered as a homage to the Kaiju, Mecha, and Anime genres, and has gained a cult following.A sequel titled Pacific Rim: Uprising was released on March 23, 2018.Rebirth of Mothra
Rebirth of Mothra (モスラ, Mosura, released in Japan simply as Mothra) is a 1996 Japanese tokusatsu kaiju film featuring Mothra, produced and distributed by Toho. The film is directed by Okihiro Yoneda and serves as a reboot of the Mothra film series and is the first installment in the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy. It is also the last kaiju film produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, who produced various kaiju films featuring Mothra, Godzilla, and others. The film was released in Japan on December 14, 1996.SSSS.Gridman
SSSS Gridman (stylized as SSSS.GRIDMAN) is a Japanese anime television adaptation of the 1993–1994 tokusatsu series Gridman the Hyper Agent. The production is a joint collaboration between Tsuburaya Productions, the production company behind Gridman and the Ultra Series, and Studio Trigger. The two production companies previously collaborated on the Denkou Choujin Gridman: boys invent great hero short original net animation for the Japan Animator Expo. The "SSSS" in the title stands for "Special Signature to Save a Soul" as revealed in the final episode. It is also a reference to Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, a US adaptation of Gridman the Hyper Agent. The series premiered on October 7 and ended on December 23, 2018.Space Amoeba
Space Amoeba (ゲゾラ・ガニメ・カメーバ 決戦! 南海の大怪獣, Gezora, Ganime, Kamēba: Kessen! Nankai no Daikaijū, lit. "Gezora, Ganimes, and Kamoebas: Decisive Battle! Giant Monsters of the South Seas"), is a 1970 Japanese science fiction kaiju film directed by Ishirō Honda and featuring special effects by Sadamasa Arikawa. The film tells the story of extraterrestrial amoeba-like aliens that hijack a probe and, after crash landing on a small South Pacific atoll, create gigantic monsters from native lifeforms (a kisslip cuttlefish, stone crab and mata mata) with plans of conquering the Earth.
The film was released theatrically in the United States in 1971 by American International Pictures as Yog-Monster From Space.Spider-Man (1978 film)
Spider-Man (Japanese: スパイダーマン, Hepburn: Supaidāman), also referred to as Japanese Spider-Man, is a 1978 film based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man and also a spin-off from the Japanese Spider-Man television series. The film was released theatrically in Japan.Tokusatsu
Tokusatsu (Japanese: 特撮, "special filming") is a Japanese term for live-action film or television drama that makes heavy use of special effects. Tokusatsu entertainment often deals with science fiction, fantasy or horror, but films and television shows in other genres can sometimes count as tokusatsu as well. The most popular types of tokusatsu include kaiju monster films like the Godzilla and Gamera film series; superhero TV serials such as the Kamen Rider and Metal Hero series; and mecha dramas like Giant Robo. Some tokusatsu television programs combine several of these subgenres, for example the Ultraman and Super Sentai series.
Tokusatsu is one of the most popular forms of Japanese entertainment, but despite the popularity of films and television programs based on tokusatsu properties such as Godzilla or Super Sentai, most tokusatsu films and television programs are not widely known outside Asia.