Long before Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong finally stomped onto screens in 2021, the world had a very different Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla moment. Released in 1974, Jun Fukuda’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla gave our favorite radioactive reptile a special opponent: One structured to appear very much like Godzilla, only, well, “mecha” (mechanical).
However, like most Godzilla films, this one tries to be about more than giant monsters fighting. So you have some human characters such as cave explorer Masahiko (Kazuya Aoyama) and his brother, Keisuke (Masaaki Daimon), as well as Professor Miyajima (Akihiko Hirata) and his daughter, Ikuko (Hiromi Matsushita).
There are also some nods to the original Americanized Godzilla film, with a journalistic character; Godzilla, King of the Monsters! had reporter Steve Martin (Raymond Burr), and this movie has a photographer named Masahiko Shimizu (Kazuya Aoyama). Of course, all of Godzilla’s journalists have one thing in common: They fail to use their contacts to arrange an interview with Godzilla! Is Godzilla too camera-shy? That failing aside, it’s refreshing that the Godzilla franchise tends to respect the profession, and so much more, including respecting audiences by giving Godzilla a run for its money!
Yes, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla kind of kicks Godzilla’s ass
Godzilla is known for being pretty tough. Like a slasher villain, it tends to return even after it’s been “killed.” Nevertheless, there are moments in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla where it seems the King of the Monsters has a real fight. While Rodan is a tough customer in 2019’s King of the Monsters (being born of a lava field and all), Mechagodzilla just keeps brutalizing Godzilla, to the point where we feel bad for the King and wonder if it might totally succumb to its injuries!
Fortunately, Godzilla is reinvigorated by a lightning strike on Monster Island and eventually teams up with the strange yet powerful King Caesar, who is awoken with a beautiful song by a Princess (Bellbella Lin). Additional action erupts between Keisuke’s group and aliens led by Kuronuma (Goro Mutsumi). However, the might of Godzilla and King Caesar seems to be reinforced by prophecy, so their plot of using Mechagodzilla to conquer Earth seems doomed to fail (what a relief!).
- This movie doesn’t just have boys doing archaeological stuff. Saeko (Reiko Tajima) acts as guardian to a sacred statue and otherwise faces dangers.
- Also, like many other Godzilla movies, this one does not particularly emphasize Tokyo (there’s a stereotype about Godzilla primarily menacing Tokyo, although he definitely stomps around many different locales).
- Another cute little fact: “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla was first known in the United States as Godzilla vs. the Bionic Monster.
- Obviously, this film did not end the rivalry between the two monsters, with Mechagodzilla becoming a frequent, iconic opponent to the King of the Monsters.
- Interestingly, this is one of the rare Godzilla movies to somewhat downplay the presence of soldiers, being more interested in the creation and battle of Mechagodzilla, the statue, and the introduction of King Caesar.
- Mechagodzilla is not of Martian design but crafted by ape-like aliens from the Third Planet of the Black Hole.
What are your thoughts on the original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla? Let us know in the comments!