Ranking All the Kaiju of the Toho Godzilla Universe

The Godzilla universe spans seven decades, four different Japanese eras and two American remakes. In that long history, he has fought many deadly foes and had several awesome allies. However, the franchise expands beyond that as well, as some monsters that had their own films have crossed over into Godzilla movies, comics and video games. Toho has created a massive kaiju universe over the years and even if there are different eras and continuities, in some way, all these monsters exist in the same general realm.

So I feel the need to quantify these awesome giant beasts with a list. Because I like making lists and who the hell doesn’t like reading lists. Sure, our opinions may differ but that’s what the comments area is for. So feel free to list your favorites and discuss the results.

Also, I included the MUTOs from the American film for comparison’s sake.

How am I ranking these? Well, it is a combination of who is the most powerful, bad ass and the coolest. And of course, number one should not be a surprise.

1. Godzilla
2. Mothra Leo
3. Destoroyah
4. Monster X (Keizer Ghidorah)
5. Mecha-King Ghidorah
6. Biollante
7. Cretaceous King Ghidorah
8. Shin Godzilla
9. Fire Rodan
10. Gigan (Millennium)
11. King Ghidorah
12. Dagahra
13. Mechagodzilla (Showa)
14. Desghidorah
15. King Caesar
16. Mechagodzilla/Kiryu (Millennium)
17. King Kong
18. Mothra
19. Zone Fighter
20. Godzilla Junior
21. Gigan (Showa)
22. Rodan
23. Anguirus
24. Jet Jaguar
25. Mechani-Kong
26. Hedorah
27. SpaceGodzilla
28. Mechagodzilla (Heisei)
29. Gargantuan Sanda
30. Battra
31. Orga
32. Varan
33. Gargantuan Gaira
34. Megaguirus
35. MUTO (female)
36. Frankenstein
37. Megalon
38. Dogora
39. Gezora
40. Baragon
41. M.O.G.U.E.R.A. (Heisei)
42. Ebirah
43. Titanosaurus
44. MUTO (male)
45. Gabara
46. Moguera (Showa)
47. Manda
48. Kumonga
49. Ganimes
50. Gorosaurus
51. Kamoebas
52. Maguma
53. Kamacuras
54. Meganulon
55. Giant Octopus
56. Giant Sea Serpent
57. Minya
58. Giant Condor
59. Zilla

Film Review: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Also known as: Gojira: Fainaru Wōzu (Japan)
Release Date: November 29th, 2004 (World Premiere)
Directed by: Ryuhei Kitamura
Written by: Isao Kiriyama, Wataru Mimura
Music by: Keith Emerson, Nobuhiko Morino, Daisuke Yano
Cast: Masahiro Matsuoka, Rei Kikukawa, Don Frye, Maki Mizuno, Kazuki Kitamura, Kane Kosugi, Jun Kunimura, Akira Takarada, Tsutomu Kitagawa

Toho, 125 Minutes

godzillafinalwarsReview:

Godzilla: Final Wars, which came out in 2004, was the last of the Godzilla films to come out of Japan (until 2016’s Shin Gojira). Additionally, it was made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Godzilla. In doing so, the filmmakers at Toho decided to throw just about every monster they have ever created into this one movie. That being said, the word “epic” is a vast understatement to what this film was. Although, just so we’re clear, epic isn’t a synonym for “good”.

This film was at times glorious and at times hard to look at. The plot was recycled Godzilla shtick: alien race comes to Earth, alien race tricks people, alien race brainwashes monsters, alien race turns monsters against us, alien race makes monsters attack world capitals, Godzilla shows up, bigger mayhem ensues. Now I’m not knocking the formula because frankly, I don’t care that much about what the story is, as long as big monsters get to tear the crap out of each other for my enjoyment.

That being said, never has there been more kaiju violence in one place than in this film. Once Godzilla is reintroduced to us after his exile, he goes ape shit and runs through every monster like he’s playing Mortal Kombat III. Every second of Godzilla bad assery, I loved. It completely rectified any flaw that this film had and it went on for what seemed like forever. It was like a kaiju Royal Rumble match and Godzilla was that big unstoppable hero who drew number 30 – only to show up late to the party fresh and ready to crack every skull.

So what was wrong with the film? Well, in some instances, monsters were dudes in traditional rubber suits. In other instances, monsters were 100 percent CGI. The mixture of CGI vs. rubber monsters was odd and it just didn’t click. I’ve always been a fan of practical effects, although CGI doesn’t entirely irritate me. However, to mix the two so blatantly and so poorly kind of magnifies the flaws in both. Where effects should blend in and look real, having two differing styles together on the screen, at the same time, makes both styles look worse. I get that this was probably a cost-cutting measure due to the immensity and scope of this film but c’mon, the Godzilla franchise has made billions in fifty years. They could’ve fattened the budget a bit more or just cut out half of the unnecessary human versus alien special effects segments, which wouldn’t be horribly missed.

Speaking of which, the human parts of the film just felt like a really bad Underworld rip-off, which is itself a really bad Matrix rip-off. I liked how they structured the general plot but most of it was over-the-top and kind of tedious to watch. The only real highlight was the American general who looked like a thicker Tom Selleck with a generic American tough guy voice. He was certainly a caricature of what Japanese people see from a blockbuster bad ass American military leader but it worked. He was also played by MMA legend and pro-wrestling bad ass, Don Frye.

This isn’t what I’d call a good film or even close to being the best in the Godzilla mythos but it was supremely enjoyable and a bit of a gem in regards to the non-stop kaiju violence. In the end, I was more than satisfied.

Besides, if you love Godzilla, you aren’t going to let a few flaws ruin the movie.

Rating: 7/10

Film Review: War of the Gargantuas (1966)

Also known as: Frankenstein’s Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira (Japan)
Release Date: July 31st, 1966 (Japan)
Directed by: Ishirō Honda
Written by: Ishirō Honda, Takeshi Kimura
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Cast: Russ Tamblyn, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Kipp Hamilton

Toho, UPA, Benedict Motion Picture Corp., 88 Minutes (Japan), 92 Minutes (USA)

war_of_the_gargantuasReview:

War of the Gargantuas is one of the best kaiju films that I have ever seen. It may be my favorite outside the realm of the Godzilla mythos. Hell, being that it is made by Toho, it could actually be in the Godzilla mythos. In fact, I’m surprised a gargantuan didn’t cross over into a Godzilla film. Then again, this is a sequel to Toho’s 1965 film Frankenstein Conquers the World, which saw a Frankenstein-like creature take on the kaiju Baragon, who would go on to be featured in a few Godzilla films.

In Japan, the film was called Frankenstein’s Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira. So essentially, we have two Frankenstein’s monsters grown to gigantic proportions smashing each other and the poor cities that happen to be in their way. While they didn’t completely look like monsters created by Mary Shelley’s mad scientist, they did share some slight visual similarities. Although they were more reminiscent of burn victim Wookiees than anything else.

As a kid, I was a Godzilla snob when it came to my kaiju love and didn’t care as much about lesser franchises and non-Godzilla films. I was young, so sue me. However, the first time I saw War of the Gargantuas, late night on TBS in the 80s, my Godzilla bias washed away and I was thunderstruck with admiration for something different in the kaiju arena. Thus began my larger appreciation and exploration deeper into the genre. Without this film, I may have stuck with just Godzilla and have grown up and grown bored of these films. War of the Gargantuas expanded my palate and introduced me to variety. Maybe I am being overly nostalgic and sentimental, but without this film, I could’ve lived a life giving other great daikaiju eiga masterpieces the snub.

From a film standpoint, War of the Gargantuas has the look and vibe of your regular 1960s Toho monster movie. It doesn’t differ much in style, other than giving us two really bizarre kaiju that have a look so unique they can’t be confused with any other creatures other than each other and even then, they’re different colors and one is larger.

What sets this film apart and makes it special, is what I already alluded to. It’s the fact that it serves up something different in an era where Godzilla films were being cranked out like new Disney heartthrobs and Godzilla clones were in abundance. War of the Gargantuas isn’t a perfect film but it’s fun as hell and a step above standard mid-60s kaiju fare.

Rating: 9/10